Biking Across Canada Day 28—Winnipeg to Kenora: Fruits of my Labour

Got in my Mercury and drove out west
Pedal to the metal and my luck to the test
Baby, sweet baby
I been tryin’ to enjoy all the fruits of my labor
I been cryin’ for you boy but truth is my savior
Baby, sweet baby if it’s all the same
Take the glory any day over the fame
-Lucinda Williams, “Fruits of My Labours”

Today featured fresh fruits & berries eaten from my handlebar bag, and lots of riding as I moved out of the plains and into the shield. It was also a day of milestones and listening to Lucinda Williams.

I spent the previous four days in Tampa, Florida attending a conference. It was my fourth year at this conference, so I’ve made friends that I look forward to seeing again, but all those social opportunities means sleep can be hard to find. I got back at midnight to find Justin waiting up for me. Then I was up at 5:30 to get an early start on the day. I knew leaving Winnipeg would take me over some busy roads, and I wanted to get started before traffic picked up. I also knew that making it to Kenora in one day instead of my planned two was a possibility, so I wanted the extra hours for that too.

At a layover in the Minneapolis airport. They had a whole store devoted to Prince. Awesome. The Minneapolis airport also had a dedicated bicycle police force.

An hour or so outside of Winnipeg I crossed the longitudinal centre of Canada, which depending on how you measure could mean I was halfway done. Everyone biking across Canada has to come up with their own definition of what counts as “across Canada”. With my chosen route I’m somewhere between 35 and 40% of the distance travelled, as I still have a lot of latitude to cover. Just after taking my picture at the centre of Canada, an Apple Maps car drove by, so maybe my crossing can now be independantly verified?

After passing the centre of Canada I stopped at a fruit stand where I loaded up on blueberries and nectarines. The seller knew I was travelling by bicycle and offered me special deals so I didn’t have to buy a whole basket of nectarines. They were so yummy to snack on while riding today.

I also stopped at Geppetto’s, where you can get an Aidirondack Burger for $289.00. It’s a regular bacon cheeseburger that comes with a side of Adirondack chair. They hadn’t yet opened when I arrived, but Sandy who runs the snack shack opened early so I could get a milkshake. I stopped here with my family two years ago on a vacation, which led to me having to clean cotton-candy-ice-cream-coloured throw up of a car seat. Fortunately history did not repeat itself this trip. I’m not sure the labels help.

I made it to Falcon Lake Manitoba in Whiteshell Provincial Park around 3:30. This was where I had planned to camp originally, but looking at the forecast I figured I could make it to my aunt and uncle’s in Kenora if I pushed on, so I called my aunt El who said to come on over. I had a coffee and hamburger at the Falcon’s Nest Cafe to give me the energy to keep going, then hit the road again. Shortly after I hit the Canadian Shield and the Ontario border, both of which filled me with excitement. Something strange seems to have happened to Ontario’s motto since I was last here. Nothing a little photoshop can’t fix, though. Just look at that granite.

After a few more hours of riding I made it to Kenora, and took my picture with Husky the Muskie, my favourite of all of Canada’s oversized highway mascots. My uncle picked me up at their dock and took me to their cabin on Johnson Island, where I had a second dinner of fresh pickerel and veggies. It’s like staying at a resort. I’ll be here for at least a couple nights, seeing my cousins and meeting their kids. Tomorrow will be a chance to do some errands, and have the local bike shop take a look at my rear wheel (as I’m having trouble keeping it in true). Also to go for some boat rides, and swim off the end of the dock. I can already tell it’ll be a highlight of my trip.
Did you know that Kenora is a portmanteau of Keewatin, Norman, and Rat Portage, three towns that amalgamated in 1905? You should have seen the one that got away.

Total Distance: 218 km (new personal record!) Cumulative Distance: 3123 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle