Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

Wanderlust

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

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Wanderlust. It should be recognized as a disease whose treatment is fully funded by worker’s compensation. And recently, I’ve had an awful bout with the disease. Too much time behind a desk wears at the soul and a three day weekend with no commitments was just what I needed for a little treatment.

I had no concrete plans for the weekend, but knew I wanted to go north and that I had a small list of places to check out; mountain bike trails that appeared on a map but I had never otherwise heard of, waterfalls and scenic lookouts that sounded interesting but were just too far off the beaten path to work into most trips, and stretches of highway that I hadn’t yet seen. So armed with my small checklist and some gas money, I loaded up the truck with a little biking gear, some hiking boots and some minimal camping equipment and hit the road. I would keep SPOT on the dashboard or clipped to my waist for the weekend and left a note on crackbook inviting people to follow along and steer me in new directions if they had suggestions along my path.

As with most of my trips – something came up in the morning as I was trying to leave that pushed my whole day back. My landlord asked if my camera and I might be able to hang back a little to document his first harvest of honey. Getting a little fresh honey for myself just sealed the deal, but soon I was off and following the page of a friend who had seen the expedition call on crackbook whom I hadn’t visited nearly often enough recently. A fact that was beaten in to my brain when I pulled up to her “new” house only to find she had moved back down the street to the old one without my realizing. Make time for your friends boys and girls.

I had hoped to steal her away for a quick spin on the bikes since the first mystery trail on my checklist was only a few minutes drive from there but it seems not everyone can get random Friday’s off work. So after a short visit I was twisting the jeep through some poorly marked backroads towards the promising sounding Dead Horse Trail – a long stretch of trail winding right along the edge of Algonquin Park that with a detour onto the nearby Twentyseven Lake Loop Trail and Ridge Road Cycling Trail could be turned into a twenty or so mile loop. With the late start I opted to drive in as far as I could then cycle from that point.

Best laid plans however have their own path and it seems the time and money I had invested into improving the off road abilities of my Jeep turned it into more than enough vehicle to drive the entirety of Dead Horse Trail. My cycling plans had been thwarted for the afternoon but I still enjoyed winding over and around some great terrain and paid visit to a couple bears along the way. It’s amazing how something like a bear sighting on the road can be such a great occurrence miles from town on a sunny day but be such an annoyance when you’re rushing to work in the morning. Almost surprisingly given the terrain I was driving through though, there were no moose sightings today.

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With a quick top up of the tank in South River it was off along some long forgotten roads built around the turn of the century as the Nipissing Road first brought settlers into Ontario’s North. Years of research had shown me much of the history of the Nipissing Road, culminating in a cycling trip with my friend Mat down the historic ‘Road of Broken Dreams’ a few years prior. At one point on that trip we discovered that our Bob trailers loaded with camping gear would float as we waded knee deep through a wetland that had consumed the road decades prior, but today I was discovering some of the roads those pioneers had built around that problem spot and unwrapped another little piece of the history for myself. This trip stayed mostly dry though with just a few stretches of mud as the trees narrowed in around the little used wagon paths.

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By that evening I had made my way over to Killarney and probably the best fish and chips I’ve ever had. Something about being cooked by the fishery likely makes the difference. After an evening camped out in the truck I got an early start and headed up a trail in the provincial park under flashlight. Winding through some low lying swamps and spruce stands before starting up the slopes of the quartzite LaCloche mountains. I’ve always found the white mountains fascinating but was a little surprised by the hike straight up their face. I’m used to park trails claiming to be tough but actually being incredibly sanitized paths ready to race golf carts through. Instead I was racing the mosquitoes while scrambling over and around the rocks – it was a great early morning workout. I reached the top not too long after sunrise – the light was great and the elevation gave a good perspective of the park and town.

