Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day 59: Mississauga to Darlington Provincial Park 108km

The days of rest have come to an end and its time to hit the road again for the final 2000km. When we set off today it felt so strange to be on the bike, four days off make a big difference. We finally got a move on around 1.00pm as it was hard to drag ourselves away from all the home comforts. The destination today Darlington Provincial Park as I didn't want to miss out on going to Darlington. We have decided to use campgrounds for the next few days as Southern Ontario is jam packed with towns, cities and farmland so there isn't much open space to camp free for the night. We also think it will be better for the safety of ourselves and the bikes.
Riding through Toronto along the Lake shore was a fantastic ride. There were huge beaches along the way packed with people and it was so different from any rides we have done due to the fact there is loads of people. On the way to Darlington Provincial Park we were constantly going through one town after the other and this made the time go much faster.
Darlington Park wasn't that great as it was the most expensive campsite we have been to and it took us till dark to locate the showers. The girl in the office gave us no directions or map so we thought it was going to be a small park and everything would be easy to find. Everything was hard to find and by the time we were showered it was dark and we still had the tent and food to deal with. So a poor show from Darlington all in all.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Day 58: Day off number 4 in Midland at Agnes' parents boat

Today we set off to their boat which is in Midland on Georgian Bay, Lake Huron. There was no wind in the morning so we had to motor it to the island we were going to chill on. We chilled off the island for most of the day and it was perfect. We spent the day lying around on the boat and swimming, the perfect day to get us refreshed and ready to go tomorrow. On the way back to the Marina we put the sails up and sailed in. It was my first time on a sail boat and they let me steer for a bit. I think I will learn how to sail as it is amazing and would be such a great skill to have.
Well that it is it for our days off. Hopefully tomorrow it won't be to hard to get back on the saddle. My legs have finally stopped hurting so it should be a breeze. The aim is to go 100km to Darlington Provincial Park. I thought it would be rude not to go to Darlington while here.

Day 57: Day off number 3 in Toronto and back to Mississauga

Agnes took me around Toronto today and showed me a few of her favourite hang outs and areas. We also had a look at the CN Tower just from the outside as it is 25 dollars to go up and you have to line up for over an hour, which could be hard work in the humidity. Toronto is a buzzing city and a lot different to any of the other Canadian cities I have visited. It has a lot more character than anywhere else and a lot more going on, it reminded me of London. We managed to get some sushi while we were there and that made our day as we haven't had any sushi since leaving Vancouver. In Canadian cities Sushi is cheap and so good and there are sushi places everywhere so you get a bit hooked on it. Anyway Toronto gets a thumbs up from me.

Day 56: Day off number 2 in Toronto

We caught the bus to Toronto today to go and party it up with Agnes' friends. We wandered around the city and attempted to blog it up at the library with little success once again. Agnes had arranged for all of her friends to meet at around 8 and then party on from there. A great night was had by all. With Toronto being so humid you can sit out and relax on patios all night which is awesome. We didn't go to crazy as we are going to do all the tourist type stuff the next day.

Day 55: Day off number 1 in Mississauga

Today was all about relaxation and washing everything we have including our stinking sleeping bags. My legs are hurting more than they have all trip so I am very pleased about having a few days off. We have made the decision today that we are definitely cycling to Halifax rather than St Johns, Newfoundland. It is still on the east coast so we will have gone from coast to coast, which was the aim. Going to Halifax will be easier and cheaper for both of us so I am very happy about that. Going the most direct route from Toronto to Halifax is 1790km so we are looking at just over 2000km to finish the trip. After these days off we should be recovered and raring to go. After relaxing all day and sorting a few things out a few of Agnes' friends came over for drinks and desert.
I almost forgot somehow that this afternoon we went to Niagara Falls and took many pictures. The falls were amazing there were just far too many people there which spoilt it a bit.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Day 54: Wiarton to Agnes' house in Mississauga, Greater Toronto 194km

