Monday, 31 July 2017

Day 61: Ignace to Upsala

Left at 0825. The high cloud was keeping things quite cool this morning, which made a change from the boiling days we have been having here.
But, today is supposed to be hotter than yesterday!

I had rolling hills and forest initially, but then it flattened out and the forests opened up, must be a result of logging.
I saw a mother bear and cub run across the road in front of me, but were gone by the time I arrived at the spot that they vanished into the woods.

I am having to manage my water on the bike quite carefully today as the next water point is 58km up the road, at English River.
As I arrived at the Inn, the only building in town, the manager immediately directed me to the tap without me saying a word!

The horseflies are still with me, I am now considering naming them. Ideas please.
It doesn't help having them with me as the road shoulder has narrowed substantially now and must only be 60cm wide! Thankfully the drivers are very good and pass with plenty of room to spare.
Some of the oversize-load trucks that pass me overhang the shoulder of the road completely!

I lost another hour today going across the country, and got into Upsala at around 3pm.
I had a lovely afternoon rest in my tent and then went to the Shell garage/restaurant for an early dinner.
Another beach, another swim, another quiet campsite. Not.
The railway line was there, but I think my ears are now tuning out the noise of the train.
Distance: 107 km
Time: 4:51:33
Height gained/lost: 446m /-415m

Calories: 3200

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Stats: Week 8

Through Manitoba and into Ontario this week. Manitoba seemed to fly by, but then I suppose that is what happens when you have favourable winds.

Total Distance: 3630.73 km
Total Time: 170:18:54

Total Height gained/lost: 24906m /-25295m

Total Calories: 116544

Day 60: Wabigoon to Ignace

Nothing much to report from the road today.

Long stretches of nothing. No services on the road at all. No food, no water for 86km!

Lots of forest and rock surrounds me, not too many lakes or creeks now as I move away from them.
I am still being followed by the flies. (Does anyone know why?)

I arrived in Ignace, a granite quarrying town, at lunchtime and stopped at an ice-cream and burger cafe. I beat the lunchtime rush by about 6 minutes, so sat back and ate as hordes of people lined up for ice-cream.

Camp was just down the road, and had a lovely beach too.
I jumped in for a swim and had a beer while watching a massive thunderstorm develop over the lakes.

The sunset was amazing and pink, but the air temperature was still over 20C at 10pm!

Distance: 86.9 km
Time: 3:54:19

Height gained/lost: 501m /-398m

Calories: 2667

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Day 59: The Willows to Wabigoon

I have a tailwind today but it is boiling hot and humid.
My target today is Vermilion Bay, but with the wind pushing and my legs feeling ace, I may surpass that.

The scenery is still beautiful and I am loving the rolling hills after the flats of the prairies. I am slowly finding my climbing legs again.

I have been feeling like a combination of Pig Pen from Charlie Brown, Magneto from the X-Men and Saturn for the past few days. I can't decide which one it is.
I say this because I seem to have picked up a pair of deerflies or horseflies which orbit me at pace while I am cycling. It is OK while they are buzzing around at a distance, but when they ping off my sunglasses or buzz past my ears, I get rather annoyed with them. I have whacked them a few times but it seems to have no effect. They only seem to go away when a big truck comes past and disrupts their orbit!

I have had a few drivers hoot and wave at me on the road today, and people still want to chat whenever I stop.

The railway line is running right past the campsite tonight, as in on the boundary, not 100m from my tent! This should be a loud night, as well as mozzie-filled.
I had to do all my cooking inside the reception office tonight as the bugs were so bad. They descended on me as soon as I got into camp.

Another storm has been predicted for tonight, let's see what comes of it.

Distance: 144 km
Time: 6:24:29

Height gained/lost: 1007m /-980m

Calories: 4632

Friday, 28 July 2017

Day 58: Kenora to The Willows

I am tired and mentally drained today. As a result I have decided not to ride.
My front wheel also started playing up yesterday, making some awful clicking noises.

I have stayed in the shade for most of the day, eating and recovering, and trying not to think too much about the bike.

I headed up to The Willows campsite at 4pm, mainly to reduce the mileage for the following day,  but also to see how my front wheel was holding up.

While I was setting up my tent, Carl walked up and introduced himself, and invited me round for dinner.
I had just bought myself dinner, but he insisted I come over as he couldn't possibly eat it all himself.

I had a shower and brushed my hair, and headed over.
Carl is driving from Vancouver to New Brunswick, going back to live near his folks after 20 years.
His travel companions are a cat called Cheese, 4 budgies and a bright yellow canary.

