2018 Silver Islet to Massey

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June 13th 2018
Published: June 13th 2018
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I spent the winter preparing for the ride east by "bulking up" - the all important procedure of adding about 50 lbs of

blubber in order to make it harder to ride up hills so as to strengthen my leg muscles. This extra fat would also come

in handy in case Michele and I lost track of each other: I would have the physical reserves to survive at least one day

without my lunch (granted an unhappy day).

So on June 1, thus conditioned, I set off from SI to Nipigon. I had done a few pre-rides of 100 km each to prove I could

still go that far and also to prove that I could surmount the 10% hill where highway 587 meets the TC. I could... albeit

just barely and with much huffing and puffing. Of course the wind was in my face all day and it was threatening rain, though

only a little fell. Michele caught up somewhere after Pearl and we had our usual highway side lunch. She went on to Nip-

igon to get a campsite at the Marina. As I prepared to go, a guy on a recumbent bike pulled up and we shook hands. Sid

was his name and he was 45 days out of California. He was headed to Michigan via Sarnia. Michele was all set up at the Marina

in one of their "eco-camping" sites. She said the eco part was that she wasn't allowed to drive the car on the road that

went right up to our site, but instead had to lug all our stuff about 100 yards from the parking lot. She was not pleased.

It was a beautiful spot. We looked at the pelicans and cormorants with the big telescope they have there. Later we went

up the hill and took pictures of each other in the paddle-to-the-sea canoe.

The next day dawned clear and sunny. A beautiful day for a bike ride, though I was a bit nervous about the big hills I knew

were coming up. I got an early start and headed for Rainbow falls provincial park, our goal for the day. The hills were

challenging but the stunning views of Nipigon bay and islands made the climbs less painful. Michele met me for lunch

just past the Gravel River. She showed me a photo she had taken minutes before of a moose standing in the ditch next to

the road. "You didn't see it, did you," she said, knowing of my bad habit of looking at the road in front of my tire in-

stead of around me. I arrived at Rainbow falls to find Michele had a beautiful beach site. After supper we walked on the

beach looking for interesting rocks and waded in the numbingly cold lake. During the night I was awakened by the sound

of the rising surf and the gusting wind. It was blowing so hard that our tent was almost collapsing on us. Sleep was difficult,

for at any moment a wind gust would push the tent in so far it touched our faces. Then at some wee hour, the rain started

lashing the tent as well.

At first light the rain slackened, so I stuck my head out of the tent to the disturbing sight of heavy-laden clouds.

I figured I had better get while the gettin' was good, so after gulping some coffee and putting on my rain jacket and what-

ever else I could fit under it for insulation against the chill wind, I set off up the first hill of the day. By the time I

reached the crest, the rain started again. I kept hoping it would stop, hoping for some miraculous change, but it just got

heavier. By the time I reached Schreiber, I was soaked through. I stood under an overhang of some boarded up place by the

highway and dripped and felt sorry for myself. The rain got heavier and then the fog started to move in. I texted Michele

that I was heading to Terrace Bay and that if the weather hadn't improved by then, I was packing it in for the day. When I

got there nothing had changed except I was wetter, the rain was heavier and the fog was turning into a pea-souper. I holed

up in the Tourist Information place which, remarkably, was open fairly early on a Sunday morning. The nice girls there said

they didn't mind if I waited. Poor Michele had to do a rapid pack up in the rain by herself. Meanwhile, I made pleasant

chit-chat with the tourist information girls and dried off. Over lunch at the local hotel, Michele and I decided that we

would drive to Marathon and I would have to ride that distance on the way back. So we did.

We stayed at the Airport Inn on the highway by the turnoff to Marathon. We took a rather depressing tour of the soggy

and socked-in town when we arrived. The motel on the highway seemed as good as any. The weather hadn't changed the next

morning so we took the decision to drive till it turned nice - or at least not so bad. That's how we ended up in the Soo

that night. Through the fog and rain I got to preview all the highway in that stretch, all the big hills up and down, all

the magnificent views that were out there beyond the fog and rain. We stopped at Old Woman Bay and watched the rollers at

the opposite end of our big lake. Lake Superior is majestic no matter what end you look at.

