923km Cedar to Garson
We’ve heard a lot of bad things about the Trans-Canada Highway through Northern Ontario. Wild truckers. Plenty of traffic. No shoulders. “They’re all true,” says one cyclist we meet in Michigan. “I stuck a hacksaw out the side of my bike to make the cars give me more room. You should try it!”
We appreciate the advice but it makes us wonder: if we need a saw – a saw??!? – to survive this treacherous stretch of road, should we just get the bus? Of course not. So close to finishing our trip from west to east across North America, we’re not going to give up that easily.
Armed with nerves of steel, we hit the highway but it’s only a few miles later when we start thinking that a saw is sounding like a mighty fine idea. After being cut off, cut up and just generally annoyed by a few hundred cars, the final straw comes when a trucker races up from behind and honks aggressively at us to get out of the way. There’s oncoming traffic. We’re already trying to cycle on a shoulder that’s less than 6 inches wide and crumbling and frankly, we don’t see why we should have to dive onto the soft gravel shoulder every time a truck comes along. Is it really too much for the truck to slow down momentarily until the road is clear?
We don’t think so but in the ensuing few seconds Friedel swerves into the dirt anyway, scared silly by the thought of ending her life on the wrong end of a Mack truck. Andrew’s nerves hold longer, just long enough to vent his frustrations using a bit of international sign language before he also jumps off the road.
The trucker passes us, then brakes and pulls off to the side just a few meters further on, proving that his brakes do work and that he’s even capable of stopping when he wants to. “Did you just give me the….” he yells out the window as we cycle by. His words fade into the wind and we don’t even stop to acknowledge him. Yes. Yes we did. And you deserved it, we both think.
The Trans-Canada Highway isn’t bringing out the best in us and it’s all a far cry from the blissful few days we spent cycling through Michigan’s Upper Penninsula on a network of mostly quiet back roads. We met no end of friendly folks and even get adopted twice during our short time in Michigan. First comes Jack, who brings us beers and lets us tent outside his lakeside cottage and then Pete and Mary, a couple who we find a lot in common with as we chat over dinner in their log cabin.
“This is the best road yet in North America,” we shout with joy one day as we glide side by side through a thick forest and down to the shores of Lake Superior, where we race across the sandy beach to take a dip in the clear waters of the world’s largest lake. During this wonderful part of our trip, we pedal like we’ve never pedalled before. From head to toe, every inch of our bodies seems tuned into cycling. Our brains tell us that it’s fun to ride from dawn to dusk. Our stomachs fail to raise the habitual 5pm supper alarm. Our knees go round and round without complaint. Our daily average ticks up over 100km a day.
These memories of better days keep us going as we plod along the 300km of highway between Sault Ste. Marie and Sudbury. It’s exhausting work, not so much for the terrain of gently rolling hills but more because we can’t let our guard down. Our eyes rotate constantly between our rearview mirrors and the road ahead, trying to anticipate the next tight squeeze. We get run off the road at least twice each day and have countless too-close-for-comfort moments.
Like a well written play, the tension rises to a high point just outside Sudbury as we’re approaching our next visit with relatives. The traffic gets heavier and more impatient. The shoulders disappear altogether. A big sign banning bicycles appears on the road, with no suggestions for an alternative route. And then a thunderstorm blows through. We’re soaked within seconds, we can barely see through our rain-dotted sunglasses when a lightening bolt shoots from the sky and hits the ground only meters away. Seriously. This is the closest we’ve ever come to being hit by lightening and we hope to heavens we’re never anywhere near that close again. We’re momentarily blinded. Friedel screams. We both think we’re going to die and then we realise that the fact we can still think this means we must be okay.
By the time we fight our way through another 20km of hairy urban cycling to our home for the next few days, we collapse into a heap on the doorstep and wait for our relatives to return from work. We cross our fingers and pray that the rest of our time in Ontario will be far less frenzied than our initial introduction.
23rd August 2009 at 5:54 am #
I can certainly relate to that tale. Some of my scariest moments on the road have been two-lane highways in Missouri.
Watch out with those international hand signals–there are plenty of card carrying members of the NRA plying the roads.
24th August 2009 at 2:28 am #
Hmmm, you’ve just reminded me why my bikes are collecting dust in the corner and why I have taken up trail running again…
24th August 2009 at 1:14 pm #
hi from OZ the pics bring back memories of riding with you both what legends you are i got ya postcard on Friday thank you just so ya know when you go to the Amazon the mossies are that big and 4 can carry you away .
i am on count down for my trip 69 days till blast off yeh start from Kunming then head towards Laos but who knows where the road will lead take care hugs from OZ xx keep smiling
24th August 2009 at 5:01 am #
Inconsiderate drivers can really ruin your day. Discretion and valor,– take the lane when necessary, but be safe!
Drivers are often deeply out of touch with the real world. As Colin Fletcher’s Law of Inverse Appreciation says, “The less there is between you and the environment, the more you appreciate the environment.” And being behind the wheel of a large and powerful machine, surrounded by steel and glass with air bags and air conditioning seems to bring out the worst in some people.
You’ve seen the best in people, too, though.
