I left Vancouver on June 5, 2000, and arrived at my parents' house in St. John's at 19:00, August 26, 2000.
This is the journal in chronological order, latest entries last. Click here for the journal in reverse order. There are a bunch of photos that go along with this but I lost the digital copies and it will probably be October 2010 at the earliest before I can scan them. Read my blog if you want to find out when this happens :)
May 30, 2000 - train to Vancouver
Well, this is it. The start of my trip. I arrived in Toronto last night and stayed at Andrew's overnight. Then at 8:00 this morning it was off to Union station to catch the 8:45 train. This thing is the biggest passenger train I've ever seen: 27 cars long. I'm in the dome car now, which sticks up above the rest of the train and provides quite a good view. The car is starting to fill up now with people coming up from their regular seats to take in some sun and some scenery. It's a beautiful day out there - I think summer may finally be gracing us with her presence.
It's 10:20 now and I haven't had breakfast yet.. I'm going to head off and take care of that and then maybe explore the train.
Well, that was neat. We have 3 economy class cars followed by our dining car, and then over 10 sleeper cars and their private dining cars all pulled by 3 diesel engines. I suppose we'll be needing them in the rockies. I was talking to one of the Via people who told me this is one of the biggest trains of the year, it being the start of tourist season. (Wow, just passing Lake Simcoe.. I think the secret to not getting bored on the train is to be easily amused :) The first of the economy class cars contains about 4 dozen kids heading to some camp or something. Kudos to the Via people for putting them in their own car.
14:54 - somewhere in northern Ontario As I was looking out the window of the dome, someone stuck out a broom out the rear window of the dining car. I couldn't figure out why but had to laugh at the incongruity of it. A Via person explained what was going on: "They wanted to see wildlife," refenring to the people in the car behind us. I then noticed the postcards of a bear and a moose taped to the broom. Who said that seeing animals is not guaranteed?
May 31, 2000, train to Vancouver
Sometime last night, we passed out of coniferous forests and into evergreens. We're almost at Sioux Lookout where they stop for half an hour to let us off the train. On the whole, the trip so far has been pretty comfortable but there are few enough of us that we have two seats each. I'm not sure I'd want to travel economy class with a full train.
I tried to charge my Palm Pilot from a 6 volt lead acid battery but it didn't work. If have time in Winnipeg, I'll stop by Radio Shack and get some parts to build a better charger. Until then, I'm going to try leaving it plugged into the razor outlet in the washroom. I'm getting pretty quick at writing on this thing but I may invest in a larger stylus - this one gets uncomfortable after extended use.
OK, an hour hidden in the washroom and the little guy is ready to go. Anyone have any bright ideas on what I should name my Palm Pilot, apart from "little guy"? If you do, please drop me an email...
I've spent most of the morning in the dome, watching the train snake its way through the rocks and trees and trees and rocks and water of northern Ontario. I'm glad we're being pulled by normal Via Rail engines not the kool-aid ones now in use in most of the corridor. Those are just ugly. The Home Hardware engines were OK but.. well.. Via's got to make money somewhere, and if advertising for overpriced sugar is what it takes...
17:32 We just left Winnipeg. So these are the prairies. They're not as flat as I had imagined. I mean, they're quite flat, but I have a very vivid imagination :)
We had an hour and a half in Winnipeg, so I picked up some more food in Winnipeg. Who would have thought I'd eat a loaf of bread and a kilo of cheese in a day and a half? Unfortunately, I was misinformed about the existance of a Radio Shack near the train station. The little guy will have to spend some more time in the washroom..
June 1, 2000 - train to Vancouver
9:30 - Biggar, Alberta
I woke up a few hours ago, checked the time, and figured we must be in Edmonton. Then I looked out the window and discovered we're still in Biggar. We were supposed to pass through Biggar at around 4:00 but we're still here. The Via people told us (when asked - there haven't been any announcements) that there's a problem with one of the engines but the evidence doesn't support this. For one thing, there are three engines. Two working engines could easily pull us at close to full speed to Edmonton, where there's a spare engine. Also, even if that wasn't possible, there's been more than enough time to send the spare engine up from Edmonton. We can see the front end of the train, and they haven't done anything to the engines.
Something else is amiss, and the rumor I've heard from more than one person is that there was a fight in one of the first class dining cars and we've been waiting for the police to arrive (by road) from Edmonton. But then why didn't we just go on to Edmonton and deal with it there, or meet the police at a station halfway? And why are they lying to us about the engine?
11:10 - welcome to Alberta
We crossed the Alberta-Saskatchewan border about 5 minutes ago, about 7 hours behind schedule due to the morning's delays. There are a few oil wells here but other than that it's pretty well the same as before. I've staked out my spot in the dome car - we'll be in the rockies soon enongh.
17:31 - near Evansburg
We made up some time on the way to Edmonton, arriving only 6 hours late. But we lost some of that time due to delays at the station. Oh well, I'm in no rush to get anywhere.
I got a little more of the story behind the delay. Apparently, a guy and his girlfriend, both wanted for armed robbery, were travelling in first class. The guy's wife phoned the RCMP, who got Via to stop the train in Biggar and wait for a special team to arrive from Edmonton. They evacuated everyone from the cars in question and uncoupled them from the train. They got the pair off and nobody was hurt. And those are all the details I know. For anything else, there'll probably be a story in the paper and you may have seen something on the news - there were quite a few reporters at the train station when we arrived.
Some of the kids on the train are getting pretty annoying. One of the other passengers (about my age) remarked that dealing with other peoples' kids is a great form of birth control!
9:11 - leaving Jasper
Why do I think of Molson beer whenever they announce the name of the train? Oh yeah, maybe because the train's called the Canadian. Their advertising sure is pervasive. Too bad it can't make their beer taste good.
Wow, the rockies look good. I don't care how hard the climb is, riding through them is going to be a pleasure. They just washed our windows - cool. We also made up an hour of time on the way to Jasper and 15 minutes at the station. But who's counting?
June 2, 2000 - train to Vancouver
11:30 - Chilliwack
What a weird name. Imagine having to tell your friends, "I live in Chilliwack."
I spent the rest of last night in the dome car looking at the rockies. Unfortunately it got dark too soon but I got a few pictures. We just got a free lunch because of the delay. Apart from that, not much else is new. We should be in Vancouver in less than two hours. Yay :)
Made it to Vancouver @ about 15:00. Went to MEC and bought a new sleeping bag. I got the MEC Raptor, which was pretty expensive but it's a down bag so it should last forever. Also it's absolutely TINY when stuffed.
I went back to the train and put my bike together. The box was in pretty rough shape - the bottom was half missing so they had it upside down. Luckily the bike was undamaged but I was immediately glad I had packed my camping gear separately. After that I biked my over-laden bike to the seabus, basically a high speed ferry that runs every 15 minutes to North Vancouver. At North Vancouver, biked up Lonsdale (a large hill) to the Davidsons where I'm now staying. AfterLonsdale, I'm quite glad to be leaving a lot of this stuff at the Davidsons!
June 4,2000: Lake Ennock, 110 km W of Vancouver, 18m elevation
Yes this is the Lake Ennock with the nudist resort. No we're not camping there.
A reasonable first day. None of the guys wanted to go too hard, which was fine by me. We are riding along highway 7 to Hope, about 30 km from here, and then up the mountains on highway 3. It's really hot here, I'm sure at least 30 today which I'm not used to. I hope we get used to it, or else we may start riding at night/early morning.
This is such a paradox. I'm writing a journal on a Palm Pilot illuminated by a candle because I don't want to waste battery power on the backlight. I still have no way to charge the little guy and no modem, so these journal entries and the emails I wrote on the train will have to wait. Oh well.
Nothing much else to say ... I hope I can ride better tomorrow than today... We met a few "interesting" people along the road. At least the people here are friendly.
June 5: Nicolum Creek near Hope, BC.. 60km ride, 56m alt.
14:10 - stopped for lunch in Hope. We would have stopped sooner but there weren't any restauraunts along the highway for quite some time. We're probably going to camp near here as the first campsite on the 3 isn't for about 50km... straight uphill.
OK, now we're camped. A nicer site than yesterday, a BC provincial park. Less facilities (outhouses only) but much quieter and a pleasant stbeam nearby. I found the riding pretty hard today due to tiredness - hopefully tomorrow will be better. It rained quite a lot. I haven't decided if that's better or worse than sweltering heat - I suppose as long as we don't get too much of either...
Patrick met up with us in Hope. He completed two of our (admittedly fairly light) days in 6 hours. Tomorrow is the start of our big climb. Joy.
June 6: Lightning Lake, Manning Provincial Park, 76km, 1280m elev, 1342 peak elev
Our morning started out with quite a large climb on a 7% grade, then it was up and down all day. Clearly more up than down - we gained over 1km. Weather-wise, it's been our best day yet: hardly any rain and not too hot.
This campsite is also the nicest yet. It's a provincial site about 4km from the highway with hot showers and real toilets... SWEET...
June 7: Bromley Rock, near Princeton, BC, 97 km, 613m alt
We're stopped for "lunch" at Bromley Station Pub just out of Princeton. I use quotes since it's after 15:00... Four of us just finished off Mountain Mushroom Burgers - what an incredible quantity of food! Wherevere we camp had better be close. The owner of the place was really nice: he let us bring our bikes into ta restauraunt and offered to lt us stay on his porch if we don't want to go to a campsite.
The morning started off with a downhill section followed by up and down until now. I have the feeling we lost more altitude than we gained, will have to check later.
Yep, as you can see above, we lost quite a bit of alt. More up and down today. The highway winds back and forth over the Silikameen river - it's amazing the number of times we've passed it. We've been drafting Patrick most of the way - it seems to keep the group together.
I was able to get on the Internet briefly today at a cafe but the connection was intermittent so I didn't gt much done and I wasn't able to sync anything out of my palm. Oh well, maybe Ossoyos will have a better connection.
Our campsite is a provincial site about 20km past Princeton. Tomorrow we're going to Ossoyos, which is another 100km distant.
June 8: Hanes Point, Ossoyous, BC..102km ride, 307m alt.
