Day 40 – Sault Ste. Marie to Blind River – Total distance traveled – 4302kms

I’m sitting on a bench outside of Velorution Ski amd Bike Shop waiting for my bike to be repaired. Velorution is a cyclist’s paradise. They have posters and signs everywhere that says things like “Thank you for not driving”, “Cycling: low on gas and easy on the wallet”. They provide free camping, restroom and wifi for touring cyclists. In return they say that gifts of barley beverages are welcome. My kind of people!

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He said my bike would be ready sometime today. I think he noticed the disappointment on my face because he asked where I was headed – I told him I’m trying to get to Toronto for the weekend – and then he said he’d try and see what he could do to rush it. He just happened to mention that there’s a beer store down the road.

Ninety minutes and one six pack later (and no, I didn’t drink the six pack), my wheel was fixed and after getting some road advice I was back on the road by noon. The cycling was splendid; busy but the drivers were very courteous. They seem to be use to seeing cyclists on this section of the road.

The rest was a whirl wind tour of the Huron North Shore. Let me walk you through it:

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Sault Ste. Marie (I know I showed this yesterday but this pretty much all I saw of The Soo

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Lake George

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Bruce Mines

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Near Thessalon

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Thessalon

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Iron Bridge (of course it’s an iron bridge but the town is called Iron Bridge, got it?)

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The town’s also called Talley-Ho but that’s another story

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I made it!!! No, wait…

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Blind River

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The view for my $69 hotel room (The Mill)

After that I went to the Iron Bridge┬áHorse Tavern for a cold Okanogan Pale Ale (which is actually amber) and met some very fine and friendly people. Wayne, a self-proclaimed chubby smoker, had cycled from Vancouver to Blind River with his 14 year old son. At the time Wayne’s son had no previous cycling experience. Now 17, his son cycles competitively all over Canada. I’m going to look for him in the Olympics.

You never know who you’re going to meet on this long and fascinating journey.

Stats
Distance traveled today – 150 kms
Moving time – 7 hours and 1 minute
Moving avg – 21.3 kms/hour

Elevation – 198m

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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.

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Me and Ingrid – Cold and having a bad hair day

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Montreal River

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Brakes, don’t fail me now!

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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.

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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.

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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