From there I made my way around to Manitoulin Island to check out the Cup & Saucer Trail. I’d heard good things about the trail and it offers a view from the highest point on the island. It was supposed to be a moderately challenging trail as well, but given the number of ill prepared tourists coming out of the trail in flip flops I thought I’d be safe with just a bottle of water and go. It was a fun, if short, trail but the lookout was definitely worth the trip up.

In fact the whole ridge running across Manitoulin between M’Chigneeg and Sheguiandah made for beautiful terrain as I drove through the farms towards the Eastern shore. I made that trip after a quick stop at Bridal Veil Falls in Kagawong and getting crowded out by the tourists. Another trip to the falls later in the season while it was quieter showed the magic of walking behind the falls and it’s a trip I recommend, but the crowds can be insane and it’s probably best timed for a weekday if possible.

For this trip though it was on to the Eastern Shore of the island and, since there were no spaces left on the ferry, back up across the converted rail bridge and back through the mountains. In the past few years I’d been discovering the La Cloche mountains through Killarney Park but I have to say the views of the mountains along the highway north of the island are incredible right from the car. It has definitely made it amongst my list of the best roads to travel. I want to come back some day soon and try to follow the old rail line weaving around the ponds and bays by bike.

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On getting back up to the ‘17’ the truck was pointed further West to see The Chutes in Massey. The Chutes is a kind of cool park where you can take in a series of waterfalls, walk right into some of the upper falls, and swim off the sedimentary sandbar at the base of the final falls. It’s not a outdoors persons park though, the trail around the falls is short and very sanitized, but still worth taking a look on should you ever find yourself slipping by and needing to stretch your legs.

A more interesting trip in this area though is one I chased down some narrow and forgotten roads into Fort La Cloche and the La Cloche Provincial Park. It’s a long and narrow road that often makes you wonder if you should turn back, that is if you can even find the road through the native reserve after climbing a steep and rutted out trail – it’s definitely not a trail for an economy car to take even if I did see a minivan in there with it’s driver trying hard to rip the undercarriage off it. It’s a nice little park that very few I think have ever seen and it’s a road trippers dream – the journey is worth more than the destination.

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On my way back towards home I had one more adventure to take in – I went looking for a set of water falls that had been into a hydro project at the turn of the century but had long since been abandoned. Some online research had promised great exploration of the old industrial buildings and infrastructure. The problem is all the roads had seemingly changed since the printing of the maps, or maybe the online directions had the falls placed incorrectly. Regardless, after two hours of searching and more than a couple wrong turns and u-turn corrections I had found the driveway. A long and dusty road with little upkeep but a sign pointed the way and promised to find the ruins just a few kilometres up the road. As I came around the corner and saw the first building though there was still one problem. Between me and the falls was a twelve foot high chainlink fence plastered in ‘No Trespassing’ signs and signs pointing out Valé’s security cameras. So it was a minor failure but at least I did find the where to find what I was looking for and found a great new road into Sudbury on the way out.

Some time in the near future I want to do an epic cycling trip through some of the logging roads in this area and see what can be found. Hiccups like this fence are bound to come up along the way and become long detours by bike, but that’s all part of the adventure. The promise of all that land that is barely developed, winding through all the lakes and rivers, it’s just too tempting to ignore.

I went out looking for a cure for wanderlust, but as I’m travelling down the highway late at night on my way back home I have to realize that wanderlust can’t be cured – these trips just keep the symptoms under control. But maybe that’s not a bad thing.

2015 Recap

Friday, January 22nd, 2016

Each year I try to take some time to look over my favourite photos of the past year; typically for a calendar but this year there was no calendar. December simply came and went too quickly and the calendar had gotten a little out of hand. This gets back to the original intent of the calendar though, to share some of my favourite adventures from the past year and some of the tales behind them.

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It seems I missed half the year because we’re into the first of July before getting to the first of my favourites. I did make up for it though with several great trips in the second half of the year. This trip started with a very early morning hike to this lookout in Killarney park shortly after sunrise. It took screaming at bears through fields and a couple of steep scrambles up the rock face in the dark, but I think this view was worth the trip.

