Ontario

I am sitting here tying to piece together the whirlwind that was Ontario. I had a tough week (before Ontario) last week and found myself fatigued and emotionally drained. I had always expected a physical battle but I did not expect the mental one. Some people have told me that this trip is as much a mental game as a physical one. I now know what they mean. Last week was a series of extremely long days and busy nights. We covered almost 900 km in six days. From Ashland Wisconsin to Manitoulin island. Three of the days were trips of 160 k or more. You have to focus on just biking and reaching you destination. The weather played havoc and it drained me. It was a real blessing that I keep getting encouragement and lots visits. I have found it hard to keep up my blog but I will try to keep it going in Quebec. All in all biking is getting better since I received the right parts (stolen from Margaret's bike) and I have realized that focusing more on cadence and speed makes for a more faster and enjoyable day.Ferry to Tobermory, the dark clouds in the distance blew over.

In Tobermory I met my family and some church members. It was great to see everyone again. After a busy night we peddled on to Owen Sound. At one of the rest stops some members of my supporting congregation greeted and talked to us.

Georgian Bay

In Medford I was offered the use of a bed in an airstream an offer I could not refuse. The visits from the family and church members meant a lot. It makes the trip easier to handle. I will try to catch up with this blog little by little. We spent the day today in Quebec City and it was possible to spend a few hours there and play the part of a tourist.

Day 34 to day 36

The trip to the Sault was wet and windy. I have been having problems with the front derailleur and had to take it off. A small tab holding the spring in place has broken off and it makes the derailleur useless. I had thought that it would be simple to replace but stopping in 3 or 4 towns proved that it is anything but. Most of the shops in the UP of Michigan sell mostly mountain bikes so a 9 speed triple geared front derailleur is not available. Finally a shop in Salut Ste Marie put a used one on and managed to stretch a two gear into three. It works enough to get me going. When we reach Tobermory I will get Someone to take up Margaret's bike up and use the parts off it.
Margaret was at the Soo and the next day we crossed the border being escorted across the bridge and back to Canada.
The next few days were long and rainy. And we slowly made our way back towards Tobermory stopping in Blind River at a marina. A sign at the edge of town welcomed all the sea to sea participants.

From Blind River we made our way to Batman's camp ground in Manitoulin. This week has been the longest of the tour and the most demanding with most of the week being wet and windy. OLuckily Margaret was there to set up the tent in the afternoon. After this we get a short trip to South Bay mouth and take the ferry to Tobermory. App 100 km distance but half of it is on the ferry. Next week will take us through Ontario to Ottawa. hard to believe that only three weeks are left in this incredible trip. I wish I had the words and time to do justice to this trip. God is good.

Stats. No stats for these days my odometer decided to reset the trip data. Overall data remains.

32 Marquette to Newberry

There are days like today you get up in the dark and say what am I doing here. But then you start biking and see a sun rise over Superior and an eagle gliding along the shore and some sand cranes walking along side the road and you remember why you started this quest. This is the second day that we cover a century (100 miles) and it is intimidating, but you see eagles cranes, and other wildlife it makes it all worth the trip. It is surprising what you see from the seat of a bicycle.
We traveled to Newberry along Lake Superior and crossed a big plateau. Tomorrow we go to Sault Ste I Marie where I meet with Margaret, really looking forward to it.Sunrise on Superior

Superior

This week is the longest week distance wise covering 897 kilometres with 5 days over 140 and three at 160 (one at 170) travelling from Ashland back across the border to Manitoulin Island close to home. I don't know if I will be able to keep up the journal but I will catch up when I can.

Day 31 Ashland to Ewen Michigan

That's right we are in Upper Michigan and getting closer and closer to home. The landscape has changed once again and we are riding in rolling hills along the south shore of Lake Superior. We are passing through areas of summer tourism with cabins and campgrounds. We often pass signs for off road trails and ski resorts. The day went well despite the missing front derailleur and I am finally learning to focus more on speed and cadence than just biking. There is a difference between leisure riding and tripping one focusing on sight seeing the other on distance. I have to find the balance between the two so that I can be a tourist yet not be frustrated at being the last one in.

we arrived at Ewen and were treated to dinner by the Lutheran church of Ewen a meal with Pasties a Scottish treat of pastry with potatoes meat and veggies. I thought it was a Kincardine treat but apparently it is known further abroad. shot of the school we are staying at.

