June 30, 2008

6/30/08 Neepawa, MB

155.9km/2456km

Didn't sleep well last night. Around midnight someone decided to shoot off some fireworks. Plus the group next to us were up to late talking and even though they were trying to be quiet, a thin nylon tent doesn't block any sound. I just don't think we fit in here. It's a local family place where everyone knows everyone.

We thought maybe there were no services for the next 100km so we decided to get up early and get as many miles in as we could before it got hot or we got hungry. We silently rode out of camp by 6:15am.

Mike had read a lot of accounts about how bad the roads were in Manitoba and this morning just confirmed it. I think the road was more patches than actual road. And that didn't fix the ton of pot holes and millions of cracks. If you had teeth fillings, they would have been knocked out by the constant thumb when we crossed the cracks. So we rode in the only lane but traffic was extremely light this early in the morning.

We took a chance to go off route a few kilometers to Shoal Lake to see if we could get some water or a quick snack. While waiting for Mike to get back from the pharmacy, I talked to a few guys who asked if I had heard about the cyclists killed in Verdin yesterday. It was the same guys we'd been hearing about the whole trip who called themselves Cycling for Life. It was a group of four, two Canadian men in their 50s and one of the men's teenage children. A car traveling the same direction hit them all around noon, killing the older men instantly and putting the two teenagers in the hospital. They were traveling on Hwy-1 about 100kms south of our route.

More info:
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Canada
Ride of a Lifetime 2008 Blog

Mike took a lot of time looking for regular bike routes that also were safer. We have seen a lot less services but also a lot less traffic. Now I don't want to worry our mothers. Remember, Mike and I have over 30,000-miles of bike touring miles under our belt. You won't find two more defensive bike tourists out there. We won't hesitate to get off the road if we are unsure of what a car or truck is going to do. We don't take chances.

What really surprised us was that after Shoal Lake, all of a sudden we had a wonderful shoulder to ride on the whole day. And as the sun got hotter, the winds picked up and we had a tailwind. Sweet!

We measured our progress by grain elevators

We stopped for lunch at the Southend Restaurant in Minnedosa. The poor girl behind the counter was the waitress and cook. But Mike and I both voted her burgers the best we've had in Canada the whole trip. Just like mom makes, real burgers.

By now the sun was scorching up the road. We had another 30kms to go to Neepawa, but now the road shoulder got even newer and the winds picked up to gale force. We were coasting between 30-40kph/19-25mph down the road. It doesn't get much better than that.

Tailwind through the prairie

We arrived in town and headed to the Lions Club Campground. What a great place. Linda welcomed us with open arms and did everything she could to make us feel welcome. Tomorrow we head to Portage la Prairie to celebrate Canada Day!