We are two days ride west of Winnipeg. For the life of me I can’t think of anything more to report. Weathers good and the wind is blowing up our arse so what more could you need than that. I suppose if I was to be greedy I could ask for some more interesting terrain. But at 150km a day it can’t take long before we find some.
|"You Should Come Inside Away from the Flies, You Silly Cycle Fella"'|
What I would like to ask the poor buggers on cycle touring bikes that we pass going in the opposite direction is , “what possessed you to cycle across Canada, the world’s second largest country, against the prevailing wind!?” They must be nuts.
Adi has just come in to the camp laundry where I am writing this and she is being chased by at least three mossies’. They are viscous in this part of the world. If I survive I don’t want to go anywhere in New Zealand this coming summer where there are biting things. Actually I will have to work all summer to help pay for this trip.
Those poor bastards cycling the other way had big grins on their faces today as they sailed along and I fought a gale force headwind. We didn’t make it to our proposed camp ground north of Winnipeg so we will suffer tomorrow by having to do an even bigger day. The camp ground we did make it too has everything we need but like the days riding is nothing to write home about. That’s a nice saying, and I will take note and say no more about a blau day on the bike.
When I got back to the tent after doing my ablutions the tent fairy had washed dried and folded all my laundry!
Day 26. Winnipeg. (About ½ Way Across!)
We woke up and although it wasn’t raining when we left the camping ground it certainly was an hour later as we took the ring road around Winnipeg southwards. The cities Fathers must be expecting Winnipeg to get a lot bigger than it currently is because the loop road not only took us in a 60km circuit around the outskirts of the city but it did so so, far out that we saw nothing of the city itself. So no photo opportunities there. By the time we got to the west side of the city we were soaking from the rain and hungry from our romp in the rural out blocks.
Out of the mist appeared a Subway sign and we were in for an early lunch. I have little patience for the Canadian and US tendency for a thousand choices of everything so Subway nearly did my head in! After overhearing the 101 questions that Adi was put through just to get her sandwich I decided to cut the crap straightaway by just telling the serving wench to make a sandwich just the way she would like it and that would be fine. I could then concentrate on answering the usual questions asked by other lunchtime customers. All cycle tourers know what I mean. The where are you cycling from and where are you going questions. Follower by the where do you stay type questions.
My sandwich was good although I don’t especially like onions but ‘There You Go’.
Then it was back on the bikes in the rain and westwards. It wasn’t long before I had identified two cycle tourists’ tracks in the wet gravel road shoulder. Careful examination of these as we moved along showed that there were two loaded cyclists up the road. The tracks suggested that they were maybe 2 to 3 hours ahead , riding Surly's with Swalbe Marathon Plus tyres and due to the amount of zig zaging one of the riders was either light headed or hungry. Sure enough a further 40kms on we caught up with Jacky and Jesse at a restaurant diner. And that evening we all camped for free at the Rennie Camping Ground and that evening we had a good old chin wag in the insect proof picnic table enclosure.
After the long day of 180km and the socialising we didn’t get to bed until after midnight!
I am not an early morning person and Adi does a good job getting my lazy arse up by 7.30am and we were all gone by 9am. We are finally off the prairies and the cycling is once again visually interesting with rocky outcrops, trees and lakes. Apparently we are also back in bear country but we didn’t see any.
|Jackie and Jessie Were Ready to Go. 'Niel the Wheel' is not a Morning Person.|
Today was most notable not only for the improved scenery but also for our crossing into Ontario Provence and for a mileage of only 34kms by 1pm! I hold Jackie and Jesse personally responsible for this since by following their tracks we were lured into a roadside restaurant stop well before we had burned the calories from the canned fruit and yogurt that we had had for breakfast.
|At Points the Road Got a Bit Sketchy|
By the end of the day we had completed only 120km and not made our expected target. Checking into a Provincial campground involves always a myriad of stupid questions asked of you by a pretty young park ranger your looks like she is on a summer holiday job. Even though you turn up on a bicycle with the full kit on you get asked among many other things, your make of motor vehicle, licence plate no., size of trailer, whether you have additional vehicles to park and whether you need power for your big screen TV. While I’m answering all these questions from the brain dead student a fat couple next door are arguing with the other brain dead ranger about how their RV won’t fit the space provided and how they are too far from the shower block?
At this point I would like to explain to New Zealanders how the Provincial Park Camping grounds seem to be designed in Canada.
At the gate to the park you have the registration office. From there you move into the central area where you have the main shower and toilet blocks, restaurant, shops and other service shops. In this area are located the humongous sites for accommodating the mega RVs and all the toys attached to them. From these mother ships emerge the chubby round people who expect to not have to walk more than a few paces in order to reach their next feeding site or watering hole. I would assume that the park service needs a small power station to light up these sites and power up all those big screen TVs and beer fridges.
Generally from this point on you cycle for what seems like an eternity into the depths of the park passing smaller and smaller sites until you hit the gravel road and you eventually find your un powered tent sight. Which I might add you have paid a premium price for. (Generally double the price of a tent site in a town RV / tent campground). Here you put up your tent next to the picnic table and then prepare to cycle all the way back to the nearest shower block.
The brain dead Park Rangerettes will quite often ask you at check in if you want to check your site before paying for it! That would be great if you had a ½ day to ride there and back!
We have now learnt not to use Provincial Park campgrounds unless there are no towns with normal campgrounds nearby.
Day 28. To Fort Francis, Ontario. 180km
Flies, flies, flies. There seems to be nowhere in Canada that is free of flying, biting things. And if they are not biting then they are buzzing your head or trying to get up your nose!!!
They almost broke me today. I think I am going to have to say that the flies in Canada are worse than those in Australia. And that is saying something. Today we were in a region called the ‘Lake of the Woods’, I think it should have been called ‘Flies of the Lakes Will Bite You’.
|Lovely Lake Country where Man and Biting Insects like to Vacation.|
In the morning we had the normal mossies’ all wanting a bit of you until you got on your bike. Then once we started cycling we had the horse flies just doing laps around you until you felt dizzy with it all. Meanwhile the normal little flies are trying to bite you on your hands and legs!
Generally while I cycled across Aussie I was safe until I stopped my bike and the little shits could catch up with me. With the exception of a few nasty horse flies life while cycling was pretty ok. You just stayed on your bike and rode all day until you got where you were going. But in Canada the little shits will buzz you and bite you all day. And you can spray gallons of insecticide onto your skin but it will only slow them up temporarily.
There goes my theory that a cold winter kills the nasty biting insects. I thought the Aussies were inflicted with them because of their mild climate. I don’t know what the Canadians did to deserve those little bastards after having to put up with what most people would admit is a pretty nippy winter.
The scenery was nice today however and we are heading south so that we can cross the border into the US. We need to get around the Great Lakes and have decided to do it on the south side in the US.