||Winnipeg||Morden||103 km||south||Morden||Killarney||247 km||west
|At 6:00 am on Friday, with a beautiful red sunrise (uh oh - red skies in the morning ...), Neil, Dean, and I started the Manitoba Randonneur 1000K in overcast conditions, into a headwind, at a fairly brisk pace. I was able to keep up the pace for a while, but was riding at the upper level of my abilities and since I still had a long, long way to go, I decided to back off. Neil continued on ahead, and Dean stayed back with me. Not long before we got to Morden, it started to rain.||
|Neil was having brunch in Morden so we joined him and I consumed 2 large pancakes and 2 eggs. The three of us set off again into the rain and once again, I was able to keep up for a while, but Neil is a strong rider this year and disappeared into the distance. However, Dean and I were moving along at a pretty good pace with just a bit of a tailwind. The road from Morden to Killarney is a long, gradual climb made up of lightly rolling hills and false flats, and there is one valley at La Riviere where we had a significant climb.||
|All was going well until about 20 kms from Cartwright when a large, strong thunderstorm rolled
in. We tried to keep cycling but the wind was blowing the rain into my eyes and I couldn't see
where I was going. So we decided to walk a bit but when the lightening got quite close we
thought it would be a good idea to get off the road. We ended up sitting in a wet ditch with an
emergency bivy sack over us for quite some time. With the walking and having to sit out the
storm, we figure we probably lost about an hour there. That was quite a storm! I haven't seen so
many lightening strikes in a long time!
Despite the storm, we arrived in Killarney with 2.5 hours to spare, and I attempted to put away a clubhouse sandwich and french fries, but my appetite was fading. Fortunately the rain had stopped and even though it was mainly overcast there was still a pretty red sunset peaking through the clouds promising a better day the next day.
We arrived in Glenboro at 11:45 pm and stopped in at the only thing open in town ... a little bar which I had used on the 600K. Sure enough the same friendly bartender was there and I was able to refill my bottles (with water!) and eat a bag of potato chips (the only food they had). Then we were off into the night to Neepawa.
That road was virtually deserted so we were able to take up most of it and chat which helped pass the night. Deserted Manitoba roads at night can get terribly boring! I also amused myself (and probably Dean too) by trying to figure out lyrics to various "oldies" songs. I just checked now, and I came pretty close to all the lyrics for Fever! I even sang it too which must have been particularly hilarious!! Unfortunately we cycled into heavy fog which made things even harder to see and started making my Lightspin skip, but my battery lights were enough to get us into Neepawa .... at 4:00 am.
Dean had booked a motel room in Neepawa and we thought Neil might be there, but he must have arrived quite early and possibly pushed on to the next town. The hot shower, the chance to brush my teeth, and a bed were wonderful ... even for a very short time. We got about 1.5 hours of sleep, and then were on the road again.
|I was not feeling at all well. I don't do mornings at the best of times, and I know I didn't eat
enough the night before, but I was quite nauseated and had no appetite at all. I was concerned,
but this has happened before so I decided to continue and hope for the best. Dean bought
Subway in Neepawa, and I bought three cookies, and as we rode along I was able to nibble the
cookies very slowly .
We were completely shrouded in fog for most of the way up to McCreary so we couldn't see a lot of the area, but since it was the area where Dean grew up, he played tour guide.
|Just before we arrived in McCreary I started to feel hungry again, and I inhaled a plate of eggs,
hash browns and toast at the restaurant there. We also found out that Neil was about 1.5 hours
ahead of us. While we were eating a man came in and sat down at the table next to us and asked
us if we were the cyclists. We got a lot of those sorts of questions and comments along the way,
especially since Dean rides a recumbent and many people out in the small towns of Manitoba
never seen one. We usually just chat a little and they go their way, but this guy was different - he
not only knew about bicycles, but he had also done quite a bit of touring by bicycle in North
America and Australia! We talked about the rides I am planning to do there in October, and he
knew the area. He also seemed quite fascinated by what we were doing.
By the time we were on our way again, the fog had lifted, the sun was shining, and the day was starting to get warm. 30 kms up the road at Ste. Rose du Lac I was finally able to take off my rain jacket for the first time since the start of the ride ... a few more kms and I was out of the leg warmers and just in my sleeveless jersey and shorts. According to the weather stats, the temperature reached 28.2 (83 F) as we got into Dauphin, and I was feeling quite hot, very tired, and a bit irritable.
|I must mention something about the route from Ste. Rose du Lac to Dauphin. I have never been
up there before, and I have never understood why they call Riding Mountain a "mountain". When
you approach Riding Mountain from the south, it is a very gradual rise and really doesn't look
like much. When you approach Riding Mountain from the north, however, it's quite a different
story. Riding Mountain isn't a mountain like the Rockies, but it is a fairly significant hill, and the
area through there is quite pretty.
||When we arrived in Dauphin, the guy we had met at McCreary pulled up in his van and
wondered if we were stopping. We stopped at an A&W and I made my way through most of a
hamburger and fries while Dean and our "new friend" talked about bicycles and cycling. Just
we left Dauphin, I soaked my jersey in the washroom sink to keep me cool for a bit, and I hoped
that the temperature would drop when we got into Riding Mountain National Park.
