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Long rides

I am feeling worn and tired. Sorry for the delayed update, pics will follow ASAP

Quebec to Buie St Paul (3rd Sept 2017)

I decided to follow the Trans Canadian trail out of town (via the nearest Timmies). The trail follows the north shore of the St Lawrence which at this point is tidal and beginning to widen in to the delta.

Following the trail led onto country roads leading through small villages that had an Alpine kind of feel, I followed the low route for the tail only to find that not only did the trail stop but the path through Reserve Nationale Faune du cap-Torment is a non-bike path! So I had to back track and rejoin the main road… this proved interesting…. the quickest route took me straight up a huge hill gaining approximately 500m in 5km, and to make it even more fun my gears decided this moment to decide that I hadn’t tinkered with them enough lately so I lost not only granny gear but my second lowest too, I couldn’t actually make any headway so ended up walking the bike up. Not a happy bunny and I may have said one or two words about the Trans Canada Trail (I think I may write a review of the trail and pass it on to them too).

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For the next 30km I gradually worked my up more hills, not a steep but without the climbing gears I was really struggling! Thankfully the last 20km was down hill but my legs were done, I had done 110km with 1200m of accent averaging 18kph. I would class this as a tough day.

That evening I stayed in a motel again. Buie St Paul comes across as a nice town and for some reason feels a bit like a small skiing town, not sure if it is though!

Buie St Paul to  Saint-Irenee (4th Sept 2017)

God my legs are tired! And its going to be another tough day. I planned a short day and hope that my legs would feel better after the first few km… that was before I realised the first 7km had 300+m of accent. This was going to be a grind fest but luckily I had sorted the gears on my bike and the views were quite impressive.

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Even with the views and the working gears I only managed 33km, and in that there was 700m of assent. I was destroyed. I need a rest day.

Saint-Irenee (5th Sept 2017)

My legs are burned out from the hills over the last few days, I had a wander down the beach and a look round the village but otherwise rested up. Can’t believe that after the amount of time I have been on the bike I can still burn out like this!

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Saint-Irenee to Saint Simeon (6th Sept 2017)

A day off had helped the legs a bit, the first climb out of town (600m from where I stayed) was 17%… this didn’t help my legs. and this was the way the day went, up and down for the 49km to Saint Simeon. I didn’t see much of the scenery as I was struggling so much on the hills, each one being above 10%. The weather has also turned colder so on the downhills I am starting to get chilly, my motivation is defiantly getting low as and I must say as I go into the last 1000km of the trip this doesn’t seem to help, after all its just round the corner now.

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Just a small one.

Saint Simeon to Rivier-du-Loup (7th Sept)

Very short day today, I crossed the St Lawrence by ferry but  I didn’t fancy playing in the mist and drizzle so help up at a motel.

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Rivier-du-Loup to Simeon to near Saint-Louis du Ha! Ha! (8th Sept 2017)

I’m still struggling, I just don’t fancy riding any more but I have distance that I must make, the day is chilly and some fog still left over. I am back to wearing sleeves.

I re-joined the trail and followed it south east, the trail tended to have a great surface of fine gravel over some kind of hard-pack meaning that the going was quite easy but the general gradient was up all day with a total accent of 550m, not too tough but noticeable. Although these trails are good and keep you away from the traffic, I must admit that the scenery doesn’t seem to alter much, its trees and some swampy areas and that’s about it, also they tend to follow the roads in the area and when my legs start to get tired I really do begin to wonder if I should have been on the roads, the riding would be easier and I would probably make better time…

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Saint-Louis du Ha! Ha! to Edmundston (9th Sept 2017)

First place I passed today was the entertainingly named town of Saint-Louis du Ha! Ha!, apparently named for the fact that people make that noise when they come to a boundary or obstacle…

At about midday the weather started to look like it was turning and not long after the heavens opened, luckily these trails are really well maintained and have rest stops where the old stations on the rail line used to be, this is a distance of about 10km between them,  and I managed to get to one just before the torrent started. I ended up sat in the shelter watching the rain blow across the lakes for nearly an hour before it cleared up and blue skies came out. As would be expected the trail was a tad damp and made for some interesting riding for a while.

At about 60km I crossed over from Quebec to New Brunswick and, for once at a Canadian provincial border, nothing seemed any different.

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About 20km later I arrived grimy and covered in grit from the trail, I checked into a motel, had a shower and collapsed onto the bed. I just feel tired all the time at the second yet don’t seem to get a good nights sleep! After a nap I headed out scavenging for food and ended up at the old faithful Boston Pizza.

Edmundston (10th Sept 2017) 

I only managed to get a few hours sleep last night as the neighbours were coming and going at all hours so I decided to have another rest day and ended up sleeping most of it, what a waste but I obviously needed I just hope I can sleep later!

Edmunston to Perth-Andover (11th Sept 2017)

I started the morning with a smile at Timmies this morning before heading back onto the trails, they had started to get rougher as I followed the St John River, its also funny to think that just over this stretch of river lies the US, there is nothing separating them apart from a 20m wide stretch of slow moving water.

It was another uneventful day on the trails, a brief stop at Grand Fall which is not so grand due to the damn they have built at the top of the falls, to talk to the tourist information about potential routes and a spot of lunch before heading back onto the trail. For a tiring but uneventful conclusion to the day in Perth-Andover

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I needed to do some bike maintenance tonight as the gears aren’t working properly again, I have a feeling the rear cassette and the derailleur may both be wearing out but I will nurse them through as far as I can, its not long till the finish line now.

Perth-Andover to Hartland (12th Sept 2017)

I have to say the trails have started to get tougher, they seem to be less maintained and more broken, in fact I am beginning to worry about what it might be doing to bits of the bike and to me. My hands lost feeling in them after about an hour and a half riding and I am starting to just feel battered.

The trail was pretty much the same as before and I was getting bored so had a short 60km day, I know tomorrow will be a long one so time to rest up and get as much energy in me as possible.

Hartland to McAdam (13th Sept 2017)

I am moving slightly away from the river now too which means that there are more hills, none too bid but with the gravel under tire its not easy getting Eve to move up them. I have been using the lower gear ranges more and more, just as well I fixed them!

As today wore on I just got more and more tired so found the quickest way of the trails and onto the road…. it turns out that the main road round this are is gravel and in about as bad condition as the trial, I am really feeling battered and I am getting chafe for the first time in months due to the broken surface!

I got to the town of McAdam at about 6pm and headed for a motel, I needed a shower and a bed… the motel had closed…. There was a b&b…. I couldn’t get hold of them by phone or by knocking…. so I headed for the campsite and they were kind enough to give me a free night as I looked in such a sorry state and they were amazed by what I am doing. If I have learned anything on this trip it is the more sorry for yourself you appear and the more crazy you sound, the more people will look after you. It’s enough to restore your faith in humanity. Now time to put some cream on my sore bum, eat a freeze dried meal and get some sleep.

