( part of 1995 cross-Canada bike tour)
I forgot to mention my Saskatchewan and Manitoba Maps, scale about 1:1,000,000. I bought them in a local bookstore in NS for $2 each. They were distributed by Map Art. I thought I might get better maps in the provinces but the Official Road Maps wich were free at the tourist bureaus seemed to be exactly the same. They seem to show most major and secondary paved roads but not unpaved grid roads.
For most of Ontario I used the Official Road Map. One side is Northern Ont at 1:1,600,000 and the other side is Southern Ont at 1:700000. For most of northern Ontario it is hardly needed since there's no choice of roads. There were a few places around Sudbury and North Bay where a better map would have been useful. I found a free map, scale 250000, of the Ottawa Valley, just Chalk River to Pakenham. It had all the county grid roads.
I cooked breakfast on a picnic table outside the motel. My regular main course at breakfast was a big bowl of porridge made with a 3 grain mixture of wheat, rye and flax, brand names are Red River or Sunny Boy. I put raisins or blueberries in it. Since it is easier to cook than pasta I'd often eat it at supper too.
I got on the road by 0830. It was a nice sunny day with a west wind. The section to Fort Francis is quite flat with some farms. I stopped at a grocery store in Devlin. The owner was quite interested in my trip. He gave me his address and wanted me to sent him a postcard at the end of my trip which I did.
In late morning I passed through Fort Francis, the last big town for a long ways. Traffic was a bit heavy near the town. There were some pulp and logging trucks but the traffic lessened later. The road touches Rainy Lake several times and in one place it crosses a big bay on a causeway. I stopped at several picnic spots along the lake but didn't go swimming.
It is a long haul, Mine Centre is the only settlement. There are signs every 20 km counting down the distance to Atikokan starting at 120! There is still a trace of smoke in the air, the rain from 2 days ago really helped put out the forest fires north of here.
The road is a little rough in some places. A paved shoulder would suddenly appear for a little while, then stop for no apparent reason. Traffic was heavier than what I'd experienced on the prairies but not as bad as what was to come later!
Finally around 1900 I reached the turnoff to Atikokan which is 3 km off the highway. I decided to stay at the local campground but first I went looking for a grocery store. No luck, they were all closed, seems early for a Friday. Of course the Beer Store was open and there were big crowds around it, I hope they are not all coming to the campground. The best I could find was a convenience store with a few food items.
The campground was about $12 and was OK. No rowdy parties on this Friday night. It had good showers. There was a large group of Boy Scouts from Ohio who were going to go on a canoe trip in Quetico Park. Although it was warm evening I had to cover up since there were a lot of no-seeums. They found a gap around my ankles and next day I had a a ring of tiny punctures around my ankle. Fortunately, my tent is no-seeum proof. For those lucky enough to have never experienced these beasts, they are very, very tiny black flies (Simulium) that make a nasty bite. Unlike black flies they stay active at night. If they get in your tent, you won't see or hear them but you will feel them!
The Boy Scouts were gone by 0600. I left at 0800, hoping to get most of the way to Thunder Bay (200 km) today. It was mostly sunny but there were several heavy thunder showers in the afternoon. The route is much hillier, traffic is moderate. The 20 km signs are now counting down to Shabaqua, a place of dread to me.
Stores are few and far between and their food stocks are limited and expensive. At one store I asked for a loaf of bread and they got it out of the freezer. I had to wait a while before I could eat it! I put a few slices in a clear plastic bag and tied it on top of my back rack in the sun.
The road touches the edge of Quetico Prov Park, which a a popular wilderness canoeing area. I went into the visitor centre to look at the exhibits. This was part of the major canoe route between the Great Lakes and the west in the fur-trading days.
I also stopped for 2 short swims at picnic grounds along the way. Then I reached the sign marking the continental divide, rivers now flow into the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. The altitude is 550 m, it should be all downhill from here!
There is a good long downhill and that and a tailwind speeded me along and I reached the dreaded Shabaqua Junction before I wanted to. The roads of light traffic are finished, here I join Rt 17, the Trans Canada Highway. It is worse than that. At this point there is only ONE road connecting eastern and western Canada. There were a lot of big, fast trucks. The road is narrow and rough. I've got about 10 days and 1500 km of this to look forward to!
The only good thing is that is mostly downhill with a tailwind so the next 20 km goes quickly. Then it gets worse. The road is under construction, soft gravel. The only link across Canada is now down to one lane. Fortunately it is only a short distance before I come to junction of Rt 102.
