What you should expect from a long bicycle journey
Bicycle touring for a sustained period of time is a…
326 – 335: Winnipeg, MB – Thunder Bay, ON
It’s been fairly quiet on the people front for 10 days or so, but a fair bit’s happened in the saddle. So after setting off from Winnipeg, it all went pretty smoothly really. Leaving the city was a bit sketchy, dodgy roads and such, but 20 miles out things got a lot better. There’s a bite in the air for sure, and generally camping involves every piece of clothing that’s kicking about in the bags, but the day time is cool and to stay warm the best thing to do is pedal which makes decision making quite simple.
Leaving Winnipeg marks the end of the prairies and the start of the Canadian Shield. Brings back memories from BC listening to the horror stories about “The Prairies” and how on more than a few occasions sheer dread would fill the air as people recollected their experiences crossing the monotonous landscape. Gotta say my experience is pretty much the opposite of that. Maybe they were unlucky or vice versa, but if anything crossing the plains seemed quiet low-stress and varied enough to be consistently interesting.
Soon after leaving Winnipeg you enter Ontario. Those signs are a welcome sight as always, progress and all, but Winnipeg is up there – definitely a highlight – so it was bittersweet and not totally YEAHHHH ONTARIOOO! like some other lines. Having said that though, Ontario has the Great Lakes so maybe it’ll live up to it’s neighbour.
Riding from Ignace to Upsala turned into a night ride. And in the haze of the night what generally happens is your concentration is firmly on the road, and your peripheral is focused on looking for rogue moose who might want a concrete fix.
It happened in my peripheral. I looked at it, then looked ahead again. It was a few seconds later that it clicked. “No way. It can’t be. Can it?!”. And to the left was a green and purple tint that was taking over the sky above the trees. But it was quite faint. Hard to see with regular vision. So I pulled over, propped the bike up, unpacked the camera and set up a long exposure to make sure. Wasn’t expecting to see it on this whole trip, thinking you had to be in northern Alaska or the Northwest Territories to have any kind of chance at this time of year. But sure enough, there it was, the northern lights. An awesome surprise, and for a moment, the counter-argument to goal-setting became obvious.
Another marker of progress is the final timezone crossing. Back to East Coast time. This was a rest stop outside of Upsala, and was last nights (un)stealth camp. Earlier in the day, a gas station worker had recommended taking bear precautions, as there’s black bears kicking about. It’s something that hadn’t even crossed my mind for a couple of months so was a good reminder. At about 1am, there was a noise coming from outside the tent, near the bike. Rustling. In the midst of being half-asleep, I fumbled about for the bear spray expecting to unzip the tent and see one clawing for cookies. “BAAAAAAAHHH”. Turned out to be a lorry full of sheep instead. The pitfalls of sleeping in a truck stop.
This morning this happened. That means it’s all downhill from here, right? Cracking time on the road recently, a good mix of epic, spectacular, adventure and all that other good stuff. Fingers crossed the Great Lakes provides more fun.
Thanks to Selah Motel in Kenora for a sweet hookup for the night. Check it out if you’re in town.