Saturday, August 17, 2013

Long May You Run

“Well, it was back in Blind River in 1962
When I last saw you alive
But we missed that shift on the long decline
Long may you run.”

Neil Young wrote this song lamenting for his first car, an old hearse he used to haul his equipment around. Funny to think that it was about the time I was born when he had to give it up because the transmission broke on these same roads. Well my bike hasn't missed any shifts on the long declines (maybe it hesitated on some of the inclines), and has performed swimmingly since Saskatoon — no flat tires!

I left Sault Ste. Marie after programming my GPS with a route to Blind River that avoided the main highway from the recommendations of the bike shop. The first half was great, going on really quiet roads through Mennonite country. I came across more horse and buggies than cars, it was like stepping back in time, The beautiful rolling countryside was worth the climbs and the occasional dirt road.

Nice quiet country roads

I thought I had seen enough bison out West

A store run by Mennonites

After going through a stretch of rough loose gravel road, however, I realized that the route was taking too much time. I had contacted a host in Blind River and I did not want to get there too late, so I decided to switch to the Trans-Canada highway. Getting back into traffic took a bit of getting used to with the narrow to non-existing shoulders, but with the light traffic and my well-positioned rearview mirror I got accustomed to it. I also put on an obnoxiously fluorescent orange vest that I bought in the States, the same kind road construction workers wear so I was visible. I was a moving pylon.

I got into Blind River at 8:30 pm as the sun was setting and was welcomed by Wayne and Muriel Orton in their home right on the river. They offered me their entire guest cabin, and even the use of their kayaks. Had I gone paddling, I would have been tempted to stay an extra day.

The Ortons'  backyard

The guest cabin

In the morning, I went to a restaurant for breakfast before leaving town but the service was so slow, it almost turned into lunch. It's nice to have normal August weather come around — those nice stable mid-summer days with no risk of thunderstorms in the afternoon. It was a beautiful day to ride the undulating route through the jagged rock cuts in the granite hills, with occasional glimpses of Lake Huron. It's just a pity that the roads up here aren't great for cycling because it's hard to fully appreciate the scenery when half of the time I'm watching out for trucks.

Typical scenery in Northern Ontario, rivers tumbling over the rugged granite of the Canadian Shield

These 2-foot "shoulders" are generous for this part of the Trans Canada Highway.

Got safely into Sudbury by the evening, but the small road leading into the city is just as bad and cracked as it was ten years ago. It's nice to be on the home stretch, though!

“Long may you run, long may you run.
Although these changes have come
With your chrome heart shining in the sun
Long may you run.”

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