At about 1800 (by my watch) I stopped for a snack at the service station/rest stop and tried to decide which route to take into Thunder Bay. Rt 102 is the shortest route. I watch the trucks, they all take Rt 102. I also see a sign "WARNING, ROUGH ROAD NEXT 30 KM". Rt 11/17 loops around the south part of the city and passes by Kakabeka Falls. So I took that road. This was a nice smooth road with a wide shoulder and lighter traffic and mostly downhill. I stopped at a picnic grounds and cooked supper. I wasn't sure if I could stay at the campground at the falls, it is a weekend.
I came to the campground around 2000 (by my watch) but I decided I'd better get some groceries since tommorrow is Sunday. I went to the town of Kakabeka Falls which had some open stores, unlike Atikokan yesterday. I went back to the campground office and it was closed. The local time is actually 2130, since I passed into a new time zone. There was a sign up saying to choose a site and put money (about $12) in the box. There were lots of sites and it was a very quiet campground for a weekend. Since I was at the extreme western edge of the Eastern Time Zone, the sun didn't set until 2200. I'm only one time zone from home!
I intended this to be a semi-rest day. After breakfast I went to see the falls, The Niagara of Lake Superior the tourist literature calls it.
Then I went into the village and got on Oliver Road to Murillo. This is a very pleasant rural road, I wish this lasted longer! It is still mostly downhill all the way to Thunder Bay. It is a bit hazy but I can see the largest fresh water lake in the world. Thunder Bay is almost at the very centre of Canada but it is a "seaport".
I stopped by the Canada Games building and considered going for a swim in the pool but there was a problem of what to do with my bike. So I went down to the Marina Park and had lunch. There were a bunch of people from the local bike club finishing a ride here and I talked with them. I have seen hardly any cyclists of any type so far in my trip.
It seemed that Thunder Bay was going through bad times. Several of the grain loading terminals had closed. The iron ore loading terminal was also closed.
Lake Superior is even colder than the Atlantic Ocean so I didn't think of swimming there. I went to Boulevard Lake but it was a little cool too.
Then I headed along Lakeshore Road to the east. This has a good shoulder, I wish it was all like this. I goes about 15 km before joining the TCH. Unfortunately there are not many views of the lake. Just before the TCH junction there is a Youth Hostel. This would be my best chance to meet other Trans Canada cyclists if they exist. I reach the Youth Hostel at about 1700. The owners were out but there was an Australian tourist who said they would be back shortly. So I unloaded my heavy load and rode ahead looking for a store. I didn't find one, but I rode down a side road to the shore at Coral Bay. I don't think that there is coral in Lake Superior!
Back at the hostel, the family had returned so I got settled in. They do sell some food items here. I also spread my damp tent out to dry since it was still wet from the morning dew.
Then another cyclist arrived! He is the first touring cyclist I've seen on my trip. He is from Boraas, Sweden, of all places, riding an old Crescent mountain bike, heavily loaded. Alas, he is going west. Actually he is way out of my league (as are most Swedish cyclists I've met). I could never have kept up with him. He said he hadn't done much bike touring before, only the time he rode home 400km in a day , the day after he ran in a 42 km marathon!. He has come from Toronto (1400 km) in 7 days! I asked him about various places in Sweden and Norway I had visited. He had not ridden in Vaettern Rundan, although he was planning to do it one of these years. I suggested he take Rt 11 to Rainy River and gave him the tattered remains of my Manitoba map. He had taken Rt 101 to Wawa, he didn't like the traffic on the TCH.
I learned that a German cyclist named Klaus had left going east that morning. It's nice to known that I am not the only cyclist on the road!
The Swedish guy left around 0800. "Lycka til. Vis ses nesta aar i Norden". Very soon after, I left. THe winds were north in the morning giving a head wind as I head north-east. When I join Rt 17 there is a shoulder but it quickly disappears. Truck traffic is heavy.
The most frightening trucks were the logging trucks. The logs seemed to be overloaded on some of them. I did see some logs along the road. The thought of even a small log flying off a truck at 100 kph is not pleasant. I did get hit with very small flakes of bark and it stung.
There may have even were something worse at one time. Several times along quite a distance of road I noticed collections of brown spheres on the roadside. It looked like giant deer droppings! Finally I was curious enough to stop and examine them. If they were from an animal it was big and it was on a high iron diet! They were rusty iron spheres of 2.5 cm diameter. Maybe they were ball bearings for some really big machines. One theory was that they were old bearings being hauled for scrap metal and they spilled off a truck. The thought of small canon balls flying off at 100 kph is even more frightening than logs!
I saw some cyclists going west. They were going from Vermont to Oregon. They had seen Klaus earlier. The last stretch to Nipigon was extra bad. It was a headwind, the road was narrow and cracked up and traffic was heavy. I stopped at the tourist Bureau and picnic area for lunch around 1230.
