Saturday, July 28, 2012

Days 39 & 40 - More to Discover

This blog takes us from Winnipeg to... our home province of Ontario!  Setting: the bumpy roads of Winnipeg, MB.  

We woke up in Winnipeg on Wednesday determined to make the most of our last day with the Schmidts.  The morning dragged along as we took care of some chores: some banking during banking hours, a Tim's breakfast (for those keeping score at home, that is 10 for Tim's, 9 for McD's, and 4 for Subway), and fixing a rack.  It turns out that without the weight the day before, a screw of Tyler's rack has joined the collection of tires, screws, and other shrapnel on the shoulders Manitoba highways.  Canadian Tire helped us find a replacement screw--we took five.  Meanwhile, our support crew picked us up some backup-backup tubes from Olympia in Winnipeg, which we were glad to see carries the Marin brand.

This photo reeks of abandonment.
Now we were ready to leave Winnipeg behind.  This is a good time for another good insight into the realities of bike touring: we have been holding on to what amounts to a slow jackhammer, seven hours per day, for the past five weeks.  [My hands feel pretty good now as I write this, although my wrists are tingly.]  But there are some times throughout the day when we find ourselves without effective motor control and strength in our hands, and especially in our fingertips.  Zippers can become a challenge, as well as texting, writing, etc...  It has gradually worsened over the course of the trip, but it is into Manitoba that it starts to become an obstacle.  By consensus decision, Manitoba has the worst roads of all nine provinces so far: poor/no shoulders, large cracks, lots of debris, and Winnipeg streets are especially unfriendly to cyclists.  But despite the quality of the roads, we made it through Manitoba as the ONLY province without a flat.  Yay!

The support crew abandoned us on the side of the road at 3:00pm that day to drive back to Winnipeg and fly home.  And by abandon, we mean the usual, extraordinary, level of support for sixty kilometres to a rest stop leaving the province.  There, we feasted larger than normal, packed away just as much food as we can possibly carry, and said our goodbyes.  See you in less than two weeks!
Thanks Lionel!

Then we were back to our own support, charging full-speed towards the border.  The headwind had dropped slightly, and we were able to make excellent time for the balance of an average day.  But before we made it to our destination, we experience a near-disaster.  The screw that connects my rack to the bike broke cleanly, such that it remained stuck inside the frame.  Without this screw, carrying the weight will be difficult, if not impossible.  We were only 6km away, and a clever zip-tie rigging got us the necessary distance to West Hawk Lake, where we would ultimately camp.  There, we received great support from Lionel at the Keystone Resort, who was able to drill the screw loose.  We finished the night with a dip in the deepest lake in Manitoba.

Photo of a photo 
Thursday would pick up again at West Hawk, on a day which promises to be rainy.  Being ahead of schedule gives us the option to delay, but we are feeling too good to burn a half-day now.  So we set off for Kenora in some of the heaviest rains for the whole trip.  Averaging 21km/hr, it is a miserable ride, but it is mitigated slightly by another big milestone: crossing into Ontario.  Yes, that is 9/10 provinces complete!

In Kenora, we take refuge in a Tim Horton's, as usual, and run the place dry of chili.  As we delay our lunch for almost an hour and a half, the rain clears up, and it is actually a pretty nice day!  The Hardwear Company takes some time to true Kyle's rear wheel, and we're on the road again for 100km of cycling into 10km/hr headwind--not bad.  It's nice to be back in hilly Ontario.  We finished the day after dark, camping at an expensive campsite in Vermillion Bay.  The hot shower makes it worth it.

Now that we're back in Ontario, some people we meet tell us: "you're almost home...," which is true to some extent, but we have a whole lot of work to do...

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