Archive for June 21, 2013

And then there were three!

Day 64: Jun 17 – Espanola to south of Little Current

Daily Distance = 68.66km, Trip Total = 2,492.50km

The four of us headed to Tim Horton’s for a leisurely breakfast at 8am.  Around 9 o’clock we dragged ourselves out of Timmies to start getting ready for the day.  Doug was going to drive to our arranged accommodations for the night and drop off any of the gear we would need to get us back to Sauble Beach.  Doug also kindly logged the mileage between Little Current and the cottage so we would know what was ahead of us!  The gear that I wasn’t going to need for the next three days (such as tent, stove, extra clothing, chargers, spare batteries, extra food, etc) was going straight back to Sauble with Doug – much appreciated! I noticed a HUGE difference in my ride when only carrying about a quarter of the gear!!

At 9:30 Doug took our ‘pre’ pictures and we were ready to hit the road:

Mom, Dash, me and Bev

Mom, Dash, me and Bev

The first 30km heading south of Espanola on hwy 6 had some decent rolling hills, but with the reduced gear we were able to climb all of them easily enough.  The 20km before reaching Little Current flattened out quite a bit and we were able to reach a pretty good speed.  Weather wise it was another almost perfect day – about 15 degrees, a bit overcast and a light tailwind.  I spent the entire day drafting off of mom and Bev, so it was a pretty relaxing day for me!  I should note that there is also a decent paved shoulder the entire ride from Espanola to Little Current.

Rolling hills south of Espanola

Rolling hills south of Espanola

Loved this view as we turned a corner heading up a hill south of Espanola

Loved this view as we turned a corner heading up a hill south of Espanola

The scenery along hwy 6 btwn Espanola and Little Current

The scenery along hwy 6 btwn Espanola and Little Current

Lots of water views

Lots of water views

These solar panels just north of Little Current power sensors that detect deer at night and flash a light to deter the deer from going on the road as well as alert drivers

These solar panels just north of Little Current power sensors that detect deer at night and flash a light to deter the deer from going on the road as well as alert drivers

Flat terrain just north of Little Current

Flat terrain just north of Little Current

The arrival into Little Current involves crossing a swing bridge.  Unfortunately we didn’t have the privilege of seeing the swing bridge swing, but we still stopped to take pics.  My mom’s ability to cycle a straight line was also tested as we cycled across the narrow pedestrian path.  Fortunately she made it across the bridge without injury!

Swing bridge in Little Current

Swing bridge in Little Current

Me and Bev

Me and Bev

Mom and Bev about to cross swing bridge

Mom and Bev about to cross swing bridge

View of Little Current from the bridge

View of Little Current from the bridge

It doesn't look like that cyclist made it across the bridge!!!

It doesn’t look like that cyclist made it across!!

We grabbed some takeout lunch in Little Current and ate in the park so that Dash wouldn’t be left on her own.  From Little Current we headed SE on 540 for about 17km to our destination for the night.  Unfortunately we no longer had a paved shoulder, but traffic on this road was relatively light.  When we arrived at our cottage for the night around 4:30pm we had a quick chat with the owner Rachel, who was kind enough to offer to pick up dinner for us.  We quickly took her up on this offer and all ordered fish and chips.  While settling into the cabin we noticed a massive spider in one of the corners.  Spiders don’t usually creep me out, but this one was 10x the size of any spider I had seen before!  Apparently it was a dock spider – I am introduced to another creepy crawler! lol!  My mom quickly took the bug spray and emptied 1/4 of the bottle on the spider.  We then each grabbed a drink and headed down to the water.  After finishing our drink our food had arrived – perfect timing!  After dinner we took a walk down the road and then had a dehydrated dessert – chocolate cheesecake – yum!

Park where we ate lunch in Little Current

Park where we ate lunch in Little Current

Downtown Little Current

Downtown Little Current

View from hwy 540 - gorgeous!

View from hwy 540 – gorgeous!

 

Day 65: Jun 18 – South of Little Current to Tobermory

Daily Distance = 61.84km, Trip Total = 2,554.34km

Our intention today was to be on the road by 9am so we would have a comfortable amount of time to bike the 60km to South Baymouth to catch the 3:50pm ferry.  Unfortunately the morning did not start off particularly smoothly.  While doing my morning pre-ride checks I noticed my front tire was completely flat.  At first I wasn’t sure whether this was a tire issue or a tube issue, so I wasn’t sure whether I should toss the pretty-bare tire out and go with a foldable tire ’till Sauble or just replace the tube.  After I pulled the tire off the rim and put some air in the tube mom and Bev kindly filled the sink with water and started investigating for a leak in the tube.  I did a quick scan of my tire and although it certainly looked rough I didn’t see any spots where it had a hole so I bit the bullet and started the process of replacing just the tube.  While I was changing the tube, mom and Bev were able to find a small leak near the valve of the tube.  Phew!  Just replacing the tube should resolve the problem!  My tire changing skills are not the quickest so it ended up being about 9:20 before we were on the road.

As we left the cottage we had a domino effect of a couple bikes tipping over.  Fortunately no damage or injuries though, just another sign of our clumsy start to the day.  Because we were running a bit behind schedule and we did have a timeframe to meet today we weren’t able to stop and have coffee with Rachel in the morning, however she did come out and have a quick chat with us and wish us well on our journey – super sweet lady!

On the gravel road out of the cottage back out to road 540 we encountered two brutal hills!  They weren’t incredibly long, but the grade was quite steep.  Needless to say, we had to walk these hills.  Again – not a great start on the one day that we had a timeline to meet!  The next 5km were definitely more climbing than descending.  I was starting to get a bit worried about whether we would make it to the ferry on time.  Fortunately the second 5km was much more downhill than up so we made up some time.  Good thing!  About 20km into our ride we made it into Mindemoya where we stopped at Mum’s bakery and grabbed a quick coffee and a baked good.

