Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Week 5 Savanne River to Bruce Mines (917 km)

AKA around the top of Lake Superior and part of Lake Huron for those unfamiliar with the geography of northern Ontario (that's pretty much everyone then, including approximately 65% of northern Ontarians who looked at me blankly when I asked where the nearest gas station was). If you're struggling to find it on a map, its the area marked "HERE BE BEARS AND BUGS". Got it? Good.

Ok, so this weeks update of last weeks activities is kindly sponsored by Elle and Jake, and comes with extra spelling mistakes as I'm writing it on their MacBook (I'M A PC WHY U NO CAN HAZ RIGHT CLICK??!) and also because my left hand, affectionately renamed "the claw" has reduced functionality and is now apparently only good for braking and gesturing at trucker drivers that come too close.

In Thunder Bay, I went to pay my respects to Terry Fox, a Canadian hero relatively unknown outside of this particular part of North America. Putting it briefly, he was the son of Tim Horton and Celine Dion who rode a moose across... ok ok ok ok no I'm kidding please don't kill me Canada. Terry Fox was a young man who lost a leg to cancer, but regardless decided to run across Canada from east to west raising money for cancer research during the 1980s. He covered over 5000 km before being forced to quit just outside of Thunder Bay due to a recurrence of cancer that killed him just nine months later. He was 22. His image is iconic, and anyone spending any extended period of time in this country will eventually catch a glimpse of him on TV: dated 80s clips showing this man with an artificial leg and a mop of curly 1980s footballer hair running in raggedy hop shuffle step during his Marathon of Hope. Despite the appalling weather and several signs insisting that cycling was absolutely totally definitely not allowed on that bit of road, I went to see his memorial statue on a hill overlooking Thunder Bay. It was humbling, inspiring and motivating and totally worth the absolute soaking I got minutes after arriving. High five Terry, high five.

On a cheerier note the rain passed and I arrived in Nipigon in the middle of the annual blueberry festival, where for one weekend the entire town dresses as blueberries, sings songs about blueberries, and eats a lot of blueberry pie. Amazing. Things got even more amazing when I rolled into Schreiber (definitely better than Terrace Bay) and had the good fortune to meet the awesome Catherine who invited me to spend the night in her backyard. That alone would have been supercool, but I was also invited for dinner, introduced to her lovely mum Rosemary and step dad Sam, and the extremely handsome Harley the dog. Swoon. These guys took me on a tour of the local beaches and waterfalls, let me sleep in their summerhouse, stuffed me full of breakfast and sent me on my way laden down with homemade goodies and many other treats. You guys!! So nice. Come visit anytime!

The rest of the week was super rainy/foggy/rainy until I left Lake Superior, when the weather lifted and I was able to see the large numbers of bears at the side of the road which before I had no doubt been riding past completely oblivious. The attractiveness of solo wilderness camping is negatively correlated with increasing bear density, which resulted in what I like to call urban camping - AKA sleeping in the nice display sheds Home Depot have outside the front of their stores. Rainproof, windproof, bearproof and handily located near the highway at the edge of a town near you.

Savanne River to Thunder Bay - 138 km
Thunder Bay to Nipigon - 108 km
Nipigon to Schreiber - 101 km
Schreiber to White Lake - 151 km
White Lake to Wawa - 126 km
Wawa to Montreal River - 110 km
Montreal River to Bruce Mines - 183 km

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