Country road

Shortly after I arrived in Almonte on a hot summer day in June of 1976 at the age of twenty-eight years I soon recaptured my passion for bicycling. It wasn’t however the idyllic outing I was accustomed to on the paved pathway along the Ottawa River in Ottawa or on the parkway through the Gatineaux Hills in Québec on the other side of the river. It was though as lonely a time as I had spent in Ottawa after my arrival there from law school in 1973 when I first accelerated my sporting enthusiasm for bicycling by buying (upon the recommendation of an aficionado whom I knew from undergraduate studies and who was then dating my sister) a Garlatti 18-speed racing bicycle with thin tyres and matching seat. If I hadn’t lost fifty pounds within months after graduation from law school I would never have sustained either my cycling ambition or application. Whether performing my articles or first year of practice at MacDonald, Affleck on Sparks Street I would not have perpetuated my bicycling routine without the contributing advantage of social isolation.

My protuberant belly has been a problem for me all my life. There may have been a brief period in my early teens at boarding school when I frequented the gym to use the weights to stiffen my arms, chest and abdomen but generally I preferred exercise to weight lifting. Push-ups were a tolerable and more efficacious part of my normal scheme.

In truth the primary reason for my loss of weight wasn’t weights, exercise or push-ups. And the social isolation was only a fortuitous ingredient of the larger picture. At law school in my third and final year I had become engaged to be married. It proved to be one of those best-of-intentions events. But it was never meant to be in spite of the best of intentions. It remains to this day a stunningly mistaken event of both our lives.  Yes, we both moved on without regret or remorse. But it was an indelible and highly puzzling sequel to my glorious time in Nova Scotia.

As I recoiled from the jar of abandoning the engagement I was understandably remote. I had besides the awakening duties for articles. And paradoxically it was also then I joined the Château Laurier Health Club where I eventually met the person with whom I have since spent the past twenty-six years of my life.

If I am to be completely honest I should disclose another critical feature of my weight loss campaign. My first apartment in Ottawa was on Rideau Street at Besserer Street. It was within walking distance (my father hadn’t yet bought me my first car) of the By Ward Market. There one found an exuberant fresh fruit and vegetable market. Another important detail is that in 1973 during articles I was paid $4,000 per annum. Yet as paltry as the remuneration was, I could buy mountains of fresh food at the market. And the erstwhile law school habit of Moosehead quarts of beer had also been relinquished. My cigarette smoking (Winston) was however volcanic. Nonetheless I lost weight. I managed to maintain a narrow girth when in 1974 – 1975 I attended the bar admission course in Toronto at Osgoode Hall. Not only did we have examinations every two weeks. I was also a Don at Devonshire House, the men’s professional student residence at the University of Toronto. And I was champion of the intramural debating team which historically went on to challenge the gowned brethren at adjacent Trinity College.

Today – almost fifty years later and just as I then did – I rode my bicycle along the identical country road. And once again alone. This time I haven’t a Yellow Labrador puppy running along side me. And the bike is now a semi-recumbent 7-gear Electra with fat tyres and matching fat ass seat. And, oh yes, I’m back to my worst weight record.