sWell readers we almost hit the dizzy heights of 200km and I feel we deserve a few days off after this. We split the day into three sections to try and make it easier on ourselves. We kept the breaks short and cycled as hard as we could but due to a headwind all day long we were out from 8.30am to 10.15pm. The other annoying thing about today was that we were constantly going up hill and with only slight very short downhills as reward. This makes it mentally hard as part of pushing yourself up the hills is the fact that you know you are going to be going down the other side. Now that we are in southern Ontario there is 10 times the amount of traffic and people than we have been used to so the highway was busy all day long. The last 60km we did was on a back road which was very welcome apart from the fact that it had the steepest hills of the province so far and there have been some beastly hills in Ontario. When we were around 40km from Agnes' families home the daylight ended and we had to ride on a country road in the dark with an small back light each and no reflective gear. Agnes wasn't to keen on this but we plugged away and made it eventually to be greeted by Agnes' parents who were waiting for us in their front garden. They had put a Canada flag on the door and written on it 4,400km which is approximately what we have covered, which was a great touch I thought.
We now have 4 days off planned where we are going to put the bikes in the garage and not look at them until Monday when we set off for the last leg of the trip to Halifax on the Atlantic Ocean.

Day 53: Little Current to Wiarton 141km (not including ferry ride)

We made the 60km to the ferry with enough time for a classic breakfast part 2. Good tea but below average breakfast, you can't win them all I guess. The ferry ride was 2 hours but luckily it was a great day out so we could sit out on deck. It was a strange feeling getting on a full sized ferry to cross a lake. The crossing was also 2 hours and this if you look at a map is just a very small section of Lake Huron. While on the ferry I fed seagulls crisps and we met a character named Basil from Trinidad. When we told him what we were doing he kept on shouting 'holy mackerel man', which was hilarious. It turned out he worked for the same company as Agnes' dad and he was a very interesting guy. I wish I could have recorded him for you all but never mind.
The 80km ride after the ferry was a long one but we have had worse. We camped out in the municipal park in the town of Wiarton, which is famous for the groundhog Wiarton Willy.

Day 52: Iron Bridge to Little Current 162km

After a soft day yesterday we reached hardcore status again today with a respectable 162. The objective was to reach Manitoulin Island so that tomorrow we don't have far to go to catch the 1.30pm ferry across to Tobermory. The energy was back with a bang today so we kept our breaks short and sweet and plugged away. In the small town of Massey, which was again a very nice place we stumbled across a gem of a tourist info centre. We had a great chat with everyone inside and gained a large piece of cheesecake and a glass of ice tea. A very successful stop, but we didn't hang around for too long as you never know when the energy might just run out. They gave us back road directions to the town of Espanola where we had planned to have lunch and attempt to blog it up. The ride to Espanola was awesome as there was virtually no traffic and it was through scenic farmland country. We grabbed a bite to eat and then hit the library. I again didn't get around to any blogging as we felt that we should keep on cycling.
The day ended for us in the town of Little Current. We asked in the info centre if we could throw the tent up in their grounds for the night but some jobsworth decided that we should cycle on 10km and go to the campsite. I must say there is nothing worse than someone telling you it would be easy to cycle on after you have been cycling all day and are clearly tired. Anyway I won't get into this too much as it annoys me a lot. In the ice cream shop next door the manager recommended that we go down to the municipal park and camp there for the night as nobody in town will mind. It turned out to be a great place to camp. While Agnes went to wash in the lake I put the tent up and started dinner. I feel I can wait another day or two for a shower, food is more important.

Day 51: Desbarats to Iron Bridge 74km

When we woke this morning there was loud music blasting out from the school which worried us for a second as we thought nobody would be around on a Sunday. Luckily it was just some workmen and they let us use the toilets which was a bonus.
As we haven't has showers for a few days or done any laundry those were our two main objectives for the morning. We headed out and after 12km we found a great little town called Bruce Mines, a big step up from the previous towns in Ontario. We managed to hook up showers, laundry and of course breakfast, ummm. It was my first shower in 3 days so it was amazing. Now I don't need one for another few days. Also every person we met in the town was so nice.
We finally got going and along the way we saw Bear number 3, how mundane, hahaha. This fellow just ran across the road about 10 metres ahead of us. Again though he was two quick for the photo opportunity. Today we didn't fancy a big cycle so we made it to a rest area just off the highway and set up camp for the night. There was a river to wash in, toilets and picnic tables, what more could one ask for in life. I washed myself twice in one day, a rare treat.

Day 50: Near Pancake Bay to Desbarats 153km

Today turned out to be a pretty decent day. It started off with a great morning ride full of energy just like yesterday. We then decided to stop in Sault Ste Marie and try and hit up some computers and do laundry. We couldn't do either as the town of 75,ooo couldn't help us with either. It was almost as big of a dump as Thunder Bay. It is a shame that this amazing natural wonder has such crappy towns surrounding it. So this is part of the reason I have fallen so far behind with my blog, but also I have been too lazy to do it a few times.
After this disappointment we headed off to get as far as we could before night fall. We need an hour at least of daylight to get the tent up and cook up a gourmet camping meal. Along the way we met a guy who is walking across Canada, yes walking across. His name is Daly and he is walking to raise money for a women and children shelter. He claims that he walks 70km a day, which is crazy but I believe him he seemed genuine. While we were talking to him a Bear came running across the road headed straight for us. We all froze and just gawped at it but as soon as it got within 3 feet of us it bolted off to our left and ran into the bushes. This is most definitely the closest I want to come to one of these fine creatures. It all happened so fast we didn't manage to get a photo once again, which I am disappointed about.
We cycled on about 30km and decided to call it a day. As we entered the town of Desbarats we saw a school and so we set up camp on the field for the night, very free very nice.

Day 49: Wawa to Near Pancake Bay 137km

A late start was always on the cards for today and that it was. After an emotional goodbye to all of our cycling Buddy's we all went on our separate routes across this great country. Matt from Montreal was taking a more direct route to Montreal and cutting out southern Ontario, we are heading south towards Toronto and the other two dudes are heading west the way we have just come.
It was around 1.30 when we got going but we ended having one of the best cycling days ever. For some reason we were flying along and we both had so much energy. We could have probably done 200km if we had set off earlier. Never mind though we will hit that crazy target at some point.
We finally started to run out of day light so we found an excellent spot just off the highway next to Lake Superior. This is our first night of camping outside of a campsite so it was a great feeling not having to pay. We whipped the tent up, made a fire, cooked some hot dogs and watched the sun set over the largest Lake in the world, not a bad days work.

Day 48: Day off in Wawa with the cycling posse

We all woke up around 9 feeling a little groggy from the beers but not too bad. Sausage and eggs were drastically needed so we all went back to the restaurant we were at last night and had breakfast together. Matt and Will persuaded us to stay an extra day and chill with them and have another evening of beers. It didn't take much persuading and Matt from Montreal was up for it also. Will managed to get a room for 5 in the hotel so we moved in their for the day and let the good times roll. Will kept paying for everything which we felt bad about but it seemed to make him very happy so that cleared my conscience, plus I don't have too much money so beers and pizza two nights in a row would not have been a good idea. We all had a great day and even managed to pass out at around 2ish.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Day 47: White Lake to Wawa 124km

I feel that the big ride yesterday hit us a little harder than we expected today. Being cycling beasts and all you don't expect to feel the effects. For me it was a mental battle today as I just did not want to ride a bike or even see a bike.
The day got off to a slow start due to our cooler bag with all our food going walkabout during the night. To keep ourselves safe from bears and various wildlife at night we have to keep the food out of the way of the tent. Often we attach it to a rope and put it up a tree and sometimes we put it in the washrooms. We had left it in the washrooms over night and in the morning it was nowhere to be seen. This made us set off later than planned and annoyed us as we need food to cycle. To cut a long story short a woman had noticed it and looked through it and found Agnes' painkillers in it and decided that for the safety of children it would be best to hand it in. When you don't have kids or aren't around kids you forget about things like this but we fully understand why she did. The unfortunate thing was that the office was 4km from the campsite on the way back to the highway.
After this grumpy start we ended having a cracking day. Just after breakfast part 2 we met a cyclist on the road. His name is Matt and he is cycling from Fernie in BC to his home in Montreal. He teamed up with us for the remaining 90km. It was strange cycling with another person but we all had a good ride and each took a turn in leading. We also met another cyclist going the other way at a lake just off the highway. He was a from France and his plan is to cycle across to BC and work for a couple of months then fly out to Australia and carry on cycling, a very intense guy.
When we finally arrived in Wawa we met another 2 cyclists as it was just the day for it. The two guys we met this time were very different from your serious cyclists, which was a breath of fresh air. Their names are Matt and Will. Will is cycling across the country the other way to us and Matt joined him in Kingston, Ontario and is tagging along until Winnipeg. Will is doing the ride for MS and has raised a lot of money along the way, which I admire. We wish now that we had got something like that sorted but what the hey. The two of them had huge trailers that they were pulling and Matt had a 100 dollar bike, which was working just as well as all of our expensive bikes. When we first met them outside Tim Horton's they were chilling out smoking and drinking. they say their not prepared to give up their lifestyles. They are almost halfway across Canada so they obviously don't need to. Also they only do around 60km a day.
Anyway we all teamed up for the night and drank plenty of beers and eat a few pizzas. Will and Matt had a hotel room and they let the three of us pile in with them. It was a small room so we all squashed up and found spaces on the floor. That concludes a different day in the world of cycling across Canada. It was really good to meet up with some fellow cyclists who were our age and not too serious.

Day 46: Terrace Bay to White Lake Provincial Park 152km

The terrain today was very tough for cycling but being the cycling beasts that we are we had no problems. There were many steep climbs but they were followed by the greatest downhills of the trip and I think we beat our speed record for the trip. We hit 64.4kmph which is so much fun and I feel we could go faster no problem. As it was a long tough ride I can't remember too much about it I'm afraid. I will have to start writing more extensive notes after each days ride.
We arrived at the provincial park camp ground at around 9ish. We feel cheated though as it is 23 dollars for the night, which is a lot when all we have time to do is to put our tent up quickly make some food and have a shower then crash out. Also when you are leaving at 6 or 7 in the morning it hardly feels worth the expense. I think we have had enough of campsites for a while so we will hopefully start camping where ever we can put our tent up. At the campsite I did meet a guy who is cycling across Canada on a tandem bike with his son. they aren't doing the trip in one go but who can blame them as it must be a nightmare on a tandem.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Day 45: Nipigon to Terrace Bay 113km

Today was a great riding day as the weather was perfect and the road ran along Lake Superior for most of the day, which was outstanding. The lake is a crisp blue colour with white sandy beaches and small islands dotted around. It does look like the Caribbean in places but the water is freezing cold all year round. We took today in a very relaxed mood and it turned out to be a great day of cycling. We met a nice couple at a rest area and had a chat while all admiring the beauty of this huge lake. While we were talking a large gang of bikers roared into the rest area. They make me laugh in their leather jackets with tassels and pictures of eagles. As it turned out they were all very nice and we had a bit of banter with them. One of the guys made the comment that 'if it ain't burning fossil fuels I ain't getting on it'. Hilarious comment but a shame that people actually think like that, as he wasn't joking.
After meeting the big bad bikers and their fossil fuel burners we headed off laughing and feeling generally good about the day. We split today up into lots of breaks rather than just one long break and it made the riding less strenuous and the day go by faster. We stopped for the classic breakfast part 2 in a decent looking establishment but it turned out to be a little disappointing. The food was alright nothing special but the service was a joke. The lady running the place just didn't want us in her restaurant and made sure we felt unwelcome. She obviously hadn't heard of our celebrity status across the small towns of Canada, ha ha ha.
Another 40km up the road we decided to have another break at a sweet little town called Rossport. There was only one restaurant in town and it was very fancy so we just had a desert each and of course some tea. The desert was the most outstanding desert of the trip and maybe of my life so far but I'm not sure on that. It was a raspberry trifle type thing and was a taste sensation. Agnes had a chocolate coffee cake which was also truly magnificent. This made up for the sub standard breakfast part 2. After this we strolled on to Terrace Bay and set up camp for the night.

Day 44: Thunder Bay to Nipigon 117km

After a good day off I was feeling refreshed and raring to go today as the sun was shining and there were no winds, perfect for cycling. Agnes for once today was grumpy in the morning which made me laugh as it is always the other way around.
We set off for Nipigon in no great rush and stopped at the Terry Fox memorial along the way. Terry fox for those of you who don't know is a famous Canadian who attempted to run across Canada. He was a cancer sufferer and had lost a leg to the illness. This didn't stop him in his tracks though as he ran halfway across Canada before eventually the cancer stopped him from going any further. He ran a marathon a day and covered around 3000 miles, most definitely a Canadian hero. The memorial has a great view over Lake Superior so many photos were taken.
As Agnes wasn't to happy today and after paying all that money to get our bikes sorted her gears were messed up we stopped early for breakfast part 2. As always a great breakfast and to top it off we had the old classic pie and ice cream. The Chinese owned restaurants aren't as frequent now which is a shame as I enjoyed the banter a lot.
The rest of today's ride was smooth sailing with no punctures due to our super new tires. We spent the night in a campsite outside of Nipigon and did all the usual eat, wash and sleep routine.