As I crossed the Nipigon River Bridge I picked up a stick and threw it into the water. I plan to go down to a beach on PEI and find it! This is from a children's story (Paddle to the Sea: I think it was a movie too) about the boy who drops a toy wooden canoe in the Nipigon River and it floats down the Lake system to the Gulf of St Lawrence.
Things improved a bit here. I was heading east and the wind had shifted to west. Rt 11 joins and takes away some of the truck traffic. The road improves, there are more sections with a shoulder. The scenery is quite nice, with views of the lake. It is very hilly. At the top of one hill I stopped for a swim in a small lake. I stopped at a picnic area for a second lunch at a scenic lookout.
Near Rossport the road improved a lot. There was a wide shoulder. I was hoping that this continued all the way, that was not to be! At Rossport I stopped for supper at a picnic grounds on the beach. I also waded into the water. It is ice cold! There was a road along the shore which I thought was the old highway. It didn't have a NO EXIT sign so I followed it! It changed to a gravel road as it crossed the railroad. The sensible thing would be to backtrack the 2 Ks to the highway but I wanted to keep going. There were actually remnants of a paved road through the woods - it must be very old! I could hear the highway up ahead and eventually reached it, walking most of the way. This was the case of a shortcut making a long delay.
There was a provincial campground here but I decided to continue since the sun wouldn't set until 2130. I passed by Schrieber. In a store earlier I had seen a topo map of the area and noticed an old road going down to a lake near Terrace Bay. I found this road which crossed the railroad tracks and came to a wharf on a lake. There were the foundations of former building here but everything was abandoned. There was a nice sunset over the lake.
I had an early morning swim and then had breakfast in the sun on the shore. Then I rode to the tourist bureau in Terrace Bay which was closed at 0800. My pedal was squeeky so I gave it some grease. I had to remove all the bearings to do this. The tourist bureau opened so I got some water. A cyclist from Michigan, going my way, stopped here but continued on. I should have asked at the tourist bureau where the grocery store was in town were because I spent a while finding it! Finally I got away around 1000.
It was coolish since there was a wind off the lake. It was hilly and there weren't too many views of the lake. Near Little Pic there was a small but very good grocery store. It also had a cheap campground, $1 for a cyclist but it was early afternoon. The road was still OK although the shoulder was little narrower.
I reached the turnoff to Marathon at 1600 and had a second lunch at the tourist bureau. It is a little foggy and cool with the wind off the lake. Now the road climbs inland , the fog lifts and it gets warmer. I passed a few gold mines. Then I met a couple cycling, one was carrying a Nova Scotia flag. They had started in Newfoundland. They had seen Klaus, the German. I mentioned the cheap campground at Little Pic, they were trying to get there tonight, probably about 40 km away.
I had a good tailwind and easily reached White Lake Provincial Park by 1930. I had a short swim in the lake, although it was a little cool. There were a few light showers in the evening.
When I left at 0845 it was already getting hot. It was easy to dry T-shirts today. I'd wash them in the evening or morning. Then when it got hot I'd wear them. Often they would be dry in 15 minutes. I'd often swim with my shirt on, or soak a few shirts and wear each until dry. This would keep me cool for a few minutes at least.
It was 40 km to White River. This place claims to have the lowest recorded temperature in Canada (< -50 C) although I think somewhere in the Yukon has broken the record. It's hard to imagine now, today it is one of the hottest days I've had, well over 35 C. Across from the grocery store a fire hose is being tested and there is a spray coming out of a leak. I ran through it to cool off.
There is also a statue of Winnie the Poo-bear. Another photo to add to my collection of wild turkeys, huge sturgeons etc. In the early 1900's a guy had found an orphaned bear cub here, named it after his home-town of Winnipeg, and taken it to England where it was seen by A.A. Milne. The rest is history.
About 10 km later I stopped at a picnic area for 1st lunch. The river here was too shallow to swim in, so I just soaked my shirt. Fortunately it clouded over making the temperatures more tolerable.
However the road was not tolerable. It was narrow and rough again with heavy traffic. I also had a headwind. The last few Ks to Wawa were some of the worst of my trip, the road was a washboard. Which do I want to hit, a pothole or a big truck? Then I saw the Big Goose statue ahead, it was up a very steep hill though. When I turned off to Wawa, I never wanted to go back on that highway again!
It was almost 1800 so I raced the 2 km into town to find a grocery store. I was lucky. Just after I left it they locked the door! Then I went into the "Youngs General Store", which had all sorts of neat stuff. I got some postcards, some tasty buckwheat honey and banana chips. Then I went back to the tourist bureau and had supper. The last of this seasons black flies were a little bother. A few weeks earlier they would have been intolerable. Of course I add a photo of the Big Goose to may collection. "Wawa" means "Wild Goose".
