Take a left turn at Albuquerque...: Day 29 - The Narrows to Teulon Manitoba - And Then We Pedalled...... Cross Canada 2015 - CycleBlaze

July 1, 2015

Take a left turn at Albuquerque...: Day 29 - The Narrows to Teulon Manitoba

Do you remember watching the Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Show as a kid? The Roadrunner would go running along some road forever with the animated desert background scenery repeating in an endless loop.

That was today.

Don't get me wrong, we had a really good day. Long with not particularly interesting scenery, almost no towns, but perfect cycling weather and .... decent shoulders on hwy 68 with almost no traffic, and then back to no shoulders but NO traffic on hwy 17. Manitoba is redeeming itself as a place to cycle.

We left The Narrows in good time, cycling away by 7:30 as we knew we had a long day ahead of us. Bottles filled with boiled water ... wait for the water rant.... we set off down the lovely hwy 68. No traffic, slight headwind, slightly overcast and flat. Made great time to Eriksdale, at about the 70 km mark. It's here where hwy 68 becomes part of hwy 6 for about 10 km before it turns east again.

Now hwy 6 is one of the main north south highways and it has a lot of traffic on it. It's also the shortest route into Winnipeg. Fom Eriksdale it's only about 110 km to the Peg along 6, as opposed to the 150 or more that it would take using hwy 68, 17 and then one of the other north-south highways.

Paul, our friendly guy from St. Rose had said we shouldn't even think about taking hwy 6 to the Peg, 'it was terrible for cycling'. But only 110 km to go and it's still early in the day?? The thought of giving it a try crept into our minds. 

Five minutes down the road we're forced off into the loose gravel shoulder by a passing semi. Maybe not such a good idea. Another five minutes and another run-off-the-road incident and our thoughts have changed to 'get me off of this ASAP'. Ten km's of this nastiness and our now beloved hwy 68 reappeared heading east. Nice paved shoulders, very little traffic, we'll take it. So what if it's going east and we need to go south. We'll figure that out later, while we are alive.

Later turned out to be hwy 17. An old road that needed some TLC, but there was no traffic on it. Five semi's in 70 km's, about 50 cars in total. A long day to Teulon, and we're still a day away from Winnipeg. At first I was pissed that we couln't take a shorter straight run to Winnipeg but then I thought "what if hwy 6 didn't exist and therefore we wouldn't have even tought of it as an option". We would have been on the roads we were on, expecting to take two days to get to the Peg, not one, and we would have been thrilled with the roads we did ride.

Attitude suitably adjusted we started to really enjoy this Canada Day ride (this was well before the 150 km mark whereupon you endure the ride, not enjoy it!).

Since it was Canada Day I went for a little musical nationalism and nostalgia. Canada's Grammy equivalents are the Juno awards, and back in 1996 a 4 cd box set was put out to commenerate the 25th anniversary of the Juno's, so this is what i teed up for today (as an aside, a 30th and 35th anniversary edition were released as well, but i missed these cause we were running arround raising young kids!)

Anyway, song one, Guess Who, American Woman. Winnipeg band, riding along in the middle of the country, and you could almost say, in the middle of no where, and Kirsten says 'Look to your right!"

A beaver dam! Oh Canada!

A few minutes later we were cruising along and approached a herd of about 25 cattle who were all laying down, quietly minding their own business. Normally when we ride by, the odd cow gives us a stare, the occasional moo, but not much more than this.

These cows however were different. They were ready to party. That cheesy party classic 'Raise a Little Hell" by Trooper was playing on the boom, and these cows were into it. In unison they stood up and started RUNNING along side us. No joke. This lasted for about 100 m, then they stopped and layed down again. Limited stamina, short attention span? Who knows but they sure seemed to like Trooper. Farmers take note.

A few more km's down the road we came to the Narcisse Snake Dens. I remember reading about these in National Geographic years ago. Basically it's the largest concentration of garter snakes in the world, and the area teems with tens of thousdands of snakes during breeding season. I'm not a huge snake fan, so thankfully it wasn't breeding season, but you didn't have to search to hard to find snakes. The birds know this too and there were lots of snake carcasses around with only thier livers eaten, a delicacy for the local crow population.

We finally made it to Teulon. A tidy little town with another very nice municipal campground (like Dauphin. Score 2 for municiple Manitoba campgrounds, Zero for private ones!). Since it was Canada Day, the town was having a 'Turkey Supper", and it looked like the whole town was there. Unfortunatley it was just finishing when we rolled into town and by the time we got camp set up and ourselves cleaned up, it was shuttered up. So was every other business in Teulon, bar the Esso station serving up fried chicken and fries. Hello road food.

Made it back to the campsite to take in the great Canada Day fireworks. The whole town, having digested their turkey, was out in force to watch them. For a town this size, actually for town or city of any size, they were great!

Dragged our tired butts into the tent at bout 11 and fell right to sleep. Winnipeg tomorrow and a few days of needed R&R.

In addition to the party cows, we also saw eagles, pelicans and a scawny black bear (rambling acreoss the read about 200 m in front of us). Pretty good wildlife day.

One last rant though .... great campsite and faciltites, but yet again another 'boil water advisory'.

Now I can see this in a very remote area, or when there have been floods or some other temporary disruption, but this is a first world country that used to rank at the top of the UN quality of life index. Access to potable water should be a given for everyone. What's even more irksome is the comment /attitude we got in The Narrows (where there was also a 'boil water advisory'). When I asked where we could get potable water, I first had to rephrase it to drinking water (education rant coming later) and the response we got was "We preffer bottled water". 

Why do people accept this? 

Bottled water in the developed world is one of the most wasteful ripoffs there is. Why pay a relative fortune for a product that our tax dollars already provide, or should be providing, to everyone? I won't even get onto the colossal amount of plastic garbage that is created! More communities should be following the lead of places like San Francisco and banning bottled water and making people realise that tap water is good for you, and the planet, and that you do not have to pay (extra) for it! There. I feel better.

Hope everyone had a great Canada Day. We did, one that we are unlikley to repeat.

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Song of the day:

Born to Be Wild by Steppenwolf

A Canadian rock classic ...

"Get your motor running,

Get out on the highway,

Looking for adventure

In whatever comes our way...."

It was also released in '68, and we really liked hwy 68, rode it's quite shoulders from St. Rose yesterday until 4 pm today. I think we're also living the first verse right now too!

A close second for American Woman by the Guess Who (Burton, Randy, Jim and Gary, some of Winnipeg's finest) but not the right vibe for a (polite) Canada day.

Historical Monument of the day:

The Narcisse Snake Dens. The worlds largest concentration of garter snakes

Straight roads and Lakes ... leaving The Narrows
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Ducks paradise ...lots of wetlands
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Back into Ukranian territory
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The Snowball trail.... A word of warning about GPS mapping systems. I'm using both Pocket Earth and Google Maps. Most of the time they give us great routes. Today, both of these kept putting this straight 80 km line as our route. Looked suspiciously like an old rail line to me. When we asked a few locals if there was a paved bike trail anywhere near, we got a very perplexed look. When i showed then the map, they said ..."That's a snowmobile trail".We stuck to hwy 17 but took a slight detour to check out the trail ... sure enough, old rail tail, probably listed as a bike trail, but I'll bet that there are 1000 snowmobiles for every bicycle. Listen to the locals.
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This One's for you Jim T if you're reading this!
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A few snakes around, not breeding season otherwise there would be thousands
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More of the cuddly little fellows
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Today's ride: 184 km (114 miles)
Total: 2,964 km (1,841 miles)

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