The trip is over after 5314km of awesome times on the road. We woke up to a rainy day in Squamish and packed up our wet gear one last time. Erik’s rear tire had sprouted a bulging tube overnight so we stopped at a local bike shop and got him a new rear tire. We took the final riding day pretty slow, meandering south along the the sea to sky highway towards Vancouver. We had a few flats (Eriks new tire included) along the way and stopped at a few view points for breaks and lunch. There was a bike lane along parts of the highway into Vancouver which is always a welcome change, despite being difficult to follow at times. The outskirts of Vancouver started in the late afternoon as we made our way towards the Lions Gate Bridge and into Stanley park. The ride over the bridge was beautiful with big views of the city and waterways and the lush green park up ahead. Vancouver is a pretty bike friendly place and we tried our best to stick to the road signs labelled with bikes on our way to the home of Cec, who is a close friend of Richards family. We got there just in time for a big spaghetti supper and spent the night both celebrating and mourning the end of our trip. 

The next day we walked around Vancouver a bit and picked up bike boxes to ship our bikes and gear home in. It was mostly a quiet day spent dismantling and packing our bikes, a sad time as expressed by Richard above. It was a tight fit but we eventually shoehorned all our extra stuff into the boxes and sealed them up for the UPS man who would come the next day. Richard and I sent our bikes home to Ontario while Erik kept his to take with him back to Alaska. It was hard to pack up what had been our lives for 3 months, but we had to trust everything would make it home safe. 

I (Lucas) took a Greyhound bus the following morning to meet my friend Candice in Seattle while the guys spent another quiet day in Vancouver with Cec. The bus ride to Seattle was nice and quick and I found Candice waiting at the station. We spent the night exploring the vibrant downtown of Seattle and looking for a hostel to stay in for the night. We ended up near Pikes Place market for a local seafood dinner and made our way to the International Hostel where there was live music and tons of new people to meet. The hostel was really nice and was a perfect spot to explore the city from. We spent the next day walking around town and also rented some kayaks for a paddle around Lake Union. After returning to the hostel we used their huge kitchen to cook a delicious supper with fresh salmon, rice and a big salad. It was refreshing to have a proper kitchen and supplies after months on the road with a small camp stove. Richard and Erik arrived by train later that night and helped us finish off the rest of supper. We met up with Candice’s friend Ashley who had just moved to Seattle and we all went out for a night on the town. We found some local tourist attractions including the infamous gum wall and the original Starbucks while hopping between bars. 

The next day started pretty slow, only accelerated by the 11am check out time for the hostel. After stashing Eriks bike and our gear in the hostel for the day Ashley drove us down to the beach. It was a nice sunny warm day and we were happy to spend it in cold ocean water with friends. We saw lots of barnacles and crabs and jellyfish littering the shore which were a first for us on this trip. It was cool to step into the ocean after having ridden towards it for so long. Ashley drove us back to the hostel where we said our goodbyes and the three of us got on the light rail train to the SeaTac airport. The airport was pretty empty and we were quickly through security and on a plane for Alaska!

As I write this we’ve just spent a week with Erik’s family an friends in the town of Palmer, Alaska. Erik has been talking up his home for the entire trip and it truly lived up to our expectations. We spent the days hiking and canoeing and hanging out with new friends and family. I could really get used to being surrounded by mountains and wilderness in all directions. There’s so much up here to see and explore, you could spend a lifetime trying and never see it all.

In a few hours Richard and I will catch our flights home and end this Ragebikeathon, for now at least. There’s already talk of the next few trips on all of our radars and I can’t wait to see where we end up. The past three months has been a blur of amazing people, beautiful places and shenanigans all around. Thanks for sticking with us throughout this adventure, we’ve had an incredible time riding across this vast country and taking some pictures along the way. Until next time

 

(ignore the loop in the map around Calgary.. silly google maps..) 

The first day out of Revelstoke we decided that we wanted to really experience the rain forest and the giant cedars! We pulled into a thick forest about 60 kilometers out of Revelstoke and set up camp on the thick soft moss. We had the sound of the river to drown out the traffic from the highway. The next day we slept in because it was still raining. Packing up a wet tent is often not worth it when you can just lay inside your warm sleeping bag. We headed down the road to the interestingly named town of Salmon Arm. We ended up camping in a pre-developed subdivision. The next morning we stopped at a small farmers market and split some strawberry rhubarb pies!

Near the end of the day we started getting close to Kamloops and like any big city you start to see the development about 20 kilometers out side the city. First you see houses scattered everywhere, then businesses pop up, and soon enough you find yourself down town. In this particular down town we climbed not the biggest but the hardest climb on our whole tour. Kamloops is fairly close to Lillooet (Lil-oh-wet) which happens to be the hottest place in Canada and that day was no exception. We had probably 3 kilometers in 10-15% grades at the end of the hottest day yet up to Winston’s house. Winston was a friend of Richards and now is he a friend to us all. He graciously offered us a place to sleep, shower, and do laundry, a bicycle tourists 3 favorite things (besides biking and food). He also took us out to see a bit of the town, which is one of the many goals of this kind of travel. We love to get a feel for towns and having a local tour guide helps a ton. Winston took us long boarding down town in a 5 story abandoned (for the night) parking garage. For those who don’t know, long boarding is similar to skate boarding but uses a larger board and larger wheels to give you a better sense of balance. These long boards can travel up to 100 kilometers per hour if it is in the hands of a skilled long boarder. We each put on some gloves and knee pads and took turns riding the gentle slope of the parking garage down a couple stories at a time. It really was a blast. 

The first day out of Kamloops was almost just as hilly as coming into the city but we managed to attack it while fully rested and that made a huge difference. We made it about 60 kilometers following our “late start” rule which allows us a late start any time we stay with friends. That night we camped on top of a huge bluff over looking lake Kamloops. We watched as a couple storms formed over head but they all passed us by by the time they were violent. Our climb to Lillooet later that day turned out to be a bit more than we expected but we had an amazing lunch time siesta at the public pool in Cache Creek. It was free to use and we jumped right in, after showering of course, and spent the hottest hours of the day swimming and relaxing in the sun. We split off from the Trans Canada and are traveling on what is now called Caribou Highway. Once into Lillooet we found a meal and a grocery store to stock up. The ride outside of Lilloet was only a couple kilometers to a great free campground provided by BC Hydro, a Canadian power company. There we chatted with some other campers, ate a nice hot meal of rice, beans, and vegetables, and fell asleep before the sun even went down. That next day (June 19th) we split again off Caribou Highway onto the 99. The 99 has a lot less traffic resulting in a smaller road and higher grades. We were climbing and descending a ton. We found a couple spots where we climbed 13% grades for kilometers at a time. This kind of “up and down” biking is kind of frustrating when you know you have to finish the day at a much higher elevation and yet every time you climb a hill there is a decent on the other side. We spent some time looking at the elevation graph for the entire trip and we knew that today was going to be by far the longest, steepest decent of our trip. It was overcast and raining but the desert scenery made up for it. As we got further into the day the scenery started to change back into more of a coastal rain forest and less of a scrub desert. This is because we were finally on the east side of the last mountain range of our trip! As we got toward Pemberton, the town right after our huge drop it was getting on in the day and it was still raining and we decided to make camp at the top and attempt a decent in the morning when it would hopefully be dry. We went for a bit of a hike into the Joffre Lakes Provincial park had a pre-bed snack and went to sleep. The next morning turned out to be worse for descending. With a thick fog and even harder rain today was looking like we were going to have one heck of a time getting down this mountain. After packing up a wet camp and promising to eat breakfast at the bottom we headed off down the hill. Just so you know how serious this hill was the average switchback had at least one 13% grade and this lasted for 13 kilometers! We had a lot of fun on that descent but we certainly kept our brake levers close. A bike that weighs 30lbs stops a lot faster than a bike weighing 100 lbs. 

