‘Cross Canada: Days 34 & 35

Before we jump into Day 34, we need to rewind a bit. I posted Day 33 a bit preemptively and that evening actually turned out to be rather eventful.

After dinner we moved a couple kilometers down the road to a beach-side park we had heard that you could camp at for free. From almost the exact time we rolled in it was a bit of a whirlwind. Right away we got talking to a couple of guys who are driving from Yellowknife to Ottawa/Montreal and bringing along their mountain bikes. One of the guys had previously made the cross-Canada trip in the other direction as part of his Ironman training a number of years back. When we moved further into the park to set up our tents we got talking to a family from Detroit who are on an RVing vacation and are quite into cycling as well. In the midst of that conversation, a pick-up truck pulls up to a parked Airstream trailer nearby and who else but the world’s fastest human, Todd Reichert, gets out!

The next couple of hours were spent catching up with Todd about our cross-country ride and the first few months of his year-long van life tour with his wife and their six month old baby. I know Todd from my work with UofT’s Human-Powered Vehicles Design team. Last I saw him though, he was telling me about his plans to renovate an Airstream trailer and road-trip for a year.

Unfortunately, Oliver had started to come down with a migraine and by bed time it had gotten much worse. Much of the night for him was spent transferring his dinner to the campsite bushes. I too was having trouble sleeping, but for no apparent reason. Tomorrow was going to be a tough day indeed.

Day 34

We awoke reasonably early this morning to the sound of other groups packing up and heading out. After saying bye to Todd and generously being given some scrambled eggs from our Detroit friends, we packed up and were on the road before 9am. Today we were headed for Sudbury, some 170km away, but first we had to make it to Espanola to meet up with Oliver’s parents who had driven up from Toronto. With Oliver’s being sick, we had to take it quite easy all morning. Luckily, the wind was – again – quite in our favour.

Over the morning Oliver slowly felt better, but we were still riding at 60-70% the effort level we usually ride at. The morning was passed uneventfully with the nicely paved shoulder coming and going and car traffic ever increasing. After a particularly harrowing pass by a car travelling in the other direction, we diverted to the Trans Canada Trail for the last hour into Espanola. The TCT is quite hit-and-miss; sometimes you get quiet paved backroads, sometimes you get super-soft gravel ATV trails. We were thrilled to get some of the former.

We made it Espanola at nearly the same time as Oliver’s parents. There we cooled down, grabbed some food, and caught up. After a nice break, Nick, Oliver’s dad, kitted up and hit the road with us for the final 70km. We sailed along Hwy 17 with some glorious tailwinds then ducked off onto the TCT for some quiet, incredibly pot-hole-y backroads.

With Oliver feeling somewhat back to normal – as evidenced by his attacking up the climbs – and Nick fuelled by a hearty Wendy’s meal, we pushed hard and made great time into Sudbury; rolling in having averaged nearly 33kph for the last 70km. The 30kph streak lives to fight another day.

That’s a funny looking tree

We cleaned up, rested a while, then went off for a wild Sudbury Saturday Night: checking out the big nickel and getting fancy dinner.

Exhausted from a long day and relatively sleepless night, we collapsed back at the hotel. Tomorrow looks to be short though with 120 easy kilometers to North Bay.

Day 35

Boy was I sleepy this morning. After nearly 10hrs of sleep, we rolled ourselves out of bed, had breakfast, then went back to lying down until nearly checkout time. When we finally hit the road shortly before 11:30am, I was actually feeling quite good, though Oliver was quite powerless…that is, his powermeter battery had finally died. The weather today was looking to be ideal: low 20s, sunny, and a solid tailwind. The first 80km of the day rolled by relatively easily, though since the TCT has turned south, the paved shoulder on Hwy 17 was non-existent. Some brief gaps in all the trucks hauling boats gave us some lovely views of all the canola fields.

We stopped for a late lunch in Sturgeon Falls, quickly followed up by some frozen yogurt for dessert. Try as we might, we couldn’t find a single gift shop to look for stickers. The tourism office is closed on weekends – I thought most travelling would be done on the weekend – and the museum’s were closed since it’s Sunday. Ontario really needs to step up it’s tourism game. Every small town in BC had signs pointing you to their tourism office as you entered.

Stickerless, again, we hit the road for the last 40km to North Bay. This block rolled by fairly quickly as well and we were in downtown North Bay (though I think we chose a Tim’s in a sketchy part) by 4:30pm. Refreshed from smoothies and WiFi, we hit up a highly review pizza restaurant, Arugula, for dinner. Would recommend.

Our first glimpse of a Toronto sign. This is the closest we’ll get to home though since we’re moving further east

With a few hours of daylight left, we stopped by Walmart to refuel on candy for tomorrow (Maynard’s Juicy Squirts, for the record (please sponsor us)), and then moved a few kilometers outside of town to find a forest to sleep in. All-in-all, today was about as uneventful as they come for our trip. It was a nice break between being exhausted yesterday and the long hilly day we have tomorrow. As we head east for the Ottawa River and the bustling metropolis of Deep River tomorrow, we’ll be crossing north of Algonquin Park, giving us another true Canadian Shield day.

Cheers and Ride On!

-Evan

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