We're camped at this neat little site on a spit of land out into Ossoyous Lake. We just met up with the Rivers (Pat & Toby) who have been driving and camping in the rockies, going roughly the opposite direction. We're probably going to stay here tomorrow as some people want a break.
The ride was up and down today, I think more so than yesterday. On a whole, we lost altitude. Ossoyous sits in a valley and there's a legendary climb on the highway out known as "The Anarchist" by the locals. Maybe this day off is a good idea.. The terrain has bcome more farm-like as we rode down. This is basically the southern extent of the Okanagan Valley and there's a bit of local fruit, etc.
Good news: I was able to steal some power from the camp ampitheater so my Palm is well charged. It was getting low so I was a bit worried. Also, there's a Radio Shack downtown so I'll see if my charger idea works.
June 9: REST DAY, Osoyoos
We didn't do a huge pile today, which was useful. We visited the interpretation centre for Canada's only desert, and swam in the country's warmest lake. I think the lake has a lot of work ahead of it in the coming months if this is to remain the case.
In th evening, the Rivers took us out to dinner to a pretty nice Italian place. Oh yeah, earlier I visited Radio Shack and bought charger parts. Unfortunately, it started to rain before I got it finished but early results seem promising.
June 10: Boundary Creek P.P. near Greenwood, 90 km, 725m alt, 1223m day's peak
We have conquored The Ananchist! I powered up it in my lowest gear but at a fairly high cadence, probably due to the coffee I consumed befone my ride. Normally I tend to avoid coffee during touring, because the immediate effects are rarely worth the lack of energy after. But in this case it started to POUR as we were leaving Osoyoos so we stopped at a coffee shop downtown.
We lunched at the top of the Anarchist. Heard at lunch: "Torrential rain, 12% slopes, and 3 degrees out. What are we doing?!?" It got a bit drier aften lunch (and the road was mostly downhill) but it still rained on and off.
We stopped for hot drinks at a nice little ranch/souveneir store, where the owner told us all about the gold rush that happened in Boundary and spurred the construction of Highway 3. Then we rode on to Boundary Creek, another in our seemingly endless string of provincial parks.
June 11: The Last Resort, Christina Lake, 71km ride, 469m alt.
We're at a cabin owned by a Jocelyn, a friend of a few of the guys. This is the first time any of us have been indoors for longer than an hour in a week. It's quite the luxury: a roof over our heads, a real (gas) stove, and a woodstove to keep us warm. Based on this, we should be able to get on the road fairly early tomorrow: one of our biggest problems is the amount of time this group spends breaking camp. It seems to take at least 3 hours, and the earliest we've ever been on the road is 10:00. Tomorrow we set out for Nelson. Or not. There's talk of spending another rest day here, but we just had one of those two days ago...
We caught 4 bass on the lake, 2 of which were actually big enongh to eat. We have line, hooks, sinkers, and bait, but no rods. So we're fishing with garden tools. There are few things better than catching a bass with a big rake.
June 12: Rain day, Christina Lake
It's raining. Hard. This is the 8th day in a row that it's rained and we're all sick of it, so we're staying at Christina Lake.
Rode the 30km to Orient, Washington. Picked up some American Mountain Dew, with caffiene. It was good to ride without panniers for a change!
June 13: Nelson, BC, 126km ride, 1535m peak alt, 577m camp alt
Another day, another hill. This one was a longer distance than The Anarchist, but a gentler grade. We forgot to get bread before leaving Christina Lake so we ate lunch at 16:00 in Castlegar, then headed on to Nelson, arriving at about 19:30. We're camped at the municipal site, which is not as nice as most BC parks, but it has showers and we need them! Oh yeah, for the first time since our first day, we didn't get rained on.
June 14: Lakeside Campground, Ainsworth Hot Springs, BC, 51km ride, 563km alt
Spent the morning in Nelson, which seems to be a really nice town: many cafes, bike shops, etc as compared to Gnand Forks (about the same pop.) or Osoyoos (larger).nwenhad lunch in Nelson then rode to the hot springs and had a soak. The name of this town really is Ainsworth Hot Springs, that's all that's here.
Some of the best riding yet on the way here, extremely scenic and we get to go back that way to the ferry at Balfor.
June 15: "Kozy" Trailer Park, Creston, BC, 100km ride, 647m alt.
Today was easily some of the best riding yet. We went back down to Balfour and took the ferry across the Kootenay Lake. Then we rode down the shore of the lake to Creston. On the other side of the lake was the Kootenay range - quite beautifug. It was sunny all day and we had a tailwind. And to end it off, an absolutely resplendant sunset. Oh yeah, one bad thing: I got 4 flats today. I think it may have been the tubes I was using (Pyramid brand) - I last put in a Kenda and it lasted tge rest of the day, over 50km.
Pat left us today to head back to Vancouver where he is soon starting work. Also, Jamie is leaving early tomorrow to ride to Cranbrook for a 16:00 flight to a conference in Ottawa. We're going to spend some time at Top of the World Provincial Park near Cranbrook while we're waiting for him.
June 16: Moyie Lake P.P, near Cranbrook, BC, 96km ride, 961m climb
Another great day's ride: not as scenic as yesterday's but just as sunny. We also entered a new time zone: we're now in mountain time. We're also on Highway 95 North now: it is the same as Highway 3 at its beginning but then branches up after Cranbrook.
June 17: Cranbrook, BC, 12km ride, 944km alt.
We rode a short distance down the hill to Cranbrook. Good timing: there's a local festival on called Sam Steele days. Apparently, he was an RCMP officer who came here in the late 1800's and restored the peace between natives, prospectors, and settlers. We went to a rodeo in the evening.. cross that off my list of things to do this lifetime :)
We met another cyclist on his way back from a small tour around BC. He's actually from Nelson and a couple of the guys were at the cafe where he works. He had a bit of Scotch in a Nalgene which he shared.. If I can possibly afford it, I will get a bottle of something good in Calgary...
June 18: Wasa Lake P.P., 36km ride, 796m alt.
This morning we had a pancake breakfast, then headed up to Fort Steele, a restored 1900's town. Pretty neat. After a morning there, we ate lunch then rode here. I'm feeling sick, have a fever so I didn't want to go any furthur and we can't get too far ahead of Jamie. Hopefullly I'll be better by tomorrow.
June 19: Fish Lake Cabin, Top of the World P.P., 67km ride, 1764m alt.
"Standin' on top of the world.." The road up here was quite rough: over 20km of rough logging roads followed by a muddy 6km singletrack. Oh yeah, uphill almost all the way. Not exactly pleasant riding on a bike with panniers and road tires, but the view was worth it. We stopped at Ram Creek hot sprinqs along the way, an undeveloped hot spring that seems to be one of the best-kept secrets around.
We're staying at a cabin, which is a nice change. And, since there are no self-registration envelopes left, I guess it's free.
June 20: White Swan Lake P.P., 40km ride, 1168m alt.
Nic and I went on a hike this morning to one of the nearby
peaks. We didn't make it all the way as there were still large
patches of ice on the
trail scree run near the top
and we didn't have ice axes or crampons. The view was still great
and I discovered why it's called Fish Lake: it looks like a fish
We met Jamie on our ride out the singletrack (much easier coming down). Apparently, he started riding at 5:30 from Wasa Lake. We all rode to this site together. On the road down, we saw 2 bears! The guys riding in front of me say they almost ran into it..
June 21: Cabin near Invermere, 87km ride,960m alt.
When we got up this morning, we had no food left. Last night, we ate everything but the condiments. Luckily, it was mostly downhill to Canal Flats where we had breakfast. It was a really good day's riding after that, threatening to rain a bit but never following through. The Columbia Valley is very scenic.
We met a couple of Newfoundlanders at Fish Lake, Judith and Alan Whittaker, who left a message on Jamie's cell phone inviting us over to the cabin where they're staying for the night and a BBQ. The cabin's actually owned by Jack Clark, also from Newfoundland. They cooked up about half a cow and there was desert!
June 22: Golden, BC, 127km ride, 877m alt.
We made an early start but hit an AMAZING head wind of ~60km/h before lunch so it was slow going after that. We drafted in 5 minute shifts. I was hoping to make it to Yoho but the wind tired us all out.
June 23: Lake O'hara, 88km ride, 2033m alt. (rode to 1406m)
Got up at 5:00 and was on the road by 5:30, hoping to make the Lake O'hara bus at 10:30. It was pretty slow going though: uphill a lot of the way, I'm still tired from yesterday's ride and I didn't get enough sleep. I made it to the Field info centre, 15km away, at 10:10 but there was a cancellation on the 4:30 bus so I hope to go out then. I'm now at an excellent coffee shop/restauraunt/general store in Field, Truffle Pigs.
I have left the group for a short time. They're all driving up to Banff to party with people I don't know. I'll meet up with them again in Calgary, if not before.
Checked out some of the attractions immediately off the highway, did a short hike, then caught the 16:30 bus out here. I walked around the lake before bed - it's pretty nice.
June 24: HIKE DAY, Lake O'hara
I slept in this morning because it's SNOWING! Sure I'm at about 2000m but does it really have to do that? I'm now trying to decide what to do. There's still snow on most of the trails..
Tried to get to Opabin Lake, which I heard was relatively free of snow. The first part wasn't bad: I made it to the Opabin Prospect and got a nice view of Lake O'hara, etc. But the rest of the trail was totally snow-covered. I went as far as Hungabee Lake, still covered in ice, and returned via the East Opabin trail.
It's starting to get sunny now so I may be able to get some good pictures. Tomorrow or maybe later tonight I plan to walk to Lake Oesa, which is apparently the least snowy trail around, and then head out to Takkakawa (or whatever) Falls.
It's truly a small world: met Temma, whom I know from Newfoundland while warming up at the day shelter. She also knows Nick, so I gave her Jamie's cell phone #.. Hopefully they'll meet, the guys are planning on coming here in a few days.
After that, cooked supper and went to Lake Oesa. The trail was much better: I had to cross one avalanche but it was quite hard packed. Lake Oesa was also frozen, but "Oesa" means ice so I suppose that's ok. I made it there before the sun disappeared over the mountains, and got back to the camp before it set.