From the descent we headed into the town of Pemberton and grabbed a quick bite to eat. We also debated updating the blog but the internet couldn’t handle uploading 10 photos where we were at. From Pemberton it was straight into Whistler! Whistler in the winter is a very busy world class ski resort, in the summer it is one of the best bike parks in the world  Richard, Lucas, and I all love to ride any kind of bike, but they had experienced what is called “downhill mountain biking” before. This is where a cyclist takes a large mountain bike with 8 inches of travel on both front and rear wheels and literally rides down a mountain. They have been talking about down hill biking and whistler the entire trip and it got me really interested. This is something I just had to try.

As we got into Whistler we decided to tour the town and eat before going to stay with our warmshowers.org contact. It is a beautiful ski town build with a very European style. After eating I noticed my rear wheel was flat; it had been developing quite a bulge over the past couple days and it was only a matter of time. Pushing my bike we went to meet Alexandra, our host for Whistler. Alex lived within walking distance to the village and we headed over to her house and all jumped in the shower and started on laundry. After we were all cleaned up we headed into the down town to look at various bike rentals and check lift ticket prices. While we were looking into packages to purchase a man walked into the store and asked us if we were the three touring  cyclists. We admitted we were and he told me that he also owned the same year and model bike. He ended up being the owner of the lift company and got us a great deal on our bike rental. The next day at 9am we had an entire day of down hill biking ahead of us. That night was kind of a late one because we attended a jam session at the store where Alex worked. 

What an amazing day. June 21st will stand out in my life for a while. As it turns out strapping on body armor, wearing a full face helmet, and riding down a mountain on $5000 bikes is really really fun. We went up for a couple runs with a guide who showed us some fun runs and gave us pointers on basic skills like how to handle jumps and drop offs. On my 3rd run I biffed a jump pretty hard to ended up landing face first about 15 feet down the path. Thanks to the full face helmet I’m still pretty and have all my teeth! I did a couple more runs with Richard and Lucas, I just try to keep up, and then it was off to lunch. As I rested and we ate my left hand started aching from the crash and I decided to stay off it for the rest of the day and rode the gondolas up to the peak of the mountain. Lucas and Richard tried some harder more technical trails with great success. 

The next day was a rest day for me. I woke up pretty stiff from not only riding a new style of biking most of the day, but from crashing a couple times too. Lucas and Richard felt good enough to rent some cross country bikes and hit the trails. After a couple games of settlers of catan we headed outside for some midnight walks to view the full moon. The following day (June 23rd) we woke up at 10 am, following our “late start” rule, and we are packing up and getting ready for the last 123 kilometers into Vancouver and what will ultimately be the end of our entire trip!

HELLO MOUNTAINS! Our very first day out of Calgary, June 8th, we could already see a line of peaks off in the distance. They were every bit the mountains we had imagined, even from 100 kilometers away. As we got closer we could see that these mountains were unlike anything we had seen before. It was a nice ride on Highway 1 into Banff Provincial Park and we started to see why we had always heard about Banff as one of the most beautiful places on earth. If you look in the pictures above you can see why too. Sheer cliff faces, heavily wooded pine forests, crystal blue streams. Our hosts of the previous nights had invited us to attend a mountain bike race they were part of in the Nordic Center in Canmore (where many of the ‘88 winter olympic events took place). This was about 100 kilometers away and the perfect days ride. We arrived as the Elite events were just starting and decided to raid the BBQ and watch the race, big thanks to the Spin Sisters. While we where there we chatted with a bicycle mechanic who worked for Giant by driving his van around and doing promos and fixing bikes for free and he told us about a great camping spot close by on a secluded lake. It was a terrific first night in the mountains. The next day, June 9th, we took our first real bike path from Canmore to Banff. Banff is a very nice place, very touristy, but still really puts off a mountain ski village vibe as well. We ate lunch in Banff and tried to do an update but the internet at many places just isn’t fast enough. We ran into the bikes of another couple of cycle tourists but they were nowhere to be found. After viewing the waterfall and trails around the village we headed across the 1 to the 1A. Highway 1A was the original road through the park and puts you far enough away from the motor madness of highway 1 you really forgot it was there. It was hard to focus on the road because the mountains were so incredible. Snowy cliff faces towered in all directions, peaks rose to 12,000’, and the heavily wooded forest was a haven for black bears. We encountered our second bear on the 1A. We were nearing the top of a small climb and noticed that there was about 6 or 7 cars waiting at the top of a hill and people were standing out of their sunroofs getting pictures of something. I yelled up ahead and asked if it was a bear because no cyclist wants to have to bike next to a bear. It was a solitary juvenile bear who wanted nothing more than to munch of the grass on the side of the road and we passed with no problems. We had been seeing loads of old British cars recently and we finally figured out why. The Bentley Motors Club was having a huge North American tour and we had crossed their path in Banff. They had cars from the ’30s up to some of the newest models. Check the pictures to see a couple of the old ones. We were expecting to make it to Lake Louise that night but the distance sign said at least 10 kilometers off and when you keep expecting the town to be around the next corner and it isn’t it is pretty disheartening. We camped on the side of the road (don’t tell the rangers!). We followed all the safety guidelines for camping in bear country; we hung our food, made and ate dinner 100 meters from camp, and had readily accessible bear mace outside between our tents. The next morning, the 10th, we woke up, packed up camp as usual and headed the last couple kilometers into Lake Louise. We decided that not seeing the lake was not an option and the 5 kilometer climb first thing in the morning would do us good and wake us up. It did. We were rewarded at the top with a crystal clear turquoise blue lake, stunning mountains behind it, and quite a few Japanese tourists to share the view with. After asking a couple locals about continuing along the 1A they told us it wouldn’t be feasible and so we headed back down the mountain to the 1 to continue our journey through the park. We headed into the market square of Lake Louise and ate lunch at a picnic table right in the middle of everything. We saw a lone bicycle tourist pull into the parking lot and I approached him and invited him to eat lunch with us. His name was Paul and he was from Manchester, England. He told us about the start of his journey and cycling from the north through the ice fields. We shared cycling stories and parted ways after wishing each other the best. That afternoon after biking through some pretty gnarly construction (Richard hit some cones and took a fall) we headed down what was easily the longest decent of the trip so far, Kicking Horse Pass. The pass is so steep that historically trains had a pretty decent chance to derail and fall into the river below. Luckily the steeper the better for us on road bikes. We decided to take an easy 60 kilometer day and rest in the very tiny town of Field. There we met another cyclist named Joshua who flew from his home in Toronto to Vancouver and was cycling back. As we got to talking Joshua asked if he might camp with us because he had been on the road for a couple weeks by himself and could use the company. We agreed and set out to find camp. We biked around the town of Field for a bit looking for a spot but the town was too small and compact. We did head up what looked to be an abandoned road only to see 2 black bear cubs scramble up a tree and a mean momma bear glaring from behind the trees. We decided that maybe a government sanctioned campground would be a good bet for that night. We backtracked a couple kilometers and found a campground with warm showers! After a warm shower and a hot meal it is pretty much impossible to stay awake and we were soon snoring away to the sound of a nearby river. 