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Later that morning just before getting back to the truck I stumbled across this car on the trail. I’m curious to know how it came to be there. It sits on a relatively wide and straight stretch of trail quite near the road so my first guess would be that this was actually an early road out of Killarney, but it seems to me the car substantially pre-dates the first official road into Killarney. I had hoped to ask at the park office but was back out before they opened and decided just to push on, but maybe someday I’ll find the history of that car.

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For years I had heard of the Cup & Saucer trail and been curious, but hadn’t been to Manitoulin Island since I was quite young. The limestone of the escarpment always provides for interesting terrain and being on the highest point of the island just adds to the interest.

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After hiking past some of the biggest pines left standing in Algonquin Park one can find the reason why there aren’t more of these big pines – the remains of an old logging camp. It was amazing how much detail of the camp the park was able to pull out of what was left of the remains of a few foundations.

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Hidden in plain sight at the top of the trail was this quiet little branch of the Aux Sables River. There were quite a few people rushing further up river to get a glimpse of the top most of the series of falls at Chutes Provincial Park and in the process walked right over the bridge from which this photo was taken. As nice as it was to relax in the falls further up, this is the photo that sticks in my mind.

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It was almost an after thought after a morning hike with a friend, but finding myself in Huntsville with a little time to kill I thought it finally time to see what Arrowhead looked like without a couple feet of snow on it. After dodging past some campers and playing hide and seek with a couple deer I found the lookout over this oxbow in the Big East River. As nice as the view was though, I just wanted to be paddling down the river.

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This was also the year that I decided to find the abandoned town of Depot Harbour. It was strange driving through narrow, barely even there lanes grown over from years of abandonment and seeing next to you neatly organized lots and house foundations. What was once a bustling community was now almost completely absorbed by the bush, the most significant remains being the stone steps up to the now missing church. Of course though, you visit Depot Harbour to see the round house remains and they don’t disappoint.

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While in the Parry Sound area I also made my way to Killbear Park for the first time. I never did find the ever popular Killbear tree that everyone seems to photograph, but I was surprised by the amount of wildlife. From the bears that greeted me at the entrance to the countless deer that seemed torn between running from the camera or posing for it to the two wolves walking in to the park just after sunset as I was leaving. But the most demanding of photographic attention was this little squirrel that followed me for ten minutes constantly stopping just inches from the camera lens waiting for the shutter.

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After several failed attempts this was finally the year to make it to the top of ‘The Crack.’ I’d heard about this trail for years and always been told it was quite technical and not to be attempted in wet weather as the rock got too slick. Of course every time I made plans to hike it, usually camping overnight at George Lake, it would pour rain all night leading up to it and all day, or at least long enough to ensure that there wasn’t enough daylight to attempt a trail advertised at six hours.

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After about two hours hike and leaving behind a pair of less prepared groups along the way we made it to the plateau. It was rather anti-climatic. The view was nice but not great. And then we made it far enough into the clearing to see our destination, still a couple hundred feet over head. The final ascent wove over the rubble of a rock slide right up the middle of the crack itself, nearly straight up at times over boulders the size of cars between the sheer faces of this mountain split in two. The view made it worth the trip though.

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Just travelling Highway 69 is always an adventure. Checking on the latest in the slow, slow construction project and stepping back in time through the little towns and abandoned hotels and gas bars. One of my favourites seems to be rather popular still as a crack retreat so my stay was brief, but it’s also the home of my favourite character, Graffiti Bot.

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Every year thousands of tourists flock to Algonquin to take in the fall colours, and occasionally I join them. When that happens though I’m always glad that they get suckered in to the easy to reach and obviously named views leaving the best that the park has to offer quieter for those in the know. The fun of exploring though is knowing that there are even better, even less known spots just waiting to be discovered.

