Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 19

Net Elevation gain: -131 ft
Average Speed: 9.9 mph
Top Speed: 21.1 mph
Time spent biking: 6 hours 50 minutes
Total time for the day's travels: 13 hours 30 minutes
Miles biked today: 68.2
Total for trip: 804.4 miles

We woke up with the birds early this morning and smiled at each other. We were in the middle of the woods! In Canada! Then we rolled over and went back to sleep. We got up for real a little after 7 A.M and started packing up. By the time we had walked our bike back out to the road it was still only 8:04 A.M. We felt good getting another early start and biked up the hill looking for a breakfast place.

The grass was wet as we made our way back to the road.
Nothing like wet shoes to start the morning's ride off right!

Five miles down the road we found a restaurant. We parked our bike and went inside. Not five minutes later, another tandem bicycle pulled into the parking lot! A nice older couple got off, came in, and sat down next to us. It was really fun to meet such energetic and relaxed folks, who also know what it's like to ride a tandem together. They shared stories of their trip on a tandem through France, and told us if we are ever on Maui, we should take the 38-mile bike tour DOWNHILL from the top of the mountain.

Brett couldn't resist this photo opportunity: two tandems!

Leaving the restaurant by 9:30, we headed out of Komoka. We saw a snake by the side of the road. It hid itself in the grass quickly, but what we saw made us think it wasn't a snake we'd see every day in the garden. We wonder what kind it was.

Look closely midway down on the right-hand side for the unidentified snake.

Our speed was nothing to write home about for a while, but we had high hopes of making it all the way back into the U.S.A. by nightfall. Then, two fellow touring cyclists caught up to us! After exchanging brief trip itineraries, they pulled ahead. At first we just assumed they were faster than us, because most bikes are. However, we got inspired and the whole road west was almost completely flat, so we were able to keep them in sight. Then, slowly we pulled closer, and then even with them, and then passed them! We had to keep working hard to stay ahead, but it was really fun to be going so fast for so long, and we love to watch our average speed go up.

The two cyclists we met, Sam and Lucas, are also from Massachusetts. They are riding to Seattle, but they have a much shorter window of time than we do. They have already bought a train ticket home, and they had only been out for nine days when we saw them. They are cruising! Best of luck to them the rest of the way! We've probably mentioned this before, but it's really nice to meet fellow cyclists, especially ones out on the road touring. It's both inspiring and validating to know we're not the only “crazy” people out here.

With the flat terrain and the inspiration of Sam and Lucas, we had pedaled 30 miles by 1:00. Soon, we realized we had 40 miles by 2:30! Wow, we really had a chance to make it to the United States after all. Then by 4:30, we had already gone 50 miles!

We stopped to refill our nearly empty water bottles and bought some expensive cherries that ended up not being all that good at a local farm store. We noticed that we had some sunburn, and the last while had been really hot. There was a headwind, too, and sometimes it was really hard to keep up the enthusiasm and the optimistic goal of making it out of Canada by the end of the day. Route 22 was just so flat and straight, and kind of boring.

This farmer's name is only one letter away from Jenny's papa's name!

When Jenny gets bored, sometimes she takes pictures in the mirror while we pedal.

Luckily, our pushing in the early afternoon had gotten us close to Sarnia, and as we got hungry for a meal we reached the outside of the busy city. It wasn't a nice road to ride on as we got closer, but it took us right into town. We stopped and ate at a Boston Pizza, which was pricier than we expected, and although they had WiFi, they had no available outlets and our laptop battery wasn't charged.

A mile or two more into Sarnia we found a great little place called Coffee Lounge. It had a plug, WiFi, and yummy pina colada smoothies. We read comments on the blog, checked our email, and looked at maps. It looked a bit like we might not be able to ride across the bridge (the Blue Water Bridge) back into the U.S.A. We hoped their was at least pedestrian access.

Here we are, looking for a way to cross the bridge.

There wasn't. When we got close to the bridge, we looked around and saw only toll booths for autos. While we were looking around, an official came over and asked if he could help. We told him our situation, and he said that he would have to give us a ride across. We put the bike in the back of the official pick-up truck, and Paul took us across. We didn't even have to pay!

Thanks to Paul, we got a ride over the Blue Water Bridge in the truck!

When we got to the United States side of the bridge, we thanked Paul for the ride and wheeled our bike toward customs. Right away we could see that they weren't used to dealing with situations like this very often. Three officers were in conference when we approached, and they asked us a few questions to get the basics of our story. We don't think they'd ever really seen long-distance cyclists.

In the end, they were all really nice, and although we had to go inside the building, we didn't have to wait in line, and the officer who checked us through even guessed correctly that we would love to have our passports stamped!

Once we officially entered Michigan, it started to rain and it was getting dark. We stopped at Rite-Aid shortly after finding our way onto the smaller roads of Port Huron to buy some shampoo, chocolate, and new sunglasses for Brett. Up until today we hadn't left anything behind, but once we left customs, Brett realized that he must have left his sunglasses on the bike when it was put in the truck, and they were gone. Oh well! We picked out a new pair and he thinks they may even be better than the first. While we were in the store, the rain poured down outside and our bike seats were nice and wet for the remaining 10 miles to Lakeport State Park.

We left the store, groaning at our wet bottoms, but in good spirits for having returned to the U.S.A. There was a short bike path alongside Route 25 that we rode until it ended abruptly. We took smaller roads toward the lake and caught our first real glimpse of Lake Huron! That's the third Great Lake we've seen now!

Brett wheels the bike along a sidewalk with Lake Huron in the background.

When we arrived at Lakeport State Park, it was fully dark, and also fully booked up. The staff were really friendly, and one of them realized that since we were on a bicycle, we could have access to the organizational area, which was rustic camping in a large field. On this particular night, it was also next to many loud and excited boy scouts. It was no longer raining, and by the time we took a shower, and got our tent set up, the boy scouts had gone to bed, and we followed directly after.

Michigan has great parks, which we found out right away.

It was a LONG day, but so much fun to go so far: sixty-eight miles!


  1. Yay! 68 miles!! That's so wonderful! :)

  2. Ralph Bos and Family...only one letter away from Ralph Boas and it!

  3. What a push! That competitive streak can be so useful.
    Yesterday, a gift certificate brought me to a bike shop I had never used before. As I was choosing my new helmet, the topic of your trip came up, of course. The owner was immediately interested in what kind of tandem. When I told him it was a Screamer, he excitedly shouted "I sell those!" He said his wife and he ride one, and enjoy it a lot.
    You're doing a great job!
    Love, Mom

  4. I've seen that kind of snake, I think. I forget what they're called.

  5. Looks like it might be a kingsnake.