I left town on Rt 101 with a good tailwind. Just outside of town there was a lake so I stopped for a short swim. Back on the road I noticed a strange sound. Silence! No traffic noise. Actually I noticed a lot of birds singing. I also so some deer along the road, I hadn't seen or heard any live wildlife along the TCH. About 20 km later I passed the road to Hawk Junction and the Algoma Central Railway. There was a clearing near the tracks, there may have been a settlement here years ago. Mosquitos were thick so I zipped up the tent tight.
I got up and quickly left the mosquitos behind by 0630, no point in having breakfast here. Traffic seemed very heavy, then I guessed it must be commuters, they all turned off just a little way down the road. It must have been a mine or lumber mill starting a shift at 7AM.
There were very low clouds obscuring the tops of hills. A helicopter passed over, it had to stay under the cloud cover. But I had a better view of some more fascinating flying machines. Some big attack dragon flies were giving me "fighter support", they flew right along side me for quite a while, occasionally darting away to catch some mosquito. I wish they had been at my campsite!
After about 25 km I reached the picnic area at "The Potholes". First I cooked breakfast and then I walked down to the potholes on a short trail. The potholes were formed by pebbles swirling around in a stream. They carve out a big semi-spherical depression in the bedrock. I left here about 0930.
It was now very hot and humid. Around noon I entered Shoals Prov Park and was looking for a place to swim. There was a sign to a boat launch, but it seemed a long way down a dirt road and I was even hotter when I got to the lake. I had a swim but as soon as I got out I was attacked by fierce horseflies, I was completely at their mercy while I was puting clothes back on. I had to rush lunch. By the time I got back to pavement I was hot again, but I had a few wet shirts. They dried out quickly today.
A little while later I came to the campground entrance. I had to ride in a few Ks off to get some drinking water. A little further I crossed a river and had a quick dip in it, but had to move along because of horseflies.
On very hot days like this it is quite common to have
thunderstorms in late afternoon. It seemed to cloud over quite quickly and I raced along trying to find shelter. I leaned my bike up against some metal building but I thought that was not a good place to stand in a lightening storm so I went into the woods. There was a radio tower at little ways up a sideroad so I hoped it would attract lightning away from me. I've heard of a cone of protection. Then I had another fear, being hit by falling trees since it became very windy. This possibility was confirmed a little later during the day.
I was only there for 10 minutes or so. Back on the road it was like being in a steam bath. There was a store/restaurant/motel a little later but they were closed due to power failure. A little later I was surprised to see a sign saying I was re-entering the Arctic Ocean watershed. I had climbed up a lot from the Lake at 190m to nearly 500m.
Traffic was quite light for these 2 days on Rt 101 and 129. There were some logging trucks but I could hear them a long ways off. On the TCH the noise had been constant.
I passed the Chapleau turnoff in late afternoon, here Rt 102 goes off to Timmins. I turned south on Rt 129. There was nothing at the corner but there was a small store a little further on. Near here there were also some large trees down across the highway, they had been sawed off very recently. I'm lucky I wasn't here during the storm.
There wasn;t much along here. I stopped off the road to make supper. I must find a place to camp soon. I don't like the thought of another night in a mosquito swamp.
Then I saw a roadsign for a turnoff ahead to a campground at Flame Lake. I was going to turn off if was less than 2 km. At the corner the sign said 2 km. By my odometer it was little more down a rough road. I was the only camper here so it was quiet. No showers but a nice lake. I had a short swim. There were not many mosquitos here either.
I had a morning swim and had breakfast by the lake. I didn't get away to 0930 by which time it was getting hot. I think this was the hottest day. Winds were light from the north west.
I was entering the Mississagi River Valley. A highlight of the day was supposed to be Aubry Falls. The road follows the river and there are several lakes or wide calm sections of the river. I stopped several times for swims but horseflies were a nuisance. They would be on me as soon as I stopped riding.
I saw a sign saying "Aubry Falls General Store: 20 km" so I thought that was how far it was to the falls. Shortly after there was a turnoff with a sign that said Aubry Falls Prov. Park but I didn't follow it. When I got to the store I found out the store was nowhere near the falls. I should have turned off 20 km back!
Even though I missed its big highlight the valley is still quite scenic, at one point it is a narrow canyon. My altitude is still up around 400 m so I know there must be a big downhill ahead. Near Wharncliffe I stop at a good general store and have early supper. The vegetation is changing, there's more maple trees now. I'm at the edge of the Shield and close to the Great Lakes Lowlands.
There is a big downhill and I almost miss the turnoff on Rt 554. Now I'm into rolling farmland. Then I turn south again on Rt 546, another pleasant rural road. The usual afternoon thunderstorms did not happen, they were waiting for a much bigger show.