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Just as the year was closing, a friend and I made an attempt at one last adventure – an overnight camping trip in the snow. The weather report called for minus one overnight and just four inches of snow – great conditions for the fat bikes. Instead, we woke to fourteen inches of snow that forced us to push the bikes most of the way home. There’s a more detailed trip report here.

2014 Adventures in Review

Saturday, January 10th, 2015

The other day I read an interesting post by Jill Homer recapping twelve of her favourite images from the past year, one for each month, and giving a little more insight into each image. I thought it was a great idea, but since this blog has been used just for business in the past, I didn’t have twelve months of images to choose from online. But I do have an annual calendar filled with images from my past year that I’m constantly being asked more details about the images – seems like a good fit. So if you have a few minutes, why not take a look at my 2014…

December – Hoggs Falls, Near Flesherton

Hogg's Falls

We almost missed finding these falls. Out on a short waterfall hunting tour, we found the main, larger falls (Eugenia Falls below) that we were looking for, but with time starting to run short before a concert that evening and directions that were a little less than clear, hope was starting to run low. But down a gravel road, a short walking trail, and over the edge of a little cliff one finds these falls. The biggest challenge was trying to hold the camera steady over the long exposure with one hand while using the other to brace myself from falling over the bank and down to the river.

January – High Falls, Near Dowling

High Falls

Appearing on maps as High Falls, the locals know that Onaping Falls gives an amazing show just a short ways from the highway while most drive by without a clue of what’s waiting for them. We came by on a snowshoeing expedition on one of those perfect clear, cold days to check out the interesting ice formations that can always be found near waterfalls.

February – Eugenia Falls, Eugenia

Eugenia Falls

Eugenia Falls started as just a random point on a map with fairly low expectations for what we’d find. We happened to be in the area and had an opportunity to check another set of water falls off our checklist of Ontario falls. Rolling into a quiet little town and cruising through even quieter back streets expectations were low when around the corner there’s a tiny, single lane dirt road – that’s just bustling with traffic coming and going from the conservation area parking lot. All this activity offers promise that something great is just around the corner, and that, in our modern society where no one takes responsibility for their actions, there will be big fences that prevent you from getting too close to something great. Right on both counts; that’s why I think I’ll have to get back another day with more time to find a way into the ravine and back up river to the falls.

March – Torrance Barrens

Torrance Barrens

I’m lucky to have this dark sky preserve just a short way from home – about a forty five minute drive or, thanks to an old colonization road, a forty five minute cycle. One night full of time to spare and interesting clouds I grabbed the camera and tripod to see what the sunset might offer. I think it was worth the trip.

April – Newpost Falls, Near Fraserdale

Newpost Falls

It started by accidentally stumbling over a photo online of a set of waterfalls way up north that was wrapped in a tiny provincial park and thanks to hydro development in the area was about to disappear forever. Newpost Falls only exist in their present form because many years ago someone thought it wise to divert a large river down the Newpost Creek and increase the flow over another big dam along the Abitibi Canyon. But yet another hydro project is poised to divert that flow through a new generating station and return the Newpost Falls to just a trickle once more. This view was the reward for a long adventure to reach this remote, northern park.

May – Last Road Crossing, Otter Rapids

Last Road Crossing

In finding a way to see Newpost Falls, above, I put a lot of research into remote northern roads. One road in particular suited my needs. Leaving behind cell reception, civilization, and the last chance for gasoline at Smooth Rock Falls, my route led due north for 80km of beautiful and abandoned asphalt highway before reaching Fraserdale and the Abitibi Generating Station where you gingerly drive across a narrow path over the top of the dam, trying not to bump the chain link fence keeping you from falling hundreds of feet off the edge of the dam or into the ridiculously expensive hydro equipment inches from your tire on the other side. From there, the private gravel road extends another 50km, passing a rough jeep trail leading to Newpost Falls, the end of the We-Tum Ice Road to Moosonee, and across another even larger and more dangerous dam crossing to the end of the road at Otter Rapids. It’s as far north up the Moose River watershed as you can get by road (until the ice road opens each year) and mere feet before the road comes to an unassuming dead end it crosses this rail line – the last road crossing this rail line makes on it’s way to Moosonee.

