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Francois Cross Canada Adventure 2005 : Trip Diary

June 19, 2005 at 05:59PM
From: francois
June 19, 2005

Reston, MB to Brandon, MB
KM Travelled Today: 109 KM, Total So far: 2281KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050619

I had a terrible sleep last night. I actually couldn't hear any noise coming from inside the pub, but some of the drunk and noisy pub patrons would go outside to smoke and they would do so right next to my room. The smell of smoke and the noise made it difficult to fall asleep. At around 1am I also got annoyed with some buzzing around my ears. Pesky mosquitoes. I turned on the lights and went on a bit of a killing rampage. Four dead mosquitoes and one dead fly later I turned the lights back off and tried to sleep once again. I did manage to doze off somewhere in there but was awakened again at 4am with more mosquito buzzing. The lights went on again and I killed again. One of the little buggers must have managed to feast on me while I slept because when I squashed his puny body against the wall he left a rather large blood stain (see photo).

I ended up sleeping in until 10:30am and awoke to complete silence. I ate a muffin, quickly packed up and left as quickly as I had once decamped out of Tompkins. I didn't eat anything further or stop until I had reached Souris, which was 65 KM later. I actually did try to stop twice to rest and to eat a snack but the mosquitoes would immediately swarm me the minute I stopped riding so I immediately got back on the bike and continued on.

Before eating some food in Souris I rode my bike around the town a little bit. It looks like a really nice town. The downtown area has some cool looking old buildings and overlooks a large field below where kids were playing. The place claims to have the longest suspension footbridge. You can learn more about Souris at the following URL:
http://www.sourismanitoba.com/


After lunch I ended up chatting with a fellow who had just arrived on his Harley Davidson motorcyle. His name is Serge and he drives a truck in the area. Today was his day off and he was enjoying the nice weather by going for a ride. I detected a bit of French accent on Serge and it turns out he is from Quebec, just like moi. Serge seemed to appreciate the fact that I was cycling across Canada. He very much believes in making every day count. Back in 1998 he lived in the Maritimes and ended up having to work with the many other morticians in identifying and handling the many dead bodies from Swiss Air flight 111. Obviously not a pleasant task, and it had an impact on Serge. One day, Serge and his wife would like to ride across Canada on horseback using the Transcanada Trail. Very cool!

So back to riding. As mentioned yesterday I decided I would head back to the Transcanada highway today. I stayed on highway #2 until I reached highway #10 which took me north to my final destination for the day, a placed called Brandon. Except for the hour long stretch along highway #10, I enjoyed a nice tailwind today. I suspect it was around 25 KM/hr most of the time which sometimes allowed me to travel at speeds of 35 KM/hr.

Due to the late start in the day I didn't arrive in Brandon until 5pm. I'm staying at the Days Inn which is wonderful. It feels so good to be in a real hotel again and thiis place is quite nice. They have computers in every room, a pool, hot tub, and laundry room. I'm finding that hotels with laundry are quite rare and I truly appreciate it when I find one that does have it. I've been pondering the idea of actually owning and operating a hotel one day. I think it might be something that I would enjoy doing so I'm starting to take mental notice of the good and bad things I see in various hotels.

Anyway, time for me to do some laundry. Good night.


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June 21, 2005 at 07:30AM
From: francois
June 20, 2005

Brandon, MB to Winnipeg, MB
KM Travelled Today: 231 KM, Total So far: 2512 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050620/

I had a wonderful sleep at the Days Inn and enjoyed their free continental breakfast before getting on the roat at 9:30am. I headed north on highway #10 which took me through the core of Brandon where I passed Brandon University. I then hooked up with the Transcanada highway and headed east with a nice tail wind.

My initial goal for the day was to reach Portage La Prairie which would be 130 KM from Brandon but somewhere along the way I decided I would try to make it to Winnipeg instead. Doing so would save me a day and would let avoid the headwind scheduled for Tuesday.

I had heard that the Transcanada was a bit treacherous through Manitoba due to the fact that the shoulder isn't paved. But it turns out that many sections of the Transcanada do in fact have a paved shoulder, but there were a few sections which had only gravel shoulder and those sections were not pleasant to cycle along. Most of the time, the passing vehicles would go to the outside lane thus giving me lots of space. However, the occasional vehicle or truck would pass without going into the other lane and would pass within inches of me. On one case the wind from a big truck blew me into the gravel shoulder and I almost lost control of my bike.

