Day 103: Winnipeg to Rennie

Art and Sue offered to let us stay another night if we wanted, so as we often do, we took them up on their offer. Jesse did some work, we saw some more of Winnipeg, and in the evening Art took us for a tour of the Canadian NORAD headquarters. Since Art is in the Air Force he was able to take us through all those high security doors to show us that room just like you see on TV – you know with all the huge screens on the wall, many desks in a large circle with the title of who the desk belongs to posted above. We greatly enjoyed the tour and the ice cream afterwards to top it all off.

Leaving Winnipeg the next day, we followed Art’s directions to get us out of the city. There was some riding on busy roads but overall we managed just fine – and far better than if we had tried to get through on our own. We took highway 15 out of the city until Elma where we switched to 44. Highway 15 didn’t have shoulders and was a bit busy, but the farther out of the city we got, and after we passed each junction with other highways, the road became quieter. In Elma we stopped at the Spicy Radish. What a great find! One of the best restaurants on the trip, and certainly the best restaurant attached to a gas station. I had the ‘Not your average grilled cheese’ with the borscht soup and both were just perfect.

While we were in the diner we saw two other touerers pull up. I recognized them from their blogs and Jesse confirmed that yes they looked like the New Zealanders! We were just finishing so they were able to take our table (this little cafe was full). We would have more time to chat at the campground that night.

In Rennie we found the Stony Pine campground and it was free for cyclists! It was more of a permanent RV park so we were told to setup on the small grassy area behind the showers. When Neil and Adi arrived we spent the evening chatting in the dining tent belonging to the man in the RV next door who told us we could use it. After being chased by flies all day it was great to have a bug free place to sit and relax!

After many laughs and stories we all said goodnight near midnight. A long day for us, but even longer for the kiwi’s after their 180km day! We have yet to come close to a day that long.

Day 101: Portage la Prairie to Winnipeg

Riding into and out of Winnipeg is one of the more concerning aspects of most rides across Canada. It is known not to be too cyclist friendly. Leaving Portage we chose to take Highway 26. Even though it added 20km to our ride, it was a very quiet road and much nicer than riding on the highway – even if there were shoulders (and we weren’t convinced that there were.)

At the end of the 26 we were able to take a service road next to the Trans Canada for a little while before we did have to cross over the highway to get to the other side to be able to ride on the Trans Canada. Thankfully until we reached Winnipeg we did have a shoulder. Once entering the city however the shoulder ended and we had to ride in the lane. It was a 6 or 8 lane road, so the cars did have an easy way around us. Though it’s still intimidating riding on a road that busy.

We found our way easily to Art’s place. Art and Sue were our Warm Showers hosts. Art was excited to have us after years of being a member of Warm Showers but not yet having the chance to host. We were warmly welcomed and greatly enjoyed their company for the evening.

Day 100 (!): Minnedosa to Portage la Prairie

Another day on the dodgy Manitoba roads. Jesse started the day with a swim in the lake at the campground before we started up the road to where we were told was a good spot for breakfast. Once we arrived we saw it had closed down – yesterday. After standing there long enough to know they weren’t going to open the doors and feed us, we got going.

We ran into other touerers today, for the first time in a long time. Karen and Aidan were on the second day of their tour and stopped in for a break at the same gas station rest stop as us. They even offered to let us stay at their place in Winnipeg while they were on their trip, but we already had a Warm Showers host setup.

We left the Yellowhead highway today as it merged with the Trans Canada #1. It was here that the traffic greatly increased and we completely lost our shoulder. So we chose a back road, which was a dirt road, but given it wasn’t raining and the road wasn’t wet, it wasn’t too bad at all to ride on. We did encounter more crazy dogs chasing us, but we were left unscathed.

As we arrived in town we looked for the campground listed on google maps, but it turned out that campground was Child & Family services. So instead we got a motel since the sun was already setting.

Day 99: Binscarth to Minnedosa

We were warned a couple times this morning about the roads ahead, and certainly this was one of the worst sections of the Yellowhead highway so far. Shoulders came and went, and there were many more ice heaves leading to large bumps.

The road into Minnedosa was the worst one on this trip it seemed. Though it was off the main highway, it was still the main route into the town from the west. It was narrow, huge bumps, and just seemed to be crumbling.

The town however was nice, and the campground was right on the lake. We were even given a waterfront tent site – keeping us away from the mess of RVs that filled the rest of the campground.

Day 98: Yorkton to Binscarth, Manitoba

Thunder, lightening and the great hospitality of the Reed family helped us to decide to take a rest/work day yesterday. We shared more stories, enjoyed more meals together, and I got to play on the trampoline with Susanna.

Today we were up and ready to go early. It was a border crossing day which is always exciting. Plus, a highlight along the way was the surprising find of a Sunday morning ‘smorg’ – a buffet in the town of Churchbridge. Our first one of the trip! I greatly enjoyed all the salads – something often missing from those truck stop diners.

Once we crossed the border into Manitoba we did see a noticeable change in the quality of the roads and shoulders, and even the beginning of a change in landscape.