Finally about 2000 I reach Iron Bridge, back on the TCH. At this point I can start using the bigger map of southern Ontario!
I have camped for several nights now so it is time for some luxury. There are several motels in town and I choose one for about $30. The lady in the office said there was a severe thunderstorm warning with the possibility of tornados! Later, it was dark as I was walking back from a convenience store, eating icecream, and I saw lots of flashes in the western sky. There was going to be a big fireworks show at least.
I was glad I was inside when it hit. There were lots of lightning, strong winds and heavy rain but it only lasted an hour. It was not a local storm, it was a major front that hit all of southern Ontario and there were tornados reported.
I had breakfast on a picnic table outside , the storm has completely passed. I left around 0900 with partly cloudy skies. The wind was from the north-east which should have been a warning to me, since that usually foretells of rainy weather. I thought that as I approached Southern Ontario the quality of the TCH would improve but it remains mostly without shoulders all the way to Ottawa.
The headwind wasn't too strong yet and it was flat so the 25 km to Blind River was easy. I found a good Natural Food store in town and got some REAL (fresh ground peanut butter), some banana chips, etc. The owner's brother had cycled across Canada a few years ago so he was interested in my trip.
I was ready to move on when a touring cyclist came in. His accent was a strange mixture of German and New Zealandish. It was Klaus, the guy I had being hearing about for the last week! He had been on the road for 11 months and spent 6 months in New Zealand and Australia. He was now riding from California to Nova Scotia. He went looking for a hardware store and I went to a grocery store and we got separated.
About 10 km down the road I noticed that there was an optional road Rt 538 along the lake for about 5 km. I took any opportunity to get off the TCH. Ah, quiet! There was a picnic area and boat launch on the shore so I stopped for lunch. This is the North Shore of Lake Huron. I have cycled on the other side of this lake so I was almost in familiar territory.
There was a car parked here carrying a touring bike. A few minutes later a lady came back from a run and immediately came over to me and asked me where I was touring from and to. When I mentioned Nova Scotia she said she was going on a 3 week bike tour there. She was driving from Minnesota to Boston. She wanted to know about places in Nova Scotia. She had a map that had several routes marked on it. I asked where she had got the routes and she mentioned Gary Conrod, "Do you know him?" "Of, course, we've been in same bike club for 20 years!" She could probably drive to the Portland ferry in 2 or 3 days and would be be finished her bike tour long before I got there. So, Jenny from Minneapolis, I hope you had a nice tour of Nova Scotia.
The alternate route ended quickly and the headwinds increased, the road is flat though. The last bit to Massey is very narrow but straight so you can see what's coming at you. I got some groceries and had a second lunch in the village of Massey. There were a lot of banners up for a marathon run tommorrow.
Around 1800 I reached the turnoff to Esplanola. I had the option to take this road to a ferry across to the Bruce Peninsula but I decided not too. Some other day. There was a big fruit and veggie stand so I got some food. Here I met a cyclist from Ottawa who was on his way to his old home town of Massey. He has seen Klaus at a picnic area a little ahead.
It was only about 10 km to the picnic area at the Spanish River Bridge. It is also a big rest stop for trucks with a heated washroom. There was a farmer here selling blueberries but only in 10 kg boxes! So I cooked up my supper. Later the farmer came over to me and said he had sold all his berries but some left overs and would I like them? Sure. I learned that this was not a good year for blueberries. It was too dry and the berries were very small. They are about 2 weeks earlier here than in the Maritimes.
After supper I found a side road leading down to a gravel pit but there was a small clearing where I put up my tent.
I went back to the picnic area for breakfast. I had blueberries with my porridge. When I left at 0800 it was cloudy.
About 5km down the road at Nairn there was a paved road off to the left, it is on the highway map so I took it. It was a nice rural road through woods, small farms and some mining villages. There were several cross roads but I managed to keep going it the right direction. It would have been better to have a good map of the area. Then it came to Worthington on County Rd 4 which is shown on the map as going back to Whitefish. It crosses over the new Rt 17 expressway and joins up with Rt 55 which was the old TCH. Most of the services along Rt 55 have been abandoned
I could now use the better map of the Sudbury area. As I was going by Simon Lake near Naughton it started to rain so I pulled into a picnic area shelter and had a snack. The rain stopped in 30 minutes. I would have to decide on route into Sudbury at Lively Junction.
Just at the junction my bike was acting strange. I had a flat tire! Fortunately, it wasn't raining. It takes something major to flat these tires and I had picked up a big piece off glass. I replaced the tube in a few minutes and then decided to approach the city from the south-west bypass. Unfortunately, this misses the BIG NICKLE. It was also raining again, heavy!
