Day 39 Spragge to Little Current ON
Bob and I finished our TCH riding today. It wasn't nearly as bad as reports had led both of us to expect. Riding on Saturday and Sunday morning certainly helped. Sunday morning wasn't as nice as Saturday evening, but it wasn't bad. You do get used to traffic wizzing by at 100+ kph a foot or so away! Riding down to Manitoulin Island on highway 6 was a real change from the TCH. The cars went by a least 50 kph slower. The road was quite hilly and the shoulder was nearly nonexistent. What was worse was that the bailout area had sand and gravel so soft that it was impossible to ride on it. I came very close to going down when my front wheel went over into that area and sank in the sand. I jerked it back out and my rear wheel went in and slid sideways out into the soft sand. I fought for control and successfully got my left foot out of my pedal and down on the ground. In the process of saving myself from going down, I had swerved out into the traffic lane and ended up stopped crosswise across that lane. Not a healthy place to be.
Serpent River from the TCH
We had a good nights sleep at the inexpensive motel in Spragge and a good breakfast at the restaurant there. My pancakes were excellent - why are Canadian pancakes better than US pancakes? - but not large enough. I was hungry again less than fifteen miles later. Bob went along with my riding style today, so we didn't stop till near Walford. Then we sopped by the side of the road and ate a snack from our supplies. We stopped in Massey for an early lunch at a Chinese restaurant.
Riding over the shield - neat clouds too!
Nearing the turn off
I had thought of taking a back road from Massey to Espanola, but the TCH had just been repaved in that section so riding it wasn't bad. We were surprised to discover that the shoulder was no wider on the new section than on the old, but it was smooth. There is a Tm Horton / Wendys at the intersection of 17 (TCH) and 6 (the road to Manitoulin Island.) I did Tim Hortons while Bob did Wendys.
Heading down through Espanola wasn't great fun - lots of traffic at noon on a Sunday in the summer - and just south of Espanola it got quite hilly. I rather liked it (pretty country), but Bob, whose bike is a road bike with a two front rings had a harder time cranking up those hills. I find it quite remarkable that Bob, who is 62, rode the North Cascades route on a loaded bike with a 40 inch or so low gear. When he got to Sandpoint Idaho, he had it changed to a wide range (14-34?) cassette which was 'nice' when he rode the Going to the Sun road! Bob is quite athletic, but he doesn't know much about bikes and he had a lousy bike store that sold him a Trek 1400 for loaded touring.
Whitefish Falls under Highway 6
Riding highway 6 south on a Sunday evening meant seeing far more traffic coming towards us than going the same way we were. It would have been a bad time to be riding north. 6 is quite hilly for 20 miles as it goes across part of the Canadian Shield. We stopped at Whitefish Falls for a good meal at the local tavern where Bob challenged a slightly inebriated lady to a game of shuffleboard. He was winning rather decisively when our meals were ready. I think he had an unfair advantage.
Coming onto Manitoulin Island
After we got across the shield area, riding was pretty easy, but Bob was beginning to have a hard time. He had adopted my riding style today and it didn't work too well for him because he doesn't drink while riding. He had been buying and drinking gatorade when he stopped, but we didn't stop that often today and he didn't drink gatorade. We limped in to Little Current with Bob barely functional, but he recovered pretty well within a few hours.