June – Abitibi River, Otter Rapids

Abitibi River

Stopping at the edge of the dam at Otter Rapids (the dam is barely a single lane wide and curved so that you can’t see any potential traffic from the ends) and walking your way out amongst all the massive equipment, you can get a birds eye view of the Abitibi River. The scale of this dam, the river, and this whole landscape is impressive and looking North, as in this photo, it’s easy to realize that signs of man are few and far between from this point on. The road extends less than a kilometre past this point doing little more than servicing the generating station and a small rail facility. Beyond that the rail line extends another 140km to the small communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory and little else.

July – Abandoned Tractor, Near Warsaw

Abandoned Tractor Near Warsaw

On a cycling trip without real destinations, I found this old tractor laying right at the edge of the road a little ways north of the village of Warsaw. I always love stumbling across little pieces of forgotten history like this. One can only imagine the thousands of trips across this field the tractor made before being parked here in the corner and forgotten. I wonder just how many other pieces of equipment are spread across this land that fell to the same fate.

August – Warsaw Caves Conservation Area

Warsaw Caves Conservation Area

During the last ice age today’s big lakes were much more massive and between them ran enormous rivers that are but a trickle of their former selves today. One of those rivers flowed here through Warsaw where it ate away at the soft limestone and formed underground rivers. Today the water table is much lower and it has revealed a series of caves that one can explore – in one case so a cave so long that it still holds ice in August. And though the mighty river is now just a gentle stream, it still suddenly emerges from underground and disappears again here in Warsaw.

September – Rosseau Falls, Near Bent River

Rosseau Falls

I had long known about a set of falls in this area that was rumoured to be quite nice, but completely inaccessible because of private property. Well as it turns out that property up until recently belonged to Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, but with their sale of the property I was suddenly right next to the mystery falls as part of my job. With a polite request and a hand shake I suddenly had permission to come by one evening with the camera to get photos of the falls that not many get to see. The property is now sold and the new owners moved in, closing off access to these falls once again, but for now let this photo give you a glimpse of what one lucky resident gets to call their front yard.

October – Manitouwabing River, Near Inholmes

Manitouwabing River

I was out one day on a random cycling trip with a friend when we discovered an interesting, antique concrete bridge deep in the middle of nowhere. I have no doubt the bridge dates back to the original settlement of the Orange Valley and the building of the Nipissing Road around the 1890’s. Standing on this forgotten bridge of a quiet, sparsely populated road there wasn’t a sound, save for a very faint sound of rushing water. A tiny gravel road led up the river and I followed it up stream to find these tiny falls not far away. Makes you wonder how many people even know these falls are here.

November – Screaming Head at Midlothian Castle

Screaming Head

Continuing the trip from Orange Valley I found my way over to a small farm I had often heard about but never visited. A local art teacher had transformed his picturesque but unremarkable farm into an interesting work of art with the addition of most famously a series of concrete “screaming heads.” But that’s just the start of what this self-guided adventure has in store as you follow the paths to various metal sculptures, a hand powered ferry across the small pond, and the transformation of a simple farm house into the impressive Midlothian Castle.

December – Oxtongue River, Near Dwight

Oxtongue River

Several years ago I had spent the first night of a three week bike-packing trip on the edge of a set of rapids on the Oxtongue River and driving by this fall decided to share my earlier find. But entering the area from a different direction along a different road we found the beginning of the rapids as they shoot under this snowmobile bridge and make their way over a set of impressive water falls. Just goes to show that even when you think you know a place, there’s always more to discover.

Comparing Dirt Drops

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

So I’ve been working on rebuilding my bike in anticipation of doing the Tour Divide next year and loved my Soma Junebug bars. Unfortunately, I put them on my landlord’s road bike to make it more comfortable for him leaving me without my choice bars. And on trying to order up a new set, I find there is no longer a Canadian distributor.