Getting back on the road we agreed that we should try to up the pace a little bit.  I got a splurge of energy so I ended up taking the lead to set the pace around 19km/hr.  We took breaks every 10km to grab some water and a light snack to maintain energy.  By the time we reached Sandfield we were sitting in pretty good shape so we took a longer break and enjoyed the park and water view.

Views from Manitoulin Island

Views from Manitoulin Island

Cycling rd 551 on Manitoulin Island

Cycling road 551 on Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island

Bridge at Sandfield - the river was running high!

Bridge at Sandfield – the river was running high!

Mom on the bridge in Sandfield

Mom on the bridge in Sandfield

Dash and our bikes taking a rest in Sandfield

Dash and our bikes taking a rest in Sandfield

Dash exploring some of the flooded river area in Sandfield

Dash exploring some of the flooded river area in Sandfield

Road 551 on Manitoulin Island

Road 551 on Manitoulin Island

We continued to make great time after our break in Sandfield and we rolled into South Baymouth around 2pm – we had 2hrs to spare before the ferry departs!  We immediately headed down to the ferry terminal where we noticed two other tourers sleeping on the lawn – I guess they were killing time ’till the ferry crossing! lol!  We used the ferry terminal washrooms to clean up a bit and get into warmer clothing.  Once done we purchased our tickets, put our bikes in line and headed across the street to a patio restaurant where we again had fish and chips and mom and I also indulged in a pina coloda.  It was an ideal afternoon – a good ride for the day under our belts, food, drink and overlooking water!

When we finished our lunch we headed back to our bikes where we were shortly joined by the two other cyclists we had seen napping.  Turns out they were a father and son who had spent the last 3 days cycling around Manitoulin. It was the sons first tour, but the father seems to be a seasoned tourer.  The father actually crossed Canada on bike in 2006 with the Tour du Canada organization.  He was very interested in talking shop and we exchanged stories about cycling against the prairie headwinds.  He said that I was doing the ride right by going solo, he said when they travelled as a group (Tour du Canada had 38 riders the year he did it) that they didn’t meet many locals because they would come into an area and swarm it.  They were also riding about 150km a day, so exhaustion definitely set in and limited the amount of sightseeing you could do.  Anyway, it re-affirms my decision to not join an organized group for my adventure across the country, although I wholeheartedly endorse friends and family to join me along the way where they can! :)

Our bikes in line to get on the ferry

Our bikes in line to get on the ferry

The Chi-Cheemaun arriving at port

The Chi-Cheemaun arriving at port

 

Me in front of the Chi-Cheemaun

Me in front of the Chi-Cheemaun

Mom and Dash on the Chi-Cheemaun

Mom and Dash on the Chi-Cheemaun

 

South Baymouth from the ferry

South Baymouth from the ferry

A pretty empty ferry!

A pretty empty ferry!

 

Mom and Bev in front of our bikes on the ferry

Mom and Bev in front of our bikes on the ferry

Dash was very intrigued by all the sounds the ferry made as we pulled into port

Dash was very intrigued by all the sounds the ferry made as we pulled into port

When we arrived in Tobermory we immediately headed to the motel.  At first the owner wasn’t there, but there was a board outside which indicated which rooms were available, how many beds were in each room and what the rate was.  From this info we picked a room that worked for us and began taking our bikes into the unlocked room.  I found this a rather trusting system!  After we had gotten our bikes in the room the owner made an appearance, so we did the formal check in process and settled into the room.  As we headed out to grab some dinner the owner noticed that I didn’t have Dash with me and quickly ‘scolded’ me for leaving her in the room unattended.  Most hotels have a policy where you can’t leave the pet in the room unattended at all or for an ‘unreasonable’ time, but I have never, ever, ever been called out on it before!  I assumed this policy was only called out if the pet became a nuisance, but not here!  Oh well – it just means we had to find a patio (which we were able to find) and eat in a slightly chillier environment.  We all ended up ordering an individual 10″ pizza and I have to say it was delicious!

Tobermory

Tobermory

 

Day 66: Jun 19 – Tobermory to Sauble Beach

Daily Distance = 87.01km, Trip Total = 2,641.35km

We successfully scooted out of the hotel this morning at quarter after 8 to avoid another scolding from the owner and headed to a coffee shop for breakfast on a patio.  After breakfast we were back on hwy 6 heading south.  This is a route that the three of us have cycled together before and if memory serves us correctly there was a lot of rolling hills.  As we got out on the road we all agreed that the terrain was what we remembered, but we were all having a much easier time with the hills than the last time we had tackled this route about 5 or more years ago.

About 10km north of Ferndale I noticed the wind pick up a bit and that my energy levels were draining, so I asked Bev to lead while I dropped to the back to draft.  Another joy second to coasting is drafting!  This is not a pleasure I have had given I have been solo for most of the trip, but boy did I noticed the difference over these past three days – so thank you both Bev and mom, not just for the company between Espanola to Sauble Beach, but also letting me draft off of you!  We arrived in Ferndale (just shy of 50km into our day) around 1pm and stopped at a diner where we had a scrumptious lunch of soup and a sandwich.  Dash patiently waited outside.  Although we all agreed that we didn’t need to rush home as we didn’t have a time limit today, I was feeling pretty good on the bike so I may have pushed the speed a little bit.

At Mar we made a right onto Red Bay Rd where we had a couple tough climbs, but we were able to bike up both of them.  Mom was even able to get back on the bike after her chain locked part way up the second hill – that’s impressive!  A few kilometres later we turned left onto a road that runs straight and flat right into Sauble Beach.  From here it was pretty easy cruising.  A couple kilometres short of my parents place we stopped for a celebratory ice cream where Doug was able to join us.  After the ice cream we parted ways with Doug and Bev.  As soon as we got home I let Dash out of the trailer and she BOLTED for dad.  It was quite funny!  After getting the gear, bikes and trailer in the house we headed down to the docks for a drink!