Overall the day was a bit long but I managed to cycle 231 KM to reach my destination in Winnipeg where I'm staying with my wife's relatives, Nino, Tessie, their children Jason and Jennifer and Tessie's mom, Febe. It feels great to stay in a home after all these motels and to have a nice family to chat with. After arriving I immediately showered and we went out for a late snack and we talked and got to know each other.

My legs and body feel suprisingly good despite the 231 KM of riding and I'm rather pleased about that. Its actually rather amazing how well the body can adapt to this sort of thing.


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June 21, 2005 at 07:31AM
From: francois
June 21, 2005

Rest day in Winnipeg
Todays Photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050621

I slept in until 9am today and started the day with a little work on the computer. Jason then took me out for breakfast at a local restaurant before beginning what turned out to be a great tour of Winnipeg.

The first stop on our tour was the Manitoba Legistature building. This is a beautiful building constructed around 1915 and we went for a walk inside. Jason and I stopped and listened to one of the tour guides that was speaking in French to a group of school children. The tour guide told an interesting story of a fellow named Thomas Kelly, who was the chap in-charge of building the legislature building. Mr Kelly wasn't a very bright individual as it turns out he stole several large columns from the legislature construction site and installed them on his very own house located only three blocks away. Needless to say Thomas Kelly was caught and sent to prison and eventually told he could not stay in Canada. Jason and I had a good laugh at Mr Kelly's expense.

The next stop on the tour was a place known as The Forks. The name comes from the fact this is where the Assiniboine river and the Red river join up. The Forks is a great place to hang out, enjoy a beverage, have lunch, or perhaps read a book. There's also a nice public market with various interesting shops.

Another great spot that Jason took me to happened to be the old city dump. Its now a nice grassy hill from which you can view just about all of Winnipeg. The visibility was great from there and I noticed that Winnipeg doesn't have the same amount of smog that I usually see over the lower mainland back in BC.

We concluded the tour with a quick visit to Assiniboine Park which is appropriately named since it is next to the Assiniboine river. Its a nice park which has a zoo, gardens, and apparently a miniature train like the one in Stanley Park.

After the tour we went back home and left shortly afterwards for dinner at a restaurant named Maxines where I enjoyed a delicious steak and great company.

Shortly after returning home from dinner, we had a visit from Nora and Cris, who are 2nd cousins to my wife. I had met Cris once before at my wedding but this was the first time I had the pleasure of meeting Nora. We had a nice chat and we took a big group photo.

It sure is nice meeting and staying with Family. Nino, Tessie, Tessie's mom, Jason and Jennifer were wondeful hosts and they made me feel completely at home and welcome in their house.


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June 22, 2005 at 05:30PM
From: francois
June 22, 2005

Winnipeg, MB to Falcon Lake, MB
KM Travelled Today: 145 KM, Total So far: 2657 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050622/

I slept in again today and awoke at 8:45am, packed my things and enjoyed the breakfast that Grandma Febe prepared. Tessie wanted to make sure I had enough food while cycling so she placed bagels, muffins, and granola bars on the table for me and I packed up as much as space would allow.

I had already said goodbye to Nino, Tessie and Jennifer the night before as all three of them leave for work early, and now I said goodbye to Jason and Grandma Febe and then started cycling.

After a few kilometres I was back on the Transcanada highway and was unfortunately facing a headwind. Three hours later I had travelled only 50 KM and I was considering stopping for the day. But something compelled me to keep going and I'm glad I did because shortly thereafter I reached forested areas and the trees acted as a shield against the wind thus reducing its effect quite dramatically.

I had two memorable rest breaks today. The first of these occured after two hours of riding. I stopped on the side of the road and started eating some chocolate when I noticed two men on horseback approaching the road from the opposite side of the highway. When they reached the highway I noticed they were having difficulty getting their horses to cooperate. With some effort they did finally get the horses to cross from one side of the highway to the other. When they noticed me there, the older of the two fellows mentioned that the horses were green and had never been ridden on. I walked over to the cowboys and offered them a piece of chocolate. The older of the two fellows looked clean cut, wore a checkered shirt, and was well-spoken. When he learned my name he started speaking in perfect French to me. The other fellow didn't say a word and I would estimate he hadn't showered in 3 months but he sported a huge smile and looked like the friendliest guy one could imagine. After a short talk they headed off on the field and I managed to capture the moment with my camera.

