Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sault Ste. Marie and the Power of Lake Superior

'Friends' along the way!

We had initially pegged this section of our tour as 1500 km of boredom and we couldn’t have been more wrong. This rugged part of the Canadian Shield has been difficult and challenging but above all, beautiful. Our ride yesterday took us through the scenic Lake Superior Provincial Park and up and down a lot of rugged climbs. As we rolled into town with my legs burning from all the climbing, my thoughts turned to our days in the Rockies. Were those days this hard? Have we climbed like this before?

As soon as we got in I checked my trusty Strava cycling app and learned that in 135km I had climbed over 1 200 meters. After some clicking around I discovered that’s not far off the amount of climbing Pat and Dad had covered from Revelstoke to Golden in BC over the infamous Rogers Pass. I was surprised yet it did seem appropriate. Rogers Pass was the final and most difficult section of the Trans Continental Railway to be completed and the ground we just covered near Lake Superior was the final and most difficult section of the Trans Canada Highway to be finished. Crews had such trouble forging the way through the dense forest and rock that the final stretch of highway wasn’t even paved until 1967. For all its hardships however, cyclists are rewarded with breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the various coves and bays along the shoreline.

The storied Lake Superior is massive. The world’s largest lake by surface area, biggest of the Great Lakes, it stretches on beyond the horizon as if you’re looking across the ocean. I passed the Chippewa River and for the rest of the day I had Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” in my head. While I tucked into the breathtaking descents that seemed to go right into the lake before turning at the waters edge I kept hearing the line, “Superior, its said, never gives up her dead.” Needless to say, I took extra care to keep my tires on the road and the bike upright at those spots. I learned later that the reason they say the lake “never gives up her dead” is because the natural water temperature is so cold that a body in the water sinks as opposed to eventually floating as would happen in most other bodies of water.
New friends Matt & Berny are biking & camping. Check them out at

The big lake they call Gitchee Gumee has served as an incredible backdrop to our riding in Northern Ontario. As we’ve travelled west and south on Highway 17, one look to the right over the blue water glistening in the sun or lush forest growing atop the rugged rock faces is a great reminder of the natural beauty of our country. It can be enough to put that little extra into your legs to get you over the rolling hills or that little push you need to throw it into a bigger gear to race around the corner to see what vista might be there to greet you. Northern Ontario has truly been a highlight of our trip so far and I won’t soon forget the unbelievable rides we’ve had in this great part of our country. 

Erik (Team Marsh Co-pilot) 


  1. You should probably turn around and start heading east, or you'll never make it!

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