‘Cos everybody hates a tourist Especially one who thinks it’s All such a laugh Yeah and the chip stains and grease will come out in the bath […] But still you’ll never get it right ‘Cos when you’re laying in bed at night Watching roaches climb the wall If you called your Dad he could stop it all You’ll never live like common people You’ll never do whatever common people do
Pulp, Common People
Wednesday, August 7:
I knew I was sleep deprived leaving Toronto and that it contributed to my slow progress and low spirits, so I did something unusual and didn’t set an alarm for the morning, resolving to get up when I felt I’d had enough sleep. Glenn cooked bacon and eggs for me, and after a leisurely morning I hit the road around 9 am. The Trans-Canada Trail ran past the end of Clare and Glenn’s street and went all the way to Ottawa, so I hoped to have a few days of pleasant trail riding ahead of me. That turned out to be a bit naive.
The trail started out great, with nice bridges over the Trent-Severn waterway and some paved multi-use paths. Outside of Peterborough it turned into a typical crusher dust rail trail which lasted for about 35 clicks until I made it to Hastings, where I stopped for a nice second breakfast.
After Hastings they allow ATVs to use the trail, and conditions quickly deteriorated from a wide level trail to two bumpy ruts. I got off the trail and took the road for a while but was soon left with a Hobson’s choice of a long section of busy highway or a shorter section of trail. I was far behind schedule at this point so I took the trail which looked passable again. Then it got even worse, and by the time I realized how unrideable it was I was committed to another 30 kilometres of rocky logging-road-like conditions. With a cloud of deer flies chasing me. The rain turned the trail into sticky mud, that was clogging my fenders and slowing me down even more, so at one point I was forced to do a comically-choreographed dance where I stopped, threw on my jacket to stop the flies from biting me, and removed my fenders, flung off my jacket, and rode on. I took the first opportunity to get back on that busy highway, but by that point my rear wheel had taken a beating from all the bumps so I wasn’t sure how far I’d make it.
Fortunately my parents were visiting friends in Ottawa, so I called in one of my lifelines and arranged for a ride to Ottawa where I could have a bike shop look at my wheel. I managed to get to Sharbot Lake Provincial Park, my original goal for the night, right at sunset. Family-friend Doug drove up a few minutes later and we stuffed my bike in the back of the SUV and drove the hour to Ottawa where my parents had dinner waiting for me.
Thursday August 8:
I got up and rode my bike about a kilometre along quiet streets and protected bike lanes to the nearest bike shop, where they fixed my wheel while I waited and only charged me $12. We’ll see how it holds up, but that quick repair gave me time to get back to where I left off yesterday and still make it (back) to Ottawa on schedule. So we stuffed the bike back in the SUV and this time everyone piled in for the drive to Sharbot Lake. Now I was finding out what it would be like to have a whole team supporting your ride, if only for one day.
I’ve been wanting to ride across Canada for a long time. One of my previous schemes was when our kids were just born and my wife and I were taking turns being stay-at-home parents. I thought we could buy an RV in BC and take it east, with a set of grandparents helping with the driving. I could never quite make it work. Today was reminding me of that pipe dream.
After avoiding all suggestions of gravel, I took busy highway 7 to Perth where I could see a big storm following close behind, so I sought refuge at the Perth Brewery. The beer was so-so, but the roof was five stars.
After the worst of the storm passed I started riding in the rain for a while to make sure I got back before sunset. I took some much quieter local roads until I got to the suburbs of Ottawa where it was a mix of arterial roads and multi-use pathways.
Eventually I connected with the Ottawa River trails which I took all the way to Parliament Hill. Then a quick stop at some bike shops looking for replacement cycling gloves before a ham dinner with the folks and off to bed.
Wednesday’s Distance: 168 km
Thursday’s Distance: 136 km
Cumulative Distance: 5654 km