The second of the two memorable breaks occured when I stopped for lunch at a truck stop. As with most truck stops, large trucks were entering and leaving the parking lot. As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed two little boys on bikes cycling towards me. They came over to show me their bikes. I asked their age. One was 5, while the other was 3. The 3 year old had training wheels on his bike but the 5 year old had long since disposed of his. I looked around and could see no parental supervision. But as I've been learning, raising children in small towns is very much different than raising them in the big cities. In many of the small towns I've visited, youngs kids are left to explore much more freely on their own and are essentially watched by the whole community. This was also the case today. Even though I didn't see their parents around, I later learned that the workers in the cafe were keeping an eye on them.

The rest of the day was rather uneventful until I reached my destination of Falcon Lake. Its a lovely lake only about 15 KM from the Ontario border and I'm staying at the Falcon Lake Resort and Hotel which has a restaurant, lounge and pool. As a bonus the hotel even has WIFI service which is connected to the Internet via a satellite system. I enjoyed a huge plate of pasta at the restaurant before going for a nice walk near the lake.

I think tomorrow will be a short day and I will ride to Kenora, Ontario. I'm a little behind in my trip planning and I'm going to sort that out tomorrow.


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June 23, 2005 at 02:38PM
From: francois
June 23, 2005

Falcon Lake, MB to Kenora, ON
KM Travelled Today: 70 KM, Total So far: 2727 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050623/

I slept in again today, and awoke around 8:45 and immediately went upstairs to the restaurant for a buffet breakfast. Afterwards I lounged around a bit before packing up and getting ready to go. Since my intention for the day was to go only as far as Kenora I really had no reason to rush. Before leaving I checked the pressure on my tires and noticed that the front tire was much lower than it should be. I figured it was only a slow leak so I pumped it up and off I went towards Kenora.

About 40 minutes into my ride I arrived near the Manitoba/Ontario border and went into the Manitoba tourist info centre in the hopes of finding an Ontario accomodation guide. They didn't have any and directed me to go to the Ontario tourist info centre about 1 KM down the road. Seems such a waste that both Manitoba and Ontario would setup seperate tourist info centres so close together when they could have easily been combined into one building. Before heading off again I noticed that my front wheel was almost completely flat so I sat at a table and changed the tube. While working away on the tube I started talking to a fellow sitting near me who works for the Manitoba goverment as a manager of a group of people responsible for environment issues. We chatted about Manitoba and about city life and about cycling across the Canada. I believe his name was Irvin. After I finished fixing my front wheel he wished me safe travels and I travelled about 1 KM to the Ontario tourist info centre to pick up my accomodation guide. The fellow working inside the Ontario tourist centre seemed really displeased to be there which I found odd since most other people that work in such places are usually outgoing and enjoy helping tourists. Perhaps this chap was just having a bad day. With guide in hand I hit the road once again.

My next stop was a restaurant about 25 KM west of Kenora. While eating I met two brothers from Victoria, BC who were sitting a few tables over from me. The older of the two is named Al but I can't recall his younger brother's name. They left Victoria two days ago and they are en-route to Peterborough, Ontario to help their mother move to Victoria. In the back of their pickup truck they showed me two mini motorcycles and they even took one out and rode it around the parking lot. They offered to let me ride it as well but I declined as I worried I would end up falling and hurting myself. Both Al and his younger brother are in the Navy and they sometimes end up spending long periods of time at sea. We said goodbyes and I headed off to finish the last 25 KM to Kenora. A few minutes later I heard a honk as Al and his brother passed me and waved.

The road conditions were decent today. After leaving Falcon Lake the road went from a 4 lane divided to a 2 lane non-divided highway. Fortunately the 2 lane non-divided highway included a nice wide paved shoulder for me.

The scenery has changed significantly today and has become truly glorious. I'm no longer in the flat prairies. In fact there was almost no flat road at all today. I was either climbing a hill or going a down a hill. But its worth mentioning that these are hills and not mountains like in BC so its really not that strenuous. I passed several beautiful lakes, most of them peperred with nice cottages. I was tempted to go swimming in these lakes as today's temperature was excruciatingly hot and muggy.

