Yes, I know I have fallen behind on keeping this up to date but I have been camping a lot in areas with little or no signal to post…. So grab a cuppa and find a comfy spot, this could take some time!
Sault Ste. Marie to Blind River (5th August)
I decided to have a big day on the road to day and planned to do about 140km. The route unfortunately still follows the main highway for the majority of the day. The climbs tended to be smaller than I have had on previous days and my pace seemed to be good, I think I may have even have had a tail wind for most of the day! At about 80km I came to the small town of Thessalon and still feeling fresh I took the detour into town and thought about getting some food but it was surprisingly busy! I hadn’t realised but this weekend was a long weekend and there was a parade through the town, I decided to watch instead of scooting round it and was surprised that most of the floats just seemed to be pickups with families sat in the back, rather odd but interesting to watch!
About 30 mins after this I looked up at the sky and coming from the north west were some ominous looking clouds, not long after was a grocery store so I decided to stop and get a iced tea and sit out what looked to be a short shower… I wasn’t wrong it was short but heavy.
After the shower I hopped on the bike again and was off, I was still feeling good so blind river seemed more and more achievable. At about the 120km mark I began to get tired and my legs started to feel leaden. As I drew into Blind River I noticed a nice looking motel right beside the river and decided to stay there for the night. I had a meal at the restaurant across the street and a brief wander round town before heading back for some rest. It had been a long but nice day.
Blind River to Webbwood (6th August)
Todays plan was to head to Espanola on Highway 6 but not all plans work out! My legs were feeling leaden so the going was hard although my averages are still showing 23kph so not to shoddy. The temperature was slightly cooler today too and more clouds in the sky, I had a feeling it might get a touch wet later on and I wasn’t “disappointed”. At about 14:00 and 30km from Espanola the heavens opened, I threw my rain coat on before but it wetted out in no time. By the time I entered Webbwood I had decided it was going to be a shorter day than planned and another motel as I wasn’t putting a tent up in this, it would have been wet inside and out. The motel was poor, the staff odd but it was shelter. After check in I passed a few words with a motor cyclist who had also decided it was no fun playing in this. The weather briefly broke and I went to get some food from a local services type place…. they didn’t take card and I was out of cash so I ended up with more lentil medley fun!
Webbwood to South Baymouth (7th August)
I am feeling sluggish today and my legs ache for some reason, its was a slow start and after 10km I stopped for breakfast at Timmies at the junction with Highway 6, after another 5km I stopped and had a second breakfast from a different Timmies in Espanola.
This seemed to help a little as did the beautiful if slightly hilly terrain as I approached Manitoulin Island, the views reminded me of parts of Scotland which is pleasant although every hill was a challenge!
The traffic seemed to be lightish in the direction that I was travelling but heavy the other way, it was people going home from there long weekend I guess!
As you cross onto the island there is a funky swing bridge, unfortunately I didn’t get to see this in action but it was cool. I stopped at the info centre on the other side to check how the ferry worked and bumped into another cyclist, Mark, who is travelling to Niagara as well. As ever info on what we had learned and routes was shared before Mark headed of.
After the info centre I got some food at a local restaurant before heading further onto the island. Manitoulin is apparently the biggest island on a lake its pretty and worth the visit for those travelling across the country.
As I approached Manitowaning I was really starting to get tired and wanted to find somewhere to stop, there are no campgrounds and the motel was full so I had to keep going for another 20km to South Baymouth by the time I got there I was done in, I managed to get the last room in a motel although I had planned to camp, and went to get a pizza. I ended up having an early night as I was so tired, shame as it seems a pretty town!
South Baymouth to Wiarton (8th August)
It was an early start to get the ferry from South Baymouth to Tobermory, as I was queuing up I spotted Mark again and said hi, we went and got coffee while waiting to board.
After tying the bikes up to stop them falling all over the place while underway we went and got some breakfast in the cafeteria, the trip was rather pleasant and Mark and I decided that we would stick together as we headed in the same direction.
