Day 3, Wed., Sept. 6: Along the southern reaches of the Shield - Cycling “The Land Between” - CycleBlaze

Day 3, Wed., Sept. 6: Along the southern reaches of the Shield

Denbigh to Bancroft and Wilberforce

After a good breakfast with my friends, I headed north into a cool morning, pockets of mist over rivers and lakes under a clear blue sky. The first 25 kms of the route are along well-surfaced secondary highways with wide paved shoulders. Near the end of that stretch, the road drops down a long 12% hill into a valley, the rapid descent followed by a slog up a marginally shorter 11% grade. The ensuing 41 kms on Hwy 28 into Bancroft cross easier terrain. There are plenty of hills, but in the 5 – 8% range. The road surface is deteriorating, especially at the edges, and the only stretches with paved shoulders are on curves and hills. Thankfully, traffic was light, and roadworks are under way, with resurfacing due to be completed in 2018.

The landscape is classic Shield country:

Early morning mist and a roadside pond, North of Denbigh
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Modest hilltop farm, goats enjoying the morning sun
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Nice downhill going W towards Bancroft, standard issue Shield landscape
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Tourism helps to keep Bancroft afloat, and after 65 hilly kilometres I enjoyed a robust lunch at the Eagle’s Nest diner, including some very good home fries. (Note for hard-rock mining wonks: Bancroft is a sometime mining town, named after the same geologist as the former Bancroft on Zambia’s Copperbelt, now Chililabombwe. The fortunes of Bancroft Ontario’s mining economy have been tethered to the price of uranium – it's a mini-case study of boom and bust.)

The last 35 kms of the day, north and west of Bancroft, took me along quiet back roads south of Baptiste Lake, and along a nicely resurfaced minor highway—both, happily, with only a couple of steepish climbs. The sky and the water, and the lack of traffic, made for a beautiful ride:

Mid-afternoon skyscape over Baptiste Lake, NW of Bancroft
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The brisk headwinds continued, but I reached my campsite in the small village of Wilberforce in good time, covering the 105 kms in a little more than 6 hours of riding. (Having bonked once during my prep rides, I was stopping each day for 2 or 3 generous snacks as well as lunch. That approach worked well.)

Riverbend Cottages gave me a bunkie for the night -- a simple cabin with a comfy double bed, a basin, hotplate and a table, and space inside for Osi the Raven.  I brewed a leisurely end-of-the day cuppa, did some laundry, had a nice warm shower, and made my standard one-pot supper on the picnic table in the gentle light of a late-summer evening. I turned in early, knowing that I would have a long-ish 120 kms the next day. As I dozed off, a steady rain began, and continued through the night. Beneath my sleep, I worried about the prospect of riding 7-8 hours in the rain, and wondered about motels on the lonely roads I’d be riding. I was relieved when the rain stopped about 4 AM.

Today's ride: 105 km (65 miles)
Total: 300 km (186 miles)

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