Dinner was a number of hotdogs with all the dressings, and sides of baked beans and a beef stew.

It always makes for a better night when I am able to sit and have a random chat with someone, to find out why they are travelling, where they are going, what they do.

Thanks again Carl.

Distance: 18.2 km
Time: 0:55:21

Height gained/lost: 136m /-143m

Calories: 547

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Day 57: Falcon Lake to Kenora

Kind. Humankind.

I woke up this morning and found a little parcel on my camping table.
Two muffins - choc chip, a chocolate cookie and a square of cake, iced with chocolate icing.
And fifteen dollars!

How uncalled for and extremely generous.

Today was going to be hot, and I would be dipping into Ontario, the start of the lakes and the hills. The scenery did not disappoint. Lakes around every corner, all named, have little houses dotted along their shorelines, watercraft moored alongside jetties.

How peaceful.

The trucks all seem to be carrying oversized cargo, from houses to boats to massive construction equipment.

I stopped at the Chip Truck for an early lunch.
I had seen the Truck advertised the previous day, so was glad to finally find it.
I rolled in and was told that I had made good time to here. I looked up and saw a couple looking at me, they had commented.
I got chatting with them and told them I was from SA. They has always wanted to visit Cape Town, so we ordered chips and chatted about South Africa, and Cape Town, for ages. They eventually left, and wished me luck for the rest of the journey. They'd call when they arrive in Cape Town!

I had a quick swim on arrival in Kenora, the water once again refreshing.
Husky the Muskie, a 12m high sculpture of a muskellunge fish appeared on my right as I rolled into town. It is there as a symbol for the prevention of water pollution. It is one of the 'big things' I wanted to see on this trip.

 The campsite had its own little beach as well, so had another swim once I had checked in and setup camp.

The air temperature doesn't drop until late in the evening, or early morning, so it was going to be another hot night. Joy.

Distance: 72.7 km
Time: 3:39:33

Height gained/lost: 582m /-575m

Calories: 2237

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Day 56: Winnipeg to Falcon Lake

The tailwind persists.

Just outside Winnipeg I passed the Longitudinal Centre of Canada.

I got blown along Highway 1 like an autumn leaf today, and even managed some cycling on the LEFT shoulder, due to roadworks.
The roadworks did mean that there was no right shoulder to cycle on, and what space there was was covered in serious grit and gravel. Hence riding on the left.

At one point I was the only person on the road. I stopped and listened, and there was silence. Crazy to think that I was alone on this massive highway.

I stopped and refilled my water where possible, chatting with the people, and on one occasion, threw sticks for a dog.

I stopped in Prawda, once clothing suppliers to the Devil, for lunch and was told that the water was yellow, and not drinkable. I have not had to buy any water on this trip yet, but that was a first.

After lunch, about 20km from Falcon Lake, my rear wheel starting fishtailing. Uh oh...please don't be flat.
I stopped and checked, and yup, flat.
A quick check of the outside of the tyre showed no penetration, so I pumped up the tube. The air was coming out as quickly as I was pumping it up!
Bags off, rear wheel off, tyre off.
The valve had torn away from the tube, so I binned that, inserted my spare and pumped it.
There is no fixing a torn valve, but I am still curious as to how that happened.

I checked into Falcon Lake beach campground, and before my panniers had been removed from my bike, a couple arrived at my site and said they had passed me at lunch and wanted to hear my story. They also asked if I needed anything - food, drinks. I passed.
As they left, the family next to me invited me over for dinner, which was beef skewers and pasta salad, followed by the most delicious s'mores ever!

I had a quick dip in the lake to cool the legs and body, the water must be about 20C, it's almost like a bath!
Returning to my camp, I met 3 other cyclists, going west. Jason (Aus) was riding just to ride while Dru and Chad (Can) where raising money for charity.
It was Chad's late brother's birthday today, so we had a shot of whiskey around the campfire for him, before dropping into story time. Those guys have had some adventures so far.

Ontario tomorrow.

Distance: 132 km
Time: 5:08:29

Height gained/lost: 235m /-143m

Calories: 4128

Falcon Lake beach at dusk

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Day 55: MacGregor to Winnipeg

The storm did arrive last night and produced a little thunder and lightning, and a few drops of rain. Nothing quite like the storm of a few days ago, thankfully.

I woke up fresh with good legs and a clear head this morning. There was a big tailwind on the cards for today, so I was going to make the most of it.
It was amazing, I was flying. 50km in 1:52!!

