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:
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.