I need to update this more. I made it into Minnesota today! I`m in Bronson Lake, which the town sign says has a population of 229 people.
I`m losing track of the days: I usually finish riding by about 6, setting up camp, cooking & cleaning takes a couple hours, and then I go to bed around 8-8:30.
REGINA – 2 days
I stayed with my Warmshowers host Gordon for two nights. Gordon has done bike tours in Nepal as well as Canada & the US & Europe. The first night he also hosted two Korean bikers, Jay and Kyle. These guys were ripping from Toronto- they had done 28 days from Toronto to Regina!
Kyle ate butter off a plate with his finger and scared teenagers away from his tent by poking his head out from his tent and going `YEAH, THAT`S RIGHT`. Kyle is a coooooool guy.
I went to the RCMP heritage museum and did a tour of the grounds – it was graduation day and there were loads of people around in their red serge & stetsons. I also got to meet up with Joseph, who told me about his first week at Depot.
One of the first police cars looks like the 1966 batmobile, making an already cool car even cooler:
30km just outside Regina – 2 days
There was a big storm hitting Regina as I was leaving – that`s when I got interviewed on the side of the road. I had left that day around 11:30 am after a huge dump of rain. The headwinds were really strong; I was happy to be going 11km an hour (typically I go between 18-20km/hour). I opted for a cabin where I bunkered down for two nights to let the storm pass. I did some reading, got some postcards written, did some studying. I was happy to get going once the storm passed.
There were lots of small towns in Eastern Saskatchewan, and lots of bakeries. At the first one I went into in Indian Head I had a nice conversation with a girl who wanted to be a police officer. I stopped in a couple more small towns and mailed some postcards – I still have some from Calgary I need to write!
Out of season signs are funny:
Keep your snowmobile off my grass!
After having a bit to eat, I ran into Marie & Chloe, a couple of Quebecers who started in Vancouver Island. It was nice to have some bikers to share stories with. These two are hardcore. Neither of them have waterproof panniers and were absolutely ripping. I was doing 27km/hour with a tailwind, they were doing 34km/hour! Crazy. Hoping to meet up with them in Quebec City.
I did my longest day ever; 205km over just over 7 hours. I knocked on the door of a house just off the highway and Dwight gave me some water and let me sleep on his lawn. Although, it`s not a lawn-lawn; more of a piece of land with big bushes next to his house (the shade was really nice after a day of 30 degree weather).
I woke up around 5:30 am and was off. After about 20km I stopped for breakfast at the Country Square Inn in Moosomin and one of the owners Liz gave me my breakfast for free! So nice of her to fuel me up! Such good food.
I passed by a rest stop with a gas station, an auto dealership, and something that caught my eye: a vintage car museum. I smooth talked my way in to look around for a couple minutes while I took a break and, although there were a lot of cool cars, this badboy caught my eye. This trailer is made of formed wood. I don`t know the year, but it`s gotta be real old. Along with the RV from 1936 (mighta been 1944), there was a bit of long distance travelling by auto years and years ago!
a million sunflowers:
About 30km East of Brandon (about a 185km riding day) I started banging on doors to camp in someone’s yard. I found Arthur building a flower stand for his girl Nicki, and he let me stay in his yard & gave me some beers. Even caught me some dinner!
You`re a good guy Arthur. Thanks for the drinks, food & hospitality.
On my way to Arthur’s, I got my first flat. It was late and getting dark and I wanted to get to a house to camp for the night, so I swapped the tubes quickly (without checking the tire & patching the punctured tube).
The next day after about 40km, I got another flat. I only had one spare tube and the one tube I did have was punctured and not patched. I stopped at the side of the road, patched the tube, put it in, and was on my way. After another 5km, I got to a roadstop, had a bite to eat, checked the tire: flat. I tried putting air in it but the nipple was broken, so I put the other tube in the tire and was on the road for maybe a minute and it went flat.
It was a frustrating experience. I was at the side of the road about 130km West of Winnipeg without an unpunctured tube. Thankfully, a black truck stopped and the driver, Chris, asked `everything alright? I`m going to Winnipeg, want a lift?`
Chris gave me a lift into Winnipeg. I met up with Cheyne, a buddy of mine from home who`s living in Winnipeg and was letting me stay with him. We went to MEC and I replaced my air mattress (no more sleeping on the ground) and got three tubes.
Winnipeg was fabulous. Cheyne showed me around the city: on Saturday we went to a Goldeyes baseball game, where I got to sit next to Dancing Gabe:
Dancing Gabe has been going to sporting events in Winnipeg for 40 years and dancing. He`s Winnipeg’s Greenmen.
