Canada Day 44-47: Riding Dryden to Ignace, Upsala, Thunder Bay and Rest Day

Day 44 Riding Dryden to Ignace

I started my ride nice and early today, it was mostly good, aside from the minor headwind which dragged things out a bit.

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By now the road shoulder was mostly tiny, about 30cm wide and most of the time it was sufficient, but if there were trucks going in both directions or loads of cars tailgating each other, then I hopped off into the gravel bit and the let them pass me. There were more mini hills and just kept at it while distracting myself with some podcasts and music along the way.

There weren’t any food stops today, but reaching the grocery in town and finding British Columbia cherries was exciting. I spent most of the evening watching some TV and planning my accommodation for the following week.

Day 45 Riding Ignace to Upsala

Today’s ride was fairly uneventful too, there was a mild headwind and no food stops along the way, so I just listened to podcasts and kept pedaling along.

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Just before my motel, I stopped at a roadside restaurant for dinner and chatted to a first time cycle tourer who was riding from Niagara falls to Calgary to win a $20 bet. He was quite cheerful and I found myself envying his enthusiasm. Even though my tour has been great fun and I’ve been fortunate enough to afford six months off to cycle, my energy and love of cycling had begun to wane. Perhaps it was too much alone time in the endless prairies, or just the fatigue in my legs never really going away on my rest days. But my zen-like cycling state wasn’t really possible while I was glued to my tiny road shoulder, with one eye on my mirror to check for traffic. I hope it’s just a phase and I get back to enjoying the rides again.

Day 46 Riding Upsala to Thunder Bay

Today’s ride was lengthy, but I was going to have a rest day in Thunder Bay, so that made it easier to keep going, even when the hills kept coming.

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The Ontario portion of my ride is quite large, it covers 2,400km and the province is so large it has two time zones. I ended up stopping midway at a food truck for a calorie heavy lunch of a hotdog, fries and a jumbo milkshake. I chatted to another lady and she gave me a special $10 bill with the limited edition Canada 150 design. It was so kind of her and it really cheered me up for the rest of the day.

As I rolled into town, I picked up some chocolate for my warmshowers host, Annie, who has done a lot of cycling across Canada and cool places like Vietnam. She was hosting another cyclist too, Uwe, a German guy who was riding in the opposite direction. It was a nice coincidence, because he agreed to pick up some pajama pants I left behind at the last motel and post them to my final destination in Montreal.

Day 47 Rest Day in Thunder Bay

After a nice sleep in, I decided to treat myself to a Finnish breakfast at a local spot with Annie and Uwe. The Viking special came with delicious pancakes, eggs, home fries, toast and sausages, which kept me full until well past lunch time. I didn’t have much planned for the day, so I helped Annie with some wallpaper work and we headed to town to buy some ice cream and snacks.

In the evening, she had some friends over and we watched the sunset from the top of the hill behind her house. Thunder Bay is known for the Sleeping Giant, which is a big rock formation in the middle of Lake Superior. If you use your imagination and squint a little bit, you can picture the head and torso on the left. Afterwards, we had made a campfire and made some smores, it was the first time I tried them before and they’re pretty fantastic. It’s hard to go wrong with gooey marshmallow and chocolate sandwiches.

My rest day flew by and I mentally prepared myself for the next week, over the north shore of Lake Superior. It would be much harder due to the terrain and the fact that I’d be staying in motels without much human contact in between. But at least it wouldn’t be any harder than the Rockies part of my journey, so I was confident that I would make it.

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