Tobermory

Tobermory

Tobermory

Tobermory

Mom, Bev and I in front of our breakfast spot

Mom, Bev and I in front of our breakfast spot

Hwy 6 between Tobermory and Sauble

Hwy 6 between Tobermory and Sauble

Taking a break - the girl in the background actually has a summer job to study reptiles and turtles in the area and when possible move them out of harms way.  She figures she will cycle 40km/day

Taking a break – the girl in the background has a summer job to study reptiles in the area and when possible move them out of harms way. She figures she will cycle 40km/day

Windmills near Ferndale

Windmills near Ferndale

Sky Lake

Sky Lake

Dad and I having a drink on the docks

Dad and I having a drink on the docks

I will be taking a break in Sauble Beach ’till July 2nd or 3rd to spend time with family and map out my plans and route from here to Toronto.  Given I drove a great deal of northern ontario I will make up some mileage by taking the scenic route back to Toronto along the lakes before tackling the East Coast.

Finding my broomball roots…

Day 60: Jun. 13 – Sault Ste. Marie to Bruce Mines

Daily Distance = 65.58km, Trip Total = 2,249.27km

It felt good to get back on the bike today.  The sun was shining and although the wind was strong again (about 40km/hr) it was from the north.  I was going to be spending most of my day heading south.  A TAILWIND at last!!!! :)

About 10km into the ride I picked up highway 17B.  What a glorious ride!  The traffic was incredibly light, terrain was relatively flat and there was a nice wide paved shoulder.

My first view of Hwy 17B just East of Sault Ste. Marie

My first view of Hwy 17B just East of Sault Ste. Marie

In Echo Bay I stopped to admire the Loonie statue and walk some of the boardwalk.

A big loonie in Echo Bay

A big loonie in Echo Bay

Leisurely stroll on the boardwalk in Echo Bay

Leisurely stroll on the boardwalk in Echo Bay

Just south of Echo Bay highway 17B unfortunately ends and joins up with highway 17.  For a while hwy 17 is a 4 lane divided highway – this at least gives traffic (in particular the transport trucks) an opportunity to move over a lane when they pass me (the paved shoulder is a bit limited at this point).  After about 20km on highway 17 it became a two lane undivided highway.  Still with a limited shoulder.  I spent a large part of this ride watching my rear view mirror and bailing to the gravel shoulder anytime I felt a vehicle was getting to close.  This became particularly tricky after a sudden, intense (but quick) downpour of rain struck.  Fortunately I was only about 10km from Bruce Mines, my destination for the night.  During the quick rain a lady in a green jeep pulled over and asked if I’d like a ride.  When I politely declined she then offered me a towel to dry off, which I also politely declined given it was still raining! lol!  Still a very sweet gesture!

I checked into the Bavarian Inn around 4:30.  All the lower room floors were taken so I had to lug my bike, trailer and gear up the stairs to the second floor.  For this effort I felt I deserved an ice cream so I headed over to the ice cream shop across the street where the owner immediately asked if he could give Dash a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  While Dash and I were eating our ice creams the owner filled me in on all the local dogs in town.

Next stop was the grocery store where I picked up some chocolate milk and fruit.  I then headed over to the park behind the hotel and let Dash run free for a while.  Afterwards I cooked up one of my dehydrated meals, did some light reading and went to sleep.

Highway 17 south of Echo Bay

Highway 17 south of Echo Bay

Rolling hills on highway 17

Rolling hills on highway 17

Farmland just west of Bruce Mines

Farmland just west of Bruce Mines

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Town of Bruce Mines

Town of Bruce Mines

Park behind Bavarian Inn, Bruce Mines

Park behind Bavarian Inn, Bruce Mines

Dash getting some free time

Dash getting some free time

Day 61: Jun. 14 – Bruce Mines to Blind River

Daily Distance = 74.95km, Trip Total = 2,324.22km

Continuing my journey east on hwy 17, it was another ideal day for cycling: clear sky, limited wind and temperature hovering in the high teens.  I veered off highway 17 for a couple kilometres and headed into Thessalon to pick up some lunch at the grocery store – turkey sandwhich, yogurt, raspberries and chocolate milk.  While I was eating lunch on a bench on the main street of town a lady came over and told me that I wasn’t very visible while cycling on the highway.  This was a bit of a surprise to me considering I have an orange flag that stands about 5 ft off the ground, Dash’s trailer is covered in a fluorescent yellow vest with orange reflective stripping and my panniers are yellow with reflective stripping.  Regardless, I did have a fluorescent yellow wind vest buried in my panniers so I dug it out and fastened it around the tent and bear cannister that I keep strapped on top of my back rack.  I should now be visible from MILES away.

Getting back on the highway I did notice that vehicles were giving me a wider berth than before.  It probably helped that the newly added fluorescent wind jacket flaps in the wind, so I’m sure it draws the eye pretty easily! lol!

I took another break in Iron Bridge where I chatted with a lady who was doing some lawn maintenance at the park.  This lady was quick to comment on my ‘highly visible getup’.  She was also quick to talk about how dangerous it is cycling on the highway and how unfortunate it is that a wider shoulder hasn’t been put in place (I couldn’t agree more).  She told me how she panicked when she found out her 20 year old son had cycled on the highway into town one day (they live 1km west of town).  After chatting for about 15min she wished me a safe journey and continued on with her lawn maintenance while I explored more of the park.

The ride from Iron Bridge to Blind River was an absolute joy – about 25km of relatively flat terrain with trees and rocks on one side of the highway and the Mississaugi River on the other side of the highway.

The motel in Blind River overlooked the river and a small waterfall – I was actually going to be able to sleep with the sound of the waterfall in the background!  That is bliss! :)  While struggling to get my bike and trailer into my room the couple in the room next door came over to give me a hand.  Much appreciated!  They told me they had bumped into another cross Canada cyclist this morning, but that he was going the other way from East to West.  It’s always fun getting updates along the way about other tourers currently on the road!

Me in front of some of what makes up the Canadian Shield

Me in front of some of what makes up the Canadian Shield

A big red chair

A big red chair

Trees, trees and more trees

Trees, trees and more trees

I really slowed down traffic at this bridge in Iron Bridges where it was reduced to one lane for construction

I really slowed down traffic at this bridge in Iron Bridge where it was reduced to one lane for construction

Part of the original Iron Bridge - I think the first iron bridge built in Canada?

