8 July report, Nancy O’Higgins Selkirk, Man. to Thunder Bay, Ont.

A bunch of us bused into Winnipeg from Selkirk and sightsaw. We bought out the bike department at Mountain Equipment where we all met by coincidence. Bike shorts went flying into change rooms, Canada shirts, in honour of the next day, July 1, many cans of SuperLube, bike cleaner, etc. etc. Mary showed us that she had accidentally spent the day wearing one Teva sandal and one bike sandal, complete with clip on the bottom. While talking about absent-minded adventures, earlier Dave Herlt took his helmet off to get rid of a bee and didn’t realize he’d put it on backwards until Sandy asked him much later why his visor was at the back. Some of us missed the best museum to visit which was right at the campsite in Selkirk, the Manitoba Maritime Museum.

Selkirk to Rennie ‚ 130 k

Set off on beautiful tour of Selkirk on way to Rennie, but took a slight detour to the west instead of the east at the start. Fortunately Ken’s sense of direction told him the sun was in the wrong place. Once we all turned around and headed in the right direction, we still added a lump of time because of a gravel road that the map showed us taking. Wayne went the right way and was waiting with the coffee at Beausejour but nobody turned up. He thought we’d gone past or gone another way and wasted a frustrating day backing and forthing trying to find us. We didn’t connect until the middle of the afternoon. The wind was against us except when we were going the wrong direction. A frustrating day for all.

Rennie to Kenora ‚ 92 k

The mosquitoes stop at the Manitoba border! They started at Manitoba Narrows and kept up their annoying thick irritation right to Kenora where we had a covered area. Kenora was bustling with tourist traffic and finding Anicinibe campground was difficult for everyone but once we got there realized it should have been easy. The campground was a beautiful spot under cover and rain dumped the minute we were all there. The next morning was sunny and beautiful with loons crying. On a 5 a.m. walk Mary found a dinnerplate-sized snapping turtle laying eggs.

Kenora to Nestor Falls ‚ 123 k

There isn’t any flat land between Kenora to Nestor Falls. It’s all hills. Most people stopped for food or ice cream at Sioux Narrows in warm sunshine with tourists celebrating both Canada Day and Independence Day. We can get very tired of all these head winds. Arriving at Nestor Falls everyone except the last two cyclists went too far and had to double back to find Clark and Crombie Camp. The last two saw the sign saying C & C Camp and went into the office to ask if it was the right place. Ha!!

Nestor Falls to Fort Frances ‚ 121k

A tail wind at last! It was only at the start of the ride until we turned direction, but still…Our usual head wind was present for the last 70 k. Mary and David with their cooking partner George cooked us an American July 4th dinner ‚ hamburgers, hotdogs, corn on the cob, baked beans, chips, potato salad, macaroni salad, with strawberry shortcake for dessert. Fabulous! At dusk Al surprised our South Carolina partners by making them look out of their tent to see the Roman Candle he set off.

Fort Frances to Atikokan ‚ 147k

Not a happy day. Very, very long and all head winds. Harold had been putting up with tendonitis in his leg and it played up enough that he decided he needed to be rescued by the truck. We asked a couple of people cycling by on recumbants to tell our faster people ahead to send Wayne back. Instead, they got their support vehicle driver to go to the police station in Atikokan for directions and they gave her a police escort to our camp site. It must have been a shock to the early arrivers to have a police car arrive and a relief to them to find out it wasn’t more serious. We decided to have pizza that night as it was too long a day to put up the cook tent and get dinner.

Atikokan to Kashabowie ‚ 100k

Long ride in on a dreadful gravel road at Kashabowie only to discover it was well worth it. The resort where we thought we would be camping on an empty field with two rustic cabins needed for showers turned out to be luxurious by our standards. Any night we don’t have to put up our tents turns out to be a treat. The men’s cabin slept nine with a kitchen where Brendan and Wayne cooked their magic producing spaghetti for us, and breakfast with real toast the next morning. The women’s cabin (that we really can’t call that because Dave and Mary had one of the bedrooms) was an unexpected delight.

Kashabowie to Thunder Bay 113k

A great day with rolling terrain, a bit of tail wind or at least neutral winds followed by a nerve-wracking ride into Thunder Bay traffic where we all hit the bike stores. A group of us found a new store where the owners and his mechanic were unbelievably helpful. They were interested in our trip and told everyone who came into the store what we were doing. They changed all the chains on our bikes, installed bars on mine to make me faster (every little bit helps) spent three hours trying to fix Dave Herlt’s bike unsuccessfully because they didn’t have the necessary part. The owner actually left the store and drove to two other bike shops for things they didn’t have that we needed ‚ tires, specific chains, gloves, so we wouldn’t have to ride our bikes to other stores. When in Thunder Bay say hello to the people at Rollin’ Thunder for us, especially the owners Allison Carroll and Brian Coutts.

We are staying at the KOA campground for our day off and there will be the usual flurry of laundry-washing, library visiting for internet access and restaurant visiting.