I didn't see much, probably there is only slag heaps to see anyway. I managed to get on Southview Drive and went through a residential district. There was a corner store with an overhang for sheltering my bike so I went in there for hot coffee. There was a good city map on the wall so I studied it and made plans.
Aha! it's not too far to the Science North Centre! That seems like a good place to spent a rainy afternoon. I made my way up Paris Street. It is a huge complex so it's hard to miss. The bike racks were unsheltered so I unrolled my tent fly and tied it over my bike. The funny thing was that the lawn sprinklers on the grounds were on!
I was shivering and it took me a long time to warm up. I went to the cafeteria. I wanted a pizza but they were out. I just got some hot chocolate and snacks. There is a fancier restaurant in the complex but I would feel out of place there, with soggy, dirty clothes.
The Science Center is a great place! I must have been there 4 hours. Lots of interactive exhibits. There was a machine that checked your pulse and blood Oxygen level (how does it measure oxygen??) I registered resting pulse of 50 and O2 level 100%. Nice to know I'm still healthy, I've been really punishing my body lately.
Every once and a while I would go check the weather monitoring station. The rainfall gage indicated a lot less rain than I had expected! I'm sure it rained over 100mm on me!
At one point the complex goes into the bedrock revealing some of the geology of the area, including an ancient fault line. The Sudbury Basin was the site of a giant meteor impact a billion years ago which deposited a lot of minerals- iron, copper, nickel.
When I left at 1700 the rain had stopped and I wasn't cold. I actually felt warm after some brisk riding. I wanted to take County Road 67 out to Coniston, but I missed it and had to go on the TCH. East of town there are rocky hills. A few years ago they were completely barren due to the extreme acidic fallout from the smelters. But they have been replanted and the smokestacks now are cleaner.
Winds were lighter and it wasn't raining but the thought of camping in this barren landscape wasn't very appealing. I wanted to get a little ways of the city, it would be cheaper. The village of Coniston didn't have any motels so I pushed on to Wahnipiti. I passed through that town and there was nothing. So I headed on through the barren hills.
At 2000 over the next hill I saw a collection of buildings including the Norvik Motel! Saved! The owners were very friendly. It was quite cheap too, about $35, with free coffee in the morning. A big bonus was the full kitchen in the room. My camp stove is almost out of fuel so I can cook inside. "White gas" fuel is more difficult to find now. It used to be sold in liter cans at most gas stations but it seems that propane cylinder stoves are the standard now.
I got going around 0900. There were some hills at first then it got flat. I was into some farmland. There were some side "grid" roads but most were not on my map so I didn't take them. I stopped in Verner and went to a grocery store. This is a French town, it is mostly French from here on. The big churches are the main landmark. I had lunch in the picnic area next to the tourist bureau. Then I went into the tourist bureau. I had seen the sign warning of construction for 15 km. I asked if any of these side roads bypassed the TCH construction area. Yes, there is an alternate route via Cache Bay.
I rode about 3 km south on Rt 64 then turned east on Chemin Leclaire, it is actually on the highway map. It is a straight paved road with hardly any traffic through flat farmland. I almost think I'm back in Manitoba but there are more trees and variety in scenery. All to soon I have to re-join the TCH just out of Sturgeon Falls. The sturgeon in the tourist bureau here is much smaller than the one in Dominion City!
The TCH is narrow with quite heavy traffic but is straight and flat for nearly 20 km. Finally I reach the shore of Lake Nipissing and stop at a picnic ground with a lookout over the lake. Unfortunately it was very hazy so I could not see much.
Just then Klaus rides up. He had spent the night in Sudbury. Now we rode together. Traffic was heavy and the road narrow. The traffic was getting on Klaus's nerves as well, and he has seen a lot more roads than me. I was famished, I had to stop to get groceries and to eat. We decide to meet at the junction of 11 and 17 at 1630. After getting groceries I went down to the park on the lake and had a late lunch. The old lake steamer, Chief Comanda is docked here as a restaurant. The new Chief Comanda 2 now cruises on the lake.
I am already 15 minutes late when I get to to the junction. It is actually a rather complicated interchange and it takes a few minutes to look around but there's no Klaus. I guessed that he had gone ahead.
It's just a bit of a climb to Trout Lake on the Mattawa River. This was a portage on the major canoe route from Lake Huron to the Ottawa River. It should be all downhill to Ottawa from here! On my map there is a alternate road along Trout Lake. It was called Centenial Crescent and I took it. It was another pleasant interlude off the TCH. Back at the corner at Corbell the service station there didn't have any white gas either.
