Day 33: Nipigon to Schrieber
What a glorious, easy and relaxing days cycling.
My legs felt fresh from four days of cycling on the trot. The spasms in my lower back beautifully complemented my bloated day-one period feeling. I felt as bouncy and joyous as a spring lamb as I leapt up the steepening hills into the relentless headwind.
Katie Wanderer commented the other day that my blog posts are always so positive. No matter how exhausted, achey and pathetic we have felt my blog post would gush with how wonderful cycling across Canada is.
Today was my most pathetic day yet. In fact, it’s the first time on the trip that I haven’t reached my intended destination. That made me feel a little crushed.
Don’t get my wrong: cycling across Canada is wonderful. But today I felt entirely exhausted, achey and pathetic.
The aches and pain meant we had a slow start to the day – in fact we didn’t get out the campground until 11.30am. We had cycled just under 20km before we stopped by a perfectly located portaloo by the side of the road. (It does not cease to amaze me how many public toilets there are in Canada. And the impressive availability of toilet paper in the Middle of Nowhere. France take note.)
We were lounging outside aforementioned portaloo when another cyclist pulled up. Ross looked like he had just pedalled here from a stage of the Tour de France. He was wearing full Lycra labelled garb and riding a lightweight road bike. “This isn’t actually my bike,” he explained, “it’s my Dad’s. my bike is a triathlon time trial bike but we swapped bikes for the summer. My Dad wanted to do a triathlon so it’s worked out pretty well.”
Ross didn’t have much gear on his bike, confessing to only having one pair of shorts and no rain jacket. He was clearly doing much, much longer days than us. Once on the road he quickly sped off with the easy grace that super-lightweight triathletes have.
Less than 5km later and two other cyclists caught up with us as we waited at a construction stop sign. The two girls were both riding Trek Madone bikes. “They are designed for the Paris-Roubaix,” one of the girls explained, pointing at the suspension in the seat post, “so this really helps on the bumps.”
They had a support van so were carrying less than most people take on a Sunday jolly. They had water, an energy gel, and smiley, tanned faces that looked liked they’d be cut out the billboard for low-fat greek yoghurt.
After the construction, the road steeped quickly to a near vertical ascent reminiscent of the south of France. The Madone girls leapt up the hills like spring lambs. I continued to creep at the speed of an encumbered tortoise with a broken foot. Urg.
These super fit, blonde, lightweight speedy cyclists were accentuating my misery as I considered how laden, fat and pathetic I must look. Yes, I do triathlon. But when I “do” triathlon, I stomp round trying not to collapse before the end (and collecting as many free energy gels as possible en route.)
When I get home I am (if I have any money left!) going to buy a road bike. Ruth has got a new road bike. Other #cyclewithdino folks also logged miles on road bikes. I’m sorry for poor Monty, my dear and trusty steed, because today I wished, for the miles that I slogged and felt annoyed by my slowness, that I too was on a road bike
All day there were long, hard hills (ie 7% gradient). Monty and I fought with all the power we had. By 8pm we had not yet done 100km. It was still another 14km to go to the town of Terrace Bay, our intended destination
The Wanderers and I pulled into a gas station to decide what to do. Looking round at our tired, watery faces it was clear that we were all flagging. At any moment I felt like I might yell in angry or burst into tears.
The woman at the gas station advised us that there was no campground in Terrace Bay. The stretch of highway was also known to be a hotspot for black bears. I didn’t feel comfortably wild camping in bear country. I doubt I would sleep if I knew they were prowling round my tent, sniffing out the forgotten protein bar left in my jersey pocket. So with some glumness we decided to stay in Schreiber and camp at the mosquito-infested RV park. Yes, it was a wise decision but not a fun one.
The Wanderers went to get pizza. I was too tired to move any further.
Whenever part of your body is exhausted, achey and pathetic there are few things that will save you. But this was one: a new pair of merino socks. I slipped them on over my mosquito bitten feet and fell asleep.