We awoke to a beautiful sunny morning, but that wasn’t to last long. We managed to get ourselves organized, said our goodbyes and profuse thanks to Donna and Tony and got ready to go – then the creepy crawlies hit! Becky put on her helmet and notices a few things flying around her eyes – she thought at first she had some gnats – so she removed her helmet to discover some webs and about 10-15 little black spiders (about 1 millimeter wide). Scott came to the rescue. He blew on the helmet and removed the many strings of webbing and associated spiders – which turned out to be many more than 15. Upon closer inspection, Scott found a nest under one of the pieces of removable padding. After a thorough inspection and careful cleaning of the helmet, it was pressed back into service. Our best guess is that a mother spider nested in the helmet on one of the nights it was left out on the bikes rather than brought into the tent – we’ll be more careful from now on to ensure that our helmets spend the night in the tent – although we are exceedingly glad that the spiders didn’t hatch in the tent!
By the time we got on our bikes and left, the weather was looking rather threatening. Within 10 minutes of leaving a drizzle started – so we donned our wet weather gear and kept on peddling. Unfortunately, the rain held all afternoon. We stopped in Anola for lunch and to warm up a bit; in addition to the wet, the temperature was only 14 degrees making any thought of stopping a chilling idea. After talking to the folks in the restaurant about what services lie ahead, we decided to head north up highway 12 towards highway 44 and the town of Beausejour, which was only 30 km away – rather than riding 60+ km further in the wet.
Just as we pulled out from lunch, we spotted another touring cyclist in the distance. He was on Highway 15, and moving fast, so even if we had been going that way, we likely wouldn’t have caught him. With a mental shrug for lost opportunities, we headed north. A minute later, we saw a bicycle approaching in our mirrors – the cyclist had spotted us and decided to come and visit. We were soon happily chatting away with Dharma and his dog Rowan. Dharma had left from Vancouver Island with Rowan and his B.O.B. trailer a few months back, and is headed for the east coast. In the downpour, we felt pretty overdressed in our full raingear – by comparison, he seemed quite comfortable in a t-shirt and sleeveless vest. We had fun sharing stories of our rides, but in Beausejour he wanted to press on, and we had had enough for the day.
In Beausejour, we checked into the small Motor Hotel for the night ($70) with hopes of drying out a little. There is another hotel in town – the Superior Hotel – but the cheapest rate they would give us was $94 plus tax, which was a quite a bit more than we were willing to pay if we could possibly avoid it. The reaction of the lady at the hotel was quite comical, if a bit annoying at the time:
Lady: You’re all wet!
Scott: Hang them to dry?
Lady: Don’t get the carpets all wet!
Scott: We can look for another place to stay if you wish.
At this point we figured our wet, muddy bikes were going be a big deal, but she never said anything about them. She later lent us her kettle, and was quite friendly in her brusque way, so we’re guessing she’s just like that…
The next day started with a pocket of sun – we could see clouds both in front and behind us. We quickly got organized and were riding by 9:15 am (early for us). Helped by a nice tailwind and good roads, we made it to Whitemouth just as the clouds gobbled up the sun. Whitemouth has a great little bakery and coffee shop with super friendly people. We enjoyed a first lunch of cabbage rolls just like Becky’s Mom makes, and yummy cinnamon buns.
Our next stop was Rennie for a second lunch and a break from the cold. When the sun left us, the temperature dropped down to 14 degrees. Manitoba certainly is not experiencing a typical summer. In Rennie Becky heard a garbled story about a cyclist ahead of us who had been shot at. We wondered if something had happened to Dharma?
Welcome to Rennie Manitoba.
Shortly after Rennie the highway turned into Whiteshell Provincial Park. The road quality degraded almost instantly and the traffic went away – no more trucks passing us. There was also a shift from farm land into Canadian Shield country with lots of small picturesque lakes. Halfway between Rennie and West Hawk Lake, the sun came out making the scenery that much more enjoyable. With the Shield we also got hills – and Highway 44 being a minor road at this point, some of the hills were rather steep; however, they were all pretty short so we could enjoy the rolling hills as a nice change from the flattish prairies.
We stopped in West Hawk Lake for our requisite afternoon soft ice cream break to discover that Dharma was at the restaurant. He had just finished up a meal and was about to hop back on his bike – so it was nice to have caught up to him. Apparently, he had been shot at by a passing car – he figures it was likely paintballs they were shooting. He was delayed a little in Rennie when he called the police and gave a brief statement. Unfortunately, he did not have a license plate number, so there was not much the police could do. It was a late model, dark green Japanese sedan, but there are a lot of those.
Dharma joined us for our journey across the border into Ontario. We took pictures at the first Welcome to Ontario sign – which wasn’t that impressive. At the visitor information center (which closed at 5 pm grrrr) there was a much nicer sign, so we paused again for another set of photos.
Dharma, Becky, and Scott being welcomed to Ontario.
A nicer welcome to Ontario sign.
We had thought there might be a campground in Clearwater Bay, but were sadly disappointed. There was an seasonal RV park with resort type structures on the lake, and a trailer park which required reservations – neither of which looked good for tenting. We continued up the road to the Clearwater Bay Market (a truck stop) and inquired there about tenting. The manager there said we were welcome to tent either near the gazebo or in the septic field – we chose the septic field as it was nice and flat and well protected from traffic and lights. In hindsight, it also meant that the tent was wet, as not too surprisingly the field had an underground water source! Oops. Fortunately, with our entry into Ontario, the weather improved dramatically – much warmer in the morning, with the sun making an appearance.
75 km, 4h – Winnipeg to Beausejour
150, 7h 30m – Beausejour Manitoba to Clearwater Bay Ontario