Weighing In

Sidney, MB to Virden, MB

Nice day for a ride.

Nice day for a ride.

If my past year of cycling was measured as a fiscal year, then today would mark the year end. It was 365 days ago that I left my Toronto apartment behind, loaded up my bicycle, and started pedalling east to St. John’s. And then south to Key West. And now, 26 days into this current chapter of my journey I’ve added another 2,518 km to the adventure. The grand total is now up to 11,780 km.

Today also marked the second time on this trip where it was actually warm enough to just wear shorts and a t-shirt. Yesterday was the first time (but that was interrupted briefly when I had to put on my rain gear). There was no rain gear needed today. In fact, today was probably the hottest day of the trip so far … and I loved it.

The target destination for today was … well, actually … there wasn’t really a target destination. I figured reaching Brandon (about 60 km) would be reasonably easy. Beyond that, I figured I’d let the conditions of the day dictate how far I would go.

I was on the road remarkably early this morning. 7:30. Okay, maybe that’s not remarkably early for some, but for me it’s pretty remarkable. My primary motive behind my early departure was an attempt to beat the wind. I know how futile that can be but since the winds generally get stronger later in the day I figured an early start couldn’t hurt. It didn’t.

Subway in Brandon.

Subway in Brandon.

For the most part, the wind had little impact on my day – especially from Sidney to Brandon. I managed to arrive in Brandon where I was welcomed by both a Tim Hortons and a Subway. I wouldn’t go hungry in Brandon. There also wasn’t a lack of conversation in Brandon. I had rather lengthy conversations with a couple of people at Tim’s (a older local guy who warned me about some of the roads, and a cycle tourist from Newfoundland who apparently just had all his gear stolen). And there was another lengthy chat outside Subway with a guy who has cycled the country a few times, been all over the world and raves about the cycling in Wisconsin. Who knew!?

I eventually left Brandon at 12:30 with a new goal of making it to Oak Lake, which is about 60 km further down the road. The second half of my riding day was definitely more challenging than the first. The winds picked up a bit and there were actually a few hills. In Manitoba. I didn’t think that was allowed.

That said, the highlight of my day came about an hour outside of Brandon. I was cycling along, mindlessly minding my own business, when a photo opportunity came up. It’s a photo opportunity that I’ve looked for in the past but the circumstances were never right. Today, they were right.

Weighing in at 60 kg?  Really?No wonder I'm so slow!

Weighing in at 60 kg? Really?
No wonder I’m so slow!

One of the more common questions I get is about the weight of my bike and gear. Which I’ve always estimated. Until now. Thanks to a truck weigh station which I decided to use. And the truck weigh station indicates my bike to be 60 kg. To be honest, I’m a little skeptical about that figure. It seems high. However, when I added my weight to the scale it topped out at 140 kg – putting me at about 80 kg which is reasonably accurate. Either way, I now have a truck weigh station photo. I’d have taken more but there were trucks lining up behind me and I thought it best to get out of their way.

After that, the ride was rather uneventful but gradually tiring. I don’t know if was the winds, the minor hills, or just general fatigue, but the final five killometres to Oak Lake were gruelling. Despite eating somewhat regularly, drinking a lot of water, and even a hot chocolate (yes, hot chocolate – it’s not just for winter anymore!), I really felt like I was out of gas as I wheeled into Oak Lake.

Oak Lake is another very small town. And even if it wasn’t, I certainly didn’t have the energy to see what sort of food options were available and so I stopped at the first place I found. Mildly delirious from both the heat and lack of energy, I decided a soft serve ice cream cone would be the best option. I mean, really. How is that ever a bad idea?

Ice cream and napping.Dandy indeed.

Ice cream and napping.
Dandy indeed.


While the ice cream was a great idea I also knew I needed something more substantial so I retreated to the picnic area and consumed another sub which I had packed away. This somewhat served its purpose but I was still significantly low on energy so I did the only thing I could think of. I stretched out on the picnic table and had a nap. A good, long, 45 minute nap. It was wonderful.

When I awoke from my extended power nap, it didn’t take long to realized that there isn’t much in Oak Lake. Sure, I could’ve found somewhere to wild camp but the lack of services concerned me a bit. The next town, Virden, was only 23 km away and had a full complement of services. And so, with a new found sense of energy I decided to get back on the road for another 23 km.

The ride to Virden was surprisingly effortless. Maybe I should nap more often! Even with the winds fighting me, I rolled into the Tim Hortons in Virden after only about 60 minutes. I ended my day with a frozen lemonade and a glazed sour cream donut. Mmmmm. Oh, and I also found out that Moritz was in Virden too – although, I didn’t see him at all. Maybe tomorrow.

One last and unrelated thing, have I mentioned how late is stays light these days? Last night I was wandering around the campground at 10:30 with no need for my headlamp at all. This has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s certainly a disadvantage when you’re trying to do some wild camping under the cover of darkness when there is no cover of darkness. And speaking of wild camping, for those living vicariously through my little adventure – or for those just curious – I thought I’d share what it’s like to wild camp. I’m currently residing in a small park, about 100 metres from train tracks, with no real washroom facilities anywhere in the area. As for my tent, well … (warning: reader discretion advised) my tent currently smells of a sweaty cyclist (who needed a shower yesterday), an eight-hour old oven-roasted chicken sub, and of course, deet. Yes, I continue to live the dream.

Today’s totals:
Distance travelled: 161.88 km
Ride time: 8:12:45
Average speed: 19.71 km/h
Maximum speed: 41.78 km/h

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2 Comments to Weighing In

Sidney, MB to Virden, MB

  1. Jannine says:

    Hi Mark! Figured it was time to say hello and thank you for your so enjoyable travel blog. I found your site through a piece in a recent email from CAA. I’m catching up on the 2014 trip (currently heading south into Gros Morne, lol) and following your current trip. Seeing the country at your pace and through your words and pics is simply wonderful. :)

    • Mark says:

      Hi Jannine. Glad you said hello. Also glad you’re enjoying my adventures (past and present). I’m a couple days behind with my updates but I’m desperately trying to get caught up. The days go by so fast!! Thanks again for following :)

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