Day 39 – Agawa Bay to Sault Ste. Marie – Total distance travelled 4152kms

I’ve met quite a few other cyclists lately: Hiro day before yesterday, Brian and Matt yesterday (Matt and I camped together last night). I stopped to greet a cyclist going the other way but he just kept going! I guess he was late for an important meeting or something.

I met Ingrid this morning at Montreal River at the only store in the last 100kms. Ingrid lives in Spain and has put over 10,000 kms on her bike. She had nothing but great things to say about Canada.

20120613-065650.jpg
Me and Ingrid – Cold and having a bad hair day

20120613-065624.jpg
Montreal River

20120613-070050.jpg
Brakes, don’t fail me now!

20120613-065722.jpg
There are views like this at every bend in the road

I stopped for lunch at Batchewana Bay at a great place called Voyageur Lodge. It was like a switch turned on: civilization! That meant lots of traffic for the next 65 kms and some pretty poor roads. Around a bend, past the last of Lake Superior, one last “climb worthy” hill and I was in Sault Ste. Marie.

20120613-065734.jpg
Goodbye Lake Superior

In one way it feels great to be back in “civilization” again. By that I mean a hearty selection of nice hotels and restaurants. At the same time, the server in the restaurant seemed a little too programmed, contrasted with the folks I met along Superior who always seemed surprised and happy to have someone enter their store. One owner I spoke to at Montreal River told me they used to have a restaurant but now she can’t find anyone to work there.

20120613-065746.jpg
Hello Sault Ste. Marie!

Lots of things “interfere” with the best laid plans. Like today when I unloaded my bike and realized I have another broken spoke so tomorrow morning it’s back to the bike shop for repairs. But than again, how lucky is it that I’m in a city large enough to have a bike shop?

I planned to hit the road early this morning but the bike shop doesn’t open until 10am. I think this latest mechanical problem is fate telling me to slow down a little. Now I can sleep in, have a nice breakfast, get organized…

I desperately want to be home to spend the day with my family on Father’s Day. Vicki and the kids are coming to Toronto to bring me back to Ottawa. I did some quick calculations and there’s no way I’ll be able to make it to Toronto by Saturday. But spending Sunday with Vicki and the kids and Vicki’s mom is what’s keeping me going right now. My plan is to go as far as I can and meet Vicki somewhere along the way Saturday afternoon, somewhere between Tobermorey and Mississauga.

I can’t help but feel a little disappointed, which is really stupid, and I know it. I’ll have cycled well over 4500kms by Saturday, seen and experienced so much of Canada and its people, and my little Norco has proved to be one tough bike.

Stats
Distance traveled today – 136 kms
Moving time – 7 hours and 17 minutes
Moving avg – 18.7 kms/hour
Elevation – 242m

Advertisements

Day 37 – White River Provincial Park to Wawa – 3922kms

This was one of the hardest days cycling yet. 31C temperatures and a strong, gusty headwind. Plus I can’t find a draught beer in sight. But I finally made it to Wawa Ontario.

When I become Prime Minister the first law I’m going to pass is mandatory draught beer in every licensed restaurant, pub, lounge, tavern and bar. It’s environmentally friendly right?

Right now I need sleep. An interesting and challenging day to look forward to tomorrow.

More on that later.

Seven hours later…

Ok now that I’m had some sleep I can include some pics from the day.

20120611-071401.jpg
White Lake from the bridge

20120611-071423.jpg
White River – where Winnie got his start

20120611-071445.jpg
Meet Hiro from Japan cycling from Toronto to Kamloops

20120611-071459.jpg
Watch out for moose and… cross country skiers?

20120611-071513.jpg
Wawa Ontario

There’s a very inspiring story about how Trans-Canada Highway 17 got extended to Wawa. Originally the TC only went as far as Sault Ste Marie. The towns people lobbied hard for the highway to be extended to this remote mining community. Politicians made promises but none delivered.

Finally, in 1951 four gentleman from Wawa decided to prove a point: if they could walk the last 60kms of rugged coastline into Wawa then surely a highway could be built. And that’s exactly what they did. It was a difficult journey but they made it. It was called Project Michipicoten. The highway was finally completed in 1960.

