It seems like every tale of crossing the country by bike involves a discussion of weight loss. Today, I shed a little over a kilo. After two weeks of travelling with the ultimate camping stove, the MSR Dragonfly, I took the plunge and bought the best backpacking stove on the market, the MSR Pocket Rocket. Right there, I lost over 300 g. Swapping to a smaller fuel canister meant another 200 g isn’t being lugged around. Then I ditched the last pot from my stove kit (the other pots stayed in Kelowna), and replaced it with the tiny pot that MEC markets to backpackers. Enough to make coffee, oatmeal, and Mr Noodles. What else do you need? Finally, thanks to the generosity of John in Halifax, my oversized charger setup was swapped for an Anker 40W, 4 port USB gadget (and a can of Big Spruce’s Silver Tart) all mailed to family friends in Winnipeg. All told I ditched roughly a kilo of gear and a bit of volume, which will make packing easier.
Another advantage of this change is that the Pocket Rocket is a cinch to set up. Making coffee on the side of the road is much more feasible now. The fuel bottle doesn’t need to be primed, and it’s easier to fold and unfold the stove. I may lose efficiency at altitude and not be able to burn kerosene or automotive fuel in a pinch, but I gain a much more convenient stove for backpacking in developed countries.
All of this is to say that I made it to Winnipeg. The winds were variable and light but mostly on the nose. After contending with about 10k of grooved pavement I met a man who had once tried to bike from Portage La Prairie east, but stopped due to knee issues, he was excited to see someone else making the trek and we had a nice chat. Then I had 100 k of Manitoba farm fields to contend with before hitting the outskirts of Winnipeg, which provided the typical rough suburban biking landscape. Eventually I hit Assiniboine Park and some of the best cycling yet.
After the path exited the park it was on to some quiet residential streets where through-traffic is banned on Sunday, and after 15 k of trail and quiet street I arrived at my destination downtown.
Since the headwind and some breaks caused a late arrival there wasn’t time for much more than a car tour of downtown, a hyper-efficient MEC run, a filling meal full of fresh veggies, and the aforementioned Silver Tart. There will need to be another trip, maybe by train, to see all the amazing things Winnipeg and Regina have on offer.
With any luck tomorrow I will be in Ontario, beginning two weeks of fun and black flies.
Today’s lesson: sometimes perfect isn’t the answer. Functional tools are better.
Today’s distance: 125.2 km
Cumulative distance: 2,491.8 km
Today’s climb: 196 m