The days were counting down on the road to Ottawa as my adventure cycling across Canada was bringing me home.
With the wind at my back, my bike was tearing up the road – I was making terrific distances as my bike tour racked up another double century (202 kms!) on the road to Sudbury. My euphoria turned to exhaustion as I road my fully loaded touring bike off the Trans Canada and tried to pedal into town. Even with all the weight, I just could not trigger the sensor on the road – the only thing stopping me from getting off my bike and having a meal – the never ending red light that just refused to turn green! After what felt like an eternity, I bit the bullet and road straight on through – I needed to get off the road as night was falling pretty quickly now. A quick dinner at Swiss Chalet satisfied my hunger – next stop – somewhere to sleep. I called around but found the motels and hotels in town were either full or way out of my price range.
I had heard of another cyclist camping on the grass at a hotel parking lot before and decided to give it a go. If they said no, I didn’t know what I was going to do – there were little options left to me other than getting back on my bike and hitting the Trans Canada in the dark – not an idea I was too keen on! The front desk clerk at the Comfort Inn was quite skeptical at first, but finally agreed. Compassion won over as she sympathized with my plight. With so much rock (Canada Shield territory) – camping along the route was not looking good! It was also pitch dark out there and where was I to go?
Thrilled with my arrangement, I quickly set up my tent and got ready to settle down for the night. I had spoken to my father, who was completely opposed to this arrangement. (Mind you, he thought I was crazy to ride my bike across Canada in the first place!) Next thing you know, there is a knock on the front of my tent. The young clerk sheepishly asked me to join her in the hotel – my father, none too amused, had called the front desk and paid for a room. In his mind, a hotel parking lot was not a safe place for me to sleep. Shortly after getting settled in my room – front desk was calling again – my father was checking up on me!!!
After a decadent hotel sleep in Sudbury, followed by devouring the complimentary continental buffet breakfast, I was on my way to North Bay. Cycling through this region is gorgeous – the PreCambrian Shield and forest exerting it’s beauty as I rolled along the road – while not a flat stretch of road, the rollers were lovely in spite of the headwinds that unfortunately decided to return. I took very few rests and was quite relieved to find a campsite on the East side of North Bay. They seemed to be few and far between up here!
I could feel the pull of home as I studied my road map. I could do 2 big days of riding to get to Ottawa, or slow it down for 3 sensible distances. Needless to say, the thought of a home cooked meal and barbecues with friends meant 2 big days won out – the push for Ottawa was on.
Whoever said the roads East of North Bay were flat had clearly never ridden a bicycle on them, especially one fully loaded with camping gear and all my travel possessions. Thankfully, after 156 mms of constant up and down, I made it to Ryan’s Campground. What a treat – maple fudge in the gift shop and covered picnic tables where I could set up my stove and read a book. There was a little rain, but that did not matter – I had found my oasis! Little did I know – that oasis was even better than I saw – I never made it down to the beach front – who knew there was a gorgeous sandy beach steps from where I had pitched my tent! (Click for summer photos from Ryan’s Campground.)
Cell phone reception was sketchy at the campsite – so when I called my father, I plotted a big surprise, telling him it would take me two days to come home. Before he could question me further, made out like my phone reception died and hung up. The plan was to make the remaining 180 kms to his house in a day and surprise him. I broke down the day into 40 km segments, stopping to eat bagels with peanut butter and jam. Had to keep my strength up if I was going to make the distance. When I got home, I quickly hid my bike out of sight and ran to the front door. I could barely contain my excitement as I called the house and waited for him to answer the phone. I told him I had found a great place to spend the night – hot showers and a bed. He asked were I was, to which I replied “you had better answer the door” and said bye. The look of joy on his face when he opened the door (ok – maybe that was relief!) was awesome! Totally worth the huge push to Ottawa. I was home – for a week anyway!