Part of the original Iron Bridge – I think the first iron bridge built in Canada?

Mississaugi River at Iron Bridges

Mississagi River at Iron Bridge

Park at Iron Bridges

Park at Iron Bridge

Hwy 17 from Iron Bridges to Blind River - about 25km of following the river!

Hwy 17 from Iron Bridge to Blind River – about 25km of following the river!

An abandoned house along hwy 17

An abandoned house along hwy 17

Another moose - just before he took off into the woods...!

Another moose – just before he took off into the woods…!

 

Mississauga?!?!  Did I fall asleep on the bike???  Oh....first nations....not the one in the greater toronto area....

Mississauga?!?! Did I fall asleep on the bike and almost end up back home??? :)

Mississaugi River

Mississagi River

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My view from the hotel - glorious!

My view from the hotel looking north – glorious!

My view from the hotel looking south!

My view from the hotel looking south!

Preparations in Blind River for dragon boat races

Preparations in Blind River for dragon boat races

A blue heron visited us while having dinner on the balcony at the hotel

A blue heron visited us while having dinner on the balcony at the hotel

Day 62: Jun. 15 – Blind River to Massey

Daily Distance = 71.19km, Trip Total = 2,395.41km

My first objective today was to go check out the dragon boat races in Blind River.  I headed to the river at 10am and there was no indication that the races where anywhere close to getting started, so I opted not to stick around and instead headed out of town.  About 30km into the ride I came across a roadside chip truck and decided to make a stop.  After a quick chat with the chip truck lady about my trip I enjoyed my small fries and took the opportunity to pull out the e-reader and read for about 1/2hr.  Breaks are so much more enjoyable when you can sit and enjoy them instead of worrying about whether you’ll make it to your accommodations for the night due to the headwind you’re riding into!  However the fries were maybe not the wisest food selection at that point – they certainly did sit with me for the next hour or two on the bike.  Note to self – if greasy food must be had, save it ’till AFTER the riding is done for the day!

About 20km later I rolled into the town of Spanish where a local informed me that I better get settled for the night before the storm hit.  I grabbed a banana and a 1/2 pint of raspberries, chowed them down and headed back on the road.  Just as I arrived in Massey around 4pm it started pouring so I quickly ducked into the motel and checked in.  As I was getting settled into the motel the rain temporarily cleared.  About an hour later I saw 3 gals rolling by with their loaded up bikes – I’m pretty sure these are the same 3 girls that I was hearing about from the locals through the prairies!

At the main intersection in Massey there is a plaque describing Massey as the ‘home of broomball’!  And the welcome sign claims the same – pics below for the broomball players out there! :)

I also took a walk around Chutes Provincial Park – certainly worth a peak if you are in the area.

These little rock piles are everywhere in north eastern ontario

These little rock piles are everywhere in north eastern ontario

A quick break in Spanish - notice the fluorescent vest now strapped on the back of my bike

A quick break in Spanish – notice the fluorescent vest now strapped on the back of my bike

Plaque in Massey describing their broomball past

Plaque in Massey describing their broomball past

Massey embracing their broomball heritage

Massey embracing their broomball heritage

Chutes provincial park

Chutes provincial park

Chutes Provincial Park

Chutes Provincial Park

Chutes Provincial Park

Chutes Provincial Park

 

Day 63: Jun 16 – Massey to Espanola

Daily Distance = 28.43km, Trip Total = 2,423.84km

I was on the road by 9:30am today and was happy to find an alternative route between Massey and Espanola that did not involve being on hwy 17!  Lee Valley Rd is a pleasant country road and although it has more than a few potholes, it is paved the whole way and very quiet when it comes to traffic.  Much less risk to dodge potholes than traffic! lol!  I once again lucked out on the weather.  It had rained all night, but was dry by the time I was on the road in the morning.  While on Lee Valley Rd I did get chased by a total of 3 dogs – this is always my fear when cycling on country roads.  However with all three of them when I stopped my bike and yelled at them to go home they eventually slunked off and left me alone.

In Espanola I checked into the Queensway Motel after having a somewhat lengthy chat with the owner.  Very sweet lady who was curious about my trip and more curious about Dash (dog-lovers are easily identified! lol!).  After having a shower my mom, Doug and Bev arrived.  It was GREAT to see familiar faces again!  After getting settled we headed to Wendy’s for a salad lunch.  After lunch we made a quick stop at the LCBO and indulged in a drink while catching up and doing some minor errands (airing out my tent and rotating my front and back tires – the back tire is going bare again).  After the chores of the day were done, we went for a quick walk and then out to the Pinehouse for a delicious and filling (none of us could finish) pasta dinner.

When back at the hotel we noticed that the sky was clouding over.  After checking the weather network we noticed that there were tornado warnings issued in the area!  We kept a close eye on the clouds whilst having a drink and chatting and within 1/2hr the most daunting of the clouds had passed.

My non-hwy 17 route!

My non-hwy 17 route!

Cruising along Lee Valley Road

Cruising along Lee Valley Road

Some of the scenery along Lee Valley Road

Some of the scenery along Lee Valley Road

Just a sample of the pot holes on Lee Valley Rd - still WAAAAY better than traffic on hwy 17!

Just a sample of the pot holes on Lee Valley Rd – still WAAAAY better than traffic on hwy 17!

Tornado warnings near Espanola

Tornado warnings near Espanola

 

Road Trip!!!

Day 55: Jun 8 – Winnipeg to Kenora

I left the hotel nice and early at 9am (early for me on vacation mode at least)!  And headed over to the Winnipeg airport to pick up a rental car.  This is the part where my cycling adventure becomes a road trip because quite frankly, cycling Northern Ontario solo TERRIFIES me for the following reasons:

1) Very remote – some towns (and accommodation options) are 100+ km apart.  Given I am only tracking about 70km a day, this means I would have had to guerrilla camp (camp on the side of the road) several times.

