12 July 2007
Today everything that could have gone wrong, did. Well, almost everything. We set off with the ambitious goal of cycling the 200+ km to Thunder Bay today. Since the area between Atikoken and Thunder Bay has few places to stop for a rest, we had decided to skip breakfast part one (we had some snacks instead) and hit the road right away, and then have a real breakfast in a restaurant in Quetico North, a mere 40 km away. We thought the morning's ride would be a breeze--it tends to be--but we could not have been more wrong. It was cold, windy and rainy, and the cycling was tough.
Our breakfast was delicious, and since it was still raining, we sat around for a while willing the rain away. We had the best pie of our trip--a huge slice of apple crumble with two (!) scoops of ice cream--and relaxed for quite some time. It was still raining when we decided to hit the road, but we sucked it up and left. But before getting going, we had to make a quick stop at the camping store across the street. We went inside, and were greeted by Doug Chapman, another one of those positive people who love life. He owns the store, as well as an outdoor education centre in Thunder Bay. We really enjoyed talking to him, and told him about our situation with propane: the stove we have only works with a certain type of propane can, one that you can only really get in cities with ultra-specialized camping stores. Miraculously, Doug had a few in stock. But when we realised just how much we were spending on these cans, and talked to him about how frustrating it was not to be able to get them anywhere, he had just the solution. He gave us a brand new (used) burner, that works with the standard propane bottles that you can get absolutely anywhere! AND he gave us a bottle of propane with it! What a lifesaver--Dan and I were contemplating getting a new burner, but now we didn't have to. The best part about it all was that giving us the stove made him just as happy as it made us, if not more.
Needless to say, we didn't make it all the way to Thunder Bay. In fact, we were lucky to even make it to Shebandowan. The weather kept changing on us, and it seemed like we were constantly having to stop for something. First, I got a puncture--nothing surprising there. But this wasn't any old puncture--I must have really run over something big and sharp, as there was a giant hole in the middle of my back tire! I repaired the tire with a few patches, and hoped that it would get me to Thunder Bay.
Not very long after that, I got another puncture--number eight--this time in the front. Again, we pulled over to change the tire. I also decided that it would be best to switch the front tire with the back, since the back was much more worn out from all the weight I've been carrying on it. What an ordeal it all was!
We made it as far as Shebandowan, after a grueling twelve-hour day. Tomorrow we will have a half-day ride into Thunder Bay, and take the rest of the day off.