The next day we cycled over what was one of our favorite stretches of road. We continued more or less downhill for most of the day as we cycled on roads build into the side of mountains through the Kicking Horse Valley. The speed limit was about 40KPH which allowed us to pass most of the traffic, it helped that our bikes can take corners far more sharply than a car. We had a quick stop in the town of Golden where we spent some gift cards (Thanks Josée and Anna!) and got lunch. We also headed into town to do some shopping and were struck by the amount of attractive women in Golden (we would soon learn that all mountain towns are filled with gorgeous women). We cycled another 30 kilometers still in awe of every new mountain peak and made camp in a clearing in the woods by a large river. It was a nice spot but the mosquitoes made it hard to be still for more than a couple minutes. After an amazing dinner of fettuccine alfredo we watched a couple episodes of Parks and Rec and drifted off into sleep. 

We had always known that by taking the scenic route through Banff we would have to also deal with a couple mountain passes. Today, June 12th, was going to be our first real encounter with climbing for more than 30 minutes. Rogers pass stands at a respectable 1,330 meters or 4,360 feet and was our only obstacle to get into the town of Revelstoke. Our plan was to go 100 kilometers for the day and hit Revelstoke for lunch, but our minds were changed by a very friendly park employee named Kirk. As we headed up into the pass we were surprised to find a long line of cars waiting, not just a long line but hundreds and hundreds of cars waiting for their turn to use the tunnels to cross the pass. One side of the tunnels was being repaved and the wait to cross the pass was almost an hour but one of the advantages of being on a bicycle is the freedom you get over construction zones. Many flaggers will let you go first as long as you mind the equipment. We made our way through the dark tunnels with little ceremony and before we knew it we were at the top of Rogers Pass. It was far easier than everybody had made it out to be and none of us even used our granny gears (the easiest gear to climb in). We visited the visitor center to get some water and that is where we met Kirk. Kirk had lived all over Western Canada and had been “chasing snow since [he] was 18.” He let us know that if we could make it into town there was an awesome restaurant where we could have a beer on the patio and look over the mountain and that he had a backyard we could sleep in. With the promise of a beer and backyard we decided to do the full 120 kilometers that day. It was mostly down hill from to top of the pass into the city of Revelstoke. Revelstoke won us over immediately. It was filled with cute girls on bikes and that is all we needed to know to fall in love with the town. We ate a monstrous meal and headed over to Kirks bed and breakfast (Adventurer’s Guest House, beautiful place) to camp in the backyard. We shared a few beers and he told us all about the town and its recent history. After that a dip in the hot tub was all we needed to put us to sleep. 

Today, the 13th, we’re getting a late start and planning to visit the bike shop in town before we head off toward the city of Kamloops. 

 

This is Derek Hintz, he took us in, gave us a warm place to sleep, and played some of his music for us. This was my favorite song from that night, Miracle Boy. The first minute is him telling the story of how his father almost died and the song he wrote about the experience of almost losing a father overnight to a tragic medical condition. He does swear a bit, its not vulgar but skip the first minute if the kiddos are watching. 

Oh wow! What an eventful week we’ve had! I have been a little preoccupied and have slacked a bit in my update efforts. I’ll tell you a bit about that later. Our last update saw us in the Saskatchewan town of Swift current. That night we stayed in town at a campground, had some 25 cent showers, spent a couple dollars worth of quarters trying to get an apparently defunct sauna to heat up. The next day we had pretty much had the most average cycling day you can have. We had planned on doing just over 100 kilometers (to keep up our 9 day streak of 100k+) but after a large breakfast and some strong tailwinds we decided that our luck just might run out and we should push every last kilometer we could out of the day. That day we did over 140 kilometers! We pulled into the Saskatchewan Visitor Center (located near the border of every province) around 5 and used their water, picnic tables, WiFi, and outlets until they closed at 6. We camped out back behind the Center. We woke up and as we were eating breakfast they same guy who closed shop came up and said hi. We’re pretty sure he knew we camped nearby but he was only smiles and a bit of chit chat as we packed up. 

On June 1st (the very next day) we rode all the way to Medicine Hat. While riding through Medicine Hat we were deciding where to look to find camp we saw a man standing on his porch and we we rode by I waved at him and he put his hands in the air and yelled, “woop woop!” We took this as a good sign and I rode over and started up a conversation. His name was Derek Hintz and he was a musician, painter, and all around friendly guy! He invited us in for a beer and our worries about finding camp soon faded away. Derek went through great lengths to make us feel at home and for that we are all very thankful. Its really nice to plan to stay with a friend, but when you can make a friend and have a place to stay it really gives you a lot of faith in humanity. Derek kept the fun going all night with some musical performances one of which I will link right above this post! After a late night in Medicine Hat we rode a bit northward up to the town of Bassano. We stopped in at a gas station and they had free showers! We each took a long shower and headed to a nearby RV park. We called the number at the front office and they told us to set up anywhere for free! After Bassano we turned north on one of just a few detours we had planned. We biked north on highway 56 into the town of Drumheller. This town is in the Badlands of Alberta, and we rode down a steep hillside into a desert like landscape, pretty wild after being in the prairies for so long. Erik broke our goal of 80 km/h (50 mph) finally! The reason this town gets a special mention is because it is home to the Tyrrell Royal Museum. The Tyrrell Royal Museum is home to the worlds largest collection of dinosaur skeletons! We spend an awesome night reading plaques, looking at skeletons, and camping under the stars. 

The next day, June 3rd, we rode all the way into the town of Airdrie. Just before Airdrie we caught our first glimpse of the rocky mountains, pictured faintly in the background of the picture with Richard hanging loose, we were really stoked to see them. We stayed with Amy, a friend of Richard’s family who had put a crock-pot of chili with all the fixings and for dessert was rhubarb pie. It was an amazing meal! It was there that I started feeling under the weather. I was having some urinary problems, I was diagnosed with a fairly serious bladder infection. I tried to go to a emergency clinic and they wanted over $1,000 just to see me. I decided to try a different clinic, across the street, for $40. They cultured my urine and wrote me a prescription for some pretty basic antibiotics and after just 24 hours my symptoms are nonexistent and I’m feeling a lot better. After leaving Airdrie we rode a short day into Calgary visited the Mountain Equipment Coop. Calgary is a perfect example of urban sprawl but with urban sprawl usually comes with sweet city bike trails. We rode about 15 kilometers on these trail until we jumped on to the city streets for a little street cycling. We saw all kinds of awesome craft breweries, stone fired pizza joints, and sweet bike shops. We came to rest at the house of Anna and James, relatives of Lucas. We ate dinner and as we were eating a friend of our hosts, Josèe or Josée, planned a day of mountain biking for us. We didn’t really have much say in the matter, but we didn’t want to object at all. We slept very soundly and the next morning we were up and at ‘em fairly early to get a good day of riding in. 

I love bikes, I love every style of biking, but today was my first time on a bike that wasn’t my touring bike. The bikes we rode today have shocks in the front to help soften the blows. This was a new concept to me, but on I decided I really enjoy. We rode up to the Calgary Olympic Park and spent an hour or two riding around the trails up in the park. It was an incredible time and it only served to make me that much more excited to go to Whistler Bike Park and ride some more trails!

We were planning on finishing the trip with no flats, but I fired the first shot with a flat into Regina and Lucas fired the next 3 within 2 days. We figured it was just bad luck but as he was changing his second flat of the day he noticed that the tread completely coming off his back wheel. This protective rubber layer is what helps deflect thorns and wires and any other sharp object that wishes you and your happiness ill will. With over 4000 kilometers on the tires (which came with the bike) it was time to get a replacement. As we headed into Regina we stopped to pick up some groceries and met a pair of french ladies who where hitch hiking to Banff. Oh la la! We chatted for a bit in broken english and as they waved au revoir they told us they hoped to see in there, Me too french ladies, me too. We headed to a local bike shop to buy new tires for Lucas. He sprung for Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, a common touring tire, because of their thicker, harder rubber and their easy rolling. 

After buying new tires we headed over to our Warmshowers.org contact, Chris! As we pulled into the subdivision I spotted a man in the building Chris lived in cooking on his grill. I silently prayed that this was Chris. It was. Chris is a friendly school teacher who signed up to host cyclists because he has a trip planned to bike around Scotland with his cousin later this summer. We wish you the best Chris. If I could give you some advice it would be just do it. There are a million reasons not to, but you just gotta go for it despite everything. Chris was called away for most of the night to be at the hospital with one of his students who broke his foot. We did laundry and slept like logs. 

From Regina we visited the beautiful little town of Moose Jaw, on our way into the city we saw a 60 year old guy riding a $5000 dollar mountain bike. We like the town already. We visited the library and art museum and picked up some reading material from the free section. Usually we try to buy groceries and keep our price per meal down but some times you just have to splurge. We bought a couple pizzas and ate every last bite. Feeling full as can be we road down to the river park looking for a inconspicuous spot to camp. We were told that we might be able to get away with it. As we rode the park trails we noticed a lady sitting out on an old car seat in her back yard. We asked her if we could camp on a little bit of her lawn. She agreed and told us it might be a little loud but we were free to do it. We made a note of where her house was and kept riding trails. We came back as the sun was setting and set up camp. Much to our chagrin the trains we very loud, so loud we had to plug our ears, as they moved tankers around just 30 feet from our tents.

The ride out of town was a very quick process with the wind at our backs yet again (suck it prevailing winds!). We rode a quick 90 kilometers and camped in a small town built around a salt flat named Chaplin. The spot is famous for its bird watching because it is a haven for ocean faring birds in the middle of their migration. The lakes have 7 times the salinity of the ocean and contain only one life form, brine shrimp. The birds take a couple rest days, similar to a bicycle tourist, on their 25,000 kilometer journey from Patagonia to Alaska and eat their fill of these brine shrimp and move on. The town of Chaplin was a lot smaller than the map led us to believe but we found a closed campground and pitched our tents. Closed campgrounds are good places to camp because nobody collects the fees but it is generally acceptable to spend the night. We watched an intense game of little league between the town of Morse and the town of Chaplin. It got a little boring watching 3, 4, and 5 year olds miss pitch after pitch so we retired to our campsite. From the next site over we met a Radiologist who called himself Dr. John. He brought over some Dalwhinnie 15 year scotch and told us of his adventures around the world and encouraged us to keep exploring every chance we had. That night we slept very soundly. 

We awoke to yet another tail wind, our 9th day in a row, and made our way to Swift Current. Sometimes as a cyclist you just have to look at yourself and ask yourself, do you want to go fast? Today was my day to go fast. I told Richard and Lucas that I would meet them in town and biked to my hearts content. I averaged a respectable 32 kph and before 1 I had gone 90 kilometers and was into Swift Current, our ending spot for the day. The boys showed up half an hour later and we are currently pigging out. 

Everybody told us we were crazy for wanting to bike from the east to the west. “The prevailing winds will eat you alive,” “you’ll be miserable, working way to hard,” they told us. We are three very lucky dudes because we have had a tailwind for the past week across the prairies. The locals are quick to point out our luck and we don’t disagree. From Winnipeg we headed west on the Trans Canada Highway 1 into some very new territory, The Great Plains. The locals call them the prairies. We were used to the large hills of Northern Ontario and this flat ground paired with a week long tail wind has given us an opportunity to make some seriously good time. Our first day after a rest day is always cut short because of all the errands we have to run, but that second day out of Winnipeg was the first of four 100 kilometer days in a row. We had planned on doing 70 km a day, but with the wind at our backs pedaling is a lot easier on out legs and we just don’t want to stop. Plus, if we make good enough time Richard and Lucas are discussing a week up in Alaska with me as their tour guide. Our first day out of Winnipeg we camped in one of the most beautiful camping spots on the whole trip. We stopped in the small town of Elie (pronounced Eli) after seeing a steeple from the road. We rode in to find a Catholic church that had a large lawn with tree cover. We met the priest, Father John, who was very enthusiastic about letting us camp on his lawn. That night we decided we were going to get up at 4:30am. A lot of people, when dealing with possibly adverse wind conditions, get up at that hour and ride to beat the wind that usually comes with the sun. As we were just waking up a local invited us back to his house to eat breakfast. We always love meeting new people and quickly agreed. He served us oatmeal with chia seeds and molasses  it was very good.

