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Day 55

This morning we woke up and saw there was someone else who was thinking like us and camped out (in their camper van) in the back parking lot of the info center. They were up not long after us, and the woman (it was a husband and wife with two kids) came up to talk to us. She asked us in french if we were going across the country. We told her we were and told her a bit about our route. She told us the roads ahead would be brutally hilly. Everyone tells us that! But it was really nice to have a conversation in french (it's something I haven't done in a while!). And it's pretty rare for someone in Ontario to START the conversation in French, which is cool that she did! When we left the info center, we planned on having second breakfast in Kenora. The winds were less than ideal (ie cross head wind), but it was a nice day, and the roads were amazing! When we got into Kenora, we found a Tim Horton's and got some hot water (they charged us for a tea for the hot water, so we got some tea bags on the side for later). With the hot water, we made porridge. We stayed there for quite a bit, talked to some of the locals, then hit the road for a bit. The roads became less than favourable, and we had to cross a lot of construction zones. I had to pull over to fix my front panier at one point. While fixing it, randomly, one cyclist came in the other direction, and two in the direction Michael and I came from, and all happened to meet up in this one spot. We talked for a bit about our trips so far (the couple were riding a tandem across from Victoria to St. John's, while the single guy flew from Spain to New York and is cycling from New York then across Canada, heading west). They were very nice (all three of them) and we talked for a while. Then we went our ways. Michael and I talked about how difficult it might be on a tandem. We can't imagine it would be easier, but who knows. We've never done it! Not long after the random meeting, we had to stop again because Michael's wheel wasn't spinning. He fixed it, only to notice he needs a new wheel! The rim is bent at one point. To allow it to spin freely, he needed to release his rear brake completely. We continued cycling through the heat, until about 60km from Vermillion Bay. It was so hot, and Michael was so tired from the added friction all morning (until he took his brakes off that is) so we decided to take a nap for an hour! When we woke up and packed up, we saw the two girls from Trail again (we knew we would see them somewhere around the Manitoba/Ontario border, but that's probably the last time we see them). Then we went straight into Vermillion Bay. We didn't think we would make it all the way to Dryden today (especially after the several bike fixes, the long second breakfast, and the nap). We were about 20km from Vermillion Bay when it started raining. It wasn't hard, but we had two options. Either we try to make it into town, or we set up camp now, and not get wet before bed. We decided on the latter, but couldn't find a good place to camp for the next 10km! By that time, the rain stopped and we were only 10km from town, that we decided to at least go that far, if not further (not much further, maybe 5km as it was going to be around 7:30 when we got into town and I don't like cycling past 8pm for safety reasons). When we got into Vermillion Bay, we stopped off at “Bobby's Sport Store” to use the washrooms. We talked to someone outside and he told us we should just camp over to the side of the parking lot on the other side of the giant Inukshuk statue they had there. We said we might get in trouble and he told us he owns the place so it's not a problem. Since his place was open from 6am-10pm we thought that would be a good idea! That way, we could use proper washrooms before bed and when we woke up! Also, since we had a hard time finding somewhere safe to camp before the city, we didn't know what to expect after. And the giant statue was good protection from cars! So that's what we did! Right when we were in the tent and ready for bed, the rain started up again. It started slow, then downpoured! It did not sound pleasant at all outside! We figured we would see what happens tomorrow and decide from there if we cycle, or stay here another night.

Siesta in Northern Ontario

We woke up next to a camper van who was doing the same thing as us - trying to sleep for free at the Info Centre. They were from Quebec, and we were speaking to each other in French. They’re going across Canada too, but east to west, and they warned us of the hills that are coming up.

We stopped in Kenora at a Tim Hortons, and ordered an xl tea so we could use the hot water for our porridge for second breakfast. There was construction on the road in town on our way out, and as we were biking along gravel I noticed that my back wheel was rubbing on the brake. My rim was cracked. Earlier in the day, it felt a bit hard to bike, but i just attributed it to the headwind. I sure hope that it doesn’t break on me for the next 500 km to Thunder Bay!

The roads along this route were very pretty with rock face cliffs on either side at points and lakes all around. The sun was very hot all day, and we were both tired, so we stopped at one of the many lakes, found some shade, laid out a tarp, blew up our sleeping mats and took a 1 hour nap. We felt very rejuvenated from it and pedalled to Vermillion Bay. It started to rain about 15 km out of town, so we were looking for a spot to camp at the side of the road. There are always places to camp, but for some reason, not in this stretch! The rain went away before we could find an appropriate place, so we just went into town.

We stopped at the shell gas station with Bobby’s Sports Store and we talked with them for a bit. They were very friendly, and they let us camp by the Inuksuk at the end of their parking lot. We were lucky because It started to rain just after we set up camp.

Fun facts, stats and lessons learned

Distance travelled today: 147.19 km

Total distance travelled: 4173.3 km

Starting point: Info Centre just past the Ontario border

Our Route: Trans Canada (Highway 17) all day. The roads and shoulder were excelent for most parts, except going through Kenora with potholes and construction, and points where the shoulder got really narrow at points.

Ending point: Bobby’s Sports Store parking lot, Vermillion Bay

  • We knew we weren’t the only ones cycling across Canada, but we encountered at least 6 others doing this sort of trip too today.
  • Kenora is a town mostly for Manitobans as a cottage country location.
  • Moose are dangerous at night because their eyes don’t reflect light the way other animals eyes do, and they’re so top heavy and tall that cars tend to take out their knees and the moose’s body goes through he windshield.