Day 25: Winnipeg to Rennie (131km)
“I feel like a celebrity being swarmed by the paparazzi,” Katie Wanderer remarked.
Word has clearly got out that three famous cyclists were on the road as we were chased along the highway by a swirling mass of black flies. I’ve never known flies like this before. There must have been more than twenty frenetically whirling around my bike and body, distracting my vision like floaters in my eyes.
Today we encountered horse flies, black flies, mosquitoes, heat, pain and a black bear. Yep, you know we’re nearly in Ontario.
We started the day waking up in a luxury Fairmont hotel, courtesy of Sofi Wanderer’s Dad’s connection. Unlike Chateau Lake Louise, I slept very well in the pressed white sheets. I could get used to this. The disadvantage of a luxury hotel is that extra services cost extra – the cheapest breakfast was $18 for a slice of melon and it cost $7 to have a pair of socks washed. Oh, unless you wash them yourself in the bath tub. So while Katie Wanderer nipped to Tim Hortons (translation: Canadians biggest coffee chain) to pick up breakfast, Sofi Wanderer dried out her clothing with the hair dryer.
Katie and I have matching knee pain. The solution is apparently ice, ice, ice. So we nipped to the drug store to spend a small fortune on lotions and potions to keep our bodies in order. There’s something to be said for my increasingly ability to feel comfortable and at home wherever I am standing. Hanging out with the Wanderers it has become normal to wheel a muddy touring bike along the smooth marble floors of a hotel lobby. We stood in the lobby spraying ourselves with deep freeze and popping arthritic painkillers. I would highly recommend staying at a hotel like this: the front staff always open the door for you. Makes wheeling a bike in and out the lobby an awful lot easier.
Today it was hot. It was approaching 30 degrees when we left the cool interior of the hotel and set off down the muggy, humming streets of Winnipeg searching for a route out into the wilderness.
Today we saw the scenery change as we headed east of Manitoba towards the Ontario border. Manitoba was agricultural, flat and there were few trees. Today the trees popped up quite suddenly. The woods closed in around us, the road steepened and fell… And the bugs appeared.
We cycled past 10 acre wood, the home of Winnie the Pooh (Did you know he’s Canadian? He was named after Winnipeg). Later in the day we startled a real black bear that was feeding by the roadside. It ran off as we noisily cycled past.
We stopped to eat lunch at 6pm (sic). The heat of the sun had melted the cheese in my pannier so we had pre-grilled cheese for lunch. Finally, after a long break the heat of the day had abated. We enjoyed the final two hour cycle to the campground as the embers of the day glowed behind us. The road was quiet, there was almost no traffic. The sun set slowly behind the forest as we pulled into a wonderful campground off a dusty track.
We spent the evening massaging our legs with ice and tiger balm before going to sleep.
What a change in a day. I woke up in a luxury hotel. I fall asleep on the thermarest inside the common room of a campsite, the midgies swamping around my ipad. But I am equally happy in both.