Chayse

Chayse lives in a small town, and loves to be outside. He has been diagnosed with down syndrome and autism. We met his OT Ange and his PT Kirsten who both travel to see him regularly. Ang and Kirsten are two of the many amazing people who work at the George Jeffrey Children’s Center in Thunder Bay. Jay and I toured the facility with CEO Tina and were in awe of the work they do with children. We continue to be humbled by the people who share their energy, patience, skill and love so easily.

Chayse has had some previous practice on a Freedom Concepts bicycle, but he now has one to take to his home and use in his neighborhood.

Chayse – his family, staff at the George Jeffrey Center and us!

Thunder Bay News even came by and highlighted Chayse and the George Jeffrey Center.

From the wall of the George Jeffrey Children’s Center:

There is always one moment in childhood when the door opens and lets the future in.

Wanted: Qualified bike navigator. Needs to be able to find Newfoundland.

Cycle Day #37 Fort Frances to Atikokan. 131 kms

Cycle Day #38 Atikokan to Shebandowan Lake. 123 kms

Cycle Day#39 Shebandowan Lake to Thunder Bay 93 kms

Encountered some busy roads and our search for side roads was not entirely successful, ending up pushing bikes through tick invested bush, along train tracks and up steep embankments. I fear there is a Bromance going on here between the Navigator and his GAIA App. He talks to it and listens to it more than me.

“There’s another story here says the Gear Guy/Navigator. Although its true that the ever trusted GAIA App needs to be questioned once in while or you might end up in a Thelma and Louise situation, who could have predicted that there would be a 10 foot chain linked electrified fence separating the dirt road you have followed ala GAIA to the paved road you would like to join? And what is the difference really between a rail road track and a dirt road? You can ride on either. Just watch for trains.”

The elevation profiles of the three days of undulating roads heading into Thunder Bay.

After a long cycle into the relentless east wind, we had the pleasure of imposing on Dennis in Shebandowan Lake. Dennis is our friend Janet’s Dad, and in our all too short time with him, he shared with us some great stories and laughs. Everything in his camp has a story attached to it. Like the story of his pheasant hunting club – the Pleasant Pheasant Pluckers. Say that three times fast. And the Fishermen And Royal Tipplers Society (aka, the “FARTS”). Here’s the thing about the FARTS. The club was all about process. Dennis is a retired professional accountant so he was the Treasurer. Every year each member had to pay his membership dues of $0.10 by certified cheque. The cheques had to be deposited at the local bank, with the intended result of driving the bank nuts. Of course there had to be annual audited financial statements, Dennis being an accountant. And new members were initiated by the token member Lawyer who, naturally, donned court room robes complete with a white mop for his head dress. Over the decades the FARTS were an active Club, the annual membership fees accumulated to just over $27. Jay only wishes he knew Dennis back then as he would loved to have been a member of BOTH clubs – if they would have him.

We ate all his food, we drank all his wine and scotch, Jay beat him at cribbage and I broke his washing machine. And Dennis was still smiling when we left – maybe because we left.

Jay was drooling over this humongous Lake Trout caught by Dennis.

We were in great spirits rolling into Thunder Bay. We routed in through Kakabeka Falls and along a quieter road to our hotel.

After our visit to the powerful memorial to Terry Fox, we vowed to never again complain about headwinds. Terry Fox ran 5373 kilometers- nearly a marathon every day for 143 straight days. Enough said.

Two days off the bike so we can meet our fifth bike recipient!

Gear Guy:

We’ve been getting a few questions about our cycling shorts and butt creams. We were suffering after our second leg into Winnipeg so we switched things up on the advice of Tim Woodcock at Winnipeg’s Woodcock Cycle. At the time we were cycling in MEC’s finest cycling shorts and using an MEC butt cream and a ZINC mixture made by a pharmacist in Fernie. We switched cycling shorts to ASSOS H.MILLESHORTS S7 for me and ASSOS HLAALALAI for Deb. These shorts are pricey but I would have paid more for the much, much improved butt ride from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay. We looked at the bib shorts but I don’t think they are that practical for bike packing. The creams we now use are ASSOS preride and ASSOS Skin Repair Gel. Again, a much improved result. The ZINC worked but we found it was harder to apply and even harder to remove. We haven’t yet tried Keenan C’s suggestion of Clearasil but we haven’t had another “flare up Chaff emergency” event since Winnipeg so haven’t needed to try it. Yet.