Day 43: Day off in Thunder Bay

After a much needed sleep in and good breakfast we were ready for a hard day off, ahhh. We took our bikes in to get repaired and ready for the next stage of the tour. My bike ended up needing a new back tire, a new chain and a new front fork. The front fork has been something I have been ignoring for a lot of miles now and it was actually cracked so unfortunately I had to dig deep for a new one. It is so much better not having to listen to the constant creaking sound now and wondering when it will snap. It feels good to have our bikes sorted out and ready for the next half of the trip. After this we went to the cinema and watched a pretty average film but it was good just to relax and do nothing for a couple of hours. The rest of the evening we spent relaxing and eating, so a very successful day off it was.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Day 42: Shabandowan to Thunder Bay 87km

Well after the day of bike problems we got off to a good start and made it to Kakabeka Falls 40km outside of Thunder Bay for breakfast part 2. This is officially the greatest breakfast part 2 of the trip and the best tea due to the very large pot. We also had a sneaky ice cream afterwards so we ended up taking a much bigger break than planned. On the way to Thunder bay I got my comeuppance after laughing at Agnes yesterday, my back wheel punctured. I think we will have to get some new tyres at least back ones anyway when we get to Thunder Bay, which will no doubt be an expense.
We arrived into town at around 3ish and cycled round looking for a tourist info with no luck. Thunder Bay is possibly the crappiest town I have seen in Canada so far and as it turned out there was no info centre. This is probably because people don't come and visit. A local ended up giving us directions to the hostel. As he was a local Cop he advised against going to the downtown and directed us to the university halls of residence. This turned out to be cheap and just perfect so we decided to take a day off tomorrow and use the free Internet at the university. Also our bikes need a few things replacing as we are halfway across Canada.

Day 41: Atikokan to Shabandowan 120km

Today we had big plans to make it to Thunder Bay, which would have been over 200km. It didn't quite work out as planned but not everyday can. As we didn't get to a grocery store the previous night we decided to ride 45km to Quetico north and have breakfast there. It only took 2 hours to get there but the weather was cold and rainy which made it hard. We had a great breakfast and just sat there for a couple of hours thinking the day would get better. It didn't and we eventually had to go. Before going we went over to a canoe shop to look for some propane as the cartridges we need cannot be found anywhere. He had some but they were very expensive, but as we got talking to Doug he decided to give us a stove he had lying around. This stove takes the common refill tanks that you can find everywhere across the country. This made our day as the stove we bought in Vancouver has been a constant hastle. Doug also gave us a propane cartridge. These cartridges last a lot longer than ours and mean that we can continue cooking our own dinner and save a lot of money. When we get to Toronto we can take our old stove back as the shop have a policy that if you are advised to buy a product by a member of staff and it turns out to be bad advice then you can claim a full refund.
Anyway after a three hour break we hit the rode and then the afternoon of bike problems began. Agnes' bike wheel punctured twice and we stopped another time to change her tires around as her back tire is very worn down. This stopping and starting made the day last a good 12hours. We kept in good spirits throughout and eventually ended up at a very nice campsite with hot showers and everything we needed so all worked out in the end.

Day 40: Fort Frances to Atikokan 145km

Due to arriving late in Fort Frances we had to do our laundry and pick up spare inner tubes in the morning so we got another late start. I am a fan of late starts as I get an extra couple of hours beauty sleep. The weather was bad today and it was a long wet ride to Mine Centre which was our only choice of stop today 65km into the day. It is much easier to get the bulk of the day done before the break as it makes it mentally hard to get going when you no you have more to do than you have just done. At Mine Centre there was a gas/convenience store and nothing else. Inside though the guy had a coffee bar set up and we picked out what we wanted for lunch and used the microwave to heat it up. It doesn't sound great but this kind of thing just makes the day. We had chili and bread with plenty of coffee to get us pumped up for the rest of the ride. The rest of the day was very hard as the land is very bumpy now and time seems to go so slowly. I think Agnes is enjoying riding through northern Ontario a lot more than I am. It just seems that it takes such a long time to get anywhere, but I think I will get used to it once the memories of flying through Manitoba wear off.
The last 20km as usual were a killer but we made it. We went into the visitor info centre and met a nice lady called Tamara who was very helpful. Just as we were about to leave the rain came down . As the campsite was off the highway and a detour we would have to come back to the info centre in the morning to carry on anyway Tamara gave us a ride in her truck to the campsite. It is meeting kind people like Tamara that really make this a special trip.
As we had bought lunch at the gas store we had our sandwiches for dinner and went straight to bed.

Day 39: Caliper Lake to Fort Frances 96km

After such a beautiful evening we didn't even think about the possibility of rain but when we woke this morning it was pouring down. Instead of just getting on with it we turned the alarm off and fell back to sleep so no 4.30am start today. We finally decided to brave it at about 9ish as it looked as though it wasn't going to stop all day. It took us till noon to get going so we made Fort Frances our destination with a stop for lunch in Emo. We were heading south down to Highway 11 to start going east again and luckily we had a great tail wind coming from the north so we arrived in Emo for lunch in no time, how a tail wind can make a day so easy. We arrived at a small restaurant at around 2.00 and as the people were so nice they cooked us up a breakfast part 2 which was possibly the best one of the trip. It is good to know that even if we don't get off to the start we want things can still work out just fine. After lingering in Emo for a couple of hours we finally set off to Fort Frances which was only 29km away. Fort Frances is right on the boarder between Canada and the US and is a nice place. It also has a smell in the air from one of the factories that reminded me of going to Belfast. Its a smell I really like but I forgot to ask where it was coming from. It smells a bit like eggs and hot dogs, if anyone has an idea about what I am talking about please post a comment.
Today was also the day of my first puncture, which luckily happened as we entered the camp ground. Agnes was very happy that I finally got a puncture. I was hoping that I could make it all the way across without a single puncture but halfway is pretty good.
We got talking to a local on the way in to the town who informed us that we were at the geographical halfway point across Canada and also at the centre point of the whole of North America so today was a momentous occasion. Not that we had time for any celebrating as we had to pitch the tent, fix my puncture, go to the grocery store, cook dinner and hit the sack.

Day 38: Kenora to Caliper Lake 127km

Today we saw more wildlife than we have on the whole trip so far. The main highlight of the morning ride was that we saw a Bear. We were 10km outside of Sioux Narrows where we had planned to stop for lunch when Agnes heard a rustle in the bushes and saw it and as we cruised by a huge Black Bear came out of the bushes and crossed the road. If we had been a few seconds later we would have come face to face with it. The bear wasn't interested in us at all and just turned his head away as he crossed the road so we weren't in any danger but it was a great rush. The Black Bear was a lot bigger than I had expected. On today's ride we saw plenty more wildlife including 5 deer, 2 foxes and a snake. Unfortunately we don't have any pictures as it is always as we are flying past and not when we have already stopped. If we did stop the animals would have disappeared by the time we could get the cameras out anyway. I thought it best that we kept on moving when we saw the Bear as you don't want to push your luck with a creature that dangerous.
The rest of the day went very well and we found the days riding a lot easier than the past couple of days as we didn't go quite as far but still far enough I feel. When we arrived at our campground for the night we were very happy as it was a provincial park campground and is better suited to tents. The site was on the edge of a lake in the woods and was without a doubt the best campsite we have been to. We had an amazing spot on the edge of the Lake with an amazing view and to the right was a beach and small park area which was perfect. Also the site was quiet and you really felt at one with nature.

Day 37: Day off in Kenora

We keep forgetting what day of the week it is so we have ended up choosing our day off on a Sunday. A very bad move as the library and any other Internet place was closed. Also the campsite was dirty and overcrowded with RVs but there was a great swimming area and beach so not all was bad. Even though we didn't get anything done that we wanted to we did get some quality rest.

Day 36: Beausejour to Kenora 171km

This was our last bit of the prairies as Kenora is in Ontario and the landscape will change dramatically. After so many days of flat open fields we entered the land of trees and rocks, which was a strange feeling for me. I thought that I would appreciate getting out of the prairies and seeing something different but I was a bit disappointed. The main reason being that the day seemed to go on forever as the land is very choppy now with some steep climbs. We broke another record today and cycled 110km before stopping for lunch/breakfast part 2. We stopped in the resort of White Hawk Lake just before the Manitoba/Ontario boarder. We found a place for lunch which was a bit expensive for us but it was the only option as now there is a much greater distance between towns and this will carry on throughout northern Ontario. It didn't matter in the end as a family we talked to outside who were into cycling and just on their way home payed for our lunch. This of course put a smile on our faces and was appreciated enormously. They also said that if we had been a day earlier we could have stayed in their cottage on the lake, but never mind at least the offer was there. We haven't had much luck with staying at peoples houses' since BC so it would have been awesome. We are definitely all about staying at peoples houses' so if anyone is randomly reading this blog and lives along the way don't hesitate to get in touch, ha ha ha.
The second part of the days riding was very tough as it was even hotter than the day before but we managed it and are still alive to tell the tale. After 5 excellent days of riding we are going to take a day off and hopefully get to computers etc.

Day 35: Portage La Prairie to Beausejour 169km

Well as you can see this is our record day for distance so far and we achieved it on a blistering hot day of 32 degrees C. The first part of the ride went well as we got to a good early start and the temperature was cool. We made around 95km before we stopped for lunch which was also another record. A very proud day you could say. Before lunch though we did end up going 5km up a gravel path in the wrong direction which was annoying but all part of the fun. The tour du Canada route map that we use was wrong for this section and missed off a whole town, which was very strange. We realised in time though and made it to Stonewell for lunch.
We found a motel restaurant for breakfast part 2 but as we arrived 1 minute after 11.30 they wouldn't make us breakfast and the waitress was an angry youth so we walked out after ordering drinks. We found a little place up the road for sandwiches and soup and plenty of tea so all was good. We tried to keep the break short as the day was getting very hot. The second part of the day was extremely tough and it took a lot of mental toughness to fight through those wicked last 20kms.
When we finally arrived at our campsite all was forgotten as they had a beach and swimming area on the lake with a slide, great times. Having a swim after a hot day cycling is almost better than eating after a hot day cycling. The campsite though had the most mosquito's of the trip so far and drove us crazy. Agnes must be tastier than i am as they bite her like crazy but generally leave me alone. They must not like foreigners so I am happy about that. We made a cracking meal and got an early night as we have a bigger day planned for tomorrow.

Day 34: Minnedosa to Portage La Prairie 134km

After that great ride into Minnedosa we had another pretty good day into Portage. The ride was smooth and no problems arose along the way which makes for a great day but an uneventful blog. We did stop in a little town for Breakfast part 2 called Gladstone. It wasn't a Canadian/Chinese place this time but a great breakfast was had anyway. We chatted to the woman running the place for a while and she gave us the meal on the house, which made our day. After feeling good about the free breakfast we cruised into Portage with no problems. The highway did get very busy when entering the town and there wasn't a paved shoulder so we were cycling in the road but all the traffic respected us.
When we arrived in the town it took some time to find the tourist information centre but they are usually hidden so that was nothing new. Eventually we got to the town campground which was located in the town park. It wasn't really a campsite but just an area where a couple of tents were and they had hot showers nearby so we were happy. When we got closer to the other tents we realised that they were both cyclists. There was a man on his own travelling west on one of those low to the ground car type bikes and an Australian couple travelling the same way we are. It was great to meet and chat with some fellow cyclists and exchange tips and stories. Also you can't go travelling and not bump into some Aussies as it wouldn't be the same. We went with the Australian couple to Mikes Bike shop. The shop was a small outfit in the back of a garage. The guy was very helpful and sorted Agnes gear problems out within about 5 seconds. We also had a go on some chopper style bikes that he had in stock which was a good laugh.
We managed to stop talking eventually and put our heads down for the night as we were planning a big day and a early start.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Day 33: Shoal Lake to Minnedosa 64km

We slept in today because I hadn't put the clock on my phone forward an hour, but we both woke naturally at 5.00am. This for me is a very strange feeling, not sure if i like it or not. The morning is great but so is sleep, its a tough one.
We planned a short ride today as Agnes was expecting an important call and we have laundry to do and a lot of the small places we pass through don't have the facilities. We set off at 7.30am after a good breakfast part 1 and we were flying. By the time we stopped for our first drink of water we had covered 22km. The road surface became even smoother as we went on and we were going as fast as we could. this is the first time I feel that I have gone flat out yet and it was a good feeling. We made it to Minnedosa in 2hours12Min's. It would have been great to carry on further today but we have things to do so hopefully tomorrow the weather will be the same and we will be as fast out of the blocks.
So until the next time I have Internet access, goodbye.