We stayed in the Holiday Motel in the Soo. We found our way down to the St. Mary's River and gazed at that country to the south of

us and watched a ship glide by. In the morning the skies had cleared and so I was off. It was nice and flat for a

change - and the gentle farmland showed us a more civilized side of Northern Ontario. It wasn't till Bruce Mines that we

got a peek at the next big lake - Huron. I rode by an Amish man plowing his field with horses. I waved and he held up

his hand in response. Two boys stood in the middle of the plowed field trying to teach their dog to jump through

their hooped arms. Michele met me just before Thessalon and we had lunch. After she left I met a westbound cyclist, Dale

Walker, who had been on the road for two years and had cycled through 8 countries in that time. He is on a spiritual

journey and you can read about his quest if you look up "Peaceful Valley Walker".

I arrived at the Yellow Butterfly campground in Iron Bridge where Michele had got us a site. Victoria and Ken own and operate

the place, which includes a shop that Michele enjoyed because of the excellent imported women's clothing sold there. Vic

toria and Michele appreciated each other's fashion sense, and they traded jewelry for clothing. I bought an ice cream cone

from Ken at his snack hut and while we were talking a young Amish man pulled up in his horse and buggy. Ken quietly warned me

that the Amish did not like having their pictures taken and then introduced me to Eli when he got down from the buggy.

The horse shifted around a bit but when Eli turned and said one word, he instantly became still. Eli was there to do some

work for Ken. When Ken asked if it would be okay if I photographed the horse and carriage, Eli allowed it, as long as he wasn't

in the picture. The next morning I pedaled through a long section of construction. The highway ran beside the beautiful and

gentle Mississagi River which looked to me like it belonged in the English countryside more than Northern Ontario. Near the

turn off to Elliot Lake I met fellow cyclist Francois from the eastern townships in Quebec. He had ridden from Winnipeg, a cont-

inuation of his tour from Vancouver last year. He gave me his email address should I need help when we reached Quebec. I rolled on

through Blind River, Algoma Mills, Spragge, Serpent River, Spanish - the list sounds like a line from a Stompin Tom Connors song.

Summer cottages abounded along the shore and I assume also on the islands in the bay. With the downturn in mining and forestry,

it clear that many of these small communities depend heavily on the summer tourist and cottage trade.

Chutes Provincial Park in the town of Massey was our home that night. I, of course, rode right by it and had to backtrack several

kilometres. Michele just shook her head in disgust. The park is beautifully treed with large pines and maples. It is based

around a set of falls and rapids on the River aux Sables. Back in the early days of logging, when rivers were used to float

timber to mills, wooden chutes were constructed to bypass the falls and rapids. There was a place to swim in the river, but

the water was cold, the bottom a bit mucky and Michele did not think it measured up. She wasn't sure she approved of swimming

in rivers rather than lakes. Traffic past Massey got heavier and heavier and I was hoping it might ease up past Espanola, the turn

off to Manitoulin Island. If anything, it got worse. The highway sometimes had good shoulders, once or twice even with a painted

centre line like a real bike lane, but this did not last, and with traffic getting heavier, I was riding the white line

and much of the time, the crumbling white line. I found this to be a tremendous mental strain - I was continuously switching my focus

between traffic threats from the rear and upcoming road hazards. At any moment I was prepared to bail off on to the soft and treacherous

gravel shoulder. Of the five provinces in which I have pedaled, Ontario has by far the worst highways for bike riding. Thankfully,

as sections are being repaved, better shoulders are being added.

That's it for now, friends. Next time the beautiful weather continues, Mike starts finding wallets again and Michele dreams of



14th June 2018

Wow,what a neat start! Love the humour, you two are quite the team! I well remember most of those town names from the soo onwards, esp from the last time that Dad, Judy and I made a short trip to Rosedale in 1962 from SI. Best of weather, roads and bicycling from now onwards.
14th June 2018

Wow,what a neat start! Love the humour, you two are quite the team! I well remember most of those town names from the soo onwards, esp from the last time that Dad, Judy and I made a short trip to Rosedale in 1962 from SI. Best of weather, roads and bicycling from now onwards.
14th June 2018

Hi from Silver Islet
Hi Mike, Michelle, Mike, I am sorry to say that I drove past you as you headed up the road on your first day. Had I know it was you beginning your journey I would certainly have given a thumbs up. I really enjoyed reading this post about all your adventures so far. Please keep them coming. Good luck to both of you. Keep safe and have a great time.
14th June 2018

My Summer Reading
I was complaining to my Mom that I hadn't read a good book lately.. well.. no problem!.. the Mike and Michele story continues ! Absolutely love the story.. thank you both!
21st June 2018

Love it!!!
Just love the stories connecting the dots of adventure. Hills....rain...wind...waves....cold....yup. Pretty much sounds like Northern Ontario along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Glad you are enjoying the ride! Hugs to you both!!

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