Canada Day Long Weekend Bicycle/Camping Tour

I recently took a bicycle trip during the hottest weekend of 2018 (so far). It was the 2018 Canada Day Long Weekend and temperatures soured into the 40’s (Celsius) with humidex readings reaching almost 50C in some areas.

They graded the trails (also got on the wrong trail) and I had to work 3x harder than normal (with 50lbs of pack) during that heat wave over the weekend. The trip was not at all what I was expecting.

So, how was my trip? Here’s a point form of the highlights:

DAY 1:

-Got going late – meant to leave at 4am but didn’t get going until noon.
-Nice day, easy riding.
-Got to Hastings where I intended to have dinner, but got the idea of skipping dinner in favour of getting to a campsite at Ferris Provincial Park in Cambellford Ontario. We’ll have dinner there.
-Ferris Park office closed when I got there and the Park Warden (Ranger, Gestapo, whatever) answered “Absolutely NOT” to my question of “Can I pay in the morning?”
-Now after 9pm – Rode to east of Cambellford in the near dark looking for suitable camp spot.
-Set up camp in dark – skipped dinner because I was swarmed in mosquitoes.

DAY 2:

-Woke up after getting next to no sleep – bad leg cramps (also nature is NOISY!)
-Breakfast, then continue on the east trail to northern turnoff toward Tweed
-Trail was crap!
-Hours later (like 4-6 hours) I realize I am on the wrong trail – likely missed the turn off in the dark the night before.
-Travelled the crappiest gravel/sand ATV trail EVER – for 45km – luckily these trails eventually led me toward Tweed
-20km of the hottest highway riding (on a long weekend!) of my life. No trees along highways.
-Arrived in Tweed exhausted.
-Ate a bag of Cheese Curds (everyone in the Tweed area seems to sell these).
-Back on trail west of Tweed – Find camping spot for the night.
-Eat dinner & crash for the night

DAY 3:

-Slept well, but woke up to massive thunderstorm @ 4am. (Now THAT was intense!)
-Mosquitoes were thick after storm but still made breakfast while getting eaten alive. I was head to toe in my rain gear just to keep them off me.
-Pack up camp and start heading toward home on the proper tail (Trans Canada)
-Discovered the trail had been recently graded and is nothing but sand and loose gravel – horrible riding for my loaded down bike (50lbs) with thinner tires.
-More crappy trail.
-After 30km of this I leave the crappy trail and opt to ride on side roads. (Almost out of water at this point)
-Bike NOT packed for doing hills! Much too heavy! Just as much work as the loose gravel on the trail.
-Found water just in time in the town of Ivanhoe (apparently the cheese capital of the area LOL)
-Arrived in Sterling around dinner time which allowed me to hook back up with the original ATV trail (that wrong trail I took earlier) as a route back toward Campbellford. Yay! More loose gravel/sand trail.
-Absolutely BURNT OUT at this point.
-Find a camp spot, eat, sleep and end this day!

DAY 4:

-Woke up exhausted.
-Had to break camp in a hurry since morning birds were crapping all over my tent
-Tried breakfast – failed – too exhausted and nauseous to eat.
-Still had 24km to get to Campbellford – with NO energy and feeling super ill.
-Took me 5 hours to cover the 24km as I had to keep stopping to catch my breath. EVERYTHING was winding me! Heart going nuts.
-Started to hallucinate.
-Scared! Thought I was going to die and likely wasn’t very far from it.
-Pushed on and made it to the River Inn motel in Campbellford.
-No rooms (it was 9:30am) so I had to wait for checkout time (11am) before I could get in. Staff saw I was hurting and rushed to get a room ready ASAP. (Thank you!) 10:30 saw me in an air conditioned room.
-Shower, nap, then a food run.
-Looked at self in mirror – ZERO body fat left. DONE!
-Spent the rest of the day eating/drinking constantly! So depleated!!

DAY 5: 

-Not up for riding yet. Still feeling super burnt plus threat of massive thunderstorms looming.
-Paid for the room for another day. (This part REALLY hurt! LOL)
-Again, ate and drank constantly all day. There simply was not enough food for the intense hunger plaguing me.

DAY 6:

-Good to go! Packed up the bike and headed out toward home at 8:30am.
-Back to the GOOD TRAIL! That stuff was exceptionally easy to ride after the crap I’d been through. Pretty much just sailed the last 90km home.

Total Trip = 305km – 4 riding days (2 days down)

This was not a typical ride by any means. I normally do quite well – even in the high heat like we had. Been doing it for years. My method to keep cool in the ultra-heat is to ride at least 15-20km/hr creating a nice breeze as you ride. It regulates me nicely. This time out I simply could not get that kind of speed up on freshly graded trails. Tires sink right into it. Hell, I had to get off and walk some sections.

At the end of the day on any trip I take, I always have enough money in my pocket for a Motel Room in case of something like what happened here. I’ve always counted Heat Exhaustion as a possible outcome of any ride. Good thing! Besides, I’m a pessimist and tend to be ready for the worst – even at the best of times. 😀

Still an awesome trip. One I won’t forget anytime soon.