There’s something deeply peaceful about cycling down a rural Manitoba highway on a cloudy morning without a soul in sight. It’s the kind of ride that awakens the poet inside: the clouds are your canopy; the trees are your company; the birds are your chorus — all in perfect harmony.
That’s how I started my ride out of The Narrows, before I made a decision that would both haunt and help me more than I could imagine.
As I approached the 20 km mark en route to Arborg, I spied a sign for Winnipeg that read 160 km — not an unreasonable distance, after my previous venture of cycling from Yorkton to Dauphin. With the winds blowing south, I decided to change course and head for Winnipeg a day early.
All was well and good until the tailwinds became crosswinds, and I staggered to the 180 km mark with Winnipeg nowhere to be seen. (As it happens, road signs can be misleading — sometimes even flat out wrong.)
It took another 35 km of pure grit — and all of my remaining food supplies — before I arrived, legs protesting, at my destination.
Final tally for the day: 215 km. Never again.
A few stories from the past while:
1. The universe is always listening. I was mentioning to my girlfriend how lonely it can be camping solo, and mere minutes later, a fellow camper walked over and struck up a conversation, curious about my bike. He invited me back to his family’s trailer for a campfire, and he and his wife shared stories and snacks long into the evening.
2. I’m thrilled to share that donations for mental health support have surpassed the $10,000 mark! I set out on the ride nervous about how and when that fundraising mark would be reached, but again and again, I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of others.
Things I’ve seen:
1. Shimmering lakes.
The transition from Prairies to lake country is spectacular: as you cross the border between Saskatchewan and Manitoba, you descend into a valley and cross over the Lake of the Prairies before climbing towards Roblin. (Not pictured: all the annoying flies that announced my arrival in Manitoba.)
To spend time in Winnipeg is to be immersed in history, both musical and national. This is the land of Louis Riel, Niel Young, and The Guess Who, and the hallmarks are everywhere — from the Burton Cummings Theatre to Riel’s gravesite.
The benefit of my early arrival was that I was able to enjoy an extra day of rest and sightseeing in the city and nearby. Patricia Beach offered the perfect venue to spend Canada Day afternoon, and the following day held its own share of beauty, from a stroll around The Forks (pictured) to the St. Boniface Cathedral.
Distance travelled: 2,621 km
Mosquito bites endured: Surprisingly few.