One other thing – handle bar mounts for IPhones. Up til now we’ve been using a mount with a plastic cover; which is okay except it’s impossible to see with sun glasses on. For example, it is difficult to distinguish between a railway track and a dirt road. Also, now that it is (finally) getting warmer, the IPhone overheats easily. So I’ve now switched to a SCOSHCE Magic Mount $29.99 at Canadian Tire. As long as your IPhone is water proof or in a water proof casing, then this is a much better bar mount. But will need to test durability on gravel roads. Will let you know.

First days in Ontario

Cycle Day # 33. 39 kms. West Hawk Lake to Clytie Bay

Cycle Day #34. 58 Kms. Clytie Bay to Kenora

Cycle Day #35 120 Kms. Kenora to Nestor Falls

Cycle Day #36. 123 Kms Nestor Falls to Fort Frances

TOTAL TO DATE – 3247 KMS

We were welcomed at the Ontario border with a beer stand operated by a couple of elementary kids where we enjoyed a few cold ale courtesy Ford’s liberalized beer selling policy. Woohoo! (H)ale Ford Country!

Survived a short practise ride down Hwy 1 to access road to Clytie Bay. Time with Jay’s cousins leads to fishing, cribbage and endless conversation topics – about the Jets. Unsubstantiated locker room gossip continued for hours, with entertaining speculation abound.

Yukon, Barb and Rick with Jay

We toured the beautiful lake and even “wet a line” where Jay caught his first Muskie!

Yukon generously bulked us up on walleye, steak, great Canadian breakfasts, beer and (for Jay) a wee dram or two before sending us on our way back down the beautiful 20 km (paved) access road to the highway to Kenora. There was little question in Yukon’s mind as to whether the access road was paved or not but somehow Jay interpreted Yukon’s instructions as the access road was “rough and unpaved” which led to some debate between Jay and I as to whether we were on the right route coming in. And that was long before the scotch offering.

Jay with the Legendary Yukon Larry so named by Jay’s Dad many years ago because Larry lived and worked in Yellowknife, which is no where near the Yukon. But “Yukon Larry” sounded much better than “North West Territories Larry”.

I finally got to savor the world famous French fries from the Kenora chip truck – deep fried in lard. They were admittedly very good, but I could never be so smitten as Jay is here.

“Extra large with salt and malt.”

This is fishin’ country. Every vehicle passing us is towing a Lund fishing boat. Licence plates say Ilovfishn. Mail boxes are fish. Slippers are fish. The fishin’ prayer (!) is on every wall. People are just back from fishin’ or they are just going fishin’ or they wish they were fishin’. People are either talking about fishin’, thinking about fishin’ or dreaming about fishin’. This is the home of the 25 year Zammit Walleye Challenge and the resulting 25 years of lies and legends that come out of that one weekend a year trip. I was lucky enough to stay at the same lodge, and enjoyed my cabin which is apparently a significant upgrade from the ones they stay in.


Brrr… cold wet day today

Highway 71 winds around innumerable lakes from Kenora to Fort Frances. Lakes with descriptive names like Slender and Two Mountain. Lakes that must have a storey to them, like side by side Love Lake, Lake Hope and Lake Despair (Wonder which came first?). The trees along the road hide a lot of the water, but every so often we would turn a corner and get an amazing view of a stunning lake, speckled with fishin’ boats of course. We travelled back roads from Nester Falls down to Highway 11 to end up at Keith’s, near Fort Frances.

Keith is my buddy from high school. Keith is a genuine, hardworking, energy-to-burn, give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back kind of guy. Keith and I haven’t seen each other for about 20 years, but I broke into his beautiful home and was drinking his beer before he even got there. That’s a life long friend.

He just happens to live on Rainy Lake where we enjoyed a spectacular day boating, and fishin’ of course.

Tough to leave this piece of heaven that Keith and his two lovely kids Bryce and Maria call home.

