Week 20 Swan River to Thunder Bay

Day 135

A “getting it done” kinda day.

Another cold start and with headwinds most of the way it left Stevie suffering in the bitter blast with Laura hiding behind in her “neck gaiter”.
We picked up supplies at a quaint time-gone-by kind of shop, which was just as well as the cafe we were aiming for didn’t exist and had us snacking on the side of the road trying to stay warm enough.

There seems to be a Ukrainian influence here and we passed lots of little cemetery, peaceful and quiet on the roadside. Finally about to turn out of the wind we came upon an unexpected cafe which made up for the one missed earlier and had much needed cups of tea.

It sustained us enough to get the last mileage down down a quiet road with lots of abandoned and dilapidated buildings. A glorious sunset led us in and pizza on the menu made Laura’s day after a tough ride yet again.

Day 136

Another chilly chilly start at dawn, but the sun was out today and it gradually warmed up despite the headwind. A tough ride to our first stop…65miles down the road! We were both shattered and hungry by the time.we got there, wiped out from pushing into the wind but finally warm enough to consider taking some layers off.  Stopping at a roadside restaurant we went round twice on sandwiches and soup before tucking into dessert too.  The friendly owner then gave us a couple of packs of M&Ms for the road too!

With 45 miles still to go, crosswinds were a welcome relief but we were still struggling to get the speed up.  Another beautiful sunset but we road into dark, and dark it was with no signs of civilisation around.  Finally we spotted lights glimmering through the trees and reflecting on the lakes below. Laura spotted the sign for the lodge we had booked a couple of days before and we pulled up relieved after another tough ride…

There was a closed sign on the restaurant door but this was no surprise as we’d been told the restaurant was closed…but then the bar door was closed too and we thought this odd as the website said this was open until 8pm and it was 8:05pm…we tried both doors anyway then called the number only to hear the landline fainting ringing inside.

Yet another accommodation disaster.

Investigating around the back we found a guest who then helped us try and contact the Owners as there was no number to call. Soon a few people were trying to help us out but to no avail.  We’d  just upped our ambitions from the tent to the corridor which had been left open when one of the guests offered us a spare bed!! We were taken back by his kindness but he refused to let us sleep on the floor we we got warm and clean and he even shared his chicken and gave us tips on way to stay down the road!

Faith in humanity restored we settled down after another big day, ready for an another big day tomorrow.

Day 137

Feeling extremely grateful to have slept in a bed, but not entirely well rested after the stressful end to yesterday we set off in subzero temperatures again.
We ate up most of the remainder of our previous for breakfast and waved goodbye to Dave who had helped us so much (and apologised for Stevie’s snoring )

A brief glimpse of the water was all we got of the massive lakes we can see surrounding us on the maps as we wound pur way through them initially to then head South East -finally towards Winnipeg after our jaunt to gain mileage.

The wind was meant to be turning in our favour but it was taking its time about it and it was a tough push to second breakfast…or rather lunch at 50miles in.

The wind and direction gradually aligned later in the day and like so often we managed to pull it put of the bag later on.  We were relived and delighted to reach Winnipeg as it has been really tough going these past few days and this means we are still on track.  The prairies will soon be behind us and we are looking forward to a change in terrain from the endless flat straight roads which are more of a challenge mentally if not physically.

A hotel with and actual reception let us in our room just as it got dark and we’re getting an early night before a (hopefully) easier day tomorrow.

Day 138

Leaving the motel to another glorious sunrise the massive living skies of the prairies were soon blotted out by skyscrapers as we crossed Winnipeg.  We were soo on the Trans-Canadian Highway and heading East along yet more flat straight roads.
A brief stop as we need to get to the motel by 6pm to check in and we picked up cross tailwinds and put the hammer down!!

We’ve made it halfway across Canada (according to the sign) but there’s plenty more to go!

The road got more forested and slightly more undulating towards the end and we were treated to a view over a lake as we reached a small summit- we’ve been missing the views!!

Getting to the motel with time to spare the welcome party was out to greet us and we’ve got some good time for recovery.

Day 139

A relatively warmer start amd a surprise as we bumped into an expat from just down the road in Allenton!

The scenery started off good and only got better- forests, lakes and rocky outcrops…it was like pocahontas would jump out from behind a tree any minute.  The road rolled all day giving us the most elevation we’ve had since the rockies but in steady ups and downs.
It warmed up significantly and we could barely believe the difference to a few days ago!

Tailwinds helped us through and it felt like the most enjoyable day we’ve had in a long time.  A solid stint after brunch (where the server was from Yorkshire! ) and we’d broken the back if the rode to reach Dryden at dusk.
Hopefully more of the same tomorrow!

Day 140

Wow! 40 days to go… hopefully…

We aren’t brimming with confidence today because just before leaving we’ve found the Fundy Bay ferry we planned to get 2 days before our flight is undergoing maintenance and not running until 1 day before our flight… there is a detour but this will involve a fair bit of rerouting and possibly missing out on visiting Cycle Touring Life who have been an amazing supporter of our challenge.

We needed to get on the road and the next stumbling block was we opened the motel door to rain!
We’d kinda forgotten about rain seeing as this was the first time in Canada!!

Switching to waterproofs and neoprene gloves we set out to a day with less elevation, hills and a slight headwind.  A very remote road left us waiting until 65miles in for a cuppa and two footlongs (we have Subway ordering down pat now and just have to hope we don’t get stuck behind someone that dictates their salad preference tomato slice by tomato slice…)

Stocking up on dinner as well we pushed through the last few miles to an isolated motel.  The sky had cleared a bit to give us some views on the way in and quickly got settled in a warm room to rustle up some dinner.

Day 141

A peaceful start from the motel by the lake we’d stopped at and an early win when the Owner knocked  on the door and gave us muffins!

It was to be a day of headwinds and hills so not easy going.  With long distances between places we had to take what came along so ended up having a fairly early stop just under 30miles in for an unusual second breakfast of chilli and chicken burgers! It was all fuel for the tank though.

We had lost time though…mostly because we’d hit another time zone.  Not as unexpected this time (even if it does seem to be the one bit of pretrip planning Laura failed to do…) but still made us feel on the back foot.  With a long way to Thunder Bay we pressed on and as it heated up we peeled layer after layer off. It feels like  completely different season and as it’s warmer at night too may give us options to camp which can help split up distances. 

We had a stark reminder to stick to campsites though as there was a young bear which had been hit by a car dead on the side of the road.

It was still warm as we reached Thunder Bay at dusk and a supermarket sweepof Walmart to stock up on essentials before things become more remote again.


Weekly mileage: 783miles

Total mileage: 14,028 miles

Puncutres: 0 (we don’t dare mention them now after such a good run…!)

Pizza : 4

3 thoughts on “Week 20 Swan River to Thunder Bay

  1. Been following you from the beginning of your trip, cheering you on from my laptop on my kitchen table. We have ridden tandem (and singles) for the past 20 years, so know a little bit about your triumphs and struggles. You are doing great!!! But it will sure seem funny when you are in the same time zone as we are (Eastern). Wish you were dipping down into Michigan when you get to Soo, Ontario, but oh well. Keep up the good work!!! Kathy in mid-Michigan

  2. Wel done to the team. I’m absolutely rivetted by all your stories and adventures. Thanks for allowing me to follow this epic adventure, Joe.

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