The next 80 kms were the hilliest on the whole ride. There is about a 6 kms hill just as you enter the park which had a number of fairly steep sections. I was suffering at this point in the ride, and was in no mood to try to cycle all the way up, so I ended up walking a good part of the hill. Sometimes it is nice to get off and walk a little bit ... and I think the combination of that ... and the fact that the temperature did drop a little ... and the fact that we were heading into evening ... and the fact that I really like Riding Mountain National Park ... gave me a huge burst of energy.
When we reached the top of that climb, I took off like a rocket (well, rocket-like for me, 550 kms into a ride). I've ridden a lot of different terrain, and I think I'd have to say my favorite terrain is shortish, rolling hills, and the next 50 kms were exactly that. It was great and I had a lot of fun through there!!
|We stopped at Onanoll for supper at the only place we could find. The food was good, I had a
grilled chicken sandwich, but the service was very slow. By the time we reached Erickson, it was
dark and I discovered that my Lightspin wasn't working at all. We stopped a number of times to
see if we could fix it but nothing worked and I resorted to using my battery light. I had thought
I'd be set even if the Lightspin didn't work because I had two battery lights for back-up lights, but
unfortunately all the rain the previous day caused one of my lights to fail, and I was down to one
battery light to take me the next 50 kms back to Neepawa. Dean rode near me with his lights
helped a lot and we made it the next 25 kms or so to the top of the hill descending off Riding
Mountain. I knew he would be much faster than I on that descent so I told him to go on ahead
and I'd make my way down as best I could. I was clipping along nicely when all of a sudden my
light died!! I did the rest of the descent on my brakes by the light of my LED helmet light. I was
shaking by the time I reached the bottom and did not want to be out there anymore. Fortunately
Dean has the same battery light as I do, and gave me his so we could continue. I was so pleased
to finally reach Neepawa!!
A quick shower, about 2 hours of sleep, some battery changes, and we were back on the road again at 4:50 am. Dean was much more energetic than I, picked up the pace, and disappeared into the distance. Mornings are just not my thing!! It was another very foggy morning with a light thunderstorm in the area which I didn't particularly like, and once again I had no appetite. My last meal had been at Onanoll about 10 hours earlier, so I started to bonk. Suddenly faced with the possibility that I might end up doing the rest of the ride alone, I burst into tears and was sobbing and shaking when I pulled into Gladstone ... to find Dean standing outside a closed convenience store waiting for me. What a relief!!
I dug around in my bag for food, forced down a few things, and we headed south to Austin. We had breakfast in Austin, and after that point, I had to eat an actual meal about every 2 hours in order to keep moving. I would regularly get waves of hunger and dizziness.
The road from Austin down to Highway 3 was a surprise to me. I knew about a couple hills on it, but never expected it to be as hilly as it was. I take back everything I've ever said about Manitoba being flat - there are flat parts but there are also a lot of hills! The next 80 kms were the second hilliest of the ride. I ended up walking up another one in there.
About 20 kms from Austin, another thunderstorm rolled in and we rushed onto a farm and into an open shed where we were met by a large white dog and one of the farmers who allowed us to wait out the storm. From there on we were surrounded by big black clouds producing lightening, rain, and the occasional funnel. Fortunately the rain stopped for a while right where we were.
|Once we reached Highway 3, we turned east, it warmed up, and we had a beautiful tailwind for
the next few kms to La Riviere where we stopped for another meal. When we came out of the
restaurant, the temperature had dropped significantly and we were back into full gear again. Not
far up the road it started raining again and continued to do so past Morden. I struggled on this
stretch with sleepiness and had to walk a bit to try to wake up.
Another meal in Morden, and we were on our way north on the last leg of the journey. We did the same road on the way out but that seemed like a very long time ago.
|A few kms out of Carmen, I stood to stretch again, but this time my rear wheel felt funny ... and
continued to feel funny the next few times I stood. We stopped to have a look and discovered that
the wheel had been installed incorrectly, and was loose. I would love to say that it was the shop's
fault or something ... but that was my own mistake! Oops! It took a few minutes to fix, and by the
time we arrived at Carmen, it was dark.
More food, more coffee, more stretching and we were on our way again. For the next 22 kms we had another tailwind and could keep up a good pace. There wasn't much traffic so we were taking up some of the road, and I think one of the drivers must have thought we were kids out riding after dark or something because he pulled over a little ways up the road, got out of his car, and waited for us. As we approached, he called out, "Excuse Me!", to flag us over, but I was clipping along at 30 km/h and in no mood to stop for some unknown driver in the dark so flew right past him!
Unfortunately the rain started again, as a drizzle for while, and then on to driving rain that blinded me so we had to walk a bit. We stopped in Brunkild, 30 kms to go, so I could eat again, and Dean could take a little nap under the awning of a bar. We made another stop in Sanford, 16 kms to go, so I could eat again. I also find nights easier to handle if I do take breaks so I can stop concentrating on that little piece of road I can see in my lights, and look at something else for a moment.
The wind picked up and was partially against us but we pushed on as quickly as we could. I
could smell the barn!! I had complained earlier that I hate approaching Neepawa from the south
at night because you can't see it until you're there - they've got it well hidden and it can be a bit
discouraging to not see lights in the distance. Coming into Winnipeg at the end, I could see the
very lights we were aiming for shortly after we left Sanford ... but they seemed to just stay out
there, and my computer seemed to freeze ... it was like I was cycling on a treadmill!! After what
seemed like an eternity we finally road into the little gas station at the end of the ride. We were
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