Day 35 – July 12th – Sheguiandah to South Baymouth – 55 kms
I’m on the ferry and may cycle more today, but thought that this would be a good opportunity to write some stuff!
This morning I made my breakfast at the campsite in the absence of mozzies, in fact, between last night and this morning, I didn’t receive one bite! That’s a record since entering Ontario – not to mention Manitoba and Saskatchewan! I had a nice leisurely ride to the ferry terminal and thought that it was much like riding the roads of our Gulf Islands in BC – peaceful, rolling countryside. Needless to say, I enjoyed my short stay on Manitoulin Island.
The ferry that I’m on is called the Chi-Cheemaun and plies the waters between Lake Huron, proper, and Georgian Bay, to and from South Baymouth and Tobermory. The route is very scenic, especially so when cruising through the Tobermory Islands. Tobermory, with its proliferation of shipwrecks and home of Fathom Five National Marine Park is a favourite spot for divers.
Today I thought that I’d get caught up on all those burning questions that people ask, want to ask and will ask…
Q: What’s your average speed on a day to day basis?
A: With fairly neutral winds, approximately 22-23 kms/hr.
However, with a headwind all day that changes to 12-16 kms/hr. With a tailwind, possibly 25-29 kms/hr.
Q: How long do you ride?
A: Figure it out from above! I usually try to be done riding by mid-afternoon – not always possible. However, I’d say on average between 6 – 10 hours per day.
Q: Does your bum hurt?
A: Only when I don’t ride.
Q: Why do you use a leather saddle?
A: So that my bum doesn’t hurt.
Q: What do you cook and eat?
A: Food. Mostly pasta, rice, pasta, rice, pasta, rice!
Q: Aren’t you scared riding alone?
A: I’m not alone, I have Basil.
Q: How much does your equipment weigh?
A: Too bloody much!
Q: Are you riding back west too?
A: Are you nuts?
Q: How many flats have you had?
A: None, and I don’t want none.
Q: Are you doing this for fun?
A: No, I’m a masochist.
Q: What time do you get up on a morning?
A: 5:30 a.m., unless I know for sure that I have an easy ride ahead of me, then I sleep in until 5:45 a.m.
Q: How many mozzie bites have you had?
Q: How many mozzie bites will you get?
A: Same answer! – I’m a realist.
Q: Do you talk to yourself?
A: Only if there’s nobody else there.
Q: Do you get lonely?
A: Only when Basil ignores me.
Q: What small things please you now?
A: Turning my map over to a new section.
Q: What small things do you think will please you?
A: Throwing away my Ontario map!
That’s it for now, if I ride much further today, I’ll add it on here…
Add 32 kms – I rode south on Highway 6 to a campground at Miller Lake that I elected to continue to, Tobermory was a zoo and I’ve been there before on numerous occasions as I used to live close by to this region. I waited for the ferry traffic to subside before riding south, so the road was fairly quiet. Only a gravel shoulder though, but that’s the norm on many of Ontario’s secondary highways.
Day 36 – July 13th – Miller Lake to Owen Sound – 103 kms
The campsite last night was OK, but expensive. However, I received no mozzie bites last night, and only two this morning! I’m finding that the further south I travel, expenses increase. I’m in a motel for two days now, as tomorrow will be a rest and visit with family day. My daughter-in-law is driving up from Brampton with my two grandsons for a visit. I wanted to get a room at a certain motel, but no joy, so I ended up at another motel that is a little cheaper, but quality-wise cheaper too! To be honest, I’ve had better $40.00 rooms in the past and this one is twice as much! But beggars can’t be choosers, and Basil is happy with the TV.