Moose Jaw saw a few, Moosomin too, Running back to Saskatoon. Sing another (final) prairie tune.

Cycle day 31. Transcona to Elma 93kms

Cycle day 32. Elma to West Hawk lake 72 kms

The title doesn’t make sense to most of us, but Jay insisted we cannot leave Manitoba without showing reverence to the Guess Who. No Sugar Tonight would have been more appropriate in my view.

We left Winnipeg from Transcona, observing some significant upscaling of Jay’s birthplace – beautiful bike paths, A&W and Freshiis! Our splendid sunshiny day included The Great Canadian Breakfast (#7 on this trip), lunch to go at Freshis, a visit with Mom Zammit, and 90 kms to Moon Gate Guest House, near Elma.

Everyone in Winnipeg should do this day – including visiting Mom Zammit! Whether you ride a bike or drive a car, this is a perfect day. Moon Gate has concerts and soon to have a bakery and pizza night every Friday and Saturday. This alone is going to be worth the trip. Make a weekend of it, you can even fish for pickerel in the river and sleep in instead of doing yoga.

Jenny and Michele are amazing, and Michele will even help straighten your bent bike rack if your wife happened to ride over you after you skid out on an unfinished section of new pavement (the only not-so-perfect part of our day). We were so lucky with this crash – I skilfully managed to navigate between Jay’s derailer and his ankle, bikes are working fine, no broken bones and Michele had every tool possible to help fix the bent rack. New one on order. Back on the road with just a bit of road rash!

When we stopped in the cute towns we passed through, many folks stopped to chat and wish us well. We continue to meet amazing people everywhere. I would have liked to meet the person who wrote the town welcome sign to Rennie. Almost looks like something Gord O. would have done…

As we head further, we find ourselves in unending boreal forest and lake country flanked in Canadian Shield. A beautiful ride on quiet Highway 44 to Westhawk Lake escorted by the Manitoba Air Force of harmless but intimidatingly large flies of some sort. We felt like Charlie Brown’s buddy Pig Pen as we rode.

Tomorrow we duck into the indomitable Province of Ontario. We will be in and out of service, but will check in when we can. We estimate 25 days of riding and 12 days of stopping in Ontario – seems like a good ratio to me – it’s all about the stopping.

Milo

Enjoyed family and friend time while regrouping in Winnipeg. Our sweet daughter shocked us by flying there to meet us.

Milo was the recipient of the Freedom Concept bike in Winnipeg. There is no more adorable 2 1/2 year old than Milo.

Ken and Freedom Concepts hosted a barbecue event for family and friends where we met Milo and some of his “village”. Parents Peter and Erin, grandparents Richard and Luna, and physio Heather were all there cheering Milo on. Chris and Steve from Children’s Rehabilitation Foundation who were instrumental in making this happen for Milo, were also there.

This bike will help Milo use his left side which was affected by a stroke before he was born. He was already holding on with both hands and his left leg was working along with his right as he made the bike move on his own. Milo made everyone’s day. He is a happy, determined young guy. This was a perfect day with Milo and his family, Ken and the Freedom team and our friends and family.

We have added a link to the Cerebral Palsy Association of Manitoba to our blog where anyone may donate towards building additional bikes for special needs people in Manitoba. We do anticipate adding links for other provinces, but that is still work in progress. If you would like to contribute to additional bikes for Manitoba, please go to our blog at jayanddebsjoyride.home.blog and click “Want to Help?” in the menu. This has been more complicated than we ever could have imagined, and we greatly appreciate the help Freedom Concepts and Steve have given us to make this a reality. Our little Joy Ride is growing.

An unforeseen consequence of adding this link, is it has morphed us into media hounds!!! We did 2 radio spots and 2 TV spots while in Winnipeg!

We got our bikes overhauled at the incomparable Woodcock Cycle Works where we bought them last year. Not only do they have the best service, product lines and on floor experience (check out their road rash and broken limbs), but their espresso bar is worthy of a stop even if you don’t ride a bike.