I arrived in Kenora around 4pm and was pleased with the beauty of the area. The town overlooks a nice lake called Lake of the Woods. A sign near the entrance of town mentioned that there are approx. 16,000 people living here. I'm looking forward to walking around shortly after I finish my laundry.

Its been almost a month since I started this voyage and a few people have been asking me how the trip is going so far. As a whole its been a fantastic journey so far. I love the fact that my bike loaded with paniers seems to entice people to come over and chat with me. It gives me a chance to meet all sorts of cool folks and helps prevent me from getting too lonely. Physically and mentally I have found the trip to be somewhat easier than I expected. I expected to have a lot of 'down' days where I would find it difficult to continue but that hasn't occured (yet). I think most of the reason for this can be attributed to the fact that I have been going at a pace that is comfortable for me. That helps me stay motivated and helps keep me from burning out. I'm almost at the halfway point in the trip and I hope that the second half is just as enjoyable as the first. I have many things to look forward to in the coming weeks. I will soon be re-united with my wife and two kids when I reach Barrie and take a few days off to rest. After that I will be visiting family in Quebec and eventually I'll be in the maritime provinces which I've never had the pleasure of seeing before.

7:30pm update: It started raining here so I haven't been able to take any photos of Kenora. Perhaps I'll be able to do so later, and if not I'll take a few shots tomorrow morning on my way out.


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June 24, 2005 at 04:37PM
From: francois
June 24, 2005

Kenora, ON to Dryden, ON
KM Travelled Today: 138 KM, Total So far: 2865 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050624/

I woke up at 8am today and immediately packed up and headed over to A&W for a quick breakfast. By 9:30 am I was on way heading towards Dryden.

Today was truly a glorious day to ride. The winds were at my back, the temperature was a comfortable 21 degrees celcius,the scenery filled with beautiful pristine lakes and forests and roads were in great condition.

My first rest stop today happened to be next to a lake where I met a retired fellow named Harry who is originally from Finland, but now lives in Sault Ste. Marie. Harry is on his way to Manitoba to attend the graduation of a grandchild. We chatted for 15 minutes or so before we both continued on our respective journeys.

After three and one half hours of cycling I found myself in a town called Vermilion Bay where I decided to stop for some lunch. Inside the restaurant one lady told me countless stories about her son. She told me that her son had once cycled from Edmonton to Vermilion Bay in only 5 days. He had very little money and was trying to reach Vermilion Bay for as little as possible and he purchased an old ten speed bike for $50 which he rode day and night for 5 days to reach his mom. Apparently all this lad had with him was a single blanket. He would sleep for 2 hours during the day wherever he could find a spot of grass or bench and he would ride through the night with the blanket wrapped around himself to keep warm. Apparently this same son also entered and did very well in an ironman competition despite having a fractured ankle and a slightly torn ligament in his knee. I have no idea if these stories are true but one thing is certain: this lady is very proud of her son.

Prior to reaching Vermilion Bay the road was much like yesterday, consisting of one hill after another. After Vermilion Bay the road was somewhat flatter and the winds seemed to get stronger. There were a few sections where I managed to keep my speed close to 50 KM/hr!!!

I arrived in Dryden at around 4:30pm and made my first stop at the Best Western Motor Inn. Unfortunately the Best Western was all full as there is some sort of fishing competition or conference in town this weekend. The lady working behind the front desk was kind enough to provide me with the numbers of a few other local hotels which have high speed internet access. I wrote the numbers down and went outside to sit on a bench to start calling around. I phoned the Holiday Inn Express and found out there were also full but I put my name on a waiting list in case of cancellation. After getting off the phone, a fellow named Tim who was sitting next to me having a cigarette mentioned that I might be able to sleep in one of the conference rooms. Tim explained that he was the maintenance man for the Best Western and that he could bring a cot into the conference room. He went inside the hotel and spoke to the front desk girls and came back and said that the front desk was fine with me renting out the conference room and that the cost would be $50. By the time that Tim had mentioned this to me I had actually found a room at the Comfort Inn but I had been quoted about $115 for the night. So I decided to go with Tim's offer. I paid my $50 and Tim brought me towels, a cot, and some soap. The conference room is about the size of a typical hotel room but instead of having hotel furniture it has a conference room table with 8 chairs, a TV and VCR, a white board and a bathroom with shower. Its perfect and the price is perfect. I offered Tim some money to thank him for his help but he declined and mentioned he was happy he could help out.