It was another 13 km to Bonfield corner which I reached around 1800. In front of a restaurant was Klaus's bike so I went in. I had only missed him by about 5 minutes. I just had a light snack since I was intending to ride some more. I went to ask the girl at the counter if they sold any white gas. No. But she said that we were welcome to camp on the lawn behind the restaurant. So I discussed this with Klaus. He was keen to this idea since had ridden further than me today. Then it started to rain so that decided that.
We set up our tents then went back into the restaurant for a full supper. Klaus was also sick of this TCH and he had been on all sorts of roads in the last year. I mention that it's only about 160 km to Petawawa where we can get off Rt 17 for good. I'm really looking forward to that point.
My stove ran out of fuel cooking breakfast so I borrowed Klaus's stove. I didn't want to borrow his fuel since he was using regular unleaded in his MSR.
We left around 0830 and the light drizzle soon ended. There are still some more climbs but then we had a good run down to Mattawa. Ahead we can see the Ottawa River and across it another province, finally. I haven't been following the news much lately so I'm not sure if it's still part of Canada! However there are no roads on the Quebec side so we have to stay in Ontario for a few more days.
I got some groceries in Mattawa, but still no stove fuel and then we had a 1st lunch by the tourist bureau. I picked up a good map of the Ottawa Valley, which wouldn't be much good until Petawawa. They didn't have any maps of Quebec. Klaus tried to find about a youth hostel in Deep River but they didn't have any info on it. I'm sure it closed a few years ago.
This is supposed to be the Ottawa Valley but it sure is hilly, this was one of the hilliest days of my trip. We have a good tailwind though. It is sunny but not too hot.
We stop on the river for a lunch and a swim. I spread my damp tent out in the sun to dry out. Later Klaus spotted a restaurant/bar and wanted to go in for a snack. While there we received some news that there was a lady cycling not far behind us, riding for some charity. I never met her, maybe Klaus did. I did see an article in the paper a month later that she had reached St Johns NFLD.
The afternoon thundershowers happened again today. We were near Port Alexander at 1830 where the dark clouds came in. We ducked into a diner and it started to pour. We ordered a light meal, then checked outside. Then we ordered a dessert. We could see clearing off to the west but it took a long time coming. Prospects of getting to Petawawa are slight.
Finally at 2015 we leave and reach Deep River as the sun sets. We turn off on a road to the river. It is a nice downhill through the woods. Then it ends at the water. We asked a local lady where we could camp and she shows a little clearing. It's getting dark but at least I have a DRY tent to put up. We immediately have to dive into our tents since there are swarms of mosquitos. Quite a few get into my tent before I can close it. I can hear Klaus swatting them in his tent.
I got up early but Klaus was ready to leave already. He wanted to get to Ottawa (200 km) today. I heard from the grapevine that he did. The mosquitos gave me incentive to get out of here fast. This was a day I had been looking forward to for a while. Two major goals were to be reached today.
Deep River and Chalk River are quite rich small towns due to many federal scientists living here. There is the nuclear research station, a forestry research station.
I couldn't find any stove fuel at the stores I checked so I settled for a cold breakfast. At the entrance to the Research Forestry area there was a picnic area and interpretative center although some of the buildings were closed. After breakfast I took a short walk along the interpretative trail.
For about 10 km the road then goes through the grounds of the big military training base so there are high fences and warning signs. The TCH is still without shoulders, to the bitter end.
Finally I reach the turnoff to Petawawa town. Goodbye TCH and good riddance! There was certainly no tears as I left it. FREE AT LAST!
The first store I came to in town was a bike/sports shop and they had some camp fuel!. The 15 km of County Rd 17 to Pembroke was mostly used car dealerships etc. but nicer scenery would be coming. There was a big supermarket where I got some yummy bagels.
After Pembroke there were many possibilities on the grid of rural roads in the Ottawa Valley. It did mean that I had to read the map more. I chose a series of road that took me to Osceola. It was now very hot, this was the Ottawa Valley. I got some snacks at a nice general store and had lunch in the shade.
Then I was on County Rd 8 and 18 and Rt 60 to Renfrew where I found a big produce and bulk food store. I went to a park where there was a small lake with a swimming area. The sign warned of high bacteria counts but there were some kids swimming and they said they never got sick from the water. I was very hot so I had a quick dip, keeping my mouth shut. Then I had another lunch.
County Rd 2 gets back into the hills of the Shield again so there was a bit of hot climbing towards Burnstown. Then I started downhill and I could see the Madawaska River ahead of me. Only a few more meters and I am at a momentous goal. In 1978 I had cycled through Burnstown and eventually back to Nova Scotia, via New England. So my route across the continent was now complete! There is a tea room/ gift shop at the corner. I bought a piece of cake to celebrate.
