Home > Day to Day > 167km; 54 km + 30 km – Blind River to Sheguindah, Manitoulin Island to Miller Lake

167km; 54 km + 30 km – Blind River to Sheguindah, Manitoulin Island to Miller Lake

I quite liked the Blind River campsite – basic and functional. And I really appreciated the owner letting sit in his living room to get the best WiFi signal. As I wrote my entries I found myselffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff sleeping at the keyboard and repeating certain keystrokes! But I got caught up, mostly.

After a very good dinner I tried to get into the sleeping bag without opening it fully. This involved bending my knees deeply. And then the spasm hit: piercing pain all along my right leg. I shot it straight out and massaged it vigorously, grimacing with shock. The muscle started relaxing. So there it was — the first ‘Charlie horse’ of the trip!

Long, long ride. We enjoyed a fine tailwind for much of the first 100 km, which we completed by noon, at an average speed of over 27 kph.  We stayed on the main highway dismayed that the formerly awesome shoulders were now reduced to nothing. Then we turned south toward Espanola. And we stopped at a Tim Horton’s for a well-deserved lunch. At that point Owen repeated a ’funny’ that sent me into convulsions: ‘If there was a naked Playboy Bunny at the side of the road and behind her was a sign for Tim’s or A&W…we would not notice the Bunny!’ Yes, we have become rather obsessed with food.

The terrain really changed as we headed toward Manitoulin. No more flat runs – every bit of road seemed to go ‘up’ or ‘down’. But the bulk of the ride was behind us so we were not stressed and just rolled on.

We reached the swing bridge that separated Manitoulin from the mainland. Supposedly it opens for boat traffic every hour on the hour for 15 minutes. We reached it at 1:59 pm and the light turned red. And then a minute later it turned green! We crossed quickly and waited to see if we had squeezed by, but the bridge stayed closed.

Out of Little Current the road continued its elevation gyrations…to which were added ungainly seams running the width of the road, every few meters. Much like their Alberta shoulder counterparts, these seams bounced us mercilessly every 1-2 seconds, sending shockwaves right up our spines and then exploding in full spectrum in our brains. It wasn’t possible to ride without seating for over 20 km, so we complained, continuously, out loud!

As we approached the Batman Campground we saw two things: the serious climb that would start our day the following morning, and the long gravel road, leading toward the water, which would end this day. The campground turned out to be quite adequate except for the schizophrenic showers that kept alternating the temperature of its dribble between boiling and cold. Oh well.

The following morning things did not look nearly as bad as they did the prior afternoon.  We only had 54 km ride to South Bay Mouth where we would catch the 1:30 pm Chichimon ferry (sp.?) to Tobermory. And yet we were unable to break our patterns: we set out before 8:00. We climbed the hill with ease and didn’t even mind the seams too much. The scenery was lovely – fertile fields, farm houses, lovely woods…then we were stopped in our tracks by screeches that sounded like electronic alarms or someone getting strangled! We traced these awful sounds to a couple of egret-like birds, well over a meter tall, with brown bodies and bright orange striped along their long, sharp beaks. We wanted to photograph and video them but they flew off.

We got to the ferry parking area and had a long wait ahead of us. We spent fun time with Ann and Brian, retired OPP officers, who were riding across Canada. Well, Ann is riding and Brian is supporting her by driving their motor home about 10 km at a time and then waiting for her! We shared both common experiences and then some very differing ones. And we answered questions from several passers-by about our ride and about SchoolBOX.

The ferry parking lot was filling up. Then the ferry arrived…from the opposite direction! (Turns out it can load and unload from both ends – clever design.) And then a couple of the guys called: “Ilan, Ilan!” And there I saw a huge sign with my name on it, held by…Daryl! My dear friend and fellow coach and Leadership grad Daryl Wood, who lives in Tobermory with her lovely husband Doug! I would not have been surprised had she met me at the ferry dock in Tobermory, but I had not expected her to make the almost-two-hours journey to and from Tobermory, just to surprise me and spend the extra time together! What a wonderful surprise.

We stowed our bikes in the hold, lashed to anchor points with thick ropes. Then we went upstairs. Held long hugs with Daryl. She then treated Owen and I to coffee (and me to a big slice of fresh apple pie.) And pulled out two bars of specialty chocolate she brought as additional treats. I made the introductions and five of us spent the (uncharacteristically very calm) crossing discoursing about the tour.

Landing in Tobermory was a unique experience: waiting in the hold, ‘crashing’ into the pier, with screeching metallic sounds and hydraulics whistling and chains clanging and … it was a scene for some infernal sci-fi movie set. Then the ramp lowered and we were set free.

30 km to go on the Bruce Peninsula side. Daryl promised us perfect road top and wide shoulders for about 60 km. And she was spot-on.  Owen led the first 10 km and then I took over. And felt squeamish. What was going on? Dehydration? Hunger? My heart felt as if it was racing and yet the heart rate monitor indicated just over 100 bpm. I fought a growing unease and concern that I might get sick and just kept pedalling. I swigged some water and chewed on a mouthful of GORP. And the sick feeling gradually eased away.

Lovely campsite at Miller’s Lake! 85 acres of RV and tent sites, games rooms, high-end cafe and restaurant… Our site was fine but very rocky – four of my eight stakes got bent into aluminum pretzels.

Daryl and Doug showed up, once again bearing gifts: one tray each of sticky bars and date squares. These goodies did not last long. And she also donated $50 to SchoolBOX (THANKS!) and gave me $10 from a man she met on the ferry and to whom she described my ride!

We had a good long visit, at the same time devouring hamburgers and chicken burgers and Greek Salad. Friends of Jim’s from St. Thomas also dropped by – riding a Russian Ural motorbike (a knockoff of a 1942 BMW.) But even the best of social evenings comes to an early ending around our bunch, and we were all tucked away by around 9 pm.

I woke up around 2 am to the screech-bark of some unknown angry animal just outside my tent. Then I could tell there was more than one. Tree branches rustled – some climbing was involved. The one story that went through my foggy mind was of one of the people emerging from their tent upon hearing such a ruckus…and getting sprayed by an irate skunk! And then having to buy a new tent! So I stayed inside and alert. The pandemonium continued for a bit of time and then came the odour cloud – skunk indeed! (Some of the others thought it was a confrontation between the skunk and one or more raccoons. In any case the combatants soon dispersed, as did the stench, surprisingly quickly. And I next woke up at 6 am!

“Fuelled by Equator Coffee!”

imageNative band’s meeting area
imageThis bridge separates Manitoulin Island from the mainland
imageBeautiful campsite view… at Batman Campground
imageManitoulin Island landscape
imageOwen trying to figure out how to video the two strange birds we first heard, then saw. They were like giant Egrets, with orange beaks, stood over a meter tall, and sounded like a demented alarm system!
imageFruit flies doing the back stroke in a bottle of vinegar at a restaurant near the ferry area in Manitoulin. I did not take any of the contents so as not to disturb them! :-)
imageDaryl and her sign, surprising me!

On the way to Tobermory

Categories: Day to Day
  1. darylwood
    August 1, 2011 at 6:56 pm

    AND now I realize I could have brought a lot more treats! We loved spending time with you Ilan and meeting your awesome rider mates. We’ll continue to witness this extraordinary journey. And if we win the lottery, as promised, we’ll be waiting in St. John’s! Hugs, Daryl and Doug

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