June 25: Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park, 37km ride,1534m alt.
Another day, another weird occurrance: took the 9:30 bus out from Lake O'hara, followed by my bike in the Parks truck. As I unloaded my bike, I noticed the truck's tire was leaking, so I helped the Parks attendant change her tire..
I then went down "the big hill" as it's called, back to Field for more coffee, then up (way up) to Takakkaw Falls. Today is definately waterfall day. After seeing T. falls, which are right by the highway, I locked my gear in a bear locker and headed on a hike. I went toTwin Falls with quite a few side trips to other falls and the Yoho glacier viewpoint along the way.
I got back at about 22:30 and there was still a bit of light in the sky. Cooked, ate supper and now I'm in bed.
June 26: Banff Hostel, AB, 100km ride,1466m alt.
Rode down from the falls, lauqhed at a ridiculously lonq RV that had to drive backwards down some of the switchbacks, then rode up "The Big Hill". Took the old Trans Canada (now closed to traffic) from the top gf the hill to Lake Louise, stoppinq at the Continental Divide. Lunched at Lake Louise, then took Highway 1A to Banff. 1A is a pretty nice road, very quiet (speed limit 60km/h or less) and scenic. I saw about as many cyclists as cars on the road! It was also mostly downhill, which was pleasant.
I'm now at the Banff hostel, and plan on heading the 132km to Calgary tomorrow. I'll probably take the1 desdite my good experience with the 1A as I've heard the 1A is much longer, hillier, and still fairly busy. The 1 is very busy but at least it has good shoulders.
June 27: Calgary, AB, 140km ride, 1104m alt.
Left Banff at about 9:00 and rode the short distance to Canmore. Bought lunch and rode around town a bit before heading down the 1 to Calgary. The 1 is actually quite good: wide shoulders and rumble strips so cars don't drive on them. It was a fairly lonq ride; Calgary isn't that much downhill from Banff.
Called the people I'm staying with, but nobody was home so I continued down the 1 until it met a bike path. Took the bike path along for a bit, then crossed the Bow River. I thought I'd try and find MEC as there were a few things I needed. Rode down the bike path a bit then turned south, crossed the C-train tracks, and started looking for a phone book to look up MEC's address. But as soon as I turned the next corner, there it was!
Once I had finished shopping, the Davenports were home, and it was a fairly short ride to their house.
June 30: Bassano, 165km ride, 802m alt.
After a brief stay in Calgary, we headed out the 1. I would have liked to spend more time in the city but everyone else wanted to get a move on. In any case, it took a while to get out of the city: the 1 inside the city has no shoulder to speak of and is quite busy, so we meandered our way through the side roads.
After that, the prairies, which are actually pretty neat: gently rolling hills, a road that just stretches right out in front of you, and loads of farms. Riding was decent - very flat of course with a strong Northerly wind that was generally a cross wind but sometimes a head or tail wind. It also rained a bit which allowed me to test the treatment (Nikwax) I washed my Goretex pants in. Good news: it works!
We're now in a town about half way between Medicine Hat and Calgary. As luck would have it, they're having a "homecoming" celebration weekend: cheap food and free entertainment!
July 1, CANADA DAY: Dinosaur P.P, 105km ride, 642m alt.
This morning, we hit a pancake breakfast in Bassano, then I rode the 20km round trip to the Bassano Dam, and caught the end of a parade. Then we all rode down a secondary highway towards Dinosaur Provincial Park.
We stopped in Rosemary for lunch and watched a tractor pull. If you haven't seen one before, basically tractors in different weight classes compete on how far they can pull a sled, the weight of which is increased as it's pulled furthur. They also had a slow race to see who could drive the slowest without stalling. After the tractor pull, we headed on to the park. We had a great tailwind for a while, but as soon as we turned North into the park, it became a headwind. Oh well, we were pretty close at that point..
July 2: Gas City Campground, Medicine Hat, AB, 130km ride, 710m alt.
Last night, we climbed a hoodoo (natural rock formation from glaciation and water erosion) and saw a great sunset. Then we got Canada day fireworks in the form of a distant but very cool thunderstorm.
Spent the morning in Dinosaur Provincial Park, in a bus tour (guided tours only in the preserve) and then exploring the public areas of the park. We then ate lunch at the park restauraunt and rode out of the park against a headwind. We also met someone else doing the cross-Canada trip but our paths diverged at the park turnoff (he's goinq to Saskatoon). Then it was a 20km shortcut on a dirt road into the wind, which was nasty but saved us a 50km trip into the wind later. After that straight down the 1 to here, passing by Canada's first natural gas. Nowadays, this town is full of oil refineries, hence the city's nickname. We had a crosswind on the 1, but it didn't slow us down much. All in all, a pleasant day's ride.
We're in an overflow field due to the long weekend. But it only cost $8. You can hear a couple of the refineries here - pretty loud. Tonight, there was also a really nice sunset, and a wide open sky.. Still too much light pollution to see lots of stars, but I saw an Iridium satellite :)
July 3: middle of nowhere, near Maple Creek, SK, 105km ride, 795m alt.
Yes, we're in Saskatchewan. After our usual slow start (we had to eat breakfast at a restauraunt - out of food - then buy groceries), we set off down the 1. Riding was good in the morning, cloudy, windless, and dry. We stopped for lunch in the small town of Irvine, then continued on our way. I got a flat somewhere near the provincial border, and so was quite a distance behind everyone else when it started to rain. It rained really hard and there was a thunderstorm, which made me nervous but there was no shelter anywhere so I pressed on. At the Maple Creek turnoff, I stopped at an Esso and called the guys, who were taking shelter under a railway bridge that I had passed about 15km back. If I'd thought of it at the time, I'd have done that too but I didn't. Anyways, I waited 2.5 hours for them in Esso, which had a restauraunt with data jacks (apparently a lot of truckers carry laptops now).. And now we're camped in a field behind the Esso. There's a motel here and the owner lives in an attached house here so this is his backyard. Pretty nice guy, he made us coffee! There's also a dog, but he says it's a stray that he's going to have to shoot in a few days. We'd take it with us but I think it'd prefer getting shot :)
July 4: Swift Current, AB, 135km ride, 781m alt.
We've stopped for the night in Swift Current. It's still pretty early.. I wanted to go furthur but nobody else did. This morning we woke to a beautiful sunny day and a westerly wind: finally, a tailwind. Jamie met another guy at the gas station who's doing the trip. He started in Jasper, made a circuit through Vancouver and is now following the same route as us. I actually passed him on the road last night but it was raining pretty hard so I didn't stop to chat.
Riding was excellent today thanks to the tailwind. The highway follows the CP rail tracks so I saw quite a few trains.. I wonder if we ever ride next to the CN tracks.. it would be neat to see the Via train I took out west. There are also a lot of small towns along the highway, and you can usually see from one to another thanks to the grain elevators.
July 5: Corval, SK (pop 8), 135km ride, 604m alt.
Wow! This is really a nowhere town. Last night, we went to see The Perfect Storm. Pretty good movie, a couple of small things that bothered me but it's up there with Das Boot. However, Das Boot is still Petersen's best to date IMO.
We got on the road by 11:30, despite having to buy groceries. We are riding east on highway 363, a secondary road that adds 30km to the trip but is much more pleasant. It's hillier and the road is in pathetic condition but there's almost no traffic. Apparently, most grain is now trucked over these roads, which are very thinly paved, to central grain elevators. The old way was to have an elevator in every town, connected by rail, but these elevators have all been torn down or abandoned. The net result is roads that deteriorate to the point that they have to be covered with gravel and made into dirt roads.
Riding was good today. A bit of a headwind but sunny skies and great countryside. I also saw quite a bit of wildlife: deer, rabbits, ducks and other birds.
This is the last town before a 70km stretch of nothing leading to Moose Jaw. We're camped behind an abanboned garage.. most of this town is abandoned. It was once, so they say, a thriving metropolis of 50 but most of the farms are now ranchland, and it doesn't take as many people to manage a ranch.. There sure are a lot of flies though. We cooked and ate supper in record time.. It sounds like it's raining now but it's just the flies hitting the tent.
July 6: Turgeon International Hostel, Regina, SK, 151km ride, 593m alt.
Rain. A lot of it. Last night it rained so hard that a little of it came through the tent. That and a huge thunderstorm. We were also racing this morning to outrun another storm, which ended up hitting me for about 1/2 hour, and it rained for another half hour this afternoon. Apart from the rain, there was a crosswind this morning that gradually shifted to a full on headwind by the end of the day.
We made Moose Jaw for lunch, and then took the 1 here, arriving at about 20:00. The hostel overbooked us but they're letting us stay cheap on the living room floor. Beats a tent and getting feasted on by flies. Oh yeah, the hostel is on McIntyre road. Neat, huh?
July 7: REST DAY, Regina, SK
We're now settled in to a "real" room at the hostel. We've all gone our separate ways - I'm relaxinq at a coffee shop and then going to explore the city. I hope to get up early tomorrow and get on the road before it gets too hot. We're going to head north to Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba, and will probably arrive in Winnipeg on the 12th.
This city seems nice, but is a bit too small to spend any large amount of time in. I caught some of the Flatlands music festival that's going on in a park near here - neat stuff.
I met two other cyclists, Mandy and Cathy, who are finishing a trip from Toronto. They're heading by bus to Vancouver to check out the biking around there. Apparently, we also have to visit a bar, The Appolo, in Thunder Bay and deliver a postcard for them. Hopefully they'll be back in Toronto (where they live) by the time we arrive.
Just cooking supper now: there's a grill so I bought some chicken and some charcoal. Hopefully the meal will be worth the effort. Those briquettes were heavy and the grocery store was far.
The hostel manager is out here now. She's really friendly and talkative, pretty cool.. Well, food's done. Time to eat.
July 8: Bredenbury, SK,217km ride, 536m alt.
So you get up and ride a few hundred km, roll into some town at about midnight, cook supper, and camp in the city park..