2) Narrow or non-existent paved shoulders on a highly trafficked road

3) Wildlife!  Pre-trip this fear was of bears, however mid-trip it has shifted to ticks! lol!

It took about an hour to pack all of my gear into the car, after which I ran some quick errands – groceries, food for dash, bank machine – and started heading east to Kenora!  About 100km out of Winnipeg the scenery started changing with more trees, rolling hills and rocks (signs of the Canadian Shield).  Another 50km or so and lakes started mixing in with the trees, rocks and hills as well!  This would have been a fantastic stretch to take in the scenery at the much slower speed of a bike and the shoulder was still relatively decent to ride on at this point (even though the highway does change from a 4 lane divided highway to a 2 lane highway).  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find any one-way car rental options out of Kenora.  Oh well.  The scenery was still quite amazing to take in.

When I arrived at Kenora I quickly ditched my stuff at the hotel and headed down to the lake to dip my toes in and just absorb the view around me.

Dash's response when I tried to pack up her trailer in the rental car....it's a good sign that she still likes her trailer! lol!

Dash’s response when I tried to pack up her trailer in the rental car….it’s a good sign that she still likes her trailer! lol!

Ontario Border!

Ontario Border!

Trees, rocks, water - amazing scenery!

Trees, rocks, water – amazing scenery!

Dash finding a friend in the mirror...

Dash finding a friend in the mirror…

Lake of the Woods - Kenora

Lake of the Woods – Kenora

 

Day 56: Jun. 9 – Kenora to Thunder Bay

I spent a pleasant hour walking the waterfront of Kenora.  After this walk I then got back in the car and continued heading east.  In Dryden I stopped for a picnic lunch.  My only other real stop of the day was Kakabeka Falls before heading into Thunder Bay for the night.  The scenery really is phenomenal.  Trees, rocks, water and hills everywhere!

Husky the Musky in Kenora

Husky the Musky in Kenora

Kenora waterfront

Kenora waterfront

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So far I have only seen bears in statue form

So far I have only seen bears in statue form

Seaplane docks

Seaplanes at dock

Lack of the Woods in Kenora

Lack of the Woods in Kenora

Kenora wouldn't be complete without a train running through town

Kenora wouldn’t be complete without a train running through town

Dryden

Dryden

Ignace Fire Tower

Ignace Fire Tower

Bald Eagle statue in Ignace

Bald Eagle statue in Ignace

Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls

Me at Kakabeka Falls

Me at Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls

Kakabeka Falls

 

Day 57: Jun 10 – Thunder Bay to Wawa

I spent the first hour walking along the waterfront of Thunder Bay while listening to the sound of a ship slowly coming into port.  I say listening, ‘cuz it was very foggy this morning so I could only faintly make out the outline of the ship in the distance but I could certainly hear its horn! :)

After checking out Thunder Bay I was back in the car.  Next stop – the Terry Fox Statue.  It was just East of Thunder Bay that Terry Fox had to stop his cross country marathon due to a reoccurrence of cancer.  The statue stands on a bed of amethyst (found locally in the area), the determination that they have captured in Terry’s stance through the statue is quite spectacular.  I spent about 10 minutes here absorbing and reflecting in the moment.

Next stop for the day was Ouimet Canyon.  This was a recommendation from my parents and was pretty impressive to see – even if my view was somewhat limited by the fog around me!!

My next highlight of the day was seeing not one, not two, but three moose!  They were all on different sections of the highway, grazing.

My stop for the night was Wawa which is a cute little town inland from Lake Superior just a bit, on Wawa Lake.

My first view of Lake Superior - the haze in the middle is a ship slowly coming into port

My first view of Lake Superior – the haze in the middle is a ship slowly coming into port

Thunder Bay Port

Thunder Bay Port

Terry Fox statue

Terry Fox statue

Oiumet Canyon - through the fog!

Oiumet Canyon – through the fog!

River does a 90 degree turn at the falls

River does a 90 degree turn at the falls

A Moose!!!!

A Moose!!!!

A closer view of the moose

A closer view of the moose

So much green

So much green!

Now green with the highway running through it...

Now green with the highway running through it…

Wawa is ojibwa for 'wild goose' - they have a few goose statues in Wawa

Wawa is ojibwa for ‘wild goose’ – they have a few goose statues in Wawa

Here's another

Here’s another

Wawa lake

Wawa lake

 

Day 58: Jun. 11 – Wawa to Sault Ste. Marie

There were a few pull offs along the highway that called to me today, so I made a few stops.  The first stop was a beautiful beach view of lake superior, the second stop was at Agawa Rock which has some Indian Pictographs on the cliff – unfortunately the edge to this cliff is slanted and goes into Lake Superior – had it not been raining all morning I would have gone out to take a look at the pictographs, but with the slippery conditions I thought it best to pass this one over.  This decision was further supported when I slipped on a wet slanted rock on the trail back to the parking lot – fortunately there were other rocks to stop me from going into the lake! lol!  Another stop was at Aloma Bay pull over (a view of lake superior) and another stop at Chippewa Falls.  The stretch between Chippewa Falls and Wawa is known as “the gap” because it was the last stretch of the Trans Canada highway to be completed due to the rugged terrain and hard granite rock.  This stretch was completed in 1960 – I didn’t realize it was so recent that the trans canada highway was finished.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Lake Superior with the fog coming in.  The fog actually made the scenery more dramatic!

Lake Superior with the fog coming in. The fog actually made the scenery more dramatic!

A family heading out on the canoe

A family heading out on the canoe

By Agawa Rock

By Agawa Rock

Lake Superior

Lake Superior

Agawa Rock - this is the cliff edge that I opted not to walk out on to see the Indian Pictographs

Agawa Rock – this is the cliff edge that I opted not to walk out on to see the Indian Pictographs

They had three of these warnings along the 400m trail to Agawa Rock - third time means it's serious...

They had three of these warnings along the 400m trail to Agawa Rock – third time means it’s serious…

Here's the part of the trail that I slipped - the camera is straight, the trees and rocks are slanted...