After we got on the road that day we ate our second breakfast in Portage La Prarie, the town we had expected to make it to the day before. With the wind at our backs we were pretty certain we could make up for time lost doing errands in Winnipeg in no time at all. It was very clear out that day, the 23rd, and we found ourselves roasting being so unaccustomed to the heat. We stopped during the hottest hours of the day to rest and eat lunch in a gazebo in the town of Sidney. We had some vegetables and made some amazing sandwiches. That night we found a campsite on the side of a dirt farm road overlooking a field of green grass. Richard and Lucas were woken up by an unexpected visitor crashing around the undergrowth. As we watched the sunrise and ate breakfast Richard found our new friend in a tree over looking camp. It was a porcupine. He mainly stayed to himself as we packed up camp and was still high in his perch as we left for the mornings ride.

The mornings are still very cold and we usually leave camp bundled up. We bike around 5-10 kilometers and then do our morning stretches for about 15 minutes. That morning stretches were done in a public rest stop next to a car filled with passed out passengers surrounded by cheap beer cans. We got such an early start that by 9am we were in the town of Brandon gathering supplies for the next couple days. By 1pm we had already biked 100 kilometers and were pulling into Oak Lake to find a spot to camp for the night. As we entered I noticed some brightly dressed people in a gazebo who appeared to be waving us down. We turned around and to our surprise we found three other bicycle tourists. These three ladies, Haley, Victoria, and Annika, were biking in the opposite direction as us and had stopped to get out of the headwind (our tailwind!) for lunch. We chatted about the road ahead of us having just come from where the other was headed. They soon said their good byes and started back on the road. We headed to the store to buy a couple beers to celebrate biking 100 kilometers by 1pm. As we biked away I pulled back and met up with the ladies inviting them to come share a couple beers. They accepted after a little deliberation and we headed as a group of six to a near by campsite. That night we shared a bit of dinner, played on defunct play ground equipment, and shared stories around the fire. The next morning our breakfast was communal banana pancakes with nutella. We always imagined that we would meet three nice young ladies on bikes and leave as three married couples, but alas it was not to be.

The next day, the 25th, we crossed another border, only 5 days after crossing from Ontario into Manitoba we crossed from Manitoba into Saskatchewan. We stopped at the border to ask about how long our paved shoulder would last and we were told that It would continue all the way to the border and probably after that as well. This is great news for us, sometimes we are left without a shoulder at all and are forced to take up an entire lane of a four lane divided highway. This is not an ideal situation for anybody involved. As we crossed our 100 kilometer mark for the day we decided to knock on the door of a near by farm and ask to camp on their lawn. We talked with Mark and Laverne and found out that had a herd of elk near by. I’ve never seen an elk and upon hearing that Mark suggested we all jump in his truck and go see them. Most of them were very shy but a couple had been bottle fed and raised as pets and they came right up to the truck expecting carrots. That night we camped next to a barn, sheltered from the wind and rain, and watched a couple episodes of Parks and Recreation, a show we’re currently working our way through.

I am posting this from a small town called Whitewood in Saskatchewan about 40 kilometers into the day and expected to do at least another 60. We should be in Regina tomorrow night where we have a representative of Warmshowers.org who has agreed to host us for the night. Warmshowers is a website devoted to finding people to host traveling cyclists.

Until next time,

Erik Salmon

Since these two updates are a little closer together than normal, we are going to also talk about some of the aspects of day to day bicycle touring, but first lets talk about the past couple days. 

Having a goal in mind at the beginning of the day on how far you want to ride or what town you’re going to stop in helps keep the pace steady. Our goal for the 19th was to finally get out of Ontario and into Manitoba. From Kenora to Winnipeg was about 210 kilometers and the border was just under 60km into that. So on the 19th of May we awoke to the smell of an incredible breakfast being prepared by our gracious host Lyle! This monstrosity easily set us back an hour. As we left the house it started to rain and we donned our rain apparel. More about how riding in the rain works later! We had to backtrack about 4 kilometers to find a grocery store and then it was off to Manitoba. After crossing the border, still in the rain, we noticed signs for a place called West Hawk Lake, a meteor crater lake. We biked in off the highway for a couple minutes and were greeted by an incredibly circular lake. We back tracked a bit and camped behind an old church. 

When we awoke we were dismayed that the rain was still going and now it seemed to be quite windy. After putting it off as long as we could we packed out tents up in the rain. Putting your tent away wet, although not damaging for a just few nights, is just a sucky thing to have to do. As we got on the road we were greeted by a very powerful southwest wind. Although not directly behind us wind that is not against you is for you. That day we road 140 kilometers on breakfast. With an average of 32kph how could we not? As we pulled into the first place to find shelter in Winnipeg, an A&W, we started to shiver. Its easy to forget that sometimes the only reason you are warm is because you’re exerting yourself so much. When we contacted Laird, out host in Winnipeg, he asked us if we wanted him to come get us at the outskirts of the city, saving us some city riding in the rain. We loaded the bikes up and Richard and Lucas sat in the cab while I sat in the bed with the bikes. That night we took every thing out of our bags and set up our tents to dry. Pictured beside the drying tent is Lucas’ bedroll; Therm-a-rest Prolite Plus sleeping pad, Marmot Hydrogen -1°C Down Sleeping Bag, Sea to Summit Reactor liner and a Therm-a-rest Compressible Pillow. 

The next day was a rest day due to a 3 to 0 vote in favor. We rode around Winnipeg, drank some of Laird’s own craft beer, and grilled in the sun. 

As you can see from one of the photos above, we can’t stop biking just because it is raining. We do have a couple bad weather days set aside, but unless its raining cats and dogs we can’t quit. So we have to deal with it, and that means keeping our gear dry and us warm.  First, keeping the gear dry. Lucas and Richard both have Arkel panniers. They liked the way they open front facing with several pockets, were breathable, and that they are a Canadian company. These panniers are not water proof but do come with water proof covers which you see on the bikes. My panniers are from a German company called Ortlieb. Mine are waterproof as they are, open from the top with a drawstring, and have one large roomy compartment. All 3 of our handlebar bags are made by Ortlieb and feature waterproof materials. As far as staying dry in all day rain goes, you don’t. You just can’t avoid it. Water leaks in from your neck, vents, up your shirt, and on top of that you’re sweating too. So the goal is to stay warm. In just under 30 minutes your feet are swimming in your shoes and water is leaking down your neck. If you wear wool socks, which are good at staying warm while wet, you will be in good shape. Keeping warm under a rain coat is as simple as regulating air flow, opening and closing vents and the main zipper. You might have noticed the plastic shopping bag over my seat in the photo too, that is my rain cover. The seats, or saddles, we use are called suspended leather saddles from a company called Brooks. They are incredibly comfy and form to your sit bones over time. Because they are leather, if they get wet and you put your body weight on them for hours at a time, they can prematurely stretch. They do come with a bolt to help keep the tension but once you run out of room the seat is unusable. They usually last 5 to 10 years and we’re doing our best to make sure ours do to. 

