Wednesday, June 18, 2008

June 16 - 17: The Ride along the North Side of Superiour

June 16, 2008: A day on the Trans Canada Highway -- the first day of the 2nd half of the trip.
Thunder Bay to Nipigon

90 km
5:25 in the saddle
16.4 km/hr average

Here we are at the municipal campground in Nipigon, just a stone's throw from the 49th parallel. The temp is about 5 degrees (forecast to go to 1 tonight, with a positively steaming high of 10 tomorrow). Toques, gloves, mitts, long johns, and fleece are the fashion statement of the day. Its cold, but, its a damp cold, so a little goes a long way. However, summer doesn't actually arrive for another five days, so no need to push the season! It is forecast to get warm some time in the next five days.

Today was all about riding the Trans Canada Highway from Thunder Bay to Nipigon. The road had a great deal of construction on it in the first 30 km of the ride, and there were some incredibly horrible sections (a disgrace for our so-called national highway!), but overall the traffic was much lighter than we expected and the drivers seemed to be fairly courteous. All of us did, however, bail onto the soft shoulder at some time during the day because we felt it was both safe and courteous to do so.

We met two other x-Canada cyclists today. One fellow was from Lyon in France. He started riding from Gaspe and was heading to Vancouver. He reported poor weather for the past few days. The other fellow was from Peterborough. He was heading for the Okanagan, but maybe on going on to Vancouver. He reported headwinds (these winds are great for us). I expect we will start seeing more of our cycling compatriots over the next few weeks.

A big recommendation -- if you are travelling this route, stop at the Birchwood Cafe near Red Rock and have a home-baked cinnamon bun -- very tasty, and the folks that run the place are great to talk to. The Truck Stop at Pass Lake also served a great breakfast. The only animal highlight of the day was a moose swimming across one of the many small lakes that dot the route. Tomorrow we are headed in the direction of Marathon -- views of the Big Lake await.

June 17, 2008: Nipigon to Schreiber -- Big Lake Views.

97 km
16.4 km/hr average

A fine day of riding -- low traffic, good sized shoulders for the most part, and stunning views of Lake Superiour. Now it really is like riding through a Group of Seven painting! The winds continue to favour us by blowing from a westerly direction. There are some hills, but nothing too severe (yet). We felt that the ride yesterday had two hills that would count as big -- the one between Gravel River and Pays Plat, and the one west of Schreiber. The only downside is the weather -- cold, grey, and the odd spit of rain. However, there is a bonus in this too, as long as it stays cold the mosquitoes don't hatch. The highway continues to surprise us with both its lack of traffic and changeable views. We hope this continues.

We met two cyclists yesterday -- Kenneth from Hamilton (going to Inuvik), and Maurizio from Padua, Italy, going to Banff and on to Vancouver. Both had interesting stories to tell and gave us some good tips on what was ahead.

We camped at the Traveler's Rest in Schreiber. Sad to say, the bugs found us. Not mosquitoes, but little black flies. Amazingly annoying creatures! It makes sitting in camp a bit uncomfortable. However, we coped and got into our tents as soon as possible -- Mark even ate dinner in his. Mike and I had to kill about 200 of the little buggers in the tent, but that was soon accomplished and it was off to sleep.

Our only problem now is the cell phone -- we can't receive voice mail, and resolving the problem is going to take a pay phone call to the customer service dept. I don't know when that will happen, so for now I'm leaving the phone turned on so we can get calls.


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