Thanks for all of the pictures and stories. Far from making me want to abandon my bikes to the dust bunnies, you make me dream of a long tour of my own…
29th August 2009 at 9:34 am #
Nothing like a bad road and no alternative to put you off cycling! I’ve found that an aggressive stance right out in the lane works, that way they have to slow down and wait to pass, but I’m always ready to dive for cover at the last minute if necessary. I get lots of abuse but at least they see me! Funny how they dont stop to talk it over (I’m 6’3″ and weigh 200lbs)…
Keep enjoying the ride and keep up your wonderful adventures
6th September 2009 at 6:43 am #
Jack enjoyed his time with you as well! It seems like the UP was just what the “bicycle doctor” ordered before you received the assault of the atrocious highway manners further down the road. I hope that you stop at the cottage again on your next travel through Upper Michigan. I would love to meet you both! Best regards,
15th April 2010 at 8:41 pm #
Thanks for the cool website! I’m planning a tour around Lake Superior. Any ideas what the roads are like between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay? This post is making me rethink the route!
15th April 2010 at 9:25 pm #
Scott, we didn’t ride that section but I can point you to a couple people who did:
1) Our friends Scott & Becky
2) Steve, who’s put a lot of info on the Canada by Bicycle site
4th December 2022 at 11:58 am #
3rd generation cephalosporin cefdinir cefdinir otitis media dosing cefdinir dosing for pneumonia
9th December 2022 at 12:51 pm #
The top and clear News and why it means a good deal.
21st December 2022 at 10:35 pm #
When you can grab my attention in the first few words of an article it as an accomplishment. You ave ignited my interest on this subject and I thank you for this.
29th March 2023 at 6:04 pm #
Im obliged for the article. Much obliged.
2nd April 2023 at 7:41 pm #
Thank you very much! I took it for myself too. Will be useful!!
4th April 2023 at 8:56 am #
I think this is a real great article. Keep writing.
11th April 2023 at 10:19 am #
You’re so amazing. Oh my The almighty. Lord bless you.
12th April 2023 at 11:59 am #
Thanks a lot for the article. Fantastic.
20th April 2023 at 9:09 pm #
Thanks for another great article. Where else could anybody get that kind of info in such an ideal way of writing? I’ve a presentation next week, and I’m on the look for such info.
21st April 2023 at 8:35 am #
Thank anyone so much with regard to letting everyone know what My partner and i didn’t know. I anticipate working with you.
21st April 2023 at 11:59 pm #
hampton greens apartments cullen park apartments fall apart
28th April 2023 at 7:15 pm #
Go to a special event right now and you may find out women sporting jewellery often stay ahead of the other folks.
4th May 2023 at 8:38 pm #
HAVE A FREE CONSULTATION NOW
12th May 2023 at 10:22 am #
I value the blog.Much thanks again. Awesome.
24th May 2023 at 8:55 am #
Thank you a lot for giving everyone an exceptionally spectacular opportunity to check tips from here. It’s usually very brilliant and as well , stuffed with fun for me and my office colleagues to visit the blog particularly three times in one week to see the newest issues you have got. And lastly, we are actually fascinated with all the striking secrets served by you. Selected two areas on this page are in fact the very best I’ve ever had.
29th May 2023 at 9:13 pm #
I want to show my love for your kindness in support of those who have the need for help on this particular idea. Your special commitment to passing the solution up and down appeared to be rather valuable and have in most cases helped people just like me to achieve their ambitions. Your important advice signifies a great deal a person like me and much more to my fellow workers. With thanks; from everyone of us.
3rd June 2023 at 6:33 pm #
The point of view of your article has taught me a lot, and I already know how to improve the paper on gate.oi, thank you. https://www.gate.io/de/signup/XwNAU
4th June 2023 at 1:03 am #
I am glad for commenting to let you know of the awesome encounter our girl had reading the blog. She picked up too many details, which include what it is like to have a great coaching heart to have other people quite simply completely grasp specified advanced things. You really surpassed our expectations. Thank you for producing the invaluable, healthy, revealing as well as easy tips on that topic to Gloria.
6th June 2023 at 1:49 am #
The point of view of your article has taught me a lot, and I already know how to improve the paper on gate.oi, thank you. https://www.gate.io/zh/signup/XwNAU
6th June 2023 at 8:07 pm #
I simply desired to thank you very much once again. I do not know the things that I would’ve tried without the recommendations revealed by you directly on such subject matter. Certainly was a very scary dilemma for me personally, nevertheless coming across the very well-written avenue you resolved it took me to jump with delight. I am just happier for the work and then expect you comprehend what an amazing job you happen to be providing teaching some other people with the aid of a site. I’m certain you’ve never come across any of us.
7th June 2023 at 7:34 am #
I simply desired to thank you very much again. I’m not certain the things I would’ve handled in the absence of the secrets shown by you about my question. It seemed to be the difficult matter in my view, nevertheless finding out the very expert strategy you managed that forced me to cry over joy. Extremely grateful for the support and thus believe you know what a great job you have been undertaking teaching the mediocre ones using your webpage. Most likely you have never met any of us.