Going the Distance: Days 28 to 33 (Winnipeg, MB to Thunder Bay, ON)

People I’ve talked to along my journey are surprised when I tell them that mental illness touches 1 in every 5 Canadians.

Awareness and early identification are often the first steps to effective treatment for children and youth with mental health disorders.

Here are some signs to look for:

  • getting significantly lower marks in school
  • avoiding friends and family
  • having frequent outbursts of anger and rage
  • losing his or her appetite
  • drinking a lot and/or using drugs
  • damaging other people’s property
  • worrying constantly
  • frequent mood swings
  • lacking energy or motivation
  • attempting to injure him or her self

To date, we’ve raised $2,000 for Griffin Centre so they can provide programs and services for vulnerable youth and adults. Thank you to all those who have donated. We are getting closer to our fundraising goal.

June 8, 2010: Winnipeg to West Hawk Lake.
Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I almost finished a whole cheesecake. So close!

Feeling refreshed from my previous day off I made a solid 160 km trip to West Hawk Lake, just shy of the Ontario border. It was raining as usual. Not a downpour, more of a light drizzle. I was traveling on a nicely paved highway with a gravel shoulder. This meant I had to be more alert of vehicles coming up from behind me.

When I arrived at West Hawk Lake I biked through the small town to see what was around. Two inns, two campgrounds, two gas stations and a bar with only one food item on the menu, pizza. I stopped at one of the gas stations that was closed for the day to take a break and drink some water. A big black suburban truck drove up, circled around me and stopped. I noticed the metal cage in the back hiding behind the dark tinted windows. It was easy to figure out that was a law enforcement vehicle. The driver came out and was enthusiastically asking questions about where I came from. He was excited to hear about my journey so far. We introduced ourselves and chatted for a bit. I got the impression that in his line of work he doesn’t get much time off and wants to do a tour of his own. So I informed him that if he worked for Toronto Police he could get a year sabbatical after a certain number of years or take occasional unpaid leave in border services, lol.

I biked into a three season trailer park to see if I can camp there for the night. I didn’t see any office or anyone else for that matter, even though there were lights on at some of the trailer sites. Were they all in hiding? ‘Olly olly oxen free’ I said in amusement. What I saw next wasn’t a person rather a deer. Then another one. They were curious as to who this person was biking through the camp. Their camp? I kept biking and found a trailer with someone cleaning up outside. I asked her about camping at the park and she said it’s trailers only here. No worries. Seeing me with my bike she offered me a sandwich and a drink. Yummy, a Bacardi Breezer. Not the best choice after a day of biking but I won’t turn down that type of ‘muscle relaxant’. The woman’s name was Roslyn and she was with her husband and brother fishing. She showed me photos of large fish that she caught the other day. Very nice. I hung out for a while keeping a close eye on the darkening sky. About a half hour later I said goodbye and headed to the other campground. There were only two other campers there. I called it a night.

June 9, 2010: West Hawk Lake to Willard Lake, 137 km.

Welcome to Ontario

Welcome to Ontario

Hello Ontario! My home province. It’s an odd feeling. Even though I am far from Toronto I feel like I am just taking a ride around the neighborhood. Riding through Kenora was nice. They have a number of shops along their main street that are visually inviting. And I took in the scenery of the Lake of the Woods. I continued on to Willard Lake where I called it a day. I stayed at a motel that had hand crafted tables and a Tiki bar in its restaurant. The staff, Michael and Tonya, were really friendly. Tonya had told me that just the day before she had four guys riding a tandem bike as guests. I had read about them in the newspaper two months ago. They too are bicycling across Canada and I was only a day behind them. Could I catch up? I also heard about a guy roller blading and skateboarding across Canada. Interesting.

June 10, 2010: Willard Lake to Wabigoon.

Oliver, originally from France, is biking from Toronto to Vancouver

Oliver, originally from France, is biking from Toronto to Vancouver

I took my time today with a short 84 km trip to Wabigoon. During today’s ride I spotted a touring cyclist coming from the East. I crossed the road to say hello to the fellow traveler. Oliver is originally from France and came to Toronto this past year. He’s biking from Toronto to Vancouver to raise awareness for his cause, Save the Children. We chatted, took photos and exchanged emails.

