Binscarth to Neepawa - 161 km
Jul 19, 2005
|We were up at 5.45 am to prepare breakfast for the group. Our tent down and all packed up, we served oatmeal to the gang before cleaning up camp and hitting the road. We were on the road by about 8.45 with Nathan and Sean in tow.
The winds were on our noses for the first 25 km. It was gusting at a fair speed, making our goings slow and laboured. Frustrating to say the least. The destination for today was to be Minnedosa, but TS and I had decided that we would cycle an extra 35 km to Neepawa and spend the night with his great aunt and uncle (Alice and John) and his mother, Audrey, who was visiting them. We grumbled that if we were riding into the wind all day that the final 35 km would feel like an eternity.
Thankfully, the highway veered, and the wind was no longer on our noses, but rather somewhat behind us. We cruised into Birtle with ease...running into a bunch of fellow cyclists that had stopped for breakfast number 2 in town. We opted for a cold drink and a quick snack and then hit the road. Shoal Lake, here we come.
We stopped in Shoal Lake at the bakery that had been recommended. There we found another series of fellow riders. We had almost completely taken over the bakery! The cinnamon buns were so highly recommended that most people indulged in those. Since I'm not a super fan of them, I enjoyed and eccles cake...although I did taste TS' - just to make sure that I didn't like them. ;) While in the bakery one of the local ladies came in and handed out a bunch of Shoal Lake pins to us. We all thanked her and put them on our selves or our bike gear somewhere.
Back on the road, we formed a pace line with Nathan and Sean. The wind was at our backs, so we cruised along at a decent speed. Our next rest stop was in Newdale. We went into the little town and stopped in at the Co-op for a cool drink and a snack. We came across a number of other cyclists relaxing in the shade near the store, so we hung out with them for a few laughs before hitting the road for the final stretch.
Much of the day we had been trying to get a hold of Audrey to let her know that we planned to cycle directly to Neepawa rather than to meet them in Minnedosa. We had been unable to connect with her, so at our rest stop we asked that if anyone spotted a lady looking around the campground at the bikers to enquire as to whether or not she was looking for us. If she was, we had told them to tell her that we had cycled on to Neepawa and would be waiting for her at the local DQ (convenient for us, no?!).
Back on the highway, we had the wind directly on our backs. Sean, TS and I formed a pace line and flew along...catching up to and passing many of the cyclists that had left the shady rest stop before us. Soon, we were on the outskirts of Minnedosa, so we bid farewell to the other riders and continued on our way to Neepawa.
We made a quick stop at a café on the way to Neepawa for an iced tea. There, we received a call from Cor, letting us know that he had seen Audrey and relayed the DQ message to her - and that she would meet us there.
Just outside Minnedosa, the road to Neepawa had been recently paved and the shoulder was wide. The wind was graciously at our backs again and we cruised at above 40 km/hr with ease. Along the road, Audrey and John passed us, waving. Shortly ahead, they pulled over and greeted us. After a brief visit, along with directions to John and Alice's house, we were pedaling again.
Neepawa was a lovely town...the nicest we've seen in a while. It's the lily capital of Canada, so the gardens were beautiful. We found John and Alice's house easily, and were soon meeting and greeting family members there. After a great hot shower, we visited with everyone and then enjoyed a wonderful dinner.
Alice is Toma's great aunt...his grandmother's sister. She is a kind spirited Ukrainian lady...and a fabulous cook. John is Alice's husband, and Toma's great uncle. After dinner he treated us to a mini-concert on his Dulcimer, which he made. It was fantastic. Olia, their daughter, and Ron, their son-in-law were also there for dinner, as was a family friend named Dave. Everyone was very kind, and we enjoyed a wonderful feast with wonderful company. Oh...and we had a few laughs. :) Thanks so much for the hospitality!!