Day 38 Echo Bay to Spragge ON
Today was my first day of riding with Bob and my first full day of riding on the TCH. It started very well with a great breakfast - the best of this tour - at the Surfside B+B. Jim and Judy are really nice folks and Judy is a great cook. Those pancakes were to die for and they were only a small part of my huge meal. I think Judy took it as a challenge to serve more than I could eat. I ate it all because it was so good, but I probably shouldn't have <grin>. I'd say this place is a must stop if you need to stop on the TCH just east of The Soo.
Bob and I headed down the Hwy 17, the Trans Canadian Highway or TCH in these parts, riding on a wide shoulder. We knew it couldn't last. I asked Bob to set the pace and he set it a bit higher than I like, which just meant that I had to focus more on riding and less on my surroundings. Not to far down the road a SUV pulled alongside Bob and turned its flashers on (the TCH is divided four lane here) and talked with Bob for at least ten minutes. When they drove on I asked what was going on. The SUV driver does surveys for the ministry of transportation and, on his day off, was interviewing Bob about riding conditions on the TCH! Only in Canada!
After about an hour of riding, Bob pulled off for a break. This was his standard riding pattern: charge pretty hard for an hour and then stop for food and socializing. Bob really enjoys talking with people about his trip and is very good at it. As a result we spent 11 hours on the TCH, but rode for less than seven hours. I found this riding style uncomfortable but it wasn't a big deal when riding on this part of the TCH since the traffic levels, high traffic speeds, and variable (all the way from excellent to none) shoulders. Riding required paying a lot of attention to the traffic and didn't leave much opportunity for sight seeing except when we stopped.
The scenery was pretty spectacular, especially where we stopped for lunch. The TCH runs, often a bit inland, along Lake Huron and lunch was at a motel/restaurant/resort on a beautiful bay near Thessalon. Wow! After lunch we rode through the town (which is off the TCH) so Bob could buy a phone card to call his wife that night. That was fun also. Then back to the TCH which was beginning to get a bit hilly and Bob slowed down a lot on the hills. Often there was little or no shoulder.
We stopped again near Iron Bridge for a snack and again in Blind River where I introduced Bob to Poutine for supper. Both the scenery and the riding conditions were much better as the TCH followed the Mississagi River between these towns. We had great views and a great shoulder most of the way. I was tiring of Bob's 'white line fever' riding style, so I reverted to my own style on this section: I really enjoyed this part of our ride and I stopped several times to take picture. A beautiful section of road.
TCH getting hilly crossing the Canadian Shield
After supper we stopped at a B+B next to the poutine place to ask what we could expect to find down the road. The very nice lady there told us there was a B+B after Spragge and a motel just before it. It was Saturday evening and traffic levels were as low as we ever saw them on the TCH. Riding was quite good, but we were tired, so we stopped at the motel ($42 CDN plus tax for a room with two beds). We had ridden about 90 miles.