A Travellerspoint blog

Where the Ottawa and the Mattawa meet

Celebrating the past

Bryan forgot to tell me one interesting anecdote from yesterday....so much to remember to tell! Just before Sudbury, he went through 3 small towns where there is a strong old Mennonite community. They are farmers who don't use motors. He was able to bike alongside horse and buggy units.

Today Bryan enjoyed rolling hills and great weather. In fact, just a perfect day for a 213 km bike ride in the country with the best roads in Ontario for 30km. He had to stop early though because there was no town close enough along the road. He found a wonderful town where the Mattawa and Ottawa rivers meet...Mattawa, circa the 1880's. The hotel, an elder version of the one in Piapot, SK, was built in 1881 and has been lovingly kept in mint condition.

This is a jewel of a town. There are 10 foot, finely crafted wooden statues of likely famous explorers in front of every store on main street. The bridge crossing the river is a beautiful place to watch the big boats pass. Since it is so close to the Quebec border, everyone speaks French. Celine Dion had been here for a concert in the past but, better yet, each Sunday there is an all-day music jamboree. Sounds like fun. Too bad Bryan has to get to Quebec City by Monday. He is really taken with this picturesque, old world town. That evening he was entertained by an outdoor concert while he sipped a cup of coffee. Life is good! Apparently the fishing there is also a major tourist attraction.

Although Bryan's best biking rhythm seems to be in the heat of the day and the evening, he plans to get an early start so that he reaches Pembroke mid-afternoon if possible. Total to date: 4465km.

Posted by Janet Akre 20:34 Comments (0)

Sudbury and a thunderstorm

This morning after just 2 1/2 hours, Bryan was already twice as far as he had ridden yesterday morning. He started with no wind and welcomed a nice southeast push as the day progressed. When he stopped at Iron Bridge for a meal, he stayed for an hour of chewing the fat as well with the local farmers and ranchers there.

Crossing four reserves, he found that the food was cheaper and there was no tax. Great meal of real fish and chips too for $6.50. The weather, the food and the people made for another great day. After 225 kms, Bryan ran into a wild thunderstorm that had left Sudbury area without power for an hour. But by that time he was south of Sudbury on the overpass so he pulled into a motel for the night.

The weather network is predicting a westerly wind tomorrow. Good news!

Posted by Janet Akre 20:48 Comments (0)

Bonk!

A miserable morning

What happens when a rider has to ration food and water and tries to carry on? He bonks! Bryan had to ration the yesterday since there was no place to eat well enough through the 83 km park. In fact, the workers in that park had refused to fill water bottles of the bikers. The end result was a full 24 hours on snack food and little water. It took Bryan 3 1/2 hours to cover just 40km the next morning. He had started at 8am but just couldn't snap out of the mental funk that goes along with a loss of energy and dehydration. It was 140km after Wawa before he got the much needed meal.

Again, the generosity of another traveler, a trucker, came to his rescue with water and 2 chocolate bars. That gave him enough energy to carry on another hour to a cafe. At 11:30 he sat down to a hearty breakfast and a good visit with a couple. Bryan encouraged the wife, a novice bike rider, to start small as he had done. Later, when he went to pay, he found out that they had covered the cost of his meal. That was the start of a really good rest of the day.

He caught and passed the Norwegian and two women who had also bonked earlier. A bit scary for all of them!
Bryan got into a good rhythm, the temperature reached 34, and he had another swim in Lake Superior. He came across a high-end bike store where they cleaned and lubed his chain at no cost. They also encouraged him to pitch his tent in their compound. But he had more road to cover so they gave him good advice on routes. It's interesting that even the signs read 'minutes' to a destination, not kilometres since they're still thinking in miles but can't put that on a sign.

From 6pm and on, there was no wind on the flat terrain so Bryan was able to maintain 25-27 kmph easily.
With a 184 km day behind him, Bryan stopped at Bruce Mines, 60km east of Sault Ste Marie. It was home to the first copper mine in North America but now they export rock for road base to the States.

Bryan enjoyed an evening meal in a small cafe specializing in fresh baked bread and pie. Everyone was encouraging and friendly. That's the best part of this trip, connecting with real people.