Also shown above is our cooking setup. The stove is a Trangia Cookset, complete with alcohol burner, two 1L pots, frying pan/lid, simmer ring and pot holder. This stove works really well for us as we can cook and eat out of the pots and it holds enough food for three hungry dudes. Also pictured are a mug, measuring cup, cutting board/plate, bowl, coffee strainer, cutlery and Leatherman Wave multitool (used constantly around camp). Whenever we stay with a friend along the way we try to remember to wash all this stuff as it’s hard to do dishes on the road. 

Until next time thanks for reading!

While in Atikokan at the White Otter Inn we had a large number of people come up and talk to us. They mostly wanted to know where we started, where we’re going, and how long we think it will take. We also had a lady who saw the bikes and stopped in just to say hi. Its easy to imagine myself doing such a thing after being on tour for a long time. It is really fun to talk to other cyclists and compare experiences and gear.

This nice lady let us know that around 20 miles out side of town there was a small lake called Lerome lake that had a beautiful landing that we could semi-legally camp on. There were only 2 problems, 20 miles turned out to be 8 kilometers ( giving us a very long day the next day) and there was signage declaring camping illegal. We camped anyways. We camp in a lot of spots that are illegal, but we are leave no trace campers and are very careful to be out of sight. Since I started biking in 2010 I have yet to be kicked out of a camping spot, that doesn’t mean the police haven’t come knocking, I’ve just never had to move. That night we cooked some jalapenos, sausage, beans, and rice over the open fire and poured the whole concoction into french bread bowls.  This was hands down one of the best on the road meals that I have ever eaten. 

We were very right about the next day being a long hard day. In fact it was easily the hardest day yet. We had to bike all the way to Fort Francis because we had a place to stay set up. By the end of the day we had biked 140 kilometers into a very steady and relentless 30km headwind. Seriously, it was brutal.  We went next door to a locally recommended restaurant and ate a lot of food. I had 2 orders of spaghetti and meat balls and a full plate of poutine. 

From Fort Francis we headed north on Highway 71 towards Kenora. The first night we only got about 40 km outside of town before we decided to camp. This effect, which has been pretty consistent, is the result of a combination of sleeping in and having to stock up food before we leave town. That night we slept in a huge tick infested field. I pulled 5 off me. 

The next morning we made it on the road by 9am, a very early start for us, and continued north toward Sioux Narrows. 94k of easy flat riding later we found ourselves in town and hungry for something other than rice and beans. We found a 5 for $10 deal on potato chips and headed off to camp. Which was right in town. We camped in a tiny park on the edge of the Narrows the town is named for, just out of sight of the road. 

The next day, May 18th, we arrived in the city of Kenora and into the welcoming home of Lyle, our contact in Kenora. Lyle had dinner on the table in no time after rolled in. It was a feast to behold. Steak, fresh caught walleye, baked potatoes, asparagus, and steamed cauliflower. A meal like that for a couple of traveling guys like us is a godsend! I’ve been having a hard time keeping my head cool in the sun so I decided it was time for a haircut. You can see the damage in the photo above.

Breakfast this morning was equally bountiful, with bacon, moose & wild rice & jalapeno sausage, deer sausage patties and eggs and hashbrowns.  We could sure get used to eating like this ever morning! Today we leave for the last 2-3 day stretch out of Ontario towards Winnipeg, finally a new province!

Parting is such sweet sorrow, except when you meet up again 3 days later. Just like me and the other guys did in Schreiber on the 7th. It was here that experienced the hottest day of the trip so far, including the next week as well. We think it might have been up to 20c! (or 68 in AMERICAN!) We fought some really big hills that day, but when you get to the top you also get to go down them. And we did, setting a new trip speed record of 73kph by Lucas (or 45 MPH in AMERICAN!). That night of the 8th we found what is on record as the best camp site of the trip. It was the last we would see of Lake Superior, our constant companion, for the rest of the trip. 

We are getting really good at being creative with what we eat. The morning we woke up on Lake Superior we ate banana pancakes with nutella. I bet you didn’t eat that good that morning. There are a couple things I am never without while biking. They are as follows, bagels, peanut butter, bananas, gummy candy, and oatmeal. Bagels are calorie dense, easy to get a hand on while biking, and delicious. Peanut butter is protein rich, goes on aforementioned bagels, and is delicious. Bananas are potassium rich, go on aforeaforementioned peanut butter covered bagels, and are delicious. Gummy candies are very cheap ($.28 per 100g or $1.29 a pound in AMERICAN!), have tons of carbohydrates for long lasting energy, lots of sugar for immediate energy, and are delicious. Oatmeal is easy to make and easily customizable with honey, nuts, or maple syrup. 

We had a very boring 9th. We biked through Nipigon, built our very own Inukshuk overlooking highway 17, got rained on, and camped just outside of town on an old over grown road. It was way too close to the highway but when it gets dark your options are severely limited. Unbeknownst to me, a couple days earlier I had left my rain jacket in Wawa with the beautiful Julia and Thom so I was stuck biking in an emergency rain poncho. At one point I walked into a Tim Horton’s with it on and could feel everybody in the room laughing at me. Oh well.

The next day stands out as a shining example of why I bicycle tour. We awoke to a strong tail wind and hurried to pack camp to take advantage of it. We got on the road and boy did we make time. In just 3 hours we had gone a total of 85 kilometers for an average of just under 29KPH (18MPH). We stopped at the Thunder Bay International Hostel to eat a quick lunch. While there we met the proprietor Lloyd, a well traveled older man with a lot of stories, who let us use the facilities to make our lunch. He decided it was his lunch time too and ate with us while dispensing all kinds of advice on life, travel, and racism after having seen the movie 42 about Jackie Robinson. From there we headed into town to meet our contact (Thanks Erin and Diana!) in the grand city of Thunder Bay!  We had a well deserved rest day (having been biking for 11 days with out one for Richard and Lucas) and did some well deserved laundry (it stank realllly badly) and took some well deserved showers (we stank too).  We also got tons and tons of new music thanks to all of your suggestions on Facebook and are loving biking and listening to something new.

From Thunder Bay we rode north for 16 kilometers just out of town before we decided we could use a “bad weather day” we had been saving up to get out of the 30-50 KPH wind that was blowing right at us. That night it snowed, but not enough to cover the ground, just enough to cascade down the tent fly and make a snow outline on the ground, crime scene style.  

On the morning of the 12th we woke up, called the women in our lives we love the most, our mothers, and set off into the ever present wind. We stopped and saw the Kakabeka Falls, biked into more wind, and camped in a nice pine forest where we experienced the coldest night in recent memory with a -4c night. I woke up early and got a fire going because I was worried about frostbite on my toes. At this point we were going to continue up Highway 17 and end up in Kenora but I posed the question, “Why not go down Highway 11 and take 71 up to Kenora,” Richard chimed in that it was marked as a Scenic Route. We asked locals who told us that it was 6 one way and half a dozen the other. We opted for Highway 11. 