Here’s the part of the trail that I slipped – the camera is straight, the trees and rocks are slanted…

Northern Ontario with the scene setting fog

Northern Ontario with the scene setting fog

Chippewa Falls

Chippewa Falls

 

Day 59: Jun. 12 – Sault Ste. Marie

I dropped off the rental car at the Sault Ste. Marie airport and got back on my bike for the 20km ride downtown.  It felt SOOO odd riding my bike without all the gear (just Dash with me for this ride)!  Getting downtown I headed over to Mary’s Island and Whitefish Island to check out the canal and lock.  This is the channel where Lake Superior and Lake Huron connect.  On my walk I learned that Sault Ste. Marie has an Emergency Swing Dam, one of only 9 that were built in the world and the only one that was actually put to use in an emergency:

Information on the Emergency Swing Dam in Sault Ste. Marie

Information on the Emergency Swing Dam in Sault Ste. Marie

Front page of the Toronto Star when the Emergency Swing Dam was used in 1909

Front page of the Toronto Star when the Emergency Swing Dam was used in 1909

Canal in Sault Ste. Marie (with bridge crossing to US in the background)

Canal in Sault Ste. Marie (with bridge crossing to US in the background)

Lock in Sault Ste. Marie

Lock in Sault Ste. Marie

Creek on Whitefish Island in Sault Ste. Marie

Creek on Whitefish Island in Sault Ste. Marie

Another pic of the bridge to the States

Another pic of the bridge to the States

Dash sitting tall beside a statue dog

Dash sitting tall beside a statue dog

Bears fishing! :)

Bears fishing! :)

A loooooooong ship

A loooooooong ship

Now that my blog is up to date I’m going to head down to a patio on the water and have an early dinner and perhaps a daiquiri or two :)

G’bye Prairie Wind!

Day 51: Jun 4 – Brandon to Sidney

Daily Distance = 72.13km, Trip Total = 2,003.16km

After having a bagel with peanut butter and packing up all my gear, I was on the road around 10am.  It was another strong headwind day (about 40km/hr), so I kinda just put my head down and tried to knock out the kilometres as comfortably as possible at a speedy 11km/hr.

With a couple breaks at the 25km and again around the 50km mark I was able to make it to my campground around 6pm.  At the 50km break point a transport truck driver acutely observed that it was a ‘windy day for a bike ride’.  When I got to the campground the owner asked if I was doing the cross Canada trip, when I said yup he was quick to respond with ‘we get a few people with that disease through here’.

After taking my sweet time setting up camp, showering, eating and refilling my water for the next days ride, I took Dash for a walk around the campground.  After getting back from this walk I scanned Dash for any unwanted bugs.  I’ve done this scan after every walk and break since finding those 3 bugs in Regina and up until today she came up clean every time.  Unfortunately this time she had about a dozen of these bugs on her and there were even some crawling on my clothes.  I’m 99% certain at this point that they are ticks.  GROSS, GROSS, GROSS!!!  I spent from 10pm ’till 11:30pm inspecting and patting down everything to try to find and rid Dash and I of all these ticks.  GROSS.  I could even see them crawling on the tent.  GROSS.  By midnight I tried to will myself to sleep, but I woke up at least 1/2 a dozen times overnight feeling something crawling on me only to find another tick.  GROSS.

My first rest spot for the day

My first rest spot for the day

My bike at the rest spot

My bike at the rest spot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horses in a field

Horses in a field

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Train crossing on Hwy 1

Train crossing on Hwy 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open highway and the stream of a plane overhead

Open highway and the stream of a plane overhead

Sunset in Sidney

Sunset in Sidney

 

Day 52: Jun 5 – Sidney to Portage La Prairie

Daily Distance = 57.17km, Trip Total = 2,060.33km

After an incredibly unrestful sleep at the campsight I have dubbed tick-nation I woke up around 7 and was VERY happy to pack up and get on the road.  I scanned all my gear and removed a tick that was crawling on my bike handlebars, 6 ticks that were crawling on the outside of my tent (even on the tent poles) and doing one last scan of both Dash and I (both of us came up clean this time – so that’s promising). 

Once on the road my ride was pretty quick.  I think because I was still freaking out a bit about the ticks.  It also helped that the wind was much milder (only 10km/hr).  About 15km into my ride in my tick-distracted state, it took me a couple seconds to realize what was going on when a transport truck (taking up over half of the paved shoulder) sailed past within a foot of me.  Yikes!  It’s a good thing I was keeping to the furthest right of the shoulder otherwise I’d be a pancake right now.  It’s hard to believe that any vehicle would get so close to a cyclist when the shoulder is 6′ wide.  I should mention that this one vehicle was definitely an anomaly.  A large percentage of the vehicles (in particular the transports) make a very conscious effort to not just drive in their lane, but actually move over to the left lane when they pass me.  Which is unnecessary given I have a 6’+ wide paved shoulder, but is certainly appreciated.

The first shade tree on Hwy 1 in over 1000km!

The first shade tree on Hwy 1 in over 1000km!

10km west of portage la prairie I lost the paved shoulder, but the gravel was still ridable (good thing it wasn't raining tho!).

10km west of portage la prairie I lost the paved shoulder, but the gravel was still ridable (good thing it wasn’t raining tho!).