So, a day that started badly, ends with 3895 km as a total and a great soak in the tub.

Posted by Janet Akre 20:47 Comments (0)

The end of week 3

Catching up after the weekend

Yes, Bryan is keeping the wheels rolling but cell phone coverage was not so good. At the end of week 3, he has averaged 177 km over 3800 total km. Not bad for an old guy!

Saturday, June 20, he logged 196 km which brought him to Jackfish Lake. The next town would be Marathon. It was cold (5 degrees) and windy traveling along Lake Superior.

Sunday was a better night's sleep in a cabin at Hammer Lake Lodge, 40 km beyond White River and 60km from Wawa.
He managed 182 km against the wind and flies. White River is the home of Winnie the Pooh apparently. Bryan also met two riders from France who had been badly bitten by the hordes of black flies. There were also some pretty steep hills the past 2 days that surprised Bryan.

On Monday, Bryan made it to Montreal River, 182 km down the road. He had a relaxing breakfast that day, not rolling on until 9:00am but not calling it a day until about 9pm. There was a headwind part of the day and the temperatures reached 30. He had planned well by stocking up on food in Wawa. There would be 120km of nothing but road ahead from there. He didn't see Lake Superior much all day either but at 4:00pm, went for a swim in the chilly water much to the amazement of some others stopped at the picnic spot. There were some stiff climbs again but some sweet downhills too. This is one monster lake but Bryan was glad to be away from the cold winds that come off of it. He saw the lake the last 20km of the 83km long park at the end of the day. Tonight, he pitched his tent at the edge of a hill overlooking Lake Superior. He says that the sun setting over such a huge expanse of water is pretty awesome. Life is good!

Bryan met lots of bikers traveling west but there is a group of 5 somewhere ahead of him. He hopes to catch up to them tomorrow, especially the Norwegian man. This guy has already crossed 5 countries or continents, according to the people at the tourism office, on his 3 year trek. He still plans to cross the USA and South America yet! Bryan wonders if maybe I would support him in a trip like that.... One trip at a time!

Tomorrow...Sault Ste Marie, a soft bed and fewer black flies!

Posted by Janet Akre 19:19 Comments (1)

It's all in the equipment

What does it take to get a person across a country? Great raingear and helmet, good tires and a professional bike shop. From 10am to 7pm today, Bryan rode in a heavy downpour but his raincoat, bike pants and whitewater helmet kept all but his feet reasonably dry. He got cold but that's something a hot bath remedied once he arrived at a motel past Pass Lake 156km later.

He got into Thunder Bay by noon and found a bike shop. They didn't carry Cannondales but the mechanic dropped what he was doing right away when he got a look at Bryan's bike. These bikers....not a pretty face that gets their attention but a nice set of wheels! They loved the bike and the paniers. The mechanic cleaned the chain properly, shaking his head at the previous work. When he took off the rear tire, both he and Bryan were amazed that it had made it that far. Paper thin!! Hey, Greg and Dave, Bryan is wondering if there's warranty since it's only 2 months old! ;) Just 3276 km on it with this trip, plus another 300 or so to break it in at home. The bike shop was high end so they had the same brand of tire in stock...no problem to get Bryan on his way quickly.

Bryan said that Thunder Bay is an amazing city...beautiful 30 km scenic drive along Lake Superior with plenty of huge grain ships and cruise liners. However, he was caught in Friday rush hour traffic as he left. Lots of semis and campers heading for the lake and no shoulder for bikers.

Today Bryan crossed into the next time zone..he's now 2 hours ahead of Sask. He also crossed into the Atlantic watershed. The elevation is just 503 metres as compared to his high of 1356 metres in BC. Practically flat!

Based on some good advice from locals, Bryan will be leaving #17 highway tomorrow at Nipigon, 70km from Pass Lake, taking highway 117 at Kirkland Lake, near the Timmins turnoff. He's been told that it's a fairly level, good road with a lot less semi traffic but that it will also save him some 3 hours driving time if he were in a car. This should get him into Quebec sooner.

Posted by Janet Akre 21:01 Comments (1)

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