Day 25: Thunder Bay to Nipigon (It Could Be Worse… I Guess)
3286km to 3398km (112km)
Stars – A Stranger ( I can’t find a link so check it out on Spotify or Google Play)
Stars – Fluorescent Light
Starting the day off with a good breakfast and some great conversation with Blair I felt pretty optimistic about the day despite knowing that we had some climbing to do and were expecting the wind in our face for much of the ride. I told myself that if nothing else at least the day is starting off well.
Leaving Thunder Bay I quickly found myself disappointed with the traffic and roads and it remained that way for most of the day. Simply put the ride today was unpleasant. Despite only being 112km (which included the little bit of riding we did around Nipigon today) I would take the 175km of yesterday over it any day. For about 40% of the ride we had no shoulder. And by no shoulder I actually mean absolutely no shoulder. We were riding on the the highway with the cars. Fortunately, most of the cars were great and gave us as much space as possible. Naturally, though we did have some which seemed to completely ignore the fact that they were inches from us at times. In particular there was one Purolator truck which despite having the option to switch lanes opted to drive by Wade and I at an incredibly fast speed. It was incredibly anxiety inducing and the signs which we later saw saying no bikes didn’t help at all. If I’m being honest Wade and I were pretty confused by the signs that appeared randomly at points on the highway, but we’re definitely not present when we got on at Thunder Bay. What did they expect cyclists to do in the MIDDLE of the only road between Thunder Bay and Nipigon?
For about 20% of the ride the shoulders were actually pretty decent and it was a very welcomed change after the anxiety inducing time of no shoulders to ride on. Unfortunately, it didn’t last all that long and about the last 40% of the ride we had an approximately 12inch shoulder. Definitely far from ideal. Construction on the road was both a blessing and a curse again today as we took advantage of riding in the dead lane whenever could, but it also at times put us on a very tight road with traffic coming quickly behind us.
All of the poor road conditions and bad traffic were only made worse by the wind in our face which was especially bad for the last 10-15kms. We were both pretty excited to get into Nipigon and find a motel. After checking into the Beaver Motel (which we were told was the nicest place in town from the visitor centre) the first priority was seeing if by chance we could find someone to take a look at my bike. Because the bad traffic, wind and road conditions weren’t enough to make the day tough I also had a small, but quite annoying mechanical issue plaguing me all day. I had noticed my front wheel was a bit wobbly at the end of the ride yesterday and meant to look it over, but forgot once we arrived. At about 26km into the ride today it was bothering me enough to stop, remove all my bags and see if we could fix it. The front wheel likely needs to be “trued” and I don’t have the tools or skills to do it. It’s not bad enough that it’s a major concern, but it was causing my disc brake to rub which in addition to making an annoying noise was at least in some minor way slowing me down. Unfortunately, it looked like there was really nothing we could do and the prospect of cycling back to Thunder Bay (since there are basically no bike shops between Thunder Bay and Sault St Marie – about 600km away) was not one I was excited about doing. Stubborn and fairly confident it wasn’t a major issue I carried on for the day to Nipigon where we are now.
With our stomachs filled from the delicious leftovers from last night (and the rest of some corn chips I bought back in SASKATCHEWAN) and our bodies cleaned from some necessary showers we figured despite the extreme unlikihood we would try Canada’s smallest Canadian tire to see if they might be able to help with my bike. As expected there wasn’t really anything they could do without the tools or knowledge, BUT they did suggest I connected with Michael Elliot from Epic Adventures and even tried calling him for me. Of course though there was no answer. Looking up Epic Adventures I noticed it was only 350m away from the Canadian tire so Wade and I made our way there. It turns out the company is run out of a home in town and we were greeted by a lovely woman as we approached. Explaining I had some issues with my bike and that I was told to look for Michael she said he could likely help, but wouldn’t be back for about 30 minutes. Wade and I used this time to get what seems like our cycling staple these days: Subway. Having just ate we said it for later in the night.
Heading back to Michael’s place almost exactly 30 minutes later he pulled up just as we were arriving. Kind, friendly and eager to help we brought my bike into his garage to see what could be done. It was clear this wasn’t the first time Michael had helped cyclists and he explained to me that he use to be part of the WarmShowers hosting community that we’ve used on the trip so far. It made total sense given his attitude and eagerness to help. While not having a truing stand there he was able to take the wheel off, make a few adjustments and… voila! The rubbing had stopped! Miracles do exist! Incredibly grateful for the help I asked how much I owed him and all he asked was I sign his garage door (which was covered in the signature and notes of others that have stopped by). How cool and amazing is that? Before saying our goodbyes to Michael he suggested a bike shop that’s part of Warmshowers in Sault St. Marie that we reach out to before we arrive. 3 times now I’ve had help on my bike throughout the trip and every time the mechanics haven’t taken any money for their labour. The generosity and kindness of the people we continue to meet on this trip only reaffirms my believe that people are good at the core.
With the peace of mind that the issue is fixed (at least for now) we rode back to the motel where we both relaxed and enjoyed our subs (Wade is loving the gluten free buns). I was especially excited to listen to the new Stars song released today “Fluorescent Light”. Unsurprisingly, I absolutely LOVE it. Hearing it only made me more excited to see them play on the 6th when we get back into Hamilton.
One thing about the ride today that I did enjoy worth noting though is that we got to pass the Terry Fox Memorial. Unfortunately, it was across 4 lanes of traffic and uphill so getting close to it wasn’t really doable. Every time I think of Terry Fox it immediately makes me think of my absolutely incredible and inspiring friend Daisy. She’s done some amazing work for the Terry Fox Foundation for years and is a cancer survivor herself. On top of all of this she is simply a beatiful, kind, supportive, funny and wonderful human being. She’s been there for me during some of the toughest times of my life (like my Master’s degree when I was struggling with depression) and some of the most ridiculous times of my life (like when I was crushing on unavailable people for waaaaaaaay to long). It’s impossible to think of Daisy and not feel happy so in the very least I had that pleasant moment of joy today.
Daisy – I love you to death!
For now though I’m planning to listen to the new Stars song on repeat and get some rest. Tomorrow we ride to Terrace Bay which while only being about 105km is supposed to have a few brutal hills. I’m not going to look at the winds since I’m pretty sure I’ll just be disappointed.
Lots of love,
PS: Daisy has also shared EVERY post I’ve made on her Faceook to help spread the word about the trip and fundraiser and I can’t thank her enough for doing so!