I’m sitting here in the White Otter Inn in Atikokan after eating a burger with all the fixings. We’re expecting to bike another 35k and make it to Fort Francis tomorrow night!

A very special shout out to the Bread and Cup family in Lincoln, Nebraska. I think about those cinnamon rolls daily and nightly! See if you can spot the picture I took for you guys.

Lucas here, writing the blog update promised by Erik. I’ll fill you in on the few days we rode ahead while Erik rested in Wawa. We left Wawa on a sunny windy day, and had a quick chat with a hitchhiker waiting for a ride outside of town, also headed west. We both got some good tunes going and rode steady through rolling hills and barren snow covered landscape. The day was mostly uneventful and we started looking for camps early in the afternoon. With snow everywhere it was really hard to find a good spot, but after several scouting walks we found a big sandy washout with a dry flat spot up top in the trees, perfect. As mountain bikers it was hard not to notice the amazing tacky dirt that surrounded our camp, and we spent a while scoping out potential lines and wishing for our mountain bikes. 

We woke up with a quick breakfast of bagels with peanut butter (we’re on 1kg jar #5…) bananas and honey, and broke camp for the 20km ride into White River. A lunch stop at A&W for wifi and plugins set us off feeling good for the afternoon. We saw a few things worth mentioning including several active mines, miles of regrowth forest from a big forest fire some years back, and a young moose grazing on the side of the road (pictured above). It was even harder to find a camp that night, but we settled on a stand of pines with the least snow we’d seen all day. You can see Rich sitting in the set up tent, with all our riding gear hanging in those tall trees to dry. 

It’s become our habit to camp an hour or two ride out of the next town when we can and ride in for second breakfast/lunch each morning. Today was no exception and we left our snowy camp and rode through some big hills with beautiful views into the small town of Marathon. There was a fast 4km decent into town with huge views of lake superior, lots of fun to go down but no so fun to come up after a big lunch. About 10km out of town we climbed a big hill and found a perfect camp spot with the best views we’d seen yet. We hadn’t ridden very far by this point but both of us were feeling a slow day and it wasn’t a hard decision to stay there. We tried to ride back into Marathon (on unloaded bikes woo!) to grab some brews but everything was closed, bummer! When bike touring you rarely know what day of the week it is, turns out everything closes up here on Sundays haha. We got a little fancy for supper, making pork teriyaki stirfry over rice, very tasty!

The next day was a longer ride through some of the twistiest rolling roads yet, a nice change from the barren landscape outside Wawa. We met our first fellow bicycle tourists of the trip! Two young ladies and an older fellow were doing a trip around lake Superior from Wisconsin and heading east. We chatted for awhile and swapped information about the roads and towns ahead, it was nice to see we aren’t the only people out this early in the season. In Terrace Bay we got word that Erik was back on his bike and hot on our trail, putting in big mile days to catch up. We camped on another tall bluff above the road outside Terrace Bay, you can see Richard lounging in the tent admiring the view above. The next morning we made the short ride into the town of Schrieber and waited at Robins Donuts for Erik to catch up. It was good to have the three of us back together, and we set out riding in high spirits. 

That’s it for now, we’ll cover the days since then in the next post, and also give you an idea of an average day in the life of a bicycle tourist.

Just a quick one person update since It is just me traveling alone right now.  After leaving Wawa I biked like heck to try and catch up with Richard and Lucas who have a 2 day lead on me. My first day leaving Wawa I biked 174 kilometers (or 108 miles, woooo imperial century!) to camp right before the Marathon turn off. That night I slept terribly due to taking the first spot I saw after 20 kilometers of swamp land that was impossible to camp on. The spot was way to close to the highway and was a bit slanted so I kept waking up laying on wet ground underneath the tent which sucks the heat out of you very very fast. The next day (today) I biked 94 kilometers to the town of Terrace Bay where I will stay tonight. The boys messaged me and are probably less than 5k from where I am, but with no way to contact them I’ll have to catch them  tomorrow. 

About these 4 pictures. The top photo is my set up at night. I sleep in a Marmot Plasa 30 degree sleeping bag on top of a Inertia X-Frame sleeping mat inside of a MSR Hubba Hubba 2 person tent. My bicycle is a 2011 Kona Sutra and I use the Ortlieb Ultimate line of panniers.

The second picture saved my life (maybe just a bit). I left Wawa with out any wawa(water) and was feeling the effects of dehydration. After trying to fill up at any of the 5 places I passed each place was closed or hadn’t dewinterized yet. I passed yet another no-name for sale motel on the side of the road and noticed that there was an Ice Box outside. The hotel had been closed since the fall before and I didn’t think I really had a chance of finding any thing since it had been without power in 60 degree days for weeks now, but lo and behold, ICE! I ate a bunch and filled my water bottles. I also stole a tailwind detector from their fence and proudly fly it on the rear of my bike. Its good to never miss a tailwind, even if it is just a gust.

The 3rd and 4th pictures don’t have any stories I just wanted to showcase the beautiful land we are crossing. 

I’m sure to catch Lucas and Richard tomorrow and I will force them to do an update of their own detailing all that happened in my absence. I’m sure it will be incredible and you should check back soon!

(Isn’t Richard beautiful? I know at least one girl though so) Oh it has been a long time since the last update. It is kind of a pain to do them, but I do like to keep all my homies up to date on the current shenanigans. So here goes!  After that fateful night we tried to go smelt fishing not much really happened to speak of. We headed up north along the beautiful trans canada highway 17 up into Lake Superior Provincial Park. The park was pretty dead due to the fact that had not opened yet, but just biking through I could really see its potential.  A ton of trail heads and portages dotted the nicely maintained road. The ride through the park was 83k long so we figured we might get stuck in the park (dubiously illegal). We ended up camping in the park boundaries (found out later that it was not illegal (well maybe, the camp sites are free in winter)). I decided to try and ice my knee, but the nearest snow was a bit of a hike so I opted to soak it in Lake Superior only managing to get my pants and sleeping mat wet. Catherine Cove is also home to a squirrel who was pretty used to humans, we found this out when he stole my bagels. So, of course, we compounded the problem by feeding him because that 30 seconds of enjoyment we got was worth compromising his ability to fend for himself like 100 times over. 

We stopped at the park office to eat lunch the next day and Richard, who has an eye for these things, leans over and says to me, “cute redhead in the back.” He was right. That redhead, Julia (or was it just Julie? Sorry Julia/Julie) overheard me asking a fellow employee for some info on a place to stay while waiting out my knee pain. By this time I had been suffering from a bit of knee pain for about a week. Normally you just hurt all over all the time while biking, but this targeted sharp pain worried me a bit. Julia   suggested I stay at her house and go on bike rides with her partner (darn!) while i recovered. 