McAdam to St Andrews (14th Sept 2017)

My bum is feeling a bit better but am tired as I only got about 3hrs sleep as my imagination was working overtime, every little noise last night I was sure was a bear… the campsite was in a wood so there was a frigging lot of noises.

The day started ok, my legs were tired but I could deal with that, the road was good apart from a couple of stretches of roadworks but nothing to worry about, but as the day went on the thing that hurts me most happened, the temperature increased and reached 28 degrees centigrade, I don’t deal well in the heat, it saps all my energy. I drank over 3ltrs of water in the 4hrs ride (a lot for me) and was wanting more. It was taking everything out of me and was starting to make me feel unwell. If it wasn’t for this the ride would have been beautiful, especially the last 20km going onto the peninsular of land  St Andrews is situated on, the hills overlooking the bay and out to the Bay of Fundy. I was quite looking forward to getting to town… mainly to recover and rest.

St Andrews (15th Sept 2017)

I have spent the day exploring the town and went on a whale watching tour on a tall ship! I had the pleasure of watching grey seals basking on rocks in the Bay of Fund. Also saw harbour porpoise, minkie whales and even a few finback whales, which are the second biggest creature in the world and it was probably only 30m from the boat!

I like this town, its pretty, the people are nice and the food is good. I am feeling contented, just a shame I cant stay longer!

 

 

 

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Mon Français est terrible

So I am now passing from Ontario into Quebec and French Canada. Unfortunately my French isn’t much good any more making things slightly more interesting as in some of the more rural areas their English is even worse! Makes for some interesting conversations with lots of hand gestures and pointing!

Tweed to Perth – 110km (23rd August 2017)

The day started with breakfast with Brian and Laura before we headed our separate ways.

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I was back on the Trans Canadian Trail as it seemed good at this point but I hadn’t anticipated that yesterdays storm would have brought down so many branch’s and even trees, after 10km I had to switch to the roads to avoid some complete blockages. Most of the time not much of interest actually happened as I just pottered along the tree and lake bordered trail but I did see my first wild turtle, it was ninja stealthy and I nearly mistook it for one of the many rocks on the trail!

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As the day wore on the trail got more broken, on long days like this it becomes hard as just trying to keep focused on staying on the bike as the larger stones move out from under my skinny wheels with a pop kicks wheels out all over the place. Its quite good fun though!

Perth to Ottawa – 92km (24th August 2017)

I was back on the highway most of the day but there was very little to see, days seem to blend now as the scenery doesn’t change that much, at times it feels like I am just munching out miles.

As ever as I got in towards town I started to get lost, I had a nice chat with a lady who has done similar trips herself up until a few years back, she was now in her 70’s!

First impressions of Ottawa was it was quite nice with some big gothic style buildings, most of which are government buildings.

I finally found the hostel and checked in and this one was an interesting one… its in a prison! As I checked in I was told the hostel had organised a night out at the local comedy club so I signed up to go along.

The doors in this place are heavy and thankfully an Italian chap, Alessandro, gave me a hand with my panniers up to my room, he also had just got to town and was heading to the comedy later. Getting to my private room I was slightly surprise at the size of the cell, it was tiny with only just enough room for the bed which my panniers had to go under!

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So of to the comedy club we went and a good laugh was had, I cant remember the name of the acts but its the first comedy club that I have been to that was worth the money. Afterwards Alessandro, Tracy (an fun American chap), Serena (a lovely Italian lady) and an Aussie lass (who’s name has escaped me at the sec) went for one or two (rea 4+) drinks.

Ottawa  – 0km (25th August 2017)

This morning I took the tour of the prison, learning its grisly history including the hundreds of bodies that were discovered in the court yard and potentially hundreds more that were under the carpark. The prison was closed in the ’70’s due to its medieval practices and the appalling breach’s in human rights, and the hostel opened there just 6 months later!

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After the tour a few of us went to look round the city, Alessandro was in a bit of a mess from the night before which entertained me!

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In the evening we had all signed up for a pub crawl, I had to behave as I was back on the bike but we had a good time, especially in the bar that we had been to the night before as it seemed to be “the place to be”.

Ottawa to Voyager Provincial Park – 115km (26th August 2017)

I didn’t get lost leaving the city!!!!!!!!! erm yea… might be too excited by that….

Once out of the city I was back on the trails, they really do all the same! These trails were better maintained and the going was smooth. The trails are mainly old rail tracks so the going is flat and straight so quick.

After about 80km I pulled up to the provincial park for the night, it wasn’t the best I have been to, just an overpriced campsite in the woods.

Voyager Provincial Park to Montreal – 93km (27th August 2017)

I’m starting to struggle to get up in the mornings, even when in a tent.

After about 10km on the road I came across a couple of tourers on the side of the road, one of them had a bad knee so was waiting to get picked up, they were only doing a couple of days so they weren’t too far out, I cycled on to the next town with the other one, Eric, before stopping and getting some much needed breakfast. Eric went on but I was likely to catch him later.

I caught up with Eric as I was on the way into Montreal…. you guessed it, I was looking at a map of where I was supposed to go. Eric was going the same way so I cycled with him getting information on everywhere that we passed through which was nice and meant I wasn’t getting lost!

I got to the hostel about 17:00 and got some food there before heading for a walk about the local area to get my bearings… and some more food. I got my first experience of the locals speaking solely French… this could get interesting, to say my French is rusty is being very, very kind….

Montreal – 0km (28th August 2017)

I was looking forward to Montreal as everyone says how nice it is, but I have to say I was slightly disappointed. I maybe its just that I had such a good time in Ottawa a few days ago, or that the language barrier had impacted me more than I realised but I just couldn’t get the feel for the city. I visited the area’s that people rave about and was just slightly underwhelmed. Having a rest day was good though and I put the bike into a shop for a check over.

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Montreal to Granby – 82km (29th August 2017)

*sigh* I hate riding in cities…. I got lost, detoured, sent all over the place! Eventually I escaped and was back on the trails following Le Rue Vert. This route goes from Montreal all the way to Quebec so I would follow this for the next few days.

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For some reason, even thought I had had a rest day my legs were tired and my head just wasn’t in the game. everything felt slow and sluggish and my right knee had started to play up again. For those that don’t know, my knees have been playing up on and off since I was about 16 so I know when they need to rest and when the pain will disappear.

The trail was the same as ever quite samey but its nice not to be on the roads.

Granby to Danville – 96km (30th August 2017)

Much to my regret I left the trails for a while today, I was greeted instead by gravel roads that were far more hilly and the gravel was tougher to ride on than the grit of the trails, that probably doesn’t really make sense but the bigger the stones the tougher on both the concentration, body and a bigger chance of something going wrong with the bike. This all means that going was slower.

On one of the gravel roads I had a particularly fun encounter with a dog that forced me to dismount and face it down, its not the first time but this one seemed quite determined to get to me! I find this quite entertaining as I have covered nearly 7000km through areas containing some of the most dangerous land predators and haven’t had an issue but come across the domestic dog and they will nearly always chase!

Danville to Quebec City – 150km (31st August 2017)

I started the day tired and it didn’t get much better, the first 40km dragged and I couldn’t get my head into the ride. I had made plans to meet up with some of the guy I had met on the road in Quebec but the last two days hadn’t been as far as I had planned so I had to make up the distance today, by 13:00 I felt like I had enough but had only covered about 40km. I had been in contact with the Nic (one of the cycle crew) and this gave me the drive to push on, after I had taken on some food (bag of crisps (1000cal) and some fruit juice (another 1000cals)) I was feeling better and started to push on, maybe I was low on energy.

As I crossed the bridge from Levi to Quebec I was already starting to see some of the beauty of the city with gothic structure of Le Château Frontenac looking over the town. I was slightly surprised by the almost militaristic feel of the city, I had no idea what to expect to be honest but the gothic structures, the sheer cliffs, city walls and Citadelle were a surprise.

Half hour after checking in I met up with Nic and had a few beers, it was a good night and great to catch up with him and his girlfriend, I hope to keep in contact with them and see them again some time down the line.

Quebec City – 0km (1st and 2nd October 2017)

I have had couple of days resting and catching up with some of my buddies from on the road in Quebec. The city is probably the prettiest I have seen in Canada so far with quaint rough stone cottages, imposing gothic towers and monolithic fortifications.

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The city was first settled in 1535 and is one of the oldest cities in North America. Also, Quebec’s Old Town is the only North American fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist,

Also, Quebec’s Old Town is the only North American fortified city north of Mexico whose walls still exist.

French explorer Jacques Cartier built a fort at the site in 1535, where he stayed for the winter before going back to France in spring 1536. He came back in 1541 with the goal of building a permanent settlement. This first settlement was abandoned less than one year after its foundation, in the summer 1542, due in large part to the hostility of the natives combined with the harsh living conditions during winter.

Quebec City was founded by Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer and diplomat on 3 July 1608, and at the site of a long abandoned St. Lawrence Iroquoian settlement called Stadacona. Champlain, also, served as its administrator for the rest of his life.

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Quebec City was the headquarters of many raids against New England during the four French and Indian Wars. In the last war, the French and Indian War (Seven Years’ War), Quebec City was captured by the British in 1759 and held until the end of the war in 1763. It was the site of three battles in which British troops under General James Wolfe defeated the French General Louis-Joseph de Montcalm on 13 September 1759 and shortly thereafter took the city; and the final Battle of Sainte-Foy, a French victory (28 April 1760). France ceded New France, including the city, to Britain in 1763.

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So that’s the boring history bit, on the Friday I met up with MJ and one of her friends and went to the Circus Crepuscule, its one of the free performances put on by the city every year and this local troop are pretty good! After the show we headed for a drink and a “beaver tail” (a dough strip with topping, its nice!) the rest of the time was looking round the city and eating.

 

Backtracking!

Ahhhhh! I can’t keep up!

 

Niagara Falls (13th -15th August 2017)

I spent about a day updating the last blog, shame but it needed doing! The next few days were wet but this didn’t stop me from doing the tourist stuff including a trip on The Hornblower into the falls and a walk behind the falls, both of which was well worth the money and give you a true perspective of the scale of Horseshoe falls.

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Niagara to Toronto (16th August 2017)

Today I did my longest ride to date clocking 170km. My plan was to try to meet up with one of the cyclists I met on the road, Nate, for a spot of lunch in Hamilton. I started the day early and went to take some photo’s of sunrise at the fall meaning a 05:30 start, from there I headed north to Niagara On The Lake. NOTL is a small up market area that seems to have had a fair amount of new buildings go up in the last few years but is still quite nice.

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From Niagara On The Lake I followed the lake until I rejoined the route that I had cycled a few days earlier, through wine country. Thankfully it was still quite early and the wineries were closed otherwise I would have been sorely tempted to have a tipple. I continued to retrace the route till near the campground at Fifty Point Conservation area where I contacted Nate, unfortunately it looked like even though I had pushed the last 80km it wasn’t likely that I would catch him on his lunch break.

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I reached Hamilton at 13:00 and had some food by the lake, by this time I had covered approximately 100km and I was still feeling good so I decided to push on towards Toronto, another 70km… this may have been a mistake…

About 30km further on in Mississauga I started to tire, I stopped at a Drugs Mart (kinda like a big Superdrugs for those of you in the UK) and got a drink and some food to give me a boost for the push into Toronto.

As I approached the city the traffic was increasing, and not just cars but cyclists of the worst kind… the lycra clad commuter… these strange creature seem to believe that they own the roads and cycle paths and seem to suffer from delusions that, on the commute, skin tight clothing on a carbon bike is needed…. Imagine the look on some of there faces as a raggedy looking cyclist with four 20ltr panniers and various other bags seems to keep up with them, or at least catches them at crossings, and all with a cheery “hello” rather than the aggressive ringing of a bell or just ignoring everyone around them.

I was already regretting coming to the city, it all feels so fake, the tall skyscrapers blocking out the sky and making it feel like a prison. I think I may be going feral.

Toronto (17th – 18th August 2017)

I have spent the last couple of day exploring Toronto, I have taken a trip up the CN Tower (the queues were horrific), the views were good but I think I preferred the Calgary Tower even if it was shorter.

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I also had a trip the Distillery District which is a bit of a hipster kinda area and I must admit that I quite liked it. The area is possibly the oldest I have been in since coming to Canada with Victorian style red brick building similar to the uk, there are art galleries, bars and such in the area which made for an interesting few hours.

Lastly I went to St Lawrence Market, National Geographic voted this one of the best food markets around… I have been to better over here to be honest but it was interesting to have a look around.

I had some bits an pieces to do on the bike so paid a visit to MEC for some parts and other then a general explore I rested up as I have been having niggles in my knees after big days on the bike.

Toronto to Bowmansville (19th August 2017)

I planned to start early but breakfast was at 07:00 so it was later than hoped, thankfully being a Sunday the roads were quite quiet so getting down the waterfront trail was quiet easy, from here I followed the trail which passed through some nice seaside like villages that often had a harbour. The day continued like this and was rather pleasant apart from one or two downpours that always led to a friendly conversation as everyone hid from the rain, it even lead to a rather nice cup of tea and scone both of which were free!