After leaving Regina, we took highway 10. It's busier than the secondary roads we've been on so far, but still better than the 1. After lunching in Fort Qu'Appelle, a neat little town in a valley by some lakes, we set off for Melville and arrived at ~20:00. Some of the guys wanted to camp there, but the rest, myself included, wanted to go on. It had been a great day's ride so far, maybe a little too hot but sunny and a slight tailwind. Also, the campsite in Melville was full of RVers with kids. We spent a long time discussing what to do, and finally flipped a coin. Heads, so we rode off into the sunset down highway 15. It was a pretty good ride, much cooler than before and with tons of fireflies on the side of the road. The only problem was that the road got a bit rough about halfway out and it was dark. Oh yeah, first >200km day (finally). Also, we're again paralelling train tracks, but now they're CN.. I don't know if it's the countless trips to and from Kingsto!
n on VIA, or all the freight trains that pass in the night in Kingston, but CN trains seem much cooler than CP.
Strange supper coincidence: it's my sister's birthday today and we had clam spaghetti, her favourite. I didn't plan it that way, it just worked out. If you're reading this webpage, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, CLARE!
July 9: Rossman Lake, Manitoba, 110km ride, 645m alt.
Welcome to Manitoba! Also a new time offset: 1 hour ahead. Manitoba and Saskatchewan are in the same time zone (Central), but since SK does not observe daylight savings time, in the summer its offset is the same as Mountain time. If you're not confused, you're not trying hard enough.
We met a trucker in Bredenbury this morning, who let us fill up our water bottles at his house, and talked a bit about routes through Ontario. Apparently, most truckers take highway 11. We will take the 17 or go below Lake Superior via tbe USA, but apparently the 17 has sand (unrideable) shoulders. We'll talk to more people as we go on and decide what to do.
We headed down highway 16 from Bredenbury to Russel, the first town in MB. Then we took the 45.. Significant headwinds and mechanical problems with Nic's bike (probably classic chain stretch - the chain links wear, elongating the chain. If the chain is not replaced soon enough, it wears the rest of the drivetrain until it no longer works properly..) forced us to cut the ride short. Fortunately, we met a really nice guy with a cottage near here who told us of a bikeable trail through Riding Mountain, that should allow us to get to a campsite sooner tomorrow and spend more time in the park. I'm looking forward to the park: this campsite isn't very nice.
July 10: Neepawa, MB, 143km ride, 358m alt.
Riding Mountain sidetrip canceled due to inclement weather.. It was raining when we got up this morning, so we took our time breaking camp. The guy we met last night, Bill Stadnyk, drove up to the campsite to let us know that he'd phoned the Riding Mountain ranger, who is also a bit of a cyclist, and while the trail is open, it may be quite muddy in the rain. He gave us a topo in case we decide to go anways, which we'll mail back. So we gave the trail the miss, headed back to highway 45, and rode east.. into a nasty south-easterly headwind. At Shoal Lake, we elected to go north for a bit then east on the 16, and bypass the park entirely. The only good thing is that it stopped raining just before lunch and didn't start again.
We're now in Minnedosa at a little restauraunt. We just had perogies for an appetizer - excellent. After supper, we're heading to Neepawa, and hope to make Winnipeg tomorrow.
Now at Neepawa. It's one of the nicest parks we've camped in on the prairies, but that's not saying much. One thing I've noticed is that there are a lot more lakes and rivers in Manitoba, and (probably because of this) a lot more trees.
We tried my old chain (replaced as part of my regular preventative maintainance) on Nic's bike, but it made things worse so he put his old one back. Looks like an entirely new drivetrain for him in Winnipeg..
July 11: Winnipeg, MB, 190km ride, 237m alt.
We made it to the 'peg, despite more headwinds. Luckily it didn't rain. We rode down the 16 until it met the 1, then took the 1 here, drafting all the way. The 16 wasn't bad but the 1 had gravel shoulders. It was also pretty busy, and we had to leave it a couple of times due to trucks and idiot RVers. We're now staying at Nick's friends, Will and Fiona's. Only Will is home, so there's a good bit of room.. Well, time to head out and get food...
July 12: REST DAY, Winnipeg, MB
Have spent the day walking around Winnipeg, seeing what there is to see. It seems like a decent city, but with less green space than others I've seen. However, I've also come to the conclusion that after even a few days of campsites and small towns, any city seems pretty good.
Events of note: last night, I discovered a new flavor of Mars bar: dark and gold. They still sell the normal dark. That makes 4 flavors, plus king size. Life is good. This morning, I found a copy of Pink Floyd's PULSE, *with light!*. The batteries are dead, but they said they'd take it back if the light's broken. Cool. More neat stuff: the Via train to Vancouver was in the station as I passed.
On the downside, I wrote a bunch of postcards and, while printing the addresses, I really had to concentrate to write normally, not as Palm graffiti. I really need another Quikwriting template.
We ate homemade pizza, and watched Fight Club. I was the only one in the group who had seen it, so it was imperative that we take care of that. I also shaved my head.. It was getting pretty long & annoying.
July 13: Whiteshell Provincial Park, MB, 156km ride, 308m alt.
Goodbye prairies, hello shield. We're riding through forested land now, and it's the hilliest riding since the rockies. We rode out of Winnipeg on the 115, which turned into the 15. Ate lunch at a fruit stand in Anola, then continued east. Riding was good today: we had a tailwind (finally). We then went a short distance north on the 11 (brief headwind) and continued east on the 44. Roads were in rough shape with gravel shoulders but there wasn't much traffic after we left the city. We stopped briefly at a gose sanctuary at the park entrance. The visitor centre was closed but we saw tons of geese! Also, at around 14:30, the Via train to Toronto passed us and I waved at it: see you in 3 weeks.. Actually, I'll probably be there in exactly 3 weeks from tomorrow.
Flies are pretty bad here, almost as bad as in Courval. Good thjng we bought mosquito hats.
July 14: Rushing River Provincial Park, ON, 99km ride, m alt.
Welcome to Ontario! Now on an extended lunch break in Kenora - we had to get groceries and nobody seems to want to do anything or go much furthur today. Nic just worked out that we can make it to Toronto by the time Simone flies in (our only real deadline) by riding short 100km days and taking about 7 total days off. I'd rather ride than sit around, and I've got furthur to go than them, so I may leave the group soon.
We're on the TCH now, but in western Ontario it's not called the 1. (no, not northern Ontario.. I don't know why people call it that; we're barely north of 49) It seems to be a collection of interconnected highways: the 17, 11, and 71. Right now, we're on the 17.
Time to ride, more later.
OK, now at a park. It seems nice.. There's a river here that you can jump in and basically ride the rapids downstream. Pretty cool. Riding was good today: a bit of a tailwind early on and sunny skies all day. Shoulders were also decent, which is good since the highways were pretty busy. About the only bad thing was I got a bee sting on the road from Kenord, but luckily it doesn't seem to be swelling much.
We also met another cyclist, Lucy, as we were leaving Kenora. Nic was talking to her for a bit: turns out she's been riding since Vancouver, but by a different route, and she's basically bored with it so she's taking the bus to Toronto. She had already decided to quit and couldn't be persuaded to come with us :( Would have been neat to have another person..
July 15: Dryden, ON, 124km ride, 428m alt.
Late last night, we were visited by Colin, a cyclist who works near here, who actually was trying to follow the S.P.O.K.E. riders, a group wih some people Jamie knows.. Since it was getting late, he camped at our site and left this morning to find them. About 17km along our route, we saw the S.P.O.K.E. people, who had stopped at the side of the road for a swim. S.P.O.K.E. stands for students promoting organic kinship with the environment, and they've been riding since the middle of June, and trying to eat only organic foods. The riders we met were Chris, Linda, Mark, and their driver Nick. We rode with them until lunch, then they went on ahead. They have a support van so are not carrying gear and can go much faster than us.
We made it to Dryden, and are now staying with Randy&Sue Rivers, whom I met in Banff. We just had chilli, and are about to get groceries for tomorrow.
July 16: Sandbar Lake Provincial Park, near Ignace, ON, 124km ride, 424m alt.
An easy day's ride followed by 11km north out of our way took us to this nice little park on a lake with a sandy beach. It's over 2 days ride from Dryden to Thunder Bay, so we're stretching it out to 3 days - no need to rush. It was sunny all day and we had a bit of a tailwind. The only problem today was finding stove fuel: the hardwarstores in Dryden didn't open until 12:00, so we went on. But the only hardware store in Ignace doesn't open at all on Sundays.. Luckily, my stove burns almost anything, so I grabbed some car gas. 51 cents, including the stuff I spilled on the ground and my shirt - almost $5 for the same volume of white gas, and it burns almost as hot. Unfortunately, it has additives that can clog up the stove over time so it's really only good for occasional use.
July 17: Central-Eastern time zone marker, ON, 154km ride, 480m alt.
This is the plaque marking the time zone division, and claims to be the 90th meridian. Actually, that's 2.05km to our west. I guess it wasn't convenient to put a picnic site there. Anyways, there's nowhere near here where one can camp legally, so we're camping here.
The ride back out to the highway from Shoal Lake was into a cold headwind with occasional rain. Not exaltly pleasant. Though I wouldn't say unpleasant, just not 100% pleasant. We stopped at a gas station in Ignace for water refills and coffee, then headed east. There was a decent tailwind, so we made good time to Upsula and decided to go on. It was pretty cold all day: a high of about 10, but fortunately the cold has made the mosquitoes lethargic, and therefore easy to kill.
I wonder, if I pitch my tent on the line, can I get 8 hours sleep in 7 hours?
July 18: Thunder Bay, ON, 98km ride, 196m alt.
When we got up this morning, it was still cold - the insidious kind of cold that numbs your fingers as you roll your tent.
Rode the remaining distance to T.Bay in good time, arriving at about 16:00. It warmed up to 20 degrees by noon, which is about the ideal riding temperature for me. The road (hwy 17) was busy, but usually had at least a small paved shoulder. Things quieted down when we turned onto hwy. 102 on our approach to Thunder Bay.. a good alternate route.