So from there we headed into Wawa, Ontario “land of the mediocre,” to meet the partner. This righteous dude was named Thom. Not Tom like most peasants, Thom. Thom and Julia had both worked at the park for years and I assume that is how they met, but enough about their love story for now. Thom and Julia were very gracious to let us stay on their floor for the night. The next morning the dudes headed off leaving me to rest up. This resting up mostly consisted of playing with blocks with Thom and Julia’s daughter Cedar. I’m not sure how old Cedar was, but I do know she was potty training (or trying most of the time) and she really loved to knock over block towers so I’m going to guess between 1 month and 5 years old. It was a grand old time. 

That last picture there is the solar charger that I carry with me. It is an Orange Joos and has been a life saver. We all use it a lot and it keeps our gadgets running allowing us to communicate and find our locations.

Remember to keep your stick on the ice,

Erik Salmon. 

From our camp site at Spanish, on top of the bluff, we headed into town in the morning for a bathroom break. We changed, filled our water bottles and got back on the road. That day was pretty unique in the fact that there was not much to report, Just a solid day of biking with not much to mention. We camped right off the highway, about 40 feet back into the trees. We had a great time exploring the area around our camp site; climbing and jumping on the large chunks of the Canadian Shield that dominate this areas landscape.

We managed to get on the road the earliest we’ve ever been that next morning. Although 9:30 isn’t that early, as a bicycle tourist you are kinda supposed to go with the flow. Sure you could roll out of your bivy sack and pound a couple granola bars and be biking by 6:30am, but we like the go with the flow model. Some days packing up camp on your own time while eating oatmeal with raisins and maple will be the most comfortable you’ll be until you crawl in to bed again at night. That day (April 26th) we stopped in a town called Thessalon and that is when my knee pain started. Earlier that week I had decided that I wanted to seriously take up competitive riding once I am done touring and spent the morning racing imaginary opponents (because Lucas and Richard are too slow haha) We stopped for lunch at a picnic table on the north channel of Lake Huron and ate in the cold and the wind. I ate an entire strawberry pie (1800 calories) which is not unheard of as we are burning a lot of calories by biking so much. When we got back on the bikes for the rest of the day my knee started hurting with every pedal. I assume it is a little inflammation due to pushing myself in the morning without warming up and stretching properly.  We found a beautiful spot to camp on the edge of a christmas tree farm and had a huge dinner and beers and survived the brief showers during the night.

Richard typing for the rest: We woke up to a beautiful day and tore down our camp, going to make it to the sault today! (Sault Ste Marie) we headed out taking it slow, allowing all of us to warm up properly. We push on to Echo Bay where we stopped for lunch at Bucci’s. There we met a nice lady who gave us the run down on all best camping sites along hwy 17. We finished our ride into the sault (very flat through this stretch) and stopped at a MacDonalds to refuel. We headed out across town to where we were staying, stopping to stock up on some necessities on the way. We arrived at Don Bruni’s place late afternoon, to an unsuspecting home owner. Guess Don had forgotten to inform Nick that we were coming! No issues though Nick invited us in and we all grabbed and shower and did some laundry. Its Lucas’s birthday today, so partying tonight! Don showed us a good time, taking us out to some of his friends places and out to a couple bars in town. All in all it was a great night, met lots of cool people and had a blast. The next day was a little rough, good thing it was a rest day! We got invited to go to a bonfire the next night with some people we met the night before. Sault Ste Marie was a lot of fun, thanks to everyone we met! especially Don and Nick for their hospitality! We left the Sault on Monday and rode 45k to harmony beach, where we had planned to meet the guys from the night before to go smelt fishing. We arrived there around 4, and what a spot! Beautiful sand beach with wonderful views of the lake and the surrounding hills. We hung out on the beach all evening until it got dark enough for us to set up camp. Made some dinner and waited for everyone else to show up. You can’t go smelt fishing till late, around 11pm. Everyone showed up around 11 and we got a bonfire going, had a few drinks and chatted around the fire. The fish didn’t seem to be running tonight which was a bit of a let down, but it was okay because we had some good company. 

From Huntsville we headed north as we tried to parallel Highway 11 using back roads. Some times gravel and dirt and sometimes paved we made our way north along back roads. We planned on camping on the west side of a nearby large lake in order to avoid the wind and catch the sun’s rays in the morning. As we rode along the lake shore we noticed an out of the way look out point. It was a public park and therefor it was illegal to camp overnight but we decided it was a nice enough spot to take the risk; plus anybody who found us would have taken pity on us as it was to reach -7c that night. We spent the twilight hours cooking dinner on covered picnic tables and watching the sun set over the still frozen lake and it’s brave ice fishermen. 

The sun woke us up and little did we know brought upon us our hardest day yet. We stuck to the largest roads we could find on the map, but apparently the difference between a busy paved road with shoulders and an un-maintained road with 6 inches of mud and snow covering it wasn’t enough to warrant its own color line on the map. After 10 kilometers of pushing 100lb bikes through rotten snow and soft mud we were ready, oh so ready, for the firm grip of pavement and Canadian Provencial Highway 522 was there to offer us that firmness. We stopped at Roxie’s Diner and had some decent diner food. That night we camped on the lee side of a church. The church was locked (some are left open and we fill our water and use the restrooms) that night, but in the morning we spotted a lady who unlocked it for the HVAC guys later on. We washed our dishes and faces with hot water for the first time in almost a week. 

The next day was a record setter. We were to set the bar for longest day. We woke up in the town of Port Loring and set off with the wind at our backs. 140k and our first century of the trip later (a century in cycling is a 100 kilometer ride in a single day. This was Richard’s first ever.) we landed in the town of Sudbury. We stayed with an old work acquaintance of Lucas’, Derek Demers. They offered us warm showers, a warm bed, and warm food, basically everything we needed to get back on the road in high spirits. From Sudbury (which should be named “mining town that smells like burning rubber all the time”) we set off west into the wind. But not before stopping to see the Guinness World Record for largest coin, the Sudbury Nickel. 

We cycled through many small towns not worth mentioning, and one such town, Whitefish, hosted us for lunch the next day. Around half way through the day it started raining and the wind shifted. It seemed that with every break we were given we also had to suffer a little bit too. We finished up our day at the beautiful estate of Aaron Joyce, also a former workmate of Lucas, in Massey. With 3+ burgers apiece we settled in for the night with our second century of the trip under our belts.

The next day was a shorter rest day so our legs and bums could repair from the extended hours on the bicycles. We biked for about an hour into the town of Spanish and ordered 2 pounds of buffalo wings to eat back at camp. We decided to pick a campsite we really love since we had so much time to spend there. We stashed the bikes along a side road and hiked up about 15 minutes to the top of a bluff. The very top was smooth rock, evened out by years of wind. This part of Canada is covered by a huge rock formation called the Canadian Shield. We relaxed a ton, ate a lot of good food and retired after watching the sun set.