Just the thought of this day makes me feel cold.
We started the morning in our tiny hotel room in Grand Marais. It was cool, foggy and damp when we were getting ready to leave. Chaps were definitely in order! If you're not a rider, chaps are WORK do get on! Not only that, but when I started wearing chaps I also discovered that, like a lot of people, my dominant leg (right) which makes my chaps tighter on that leg, which feels funny and bothers me.
We loaded up the bikes and headed into town for breakfast at a nice little cafe, and asked the local fisherman what then knew of the day's weather report. No better people to ask than fisherman!
We were headed to Marathon, Ontario, Canada. We only had a 245 mile ride ahead of us, but we knew it just might possibly get chilly. What we didn't know is it would be the longest 245 miles we'd ever ridden! We stopped at a store in town so Bev could buy some better (read warmer) gloves and some neck thingies, mailed all the post cards that needed mailing, and donned the riding gear we thought most appropriate for the day ahead. We waved goodbye to Sven and Ole's, and hit the road.
We passed through Grand Portage and visited the Witch Tree, and arrived at the border. That's where we learned that "Pepper Spray" needs to be labeled as "Animal Repellant" and Canadian vending machines don't take American coins. Go figure!
It had warmed up a bit, so after taking a break at the visitor center (and an FYI for you bikers crossing the border, there is a helmet law in Canada.) we were able to shed a couple layers, and switch to lighter weight loves. However, over the course of the morning it became apparent that Ontario is a lot like Minnesota, in that the weather can change very quickly. Well some of it has to do with the lake effect. Remember, we're on the shores of Lake Superior.
We stopped for lunch in a tiny little town who's name escapes me, and had lunch at a little diner where the waitress/cook/cashier looked to be about 14 years old, AND you paid extra for each item you ordered. Example: I ordered a burger w/fries. The fries were extra. The mayo was extra. The lettuce and tomato were extra. Tink asked if I had to pay for the plate and the ketchup too.
Shortly after leaving that town we hit the first road construction we'd seen. They were ripping up the pavement so the road had those really nasty grooves in it. In a car, they're not a big deal. On a bike, it makes you wobble all over and feel like you're going to either be pulled into the oncoming traffic on your left, or over the cliff on your right. The way to ride this stuff is to just let the bike go which way it needs to go and not fight it. It's a constant mind game between you, the road, and the bike...10 miles of the mind game. I can ride on gravel and it doesn't bother me. I can ride in the rain, and I'm only slightly annoyed, but give me these grooves and I'm white knuckling it! Unfortunately we hit this several times during the day for a total of about 75 miles of grooves.
During the day it was drizzling off/on, but never enough to actually need our rain gear, just enough to be a nuisance. And as we climbed higher into the mountains the temperature was dropping.
There's also this funny thing about the metric system there. Speed limits are all listed metrically. Now, I have metric numbers on my speedometer, but Tink, who was always very careful to have us following the speed limits, DID NOT! When it says 70 kmh, that's like doing 45 mph...only Tink was doing more like 60 mph and we were following her. LOL
Finally, with 50 miles left to go, Tink stopped to change to warmer gloves yet again. I asked her, "Do you know how fast you were going through those towns, and do you know what the speed limits were?" She'd had no idea she was doing somtimes 25 mph over the limit! I can't believe we never got pulled over. Anyway, Tink changed gloves. I decided, "Ach! Another 50 miles, I'm fine in what I have on."
10 miles down the road the temperature started dropping dramatically, and it started drizzling. And then the fog rolled in. We kept seeing signs like, "Marathon 60 km". I could look down at my speedometer and figure out how many miles that was, giving me an idea how much torture time we'd had left.
The drizzle got heaver, and turned to 'almost rain", and at one point I swear it was snowing. "Marathon 30 km". OMG...I wished I'd put my warmer gloves on back there!
The highway happened to be a great ride, nice long turns around the mountain's rock walls, and if I wasn't getting so flipping cold I would've been able to really enjoy them!
"Marathon 25 km". Here comes the fog, and more moose crossing signs. I'm starting to have visions of us meeting one of these guys as we come around every corner.
"Marathon 10 km". Oh thank God we we're getting closer! I can't really feel my fingers anymore, and my toes are starting to hurt. I feel dry though. Yes...I do feel dry. My ass is killing me, and I'm shivering, but I am dry. We see a sign that says, "Welcome to Marathon."
"Marathon 5 km". Good grief, will they stop teasing me with those signs? Thank God I brought my full-face helmet. I'd have had to stop 20 times by now to warm up my ears. The air temperature is probably about 40 degrees, which makes it about 30 degrees in the wind on the bike. My teeth are starting to chatter. I swear there was a "Welcome to Marathon" sign back there. Where the HELL is the flipping town already????
FINALLY Tink turns on her right turn signal, and I see we're pulling into a hotel parking lot. I want to kiss the ground, but I have to stop my bike first now, don't I? Tink, in the lead, pulls into a parking spot. As I pull into the lot, I realize I can't feel my brake lever as my fingers are too numb. I downshift to slow down, and my feet hit the pavement, dragging...all the way to through the lot. As I pull into my spot, I'm sort of 1/2 laying over the tank, and I see Tink is laying BACKWARDS over her bags. I see there is a curb ahead of me, and my bike bump against it to stop.
By this point in my delirium I'm laughing hysterically. Tink is flopped own way, and I am flopped another. I look at her and said, "Who's *#@$ idea was this trip, anyway?" She can hardly speak as she says, "Don't you have BRAKES? All I hear coming behind me is cccccrrrrrrrrrrr" and I'm thinking I'm loosing parts or something. (I know this isn't funny reading, guess it was one of those "had to be there" moments."
I had parked in a way that Bev, who was behind me, can pull into the same spot, but instead she parks in the NEXT spot over. Four bikes taking up four parking places is a bit silly. We should be able to get all four bikes into 2 spots. (remember one is a trike) Bev takes one look at me and says, "Are you kidding me? Park next to you??? Who can't even STOP? I don't want you tipping over on my trike!"
Here's where we parked the four bikes (w'e already unloaded them by this time.) If you look really close, you'll notice Scharlett's bike on the far right has a flat tire, but that's another post. ;-)
We dismount, and stretch our very stiff, very cold bodies. Then we went inside and met Andy.
(To Be Continued)