The ride south on Highway 6 was uneventful, barring the multitude of dead racoon bodies – I saw at least 10 – must have been Kamikaze racoon night! All little scruffy buggers too! (I remember that Manitoba raccoons were like medium sized dogs – don’t mess with them suckers!) I had one of the racoons trying to get into my food stash early this morning too, but he/she couldn’t penetrate my Kevlar Ursack food bag – it got a few good puncture marks in it though. I must have heard something that woke me up; I peeked out of the tent and saw the racoon hanging onto the bottom of the bag with his teeth! So I threw some small rocks at it and cleared him off! What with all the dead and live ones, I figure that the racoons are a real menace here. The campground owners have to collect all the garbage each evening so as not to attract raccoons, or bears, which are also proliferating on the Bruce Peninsula. In addition to the dead raccoons, I ran close by a few more smelly dead skunks and a really flat frog!
At Ferndale, I turned off Highway 6 towards Lions Head and then rode County road 9 south into Wiarton. This was a really scenic, quiet route, but quite hilly when compared to the highway. There’s always a trade-off isn’t there?
Once in Wiarton (home of Wiarton Willie, the weather forecasting groundhog!), I had my second breaky at the Top Notch Cafe (highly recommended, not only for quality but quantity!) then turned off and took all the country roads through to Owen Sound. What a marvellous ride through peaceful countryside – some nostalgia too, as I used to live in this area. Riding the back roads took a little extra time as it was a longer ride than had I taken the main highway, but well worth the extra effort. A little bit of a south-west head wind blowing, but I hardly noticed it as I pedalled through some great vistas of farmland and then coasted alongside Georgian Bay. I passed by many beautiful older properties; some that date back to the 1800’s as this area was populated quite early due to Owen Sound’s status as a major port and rail terminal on shores of the Great Lakes. Some of the roads were great riding, but I recollected how much snow sometimes accumulated on these roads in the winter – hard to believe that I’ve seen the snow reach the power lines in some of the areas that I rode through today.
Owen Sound was the destination of my emigration from Britain – way back when, so there was a lot of memories for me today as I pedalled the streets and the infamous 10th Street hill! It is a busy, busy place now, and I happened in on their sidewalk sale day, so even busier than usual. I stopped at the tourist information building – the old railway station, where all my goods and chattels from Britain once arrived. From there, I tried to book an inexpensive room at one or two of the local motels and discovered that there was “no room” at the (cheaper) inns. Hence I found a motel at an exorbitant price and booked for a couple of days anyway. Tomorrow was to be a rest day and I was going to have a family visit from my daughter in law and two grandsons who were driving up from Brampton to see me. After cleaning up, I managed to brave the sidewalk sale crowds and found a pub with some imported British ale – a great place for a nice quiet pint of John Smith’s Bitter – Mmmmm, Good!
The sun’s supposed to be out for the next few days and today it is really beating down and really hot, so I’m glad of the rest day for a break. I’ve got to find a laundromat tomorrow and do all that kind of stuff too. But for this evening, I’m just going to relax, with my air conditioning – aah! – and maybe even sleep in tomorrow. Also, the motel has a pool and hot tub, so I’ll be taking advantage of those, for sure!
Day 37 – July 14th -Rest Day – Owen Sound – 0 kms…
& Day 38 – July 15th – Owen Sound to Orillia – 146 kms
That day off was great, did some laundry, visited with family, ate a lot, drank a lot, cooled off in the pool and generally lazed around, leaving me more than ready to move along this morning. And to cap it all I had a nice tailwind which got me to my second breaky in Collingwood in just over two hours – not bad for a 64 km ride!
Highway 26 from Owen Sound to Meaford is in pretty rough shape, with broken pavement from frost heaves and no shoulder to ride on. Luckily, I was riding early enough so that traffic was minimal. Further along east of Meaford, the highway improved and a narrow shoulder was available to ride on. There was lots of activity in the small bustling town of Collingwood, so there was no shortage of cafes from which to choose from. I always look for the one with the breakfast special posted in the window. Together with being the best deal, they usually are pretty busy, which makes it easy for me to strike up a conversation with some of the locals. Although half the time, I end up picking on another tourist!