While riding towards our night's resting place, a college residence being used as a hostel for the summer, we met Chris and Mark from S.P.O.K.E. Due to the tailwinds, they were able to make T.Bay in 2 days, giving them all of today in town. We made rough plans to to see a movie with them this evening but they couldn't make it. The 4 of us watched X-MEN, which was about what one would expect from a comic book adaptation: good special effects and action, and not too much of that pesky plot stuff getting in the way. But Famous Players needs better subs.. and they should stop showing commercials before films. Bad enough that they show so many trailers - why are most trailers for absolutely awful looking movies you wouldn't want to watch anyways, ever?
July 19: REST DAY, Thunder Bay, ON
This hostel really reminds me of first year, living in residence. Sterile walls, echoing hallways lit by fluorescent lights, doors that ALWAYS slam, no matter what. But it's a great place for a couple of nights: huge rooms that we can lock our bikes in, and only $10/night.
So this is Thunder Bay. Apparently it used to be two towns, Port Arthur and Fort William. I rode randomly around town this afternoon, hitting both downtowns as well as the lakeshore. Port Arthur has the nicer downtown, but neither seem all that great. It's kinda like when you're in a big city and you get the feeling you're in the wrong part of town.. except the whole city's like that. The lakeshore has one park, which is nice, but the rest is pretty industrial. This is where most of the grain from the prairies comes, judging by the size and number of grain elevators. Also, a lot of wood seems to get shipped out.
Well, tomorrow I'm setting off on my own, hope to make Toronto before the end of the month. Tonight we're making a big dinner, everyone responsible for one part of the meal.. I'm doing salad. Hmm, not much else is new.
July 20: Picnic area ~15km W of Rossport, 171km ride, 311m alt.
For several reasons, we didn't get out of Thunder Bay until about 13:00. The guys were planning on going to Neepawa. I wanted to go furthur: hopefully, to Rainbow Falls Provincial Park.
We rode out through the outskirts of T.Bay, through several nicer neighborhoods one might actually want to live in. Eventually, we reached the Terry Fox memorial site, just at the edge of town, and stopped there for a few minutes. We then headed east on the 11/17 (the two highways are one road until Nipigon), stopping for lunch at a hostel ~30km east of the memorial. Riding conditions weren't great. There was a lot of traffic on the road and shoulders were intermittent. Also, the wind was quite variable but often formed a headwind.
On the way to Nipigon, I met another cyclist who's just finishing a 9 month tour from Argentina. As he plans to make it to New York in 3 weeks, I expect I will see him again, and maybe ride with him for a few days. He stopped for the night about 20km before Nipigon.
In Nipigon, I said goodbye to the rest of the group and continued on east. It was fairly late though: I left Nipigon at around 19:00. Fortunately, the wind died do considerably, making a pleasant evening's ride that turned into a pleasant night's ride. Then I ran out of road. Due to construction, pavement ended about 2km ago and probably won't resume until Rockport. This makes going pretty rough at night so I'm stopped here at a small picnic area right off the highway. There's no "No Camping" sign, and even if there was, it probably wouldn't stop me at this point. I want to be on the road before construction resumes, so I plan to get up before dawn..
Oh yeah, after Nipigon, I saw the trucker we met in Bredenbury, heading west on the 17. Unfortunately, by the time I realized who it was, he was long gone....
July 21: Neys Provincial Park, ON, 155km ride, incl. 44km extra, 246m alt.
I got up at 5:30 this mornjng, and was on the road by 6:00. Riding the dirt road was much easier in the light, and I made it to Rossport by 7:30. I stopped at Chi's Fries, a restauraunt that was recommended to me, but they don't serve breakfast until 9:00 so I cooked oatmeal on the dock and talked to a tour of canoeists setting off on a 10-day trip. Then I continued down the road and stopped in Schreber (Doctor Schreber, yes? :) to buy bread for lunch. I then realized that my wallet was still in Rossport. I left my panniers at the Esso in Schreber and backtracked the 22km to Rossport. Since it was lunchtime, I had river trout and fries from Chi's (excellent), then went back to the Esso.
After that, the rest of the day was uneventful. It rained on and off, but traffic was better (most trucks take the 11 after Nipigon) and shoulders were almost always present. Unfortunately, due to the extra riding and my tiredness
(the picnic site was on a hill - it's hard to sleep with trucks engine braking next to your head), I didn't make it to White Lake Provincial Park, some 80km distant. But I'll get to bed early tonight and get some good riding tomorrow.
July 22: Obatanga Provincial Park, 158km ride, 425m alt.
Another day, another $17 - park fees, that is. I'm going to be camping on crown land more often, but I need to find out the details: how far off the highway do I need to be, etc. The flies are pretty nasty here also: Obatanga probably means "mosquito" in some Native language.
Slept in this morning. I think I deserved it after yesterday.. I finally got on the road at 11:30, and immediately met the guys, who had also camped at Neys. Apparently my little wallet imbroglio cost me my lead. We ate lunch at a regrettably overpriced Esso restauraunt at the Marathon turnoff, then continued on. I got ahead again when Nic phoned home for his mom's birthday (happy birthday, Pat!) then stopped in White River for sandwiches (my original lunch plan) and a photo of the Winnie-the-Pooh statue. White River is the original home of Winnie, a bear cub bought (now who on earth had a BEAR for sale?) by an army lieutenant during WWI and used as a mascot (back when such things were considered acceptable). Winnie was then shipped to the London Zoo, where he was seen by A.A.Milne.
Anyways, I rode here in the evening, a beautiful ride with a great sunset on the right. I saw 6 OPP cars, or maybe the same cop car 6 times. He asked me where I was going on the 5th pass, at 21:30. I told him, and made it here 8 minutes later. Also saw 2 moose and a whole bunch of mines (one gold, the rest unspecified).
There are quite a few loons on the lake here.. I can hear them.. I've seen a lot in the past few days: swimming loons, flying loons, loons with loonlets on their backs (that's what they should have put on the twonie: a loon with a loonlet :) Loons rock. (so does writing HTML on a Palm Pilot :)
July 23: crown land about 30km from Chapleau, 166km ride, 444m alt.
Left the park at about 10:30 and rode south to Wawa against a fairly nasty headwind. It was a 55km ride, so it was time for lunch when I got there. Took a couple of pictures of the famous Wawa goose statue - Wawa is Ojibway for "wild goose", English for "tourist trap".. Stopped at the visitor info. centre and asked about crown land camping: apparently it's free for Canadian residents, and all the white areas on the Ontario map (most of the map) are crown land. Bought food & ate lunch, then half a box of ice cream: 2L of "no name" at the grocery store is cheaper than a cone at an ice cream store.
Rode out of Wawa on hwy. 101, which is quiet compared to the 17 and positively monastic comared to the road from T.Bay to Nipigon. The only downside is that I miss "the soo" (Sault Sainte Marie), for which there is a small violin playing in this paragraph :)
Finished the rest of the ice cream (still fairly solid) at about 18:00, then continued on. As I passed The Shoals Prov. Park, it was getting dark so I stopped about 20min later. Unfortunately, the flies are worse here than in Courval. The ground is mossy all around here, probably for km's - ideal breeding ground. Lucky for me I cooked extra supper last night and just had to reheat it.
July 24: Crown land by Mississagi River, 176km ride, 309m alt.
Got up fairly early, around 7:30. The flies were still terrible so I packed the minimum necessary to let my bike roll (shopping bags on handlebars), and rode down the road about 10km to a Bell cell tower/fiber repeater site - cleared out and gravel covered, it was quite good. Cooked, ate breakfast, repacked the bike, and was on the road just after 9:00.
I continued down the 101, stopping for water twice at the only two gas stations on the road. At the Chapleau turnoff, I turned south down the 129; the 101 continues north here. At around 13:00, I stopped for lunch on a rock outcrop by the side of the road. Later on, at around 18:00, I stopped for coffee and snacks at the first gas station I'd passed in about 80km. ~5km furthur on, the road turned to gravel for over 10km. Not sure if this is prepararation for paving or if they're letting the road go, Saskatchewan style.
At 20:30, I faced a decision: camp here, with few flies, level ground, and river water nearby, or continue on 50km to Iron Bridge, possibgy going 10km beyond that to a picnic area to camp. For some reason, I decided to stay here. It's just too nice a spot to pass up, and I was hungry.
July 25: Picnic site, 7km E of Espanola, 186km ride, 216m alt.
Started the day with a pleasant (and much needed) dip in the Missisagi river.. Beats a provincial park shower any time! I then rode the ~55km to Iron Bridge, taking the 129, the 554, and the 546. Most of the way (south) was into a fairly strong headwind, which made for tough riding. I made it to Iron Bridge a bit after 13:00, then rode the 26km on the 17 to Blind River for lunch at about 14:30. The 17 was as busy as before, with worse shoulders. Oh well, I'm off it tomorrow.
At Blind River, I enjoyed the conveniences of my first reasonably-sized town in days: lunch at Subway and frogurt at Country Style. I also attempted to use my acoustic coupler for the first time as it's been a few days since I've passed a phone with a data jack (or even any payphone..) Unfortunately, it didn't work. I kept getting "no dial tone" from the modem. And yes, I tried blind dialing mode.
After that, I rode on to Espanola, stoppinq in Spanish at a restauraunt. The tapwater was contaminated with Cauliform, but the guy gave me Culligan water for free. Then, the ride to Espanola, arriving at the Wendy's at sunset. I ate supper because I was starving, then rode 7km east (out of my way) to Sand Bay campsite. When I got there I discovered that it was actually 16km north of the 17 on a dirt road.. That's false advertizing! Luckily, I found a picnic area just east of the turnoff and camped there.
I met a guy, Ian, there who was camping in his RV with his wife and 2 kids. He's also a cyclist, and has done quite a bit of touring, so we talked a bit. They're just coming back from a BC to NF trip. Ate my second supper then went to bed.
Oh yeah, I'm about half a day behind the S.P.O.K.E. people, and they have an event planned tomorrow so they're only doing a half day.
July 26: Tobermory, ON, 133km ride, 209m alt.
Currently on the Chi Cheemaun, the ferry from Manitoulin island to Tobermory.
Got up at 7:00, and was visited by Ian who invited me to his RV for breakfast. We talked and ate until about 8:30, and then I broke camp and got on the road just after 9:00. I rode the 7km back west, then took highway 6 south. I made it to Little Current for lunch, which is on Manitoulin Island its self (the world's largest freshwater island).. I then continued south, and soon realized I would have to hurry if I wanted to make the 17:50 ferry. I did so, and made it with 10 minutes to spare. It's not the last crossing of the day, but that would put me in Tobermary in the dark..
