Day 35 Neepawa to Mariapolis Manitoba
Cattle by a pond in southern Manitoba
This was the day I left the Yellowhead and headed south. I did that for two reasons; first the Yellowhead was bad riding in Manitoba, and second, the wind was from the north-northeast. It was a good routing decision. I had 70 miles of good riding in low traffic and with a reasonable side/tail wind most the time. Then I had to turn east. Bummer. That meant riding uphill into the wind. I did that for 15 miles, or nearly an hour and a half, before finding a place to eat supper and spend the night. I had hoped to ride some 30 miles further, but the thought of cranking into the wind for another three hours deterred me. I'm spoiled and lazy and happy to be in a comfortable, and inexpensive, room at the Mariapolis Motor Hotel rather than out there riding into the wind.
This morning, at the Garden Path B+B in Neepawa, I had the best breakfast of this tour. My stay in Neepawa confirmed my prejudice that B+Bs are the best places to stay on Canada. A really pretty old house with great gardens - my wife would love it - combined with a comfortable room and excellent company - both the hosts and the other guests, a great breakfast, good internet access, and reasonable rates. I just wish I could find such a good B+B every night!
My routing choice this morning - a very easy decision!
After breakfast, I checked to make sure my ride reports had made it to the touring list and answered and email or two before heading out. As usual at B+Bs, I started riding about 10 AM <grin>. I stopped to get some supplies, then headed south on MB 5. It was so nice to be back on a low traffic road. MB 5 neither has, no needs, shoulders. I did have one or two times today when there was enough traffic from both directions that someone had to slow down and wait to pass me, but all the drivers were polite and did not seem to be upset about having a bicyclist on 'their' road.
MB 5 just south of Neepawa
Heavy traffic, and rolling hills, on MB 5
MB 5 was nice riding. A little bumpy, or more accurately 'tarstrippy', but a pleasure to ride. Given my hearty breakfast, and a tail wind, I didn't need to stop till I got to Carberry, 30 miles south. That took less than two hours. To reach Carberry, I had to cross TCH1, the main drag through these parts. I expected a clover leaf and, instead, found a stop sign! There was a lot of truck traffic on TCH 1, but, unlike the Yellowhead, it does have good shoulders. It is also a four lane divided highway.
The MB 5 - TCH 1 intersection
Looking east on TCH 1 with a truck heading west on the other side
I was not even remotely tempted to take TCH 1. I was hungry, so I headed on south, two miles, to Carberry for lunch.
The main street of Carberry
I stopped at the Modern Bakery for lunch. They offered soup and sandwich - both very good - and I added a biscuit (English variety), coffee, and a six pack of day old 'cherry donuts.' One for desert and five to take with me. The total cost was about $8 CND. Such a deal! I like Carberry, it is a pretty, friendly, little town with good services. Leaving Carberry meant riding another 40 km (OK, 27 miles) to Glenboro. There are few services between the two towns because they are separated by the Spruce Woods Provincial Forest.
Riding through Spruce Woods
MB 5 is rougher through Spruce Woods and flat farm and ranch land is replaced by forest and even some hills. At the south end of the forest, just after passing the entrance to the Spruce Wood Provincial Park, MB 5 crosses the Assiniboine river. That is the river from the 'big valley' just after coming into Manitoba from Saskatchewan. I stopped for a break - coke and cherry donut - at a picnic area on a lake shortly before the river.
Assiniboine River and valley, once again
The climb out of the river valley is not a big deal, but it does go on for quite a while. Then the road levels and, about seven miles after crossing the river, MB 5 intersects MB 2 at the town on Glenboro.
That is the Glenboro skyline behind that big microwave relay tower
Glenboro is the last town on MB 5 for 40 miles - almost to the US border: if you keep going south you'll reach Jamestown ND - and its sign listed lots of services, including a hostel (!), so I pedaled on into town. It is one of those Canadian towns where all the services are a one end of the town, in this case the far end. When I got to the main street, I was pleased to see a small library, right next to a café. I still had some internet business I needed to do, so I went into the library first. Ahh, there was a PC with an internet connection and no one was using it. The sign said see the librarian about signing up to use it, so I waited in line (queue up) and, when my turn came, told the librarian that I was bicycling through and would like to check my email. She asked if I was a member of the library. I said that would be highly unlikely for a tourist. The she said only members could use the PC. There was a sign on the wall saying membership cost $60 a year. I guess I could have paid $60 and read my email, but she didn't offer me any other options. Now this is a Public Library and that PC, or at least its internet connection, is funded by the province, but only folks that pay the library $60 a year can use it. Something is rotten here, not to mention downright inhospitable.
I went next door to the Café and was greeted by much more hospitable folks. Since I'd recently eaten a cherry donut - imagine a large glazed donut with a cherry filling, I asked about desserts. She said they didn't have many dessert, and offered a bowl of ice cream with fresh strawberries. I asked for a large bowl and she gave me a very large serving. It was great and the town's business men, eight of whom were playing some kind of penny ante game during their afternoon break were very friendly as well. I guess I should have sicked 'em on the librarian - that probably would have gotten me an internet connection <grin>. Instead, I rode of south, wondering about Canadian politics and how they are making people pay for, what should be public, services.
I know, from talking to a computer dealer in Canora SK, that the library systems have killed of the for profit internet cafes is the small towns. If greedy library boards can get away with charging for the use of publicly funded internet connections, then local folks who can't afford their own connection, are being cheated by the system. Bike tourists are also out of luck, but that is a minor point.
About 15 miles south of Glenboro, MB 5 crosses MB 23. We, sort of. MB 23 is in such bad shape at that point that it is barely recognizable as a highway!
Construction at the intersection of MB 5 and MB 23
I turned east on MB 23 and, in addition to riding on a road that was sometimes a dirt road, I was riding into the wind. Now the wind wasn't howling, just blowing a pretty steady 10mph or so out of the north east. I could manage about 11 - 12 mph on the level into that wind. Unfortunately, I still had about 45 miles to ride to reach my original destination. Lets see, if I ride for the next four hours at 11 mph, I'll get there. Of course, with breaks, that will take me till 10 PM. Hmm, maybe I better explore some alternatives...
I rode on, through the mess of MB 23, to Baldur, a nice little town with a motel and a campground, but no library. I wasn't ready to stop yet, so I rode a ways out of town and stopped alongside the road. I did my usual break in the weed stuff and checked my Manitoba Accommodations Guide for things along MB 23. The next thing after Baldur was a 'motor hotel' in Mariapolis, then there was a campground in Somerset and a motel in Altamont. Knowing I had some options made it easier to ride on at ten mph. The road was now OK and the riding was uphill - there is an escarpment east of here - and into the wind. Oh well, it was peaceful and pretty and the wind kept me comfortable.
I came to another river valley. This one was so steep on the eastern side that I had to use my lowest granny gear to climb out of it, yet the wind was strong enough to keep my maximum coasting speed to 18 mph going down into it. Shortly after that I saw a sign for the Mariapolis Motor Hotel and I decided I would stop there for supper, and, if I liked the place, get a room for the night. I did and I did and I did. Nice folks, decent supper, inexpensive and comfortable room. The lady who, along with a girl who I think is her daughter, runs the kitchen, volunteered to open the coffee shop early for me tomorrow. I told her she didn't need to, but that offer was typical of the friendliness and kindness both of them showed me as I was eating supper. Nice folks out here in these little towns!