So thinking about my options of course I think to the Salsa Woodchipper bars, which I’m sure I can find here, but not sure they’ll be as comfortable. So I got looking for some photos online comparing the shapes of the two and had no luck. So why not create something?

I don’t attest this to be accurate, as I didn’t have the bars myself or technical drawings to work from, but I did find front and top views of the bars and redrew them for an overlay. Of course I can’t attest to how accurate each photographer was in taking my source photos for this, but it does give some general indications and maybe that will make things a little easier for anyone else trying to decide.

If you happen to have good quality photos of any of these bars or, even better, access to technical drawings, I would love to hear from you to update this graphic. In the mean time, I hope it helps someone.

EDIT: Turns out someone was visiting this on a tablet and the embed didn’t work correctly – if you can’t see the side and top views, go here.

Rediscovering the Path in the Moonlight

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Sometimes it’s the strangest things that get us re-energized.

Recently I’ve found myself in a bit of a slump creatively and struggling to create the designs that I envision. And it only took one, completely unrelated moment to change that. The other night I was cruising home from a quiet evening with my girlfriend, spinning the pedals on a deserted stretch of road under a full moon. It was one of those bright nights where you don’t need lights to see ahead of you, giving me a great view as two moose slowly ambled across my path. It instantly reminded me one of the reasons I love living in this little corner of the world, but also revitalized my creative side and set me back on the path.

What moments revitalize you?

A Tale of Worn Tires

Monday, July 16th, 2012

This past weekend was another bikepacking trip with my friend Mat. After a lot of uncertainty we decided to investigate a loop of about 160km of rail trail from Orillia to Midland, Pentang, back to Elmvale, Barrie and return to Orillia. Sounded like a fun trip and only having to cover 80km each day meant we could take it easy – a great advantage as the temperatures we’re easing up towards the forty degree mark.

With a late start (approaching 11:00) we rolled out the Uhtoff Trail, a nice little route partly hidden in the tree line at the edge of several farm fields taking us straight into Coldwater. This was where the route got a little dicey – some maps saying we could continue on rail trail, others saying we’d have to hit the road. Turned out that there is trail exiting Coldwater but it is topped with loose gravel big enough that I could feel my wheels twisting underneath as the surface shifted. Taking Highway 12 for a few kilometres into Waubaushene where we rejoined a now paved rail line all the way into Midland where we stopped for lunch.

Continuing on the trail out of Midland is now the road of a subdivision which quickly brought us into Penetanguishene. Leaving Penetang and heading south again we hit some amazing trail that had a whole network of mountain biking trail off the edges that would have been worth investigating had we not been fully loaded and on skinny tires. Being still fairly early in the day and having already covered 70km of our planned 80, we decided a detour was in order and headed in to Balm Beach to ride along the shores of Georgian Bay where the temperatures promised a little relief. Following Tiny Beaches Road along the edge of the bay is a great ride beside some under-used beach – this is practically the same beach as Wasaga but it wasn’t uncommon to pass public beaches that were completely empty despite being one of the hottest days of the year. Approaching Wasaga we turned against traffic and back over to our rail trail and into Elmvale for dinner.

Our plan was to continue riding along the trail after dinner taking advantage of a few more hours of daylight to leisurely look for a camp site. Despite the best efforts of a farmer who had plowed over the trail between seventh and eighth concession lines, we were quickly rolling down the gentle grade of the rail line once more. Quite quickly in fact. Instead of finding a camp site we found ourselves on the out skirts of Barrie before the sun set. Given that the end of this trip was only 30km of rail trail away from Barrie and we had decent lights with us, we made the decision to push on through the night and head north to do some off road riding on Sunday instead.

