Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Days 44 & 45 - Record Speeds, Record Climbs

Our new thing: XL hot chocolate with three cups.  Saves $0.40 each.
And this is why we got ahead of schedule.  The top priority for Monday morning in Thunder Bay maintenance of the bikes; thanks Petrie's for your accommodation!  But a simple tune-up turns into a five-hour delay as the bikes need a lot of work.  It's ok - we planned for this!  But now we're starting at 2:15pm, much later than we would normally choose.

We started Day 44 at the Terry Fox lookout and make great time into a strong cross/headwind.  The wind is gusting over 15km/hr across us, but as the road is winding, it is often a headwind.  This terrain is also the hilliest that we have experienced since the Rockies.  All of these usual factors - wind, hills, rain (yes, we got poured on once, and rained on again later in the day) - would normally combine for a brutally difficult effort, probably ending no earlier than 10:00pm.  But with the support of the Martins, we don't have any panniers, and we don't have to worry about the logistics of the water and food.  This will allow us to do some incredible things over the next two days.

The safest we ever were - we finished this day around 9:00pm.
Day 44 was speed - we finished our 127km at a record 30.2km/hr, faster than our one day of tailwind in the Prairies.  With all the factors that changed between those two days (panniers, wind, hills, etc.), it shows most clearly just how significant of an effect our support teams have made.  The late start means we have to cycle into the twilight hours, and the support crew means that we can end wherever we choose, and not depend on the availability of water and grass.  We chose to end the day 30km past Nipigon, now just 30km ahead of schedule.

Kyle muscling up a hill near Nipigon.
Day 45 was ascent - we climbed more this day than any day previously.  This day was filled with 100m and 200m at-a-time hills, not quite mountains, but very technically challenging.  The wind was largely a non-factor on the winding roads.  Towards the end of the day, again, we had the flexibility to end wherever we wanted, which was just long enough to set the ascent record, as a testament to the phenomenal support that we are receiving.  We ended 40km east of Marathon, again about 30km ahead of schedule.  It's hard to know specifically because I haven't been getting reception since Thunder Bay, so we can only navigate by road signs, Garmin, and paper maps, but not the precision of the Google Maps.

Both of these days, with the speed and ascent, would not have been possible without the Support Vehicle (pictured in the background, above).  Dennis and Helen literally going the extra mile - sometimes three times as they backtrack - to take a large load off our bikes and minds.  We are better rested, better fed, more clean, and more agile than we would have otherwise expected to be.

Last point, on the schedule.  After having "spent" most of our time compensating for problems (Thunder Bay) and leveling scheduled long days (three times in the past week), we now plan to end the next day in Wawa - right back on schedule.  With six days left, this should put us in the right position to make our scheduled arrival.  But we hear there could be thunderstorms tomorrow...

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