Manitoulin is some really nice riding, mainly farmland. Quite a bit of headwinds though as I was going south.
I didn't see the S.P.O.K.E. riders, though I did ask around. If I wanted to spend the night in South Baymouth and take the ferry tomorrow, I could probably find them, but there are a couple of national parks on the Bruce Peninsula I would like to get to.
I didn't find Terry's Taxidermy and Mounted Animal Nature trail.. I did pass George's Outdoor Animal Museum in Tehkumnah, but out of respect for Terry, whoever he may be, I didn't go.
I also met another cyclist on board, Les, who started in Victoria on June 10..
Now at a reasonably nice commercial campsite in Tobermory. I didn't feel like going much furthur from the ferry. Tomorrow, I want to get up fairly early. I think I could make it to Brampton early enough on Friday to visit the department at Nortel I workder for 2 summers ago.
July 27: Picnic area, near Flesherton, ON, 154km ride, 444m alt.
Woke up just afetr 6:00 this morning but it was raining so I went back to bed. I got up at about 7:30, and rode south down the 6. There was a bit of a headwind but nothing too seriou. This seems to be cottage country for Torontonians: a lot of campsites at the tip of the peninsula and a lot of cottages all the way down. They call this area the "near north", which confuses me somewhat.. this is barely north of Ottawa!
S.P.O.K.E. didn't pass me today, much to my surprise, but I was passed by a group of older American cyclists doing a tour down the Niagra Escarpment to somewhere in Maine (I think..) They pointed out that my rear tire has worn through to the threads, which is new since yesterday. Strange, as this tire was new in Calgary. Oh well, I'll find one in Toronto.
Riding was good in the morning, with mostly sunny skies and fairly light traffic. But it started to rain shortly after lunch, and then it started to pour. I stopped at the visitor info in Springmount and was told about an alternate route to highway 10, bypassing Owen Sound and some busy road. (traffic was starting to get heavy at this point..) I took it, arriving in Rossport and then continued down to Chatsworth, where I stopped at a donut shop because there was a lightning storm pretty close by. I waited out the storm, which took about 2 hours, then continued down the road.
I arrived here just before dark and decided to stay. No point in going furthur in the dark.. I'll have to get up pretty early tomorrow if I want to get to Notel though.
July 28: Glen Williams, ON, 172km ride, 248m alt.
I did get up early, and was on the road by 6:30. I stopped at the Esso in Flesherton and got a very reasonably sized breakfast for just $5, then continued down the 10.. It was raining for most of the morning, quite hard at times, so riding was pretty nasty.
Traffic was getting pretty heavy as I headed down highway 10, so it was with relief that I turned down Peel Road 9 through Terra Cotta, a pretty nice "alternate" (though not much longer) route to Glen Williams. I got here at about 13:30, did a quick load of laundry and had a shower before heading to Brampton, which took longer than I thought.. I arrived in Brampton just after 16:00 and unfortunately, a lot of the people in the department were on holiday and some had left for the day. Fortunately, I met Brian, the department manager, on his way out as I was coming in, so he told me who was still around.. I phoned Neil, who signed me in with security, and spent the next couple hours at Nortel.
I left about 18:00 when Neil left for the day, and tried to take a different route out of Brampton. Without a map though I ended up going in a circle (without the GPS, I probably wouldn't have noticed and would have ridden several km east before realizing my mistake..) After that, I got back on Dixie Road and returned the way I came in.
I had the option of going to Toronto tonight, but I'm going to wait until tomorrow. This is a great house and Glen Williams is a really nice small town.. hard to believe it's so close to Toronto..
July 29-July 31: Toronto, ON, 60km ride, 207m alt.
I spent the morning of the 29th in Glen Williams, and left for Toronto in the afternoon. I rode to Nortel in Brampton via the same route as the 28th, and then rode downtown on the route I worked out 2 summers ago, when I lived in downtown Toronto but worked for Nortel in Brampton. I tried repeatedly to get ahold of Andrew, but he wasn't home, so I rode to the Marigold Hostel on Dundas W. I arrived in the evening, showered, and left for the evening. I was quite hungry, so I ordered a large pizza ($6.95) from the a pizza plastic on Bloor Street, and called Mandy from Regina.. At first she didn't remember me, but when she did, she told me she was about to meet Cathy and some other people at the Bamboo on Queen Street. I took the subway then the bus there (ARGH, they just closed the Spadina streetcar. I hope it's only temporary, which seems likely as they only opened that line in 1997.) The Bamboo was a Caribbean bar, and there were a lot of people there.. A soka band was playing and it was pretty intense, people dancing everywhere.. "I wanna see people dancin'. And when I say dancin', I mean dancin'!" Unfortunately I was pretty tired so I called it a night at 1:30, ran to University Avenue and took the last subway to Dundas W.
The next morning I visited MEC and spent an amazing amount on gear, considering pretty well everything I bought was to replace stuff that I had used up, broken, or lost. After that, I went to a matinee of The Perfect Storm, as it was being presented in DLP. When I get the time, I will type up what I thought of DLP (until then, you will receive an error).. But in short, it's not as good as anyone claims.
After the movie, I bought some new tires for my bike (the others are now almost totally worn), and met Sarah (who lived in the apartment below me for the last 2 years) for coffee. I then had dinner at their house, and Carolyn (who lived with Sarah) came over for dessert. As I still had not contacted Andrew, I spent another night at the hostel.
Oh yeah, the hostel. I didn't think of booking somewhere just in case Andrew wasn't around.. so I ended up at the Marigold. It's in a fairly rundown area of town (but fortunately, near the subway so it's easy to leave :) and the biuilding it's self kinda reminds me of the house in Fight Club. Maybe not quite as rundown, but if there had been guys in the basement making soap, I wouldn't have been surprised.
On Monday the 31st, I decided not to ride to Kingston as the forecast was bad.. I slept in, then spent quite a bit of time doing bike maintainance. I didn't manage to get ahold of Andrew at work, but someone there told me he was in the office, so at around 17:00, I went to his apartment and waited outside until he showed up.. My plan was to either stay there, or if I couldn't, to ride to Darlington Provincial Park (~60km) and camp there. At any rate, he showed up, we made supper, and watched a movie. I won't say which movie since it was really bad and its name doesn't bear repeating. :)
August 1: Kingston, ON, 272km ride, 173m alt.
I got up at about 5:20 in the morning, and was on the road by 6:00. I wanted to be out of Toronto's core before rush hour started, and I was. I rode my way through fairly quiet streets to Highway 2, appropriately named Kingston Road, and headed east. A short way into the ride, my rear derailleur cable snapped. Fortunately, I had a spare and started to replace it, only to discover that the end of the old cable was firmly lodged inside my shifter, inaccessible to pliers and wedged in beyond shaking. So I had to disassemble the shifter.. According to Shimano, the STX Rapidfire shifters are non-serviceable, and shouldn't be taken apart in a bike shop. Luckily, I wasn't in a bike shop, so I took it apart and extracted the offending cable-end. The rest of the repair was straightforward, as was the ride to Oshawa, where I stopped for a donut at about 10:00.
As expected, the riding until just after Oshawa was poor. Highway 2 passes through a lot of built up areas, so there are a lot of traffic lights to contend with.. But after that, riding is really pleasant, as Southern Ontario's farmland resumes. At around 12:30, I entered Port Hope and met a couple of cyclists, Tim and Celia Hope, who have toured across Canada and organize a tour around New Zeland. When I asked them where a good place to eat lunch was, they invited me to their house! After a great lunch, I headed out again.. At this point, I realized that I probably wasn't going to get to Kingston by nightfall, but decided to ride as far as possible and camp just before dark. I stopped in Belleville for sandwiches (my intended lunch) at around 17:30. Dusk found me in Napanee (great name for a town :), some 35km from Kingston, so I decided to keep riding. I arrived in town at about 22:00, and reached 170 Barrie (where I'm staying.. also where I lived for the past 2 years) by 22:30.
So that was a 272km day, a record for this trip and a personal record for fully laden touring. It also matches my record for a day's unladen ride, as I did the same trip in 1998. Actually, it beats even that, as Andrew's house is fractionally furthur from Kingston Road than the Toronto house I lived in then. Hmm, 272km is also more than most people ride in a year, and many people don't ride that far in their lives :) Cool.
August 2-3: Kingston
Not much has changed in Kingston since I left it 2 months ago. Queen's housing are buildinq a laundry room in the house where I used to live. Now why couldn't they have done that earlier? I got my photos developed - there are some pretty good ones but sorry, you'll have to wait until the end of my trip before I get any of 'em scanned. I also visited and/or went out with most of the people I know in town. What else? I trued my wheels (much needed) and retrieved some files I accidentally left on my computer.. They're for a project I want to work on once I get back to Newfoundland.
August 4: Prescott, ON, 104km ride, 88m alt.
I left Kingston quite late in the day, around 15:00 or so. I decided not to go to Ottawa - it's far and I don't feel like a big ride today. Riding was good with a decent tailwind, and the weather was mainly sunny with a few clouds.
I passed the Dupont chemical plant and was tempted to stay in their picnic area, where I stayed on my first overnight trip ever, but Katie and Wayne told me about a site just east of Prescott that's quite nice and gave me a bit longer ride.. 100km is roughly the boundary between a short day, and a pathetic one.
When I arrived at 21:05, the campsite office had just closed, so I found some rv-ers who weren't using much of their site and asked if I could pitch my tent on their site. The price is right :)
August 5: Montreal, PQ, 211km ride, 211m alt.
Left the campsitejust before 9:00 after an interesting (and good!) breakfast: I had some granola to use up but no milk (of course) so I just used hot chocolate.. There was a bit of a tailwind this morning and the weather was good.. Also, there are many bike trails paralelling highway 2, which was good. I ate lunch at a conservation area just east of Cornwall.
