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A conference dominated by molecular genetics and mind-curdling complexity thankfully tempered by hospitality, some urban bike-transport and entry into the world of fully rigid off-road mountain biking.

Toronto is the venue for 4 days plumbing the latest in childhood brain tumours

A 2 day concurrence with Sarah and Alex in Argentina means I have a home to stay in, rather than an anonymous hotel room.

Sarah and her father put on the full tour – 65km by bike round the Toronto highlights including Lake Ontario, a bike-show with bamboo-bikes, and an introduction to Canadian beer…

My steed – on loan from Sarah’s uncle. A steel Rocky Mountain mountain bike with what would have been some pretty bling kit in its day

XT shifters for example..

and some remarkably effective XT centre-pull brakes

all with 6 gears at the back… (those were the days!)

It was the height of travel-luxury to be met at the airport, looked after royally (guided by bike right to the conference venue) and provided with a haven free of receptor-ligands and epigenetic markers.  Nuestra casa es su casa Miss S Tory!

An evening meal at a restaurant set in a reclaimed brick-works. The vertical garden depicting Toronto and its supplying rivers drew the eye

Just as I reached capacity on the academic front it was all over.  Another friend made through the Americas trip happened to live pretty much on the way home – Scott Felter in Victoria, Vancouver Island.

Scott proves a patient host indeed. Our accomplice for Australian remote riding next year and a bike-reckoner par excellence..

Scott gamely took me out on his local trail at Hartlands, a great IMBA project not far from Victoria

He even contrived a tubeless tyre fettling session to allow me to recover from the caffeine buzz induced by his fantastically strong coffee!

He’s a man of many bikes (well 2 complete bikes at the moment) I got to ride his Jeff Jones Space-frame half-fat bike. The front wheel at least is very similar to that which will be gracing a new addition to my stable in the near future – all 4 inches of ground-munching width :-)

We were joined by Vik of LazyRando fame, and fellow reckoner of all things bicycle-related.

Not one to let trail-time go to waste, Vik heads off upwards

before swooping back down again

blurring as he passes

Scott and Naomi’s garden not only provides edible things, but beauty. Their connections with the arts and Scott’s past life as a ceramic artist are the foundation of a great collection of individual crockery – none identical.

A visit to the local bike shops gets me a fork-mount friendly bottle cage (or two) and lots of spokes (ready for fat-bike wheel construction)

A glutton for punishment, Scott swaps tyres on his beautiful Hunter Cycles 29er to allow me a chance to try it

After an early start as a black bike, it’s now (very) red. My main reason for wanting to try it is that it sports a Rohloff Internally-geared hub – something I’ve got planned for a future bike.

So we head back to the woods (Photo S.Felter)

(photo S.Felter)

and across a few skinny-bridges for good measure, before sadly needing to drop me off at the airport to get back to Australia (photo S.Felter)