My original destination today was a campground about 9km east of Portage La Prairie, but to be honest the concept of spending another night with the ticks completely grossed me out.  So when I got to Portage La Prairie I checked into a hotel (after calling my dad to get a pulse on whether I was overreacting or not) and immediately had a very hot shower followed by a very hot bath for Dash.  I then used the on-site laundry facilities and washed absolutely everything.  After this I headed over to the Canadian Tire and bought a bottle of ‘tick spray for the home’.  I doused this spray on all my newly washed clothes, pillow, sleeping bag, panniers, tent, shoes, etc.  I also spent several hours researching ticks in Manitoba.  Here is what I’ve since learned:

Ticks appear to be very common in Manitoba, the two primary kinds are: Black Legged Tick and American Dog Tick (or Wood Tick)

The Black Legged Tick is the one that can carry Lymes Disease and is not known to be in the area I’ve been travelling, but further south in Manitoba closer to the US border (phew)

The American Dog Tick (or Wood Tick) is very common in the province and appears to be more of a nuisance than anything (also phew, but still GROSS)

Ticks can’t jump or fly, but usually hang out on tall grass and wait for somebody (or thing) to come by for them to crawl on to (the tick-nation campground had very long grass)

Permethrin is speculated to be an ingredient that ticks will stay away from (the tick spray for the home that I used has permethrin in it)

I went to sleep tonight feeling much more comfortable that I have rid both Dash and I of these pesky things and am happy to report that I have found no more of them on either of us (or any of my gear) since.  Prior to my trip I was worried about wildlife along the lines of bears, wolves, elk, moose.  Never did I imagine something as small as a tick would be the first creature that causes me to freak out and put a damper on the camping experience!

Day 53: Jun 6 – Portage La Prairie to Winnipeg

Daily Distance = 91.86km, Trip Total = 2,152.19km

I was on the road around 10am this morning and immediately headed a couple blocks south to Crescent Lake in Portage La Prairie.  I followed the trail along the lake for about 3km before heading back to Hwy 1A to meet up with Hwy 1.  The 3km along the Lake in Portage La Prairie was an incredibly beautiful ride, here are some pics:

Lake Crescent in Portage La Prairie

Crescent Lake in Portage La Prairie

Crescent Lake in Portage La Prairie

Crescent Lake in Portage La Prairie

And one of main street Portage La Prairie (which was a very cute town as well):

Main street Portage La Prairie

Main street Portage La Prairie

I was very pleased to find that the wind was coming from the South today – not a tailwind, but it wasn’t a headwind either!  Woooohoooo!  The ride to Winnipeg was incredibly flat and for about a 50km stretch it was incredibly straight too!  The temperature really started to warm up in the afternoon getting to the mid-20’s.  It was an ideal day for cycling.  Around the 40km mark I came across an intersection and noticed several picnic tables on the SW corner so I pulled over and stopped for a snack and a break.  Turns out it was actually a school and it being around 1:30 on a Thursday, school was in session.  I really didn’t think I was supposed to be there but I figured I’d stay put until either I was done my break or somebody kicked me out (it’s very rare to get a break with a picnic table on the trans canada!).  Sure enough, somebody did come over and asked if I needed help but when I explained that I was just taking a quick 10min break from my bike she smiled and walked away.

As I started getting closer to Winnipeg there were more places to take breaks so I started taking a quick 10min break pretty much every hour.  When I got into the city of Winnipeg I picked up a trail that followed the Assiniboine River (the same river I sat by in Brandon a few days ago!).  This trail was much nicer than the road to cycle on.  While stopped to take a picture of an interesting looking building a jogger came by and we chatted for a bit – she was super friendly.

I got to the hotel around 6pm and began the process of unpacking my gear, the wonderful post-bike-ride shower and orienting myself with my surroundings.  On my way out to get some food (Subway), I happened to pass by a Liquor mart so I had the pleasure of having a cooler with my sandwich tonight!

Just outside of Portage La Prairie

Just outside of Portage La Prairie

An ambulance trying to get through construction on Trans Canada Hwy 1

An ambulance trying to get through construction on Trans Canada Hwy 1

This was my view for about 50km - very flat and straight!

This was my view for about 50km – very flat and straight!

Winnipeg!!!

Winnipeg!!!

Assiniboine River - same river that goes through Brandon

Assiniboine River – same river that goes through Brandon

Some info on the importance of the river as a means of transportation over the years

Some info on the importance of the river as a means of transportation over the years

Me on the assiniboine trail in Winnipeg

Me on the assiniboine trail in Winnipeg

Interesting building where I met a local jogger

Interesting building where I met a local jogger

 

Day 54: Jun 7 – Winnipeg

I started today with the continental breakfast in the hotel – this time it was actually a hot breakfast in a restaurant which was a nice change.  I then took Dash out for a quick half an hour walk, took her back to the hotel and then headed to MEC to pick up some supplies (mostly protein bars, dehydrated food, etc) for the next leg of my trip.  I wanted to get my bike tuned up, but they didn’t have any room left for a tuneup today.  Oh well, my bike should be able to see me through to Toronto…..I hope….

After these errands were complete I went out for a walk to the Forks.  The Forks is where the Red River and the Assiniboine River meet.  There is a pretty large park area with many walking paths, so it was a pleasant stroll.  I spent a few hours just hanging out at the park, enjoying being by water and grabbed some dinner and a drink at a nearby patio.  All in all – a perfect afternoon :)  It did become overcast with a bit of rain and some lightening in the distance, but that wasn’t enough to phase me.

Back at the hotel I then caught up on emails and my blog.

Sculpture that sprays water and creates fog

Sculpture that sprays water and creates fog

Dash checking out the Red River

Dash checking out the Red River

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They aren't lying about the flooding

They aren’t lying about the flooding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Forks - where Red River and Assiniboine River meet

The Forks park - where I spent a pleasant afternoon

The Forks park – where I spent a pleasant afternoon

With some background aboriginal music :)

With some background music – the person in the middle gave an impromptu performance

It just wouldn't be complete without a train or two...

It just wouldn’t be complete without a train or two…

The Red River and Assiniboine River meeting

The Red River and Assiniboine River meeting

Info on a bridge that crosses the Assiniboine River

Info on a bridge that crosses the Assiniboine River

Model of said bridge

Model of said bridge

And the actual bridge

And part of the actual bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bridge across the Red River

Bridge across the Red River

Me in front of 'the meeting place' sculpture

Me in front of ‘the meeting place’ sculpture

Funky building by the forks

Funky building by the forks

Part of the Winnipeg skyline

Part of the Winnipeg skyline

Another day, another province, another timezone

Day 48: Jun 1 – Moosomin to almost Oak Lake

Daily Distance = 80.86km, Trip Total = 1,870.04km

After being hunkered down for two days hiding from the elements, I woke up this morning super keen to get back on my bike!  This excitement was further enhanced when I realized I was facing a crosswind (with the occasional tail) instead of a headwind!!!  I’ll take it!!