I crossed the Quebec border just after 15:00 and took highway 338 east, then found some more bike trails paralell to the highway, which I rode until I discovered there was $10 mandatory fee for their use. At that point I took the highway again to Dorion, then the 20 onto, across, and off Ile Perrot. Once on Montreal Island at 17:30, I took Lakeshore Drive to Lachine and then used the bike trails to get downtown. It was a nice evening and the Lachine Canal is good riding so I took my time and made it to downtown just before dark. My sister coincidentally also arrived last night so I'm now staying at her friend Ben's place. She's now looking for an apartment in Montreal for the coming year.
August 6: REST DAY, Montreal, PQ
This is the last in a series of rest days in the urban wasteland part of my ride; I'm heading out east tomorrow towards Quebec City. Let's see: breakfasted at Beauty's, but mostly just hung out..
August 7: Trois Rivieres, PQ, 156km ride, 55m alt.
I left Ben's apartment at 12:00 - no need to get up early as I want to be in Quebec City tomorrow and that's two relaaively short days away. I made my escape from the city using the Notre Dame bike path, then left the island on highway 138 at 13:30. I then stopped for lunch in a park in Repentigny and continued on down the 138. My knees were hurting on my day off yesterday (first time this trip), so I raised my seat a bit and kept a high cadence all day, which seems to have helped. The road was pretty rough at first but got better. Also, there were signs marking side roads suitable for biking, which I followed on occasion. There seemed to be quite a few cyclists on the road - I suppose it's a good way to go from town to town around here.
I arrived at the tourism info place at 19:55, 5 minutes before closing, and was directed to this campsite. It's a pretty big commercial deal with many mobile homes moved in for the season. I met two kids who seemed to take an interest in everything I was doing. They helped me put up my tent and talked constantly while I was cooking supper and didn't seem to mind the language thing - my French isn't what it used to be and my Quebecois is even worse.
The sky was overcast with a very low celing and thick clouds for the entire day, but there was a bit of a tailwind and it didn't rain. It seems to be clearing now - there's a patch of sky where I can see stars.
August 8: Laval University residences, Quebec City, PQ, 143km ride, 85m alt.
Today's ride started out much like yesterday's: fairly flat riding, overcast skies, and a slight tailwind. I had lunch in Batiscan, not that I expect anyone to know where that is... Early in the afternoon, it started to POUR. There's a French expression that literally describes the occasion: "il pleut a boire debout." There are also English sayings for the same thing, but none that really capture the spirit of this rain.
It stopped raining eventually, and my clothes dried out. I rode to the old city of Quebec to check it out - very touristy but neat. It then started to pour again. As it was getting dark, I headed out of the old city towards Laval, which is unfortunately not on any of the free maps of this city. (don't send the tourists there; they have cheap rooms in the summer :) Fortunately, everyone who lives here knows it's in Ste. Foy, back the way I came! Of course, I'd have had to backtrack anyways, as the Quevec bridge, my last chance to cross the St. Lawrence, is about 20km west of the city.
Riding was hiller today - in fact, Q.C. was built on a large hill for military reasons. Any city where municipal elevators exist as part of the transit system...
August 9: L'Islet-sur-Mer, PQ, 105km ride, 5m alt.
UNPLEASANT. I was going to get up early but it was raining so I took my time. By the time I got on the road at 10:30, the rain had stopped but it was still very overcast. I sailed the short distance west to the Pont du Quebec on a large tailwind then crossed the bridge. Of course, as soon as I turned east onto the 132, the wind was a large headwind, easily as bad as the wind when we rode to Golden. I stopped for groceries at a Sobey's (getting close to home now :) and rode for another half hour before it started to pour. I stopped for lunch just after Levis at a picnic area with roofed tables. Unfortunately, roofs don't stop horizontal rain so lunch was still a bit wet.
The remainder of the day was most unpleasant. It stopped raining a few times, but never for very long. Had I known how bad it would be, I'd probaby have stayed in Quebec City today. No, scratch that. I'd have stayed in bed.
August 10: Riviere-du-Loup, PQ, 122km ride, 30m alt.
Another day, another nasty headwind. But at least it didn't rain.. as much. If the riding had been this bad near the start of the trip, I'd have given serious thought to quitting. Oh well.
I continued east along the 132 today, again right by the St. Lawrence. Riding has been getting hillier, today had quite a bit of up and down. I got to R-du-L shortly before dark, but it took me a while to find this poorly signposted campsite.
As a sidenote, I am now addicted to maple leaf cookies. For a province that hates Canada, these things sure are plentiful. Must be something to do with the maple syrup industry, but I don't know what.. These things are artificially flavored!
August 11: Iroquois River Campsite, Edmunson, NB, km ride, 129m alt.
Left R-du-L along the 185, which is the TCH (nothing special in Quebec :) It was a sunny day but with a bit of a headwind - nothing too bad and it's to be expected heading south. The road was (of course) busy but shoulders were excellent.
I stopped for lunch basically on the side of the road. There seem to be much fewer picnic areas than on the scenic routes. Riding today took me past the oddly-named St.-Louis-du-Ha!Ha! I eventually arrived in New Brunswick and a new (long overdue) time zone.. I was getting sick of it getting dark at 20:00. Rode to Edmunston, got some groceries at the IGA, then found this campsite. It's not bad - small and next to a pleasant river.
August 12: near Florenceville, NB, 121km ride, 78m alt.
I didn't feel much like riding today, but conditions were good: sunny, but with a slight headwind - nothing serious though. I stopped for lunch in Grand Falls (shouldn't that be in NF?). I was on the 2 (TCH - Interstate 1 is right on the other side of the Canada-US border..) which runs roughly along the St. John river. There was also the option of the 105 on the other side of the river but apparently it has more hills so I lived with the traffic.
This area of NB is just as french as Quebec (NB is the only bilingual province - that's a Canadian fact) but people don't resent you for speaking english. I haven't seen any other cyclists since Port Hope.. weird. I've been a day behind the S.P.O.K.E. people for a while now - maybe I'll see them in Fredericton.
I arrived at this campground well before dark. It's not actually very nice though, despite the fact that the book gives it 3 stars and last night's campground only got 2. The sites are too close together and there aren't many trees between them. One thing though: the payphone had a data jack! I've never seen a Millennium with a data jack before. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it work, despite talking to many people at NBTel and spending about half an hour on hold. Why install the feature if nobody can use it? Oh well, I'll be in Fredericton tomorrow.
August 13: Rosary Hall International Hostel, Fredericton, NB, 167km ride, 12m alt.
Riding this morning was good. I took the 2 to Florenceville, then the 105, which at that point follows closely along the river and is fairly flat. The road was a bit rough but there was hardly any traffic. I had an early lunch at Subway in Hartland and rode through the world's longest covered bridge. (Why would one cover a bridge? For what purpose? The mind boggles.) As I was now on the other side of the St. John, I took the 103 until it ended then the 2. The 103 was easily some of the hilliest riding this trip. The 2 was hilly, but not as much. There were also loads of grasshoppers congregating, for some unknown grasshopper reason, on the side of the 2. I could even hear them over the traffic sometimes.. Every now and then I found one on the paved shoulder and tried not to squish it. Usually I was successful.
Near Fredericton, the 2 becomes a divided (soon to be toll - a TCH first..) highway, and the old highway is now called the 102. Since the road wasn't that busy and 10km shorter, I took the new road to Fredericton then rode down a huge hill (hope there's another way out of town) to the hostel. I'm spending a rest day here - I've been riding for a week straight.
August 14: REST DAY, Fredericton, NB
I didn't do too much today. It's a rest day, I don't have to rationalize that. Fredericton's downtown seems to be even less pointful than St. Johns'.. I didn't think that was possible.
I talked to someone at NBTel, who told me that the usual method of "lift receiver, dial ##, connect modem" is the correct one. She then tried to blame "my equipment", despite the fact that it has worked everywhere else and continues to work. My guess is that this phone had the wrong software loaded on it, or else wherever the phone gets its config from (the DMS probably) didn't know about the datajack. Luckily, I was able to find a phone line I could use in the hostel today.
August 15: Parlee Beach Prov. Park, NB, 215km ride, 25m alt.
I left the hostel at 8:30 and managed to get to the highway by 9:00. I did not have to go back up Regent Street. I rode east on the 2 to Coles Island (not actually an island), ate lunch, then took the 112 (shortcut) along the Canaan River. Along the way, I passed a lot of construction, including several bridges: they're building a new, toll, TCH that continues on from the toll road I rode on to Fredericton. Don't get me wrong, I like toll roads. Anything that increases the cost of driving is good :) But why must it be the TCH? Shouldn't that remain free with a "TCH bypass" you can pay for?
The 112 rejoins the 2 next to a HUGE Irving they just built. I took the 2 to Moncton and experienced the joys of riding "up" magnetic hill without pedalling.. My altimeter told a different story but what does it know? After that I rode under the setting sun to this campground. It's actually a 10 min. walk from the beach, but I'll go there tomorrow. Camping here puts me somewhat closer to the bridge to PEI than if I had camped in Moncton..
This is also Acadian country, and I've been hearing something I haven't heard in a while: French. I can actually talk to these people, and we can understand each other!
August 16: Cumberland Cove Campground, PEI, 87km ride, 1m alt. (I see the sea :)
Just my luck to get a site next to a LOUD snorer who has 3 kids that woke me up at 7:00 and were noisy all morning (I tried to sleep in..) As Charlotte on the train said so many months ago, dealing with others' kids is an excellent form of birth control. I got up at about 9:00 after very little actual sleep and got on the road at 11:00. I visited the beach but it was overcast, cold, and threatening to rain so I didn't go swimming. Overall, the weather today was inconsistant, which meant having to stop several times to put on & take off rain gear. "If you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes." Of course, the downside to this is that if the weather's good, in 5 minutes it will probably suck.
Speaking of sucking, most of today was spent riding into a nasty headwind. The rest was spent with that wind as a crosswind. I took the 15 then the 16 to Confederation Bridge, stopping for lunch at the side of the road. (NB doesn't believe in picnic areas.. Let them eat at Irving :) I arrived at the bridge just before 17:00 and phoned for the (mandatory) bus. It took about 20 minutes to get there and 40 to cross due to bridge repairs. I stopped at the visitor info centre, and found out about this place, which IS actually on the beach. Since it was getting late, I decided to come here and call it a day.. Hopefully tomorrow the winds will be better.
