Sunday, January 3, 2010

Riding Along with the Torch Relay – Part 1

Some pretty amazing things have happened to me since starting my Journey to Vancouver 2010 – Diary of a Fan blog. The best yet was an invitation to do a Torch Relay ride along with the GM guys from Twitter, GM_ArtAndSerge. I mentioned these guys before in my Mississauga Torch Relay blog post. I’ve been following their adventures with the Torch Relay on Twitter and through their blog, Art and Serge’s 2010 Road Trip: Adventures With The Flame.

Imagine my shock and surprise when I received an email asking if I would be interested in doing a ride along through one of the Torch Relay routes. Without hesitation my answer was yes. A few emails to figure out logistics followed and on December 26th I found myself making my way to London, ON, 2 hours west of Toronto, to meet Serge and the GM Silverado on the 27th at 8am. Serge arrived a bit late, having come from repairing a generator that is used on one of the media vehicles. It seems that problems can and do happen at any point during the day. I jumped in the truck and we took off down Dundas Street to catch up with the convoy. It was making its way out of London that day, the final destination being Kitchener, ON, about an hour west of Toronto on our glorious 401 highway.
We caught up with the convoy on the last part of the London route. Immediately I was amazed by the amount of people out on the street to greet the torch. When you’re driving through it and seeing the constant amount of people, it is pretty impressive. We kept up with the convoy through Thamesford. I swear there were more people here than in London. There were tons of people lined along the streets. Happy faces looked back at me smiling and waving to the convoy and Torchbearers going past.

People come out to see the Relay in Thamesford, ON

From there, we jumped ahead of the convoy and made our way to Woodstock, ON. We found a spot along the route and watched the convoy come off of the 401 and make its way North on Norwich Street. A band from the Salvation Army was set up in a parking lot and played O Canada when the convoy came into view.

When the convoy passed, we got into the flashy Silverado and followed it to the Community Centre where there was a scheduled break. They almost didn’t let us onto the road leading to the Community Centre until Serge flashed his Vancouver 2010 credentials. This has an Open Sesame effect, and let us access the Community Centre for a break as well.

Coming out from the washroom, I saw a Flame attendant holding the lantern that the Olympic Flame is carried in. After waiting for her to finish a conversation, I pounced on her and asked if I could take a picture. One gentleman asked to hold it. Now that I think of it that would have been a great photo, me holding the Olympic flame. Too late now!
After Woodstock it was onto the mid day Celebration in Stratford. Serge had some business to attend to. I wolfed down some pizza and went outside to see the Torch come through and onto the stage to light the cauldron. Shortly after that, it was time for Serge to drop me off. He had to get some things arranged for their evening maintenance and wouldn’t be following the convoy in the afternoon. I stayed in Stratford long enough to see the end of the route of the Torch. From there my Mom, brother and I went to Cambridge for one last look at the Torch. And then, it was time to go home. The next time we see the Olympic Flame will be in Vancouver.

Photos above of Stratford, ON. Right: Coca Cola truck in Woodstock, ON. It just makes me happy when I see it.

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