Friday, 30 July 2010

Glad to get off the TCH

30th July: Blind River to Espanola

Odometer: 101 km, Start: 8.30am, Finish: 3.30pm, Avg: 20.8 km/h,
Weather: Sunny, Temp: 15-24°C
Mosquito Bites: 80, Hills walked: 0, Days too many on the TCH: 2
Road Conditions: #17, variable width paved shoulder 0.5-1.5m, mostly 0.75m, smooth surface. Traffic was moderate by mid-morning. I thought this was a borderline unsafe road (in good weather). Regular enough food stops. Ascent: 350m/320m. 

I was apprehensive this morning about another ride on the TCH #17. I considered setting off at first light to beat the traffic, but decided against it because I’d be travelling due east and therefore riding directly into the rising sun. I’d be hard to see.

IMG_3878
Serpent River

I don’t mind risk. Risk can be fun. In fact risk should be fun. Unfortunately, this sort of risk is excessive, depressing and uncontrollable. Can you guess yet whether I enjoyed my 2nd day on the TCH in Ontario?

IMG_3876
Serpent River (other side of bridge)

I met another cyclist on the road after Spanish. (I also caught up with him yesterday at a gas station). By this time I was pretty frazzled and upset. I’d even been crying a little earlier. I said I was about to get off this highway at Massey and take the Lee Valley country road to Espanola. He declined to join me just in case there were any gravel sections (after I said I was reasonably sure the route was paved). A strange sense of priorities?

IMG_3879
River at Massey (once off the TCH)
IMG_3885
A community of Mennonites live and farm around this part of Ontario

The Lee Valley country road was a bumpy, jarring, pot-holed road. It had several years worth of crazy patchwork. Multiple shades of tarmac, layer over layer over layer. It was very quiet though and went past some nice farming land. I savoured this road, stopping many times along it’s 20km length. It was a nice road to de-stress on.

IMG_3892
Wild berries against the summer sky

I'm in Espanola this evening and still a bit upset about what I’ve just put myself through. I don’t think I’m prone to sensationalism. This is my personal opinion of this stretch of the TCH: The route from Sault to Espanola is not stupidly dangerous but I think it presents an overly excessive risk. The bit towards Bruce Mines especially so. (Note this section can be avoided by taking the #638 from Echo Bay). Bare in mind I rode in good weather, it would’ve been a lot worse in bad weather. I haven’t encountered this level of risk before this point on my trip and hopefully won’t encounter it after this point either.

IMG_3894
A new Flower of the Day

4 comments:

R & A said...

And I was worried about the BEARS

Martina said...

Chin up - hopefully the worst is behind you!

Mx

Bryan said...

Hi Shawn, You're past the worst now. FWIW, what I've read over the years is that this is the 2nd worst section of TCH in Canada. (Manitoba takes the prize and has had numerous fatalities). Roads like those sure makes one appreciate the BC and Alberta shoulders, eh?
Looking ahead: La Rue Verte in Quebec will be a real treat!
Keep it up - it's all 'downhill' from here!

bryan
--
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/X-Canada-2009

Shaun said...

This TCH stretch was about what I expected really. I'm not sure what I would've done if the weather had been rainy and/or windy from south. I wouldn't have ridden on the pavement that's for sure. I'd have been riding on the "unrideable" gravel shoulder, I suppose.