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Day 50

Last night, Michael and I heard dogs? (or wolfs or coyotees? Do they bark?) barking. There was also another animal sound (deer? I don't know what) that was being scared away. Michael and I were scared because the animals were RIGHT outside our tent! We had our bear spray at the ready (actually, since the night we heard random singing, we sleep beside our bear spray, dog spray, air horn, and leatherman). We weren't about to stick our heads outside the tent (obviously), so we fell back asleep after hearing no more barking for a while. When we woke up this morning, at 3am Saskatchewan time, 4am Manitoba time, Michael stuck his head out the tent and noticed it was still dark. We figured we would sleep in another hour (for safety reasons. Cars wouldn't expect to see a cyclist so early in the morning, so if it's dark or if the sun is in the driver's eyes, they wouldn't think to look for anyone cycling at the side of the road. We got up at 5am Manitoba time and got all packed. Just as we were ready to leave the tent, we heard barking again. We finished all the packing, then I put my head out and didn't see any dogs. When I went out, I saw them in the distance, and they saw me, and then they started running to me. I bolted into the tent SO FAST! They came up and surrounded our tent, walking around it in circles. Now, as most people know, I am not good with dogs. But they weren't barking anymore, so we figured they might be friendly. Only the mesh part of the tent was zipped so we could see them, and we called them over. They came over obediently (without barking) so we figured they were friendly, and probably a local farmer's dog. So, I went out of the tent first (another example of Michael being a gentleman). They jumped up on me, but they were friendly, so it wasn't too bad. They wouldn't leave us alone to pack (which dog people would see as cute, but in reality, they just got in the way). So after our one hour sleep in, and the dog interruption, we finally hit the road at 5:30am, Manitoba time. The dogs followed us. At first we thought they wouldn't be able to stay with us for long, but turns out they have stamina! They followed us for just over 10km, traveling at an average of 24km/hr. I hope they can find their way home! But it was a fun way to start the day! We first busted it to Moosomin to use the washrooms, then another quick break at the Saskatchewan/Manitoba border for a photo (where we met the two girls from Trail B.C. The guy in Indian Head was telling us about! They cycled from Trail and are headed to St. John's as well. They cycle less than we do per day, but they don't take days off. They were very friendly.) then straight to Virden for our first break of the day, and for second breakfast. We stopped into Tim Hortons and had the sandwich/donought/coffee deal. We talked to a few locals who were very friendly, and were impressed with our trip. They told us that in the paper, they talked about how Manitoba drivers are the friendliest drivers, and most biker friendly in the country (we never found this to be true. In fact, it was quite the opposite!). They also told us to be careful because a few years ago, two cyclists who were also cycling across Canada were killed about 5km east of where we were. When we cycled past, we saw a little shrine, with a white bike and two headstones. It was kinda scary to see, and although we were always aware of the risk of cycling on the roads, it's still an eye opener to see. We continued, without break, to Brandon. It started getting REALLY hot, so we had to delayer as we ate lunch (peanut butter sandwiches to finish off the heavy jars to make ourselves lighter for our long trek of the day). We obviously also had chocolate milk! When we were just about to leave, Michael got a text from Nicole telling us that it's pouring in Winnipeg! We talked to a few people who just finished driving from Winnipeg and they said it's brutal up until about 30km away from here. Michael and I figured we would keep cycling west and deal with the rain when we get to it. Worst case scenario, we have to call it a night early. The cycle was alright. The roads were less than ideal though. The worst section we have dealt with all day, and all trip for that matter, was about 60km west of Portage la Prairie. There was NO shoulder and the roads were all ripped up and full of pot holes! We spent as much time looking in our rear-view mirror as straight in front. Anytime a car was coming, we were ready to swerve into the ditch if need be! Thank god we didn't need to! But it was a tiresome stretch! Our arms were hurting from trying to keep our handle bars straight! A little ways after that, another cyclist flagged us down. He was spending ten years cycling around the world. He started in New Zealand, and cycled 37 countries and is now in Canada. He said he cycles no more than 100km/day. Spending so much time on your own wouldn't be my cup of tea, but good for him! We were a little confused though, why, after so much time, he didn't want to ever do MORE than 100km/day (it would be so much quicker!), and why, after so much experience, he wasn't cycling from west to east (for the prevailing winds, that we have not really experienced yet...maybe he knows something we don't!). But it was fun to hear a bit about his experiences! He gave us a whole bunch of advice for places to stay along the way towards Montreal, but he threw out SO many names, we didn't remember any of it! We got into Portage around 8pm. We finished cycling just over 300km! That's huge! And it's our biggest day so far! Michael wanted to continue all the way into Winnipeg. I was leaning more towards not. We've been told by NUMEROUS sources that the stretch of highway 1 into Winnipeg is the worst in the country. We didn't know how lit up it would be, or how the drivers would be. By the end of the cycle, we had a wave of wicked tail wind and were flying (over 30km/hr)! That is, until the last 20 or so kms. Then the winds changed, and we were tired. We were only cycling at about 15km/hr at the end. We decided to stay in Portage for safety reasons (both to avoid bad roads at night, and to prevent injury). We stayed at Hiway motel. It was very cute and clean! And they gave us a small discount, which was amazing! We felt we earned the hotel after the long day! The plan was to wake up, and get into Winnipeg in the morning! We met another cyclist who was going from Quebec city to Vancouver, but he didn't think he would be able to continue because he hurt his knees (he has been in Portage for the past 5 days and they still aren't better!). We planned on hanging out after Michael and I showered and ate dinner, but after we did that, we just passed out! We were so tired (the long day mixed with the sun is a deadly combination!).