Having a dry outdoor breakfast with happy encouraging chatter was a nice way to start the day, and the norm earlier in the trip. With breakfast at 7, most bags were in the trailer already, and many bikes out and ready to go. Hot cereal, eggs, fruit and potato fritters were plentiful, and the snack table was laden with nut butters, breads with and without gluten, jams, snack bars, a variety of mix & match GORP components etc. All was well.
Cycle clothing had replaced street clothes, and all were game for some or all of the 70 mile day. The van would bump those wanting a shorter ride. Sadly we made it only one kilometer before the sprinkles started. The rain was light for a while, and did not detract from my exhilaration with a strong tailwind. My legs felt strangely strong after all the days and miles. It was almost effortless to cruise at 40 odd kilometers an hour – waaay more than I can normally handle. Yippee: “May the tailwind be with you sisters!” was my call of the day.
Okay, back to reality. The forecast had said 60% chance of showers. What is that supposed to mean? Seems that cloud stayed right on top of me almost all the way to Thunder Bay, gradually rendering me very wet and cold. My body had simply had too many days of this. Today had zero indoor services: unfortunate given the conditions.
We were on Route 17, the Transcanada Highway, our only road since we left Sault Ste Marie a week ago. Today we passed the site of the tragic accident, although with one of our riders having a group momento to leave, sadly we saw no indication of the location. Our thoughts and condolences remained.
Continuing to ride our daily game of now you have ‘em, now you don’t shoulders, we were looking forward to the brand new highway ahead, opened 2 days ago to much media aplomb. Welcome to the Highway from Hell. A great surface with 4 lanes, yet zero shoulder with a rumble strip guarding the soft gravel beyond. In my cold wet stupor and eyes watching the approaching 18 wheelers in my mirror, I missed the detour sign a few miles before our appointed turn. (Honestly I missed the turn too, but it was closed due to construction and all ripped up.) So onward I go with ever increasing traffic toward the funnel back to 2 lanes, of course complete with barriers and a rumble strip. Strategy: stop, let many 18 wheelers go, wait for a gap, then go like hell fortunately still with the tail wind. I made it through the funnel, back into the more accustomed death grip on the handlebars amidst far too much traffic and a variable shoulder. Finally an exit appears. I take it and relief flows physically from head to toe. Only my hands don’t get it as they are too cold. Their dexterity is gone. Happily I am off Route 17 for good. When we head south from Thunder Bay, it will not be on the Transcanada.
I connected with the planned quiet route into town, then threaded my way through the urban glob to our Days Inn. I was hugely thankful that tomorrow would be a rest day. There would be no need to muster the strength to ride in the morning.
As the group reconnected in the functional and toasty laundry room, or over dinner, a lot of thoughts were shared on the day. Most riders were challenged with the entry to the city, a risk with an inaugural tour offering as is this one. In this day and age, it is frankly unconscionable that such a cycle dangerous road with no alternative could be built. I am confident that WomanTours will make some adjustments for the future.
Dinner was fun as usual, folks more giddy than ever having another day’s adventures behind us, and barely over 200 miles remaining. We all needed the rest day, and copious wine flowed smoothly with Sue’s tasty meal. Even Cy’s skills were challenged getting the route briefing done. As is the case most days, we then had the day’s poetic and or song compositions shared aloud to great laughter and applause. Plans were shared for tomorrow ranging from sightseeing, to bike store hopping, to very little.
Even with small groups who knew each other previously, this tour has never felt cliquish. Everyone makes an ongoing effort to make everyone welcome, whether for riding together, eating, sightseeing or whatever. I have been very impressed with the group. All are strong women with great life stories, and many miles in the saddle. There is no discrimination. Everyone is appreciated for who they are, and their unique contribution to the group. Inclusiveness is important to me.
Today’s ride: Base: 70 miles. My ride: 73 miles