Today was a pretty great day on the bike. I got rolling more or less on schedule, had a beautiful coffee stop an hour in, then another beautiful stop for lunch, both overlooking serene lakes. At lunch, however, I started putting serious thought into my plans for the coming days and a change was in order. Between Dryden and Thunder Bay (350 km) there is nothing. No campgrounds. No grocery stores. A couple gas stations. Basically just mile after mile of Canadian Shield. With thunderstorms scheduled for Saturday a rest day is likely necessary. That means stopping in Thunder Bay. So I could do two nights in the bush and a short ride to Thunder Bay or a shorter day today, a night in the bush tomorrow, and a good effort to the Lakehead. I opted for the latter, and am now happily at the last campground between Dryden and Thunder Bay. Showers are too appealing.
Very early on today I began to thank Alfred Nobel for his help on this ride. The shield is hilly, today ranked as the 7th most climbing and yesterday was the 9th. But thanks to dynamite the hills were a little more manageable than the way Mother Nature intended.
The first coffee stop was at a rest stop with a dozen picnic tables and some toilets. Ontario definitely has the best rest stops yet. I passed a few others without stopping in but the picnic tables were great and the sites excellent.
I paused for lunch in Vermillion Bay then hit up a cafe to use their wifi to plan the next few days, as discussed above. I had a lemon tart with the coffee, which was a wise choice.
After the long stop in Vermillion Bay I headed to Dryden. This should have been easy (40 km) but I felt like I was fading the whole way. Hill after hill greeted me and my heavy bike. The stove and pots I dropped freed up space which was taken over by surprisingly heavy foods. Finally, I made it to Dryden, a town entirely defined by its massive paper mill (and even larger parking lots), and I grabbed more food for the two days of isolation. Hopefully I will get to Thunder Bay with empty bags and a chance to start fresh on nutrition.
On the way in to Dryden I rolled over some incredibly smooth asphalt and the best shoulders yet. Last year, my friend Mike, who inspired me to do this ride in such a short time frame, hit construction on that stretch and sucked back a lot of dust. It was worth it, Mike!
My plan after the grocery store was to get an ice cream (there was a heat warning today), but instead I got a Frappuccino. I have been a sucker for the mid-afternoon sugar bombs this trip. I’m sure a handful of nuts would’ve done the job. Without the frapp today would have been around 3,000 calories, 90 g sugar, 300 g carb, and 100 g protein. The frapp added 500 calories and 66 grams of sugar (that is an insane amount of sugar, for non-experts out there). Oh well, I enjoyed the treat.
Finally I rolled up to my campsite and had a short conversation in French with my neighbours. Then I made the mistake of asking the campsite owner about his Avro Arrow model. Never ask someone about their Arrow model. It will unleash a rant. After said rant I enjoyed my supper, a Knorr select pasta with a can of smoked mussels. Definitely worth trying again.
I’m definitely feeling the mid-point slump now. The next ten days take me through some pretty desolate areas, and the motivation to get up and go is waning. I hope to restore some motivation tomorrow and crank out a big effort for the longest day of the year.
Today’s distance: 145.6 km
Cumulative distance: 2,879.1 km
Today’s climb: 958 m