Four cycling days and two rest days after saying hello to Manitoba, it is already behind me. The Keystone Province flew by in a flash… And nearly the last thing I witnessed before leaving was a flash of lightning!
Winnipeg was an appropriate spot to spend Canada Day, about halfway into my journey both in distance and time. I reflected on how each day on the road has been its own “Canada Day” for me, filled with different aspects of our incredible nation.
After treating his mother, my Great Aunt Shirley, to brunch, Cousin Once Removed Colin and I ventured to The Forks to check out the Canada Day afternoon festivities.
Later that night Colin and I took in some entrancing fireworks at Assiniboine Park, near the home of him and his wife Pam.
I set out Sunday morning, complete with groceries and eagerness to witness an area I’d been told is the gem of Manitoba. Whiteshell Provincial Park is full of popular campgrounds and Manitobans’ summer homes along its 13 lakes. The winding highway was a definite detour to finish off the province, but scenery didn’t disappoint.
Nearing the end of my Sunday, I bumped into an aid station for the Canadian 150 Ultra. While the Trail Run Manitoba volunteers were impressed at my feat, I was baffled to hear the racers travel 150 miles by foot over the long weekend! They insisted they were up to their ears in supplies, so loaded me up with granola bars, energy gels, and a couple sandwiches to go!
I enjoyed Whiteshell Provincial Park over two days, camping on the Trans Canada Trail near Otter Falls and then West Hawk Lake Provincial Campground. I didn’t doubt I’d entered the Canadian Shield, suddenly cycling through hilly terrain surrounded by rocky outcrops and thick forests.
My midday Tuesday crossing of the provincial border came with a booming thunderstorm. While most drivers probably questioned my sanity, I remained mostly dry thanks to my sublime rain gear – kudos MEC!
That afternoon I reached Kenora, where I would finalize my extensive research on how to get to Thunder Bay. Lake Of The Woods is pretty cool, with its many small tree-filled islands. As thunderstorms returned that evening, I dried out in a motel rather than soaking my tent.
Despite inklings of significant recent shoulder improvements, I’d heard the horror stories of the narrow, truck-filled highway 17. The general consensus I gathered is highways 71 and 11 via Fort Frances on the US Border will produce a more peaceful and safer ride. Thanks to the incredible interwebs, three Thunder Bay cyclists I found on Warmshowers, and several Kenora locals for advising me!
Strava screenshots to be posted, pending computer access.