I stopped in Portage la Prairie for morning tea, a reward for the good progress. I redeemed one of the Tim Horton's vouchers and was sipping a hot chocolate when a man appeared at my table, and said good morning. He asked where I was from, I replied Cape Town. He was originally from Zambia and had recognised the flag on the bike, so came in to say Hi. He then offered to buy me breakfast!!
No, but thank you.

My goal today was Winnipeg, but the only campsites are on either side of the city, there is nothing in it. I chose the campsite on the east side of town and then proceeded to cycle through the city.

What terrible roads and horrendous city drivers! Give me trucks passing at 90km/h over a city driver any day!
I was speaking to some locals after the ride and they agreed, but the motor mechanics are not complaining...

The Mint
Once I had extracted myself from the city centre, I did a spot of grocery shopping and made for the Town and Country campsite, once again situated alongside the railway line.
En route I passed the Canadian Mint. Not a sweet, but rich.

I had a solid dinner and lay in my tent, trying to get to sleep.

Distance: 140.6 km
Time: 5:30:22

Height gained/lost: 273m /-333m

Calories: 4565

Monday, 24 July 2017

Day 54: Brandon to MacGregor

Paying it forward.

I left camp on time this morning, feeling bouyed by the goodwill from last night.
As I reached the junction with the main road, I noticed a girl pushing her bike up the road. I cycled up behind her and asked if all was OK. She didn't really know but said that pedalling was really hard this morning.
I checked the tyres and felt that they were extremely flat, so I pumped them up for her. Tyres hard, she jumped back onto the bike and sped off, wishing me a good day.

For some reason she reminded me of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.

It was hot and humid today, very muggy and energy sapping, with an annoying, and quite strong, crosswind. I stopped in Carbury for lunch and filled up on water and extra treats. I use treats as a reward to myself on tough days.

"You can have a wine gum at 55km!"

My aim today was Portage La Prairie, so I stopped in MacGregor for dinner supplies. Once off the bike I realised how drained I was, so decided to stay in town for the night. There was also supposed to be a thunderstorm from 6pm, so wanted to setup camp before the weather hit.

I met another couple at the campsite who were driving across the country, and they invited me out for dinner. I guess good deeds do pay forward.

I put my bike and bags under a tree this evening just in case of rain.

Distance: 102.6 km
Time: 5:06:50

Height gained/lost: 185m /-248m

Calories: 2732
What country am I in..?

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Stats: Week 7

Not much riding done this week due to spending time with friends in Regina.
My legs certainly needed that rest.

Total Distance: 2933.7 km
Total Time: 139:23:31

Total Height gained/lost: 21987m /-22475m

Total Calories: 95026

Day 53: Moosomin to Brandon

Rolled out of Moosomin a little later than expected as Blanche took me berry picking this morning. Saskatoon berries too!
Breakfast was 3 bagels, prepared like French toast, then cooked with an egg in the middle. Served with your choice of syrup.
What a delicious mess!

I had a slight tailwind this morning, more on my right hip than fully behind me, but it was appreciated assistance. Yet another hot day on the cards, 28C, so I was thankful for the breeze.
I stopped at the Manitoba border, said goodbye to Saskatchewan and introduced myself to Manitoba.

Manitoba then promptly stole an hour from me. Sheesh!

Instantly there were more trees present, less fields and crops. I had lunch at Virden, in the shade at A&W. I treated myself to the usual 4 slices of peanut butter bread. Mmm.
I must have consumed 6 litres of water this morning, yet I don't remember drinking that much. The sweat evaporates so quickly that one doesn't really notice it.
I made it to Brandon just as my energy levels began to dip. And when they dip, I fade very fast.
I coasted into a very well-positioned McDonald's and had a LARGE Coke and a couple of cheeseburgers, just enough fuel to get me to the campsite.

Having had the hour lifted from me earlier, all the major stores where now closed, which meant that my dinner choice was looking like brown rice with a tin of tuna thrown in.
How good does that sound?

Mark, the owner of the Turtle Crossing campsite I was staying at, heard my food story, and promptly invited me for dinner.
Steak, salads, beer. What more could I ask for?

A prime tent site? Yes please.

He led me to a spot overlooking the river, where I pitched my tent and slept like the dead.

Once again, trains in the night woke me up. It seems to be a running theme.

Distance: 147.6 km
Time: 6:29:40

Height gained/lost: 164m /-386m

Calories: 4192

Blanche and Harvey's garden