Wheat Kings have all treasures buried

I might as well just get this out there: I got a professional massage.

It happened in Winnipeg. I had been kind of thinking about it, as I pulled out of Northern Ontario, that I deserved something for digesting the whale. Considering the fact that I am several days ahead of schedule and thus can play a little more fast and loose with my budget I decided to go for it. I am still not sure how I feel about it. Maybe like going to see a professional game of ultimate. You get what you paid for, but you know that out there somewhere you could get something just as good for free. It actually was pretty intense and made Winnipeg one of my more expensive cities, but also one of the most relaxing.

I had met one of my hosts from the capital of Manitoba about a month earlier at Gender Blender. Julia was at the tournament playing with Nicole, my ride to TUF in early May, and introduced the two of us. A 30 second conversation later and I had an offer of a place to stay in Winnipeg with Julia and Robin.

The Praries Are Flat

The Praries Are Flat

In my communications with Julia before hand we had arranged for my arrival to be on Monday, so I was looking for a slow way into Winnipeg on the Sunday, especially because the Praries are easy to make good time on. Not long after I snapped the picture on the left of the new flat look I was caught in a Prarie storm that felt like it dumped about 100mm of water on me. With that amount of wet I decided to push through and stay at the University of Winnipeg in an actual dry bed, as Julia was at a tournament in the States with her ultimate team.

My time in Winnipeg was awesome as I got hooked up with a league game on Monday night, went for my massage on Tuesday, and on Wesnesday practiced with the competitive mixed team in town the Red River Rebellion. Throwing in a few local Half Pints brews, an amazing show put on by a thunder storm and a backyard bon fire it was a real good experience.

Camping in Beaudry Provincial Park

Camping in Beaudry Provincial Park

The sprints to finish off practice on Wednesday night made me take the majority of Thursday off and I didn’t leave from the city until later on in the evening where I set up my tent, for free, at Beaudry Provincial Park just out of town. The following day featured a long grind against the wind on the Trans Canada, that also included my forced start into interval training as birds along the side of the road dive bombed me and my bike every few Kms to ensure I didn’t linger in their territory. I was also graced with a screw going through my back tire.

Westman Ultimate Disc League

Westman Ultimate Disc League

It was near the beginning of my sojourn that I had been contacted by the Westman Ultimate Disc League in Brandon, Manitoba inviting me to stop in on my way past their city. Being in New Brunswick and thinking about Manitoba is something that boggles the mind and so I promised to keep in touch and made an effort to touch base with Stephen the Communications Director with the WUDL. Am I ever glad that I did.

I wanted to be in a town somewhere for Canada Day and the timing looked perfect for me to be in Brandon for the long weekend. Unfortunately my contact, Stephen, was going away for the weekend but he sent a message out to the 6 team ultimate league to see if anyone was willing to host me during my time in Manitoba’s second largest city.

Sharon and Joe took up the call and I have experienced a real nice and easy breezy Canadian summer long weekend. Not to mention that I have been treated to some of the best food on my trip yet. When I pulled in I was just in time for a BBQ lunch with burgers and corn plus some of the best cookies I have ever eaten for dessert. Then we took a little tour around town so that I could grab another inner tube, my 3rd one of the province. Later on that evening after some delicious fall off the bone ribs some members of the ultimate league came over and we had some backyard beers and played cups.

The following morning we were inspired by watching the European Championships of Beach Ultimate over omlettes that were cooked in the shape of muffins to head to the beach for the afternoon. More cups were played and a whole lot of tossing around in the around. We even managed to see some bison on the way home, just as Sharon had promised we would.

Canada Day was the Monday and the Westman group had organized a game of pick up that was super well attended for a hot holiday afternoon. Keeping on theme we decided to play a red vs white game and the Brandon crowd was a ton of fun. The ultimate community is also organizing a tournament later on in July to help raise money for a local animal shelter which should definitely be a good time.

Canada Day was finished up with some fireworks overlooking the city. A great finish to what has been an amazing province. I really enjoyed my time in Manitoba and the people I met along the way were great.

Canada Day Pick Up in Brandon, MB, pic courtesy of Shanda

Canada Day Pick Up in Brandon, MB, pic courtesy of Shanda

My 6th province, 3rd time zone, and 2nd watershed

I am in Winnipeg and it’s been a while since I have pumped out some stats. Also I am really far ahead of schedule. I am trying to find a tournament to slow me down because if I keep going like this I am going to hit Alberta with a splash.

  • Time on the go: 80 days
  • Total distance travelled: 4667 Km
  • Money spent: $2 700 (budget is updated)
  • Number of times I have paid for accommodation: 3 ($120 spent)
  • Number of moose sightings: 5 (2 of them were dead)
  • Number of bear sightings: 3

I have made another map detailing my journey from Guelph to Winnipeg. If you click to enlarge it go to the bottom of the left panel and click on the arrow to see all the dots and lines.

You can see that map and the other ones here.

I am really lucky to get to be leading this lifestyle. Being this flexible and open to adventure truly makes this trip feel like a once in a life time experience.

