Back to Saskatchewan


This page covers the bike trip from Whitewood (SK) to Kenora (ON).

Total Days: 5
Pedaling Days: 5
Total Distance: 707 km
Total Vertical: 1,953m
Average Speed: 27.0 km/h

Route summary: Trans-Canada to Virden, at which point the paved shoulder stopped.  In fact, the gravel shoulder was not even hard packed, which made it very difficult to ride on.  Worked south to Highway 2, followed that to Holland, then Hwy 245 to Carman, Hwy 3 to Sperling, Hwy 205 to Hwy 59 at St-Pierre-Jolys, north to Hwy 52, east on 52 to Steinbach , and finally 311 up to Richer.  Then, back on the Trans-Canada to Kenora.  Just east of Richer, the shoulder disappeared again, but there was little choice for alternate routes.

The strange route was largely because I wanted to avoid the traffic of Winnipeg, which I have heard is not very cycling-friendly.  The back roads were great, not much traffic at all (except around Steinbach, which I would avoid), although the shoulder was often not paved.  All in all, it provided an excellent scenic detour.  I wish I had gotten off the TC in Saskatchewan!
Click on a day below, or scroll down to go through day by day.  Click on any image below to get a larger view.  Click here to go back to the trip index.

  1. Manitoba: June 21-25
    1. Tuesday, June 21
      1. June 21 – Whitewood to Virden (MA)
      2. Riding into the wind
      3. Poptop
      4. Sundown in Virden
      5. Grassy Walk
      6. Office work
    2. Wednesday, June 22
      1. June 22 – Virden to Souris
      2. Town of Souris
      3. Peacocks in the campground
      4. Air conditioning!
    3. Thursday, June 23
      1. June 23 – Souris to Stephenfield Provincial Park
      2. Yellow fields
      3. Made it to Holland
      4. Stephenfield Park
    4. Friday, June 24
      1. June 24 – Stephenfield to Richer
      2. Mosquito's eye view inside the van
      3. Chowing down
    5. Saturday, June 25
      1. June 25 – Richer to Kenora (ON)

Manitoba: June 21-25

Tuesday, June 21

Bike log: 117.0 km, 305m of vertical, avg speed 22.4 km/h

June 21 – Whitewood to Virden (MA)

Crossed another provincial boundary! Compared to my expectations, getting through Saskatchewan took a lot of effort. 6 days (including 1 rest day) to get through about 650km. I guess it ended up OK, but 375 of the 650km were done in 2 days of riding. It all depends on the wind (and thunderstorms). I was sure not expecting to have days with such low distance in the prairies.

Riding into the wind

Today was not a really long day in terms of miles covered, and it was certainly not fun to be out in the big wind, but it was one of the more rewarding days. I managed to get a decent distance in without getting frustrated and questioning why I was doing this trip! You just need to concentrate on riding well. Small differences in efficiency, in both riding position and pedaling stroke, translate into big differences in speed with so much headwind. At times, my mind would drift off, and when I’d realize it my speed would have dropped 10-20%. Probably a great training exercise for normal conditions!


Tonight we finally popped up the pop top on the van. That should guarantee that we will get rain tonight. (The top won’t leak, but it will have to be popped up and dried out later - kind of a pain). It is hot in the campground and we are into mosquito country now, so we can’t just leave the doors open. Fortunately, the top has a nice big mesh window on it, and we have a snap-in screen for the back. With both of those in place we get a good breeze through. I am also going to have to buy a fan at the next opportunity. Most of the campgrounds we’ve stayed in have an electrical hookup which we pay for anyway.

Sundown in Virden

The town of Virden where we are camping is quite nice.   All day, after we picked Virden as our destination, the line, “I’ll never be, east of Virden” kept running through my head. Guess what the tune for that one was…hint: think Rolling Stones….

Grassy Walk

Cheryl took a walk after dinner and got several great photos.  This looks very peaceful, although what you can't see is the millions of mosquitos that were attacking her.  A useful tip: don't be mislead by the absence of misquitoes when you are walking into the wind...they will be with you in full force when you turn around and head back!

Office work

I am usually too tired to go with Cheryl on her after dinner walks.  I do the dishes, then sit around in the van and drink water, eat more food, and type up fodder for this blog.


Wednesday, June 22

Bike log: 89.6 km, 325m of vertical, avg. speed 19.0 km/h

June 22 – Virden to Souris

A weird day, definitely one of the more different ones! Immediately after leaving Virden this morning, the nice paved shoulder that had been there since the border disappeared and became dirt! Not gravel, like a gravel road, but loose packed dirt! Maybe someone was thinking about putting in some potato plants along the highway, I don’t know. Not very fun riding for a bike, and probably not very safe for a car!

Fortunately, the shoulder on the other side of the highway (Hwy 1 is a divided highway here) was paved and a full lane wide , so I headed over there and rode along. Not too bad, but it too turned to dirt after about 5 km.

I can ride on a gravel road no problem (good tires) albeit a little slower than normal, and fortunately there was a gravel service road running along the highway, so I rode along there. That lasted another 5 km or so, and then ended at some farmer’s house:

If you see this, go around

So I had to carry my bike through a swampy ditch to get over to the highway, and then…rode in the grass alongside the road!  Where the grass gave out, I earned my dirt biking skills bonus and powered through the loose dirt. Hard work but I didn't wipe out!

The reason for ploughing ahead was to get to the next town and head south to Highway 2 since the shoulder on Highway 1 has turned unridable. So eventually after an hour or so of dirt/grass biking we did get to a paved road that took us south. I guess I haven’t mentioned the day's wind up til now – it was a blaster from the south! First south wind on the prairies, I might add. So after an hour or so of battling that (I won’t mention the rain storm or hail that I rode through) we finally got to Highway 2.

Town of Souris

Heading east on Highway 2, we came to the town of Souris by about 4 PM. We looked at the maps, and asked some locals, but the next town along which had a campground was Glenboro, another 70km, and so we decided to pack it in early. Just as well since there were a number of things we have needed to do but have not had time - laundry, wash the van, and buy a fan – all of which we were able to do. Souris is a nice little town, right on the Souris river. Kids were swimming in here, but the water looked a bit brown to me! And the local hardware store was not quite sold out of fans yet, although they had quite a run on them.

Peacocks in the campground

Another pretty campground here – in the woods and beside a creek. Mosquito heaven! The campground is also a bird sanctuary, and there are peacocks roaming around.

Air conditioning!

The fan is a great investment because it is really hot and humid here today! We hadn’t washed the car since we left home, so it was really overdue to get the bugs off the front and a good cleanup inside. All in all, still productive even though we didn’t get too far along today.

Cheryl invented pretty much the best wrap ever! These were so good...I ate about 10 of them.


Thursday, June 23

Bike log: 169.6km, 396m of vertical, avg. speed 29.8 km/h

June 23 – Souris to Stephenfield Provincial Park

A long day, hard work for quite a bit of it too! But it felt good to get some good miles in once again. It was extremely flat for most of the day, but towards the end, as we approached the park, we got into a few small rolling hills. Nothing major, but it was kind of nice to have a reason to get up out of the seat and work some different muscles for a change.

The wind could not decide what to do today. Started as a headwind, then a crosswind, then a tailwind, back to a headwind, and ended up with a tailwind! Overall I think it was at my back more often than not, but shifting gears (literally as well as mentally) to deal with the difference is a challenge. Just when you think you are making really good time, you get slammed with a headwind and your speed gets chopped by 30%! It was also raining on and off through the day. However, it was far too hot to bother with rain gear. The rain was a welcome relief.

Yellow fields

The scenery is very nice along these secondary roads, as you would expect compared to the highway! We weren't sure what this yellow flowered crop was (someone later told us it was Canola), but there sure was a lot of it.

Very rural scenery

We got onto some very secondary roads on the way into the provincial park. I am hoping to bypass Winnipeg as much as possible, so we got off Highway 2 today (it also leads into Winnipeg). Tomorrow we’ll either head a bit more south or I’ll ride a bit of gravel road to get over the Red River. I suppose the wind will decide which way we will go! It is surprisingly difficult to avoid Winnipeg, all roads lead in there. I guess the bridges over the Red River are few and far between.

Made it to Holland

I knew we had been on the road for quite some time, but I wasn’t expecting to get into Holland!

Having spent some time in Holland, I can see why settlers named this area after it. It is incredibly flat! And, of course, windy – hence the windmills. Unfortunately, "D.Q's Lance Rental Service" next door was closed, or else I would have taken a tilt at this one.