I haven't seen much of Dryden except the parts of it that lie along highway 17. There's a funny odour in the air and I believe it comes from the Weyerhaeuser plant. There are three helicopters parked out back of this hotel and I suspect they are likely used for going to remote fishing locations .


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June 25, 2005 at 04:26PM
From: francois
June 25, 2005

Dryden, ON to Ignace, ON
KM Travelled Today: 106 KM, Total So far: 2971 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050625/

Wow, I can't believe its been one month since I started this voyage. Its gone by so quickly.

I had a wonderful sleep in my conference room last night. It was quiet and the cot turned out to be very comfortable. I awoke at 7:15am and slowly packed my belongings, checked-out and walked my bike next door to the restaurant in the Husky gas station. I always enjoy stopping at Husky restaurants as the portions are typically generous and the prices reasonable which is exactly what a cyclist needs. On this particular morning the Husky restaurant was filled with fisherman, many of them Americans. I couldn't help but notice that many of them reminded me of the Saturday Night Live characters that sit around and talk about 'Da Bears'. Most of these fisherman were big men, wore baseball caps, and sported impressive mustaches. I couldn't help but listen to some of their conversations and I got the impression that their outing was more about male bonding than actual fishing. For a moment I wanted to join them. I haven't fished much in my life but a few years ago I fished at a fishing lodge up in the Queen Charlotte Islands and it was a terrific time, not necessarily because of the fishing but because of the eating, the drinking and the many laughs.

As I left the Husky I noticed many dark clouds in the sky and I also took notice that the temperature felt sufficiently cold that I pondered putting on my jacket. I crossed my fingers and hoped that the rains would hold off as I really dislike the combination of rain with cold temperatures.

After riding 25 KM I saw a cyclist on the other side of the road going the opposite direction as me. He was riding a touring bike with mounts for front and rear paniers but he didn't have the paniers on there so I made the assumption that he was a local enjoying a ride. When he noticed me he came over to my side of the road and rode alongside me for about 5 KM while we had a nice chat. His name is Denis and although he's taken up cycling only recently, he looked like he was in fantastic shape. Turns out the reason for this is that he was previously a runner and he has successfully completed several marathons. Denis is very interested in touring on bicycle and he is planning to tour the maritime provinces this Summer with his daughter. Having someone to chat with while cycling can really make the time pass quickly and after Denis continued back along his original path I found myself hoping that I would run into Doug again somewhere on the road. I last heard from Doug while I was in Winnipeg. He called me the night before he was leaving town and left me a voice mail but I haven't heard from him since. Doug if you are reading this, give me a call and let me know where you are.

Along the next 80 KM of road to Ignace there were a few sections where the width of the paved shoulder would diminish down to about 2 ft. This was typically fine because big trucks would usually go partly into the other lane to give me lots of space. However, there were four occasions where big trucks happened to be passing me in both directions at the same time which meant that the one closest to me could not give me space by going into the opposite lane. When this occurs, all you can do is brace yourself and try your best to keep the bike steady. Now I'm curious to know why some sections of highway 17 have only a 2 ft wide paved shoulder while most sections have a paved shoulder thats almost as wide as a driving lane.

I arrived in Ignace at 2pm and pondered continuing another 105 KM to reach the town of Upsala. But I decided against that idea because I was lacking the motivation to pull off a 210 KM day and because I was still worried about those dark clouds and possible rain. So I checked into a small motel called The Majestic. The motel has wireless highspeed internet access which was a pleasant surprise but I haven't yet managed to get it to work.The owner of the hotel mentioned that I wouldn't need a password but this appears to not be the case, so I will try to track him down shortly to see if he can help.

I'm actually writing this while eating at the restaurant across the street from the motel. I just polished off two meals. The first was a soup and a chicken burger but that only served to whet my appetite and I had to also order a plate of spagetti to cure my hunger. Now I'm about to have some dessert. It sure is fun being able to eat all this food and yet still lose weight.

I haven't checked tomorrow's weather forecast yet but if conditions permit I will ride to Upsala or Savanne and then on Monday I will ride to Thunder Bay where I might stop for a rest day to do some site seeing. After that it will be another five days or so to get to Sault Ste. Marie, followed by another roughly four or five days to get to Barrie where I will take a few days off to see my wife and kids.