That was when my bike started protesting with my second rear tire flat of the day. Luckily I had picked up a spare tube in Midland after my first flat and didn’t have to try to patch this one getting us back on the road and through Barrie traffic before it got too dark. We thought we were home free rolling up a great stretch of rail trail I had previously rode on our way to Orillia and making good time, until my rear tire flatted again. This time there was no spare tube and we didn’t have enough light to make attempting a patch very feasible – especially given that it was a very slow leak. Since I was able to travel near a kilometer from the time the tire started getting soft to going flat, I tried just putting some air in it and continuing on. With only 25km to go, stopping a few times to air up a tire seemed faster than trying to patch it in the dark.

A kilometer later I was flat again and in the dark it felt like I had three broken spokes to add to it. This wasn’t going to work. We had a couple options though. Set camp where we were and either make a patch in the morning light or send Mat back to Barrie to get a new tube (or four) – or send Mat up the trail to Orillia where the truck was parked and come back to grab me and my now broken bike. We took the second option and Mat blazed up the trail as I walked my broken bike a few more kilometers until the rear wheel stopped turning all together. Carrying my loaded bike about five hundred metres got me back out to a main road but I wouldn’t get much further very quickly under my own power. And so I waited for Mat to return with the truck.

Standing for an hour at the side of this country road I was shocked to count 45 cars pass me at 1am – and a little surprised that out of those 45 not one stopped to ask if I needed help. Granted, a pseudo-fit, thirty-something man with a scruffy beard at the side of the road at 1am may not be the best person to judge how helpful people are as a whole, but as someone who always offers a hand to stopped motorists I found it a little surprising.

In the end we made it back to civilization that night and spent the night in Orillia. Mat had covered 183km in the end, about 170 of those being on rail trail, and when we got back to my shop and got a good look at my bike I turned out to only have broken one spoke but the tube was absolutely shreded. My rear tire had completely come apart over the course of the trip with ripped threads everywhere and quite a few patches thin enough to see light through. Given that these tires already had three years of bikepacking on them, including an eighteen hundred kilometer journey last year, they really don’t owe me anything. I guess the search now begins for new rubber – which is unfortunate because they no longer make my trusty IRC Mythos slicks in 700×42…

Overcome By Events

Friday, May 25th, 2012

So if you may permit me to geek out for a moment, and if you will not I suggest you’re on the wrong site, I’ve been rather caught up by the reimagined version of the show Battlestar Galactica. For my purposes here you need not know the details, but in this world a character presents the acronym ‘OBE’ or ‘Overcome By Events.’ Apparently it’s commonly used by deep space pilots…but I’d suggest it’s pretty common here in our world in the business realm.

*End Geek Speak*

Have you ever had one of those days/weeks/months where nothing in particular is wrong, but the sum total of a million little things has you so far behind schedule that you wonder if you’ll ever get on top of it again? I think it’s far more common than any of us would like to admit and I know I’m finding myself more than a little OBE right now.

Working long days to meet a tight deadline for one client meant that I lost track of another clients project and felt that dreaded, cool breeze of a deadline sailing by. It’s something that I hate to do – but again, Overcome By Events. Maybe there’s a valuable lesson in there about only pleasing so many people in a day or over extending one self, but I haven’t the time to think about that. However the one sure moral of the story is that while I’d love to take on your new project and make it work for you, realistically we’re looking at mid-June before I’ll have the time.

But to steer somewhere closer to the topic of this rant, what can we do when finding ourselves Overcome By Events? It’s more than a little counterintuitive, but I find it best to take some time off. For me, spending a couple days out bike packing with your biggest concern being where to find food and a place to sleep is refreshing and sort of like a mini reset button on life. I’ll come back with a new perspective and ambition to tackle those things that were bogging me down before and find time for other important things in life (like cleaning this office, yikes).

And so this weekend I plan to cast aside my OBE-ness, at least for awhile, with a couple days riding along the Grand River with a friend. I don’t know where exactly we’ll end up, but that’s a big part of the appeal of these trips, discovering the unknown. That and I’ll be testing out a great, new solar powered bike light – here’s hoping it lives up to the promises.