There is a high bridge across the river here. I didn't get in for a swim. I'll wait until White Lake another 10 km ahead. I only vaguely remember my ride through here 17 years ago. Although there were some big cumulo-nimbus clouds around in the late afternoon the usual thundershowers missed me.
There was a picnic area by the lake so I had a refreshing swim. Then I made supper and then got some more groceries in a nice general store. There was a commercial "camp ground" on the lake but it was really a trailer park and didn't look very inviting. There wasn't anything else around so I headed off towards Pakenham on rds 23 and 20.
I turned off on a track into the woods and found a place for my tent. I also found out that there were bogs all around, mosquito city! But it was getting dark so this was it.
I left the mosquitos by 0600 and rode back down into the Valley. The change from wooded hills to the flat farmlands is quite abrupt here. So I went into the nice village of Pakenham and another of Canada's famous rivers- the Mississippi! Yes, that's what the sign and the map said. There is also a 5 arched stone bridge here, apparently the longest of this type in North America. Just then my camera jams! The only fix was to push the rewind button. Where am I going to get film at 7 AM?
I had breakfast in the picnic area by the bridge. There were signs for a canoe portage so I guess this is a popular canoeing river. At 0800 I went back to the village, maybe there is a very slight chance that there is something open selling film? Yes. A gift shop just opened. They don't sell slide film but print film will do. As a big bonus they also bake bread so I bought some delicious fresh pumpernickle. So I went back to the bridge to get some pictures.
So I ride on County Rd 20 towards Carp crossing over the dreaded Rt 17. I am off my Ottawa Valley map now and only have the Ont highway map. Some of these roads are slightly familiar from my 1978 trip. Then it starts to rain as I come into Carp. I got under a building overhang and waited and ate some bread but it rained harder. There was street construction and I saw that CRd 5 out of town was blocked off. So I took a look around the village and found a cafe. So I went in there for a while, and bought some pie. They said that there had been some Cross Canada cyclists through here yesterday.
When the rain stopped I took the detours out of town, getting to CRd 49 but turned the wrong way on it! Fortunately I looked at my map before I got too far and turned around.
I was heading for March Road. I turned off on one the several grid roads. At this point my front derailleur cable broke so I spent a few minutes changing it. I got on March road and get into the industrial area of Kanata where I took a course at Digital in 1978. The area has grown since then. There was more some construction so I had to make a few detours to get to Carling Ave. When I got to the Ottawa River I knew I could get on the bikeways.
I turn off at the first bikeway I see and ride to the first park by the river where I have lunch. I think I finished off that pumpernickle here. It seems appropriate to ride into the nation's capital along the Ottawa River which was one of the major canoe routes.
The bikeways continue almost right into the city centre . At one point it was easier to ride on the Parkway which is wide with light slow traffic.
I have to go on the streets in the heart of the city. I had never been in Ottawa in the main tourist season before and I didn't realize how crowded it was. I was afraid to leave my bike anywhere. The parliament buildings were under scaffolds and didn't look like the parliament buildings but I took a picture anyways.
Somehow I got of downtown and Sussex drive was good riding as I passed No. 24. Then I got on Rockville Parkway which has light traffic and nice views of the river. Then I came to bikeways along the river. Here they are unpaved but smooth. I had another lunch break by the river. I don't have a good map of the area but as long as I keep the river to my left I know I'm going in the right direction. I ended up on some residential streets in Orleans. I eventually get on Cnty Rd 34 which is hillier than the parallel Rt 17. At Cumberland I have to get back on the dreaded Rt 17 but it is OK now. Most of the heavy traffic has been channeled onto Rt 417, the freeway to Montreal. There is some heavier commuter traffic in late afternoon. I also saw quite a few bicycle commuters.
After a pocket of English speaking country I'm back into French Canada although some of the town names don't sound French, like Rockland. Just as I was coming into Rockland the usual thunderstorms hit. There was a nice open produce market downtown where I got fresh tomatoes and strawberries. I also got a $2 Allmaps map of Quebec. It's not very detailed but it is better than nothing. I'll say more about Quebec maps later.
I had supper at a picnic grounds on the road and had to wait out passing showers. Then I turned off at Clarence for a nice sideroad along the river to Wendover. The trouble with these roads is that there are no signs up for services. All the turnoff signs for campgrounds etc. are on the main highway. After getting back on Rt 17 I was a sign for a campground and in the fading light reached it.
The couple in the office trailer were very friendly. "Have some cake. No, not just a piece, take the while thing with you, you must be hungry."
I had a shower and went to bed. I entered Ontario at its western most point. Tomorrow morning I will leave it near its extreme eastern point. It's been a long province. The riding is becoming more enjoyable now.
Coming soon: Quebec