Day 32: Esterhazy to Shoal lake 123km

Another very successful day of smooth problem free cycling. We passed into Manitoba province number 4, which felt great. I get a great feeling of satisfaction when we pass into another province. As every province is the size of or bigger than most countries in Europe you feel as though you have conquered a country. In a sense you have as every province so far has been different in terms of landscape and people. Many people in BC told me that the prairies were boring and dull but so far they have been beautiful and the people have been fantastic. I think if you take the highway number 1 through the prairies it is very flat and the landscape doesn't change much but the route we took has been great. There have been times when it has become monotonous but that was only a few days of riding on the whole it has been great. Its interesting to see how life goes on in these very small communities along the way compared to large towns and cities that we are used to living in. i don't think i could live in the prairies but it is still worth a visit.
We arrived in Shoal lake nice and early. We popped the tent up and then Agnes went swimming and I went into town and bought groceries. The campsite was my favourite one yet as it was only 12 dollars and was situated on a beautiful lake with a sandy beach. Also the firewood was free and we had time to have a fire at last. I bought some hot dogs in town and we cooked them over the fire and with plenty of salad we had a great meal. once this deep cut closes up I'll be able to go swimming which will be awsome as it it very hot now.

Day 31: Fort Qu-Appelle to Esterhazy 143km

Finally we got going and heading towards the boarder. Esterhazy is still in Saskatchewan but is very close to the Manitoba boarder. My allergies held out for the day and my eyes were feeling normal so all was good. Nothing much to report for this day as we just cycled and got to our destination with no problems, hurray. The campsite was very cheap at 13 dollars and we made ourselves pasta and salad. Lets hope we can get out of this mini rut we have been in and get cycling for a few days.

Day 30: Fort Qu-Appelle 0km - Canada Day

I stayed in the room and hid from those lethal flowers til 11.00am to give myself optimum recovery time. It did the trick and I felt much better so we headed down for breakfast which was the best breakfast and the cheapest of the trip so far, bonus. By the time we had finished and got ourselves gathered together it was getting into the afternoon so we stayed in the town but up at the campsite. There wasn't any room as it was Canada Day so the owner let us camp under some trees to the side of the site for free. This made up for paying for the Inn the previous night. We went swimming in the lake as it was a scorching hot day. Fort Qu-Appelle isn't my place, in the lake I stepped on a sharp rock and cut the bottom of my foot. Luckily i had Agnes to the rescue once again as she managed to get the dirt from the cut and bandage it up. When we leave this town I'll have to do a bit of running around for Agnes I think.
As it was Canada day there were fireworks at the campsite and general party time.
Hopefully we will get a move on tomorrow as we thought we woupld be in Manitoba by now.

Day 29: Regina to Fort Qu-Appelle 76km

We woke around 5.00am to a cracking thunderstorm, which soon passed so we had to get up. We got gathered together and had a little surf on the Internet before we went. We bumped into Jim from Cory and Jim who we met in Drumheller. He was very impressed with the time we were making, we didn't mention we had been slacking for three days.
We hit the road at around 9.00am and got as far as 3km up the road. This time it was my bike, the arm which holds the left peddle decided to fall off. I managed to tighten it up enough and we headed back to the bike shop we had been in and out of for the last three days. I had to buy a new arm which wasn't to bad as it was fairly cheap. The guys in the shop attempted to fix Agnes' gears properly as they hadn't the other day but they still rub when she is in certain gears. Its nothing to serious and shouldn't prevent us from moving on.
We were ready to hit the road, yippee, at around 12.00. The sun was out but it wasn't very hot so we had a nice ride. We stopped for a cheap bite to eat at, you guessed it a restaurant run by a friendly Chinese couple. We usually go for breakfast and have the standard eggs and bacon type meal. This time we spiced things up and had a Chinese dinner, which was excellent. Since the start of the trip we have become a lot more laid back about time and distance and it has made the trip a lot easier. As we are so chilled about the whole thing now we had an ice cream and sat under a tree for half an hour.
the next part of the ride was not so great unfortunately, for me anyway. On the way in to Fort Qu-Appelle I had a crazy hay fever reaction, one of the worst i have had. My eyes and nose swelled up and my whole head was burning up, a pretty sight. As we approached the town it got worse and worse. I ran into the first campground we saw and splashed water on my face for a while, which made it better for about 2 minutes. That particular site was RV only so we headed into the town. The hay fever attack was getting worse and the thought of being outside all night was not a pleasant one. We headed into an Inn and payed the high price but it was very much worth it. I stayed in the room all night and tended to my swelling and Agnes went out and fetched food and locked the bikes up for the evening. I should thank Agnes for that as she would have probably preferred to save some dollars and camp.