Dash waiting so patiently and properly (luv the crossed paws) as I went to retrieve our bike and trailer

Dash waiting so patiently and properly (luv the crossed paws) as I went to retrieve our bike and trailer

I made pretty good time to the Manitoba border and at times I could even coast!  GASP!  What is this?  The bike keeps forward momentum even when you don’t pedal for 5 or 6 seconds?  That is joy!

Reaching the Manitoba border I had to stop for the mandatory pic and I took the opportunity to let Dash run in the park for a while.  Not only did I cross a provincial border, I’ve also crossed another timezone!

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About 5km later I came to the Manitoba visitor centre and chatted with the gals working for a few minutes.  They suggested that I sign the cycle log.  They have a guest log specifically for cyclists!  How cool is that?  As I quickly scanned through the log I noticed one entry that started with ‘slow and steady’. I commented out loud that this was my mantra to which the tourist info gals said this group had come by about a week ago and they were optimistic I would catch up to them eventually!  Not likely, but I appreciated their optimism in my abilities! lol!  The tourist info gals also commented how crazy it is that we have had so many days with such a strong easterly wind.  I felt like this further validates that I’m not just imagining or exaggerating the wind factor.

At the Manitoba visitor centre

At the Manitoba visitor centre

 

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Heading back out on the road about another 15km I started to notice my legs were getting a bit toasty – oh crap!  I forgot to put on sunscreen!  I just happened to be pedalling past a gas station in Elkhorn, so I pulled over and immediately applied the necessary sunscreen (albeit a little late, I did get a bit burnt).  I didn’t stop again ’till the town of Virden where I claimed a picnic table at an ice cream place and quickly chowed down on some trail mix and a protein bar.  While sitting there a lady came by and asked about my trip and commented that it was good I wasn’t ‘bucking the wind’ today! I couldn’t agree more! lol!

The most common road debris (second most common seems to be banana peels)

The most common road debris – parts of tires (second most common seems to be banana peels)

Where I applied sunscreen (better late than never...)

Where I applied sunscreen (better late than never…)

Cows!

Cows!

I arrived at Aspen Grove Campground just off the highway between the towns of Virden and Oak Lake around 4:30pm.  After setting up camp and having dinner (fettucine primevara today), I took Dash for a walk around the campground where a lady immediately started to gush over Dash and asked if I could walk Dash over to her site so her hubby could meet her (apparently they also had a min pin that recently passed away).

Dash digging...

Dash digging…

Her aim is true, she was able to place the dirt right on the tent

Her aim is true, she was able to place the dirt right on the tent

 

Day 49: Jun 2 – Almost Oak Lake to Brandon

Daily Distance = 61.01km, Trip Total = 1,931.03km

I woke up around 2:30am a little chilled (temperature dropped to about 1 degree overnight), but once I fully zipped up the mummy style sleeping bag and ducked my head inside I was cozy and able to go back to sleep.  Given the cooler temperatures I was surprised that I slept comfortably until 7am.

Heading out of the campground and just before getting back onto the highway I realized that I had forgotten to apply chamois creme this morning (and was feeling it), so I pulled over and quickly applied (thankfully nobody came by at this time – how embarrassing that would have been!).  Now for those who don’t know – chamois creme is applied to the derrière as well as the inside of your shorts to reduce the chaffing and friction that often occurs when cycling for any length of time thereby reducing (but not eliminating) the effects of ‘bikers butt’ (thanks Jen for informing me of this gem of a creme!).

Since crossing into Manitoba I have noticed a couple things:  it’s a bit more green, there are trees (not overly tall trees, but trees no less), cell reception seems limited.

Otherwise today’s trip was rather uneventful, I really just took in the new scenery and happily rolled along the highway.  There was a headwind, but it was pretty minor (only about 10km), so I was pretty grateful to have two days in a row where the wind was a relative non-factor!

I got to Brandon around 2, where I headed out to a park and a grocery store to pick up some fruit, chocolate milk, cheese, peanut butter and bagels!  Yummy!

I'm surprised it took me this long to take a pic of they Hwy 1 sign....

I’m surprised it took me this long to take a pic of the Hwy 1 sign….

Transport trucks in the fields

Two transport trucks and a tractor in the fields

More green AND trees!

More green AND trees!

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Sunset in Brandon

A fuzzy sunset in Brandon

 

Day 50: Jun 3 – Brandon

Today was super mellow.  I slept in ’till 9:30 and after having breakfast (fruit, bagel and peanut butter) I spent over an hour rotating between the pool and hot tub :)

After this I caught up on some emails and then around 2pm I headed out for about a 10km stroll around Brandon.  I headed to the downtown core, spent some time in a park watching the trains and then meandered along the Assiniboine River while Dash got to run free and off leash to her hearts content :)  I got back to the hotel around 6:30 having picked up a turkey wrap from a local restaurant and then got to work on my blog, uploading pics, reading other blogs before heading back down to the pool and hot tub for another hour!

Brandon University

Brandon University

Downtown Brandon

Downtown Brandon

Watching the trains

Watching the trains

 

Dash and I watching the trains

Dash and I watching the trains

The trains

The trains

Dash waiting for the squirrel to come out of the hole

Dash waiting for the squirrel to come out of the hole

Assiniboine River

Assiniboine River

 

 

Still waiting...

Still waiting…

Heck, I'll just try to dig it out

Heck, I’ll just try to dig it out

Assiniboine River - was moving pretty fast

Assiniboine River – was moving pretty fast

Trees!

Trees!

River, green and trees!

River, green and trees!

 

Me beside the Assiniboine River

Me beside the Assiniboine River

Wetlands by the Assiniboine River

Wetlands by the Assiniboine River

Prairie Grass by the Assiniboine River

Prairie Grass by the Assiniboine River

Some info on the prairie grass

Some info on the prairie grass