On leaving the boat we had no option but to follow Highway 6 down to Ferndale, a distance of about 40km were we turned east onto the more rural back roads, this took us through a small village where I swear that I heard banjo’s…. Continuing through we passed into woodland were the trees gradually turned from evergreens to deciduous, I wonder why it changes so quickly?
A steed downhill decent brought us into the pretty town of Colpoy’s Bay before a steep climb back out and in to Wiarton where we found a campsite for the night, we ended up going and getting a beer and pizza for dinner. I haven’t been drinking much on this trip so it was rather pleasant! Back at camp I watched the sun set then headed to bed.
Wiarton to Markdale (9th August)
After breaking camp and breakfast at Timmies (you seeing a pattern yet?) we took the backroads to Owen Sound, just outside of town we happened across a waterfall, Ingles Falls, which was impressive!
Not long after we joined up with a route that Mark had heard about that consisted of a old rail line that was converted into a footpath/cycle/snowmobile track and continues for 130km. The track is gravel so it would be a two day job but being off the roads was lovely. The track winds through woodland, swampy land and lakes, at one of these we came across some giant swans (bigger than the UK type) that wasn’t in the mood to move! After about 10 mins of shooing it finally got out the way.
That afternoon we got to Markdale, had some food and a couple of beers at the local restaurant/bar before setting up a stealth camp on a patch of grass next to the trail and an ice-cream factory.
Markdale to Orangeville (10th August)
We were up early and got breakfast at a local café before re-joining the trail, towns are becoming more common now and we cycled through a few to take a look but the rest of the day was gravel grinding down narrow tracks. Oddly the closer we got to the terminus of the trail (Orangeville) the worse it got!
We got to town about 16:00 to find there isn’t a campsite of any sort, we aske around multiple places and then got told that one of the local parks was best for stealth camping.
We headed for a bike shop as Mark had lost a glove and the normal conversations and advice were had including that the Jamaican bar round the corner was good, so we had some snacks there and a beer or two.
We cooked dinner at the visitor centre before heading to the park and setting up for the night, the local drunks trying to help Mark with his tent…
Orangeville to Winona (11th August)
Today was a scatnav day as we would be heading into urban areas. We started by heading down Highway 10 before joining the Caldone Trailway, this are was very similar to somewhere like Surrey, mainly flat with similar types of trees. The trail was superb and possibly some of the best cycling I have had since the Rockies.
We re-joined the backroads in some rather swanky areas before entering into suburbia and then industrial areas, the scatnav kept us on mainly miner roads and grassy areas as we wiggled our way through Mississauga then into Burlington which has a couple of rather interesting bridges! These areas sit on the shore of Lake Ontario so there were some nice views and places that we did think of pitching up for the night, then changed our minds and continued as there was still a lot of day light left to use, the cycling was generally gentle and we were on one of the many cycle trails which was pleasant.
After a while the trail goes onto the Northern Service road for the QEW Highway so became noisy, and we were both starting to get hungry so stopped at the closest place we could find for dinner, not long after we figured we wouldn’t make the campground we planned so we went to a neighbouring conservation area that thankfully had camping. I did some washing and had a shower and on the way back to the tent lightning was flashing in the distance, during the night a storm struck and I could feel almost a fizzing energy in there air as thunder and lightning raged around my tent, I think it was the biggest storm yet.
Winona to Niagara (12th August)
We packed away our wet tents and went to find a Timmies, they are everywhere!
Again we scatnaved our way through the backroads and rather posh areas, vineyards, orchids before entering the suburbs of St Catherine’s were we had Timmies for lunch, the riding was on busier roads from here making directions harder to hear or follow meaning a few wrong turns as we left St Catherine’s and entered into Niagara.
We decided to get a motel and share the costs. Once showered we went for a wander to the falls and have a look and got drenched as a rain came in, after a while we headed back to the motel and cooked dinner and decided we would go to a bar for a couple of drinks…. An interesting night of good company, live music and far too much beer ensued and we rolled back to the motel at about 02:30 in the morning… we felt it the next day!