|Journal for 6-July-2004 : Atikokan|
Buckets of overnight rain and the roads were soaked as we got away to not the earliest of starts (again), cycling off into the drizzle. Slow going into the wind over the Norden Causeway. Like a lot the lakes in this region, Rainy Lake is shallow with a large perimeter with lots of small and not so small islands. In fact, it's more island than lake. The Norden Causeway is a series of short bridges that allows highway 11 to island hop it's way to the other side.
Riding actually quite pleasant today, in spite of the wind, traffic and drizzle. Actually, once 20ks away from Fort Frances the traffic volume on this road was down to outback Australia levels, and the drizzly rain eased off to occasional spitting. The route took us mostly through native forests, with a great diversity of tree species which (best of all) made a very effective wind break.
The country here is actually quite rocky. No grandeous hills or mountains, just very low rocky ridges with low to medium tree cover. It would seem the soil (probably a euphemism) is not conducive to agriculture other than forestry, and even then the log trucks here carry short narrow logs (more like branches) to be chipped or pulped.
This makes for some very nice cycling. A road that is continuously twisting around the multitude of lakes and ponds, gently rising and falling with the terrain, all decorated with beautifully diverse forest. It really was very enjoyable, and the kilometers just rolled away under our wheels.
First break was after nearly 60ks at the first (and only as it turned out) official rest area. It was completely overrun with mosquitoes. I don't know how long we were there but those few minutes seemed like about thirteen hours. And I didn't exactly get a lot of rest, constantly jumping and swatting these hideous vampirous insects.
Our lunch break up a track in a clearing by a communications tower was much more restful, though I did emerge from my semi-slumber to find a huge tick was trying to digest me whole, and making a fair fist of it too.
After powering along all day without a hint of tiredness my body's strength seemed to evaporate with 5ks to go. Very tired at Atikokan, but our day wasn't over. It turned out the water supply has been contaminated, and locals are required to boil all drinking water. In what we fear might be an early taste of Thailand, we had to find an open shop that could sell us bottled water for the trek eastwards tomorrow.
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