While Cheyne and I went to the Forks where I had a blueberry canoli (need to try to make these when I`m home) we met Doug, who has a serious touring rig:
This thing was heavy duty! The back rack could hold 4 pannier bags and there were two shelves mounted alongside the back wheel, which Doug told us he had moved lumber with. Doug doesn`t change gears on his bike, but he just treks around Manitoba, which is generally flat. The bike was spraypainted an army green. Doug you`re a beast.
I also busted a clip on my pedal coming into Winnipeg, so I stopped at a bike store and got some replacement pedals.
I had dinner with my cousin Jim Townsend on Sunday night and got to hear family stories I had never heard before. My grandfather was a photographer, and he was once hired for a wedding in which he forgot to take the lens cap off his camera. The bride and groom put their clothes on for replacement pictures, but the rest were botched.
While leaving Winnipeg, I tried going through side roads to avoid big highways and ended up on unpaved roads for a bit. As a result, I ended up with another flat. When I realized I had another flat, I did a thousand-yard stare and questioned why I`m doing this trip.
I started changing the bike, and again, a man with long hair in a black truck stopped to help me, and we loaded my bike into his truck and went to his placed maybe 30 meters away. I don`t like to look a gifthorse in the mouth, but although he was trying to help me, I think he wrecked my tire by excessively sanding it down & putting the patch on poorly. He told me he had had a few beers (this is around 2pm), and was on the way to the bar, so there’s a chance he was a bit drunk.
After I got a new tube in the tire, I made my way along side roads. The countryside is neat because people have airplanes in their front yards:
I made it to Steinbach, about 74km. I would typically have knocked on someone’s door to to ask to camp on their lawn, but after the 4th flat over 3 riding days, I was demoralized and didn`t want to attempt it, so I camped in the local campground.
I had a good chat with Yves who told me `you know, you asked for this`. He`s right: I didn`t expect this trip to be a cakewalk. What I`m finding, the longer I`m on the road, is that this isn`t fun in the normal sense of something fun, and the day to day it isn`t satisfying. Biking is fun, but there is nearly complete vulnerability while travelling by bike. I can lock my bike up, but people can take my bags if I`m in a restaurant for 45 minutes. I sleep with the anxiety that someone might take my stuff or attack me in the middle of the night.
What this trip is doing is teaching resilience. I`m becoming comfortable with being anxious when I go to sleep. I trust that someone will let me sleep on their lawn. I`m cautious but hopeful that people will not touch my bags when I run into a store. I know things will go wrong with my bike and, although it`s frustrating, these things can be solved. It`s not fun, but there is a thin line of satisfaction. I think the full satisfaction will be once I hit the Atlantic.
In Steinbach I was invited by the campground host to use the wood leftover by other guests to make a fire. I like making fires, but don`t make them often. Usually there is someone eager to make a fire, and I`m happy to let them do so. It was really fun to make my own:
From Steinbach I headed for the border, stopping after 22km at this corner store with interesting decor. Also – you could buy booze and ammunition in the same store.
At ~73km I made it to the border! Minnesota baby!
I passed through Lancaster, which I thought had a tiny population (I really like that the US posts their populations on their town signs), then I got to Lake Bronson (pop. 229).
I asked a couple guys if they knew if I could camp at the state park, and Eddie very kindly offered to let me stay in his trailer (after asking if I was a criminal or if I was dangerous). Eddie owns a 1955 trailer he`s restoring – so cool! he also has a cat named 6-pack (named after his 6-pack) and a tiny white kitten:
I went to the Cennex to see if they had wifi, and they have a fun milkshake machine! You pick a flavor, stick the cup in the side and it turns hard ice cream into a milkshake. And the mascot is a wizard.
Eddie`s been playing guitar for years, and before going to bed we jammed.
Hoping to make it to Thief Lake Falls today.
Donations are over $1,500 now! Wow. Big shoutouts & thank yous to:
Mark & Mimi D
& the anonymous donators!
Also going to give a shoutout to Jacob Ward. Jacob has been volunteering with Parkgate Youth Services for going on 3 years. He volunteers for the drop-in nights, he is the head of the Youth Action Committee, and represents youth interests on the Parkgate board of directors. Jacob is an incredibly generous guy and Parkgate is very fortunate to have him on board. Jacob is raising money for his ride to conquor cancer, a bike ride from Vancouver to Seattle. Jacob`s goal is to raise $2,500, and he has said he`ll shave off his head of golden locks if his goal is raised (and who doesn`t want to see this guy get his head shaved?). Have a look at Jacobs message here: http://www.conquercancer.ca/goto/jacobward