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I ended up in the small town of Bowmansville where it turned out that there was nowhere to camp and the motels were full due to two weddings in town so had the luxury of a Best Western…. not cheap though!

Bowmansville to Havelock (20th August 2017)

Today I headed inland and said goodbye to the great lakes, kinda sad as I have been traveling along these for quite some time now and always enjoy being close to the sea and these might as well be classed as seas!

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After following the lakeside trail for approximately 35km to through Newcastle and Port Hope the route goes north up highway 45 for most of the day passing through small towns, its rather a boring route but I put in a 115km most of which I was listening to music through to keep interested!

Havelock to Tweed (21th August 2017)

I followed the highway for a way before joining another rail to trails project, as you can tell from the name this is old railways that have been turned into recreational tracks for walkers and cyclists, they tend to be ok gravel surfaces but this one was a tad torn up after the first 10km and I was cycling through puddles that left my feet slightly damp… this was followed by coming across a grader that was tying to repair such damage with soil that sunk under my tires in other words it was a wet and muddy day, good fun but tiring. After following the never changing wooded trail for 40km I was tired and there was a motel on the edge of the town. With the weather looking dicey tomorrow (tornado warnings) I decided for a rest day and some TLC for my bike. Just so happened that a couple of other cyclists had decided the same and they even treated me to dinner! I spent the eve  chatting to Brian and Laura and a fun time was had by all!

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Tweed (22nd August) 

Eve got some loving.

On the right track

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

 

 

Up hill, down hill, round the hill, Lake

The title kinda sums up all the riding for this period as I am in the true Canadian Shield, the climbs are short and sharp, the descents the same and majorly fun and all of this interspersed with stunning views of Lake Superior.

For those who don’t know Lake Superior is the largest fresh water lake in the world by surface area at 31,700 sq mi (82,100 km2), that’s only a touch smaller than the whole of the UK! It is the 3rd biggest by volume at 2,900 cu mi (12,000 km3). More important though is that I don’t think it tastes great.

White River to Wawa (28th July 2017)

First stop today was the statue in White River dedicated to Winnie the Pooh, the bear that inspired the story was bought from White River before eventually ending up in London Zoo, apparently named for Winnipeg where the owner was from.

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After the day with the younger and lightly loaded guys yesterday my legs feel like lead but after the first 10km they seem to loosen up but going was still going to be slow and its a long day planned at just under 100km.

To make life interesting my phone has started playing up and its my main system for navigation, I am now relying on a SatNav that seems to want to take me the long way round everywhere. Other than that the day was pretty uneventful I have still yet to see a bear over this side of the country even though nearly everyone I talk to says they see them all the time!

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Campsite!

In Wawa I am staying at Naturally Superior Adventures located right on the lake and its an absolutely stunning location, possibly the most beautiful that I have come across since leaving the mountains! They had a local rock band playing in the evening so I went and watched followed by admiring the sun set.

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Sunset

Wawa (29th July 2017)

Today started with a paddle board lesson, it took a while to start to understand the balance and quite honestly the appeal, but after the first hour I started to get it. I am used to fast paced adrenaline sports and paddle boarding is a calm sport and would be a great way of travelling although I feel on rough waters it may be… interesting!

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Naturally Superior Adventures

After the lesson I chilled for most of the day on the rocks around NSA… I may have even had an afternoon nap.

During the evening a group of us had a fire on the beach, good times!

Wawa to Agawa Bay (30th July 2017)

Although I slept well I felt tired, but surprisingly not achey! After a 4 course breakfast I was back on he road. Everyone says how nice this section is, and they are right it is pretty in the small sharp hills coated in pines kinda way. To be honest though its not really that different to the previous days although there is a bit more access to the lake and the beach’s.

When I was setting up camp it was “invaded” again with a couple of Canadians bearing gifts of cold beer that was most appreciated although my tolerance is quite low these days!

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Now that my kinda gift!

Agawa Bay to Voyager (31st July 2017)

As I was leaving camp in the morning I met up with two other cyclist, Nate and Wade, who are cycling from Vancouver to Hamilton, a distance of 4,500km in 38 days in aid of Alzheimer’s Society of Canada, there blog is worth checking out, it is located here.

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Wade (left) and Nate (right)

I can’t really tell you much about the ride as we were too busy chatting all day, it was really nice to have company again and Nate and Wade were both happy to have someone new to talk to even if they had to slow down slightly to do so!

Lunch was had at one of the resorts that pop up occasionally round the lakes, as we were leaving another bunch of cyclists came along a quick exchange was passed but there was still a long way to go, I had planned to get to Sault Ste Marie today but that wasn’t looking likely.

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Wade leads the way

After a few more hours of cycling we came to a service station and we all needed some snacks and the other two were looking at staying round this are so a break was needed. 10 mins later it was back on the bikes, one of the locals had suggested a place about 10km down the road so that’s where we were heading, At this point it was about 16:00hrs and another 60km to Sault Ste Marie but at the other guys were stopping and I decided that it was a good plan, at least I would have people nearby who I knew although we ended up having dinner separately.

As I was just going in for food the other group of cyclists were just coming in so we I invited them to my table, save them having to wait around. I discovered they weren’t one group but two although all from Quebec and went to the same uni they didn’t know each other and just bumped into one another on the road, its a small world on the road! Anyway, plans were half made to meet up the following evening in Sault Ste. Marie for a couple of drinks, I like this crowd!

 Voyager to Sault Ste. Marie (1st August)

Everyone left at different times this morning, predictably I was the last out after a huge breakfast! I still felt sluggish, not sure why I am pretty sure it wasn’t the 1/2 ton of fried food I had but you never know!

The day seemed to be flatter than previously until about 15-20km from the finish when I approached 1Mile Hill and boy does it live up to its name! I switched down to grannie gear and just spun, sweat dripping into my eyes and of the points of my elbows as I worked up the hill in the heat and humidity. Then down into town and to find a motel for the night and take the bike into the shop for a pro to have a look at.

I had dinner with Nate and Wade at an all you can eat sushi place, I think we went through enough food for about 8-10 people! After dinner I got a call from MJ, one of the Quebeckers and went to meet them, they were camped out at the back of the bike shop with another two cyclists. When I got to there camp there was also a rather drunk local who was bragging how he had ridden “over a million km in the last 10 years”…. now don’t get me wrong, I guess its a plausible distance if you cycle for 6 months each year but this chap wasn’t in that kinda shape. I think he was also making the others slightly uncomfortable, I guess I am more used to drunken louts than some though!

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Cycle crew

We got a taxi into town and went for some drinks followed some Karaoke which I thankfully avoided doing any singing at. Got to say thanks to MJ, Nic, Will (the Quebecers), Fernando and Sylvan for a great night. Hope the rest of your journey goes well!

Sault Ste. Marie (2nd-3rd August)

I decided to have a couple of rest days, my right knee feels tweeky so I think it might be worth it.

Anywho, you must be bored of my rambling so I shall yet you go. Happy trails and may the wind be forever at your back!

“Perhaps some day I’ll crawl back home, beaten, defeated”

But thankfully that day isn’t today! I apologise for the photo’s in advance, I haven’t been able to edit them at all.

Thunder Bay to Nipigon(ish) (21st July 2017)

Leaving Thunder Bay I wasn’t able to go on the main road as apparently it gets too narrow, this meant I had to follow Lakeshore Drive which isn’t on the lake shore… in fact you cant even see the lake but it is quite pleasant!

After about an hour I re-joined the highway and the road started to get steeper and more twisty which is fun, but unfortunately less lakes than previously.

In general the terrain in this area consists of sudden sharp rises and steep descents, all these beautiful hills are covered in pine forests interspersed with lakes and rivers. Its rather nice and however hard the ups are the descents are amazing fun as even with a headwind I was clocking up to 60kph.

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As the day went on I got to an area called Red Rock, the clue being in the name here… the road cuttings showed this in all its glory! This was shortly followed by more roadworks, its amazing that there is so much happening in this area but then construction is limited to the summer due to the snow in winter!

There were no campsites and no chance of wild camping round here so I ended up at a motel after 115km it had been a tough but good day on the bike I knew I had pushed the pace too much and tomorrow might be tough.

Nipigon (22nd July 2017)

It wasn’t tough, my legs just didn’t want to work! guess I am sitting today out!

about 10am the rain started… I felt less bad for a day off.

Nipigon(ish) to Rossport (23rd July 2017)

I still ache but I can’t sit around when I can actually move so it was back onto the bike. The views were pretty much the same, that’s no bad thing!

Todays plan is to get to the small town of Rossport, apparently its extremely pretty so why on earth not! nearly 80km of stunning twists and turns and a couple of brutal hills later I pulled into the town and again couldn’t find a camp ground (I’m not good at this am I!) and got a room at a b&b, dinner was at the local restaurant and was one of the nicer meals I have had while out here! I may have had a nap in the evening too… I seem to be tired all the time for some reason.

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Rossport to Neys (24th July 2017)

It’s my Dad’s Birthday today so I gave him a call to start the day. Happy Birthday Dad!

Again similar to the previous few days but in a good way, and possibly more hills with 1061m of ascent in 100km, it doesn’t sound much to mountain folk on foot but on a fully loaded bike its tough!

I stopped at the town of Terrace Bay and had a wander around the beach and rocks, it was the first time I had the chance to actually see the scale of Lake Superior, its is like looking out over the ocean but calmer. I had a wander along the rocks round the cove to have a look see and taste the lake water and had a tad of a fall into a crevice going knee deep and took a bit of a bump but no damage done and was back on the bike in no time. I was tiring at this point though and I was only about 40km in, I was going to camp about 60km ahead so it was a long ride round some lovely lakes and over more hills.

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By the time I got to the campground I was really tired. The ground was so hard I bent some pegs and could only get most in a few inch’s, if the wind got up it could get quite interesting, maybe I should have got a tent that could be free standing… I had the camp “invaded” by people seeing where I was cycling again so quite a social night in camp again, kinda nice!

Just thought a bit about Nays may interest some: During the second world war nays was actually a prisoner of war camp. Most PoW camps were hideous but those in Ontario had a reputation for being quite good places to sit out the war with good rations and not overly harsh guards. It was so good in fact that 25% of PoW’s decided to stay in Canada and many others returning to visit later.

Neys to Marathon (25th July 2017)

The plan has gone out the window today, I slept appallingly I am physically tired, running out of road rations (I have no breakfast foods or snacks left and maybe one day of  lentals and such left, I need to get to a town. I am so tired. I had little motivation and a family of people started chatting to me at the camp ground entrance so I ended up chatting to them for quite a while which was nice.

The climb out of the camp ground was hard but within 10km I found a restaurant and ate. I felt a bit better afterwards but my legs just had nothing in them so headed into the next town, Marathon, and crashed out after just 33km. I needed a rest day, these hills were draining my legs.

Marathon (26th July 2017)

Shopping day, changed the bike chain (that’s number 3) and resting, nothing interesting to report except the town called Marathon doesn’t have a sports shop!

Marathon to White River (27th July 2017)

Not far out of town I bumped into a couple of lovely Canadians (Noah and Sasha) who were doing a supported crossing and spent most the day cycling with them feeling slightly guilty that I was slowing them down but they didn’t seem to worried, they actually took the lead so that I could slip in behind and benefit from the shelter that they provided.

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After a few hours of chatting and riding we stopped for a break and I left them to it knowing that they would catch me up in no time… about 20 mins later a cyclist (Paul Touzin) coming the other way crossed over and we ended chatting for quite a while, Noah and Sasha caught up and it was all very social on the side of the road which was really nice! Paul was in the process of riding every major road in Canada, now that’s an undertaking!

After a while we said our goodbyes to Paul and headed on, at this point it wasn’t far to my stopping point of White River (apparently the home of Winnie the Pooh… :s) The Canadians joined me for some food before heading on. I must admit this has been one of my best days riding since I left the Rockies, it was really nice to have company and I couldn’t have asked for a nicer couple to bump into, thanks guys!

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See I am still having fun even if I am slightly tired 🙂

 

Supported by: 10401067_29999502286_5190_n

 

“Yo Listen Up Here’s a Story…

… about a little guy who lives in a blue world” Well  green if you look at my equipment!

Kenora to Vermilion Bay (13th July 2017)

I was kinda sad to leave Kenora, its a nice town with lots of opportunities to take parts in water sports including Kayaking, canoeing, SUP(ing?), motor boats, jet skiing (although the people I saw using these all seemed to be chavvy), jet skiing and diving! Unfortunately I didn’t have the time or weather to take advantage of this.

Unfortunately I was going to have to follow the Tran Canada Highway which has the potential of being quite busy at time and, at this point, tends not to have a very big shoulder for cyclists. On the plus side this area of the country is littered with thousands of smaller (although still huge) lakes and there are quite a few right next to the road.

Having had a couple of days rest I was feeling fresh, and as those who know me will know this means I tend to push a little to hard! It is a hilly day too with 679m of assent in 88km.

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I wasn’t likely to make particularly good time due to the hills and the fact that I kept stopping to look at the lakes, I even ended up having a paddle in one at lunch. Of course this led to the inevitable mosquito bites, its actually getting to the point where I don’t really notice most of them any more.

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A wee paddle in one of the many lakes

I ended the day at a campsite at Crystal Lake campsite were I had a did in there “pool” which was rather pleasant!

Vermilion Bay to Dryden (14th July 2017)

The owner of the campsite informed me that there wouldn’t be the quantity of lakes that I had enjoyed the day before and that there would be a large amount of road works coming up… great… I love road works…

For about 30km the going was good, there were still hills (hills make me happy!) and some lakes… then the roadworks..

I saw the queue first and scooted down the side of it with lots of people saying “hi” as they waited by the side of them… I was a little surprised that there was between 2 and 3km of tail backs at this point, I haven’t seen any traffic outside of the cities! This had me slightly worried as it means the drivers are a bit ancy to get through the roadwork’s as quick as possible. I scooted to the front of the queue and was warned that the road conditions were quite bad but I really didn’t have much option!

For the next 30km I pushed through the works as quickly as possible averaging 20kph over hilly landscape with rough ground on a heavy bike. By the time I got through the works I was tired,  if I did much more distance I would be in no condition to ride tomorrow, I knew I was going to ache as it was. A few km later I came to Drydon and decided to rest there for a night. Apparently Drydon is the smallest city in Ontario and the only other city apart from Kenora in the Central Time Zone.

Dryden to  Ignace (15th July 2017)

I was right… I ached… The going was slow but I had to plod away the miles, I hadn’t covered the distance I had wanted over the last couple of days so needed to just keep plodding. The going seemed relatively flat and I had a slight tail wind so I was actually making better time than I had realised!

Lunch was next to one of the lovely lakes where I had a good stretch to loosen the legs.

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Lunch break

The day was quite uneventful up until about 12:00hrs, about 20km from my planned stop at Ignace, there was a queue of traffic, I assumed that it was roadwork’s but there were too many people out of the cars, as I slowly made my way down the shoulder I gradually found out more, there was an fatal accident further down the road and it was likely to be up to 6hrs before we would be able to move on… the only way round would be a 4hr car drive back the way I had come then round the south… not a chance I could do that on a bike! I waited for a while then went to talk to the police at the scene to see if there was any update.

As I approached the car two officers got out and one offered to escort me through the scene of the accident as long as I followed exactly what I was told and gave all due respect to the casualty, which I was more than willing to do. Thank you to that very kind officer, I was very willing to wait or even camp on the roadside for the night so that they could do what they needed to do.

I rolled into Ignace about 19:00 hours and couldn’t find the campsite so ended up at a motel for the night.

On a more positive note it was my Mum’s Birthday today… Happy Birthday!

Ignace to English River (16th July 2017)

I woke up tired, I had had a fast day followed by a long day and my body was feeling it, but I couldn’t rest, I need to do more miles so it was back on the bike and on the road albeit slightly later than normal. I must admit I wasn’t taking too much notice of what is around me today I was too tired, if it wasn’t for the heavy traffic I would have plugged into my music but the road was too narrow and I needed to hear what was behind me.

By lunch time I was already thinking of stopping, I had found some nice locations on the way and actually ended up having a quick nap next to one of the lakes!

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Time for a nap.

About an hour later I was back on the road and headed on, about an hour and a half later I came to English River, and it was quite pretty so I decided to stay here overnight at another motel..

English River (17th July 2017)

I am still tired and the weather is foul… I’m not moving today! I don’t want to play.

English River to Savanne Resort (18th July 2017)

The weather has picked up and I feel less tired so get on the road… again later than planned though as I ended up talking to nearly everyone at the motel over breakfast!

Today has only two options its either going to be short or very long unless I sleep by the road and I don’t really want to do that. The scenery is very similar to the last few days and that fine, its quite pretty! It turns out that I am actually quite tired still so I decided to have a shorted day (69km).

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Eve and Frankenbag enjoying a break by the lake

Its been busy on the road today, there have been around about 200 motor bikes making a lot of noise by mid afternoon I came to a campsite and relaxed.

Savanne Resort to Thunder Bay (19th July 2017)

Today was fun… lots of hills with big twisting descents and after a few shorter days I was feeling a lot fresher, I plodded and it seems that today was a day for seeing other cyclists, I came across a few heading the other direction, on the whole only sharing a wave, but on occasion a chat when the traffic allowed us to stop.

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“the hills are alive (unfortunately) with the sound of music” well my singing… 

Just after lunch I came across a cyclist heading the same way as me, Karen is a lovely Irish lady who is also doing the cross Canada ride but doing it in a mere 50 days! While chatting to her chap from Quebec came up, it was all getting very social at the road side! I ended up cycling with Karen for a while until we started to hit more hills, I tend to go up these quite quickly it seems and started to leave her behind, we decided we would meet up at Kakabeka Falls provincial park  as we were both heading that way, I was planning on camping there.

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Selfi with Karen

The falls were stunning, I hadn’t seen any proper falls for quite a way. After chatting to Karen for a while she headed of towards Thunder Bay and I went to the campground, it turned out that the campground was expensive so I decided that I would go an extra hour and a half to Thunder Bay and get a motel for about $20 more.

O and I forgot to mention, I passed into another time zone!

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So that’s how this boy got to Thunder Bay… more next time! Happy adventures!

Lake of the Woods

This has taken me a bit longer to get round to righting than planned! Sorry!!

I had a few days staying in Kenora on Lake of the Woods, Ontario… this wasn’t a planned stop as to be honest I hadn’t even heard of the place until the day before while looking at maps but as I approached the town and saw the Lake of the Woods I knew I was going to be there a few days to have a look-see! So I will start of with some info about Lake of the Woods.

Lake of the Woods (LotW from now on as I am too lazy to keep writing the full name!) is big… we are talking 68 miles long (at its longest) and 59 miles wide (at the widest point) with area of 1,679 squared miles… to put that in context that’s bigger than the whole of Somerset… or 2.6 times bigger than Surrey (where I grew up). The lake has 14,552 islands and over 65,000 miles of shore (including the islands)! This is a big old lake…

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The Lake is quite built up with lake houses seeming to cover vast amounts of shore but not in a tacky crowded way… more in a overly rich playboys getaway kind of way but slightly more classy.

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The main (and possibly only) town in the area is Kenora here is what Wiki has to say about its history:

“Kenora’s future site was in the territory of the Ojibway when the first European, Jacques De Noyon, sighted Lake of the Woods in 1688.