After my stop in Collingwood, the traffic gradually increased, which included more large trucks passing by (too) closely. I escaped from 26 just before Wasaga Beach and took County Road 22 – just about all the rest of the way to Orillia. County Road 22 was much a much quieter and scenic ride than Highway 26. Remember scenic? – Yes hills! I should have guessed; 22 goes through the Horseshoe Valley, but with the Horseshoe Valley come the Horseshoe Highlands! There were some good hills to climb today and what with the humidity gradually increasing, it was thirsty work. I also lost my tailwind after Collingwood, which was replaced by a brisk crosswind. All in all though, a good days ride.
Lots of road-kill today – and varied too! Together with the gazillion raccoons again, I counted: 2 seagulls, 3 skunks, 1 squirrel, 1 turtle, 1 deer, 1 porcupine, 1 frog and something that I couldn’t determine head from tail – literally! But I did manage to move and save one Turtle (Tortoise?) to the side of the road…
Another motel tonight as I’m visiting with two of my sons tonight who are driving up from Brampton for the evening. I guess that I’ll just have to go out for a meal and a beer with them, oh life’s tough ain’t it? I’m going to do a little bike maintenance first though. I mailed a package ahead to my son’s place, with a new cassette, chain and tools to do the job.
Later… Surprisingly enough even after 4000 kms plus, when I got to changing out the parts, neither the chain nor cassette were worn too bad, probably because I haven’t had to ride in the rain and muck much at all. But I switched the parts out anyway; cheap insurance and I’ve got a lot of miles to go yet.
Day 39 – July 16th – Orillia to Bancroft – 160 kms
If anyone ever told you that there was good cycling in Ontario, then that statement would probably refer to the roads that I travelled today. From Orillia I took county roads just about the whole way to Bancroft. I started on 45, which changed to 503 at Kinmount then ended at 121, which I rode until it joined onto Highway 28. Just super roads, a bit hilly in places, but very low traffic volume. They even had a decent shoulder in places. Today I had a cross wind to start and a tailwind to finish. Fortunately the high humidity that was forecast didn’t materialise, but it was still bloody hot!
I thought that I was going to get skunked for my second breaky today as I wasn’t passing through any really populated areas, but Kinmount is a little village with a convenient little country cafe – breakfast special was only $2.99! Good too!
Scenery today was spotty, as it was mostly forested countryside; periodic views of many small lakes with cottages and boat docks etc.
Not much road kill either! But I have noticed that most litterers prefer Pepsi. There’s a much higher percentage of empty Pepsi cans and bottles in the ditches than Coca-Cola! And Gatorade bottles are the preferred choice of bladder capacity impaired people; there are many of these scattered in Ontario’s ditches half full of yellow liquid of dubious origin. Why Gatorade bottles you may ask? I figure because of the wide necks! Ontario doesn’t have a refund policy on it’s drink containers, hence the roadways’ ditches are literally inundated with the garbage and drink containers that many slobs toss out of their car windows.
I’m camped at a park about 3 kms south of Bancroft in a campground come RV park, doesn’t seem too bad for mozzies – yet! There’s a nice small lake here with a sand beach and the water is quite warm, but still refreshing though. Bancroft’s claim to fame… It’s the mineral capital of Canada – bet you didn’t know that, eh?
Anyhow, another Lipton’s Sidekick with some Albacore tuna thrown in for dinner tonight; I’m hooked on the stuff. The Sidekicks are available everywhere and there’s lots of varieties, both in pasta and rice, and they sure are a lot cheaper than a lot of the freeze dried meals. I suppose that after twelve weeks on the road, I’ll be sick of them, but for now, let’s fire up the old Trangia Stove and boil that pot!
If I really pushed it tomorrow, I could probably cross over the Ottawa River into Quebec, but to no real advantage except to escape Ontario – it’s been a long haul across this Province. But I think that I’ll stick to my original plan and cross over at Hawksbury; this means suffering another couple of days of Ontario, but I guess that I can suffer it out especially if the riding continues in the same vein as today!