Constantine, from Germany, biking from Montreal, QC to Dawson City, YT

Constantine, from Germany, biking from Montreal, QC to Dawson City, YT

As Oliver and I were chatting, another cyclist came up behind us, again from the East. I didn’t think he was touring but oddly when he got closer I saw a sleeping bag and one pannier. Hmm? Turns out Constantine is biking from Montreal to Dawson City. He’s originally from Germany and quit his job back home to tour Canada. Wow! I couldn’t take my eyes off his bike. He bought a towny-type bike, has a 2L pop bottle taped to the front and some sort of milk carton duct taped to the frame, possibly for storage. I called it the McGyver bike and I believe 100% that he will complete his journey. Good luck to both of you.

June 11, 2010: Wabigoon to English River, 144 km.
I have gotten used to the constant drizzle of rain. In fact, I am usually in good spirits as I go throughout my biking day. Not sure how I’ll feel when I get a day of sun. Some day I’ll find out. With the exception of the forest scenery, this day was a routine bike ride.

June 12, 2010: English River to Thunder Bay, 180 km.

Art Burns riding to Burnaby BC on his E-bike

Art Burns riding to Burnaby BC on his E-bike

Just before passing through Upsala I saw something unusual riding towards me. Someone was riding one of those electric scooters with bike pedals. Out here along a barren road!? Ahhhh, I see it. There was a small portable generator on the back that recharged the battery. The rider’s name was Art Burns. He is traveling to Burnaby, BC from Stratford, ON. He is probably the first person to do the trip on an electric scooter. Art has a good setup. iPhone for tunes with mini speakers and small digital camera on the front powered by the generator. He’s using You Tube to record his journey. Since he has an iPhone I mentioned that he should get Google maps and latitude so his friends can track his position. Art then told me he saw the tandem bike the other day before but there was only one guy riding the bike. I wonder what happened and I felt the desire to catch up.

I had other questions to ask Art. Does he have a spare tube if he gets a flat? Does he think the 500 watt motor will survive the BC hills and not burn out? Does he know the vehicle regulations in the other provinces (Ontario’s roads allow for electric scooters/bikes)? But I choose not to. I didn’t want to jinx his trip. Good luck Art.

Hue, from Montreal, QC

Hue, from Montreal, QC, is skateboarding across Canada

Between Upsala and Raith I saw a lone individual on the side of a road having a smoke. It looked like a hitchhiker waiting for a ride. Then I saw the skateboard (longboard). It was the guy I heard about a couple days ago. Hue is from Montreal and started out roller blading across the country from BC. He switched up the blades and now’s he is longboarding. I asked about the tandem bike team and Hue said he saw them the other day. He said the bike is broken and they are taking turns riding it. The team should be in Thunder Bay and are having it fixed. I’m getting closer.

My plan was to end my day at Shabaque Corner 60 km west of Thunder Bay. And the next day I would do a short trip to Thunder Bay. Instead I went all the way to earn myself a full day off.  Exhausted and out of water I ate some trail mix to get a little more energy for the last 20 km push into Thunder Bay. Things then started going downhill from there. No, literally the road went on a decline, 🙂 and I pretty much coasted into the city.

June 13, 2010: Thunder Bay.

Arctic Watershed at 504 metre elevation, West of Thunder Bay

Arctic Watershed at 504 metre elevation, West of Thunder Bay

My day off. It’s raining but that’s the norm for my trip. On the 14th I am heading to Nipigon. It’s there I will need to make my route decision for the next 900 km. Either travel on Hwy 17 through Sault Ste Marie and Sudbury to North Bay OR Hwy 11 over and down directly into North Bay (the truck route). They’re almost the same distance with Hwy 11 being slightly shorter by 50 km. I am told by a few people that Hwy 17 is very scenic and has steep hills. While Hwy 11 is flat and boring. My knees have been feeling the pain and I have been good at not using pain killers; about once every week.

Total distance traveled: 3,350 km
Total donations received: $2,000

More Photos from Days 28 to 33