Pierre La Vérendrye established a secure French trading post, Fort St. Charles, to the south of present-day Kenora near the current Canada/U.S. border in 1732, and France maintained the post until 1763 when it lost the territory to the British in the Seven Years’ War — until then, it was the most northwesterly settlement of New France. In 1836 the Hudson’s Bay Company established a post on Old Fort Island, and in 1861, the Company opened a post on the mainland at Kenora’s current location.

In 1878, the company surveyed lots for the permanent settlement of Rat Portage (“portage to the country of the muskrat”) — the community kept that name until 1905, when it was renamed Kenora.

Kenora was once claimed as part of the Province of Manitoba, and there are early references to Rat Portage, Manitoba. There was a long lasting argument between the two provinces known as the Ontario-Manitoba boundary dispute. Each province claimed the town as part of their territory and the dispute lasted from 1870 to 1884. Although Ottawa had ruled the town part of Manitoba in 1881, the issue was finally taken up with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council which eventually decided in Ontario’s favour. Kenora officially became part of the province of Ontario in 1889. Boundaries were drawn up for the provinces and the Northwest Angle on Lake of the Woods which definitively drew the borders between Ontario, Manitoba, Canada, and Minnesota, U.S.A.

Gold and the railroad were both important in the community’s early history: gold was first discovered in the area in 1850, and by 1893, 20 mines were operating within 24 km (15 mi) of Rat Portage, and the first Canadian ocean-to-ocean train passed through in 1886 on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Among the entrepreneurs attracted to the town was the Hon. JEP Vereker, a retired British army officer and youngest son of the 4th Viscount Gort

Later, a highway was built through Kenora in 1932, becoming part of Canada’s first coast-to-coast highway in 1943, and then part of the Trans-Canada Highway, placing the community on both of Canada’s major transcontinental transportation routes. The original barrier to the completion of the highway concerned the crossing of the Winnipeg River at two locations. The single span arch bridges are among the longest of their type in North America.

During the Prohibition era in the United States, the Lake of the Woods served as a smuggler’s route for the transport of alcohol.

In December 1883, there was a large fire in Rat Portage, rendering 70 of the town’s then population of 700 homeless.

Rat Portage is mentioned in Algernon Blackwood’s famous 1910 story, “The Wendigo”.

The importance of the logging industry declined in the second part of the 20th century, and the last log boom was towed into Kenora in 1985. The tourist and recreation industries have become more important.”

So anyway, I spent a couple of day exploring the town and tried to get a SUP lesson but alas no such luck! On day 2 the weather turned foul and I hid from the weather and did sweet FA (bad Andy!). On the last day I got some chores done including rewrapping my handlebars (again!) as the tape I had previously bought was rubbish, unfortunately I could only get black tape so eve is looking all serious… boooooooo.

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In the evening I took a cruise around the lake on the MS Kenora and had dinner on board, the food was reasonable but I felt I may have missed some of the views as I was stuffing my face!

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The cruise had the typical information about the area, some of the history and such. Whilst underway I was lucky enough (thanks to the skipper pointing it out!) to see a number of Bald Eagles which for me was the highlight of the tour!

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Right I need sleep so that all you are getting!

 

 

Hazzar for Hills!

Leaving Winnipeg is the start of entering more interesting countryside than I have had in a while, the Prairies are behind me and the Canadian Shield is ahead. In general the hard part of the trip is now down… Or so I am told.

Winnipeg to Selkirk 03/07/2017

Its a short day today and a late start, I didn’t get out of the hostel till 12:00 as everyone wanted to chat before I headed off, I have had a great time here but it time to move on… I’m getting twitchy to see somewhere new.

The majority of  the day seemed to have been through urban back streets while working my way out of Winnipeg and heading north, even when out of the urban sprawl it was generally still quite populated as I followed the general heading of the Red River in a north easterly direction. I stopped of at an A&W (burger place) for some lunch then motored on. Although I was following the river it wasn’t possible to see it most the way as the big houses, presumably city workers, cluster around its banks.

Eventually the river came into view and I was greeted by a rather large bridge. Now bridges are a bit of an obstacle over here as you can often go from having a lane to yourself to being forced into the traffic. the drivers are great and give space and time but at the same time they are trying to get somewhere and on a 100m bridge I can imagine get frustrated with damn cyclists!

After pushing the pace over the bridge I turned onto the river road and followed marvelled at the size of it. It also turns out the bridge was also a dam and the local fisherman take advantage of the fish in the fast flowing water resulting from this, as do the pelicans.

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I followed the road up and into Selkirk, I had planned to go further but I had also planned to leave at 09:00, so I found the local camp ground (most larger towns seem to have them) and set up for the night. Dinner was the normal concoction of lentils, split peas, pearl barley and quinoa with onion and as todays mystery meat I added corned beef I had been carrying for a while… just as a note, don’t add corned beef to the concoction if you have any problem with the looks of food its not pretty but does the job!

Selkirk to Victoria Beach 04/07/2017

I had an interesting start to the day with a lightning storm coming in over night, I never really like being out in these but am slowly getting used to them and actually found it quite a nice experience, huddled up in my sleeping bag, my amazing little tepee not even moving in the high wind. At about 11am the storm passed so I was up, packed and on the road by 12:00, I had to make better distance today but made a bit of a mistake… I tried to follow the Trans Canada Trail…. after the rain the trails were wet so it was slow going then the Trail tried to take me down a trail were my bike just sunk. the wheels sinking about 1cm into the mud and I couldn’t move, I had to haul the bike back to the main trail and find another way round, after cycling for a few mins on the not quite so soft ground I was hauled up again, apparently the ground was clay round here and the mud stuck on the wheels had clogged up the chain and front derailleur. After clearing this off I checked the maps and found a new way round on more major roads… at least its a tarmac road and major is a relative term.

At about the 60km mark I saw a beautiful site….  a hill!! In fact there were 3 of them and the smile returned to my face. After the hills I came to a motel and decided to spend a night there as I got into the room a huge storm came in and I sat on the veranda watching the lightning crackle over hear!

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I ate in the attached bar and ended up chatting to all the locals, they don’t get many Brits up this way so I was even more of a novelty than normal.

Victoria Beach 05/07/2017

Drank to much, not feeling good, staying here, nuff said.

Victoria Beach to Otter Falls 06/07/2017

I have recovered and after a remarkably good nights sleep I am fresh and raring to go, today I will mainly be following Winnipeg River south east, passing through First Nation Reserves and near a number of places with Falls in there name, should be good! The day will be mostly gentle up hill with an elevation gain of about 100m so quite gentle.

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As I entered the Sagkeeng First Nation Reserve and Fort Alexander was how well maintained the properties and grounds were compared to some of the other reserves I have passed through, I unfortunately didn’t stop to explore as its only a small place really.