Stephenfield Park

This is the first provincial park we’ve stayed in since leaving BC. None were in convenient places for us up until here. It’s really well kept up, as are the parks in BC. It is near a decent size lake, and people were out water skiing! The trees are much shorter, and mostly hardwoods, and there are no mountains but sitting in the campsite or wandering through the gravel roads of the park I can imagine being in one of the parks back home. Funny, even some of the small towns we’ve been in give that feeling – so familiar. 

It is strange to think how far we’ve come and how similar things still are. I am really getting a sense of the size of Canada.  In some ways, the trip has not completely sunk in with me yet – I am really focused on the day-to-day riding. When I look at a map and see the progress it almost does not seem related to our trip. I have never spent very much time at all in Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba, but I did live in Ontario (southern and eastern) for about 17 years. As I peddle into familiar ground perhaps it will help to tie things together. For now, it’s probably just as well, since there is still a long way to go. Thinking about such a huge amount of distance is overwhelming, you’ve got to stay focused on making it through one day at a time.


Friday, June 24

Bike log: 175.8km, 330m of vertical, avg. speed 33.4 km/h

June 24 – Stephenfield to Richer

Had a really strong wind from the west today – which was great for the most part! We took the south route around Winnipeg and did not come within 40 km or so of the city. Probably a good thing because the traffic was getting pretty bad on the major highways that I crossed and it is not a particularly bike friendly region. I did a few segments on gravel today, not too bad but it is amazing how fast some people drive down those roads…and don’t slow down for anything! Truckers seem to be the most considerate, believe it or not.

This was the strongest wind in several days. I am really glad it was from the west! But the dodging around we did on backroads to get past Winnipeg did give me the opportunity to head north, south, east, and west at different points. Going west I was easily able to do 40-45 km/h, going east was about 15-20. North and south were both around 25. Normally, without wind I average around 30-32. I was not aware that a crosswind would affect the speed that much, but I guess it makes sense – you spend a lot of energy fighting to keep going straight, and there is only 1 source of that energy!

Mosquito's eye view inside the van

Now that the warm (and hopefully dry) weather is here we are popping the top most nights. We get a great breeze through. It is pretty spacious with it up as well. This is a view looking down from the upstairs, I am standing on the kitchen counter taking a picture of Cheryl in the living room! It is nice that it feels spacious in here since we are spending some time inside it the last few days due to the mosquito situation. The wind tonight is helping to keep them down, but man have they been bad! Once again a reminder of how good we have it back home, definitely something I have come to take for granted.

Chowing down

When I’m not on my bike or sleeping, this is pretty much what I look like all the time. Nice tan eh! I wonder how many years it will be before the line disappears. I am getting a good handle on the eating situation though. I like to have a small breakfast and get going as soon as we can, then ride for an hour or two, and have a decent meal. I rest for a half hour or so after that, (usually we stop in a town and pick up supplies or something) and then hit the road. Unlike running or swimming, riding after a large meal is not a problem as long as you aren’t doing a huge hill or something, since your body is fairly stationary and therefore the food doesn’t get all shook up. From then on, I try to just do 5-10 minute stops every hour or so for a quick snack. Then a big dinner at the end of the day, and more snacks into the evening! Kind of funny, I’m not usually a big eater.


Saturday, June 25

Bike log: 154.6km, 597m of vertical, avg. speed 29.5 km/h

June 25 – Richer to Kenora (ON)

Within about 10-20km of the border, we started to get into some hills. Nothing huge, but the biggest ones we’ve had since BC, and more or less continuously rolling. Very much like the terrain around Victoria, but with smaller hills. I am really enjoying the change and the opportunity to tackle the hills. Riding on the straight windy flats requires a different mindset. You just have to put your head down and go til the next rest stop, and try not to think about anything related to progress! With hills and curves, it is kind of the opposite – you are always watching what is coming up, getting ready to gear up or down or stand up and peddle. It challenges you in a different way, and I find it inspires me to attack the hills.

I learned an interesting factoid. The northernmost part of the US excluding Alaska is located on the shores of Lake of the Woods! There is a weird bit of land that sticks up above the 49th parallel for 20km or so, and is not attached through land to the rest of the US! Kind of like Pt. Roberts near Vancouver, but above the 49th parallel.