The sun was shining and the air was humid. I drenched myself in Muskol, the substance I will now refer to as ‘my saviour’ from now on. I also put on a thick layer of sunscreen. Covered in chemicals, I clipped into my pedals and set off to take on the road. I decided to take a more northerly route than the Trans Canada from Winnipeg into Ontario. The Trans Canada does not have a paved shoulder for the western section of the province. I decided I didn’t want to travel 140km of gravel shoulder or risky on-highway riding. Highway 15/115 from Winnipeg is a quiet 2-lane road which I cycled most of yesterday. Highway 44 was a good portion of my riding today, and it would take me down to the Trans Canada near the Ontario/Manitoba border.
Highway 44 has to be the most poorly maintained, yet beautiful, road I have ridden on. There were literally stumps in the middle of the pavement which had been paved around. About 35km of the road had no shoulder—the Canadian Shield and forests came right up to the edge of the bumpy, cracked and uneven asphalt. At one point, I passed through a town, Rennie, Manitoba. The town’s sign read: “Rennie, home of something…or somebody famous…maybe…one day…” I took a picture. However, I didn’t realize the memory on my phone was full, so it didn’t save. I cycled on, unaware that I wouldn’t have anything to help me remember that sign 5 years from now.
It feels amazing to see Canadian Shield and forests, which have slowly become more coniferous as I came closer to Ontario. The black flies, mosquitos, and horse flies were intense. Swarms of flies followed me for kilometre after kilometre tirelessly. They didn’t seem to be biting me—I had drenched myself in chemicals. I am noticing some itches now at the end of the day…maybe a lot. Nonetheless, the bugs are worth trade-off for scenery. The shelter from the wind, hills to make things fun, the rock, the lakes, the trees, curvy roads, and a motivation boost from being in my home province—it’s all worth the price of some itchy discomfort. Even right now, some nipping insects have managed to find their way into our camper—how I don’t know exactly. I feel a bit like a kitten playing string. I keep hearing the buzzing, keep looking around the room alertly but really without a clue, occasionally swatting at thin air.
I met another cyclist today. His name is Jess. He’s also doing a cross-Canada. We cycled into Kenora together and chatted. His way of touring: wake up at 5:30 to 6am, eat here and there, and slowly but surely pedal until around dark. Most cyclists don’t bike every single hour of daylight, but Jess seems to manage to do just that. It’s always great to have companions on the road—time rolls by.
I’m taking my first full rest day since Calgary. We’re camped by a beautiful lake. I initially had a rest day planned in Kenora; we have cell service, and there’s lots to catch up on, so why not? My favourite part so far about being in Ontario: I can hear the loons. I’m coming up to 3100km cycled, so tomorrow I have some bike work to do, in addition to lots of other Kilometres for Communication catch-up—mainly event planning.
I’ll keep you all posted. There will be photos up from Winnipeg eventually. As well, we will be travelling through areas with poor phone service. Please understand that if we aren’t responsive to emails, or aren’t blogging that we are ok—we just won’t have cell service. We experienced this last night where we camped, and we will likely experience the lack of cell service lots in the next 2 weeks.
In Ontario, and feeling happy,