Stats
Distance- 141.98
Time- 6:15:26
Average speed- 22.69

Day 30 half way point to Ashland Wisconsin

We started our trip on a very misty and foggy morning following a bike trail. It was a beautiful trip, the trail followed an old rail line and was paved. Later that day we crossed into Wisconsin. We passed a lot of lakes and the country side became more hilly. In Carlton just after my flat tire episode my front derailed broke, the small tab that holds the spring in place snapped, so I need to find a new derailleur
Endless bales in the distance. If walls could talk.

On the third stop of the day we reached the half way point which happened to be at the delta diner ice cream stand , well what a treat. We were asked to wait for all members to arrive and when we arrived we all posed for group pictures and were treated to strawberry shortcake. It made the 160 km day better.

Kaitlin at half way

Jack rejoicing

The country side was a lot of rolling hills with farms intermixed. Beautiful country that reminds me of home. In Ashland on Sunday we were treated to a fried chicken dinner after the service at the Presbyterian church.

With all the things that are going on , sore ankle, flat tires , broken bikes and long hot days I sometimes feel like giving up but the good days outweigh the bad and the encouragement I receive is priceless and I carry on being better for it. Thanks for your help.

Distance including a few trips to town. 180.64. Time 8:41:16. Average speed 20.79

Day 28,29

Northome to Grand Rapids to Carlton

These days are put together because both days went through the same type of territory. The ride to Grand Rapids went through a national parkland that was at least a hundred kilometres of brush, scrub trees and marsh. It was also very quiet as we travelled some back roads of Minnesota.
Rest stop 1

Old town hall Grand Rapids Min.
In Grand Rapids we said goodbye to some of our support staff and welcomed a lot of riders and staff that will stay with us till the Soo. in Grand Rapids just as we were getting ready to go to a stock car race (old style dirt track ) I received a flat tire #4 I could not find the reason for a flat but changed the tube and went on catching the last race, fun watching them slide around the track.

The trip to Carlton went through another forest also a very quiet ride. The trees got larger and more and more pines and evergreens became present. The land also started rolling a lot more.
The beginning of the mighty Mississippi River

Our trip ended in Carlton a small town in eastern Minnesota. The last rest stop provided me with another flat No. 5 . This time we found some small pieces of wire. The transports and other vehicles loose their tires on the long run with bits of rubber all along the side along with the wire meshing and wire on the inside of the tires. These pieces of wire have a tendency to work their way into the treads eventually causing flats. riding close to the side of the road is cleaner because the wind from the passing cars blow the debris away but also more dangerous.

Stats for two days
Distance 248.61 Time 11:13 Average speed 22.41

Day Eight

We all had a marvellous roast beef dinner last night complete with all sorts of desserts. Our day eight started in Salmon Arm and we basically followed the trans Canada. It was very busy. For a few section we managed to ride on some county roads that run parallel with the trans Canada. The hills became higher and in the distance snow capped mountains appeared. It was very nice watching the change. We stopped at the site of the where the last spike was driven joining BC to the rest of Canada just as some trains went by.

Our day started in Salmon Arm
The incline was very gradual so the  1132 meter climb with a 1174 decent was not as bad as you may think. The route took us by several running streams and waterfalls and there was a definite drop in temperature in the area, very refreshing. The final destination was Revelstoke (A typical tourist town with all kinds of bars and attractions but no real stores) where we camped at Williamson lake with an ice cold lake to swim in ( If you like ice cold water you would love it here).

Today will be a short blog because tomorrow we continue on the trans Canada to Golden. The initial climb of 2278 meters with a drop of 1939 and a distance of 152 k will be a tiring day. There is no towns for camping hence the long trek.  We were told that it would be a good idea to start an hour earlier so I will set my alarm at 4:30 to start at 6:00. Not the best time to get up.
119.8 km
5:30:22 time
20.9 average speed
I can’t get the pictures  to upload so later
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Day 25 Winnipeg to Vasser

We headed south and east towards the border. The day was a tough ride as there was a heavy head/cross wind. My right ankle is still quite sore from the workout that we had at the end of last week (rough road, wind and rain) but the tenser bandage I picked up yesterday helps. As we left Winnipeg the farms dwindled out and we rode most of our trip through scrub brush and birch trees. Not a lot of change of scenery. The camp at Vassar started to look more familiar with rocks and evergreens. The pool was refreshing at the end of the ride.


Southern Manitoba


Day 26 Vassar to Baudette Minnesota

Today we crossed into the US. It was quite a procedure. We needed to be together so after we left camp we needed to meet in one spot and cross together. We were all processed one by one. The port authority wanted a group shot so after we were all checked we posed under cover. It was fortunate that the photo was taken because it started to rain as a thunderstorm passed.