Heading south I came to Powerview Pine Falls, with a  name like that I was hoping for some big waterfall only to find a hydroelectric dam, this is kinda the story of the rest of the day; if it said falls in the name then it was a while ago and was either underwater or a dam. I always find this kind of sad but as humans we seem to need a lot of energy and something has to give somewhere to provide this.

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Where possible through the day I took breaks at the lakes to admire the view and rest by behind, I no-longer feel broken each day but being in a saddle for 4-5hrs at a time still leaves the bum numb at times so a good stretch and rest is always welcome.

By early afternoon I had got to my planned campground at Whitemouth Falls Provincial Park only to find that not only was it not a campground it was actually enforced non-camping due to it being an important area for the Great Grey Owl or something. Bugger. O well, it still gave me a rest break (at this point I had covered 100km) and the chance to watch the pelicans in the river, I never seem to get tired of watching these giant birds!

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Back on the bike I checked the local motel and there was no room, seems I am now in a tourist area in tourist season, was bound to happen at some point I guess! This meant that I then had a 20k cycle to down little windy roads that would have been far prettier if they were better maintained and I wasn’t thinking where I was going to sleep. Thankfully I found a camp ground and they had a spot perfect for me right down by the lake at Otter Falls (again no water falls!) For those still vaguely interested in dinner it was the same as before but with some smoked sausages thrown into the mix, will have the others for breakfast in the morning.

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Otter Falls to West Hawk Lake (07/07/2017)

Sausages for breakfast as promised, although already cooked they aren’t particularly nice cold!

Today is my last full day in Manitoba, tomorrow I cross into Ontario. I must say the roads on this section were quite poor with the surface being either broken or just bumpy, also they are narrower than other area’s, no wider than British roads, its also quite twisty where it heads south through the park. Another concern is that is bear country so I have to keep my eyes pealed and with narrow twisty, rural roads this can cause some problems but no sign of bears today, I haven’t seen any since Lake Louise which in some ways is a real shame.

This area is still littered with tourist houses and supplies were plentiful along the way and I took advantage of this due to the heat, preserving my water and buying drinks. Not very clever on the wallet but…

After about 60km I re-joined the Trans Canada Highway, now called Highway 44 and followed this into the lake resort town of West Hawk Lake, its a small place but obviously very touristy due to the lake and the white sand beach’s, I couldn’t find any signs or info on campgrounds and was suffering a bit from the heat so ended up staying in the motel which had air conditioning, nice…..

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West Hawk Lake to Kenora (08/07/2017)

Today I cross into another province, Ontario… and its a big one… everyone I have chatted to mentions the fact that it takes 2 days to drive so god knows by bike!

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So a short 60km jaunt from West Hawk Lake takes you to Kenora, to do this I have to follow the main road all day which I am not thrilled about but there is no other choice in this area, there is only one road! The road is remarkably quiet considering everything and there are hills! Not the big beasties of the Rockies but short and sharp climbs. This made my day to be honest, the prairies had tested my will power and now I was back to enjoying the cycling, YAY! Also there were big lakes and such to keep me even more interested.

I was having a hungry day so spent most of the trip searching out somewhere to eat, at about 12:00 I found somewhere that accepted cards (I had used all my cash at the pub a few days before!) and got some food and drink.

Coming into Kenora I followed the bike path signs rather than just following the road and got lost… but I got to see all the back roads before entering the town, first impressions say its quite nice if not small. It seems like a gateway town to the Lake of the Woods which is huge. The lake is 68 miles long (at the longest point) and 59miles wide (again at the longest point) with 65,000 miles of coastline and 14,552 islands! A lot of the islands seem to have private homes on too. But more of that next time! Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Winnipeg Wanderings

I have spent a bit of time in Winnipeg to explore and to celebrate Canada’s 150th Birthday. Interestingly the city is only about 10km off the longitudinal centre of North America so also marks my halfway point of the journey.

Winnipeg is the capital of Manitoba and is situated at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine River. The city is named after the nearby Winnipeg Lake which derives its name from the Western Cree language meaning Muddy Water which given the colour of the rivers running through the town is quite an apt description!

One last fact is that Winnipeg has the highest percent of First Nations people of any city in Canada at 11.7%, the city in general seems to be diverse with over 100 languages spoken.

I got to the city on the 27th June and spent the next two days going between bike shops to get the parts to carry out some much needed maintenance. I had designed the bike so that parts should be easy to come across but I hadn’t taken into account the fact 11 speed cassettes weren’t particularly popular in Canada for some reason! Once I had got all the bits and done the repairs it was time to start exploring properly.

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Winnipeg Legislative Building

On the 29th I walked down the trail next to the river and took a look at the Legislative Building before heading on. The next stop was The Forks which is particularly interesting, this is the point that the rivers join and a traditional meeting point for the First Nations, the area has some old stables that used to serve the river boats but is now a indoor market and restaurants. Pretty much all of the ground floor is food stores with the upper floor being mainly gifts and such. As I am sure you can imagine I spent some time on the ground floor…

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The Museum of Human Rights at the Forks

On the 30th I headed back to the Legislative Building which is supposed to be one of the most impressive in the country, and to be fair it was impressive! The building follows an ancient principle of incorporating the number 13. This may seem odd as its often seen as an unlucky number but in various different times it was given homage either to stave of bad luck or to invite good luck. Another curious feature (for all you acousticians and other geeks) is the Pool of the Black Star, a circular room underneath the dome that, when you stand in the centre, amplifies the sounds around you.

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Looking up from the Pool of the Black Star

After the Legislative building I headed over to St Boniface to have a nosey around the cathedral and university, while trying to get a shot I ended up chatting to another photographer who was going to do the photo’s for tomorrows festivities, as ever I got some info on where to go and local attractions.

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St Boniface façade

After St Boniface it was on to the remains of the old fort then back to the hostel to cook up some food.

1st of July… Canada Day.

A few of the peeps from the hostel and I spent most of the festivities at the forks where there were six stages of live music, a powwow, food stalls and a cheerfulness that only a few thousand friendly Canadians can exude.

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Main Stage at the Forks

I spent most of the day at main stage but couldn’t resist lunch at a pancake house, dinner of poutine and watched the powwow for a while. The night finished off with a fireworks show before I headed back for some much needed sleep.

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Big bangs

It should be noted that not everyone was celebrating, there was a demonstration by a group of First Nations people about the way they have been treated and the treaties that Canada has broken with them. One of the ladies at the hostel did a few interviews to try to understand what this. Check the video out at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JecB6Bm5iyc&feature=youtu.be

The 2nd July was at the hostel having a good old natter with some of the other residents and resting up.

 

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