Day 82 Spragge to Whitefish Falls: Bear (s) with me - Grampies on the Go - CycleBlaze

July 21, 2011

Day 82 Spragge to Whitefish Falls: Bear (s) with me


Mosquitoes are often described as 'relentless', but that is not quite true. They are most active in the evening and morning and near trees and grass. Unfortunately we also are most active in evening and morning, and near trees and grass, at least in terms of making and breaking camp. That makes us very fast, but we also have no 'life', except on the bikes. Considering that we are starting at 4:30am because of the sun, we really are living on the bikes.

By 7:30 we had been on the road for a while and had reached Serpent River.

The serpent River
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Ahead, silhouetted at the top of the hill was a runner. We are slow enough that at 10 km distances runners can usually outpace us. This one was different, though. First off he had no water bottles, so could not be doing any kind of distance. Second, we were drawing nearer to him. The reason for that was soon discovered, he was running towards us. We just said hi as he went by, but the full story was waiting down the road, in the form of a large support RV.

In the RV was Mike, and the runner was Dr. Riley Senft. Riley is on a cross-Canada run for prostate cancer awareness. Mike told us that he goes 50-60 km per day, which is, of course, more than a marathon. We have not checked out the full story yet, but Riley started in Newfoundland at Cape Spear. It is not lost on us that before too long he will be approaching Thunder Bay, the fateful place for Terry Fox. We bet it will be an emotional time when he reaches the memorial.

We had reason to be envious of the RV, particularly the scrolling billboards on the back with "caution, runner ahead" type messages. We also figured out why Riley was on our side of the road as he approached. He is coping with the same narrow shoulder and semi-trailer traffic that we are. So he runs the white line and presumably ducks off onto the gravel just before the approach of each oncoming behemoth.

The support RV for the prostate run
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Read this and donate
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The requisite moustache
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We need a warning marquee like this on our backs!
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..and a sign like this too
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Donations to the run are done through the website. Check it out, and give them some support! The URL is http://stepintoaction.ca

Riley was not the only exciting thing on our road today. Next was a black bear that ran across the road just in front of us. Dodie didn't slam on the brakes. Rather she judged that he was as eager to see the last of this noisy mess as we were. Indeed, he disappeared into the forest quickly. The second bear was eating berries by the roadside. Dodie gave him a warning blast with her dog horn, and he backed off 20 feet before standing on his hind legs to get a better impression of what these crazyguys were all about. We didn't wait around to get his final assessment!

The next exciting thing did not move at all, since it was a road with the same name as our friends Dan and Candice's boat. Surprisingly, we see that Mike also posted this road sign in the prostate run's blog.

Genuine local food
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We got to wave to this man
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Makes us think of Dan and Candice
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Of course, the caution signs for horse and buggy always arouse interest, and one of these signs is also in the prostate blog. Today we encountered the real thing, and got to call out to the buggy rider.

The town of Webbwood is only one of many along Highway 17. We stopped at the General Store for an ice cream. However as has happened so often before, we found some lovely people in the smallest of places.

Webbwood. A nice small town, but under pressure from busy highway 17 going through the middle
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Duncan and family. We had a nice chat about the cycle tour in the General Store. Duncan is not only originally from the area, but his family owns and/or lives in a lot of the surrounding buildings. The store belongs to his aunt and uncle.
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Webbwood house I
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Webbwood houses
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The General Store
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Another house on the main street of Webbwood
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Goodbye Webbwood
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Typical northern Ontario rocks and trees, plus a rare decent section of highway 17
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Manitoulin Island has occupied a special place in our minds ever since we first heard David Campbell's haunting song "Manitoulin" on his "Pretty Brown" album. Listen to it a bit on cdbaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dcampbell We first got this album years ago but did not make it to Manitoulin until two years ago. We found that David did not exaggerate and that this is a paradise. So when we came to the turn off for highway 6 and the road south through Espanola, there were whoops of jubilation. Part of that jubilation was also from the assumption that the darn semi trailers would prefer to barge on to Sudbury, rather than harass us down #6.

Goodbye Highway 17, Hello Ojibwe paradise
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The assumption was not quite accurate, as Espanola is a mill town and the log trucks therefore pour down 6. Nor was the shoulder much wider, if at all.

Oh, oh Domtar in Espanola first
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Espanola
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Still, we made it to the McDonalds in Espanola, and they are providing the wifi right now. Though we are here for the wifi and air conditioning, there is the matter of the food. In the US there was a limited but fair selection of salads. Here there are only two. I thought they were ok, though expensive, but Dodie thinks they are poor. We both agree, though, that the muffins (totally absent in the US) suck. Dodie also points out that in the US there is oatmeal with dried fruit for breakfast, while Canada seems to only have the usual variety of blecchy egg mcsomethings.

After a little more resting and cooling off we will head down the road to look for a campsite for the night. Tomorrow will be play on Manitouin Island, and maybe the next day as well.

Future cross country cyclists were interested in our journey, at the Espanola McDonalds
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Look Laurie!!
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Wild blueberries
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On the way to Manitoulin
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Sarah, this hill was a suitably tough one. From Espanola to Whitefish Falls there is no level road, just all hills.
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Ojibwe Paradise
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Steve and Dodie paradise. We walked into the Red Dog Grille in Whitefish Falls and found more people in one place than we have seen in months. It was like a party, but in fact was only Wings Thursday.
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The "party" even had a live musician.
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whitefish at whitefish falls
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at whitefish falls
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sunset near our campsite
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Today's ride: 93 km (58 miles)
Total: 5,078 km (3,153 miles)

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