Thursday, June 28, 2012

These Legs Are For Climbing

Thunder Bay to Gravel River Provincial Park - 164 kms

The morning out of Thunder Bay was grey skies and a slight breeze in my face.  Apparently Bill Hunt brings the good weather and when he leaves the weather leaves too.  I rolled along the lake for about thirty kilometers and then hit Highway 1.  All along the way people had been telling me that the road gets hilly out of T-Bay and I was kind of brushing it off as talk.  The road however looks like a roller coaster. Constant ups and downs.  This lasted for about 40 km and then things mellowed out a lot and the sun came out.  This area of the world is truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet. It is absolutely stunning with large cliff faces and mountain like plateaus covering the landscape all with the giant lake looming in the background. At the some time its also a very harsh area to bike though.  The short steep hills are murder on the legs and every time you stop you are immediately covered in black flies and mosquitoes.  My friend Alex who I was riding with at the start of the trip would hate it here.

I made it to Nipigon and stopped at the local information booth.  The kid there did not know a thing about a place to camp between there and Rossport.  I wanted to do about 160 so I grabbed some food and water and decided to risk it.  About 45 k after that I found a place hidden from the highway in Gravel River provincial park.  I learned something huge that night stealth alway have to pay attention to where the train track are.  I was a lot closer than I thought and wow do they make a lot of noise when they roll by and they roll by often late into the night.  That coupled with getting eaten alive while cooking meant that I did not get a good sleep.

Here is what I learned yesterday:
- The sunshine apparently shines around Bill
- The locals were not lying to me about how hilly it is
- Bears stair at you the same way cows do as you ride by them.  Not sure if they are thinking the same thing though. I think cows are thinking "Is that thing going to eat me?" and bears are thinking "Can I eat that thing?"

Gravel River to Marathon - 148 km

I got up early because, well I was up...and after a bagel and some pop tarts I packed up my gear and got back on the road.  About 5 k down the road I was confronted with the first of three 4 km climbs that were at about 8% grade.  There was no wind however and the sun was out so the kilometers were tipping by.  I was not expecting the road to get more challenging after yesterday but it is on this stretch. You are either climbing or hauling ass downhill leaving very little time for recovery.  I made good time though and a few interesting things happened along the road.  First I came close to wiping out today for the first time on this trip.  I was flying downhill at about 50 km/h when a wasp smoked me in the neck stinging me in the process.  To make it worse it fell into my jersey and stung me on the chest.  My initial reaction was to try to squish it but that just made it sting me again so then I tried to rip off my jersey...all this while still bombing downhill. Luckily I had a full zip jersey on and I was able to unzip it enough that the little bastard could fly out.  If I had hit a bump or the shoulder changed I would have ate it for sure.  Three stings...not cool but everything is good.

Second was I finally caught up to another cyclist.  His name is Alex and he is from France.  He is riding a crazy recumbent bike from Vancouver to Niagara Falls.  His pace is slightly different from mine and the shoulder is small here so we agreed to meet up for dinner in Marathon.  Alex is super cool! He lives on boat in the south of France and has crossed the Atlantic on various occasions. I asked him why he was doing this trip and he told be he had no clue because its kinda crazy. His wife passed away years ago and he says that he is going on trips to show her the world because he knows she is with him.  Reminded me of the movie 'Up'.  His English was a bit broken but we chatted for a while about other trips he has been on as we ate our weight in pasta.  He is 60 and very much someone to look up to.

Here is what I learned today:

- Don't think that it can't get any more hilly because it can
- Recumbents are meant to ride by yourself and not with other people.
- I am 850 km into Ontario which is basically Manitoba and Saskatchewan combined and it still feels like I just started...this is a huge province.

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