Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cyclostravaganza 2008 - Summary, St. Joseph's Island to Espanola

On July 9, it was time to leave the comfort of D's cottage on St. Joseph's Island. I'm not very good with getting away early. By the time we had breakfast and had tea with a friend of D's who was passing through, by the time I packed up, by the time I became un-lost from my wrong turn, and after stopping at the local bakery for supplemental carbs (you can never get enough when cycling - even though D very kindly packed me some fantastic muffins)... well, it was almost 1pm by the time I got from D's place in the island back to the main road (highway 17). Once there, I was treated to the most amazing tailwind. Instead of struggling for a cruising speed of 25km/h and an average of ~20km/h, I was sailing along at 35km/h - which pleased me greatly, given the 50+ pounds of gear I was lugging. Wheeeeeeeeeee!

On the road I met several cyclists. Two were French Canadians who, after a bit of conversation, recognised me from the log entry I'd left in the guestbook back at Vélorution in the Sault. Wow, that was neat. They were slower than me, so I pushed on and met three cyclists - one Aussie living in Victoria, two Britons - and we soared along in the wind. I felt I needed a campground (shower, laundry, etc.) so I bid them adieu while they carried on to enjoy the wind a little longer and later search out a field or such. It would have been nice to ride longer, but I can't complain as I got in 137km with a heavy load and having left after noon. I camped at the KOA in Spragge on the Serpent River - nice enough but nothing remarkable, and there was a fair bit of noise from the road. My site was near the CPR line, and when a train passed early in the morning, it felt like an earthquake.

On July 10 (today), I came to the conclusion that it is a lovely thing to move slowly in the morning. So what if it takes me almost 4 hours to have breakfast, clean up, pack up, and go? As long as the weather cooperates, it's so nice to savour the breeze and delight in the birdsong.

The morning brought a long stretch of construction, riding over very rough roads. Ugh. The rest of the day held a lot of traffic. Double ugh. I'm very glad for the rearview mirror I bought in the Sault. I pull off the road a lot just to be sure. Cars and trucks are very good about giving me room, but sometimes (i.e., traffic in the other lane) there isn't room for them to move very far. Even though there is usually still enough room, well, better safe than sorry.

I stopped for a midday break in Massey, Ontario, and did some minor groceries: canned milk (for breakfast another morning - canned milk is not my favourite, but hey, no refrigeration needed!), a slice of strawberry-rhubarb pie (mmm, bring on the calories - you can't get enough when cycling), and almost a pound of organic dark cherries. Yummy. As I was snacking leisurely, I felt guilty about stopping for so long, until I realised: hey! I'm on vacation! I have no one else to please but myself, so why not enjoy the moment?

My original goal for today had been Massey (see google map) but yesterday's tailwind put me ahead of schedule. Late afternoon rainfall, however, cut me off, so I stopped in Espanola (see google map) for the night. The cold rain was making me desperate for shelter. Gentle reader, I can advise you not to stay at the cheap motel next to the Greyhound bus station... though hopefully you didn't need my reminder.

An early start tomorrow should take me on to Manitoulin Island. Fortunately the weather looks good!


Mark Reynolds said...

I got in 137km with a heavy load and having left after noon.

Do I detect boasting? (if not, you should be).

Victor said...

I would like to claim the boasting for myself, but to be honest, any boasting should be about the wind's strength. A few days later I met a cyclist on the road who had the misfortune to be travelling in the opposite direction that day, and he was struggling to maintain 5 MPH (8-10 km/h I guess; he was an American from Detroit).