cycled along the southern shore of Lake Nosbonsing, reaching the TransCanada highway 17 at Rutherglen. At Mattawa I turned SouthEast, following the great river, and immediately encountered the first of many loooong climbs. The Laurentian Mountains follow the river on both the Ontario side and the Quebec side until the City of Pembroke, about 200km southeast of Mattawa. At that point the mountains retreat to the Quebec side while the vast Ottawa Valley flattens out in Ontario.
I remember that first climb: it seemed to go on forever! But what goes up, must came down, eh! Even on a loaded, slow bike with with wide, knobby tires (knobby tires on a long road trip?!?), downhills are fast enough to be exhilarating. Eventually, I reached Deux Rivieres, 110 km from Powassan, and camped near the shores of the river. The next day was a long, gruelling day past Pembroke, and I eventually reached Logosland at Cobden just before dark, with 140km on my odometer. Late in the day, at Petawawa, a very interesting incident occurred. I was fed up with the bike and was walking on the flats that bisect CFB Petawawa, when a fella in a beat-up old truck pulled over, and gave me a lift to Pembroke. I am not sure if I was hitch-hiking at that point, but it was much appreciated. I made it to Cobden, and splurged on a room, which seemed like a high-end suite, for half-price. Including the hot tub. To say that was a great deal is an understatement-did I mention the hot tub,..?
The next day I reached Carp, on the outskirts of Ottawa. I called my pal and said I am riding ten more km to Kanata, and taking the bus the final 40 or so km into his place. That guy talked me out of it, saying I would forever be kicking myself for taking the easy way out, and not completing the journey. Ten years later, and he was right, I would have still been kicking myself. So I braved the streets of Ottawa, and got to his place around 9, having cycled 400km in 3+ days. It was a terrific feeling, but I was very tired,and very, very
sore. I didn't even look at the bike for 3 days! Had a great time in Ottawa,
Eventually, I set out for Brockville, on the St. Lawrence River 140km south. My pal rode out to Stittsville with me, and then I turned south, and made great time, averaging 20km per hour for 6 hours, through beautiful,
historic country. Now, 20km/hour is pretty slow. That is because I ride with slick tires, toe baskets, proper clothing, and a gel seat, all of which decrease resistance and increase comfort, a crucial aspect for long distance touring. Back then, I was rejuvenated, and used to riding, and young and stubborn. Thus, 20 clicks was a great speed, maybe the best per day average for that entire trip.
With a ride up to Perth a day later, I set out down hwy 7 for Silver Lake Wesleyan Camp, 30km west. I met my Ottawa pal and some of the young adults from his church for a weekend retreat. That Monday, I achieved something that I have never done, before or since: a century ride, 100 miles, 160km down hwy 7 into
Peterborough. Since then I have come close 3 times, doing 150+km on back-to-back rides over Rogers Pass and Kicking Horse Pass in the Rockies, and 153km from Fort Erie to Burlington. Anyways, after a beautiful tough day, highlighted by a huge pancake breakfast in Marmora, I headed toward my next destination where another great friend lived. I turned onto thestreet and saw a nasty little climb. I thought "oh, no" because I knew that I did not have enough gas to get up that hill, and before that point I had been able to ride up every single hill on the trip. Fortunately, my friends driveway was at the bottom of the hill, and they fed me a fabulous lasagna dinner to end a very long day.
With a day's rest in Peterborough behind me, I set out on another crisp, sunny fall day for the Haliburton Forest and Wildlife Reserve, 130km to the north. The colours were at the pinnacle of their change, and there were
more long climbs and exhilarating descents. Just south of Gooderham, I saw a bear. I judged this bear to be about my weight, a little over 200 lbs, still a growing youngster. I stopped, and got my old (well, at the time, new) Canon Sureshot out, and proceeded to snap 3 photographs of the animal as he walked up the yellow line towards me. This is when I did something silly, typical of young men, I needed to get closer for a better shot-my Sureshot has no zoom or SLR on it, so even a large animal has to be very close to fill up the frame. So I rode over the crest of the hill for maybe 40 or 50 feet, and at this point the bear moved off the road, fortunately on my side, and I was able to take 2 photos as he climbed the little ridge beside the road into the bush, about 60 or 70 feet, at the most, in front of me.
I figured that in the worst case scenario I could throw my loaded mountain bike at him, and a vehicle would come by in a half hour or an hour, and I could hang on for that long. This is what I had done the trip for, this wild
encounter with an animal that wants to be left alone, but has the potential to do some serious damage to me. That was really cool. It sure gets the adrenaline pumping!
I made it up to the Forest that day, 130 km up into the Haliburton Highlands, and did not see another bear.
What a beautiful area of Ontario, though!
Well, the final two days of that trip will be the subject of my next
blog. Amazing that certain memories and details surface after such a long time.
Get out there, eh!
Uncle Travelling Dan