At Customs for a group shot
Luckily after about ten minutes after the session it stopped raining and we continued on for another 80 km to a small town of Baudette Minnesota, close to the border. The ride was interesting. The school we stayed at was great, a huge secondary school with all the bells and whistles. Large gyms, a pool and hot tubs. A real treat.

Distance 118.46 time. 5:21:15. Average speed 22.12

Baudette to Northome

Today we travelled to Northome Minnesota. It was a beautiful day for riding. We travelled through the Red lake national reserve so there was really no other towns for 100 km . It is a good thing we have support vehicles that are spaced at app 25 km apart. There is always fresh water and some fruit and snacks. The ride was through a lot of bog and scrub brush with one section along Red lake.

Carrie Kooy Our support on the first stop.

Stats

Distance 121.48. Time 5:16:21. Average speed 23.04

To date.

Distance 3247 time 159:34

Day 22 Russell to Minnedosa 

All I can say is that the yellow head highway from Russell to Minnedosa is one long lonely and rough stretch. The road was wide but the paved shoulders in most of the route was unrideable so it forced us to use the road which really was not much better. There was very little in the way of stores or towns on the highway and the stores and shops that were advertised on the road were too far out of the way to go to. It was hard on the bikes and your body felt like it was on a vibrator all the time you rode. There was on the other hand lots of wildlife, birds, ducks, and small rodents. Road signs also indicated that there is a presence of larger animals as well. None of which ever decided to make their presence known but when we reached Minnedosa there were reports of a bear roaming the the streets. 

The campground that we stayed at was on a man made lake. There was a large dam on the way to the campground an a large lake on the other side. A nice way to end a bone jarring ride.


Buffalo at Minnedosa

Stats  distance: 141.72  Time 6:50:00.  Average speed. 20.74 

Day 23  Minnedosa to Portage La Prairie 

Well they told us when we started that the prevailing wind was from the west. The ones that start a cross country trip in the east are smiling right now. After yesterday,s rough roads and lots of people having equipment trouble ( a long rough ride) down the yellow head highway. The road today was all downhill and smooth but… the wind picked up from the north east changing to the east in the afternoon. It was a hard go. It's a good thing I like coffee because the delay to get one on the way was enough that I missed the rain the others slogged through. 
The scenery was much the same as what we had been travelling through all week. The only difference was that there is less conola than before and a lot more variety wheat, corn , soybeans, and other started appearing. Because of the wet conditions we did not take a lot of photos, just concentrated on biking. 

long lonely stretches

Tonight we heard from some riders and support staff that are leaving in Winnipeg. Every week end we say goodbye to some who have ridden or supported us over the past weeks. It is difficult especially if you have connected on some level. Sunday will see new faces on the tour. We have app. 53 riders that go the whole way and numerous support that are with us for the whole trip as well. Others join us as time for them permits.

Stats  distance 134.69  time 7:17:16 average speed e18.48

As you can see a very windy day

Day 24 Portage La Prairie to Winnipeg

Well the wind shifted in our favour after a thunderstorm last night. So the ride into Winnipeg was fast with the wind behind us. We got to Winnipeg in record time. But all the plans to look around at the new cultural centre went straight out the window when it started taking pour. So we have a perfect trifecta rough roads one day, a strong easterly wind the next right into us, then rain the third. I hope it all out of the system and we have a peaceful week and I know that I deserve no sympathy because I signed up for this. 

Coming into Winnipeg was great as we got closer there were of course there were more and more houses. The route took us along the Assiniboine river through parkland and gardens. As we followed the river the homes along this tree lined boulevard are spectacular. Later the trail turned in to more parkland and we came to where the Assiniboine and Red rivers meet. We went up to the new human rights museum, a real nice piece of architecture. About that time the skies opened up and we spent the next hour huddled under an alcove. The storm settled down but a lot of the pavement markings (an arrow with a c) our guide was wash ed out and I became mislocated I hate t use the term lost but a phone call helped put me back on track.

On Saturday night we were treated to dinner by the local native band with a meal of beef and moose stew and bannock. This also included a cleansing ceremony and a traditional dance demonstration. A lot of the culture and traditions were explained. Since we started our trip, every evening we would hear which traditional native land we were passing through and some background history. We are in Ojibway Chippewa and Meti territory which stretches all the way back to south western Ontario. 

Distance.             Time.              Average speed.         

I will post this as is and sort out the order later. I really struggled this week but we experienced great sights and wonderful landscapes.

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