Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tour de Superior: Day 8 Nipigon, Ontario to Thunder Bay, Ontario

Food. Today's focus was on food. Our motel wasn't the highlight of the trip and while it advertised a continental breakfast, our scouts pointed out that the antartic is a continent too, but is pretty desolate. We opted out, choosing a hot breakfast of eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast instead. At least that was the plan. We had wrestled with the choice of going back towards town a little ways or going 5-6 miles down our day's route. Our scouts informed us that the restaurant back towards town was the better choice, so we somewhat reluctantly headed back towards town to start the day. I for one hate going the opposite direction ... probably too many war movies as a kid ... never retreat! Anyway, we got to the restaurant shortly after 7:00 AM. It was dark. It was a 24 hour restaurant, so we were a bit puzzled. It was also a gas station/convenice store ... which was open. We went in and the waitresses were having coffee ... they had just been told they were closed until further notice. Bummer.

So we decided to head for our other choice, the one 5-6 miles down the road. No big deal, we just get to work up a little appetite. Well, while it had been open during the day the day before, it was now closed. Darn. At least we had some bars and stuff to hold us until a restaurant down the road. We had looked at the map yesterday and there were several towns along the route ... certainly there would be a place soon. The first town came and went ... no stores, no restaurants. The second town came and went, again not stores, no restaurants. Finally, after about twenty miles, at an intersection not in a town there was a store/gas station on the right and a motel/gas station/restaurant on the left. And it was open! We went in and sat down. I noticed that the customers were all having coffee. Okay? The proprietor came up and offered us coffee. I asked what they had to eat. The cook had been fired, but a new one was on the way. Bummer. We went across the road and found a few things to eat/drink at the convenience store. Not quite the breakfast we had expected, but we weren't starving.

The ride today was only about 70 miles ... by far the shortest ride and way below the ten day average of 127. Dave's brother lives by Thunder Bay ... we were going to visit him later in the day. But first we had to finish the ride. The middle third of today's ride was the worst riding of the trip. There was a 21K section under contruction ... the first half of which the road had been stripped of the blacktop and was being prepared for paving. It was hell. Between the bouncing from the criss-crossed residual blacktop, to avoiding the cracks/potholes in the underlying concrete, while staying away from the passing traffic, it was very difficult to ride. At one point I looked up and realized that I had been so distracted/focused on the road that I had just climbed a several hundred foot climb without noticing.

We finally made it to the outskirts of Thunder Bay and opted to continue on 17, which basically goes around the town, since that is what we had origninally routed and our hotel was just off of 17. At this point 17 becomes a divided highway and we soon came to realize that bikes are not permitted. We exited at the first opportunity, but didn't know how to get to the hotel. Unlike the recent towns of 2,500 or so, Thunder Bay at 110,000 was large enough that we couldn't just wander around. Fortunately my Garmin Edge 705 came in handy ... I looked up the hotel and it routed us across town to it.

Just before the hotel I saw a McDonalds. Even though we were going to go for a BBQ shortly after arriving, I had to eat. So we pulled in, had a quick lunch, then headed to the motel. After showering and changing, we headed to Dave's brothers for a BBQ. It was nice to meet Phil, Sarah, and their friends. On the way back afterwards, we decided we should see if there was a DQ. I checked it out in Dave/Sandy's car GPS ... the nearest one was 152 miles away. Bummer.

After getting back to the hotel, I checked out the Edge 705 for DQ's. There is one 2.6 miles away. Eureka! Our first DQ since Munising.

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