Four Strong Winds…

Cycle day 25 Assiniboia to Weyburn 166 kms

Cycle day 26 Weyburn to Redvers 170 kms

Cycle day 27 Redvers to Souris 113 kms

Cycle day 28 Souris to Glenboro. 85.9 kms

Cycle day 29 Glenboro to Treherne 48.6 kms

Cycle day 30 Treherne to Winnipeg 120 kms. —End of Leg 2! — Butt Break!

Map and elevation kind of look like this:

Assiniboia_______________________665kms_________________________Winnipeg

Tail winds blew so we rode!!! My first (and second) century ride. The riding was almost effortless at times for these 2 days, with a perfectly blowing west wind and a perfectly straight road.

And then, like for all the Canadian hockey teams, it was over. We woke up back to NE, SE but mostly East winds – ranging from 24 – 54 kmph.

Highway 13 from Saskatchewan turns into Highway 2 in Manitoba – but here there is no paved shoulder like most Manitoba highways, not even enough room to paint the white line. This means watching behind and in front of you ALL the time then checking the opposite direction and if there were two cars going to meet anywhere close to you then you had to drop into the loose quicksand like gravel shoulder and hang on.

Found some great back roads to get a break from the highway!

Winnipeg did not go down easily – We stopped 4 times to take cover from storms, (how many breakfasts can you have before it is excessive?) and we fought winds gusting up to 54kmph the entire day. So much for the forecasted SW that were to blow us into the city. Not even Bike Butt Balm will help tonight!

Highlights travelling through eastern Saskatchewan and Western Manitoba were the people, the town icons and the restaurants in tucked away spots. We have eaten at 4 of “The Best Smorgasbord in Southern Saskatchewan”, several “All you can eat Buffets” with the unprinted small print “or until we run out”, and we have listened in on local conversations in every town about the need for rain.

We met the husband and wife team and new owners of Stoughton Happy Foodies appropriately located in Stoughton. They have lived here for 3 months since leaving Kelowna and bought this restaurant where they work seemingly tirelessly, producing delicious food for a small audience.

We met Michael in Carlyle who is the proud owner of the ingeniously named Michael’s Coffee Shop and Bakery. A fun, lively place with a great menu and quality food. Here we were given the challenge of finding a westward cyclist and giving them a gift card to come for lunch.

Another highlight was Optimist Eatery and Cafe in Redvers. We were gazing into the window at Optimist when Matt came out and asked us inside. Now this was especially kind given he was not open, and by not open I mean the grand opening is this weekend. We had just walked into town from our hotel (at least a kilometer uphill both ways) to have a cold beer and dinner, and the beer store was closed and the only listed restaurant should have been, well, condemned. But Matt saved the day, poured us a cold beer AND made us two of the most delicious pizzas – EVER. Go to Redvers, stop at The Optimist.

Jeremy, Stephanie and Matt

Thanks for the scenery, sunshine and snacks Saskatchewan. We hope it rains for you now that we are headed into Manitoba!

Town icons are always fun to see and learn about. Of course Souris has the longest swinging bridge in Canada, but many people do not know about the rogue peacocks. After escaping from a long ago closed Exotic Bird Sanctuary (!) about 50 of them now screech and strut about all over town. Apparently there is a peacock round up each fall and the birds are kept in a donated barn and cared for by the locals in the winter, then released again every spring.

Souris Shrubbery

I get the windmill in Holland, even though according to the extravagant plaque mounted on a rock on a random corner out of town, the town is named after Arthur Charles and Elisabeth Mary Holland, and I showed dutiful interest in the fetching glass buildings in Treherne, but Sara the 17 foot 2000 pound camel is a bit of a stretch for Glenboro. I bet that was an interesting town council meeting…”yeah, not JUST a camel, a HUGE camel. And let’s call her Sara”

On this same random road out of town we met our Character of the Week, Bob. Bob is a retired local farmer, still flys his own plane, invests in the stock market, goes for regular therapy drives in his F150 and cheerfully stops to chat to random cyclists on back country roads.  We learned some history of the area AND got two stock tips. 

Guess which direction is east.

In Winnipeg for a Butt Break and family time – exactly (!) 33% of the way. So Winnipeg is not the center of Canada after all – at least not geographically. Darn.

Thank you for all your comments, we love reading them.