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June 27, 2005 at 06:30PM
From: francois
June 26, 2005

Ignace, ON to Upsala, ON
KM Travelled Today: 115 KM, Total So far: 3086 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050626/

I awoke at 7am today and enjoyed a good breakfast at a nearby gas station. It seems that all the gas stations in Ignace have restaurants in them. While eating I overheard a police officer speaking to another customer about an accident that occured on the highway the previous day. A tractor trailer which was carrying some military vehicles went off the road and the military vehicles fell off of the trailer. Fortunately noone was hurt. I've been seeing a few of these tractor trailers carrying military vehicles in the last two days. Apparently they are heading for Montreal and will eventually end up in Afghanistan. Also, the ambulance and several police vehicles that attended the accident yesterday all passed me and I wondered at the time what the accident was so it was good to find out what it was this morning and to also find out that noone was actually hurt.

Today's ride turned out to be challenging. The first three hours were fairly smooth. I was facing a headwind but at first it was manageable and I was able to maintain 20 KM/hr which isn't fast but its tolerable. After three hours of this I reached the English River area where there are two restaurants. As I approached I looked forward to having a nice lunch but was quickly dissapointed when I found both restaurants to be closed. One of the restaurants only opens for dinner while the other one is unfortunately closed on Sundays. I actually had a bunch of snacks with me so I sat down on a picnic table next to the English River and I ate a date square, a banana, and a large rice crispy square. When I got back on the road I noticed that the headwind was picking up. I was reduced to speeds of 12-15 KM/hr which is painfully slow and my lower back also started getting sore. I started taking more frequent breaks, at first every 10 KM, and then eventually every 5 KM.

When I reached Upsala I stopped at a restaurant and started calling the local motels to compare amenities. I found two motels and neither of them are equipped with phones in the rooms, so looks like no internet access tonight. I ended up choosing the Black Spruce Motel which is located 6 KM east of Upsala. After finishing my food I fought the headwind for about 25 minutes before reaching my motel. I found myself actually talking to the wind and I wasn't using nice words. When I went into the motel office to check-in, I was greeted by two barking dogs. I talked to the dogs in a soft voice and I let them smell me and they calmed down. Then the motel owner walked in and mentioned that he was brewing some tea and asked if I wanted a cup. I graciously accepted. The owner is an Englishman and I guess it was tea time when I arrived. We had a nice chat while having our tea and then I retired to my room where I'm now writing this update. Unfortunately there are no restaurants within walking distance so I won't be able to have another meal tonight, but I do have a few snacks left so I'll be fine.

I'm hoping to make it to Thunder Bay tomorrow where I will try to stay at the Lakehead University dorms. A train is currently passing by and its making my bed shake. The train tracks are actually on the opposite side of the road and this motel is actually a fair bit back from the road so its rather surprising that its causing this much shaking.


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June 27, 2005 at 06:35PM
From: francois
June 27, 2005

Upsala ON to Thunder Bay, ON
KM Travelled Today: 126 KM, Total So far: 3212 KM
Todays photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050627/

I woke up at 7:30 am central time today and enjoyed a free danish and coffee at the motel I stayed at. Although Upsala is technicaly in the central time zone, all of the residents use eastern time. So if I go by their time I guess I slept in until 8:30 am. But its good that I slept until then as just prior to waking there were apparenty thunder showers out.

I was expecting a tail wind today but unfortunately I started out with another headwind, this one even stronger than yesterdays. As a result the first three hours of the journey were painfully slow. At one point I was even reduced to 8KM/hr which is a speed I had not used since the Paulson summit in BC. When I reached Shabaqua, roughly 60 KM into today's ride, I stopped for lunch at a motel which had an adjoining restaurant. I wanted so much to stop fighting the headwind and to simply check-in to this motel and rest. But I managed to convince myself to continue onwards to Thunder Bay.

Things got much better after Shabaqua where the road begins to head more west instead of south. I think the wind also shifted a bit too as I found myself enjoying a slight tailwind now. After an additional 30 KM or so I reached the junction of highway 102. Thunder Bay is reachable by highway 102 or by continuing on highway 11/17 so I had a decision to make. I stopped in a gas station and asked which route was shorter and was told that highway 102 is the shorter one, so thats the route that I took. After about 8KM of challenging hills I found the remaining 30 KM to Thunder Bay to be mostly downhill so that was very pleasing.

