Biking Across Canada Day 37 — Obatanga to Agawa Bay: Come On Forest Fire, Burn the Disco Down

We’re all standing our parent’s shoulders
The boats across the ocean
And they stand on their parent’s shoulders.
Missionaries that never went home
And they stand on their parent’s shoulders
Wagons in a row
And they stand on their parent’s shoulders
Churches built from bones


Ask the colonial ghosts what they took
And they’ll tell you that you’re dancing on it.
Oh, you’re dancing on it

Come on forest fire burn the disco down

Rae Spoon, “Come On Forest Fire Burn The Disco Down”

It’s hard not to feel some sort of settler guilt while I’m doing this trip. Knowing all these roads I’m riding on—sometimes literally dancing down the highway—were taken from indigenous peoples gives me pause. I see people like Hannah Tooktoo riding across Canada raise awareness about the alarmingly-high rate of suicide among indigenous youth, and I’m just on vacation? Our settler culture can’t come to grips with the truth of what we’ve done much less start the process of reconciliation. Reparations aren’t even on the table. Listening to Rae Spoon makes me want to cry. It’s hard not to agree with their sentiment of burning it all down and starting over.

I woke up this morning to find all the mosquitoes in the forest inside my vestibule, sheltering from last night’s rain. I got a lot of steps in while tearing down and eating breakfast just trying to get away from them.

They’re waiting for me…

From there it was slow riding in the rain and fog until another cyclist caught up to me and gave me a fist bump. His name is Phillip, and he’s from Quebec City riding from Vancouver to home with his friend Jason. Just seeing another cyclist gave me the energy to start riding fast again. We took turns breaking the wind all the way to Wawa where we stopped at Subway for an early lunch. After half an hour Jason joined us, followed shortly by Hali, who I last saw outside Canmore.

Phillip breaking the wind for me.

I learned more about Hali from Phillip. He’s Iranian and has become well-known amongst the cyclists heading east partly because of his incredibly relaxed demeanor and partly because of how heavily loaded his bike is. By comparison, I’ve got a 10 L dry bag on top of my rack. Hali has an entire dry bag duffel bag with a spare tire strapped on top. He’s easy to recognize in the distance because of it.

It was incredibly foggy in Wawa, so much that I kept my bike lights on in the middle of the day. The fog disappeared as I dropped down out of Wawa, turning into a beautiful sunny day. I realized we’d been in a cloud the whole time, funnelled by the winds off Lake Superior much like in the BC’s Fraser River Valley.

From fog to sun

After making it it to Lake Superior Provincial Park, I stopped at Old Woman Bay for a swim. I met a nice British man driving from Vancouver to Montreal who also couldn’t resist the water, and was able to offer some travel advice to him which he seemed to greatly appreciate.

Old Woman Bay. Worth the stop.

It was late in the day when I made it to Agawa Bay, which meant I didn’t have time to do the hike I had hoped for, but I still had time for more swimming and a shower before sunset. While I was waiting to check in to the campground another guest asked me where I was biking to. When I said Sault Ste. Marie would be my next stop she drew me a map of her preferred route to get into town.

Agawa Bay

As I was cooking my supper I hung out with Shahz and Jason, two friends from Winnipeg who are heading to Montreal for the Osheaga music festival, then to Halifax just to see the east coast. They were fun. They shared some beers with me as we watched the sunset, and I could offer them some advice about what to see and do in Halifax and New Brunswick (along with the obligatory warning about staying off the black rocks at Peggy’s Cove). I went to bed at the ridiculously-late-for-me time of 11pm.

I’m over half done the route I set out for myself. I’m pleased.

Today’s Distance: 150 km

Cumulative Distance: 4322 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle