Day 15

Thursday, 11 Jun 2009
Wallaceburg, ON to St. Thomas, ON
83.9 miles, 7h05m, 11.8 mph
Elapsed Time: 8h40m, Max speed: 29.4mph
Total Climbing: 948ft, Max elevation: 835ft
Total mileage: 974.6

A very long, miserable day of cycling in the rain. It started off good though.

There were other touring cyclists staying in the Days Inn. They were two women riding to Ottawa. I never met them. Not a very interesting story.

I left at about 8am, after an extra cup of coffee and a conversation with the desk lady, who told me about other great places to ride in Canada. Then I was on my way.

It seems that most roads in Canada do not have paved shoulders. If they do have them, they are very small. It's usually not a problem because there generally isn't much traffic. The problem at first today was with wind. Straight in my face. Also, there was an almost imperceptible increase in elevation. I could feel it, and I was going slow.

I turned off the main road at Dresden to visit the Uncle Tom's Cabin Historic Site. This was a vocational school for escaped slaves at the end of the Underground Railroad. I think it's called Uncle Tom's Cabin because Harriet Beecher Stowe used the notes of the dude who founded the school in her novel. I'm not sure because the place didn't open until 10am and I was there before 9.

I took this picture of what looks like a chapel.

From there it was a quick stop at a convenience store and the Tim Horton's for another cup of coffee, and I was on my way.

Crossing the 401. This is the first time on this trip that I'd
crossed paths with a place I'd been before. I'd driven down
the 401 a couple times between Detroit and Buffalo or Toronto.

As I approached Ridgetown I noticed a big dark patch in the already overcast sky and felt a few drops. I figured I'd grab lunch and sit out what I assumed would be a brief shower. The radio playing in the restaurant said the rain would begin in the late afternoon and continue overnight. Friday would be nice. I ordered the cheeseburger deluxe, which was a small cheeseburger on top of a gigantic basket of fries.

It started pouring as I was about to leave. I waited a few minutes for it to stop, then I went out to look. It wasn't going to stop anytime soon, so I suited up and started riding. I still had a long way to go.

Riding out of Ridgetown in the rain.

The rain was mostly light, but it toyed with me. It would get very light from time to time, but it never stopped completely. I was still harboring the delusion that it would stop raining soon. Then it started really pouring and I knew it would rain for the rest of the day. I began pondering whether I would rather be at work than here. I would be more comfortable at my desk, but probably more frustrated. I think it's a push--at best.

The soul-crushing moment when all hope of dryness was lost.

I just put my head down and drove on to St. Thomas, right down the busiest and most direct road I could find. I had no map because I wasn't planning on going to St. Thomas at all until last night when I knew the weather would be too bad for camping.

Finally I reached town and found the Ramada Inn. On the way in to town I caught a glimpse of Jumbo, the famous circus elephant. It turns out St. Thomas is where Jumbo was killed when he was hit my a locomotive in 1885. A commemorative statute was erected in 1985. It was worth taking a picture of from the highway, but not worth further investigation.

Jumbo is remembered.

I'm not going to make any plans for tomorrow. I'll probably just ride down to Lake Erie and continue up the shore. No doubt I'll touch it at some point. I've hauled this camping gear almost a thousand miles, maybe I'll camp tomorrow night.


"Great Lakes Tour 2009" Copyright © 2009 By Bob Clemons. All rights reserved.