NOTE: I know a bunch of entries are out of order. Them being in order depends on my emails staying in order during delivery, which usually is the case but is not guaranteed. I'll fix it next Internet cafe.
August 17: Caribou Prov. Park, NS, 112km ride, 23m alt.
(Waiting for ferry off PEI)
I was woken once last night by a huge southerly wind blowing straight in off the sea, but overall the night was good. It was raining at 7:00 when I was planning to get up, so I slept in until 9:00. I rode out the 10 until it met the 1 (the TCH in PEI is actually the 1) then rode that to Charlottetown. Grasshoppers on the side of the road have given way to caterpillers trying to cross it. I wonder what the survival rate is. A caterpiller going at full bore across the road must take about 1 minute to cross. During that minute, about 10 cars will pass. Odds don't look good. I guess that's why I saw a lot starting to cross but none arriving from the other side.
I ate lunch in Charlottetown and found a bike shop (needed chain lube), which was closed with a note on the door saying "back at 2:45." As it was after then, I waited and talked to another guy who was also waiting, Vince. He has done a bit of touring, mostly around PEI and NB, and told me to take the 1A out of town as it was less busy and more scenic. When the bike store guy returned, I bought what I needed and went to the Internet cafe (there's only one on the island) to fix the out-of-order entries earlier in my journal. I also tried to connect my Palm to one of their machines, with no success, but they had a phone line I could use to connect to Queen'$ and send my last few days' entries, which I hope arrived in order (each entry is a separate email message, and nothing actually guarantees they will stay in order.. I didn't think to add that, and likely won't be able to before the end of the trip.)
I took the 1A out of town, which was a pretty good road, then the 1 briefly to the 23, which goes almost straight to the Woods Island ferry. (the 1 follows the coast and is 10km longer) My main reason for avoiding the 1 was that it was still quite windy, and there would be a strong headwind on at least part of its winding route. The 23 was extremely hilly but straight, somewhat like a roller coaster, especially compared with the riding on the rest of the island, which was quite flat. But the winds were well worth the hills: a crosswind dampened by trees on both sides of the road.
I made it to the ferry terminal just in time to escape a large downpour, which has stopped now. The boat's running a bit late but cars are starting to exit now.
(on board the M.V. Holiday Island - contest: come up with a less original name)
Great sunset from the boat ending some great riding in PEI (though the whole island smells of potatoes). I'm going to ride to the first campground I find then stop. Apparently, there's one in Pictou.
Made it here, about 3km from the ferry terminal. One annoying thing about Nova Scotia is there was no visitor info centre at the ferry dock. Every other province puts these centres at the border on every way into their province. Apparently there's one in Pictou. Guess where I'm going first thing tomorrow?
August 18: Glendale, NS, 160km ride, 54m alt.
I got on the road by 9:30, and inadvertantly took the long (and windy) way to Pictou. There I stopped at the visitor info centre and got groceries, and headed out the 102 to the 104. There was a headwind the 102 but the winds were OK the rest of the way. It was fairly hilly though.
I arrived in Cape Breton at about 19:00 and rode on up the 105 (also TCH). It was a beautiful sunset, the best yet. As the nearest campground was 50km away, I rode until it started to get dark, then asked a guy I saw walking down his driveway if he knew good place to camp. He told me I could camp in his backyard, so I did. Pretty nice guy, made me tea and let me use his stove to cook supper.
I'm hoping to make 18:30 ferry tomorrow - it's about a 130km ride away..
August 19: Cheeseman Prov. Park, NF, 141km ride, 22m camp alt., 240m peak alt.
This morning, it was raining when I got up so I cooked and ate breakfast in the vestibule of my tent. As the rain showed no signs of letting up, I packed up in the rain (there's a first time for everything) and rode on down the 105, which is also the TCH. I stopped in Baddeck for lunch and that's about it. Riding was fairly uneventful, rain, drizzle, fog, but not much wind. Quite a few riders though - I hear the Cabot Trail is popular - especially considering the weather. Near the end of the ride across Cape Breton, I climbed Mount Kelly, but it wasn't anything I'm not used to.
I made it to North Sydney in time for the 18:30 ferry to Port aux Basques. This is the Max Mols, a high speed (85km/h top) catamaran that should get me in to PaB before 22:00 NF time. From there it's a ~10km night ride to the nearest provincial park.
It was raining pretty hard when I got in to PaB.. I went into the terminal building and had a burger while waiting for the traffic to dissipate. I then rode in the dark on an almost empty highway to Cheeseman Park, which was just over 10km from the ferry docks.
August 20: Wishingwell Campground, NF, 80km ride, 112m alt.
It was raining a bit when I got up this morning so I cooked in the vestibule again. I took the morning off because I wanted a break.. Went for a walk around the park then, when it stopped raining, put my stuff out to dry. I left the campground at 13:30 and rode east (where else?). This is a pretty sparsely populated area, like most of the province, with widely spaced towns. I stopped in Doyles to pick up a few groceries.. it was the first store on the highway for about 40km.
The road was rough in places due to construction, but there wasn't much traffic. This part of the TCH enjoys what I call the "ferry effect" - I have noticed it everywhere there's a ferry: hardly any traffic for several hours, then a short burst of cars lasting only a few minutes.
I stopped here at about 19:00, well before dark but it's the last campground for quite a distance. I expect campground locations to dictate my stopping times for the rest of the trip.
The S.P.O.K.E. people are not here, despite what their itinerary says. I expect they rode past Cheeseman on the day they took the ferry across, and therefore are ahead of me. Maybe I'll run into them later.
August 21: South Brook Campground, Pasadena, NF, 160km ride, 33m alt.
A great day for riding! Sunny skies with scattered clouds, and a slight tailwind. Riding was very hilly, but also very scenic. I rode from Wishingwell to the tourist info centre at the Stephenville exit. (how could you miss the Stephenville exit - there have been FREQUENT signs advertising it for the past 100km - what an eyesore) There I had lunch and got a listing of campgrounds (actually a whole book of tourism info, so I cut out the campsite stuff and gave the book back.) Then I rode into Corner Brook for groceries under a darkening sky.. As I rode into town I could feel the start of the rain. When I left Dominion it was fully raining so I put on my rain gear and rode here. This campground has laundry.. good thing as I was really starting to need it.
August 22: Birchy Castle Park, NF, 103km ride, 112m alt.
When I got up there was a steady drizzle falling so I cooked in the vestibule again.. By the time I got on the road it had stopped, but it continued on and off for most of the day. I rode out into a nasty headwind (what else?). I stopped for lunch at the Deer Lake Irving and found out that the forecast is for drizzle all day today, maybe sun tomorrow. Oh yeah, no data jack phones in Irving. Yay Newtel. Or I should say yay Aliant - I haven't found data jacks in any of the provinces they serve.
In the afternoon, I caught a brief glimpse of the sun then it was overcast for the rest of the day. I was hoping to make it to South Brook (town of), but the headwind prevented that. I could have gone furthur today but this is the last campsite for over 50km.
August 23: Notre Dame Provincial Park, NF, 189km ride, 84m alt.
It was sunny today, with a nice tailwind.. I lost it for the 50km when I turned south between South Brook and Badger, but it was back after that..
I had lunch on the "Goodbye From Scenic Green Bay" sign.. if you've ever taken the TCH in that area, you know the sign :) Then, I was stopped on the road by Bob Stokes and family, who were travelling to PEI for a holiday..
There was a bit of construction on the road after that, but no really rough areas. I stopped in Grand Falls for groceries and a new bike chain. I thought my chain would make it to St. John's, but my chain stretch meter told otherwise and as the guys I was riding with at the start now know, you ignore chain stretch at your peril.
I got here just before dark. This was about where I'd hoped to get today, so the tailwind today helped me make up for yesterday. An interesting thing I noticed along the way is that this route along the TCH: the turns in the road and most gas stations, are in the GPS from earlier trips! Kinda neat.. This route is intensely familiar to me, and becoming more so as I ride on. But I am noticing more/new things along the way that I'd never noticed before in a car.
August 24: Newman Sound, Terra Nova National Park, NF, 131km ride, 14m alt.
Almost home! Another 2 days' ride should do it. Today was sunny but with highly variable winds that usually slowed me down as I continued down the TCH. I stopped for lunch at Subway in Gander (it wouldn't be a trip across the island without that :) and again at the lookout in Gambo.
I'm now camped at the last campground for almost 100km.. I guess there's not much call for a commercial campground this close to Terra Nova.
August 25: Putt n' Paddle Campground, Arnold's Cove, NF, 125km ride, 49m alt.
What would you like for breakfast? How about a big bowl of HEADWIND, washed down with a tall glass of RAIN?? Arg. I had lunch on the side of the road during a break in the rain.. The sun came out for a brief time in the afternoon, but then disappeared to make way for heavy rain.
This is the first campground since Terra Nova, and brings me halfway home from yesterday night. Pretty bad, considering I rode until dark, but given that I'm half way, even if tomorrow is as windy as today I'll make it home by dark.
August 26: MILLIWAYS (my parents' house), St. John's, NF, 138km ride, 92m alt.
Well, welcome home. I left the campground and rode into a strong and variable cross/headwind.. I stopped for lunch at Irving in Whitbourne (why not, it's my last day?) then continued on my way.. As I was now going east, the wind formed a tailwind a bit of the time... Yay!
My family showed up on the road at the Foxtrap access road, about 30km from home. They took a few pictures then drove off.. I came in straight down Kenmount Road, the shortest way home. I have no desire to go somewhere silly like Cape Spear or "TCH mile 0", which isn't even on the TCH. I've ridden there more than enough times already.. I arrived home at 18:55, ending an almost 3-month trip.
So that's it. Thanks for reading! I hope I've inspired all of you to do the trip :) Check back on my main bike page in a few days for some of my photos, and if you're in Newfoundland, you're invited to my parents' house tomorrow, August 27, 2000, for my welcome home party.
Route map:Page by Jody McIntyre, email@example.com