Sunday afternoon in Thunder Bay is a great example. After having checked out the Terry Fox memorial, I attended the competitive ultimate team’s throw around in the park session. As the rain began to fall more and more the decision was made to pack up and go get some all you can eat sushi. A group of us showed up at the restaurant and one of things that came up in conversation was the efforts of Thunder Bay Ultimate to increase the amount of youth playing in the region. One of the efforts they were making towards that end was going into schools to run clinics and there happened to be one the following day. Having nothing better to do than ride my bike I volunteered to participate.

My clinic partner, Jeff, picked me up the following morning and we went out to a junior high school for the morning and ended up running some drills and scrimmages with three different grade 7 and 8 classes. The kids were awesome and we left them with a crate full of discs, a rule book, and an instructional video all courtesy of Thunder Bay Ultimate, if that isn’t a great approach to growing ultimate I am not sure what is.

Kakabeka Falls outside Thunder Bay

Kakabeka Falls outside Thunder Bay

I took off after Jeff made me a delicious lunch of pork chops and rice, and put in a good afternoons ride past Kakabeka Falls (featured on the left) and onto the turn off for highway 11. It was nice to get away from the 17 but I knew we would meet again.

Another long day of riding in desolation put me just past Atikokan, Ontario where I camped near some construction equipment hoping the noise they made during the day would be enough to keep the bears away at night. Not much happened except for passing the sign for entering the Arctic watershed, which was kind of nice. It is a little weird to see water now flowing to my right rather than my left.

Hitting the Arctic Watershed, it is weird having water flowing to the right now

Hitting the Arctic Watershed, it is weird having water flowing to the right now

I was aiming for Fort Frances where a different Jeff was awaiting my arrival. Jeff is a good friend of mine from engineering at the University of Guelph, who is now doing his masters with the University of Waterloo and his research had taken him up to the Rainy River. We bumped into one another on the highway on my way into town, not a surprise as my arrival was anticipated. I wanted to duck into town to grab some supplies and Jeff had some work to do on the river so we agreed to meet in town later on that afternoon.

About 5 Km later, as I was biking over the causeway into Fort Frances, I broke a spoke on my back wheel. I was a little concerned about how I was going to go about repairing it and hoped I wouldn’t have to take a trip across the border to do so, but I found an amazingly friendly sport shop in town.

Taggs Source for Sports in Fort Frances is awesome and I feel like I owe them several times over. I decided that while the bike was in for a new spoke I might as well get a bit of a tune up on it as well, and in the end they didn’t charge me one cent for the whole thing. They wished me a safe and happy journey and sent me on my way. They also helped me out in a Fort Frances car chase when Jeff and I got our wires crossed as to where to meet, luckily it all worked out in the end.

I had an amazing time in Fort Frances. Doing some fishing on Rainy Lake on my first night, getting out on the water the following day to spectate as Jeff and his co-researcher Adrian did some work on the river. Cooking up some Northerns for a feast and then heading out to wing night not an hour later for cheap wings and beer. Just overall a great time with some good folks and some solid conversation.

My freshly tuned bike was good to go and I rolled out on Friday morning having gone several pitchers deep the night before. Nothing a bike ride couldn’t cure. I stopped somewhere along the way for an ice cream and as I was finishing it I heard the dreaded hiss coming from my back tire as my inner tube decided it no longer wanted to hold air. My quick ice cream break became a bit longer as I had to deal with only my third flat tire of the trip.

I should say that paying for campsites is stupid. I did it once right before Thunder Bay and setting up my tent in someone’s backyard for $20 is not my idea of a good investment. Particularly because that is where I saw my second bear of the trip when I woke up in the morning and the entire reason I had paid for a campsite was to avoid bears in the first place.

Sioux Narrows Provincial Park not so legit campsite

Sioux Narrows Provincial Park not so legit campsite

Ontario Provincial Parks are probably the worst culprit as they are now charging in the area of $40 to pitch a tent. For $40 someone should be pitching your tent for you, cooking you dinner, and warming up your sleeping bag. Which is why in Sioux Narrows I did set my tent up on the beach at the provincial park, but I in no way paid for the privilege to do so. This kind of thing is much easier to get away with when all you have to do is hide a bike and not a car.

My next day saw me through the lovely town of Kenora and things were starting to get flat. Next thing you know…

What is up Manitoba?

What is up Manitoba?

I was baptized by a real Prarie storm on my first day of real riding in the flats. But wow if the wind is with you or at least not against you I think you could really make some time out here. I keep expecting to be punished for how flat it is, but that is what Northern Ontario ingrained into me.

I am not sure if the flooding out West will affect my original route plans. I figure I will stay on course to Regina and then make the call from there.

I certainly was glad to pull out of Ontario. Really such a big province with even bigger contrasts it is difficult to summarize how I feel about it. At times it was too populated at others desolate. Sometimes it was hilly others times flat. From the self-sufficient South to the natural North. All in all I can say the people were amazing each in their own unique way.