“Wilderness. A beautiful word to describe a beautiful land. Wilderness though is a white man’s concept. To the Native people the land was not wild, it was home. It provided shelter, clothed and fed them. And echoing through their souls was the song of the land. The singing isn’t as loud as it used to be. But you can still hear it in the wind. In the silence of the misty morning. In the drip of the water from the tip of a paddle. The song is still here if you know how to listen.”
The girls are out to Bingo and the boys are gettin’ stinko,
And we think no more of Inco on a Sudbury Saturday night.
-Stompin’ Tom Connors
Total mileage to date: 4639km
Number of days on the road: 45
Number of days left in the trip: 41(aprox)
45 days and over 4600km have passed since I started riding in Victoria. To put that in perspective, if I were riding in Great Britain I’d have already crossed the island 3 times and be on my forth trip between Land’s End in the south of England and John o’ Groats in the north of Scotland.
I’m currently sitting in Sudbury, which is the largest city in northern Ontario. I’ve successfully made my way around Lake Superior and now I’m running along the top of Lake Huron with my front tire pointed towards Ottawa.
Lake Superior was certainly a challenge and other than by canoe, I can’t think of a better way to experience it than by bicycle. I was passed by hundreds and hundreds of motorcycles along the route and while I’m sure it’s a fun road to cruise on, I can’t help but think that those riders really don’t have an appreciation for the terrain when every hill is easily dispatched with a twist of the throttle. And there was no shortage of hills.
The ruggedness of the land was impressive and beautiful but it was a struggle to focus on the scenery and tune out the part of my brain that wonders why we have to climb another hill. It’s really more of a mental game out here than a physical one.
Here are a few pics from the provincial park that runs along the east shore of Superior.
The water looks inviting but it’s only a few degrees above freezing so it’s about the same as swimming in the north Atlantic. I went for a dip on Canada Day and lasted about 5 minutes but it was fun and I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to experience it.
I also found this guy sunning himself on the beach, getting warmed up for a night of terrorising the campground, flying off with young children and small household pets.
A couple days ago I passed through the town of White River which is where the story of Winnie the Pooh began.
It all started when an army officer from Winnipeg boarded a train to head to Europe for World War 1. The train stopped in White River so everyone could take a pee and the officer decided to purchase a bear cub which just happened to be for sale along side of the tracks. A lot of the other soldiers followed his lead and bought animals too including a skunk, a reindeer, an octopus and an entire family of porcupines. Apparently the army was cool with this and everyone jumped back on the train with their newly acquired pets and headed off to war.
The bear/soldier duo proved to be very effective at striking fear into the heart of the enemy. So much so that they even earned the nickname Das Pooh, which is german for “The Terrible”.
But what of the other animals you ask? Well, the octopus escaped and swam away long before their ship got to Europe. The skunk was a powerful visual deterrent but prone to accidental discharge, which is no fun for anyone. On the other hand, the porcupines turned out to be very effective in trench warfare, particularly when tied to the end of a string and twirled above the head in a circular fashion. But nothing compared to the sheer terror that was visited upon the enemy by Das Pooh!
Right… Anyhow, moving right along.
Next up was Sault Ste Marie where I was able to camp for free on the property of Velorution bike shop. The owner extends his hospitality towards touring cyclist, allowing them to camp behind the shop, use of the shower facilities, Wifi, etc, all free of charge. It’s a very cool idea and a welcome break from the $30 to $40 most parks charge just to pitch a tent.
I took a day off in the Soo and visited the national park downtown that preserves the canal and lock infrastructure running between lake Superior and Huron. I also visited the Canadian Museum of Bush Planes which is located in the former hanger facility of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Air Services branch. They had a very cool collection of Beavers, Otters and other old school planes, but the highlight for me was climbing up in a CL-215 water bomber. I’d never seen one up close and being able to crawl in, under and around one was a real treat. The also had a gift shop and I’m a sucker for t-shirts.
Now I’m in Sudbury and the push is on. I’ve got 4 days to make it to Ottawa to meet my girlfriend for a couple days of R&R. I cranked out 180km yesterday from Blind River to Sudbury and I’ve got 140km to pedal today to take me to North Bay. My Ontario odyssey is almost over!