What a great source of inspiration: Four men, with a town backing them, who refused to believe it was impossible, and changed the course of history for this small town.

20120611-071529.jpg
Project Michipicoten

20120611-071554.jpg
The typical northern town

Stats
Distance traveled today – 132 kms
Moving time – 6 hours and 56 minutes
Moving avg – 19.0 kms/hour
Elevation – 304m

Giving

Please consider making a donation to the United Way of Toronto here. FYI, all the donations are collected through an organization called CanadaHelps through a feature called GivingPages, which enables people to raise money online for the charities they support, such as the United Way of Toronto.

Day 33 – Shabaqua to Thunder Bay – Total distance traveled 3380kms

The two cyclists I met outside of Fort Frances told me that there was a great place for breakfast in TB. All they knew was that it was on Algoma St. I figured there was a fat chance of me finding the place, but it’s worth a try. “You mean the Hoito” responded one stranger when I asked. So there I went.

Hoito means “care” in Finnish. When in the city young Finnish bushworkers had difficulty finding a decent meal at a fair price. I had an excellent eggs, pancakes and bacon breakfast with coffee for under $10.

I spent the rest of the day at Historic Fort William. Hotel rooms were in short supply because of the flooding (the Super 8 was completely shut down) and Donna have me a strong recommendation to see Fort York and I noticed they have camping. But a great way to spend the day.

So I cycled the extra 15kms and set up camp. It turned out that I was the only one there. For the entire night. It was a little lonely, but very peaceful. I woke up the next morning to geese outside my tent and a deer within a 100′ of my tent.

Fort William is fantastic. You’re give a tour by actors in period costume. Fort William was a Northwest Company trading post. Each year a 1000 or more voyageurs come from all around for the “rendezvous”. We were a little early but none the less we were greeted by Kenneth McKenzie, a cousin of the famous explorer, and wife gave us a tour if the facilities.

The two most interesting buildings were the apothecary and the canoe shed. With regard to the apothecary, apparently my black feet indicated foot rot and they would likely need to be amputated. But at least I didn’t have a toothache. They device they use to do a root canal looked particularily evil and they waste costing pain killers on such a simple operation.

At the canoe shed they construct birch bark canoes. They had two under construction and several hanging from the rafters. These are massive canoes, enough for 12 voyageurs and goodness knows how much cargo. Each voyageur was responsible for two 90lb packs of fur amd if they lost one it came out of their salary.

The food is really good there too. I had an early dinner – beef stew with fresh baked bread – so they I wouldn’t have to cook. I should also mention they served Rickard’s Red.

The thing that impressed me most about Fort William is the authenticity. They actually make 90lb packs of fur, they make the canoes from birch bark and use spruce root for twine. Everything is real.

By the way, if you have something against furs you should skip this place. There are hundreds of furs: beaver pelts, seal skin, timber wolf, wolverines, skirls, muskrat, fox, mink and on and on. The photo below of Kenneth’s wife beside a fur is a timber wolf. It’s bigger that she is. It would be very scary to meet one of these animals.

I’ll talk briefly about my ride into TB this morning. I woke up at 6am, hit that busy stretch of the Trans-Canada, and took that awful detour on 102. There’s no point in talking anymore about it other than there were some outstanding views coming into TB, and I got another flat. The cause of this one was easy to find: a big staple stuck in my tire.

I need to be on my way so I’m just going to attach some pics and you can figure out where they belong. I’ll probably sort it out later.

Stats
Distance traveled today – 84 kms
Moving time -4 hours and 28 minutes
Moving avg – 18.7 kms/hour
Elevation – 190m

Update: I was very excited to learn that the NorthWest Company is still alive and doing very well.

20120607-113842.jpg

20120607-113857.jpg

20120607-113929.jpg

20120607-113956.jpg

20120607-114028.jpg

20120607-114049.jpg

20120607-114108.jpg

20120607-114121.jpg

20120607-114133.jpg

20120607-114244.jpg