Upon arriving into Thunder Bay I had a couple of relatively close encounters. A pickup truck making a left turn didn't notice me. Fortunately I was on the ball and was able to stop to avoid being hit. Two minutes later a city bus pulled up along side of me and then pushed me into the curb so he could stop at the bus stop. As he was doing this, I quickly stopped and went in behind him and then around. I was very surprised by this however as it would be almost impossible for the driver to not have seen me. But I will have to assume that he didn't see me otherwise I'm left to conclude that he dislikes cyclists so much that he is willing to risk injuring or killing one and that isn't something I want to consider.

I continued on and pulled into a gas station parking lot where I asked someone standing outside for directions to Lakehead University. After obtaining directions I cycled for another 10 minutes and arrived on campus. Now I just needed to find the residences so I approached two university workers that happened to be nearby and I asked them for help. One of workers, named Greg, walked with me a short distance to point out the path that I should take to reach the residences. As we walked we chatted briefly about my trip and then he shook my hand, wished me safe travels and gave me $20 and he told me to have dinner on him. I initially rejected the money indicating that he didn't need to do that. But he insisted and mentioned that anyone who has biked so far deserves something. So I accepted and thanked Greg and I told him that I now had to take his photo for my diary as I wanted to remember him and his very kind gesture. I find myself absolutely loving this great country of ours. Its filled with so many wonderful people. Greg, you absolutely made my day. You did something totally kind to a total stranger and that is so cool.

Like many universities, Lake Head University rents out its dorm rooms during the Summer months and thats where I'm staying tonight and tomorrow night. The price, including taxes, is $33/night and the room has high-speed internet. It reminds me of the dorm room I stayed at during my last term at UBC. There is a common room with a TV, microwave, fridge and toaster. I haven't seen anyone else yet in this building so it will likely be very quiet tonight.

After getting settled in my room, I showered off, made some phone calls, and then cycled a KM or two off campus to a Boston Pizza where I enjoyed some dinner and a couple of beers. I sat up at the bar and I met and chatted with a nice fellow named Richard. Richard told me a little bit of the history of Thunder Bay and also gave me some advice on places to visit tomorrow. It turns out Richard lived in BC for a year a few years back but he decided Thunder Bay was home and so he returned. As he was leaving I gave Richard the URL to this website. So, Richard, if you are reading this, thanks again for the chat and for the tourist advice. It was great to meet you!


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June 28, 2005 at 05:50PM
From: francois
June 28, 2005

Rest day in Thunder Bay, ON
Todays Photos: http://www.bikeacrosscanada.com/photos/20050628/

I was hoping to sleep in today but I was bright eyed and bushy tailed at 7:30 am so I walked over to the University Centre building which is the building that I see from my window. I had read in a pamphlet that there is supposed to be a Tim Hortons in the University Centre building and that is exactly what I found there. A large black coffee and a muffin hit the spot nicely.

I walked around the campus for a while and then wondered off campus and found a car rental place where I decided to rent a vehicle to help in my site seeing. Renting the car for the day was only $25 so it was much more reasonable than using taxis and my legs really didn't want to even think about cycling today so that wasn't an option.

My first destination was Fort William which is an attraction much like Fort Langley in BC but on a much larger scale. I visited Fort Langley a few months ago and I really enjoyed it and so I figured I would enjoy Fort William as well. I was right. It was fantastic. I spent 3 hours there soaking up as much historical knowledge as my brain could handle. The actors who play various roles in Fort William were very knowledgable and were able to answer just about all the questions that I threw at them. I learned about the Ojibwa, and about the Northwest Company and about the hard work of the voyageurs. The site is huge - there are over 40 buildings and the site is 20 acres.

My next stop after Fort William was Kakabeka Falls which is also known as Niagara of the North. I enjoyed watching the falls and also reading some of the signs that contained a lot of interesting historical information about the area. I even took photos of said signs in case any of you loyal readers might be interested.

I concluded my tour of the Thunder Bay area by driving through the city and stopping at Marina Park. I wanted to stop there so I could see the Sleeping Giant which is a land formation in the mouth of the Bay that resembles the sleeping body of a giant with his arms folded across his chest.

I've just decided that I will stay here for another day of rest. I'm really comfortable staying at Lakehead University and I want to enjoy one more day before setting out again. Staying on a campus really brings me back to my days at UBC and I have such good memories of those days.


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