So what do you do to remedy a bad case of OBE?

Returning to Real Life

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

The trip wrapped up a week ago – but it’s been a long week of trying to return to a normal reality here in the real world. Of course, had I won the lottery I would still be out on the road and more than a little wet and cold right now, but I’d be more than alright with that.

I found it rather odd while out there, but the routine of packing camp, riding all day, and setting camp again at night becomes very normal. Even despite how foreign it might sound from here. But by my second week on the road I really was having trouble understanding my old routines of work each morning and an endless string of meetings – that whole process somehow seemed unreal from the road.

But in subtle ways I’m finding I haven’t returned to quite the same life – and that’s a good thing. My first shock was shortly after the best shower I’d had in three weeks…it seems I lost a little weight while out there, none of my jeans fit any more. I’m used to having to buy pants a few sizes too large to fit my cyclist’s thighs (I think there’s a business in there for someone) but I’m also now too small for my belt it would seem. But that’s alright, just need to punch a few new holes in that, there are far worse things in life. But those who know me well are used to my unhealthy addiction to coke (the legal beverage) and though there was always a bottle of flat coke in my frame bag on the road for quick hits of sugar, I haven’t been able to touch the stuff since returning. Again, this is a very good thing.

But there’s something more just under the surface – there’s something different in my mindset and attitude on life. I’m not quite sure what, or how it might manifest, but something…

In the mean time, I’ve got a pile of photos to sort through and some typing to do because I think there’s a book to come out of all this. Stay tuned. But while you’re waiting, why not catch up on my reports from the road starting from the beginning.

Another Soggy Day

Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

I got a late start yesterday as I was expecting a short, easy day on the bike to get into Meaford, only about 70km away. So after some time visiting with family before leaving Wiarton I headed out and decided to take the scenic tour out along Colpoy’s Bay then back down the shores of Owen Sound. Should be a great ride.

At least that was my thought until I started descending off the escarpment and saw some dense, soggy weather settled over the South end of the bay. I ended up riding right into it. Not a normal, wet storm like I’d seen the past few days, but almost a wall of moisture, a very heavy fog, and it too soon had me soaked through. So much for the forecasted dry, sunny week.

But on the final leg into Owen Sound I found what should be a great overlook for photos on a better day, and I think a little bit of my family history. This lookout was a historic site for the Keppel Woman’s Institute, the oldest active women’s institute in the world the plaque tells me. It also told of their founding secretary back in 1897 was Janet McGregor. So since this is where my family is from in those days, it made for a kind of interesting random find.

Made the last 30km of my voyage on a nice but unremarkable rolling backroad and into Meaford early in the evening and setup camp. Each fall my parents stay at a great little campground in Meaford run by the Kinsmen club and the township, and that’s where I am now, waiting for them to arrive. We’ll spend a couple days here before heading home.

So that brings an end to the solo portion of my trip. 1550km so far, but I don’t foresee adding much big mileage with my parents in tow.

Until next time…

I Want to Ride my Bicycle

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

It seems that luck is back on my side. I’ve been getting word from all over the province tonight about heavy rains today while I had sunny skies until two this afternoon.

For those interested, the Bruce Rail Trail is mostly good but has some sections that are slow going – where they seemed to think that pouring three and four inch deep gravel is a good thing. Luckily those sections are relatively short and can be skirted around.

Today I made my way to the shores of Lake Huron at Southampton with the intention of heading North up the shore line to Sauble Beach, but while grabbing a bite there the winds were strong enough to have me unsteady even on foot. To head directly into that wind didn’t sound like a great idea, especially watching the storm roll down the lake, another reminder that weather on the lakes can be unpredictable.

Made my way inland there towards Hepworth and up to Wiarton to visit some family and spoiling myself with a hotel room and good meal, all the more important after running out of fuel for my camp stove