2015 Ontario Parks Tour: Day Two

Hills, bloody hills

Bass Lake to Arrowhead – 129km
(Sept 20, 8:15pm)

What a day. All of the upsides you could hope for in a ride through Muskoka – lovely scenery, great weather and (generally) quiet roads. Oh, and hills. All of them.

After a long day yesterday we left Bass Lake at around 8:10am and headed back into – and then out the other side of – Orillia. Along the way we managed to hit just about every red light possible – frustrating but what can you do?

Before too long we turned off the main road (Hwy 12) and onto back roads as we headed towards Muskoka. Shortly thereafter the scenery began to change and we started to see lovely houses on quiet lakes that reminded me why people live up here.

Father smartly pulled his camera out for some pics before too long; he nearly paid the price for trying to be a bit too artsy not too long thereafter – I heard a commotion behind me, turned around and saw Father struggling desperately to avoid falling off the road an into a ditch. He’d apparently been trying to snap a photo of me, lost control and rode onto the shoulder at the side of the road, which was covered in deep gravel and just made things worse. Happily he got the bike back under control and we continued along our way.

We said hi to a couple of locals who were out for a mountain bike ride; they seemed impressed when we told them how far we were going that day.

A short while later it started getting hilly. Really hilly. And it never stopped for the rest of time the day’s ride. We stopped around 10:30 or so at a general store (Summertime’s, I think), where Father got his mandatory coffee (as did I) and a bacon/egg sandwich. One of the great things about riding these distances is the lack of guilt for eating this kind of food.

After a short break we headed on, with the rolling hills continuing on for the next couple of hours until we reached Bracebridge. We stopped for lunch at a place named Bill’s Pizza, where we ironically both ordered pasta which was delicious.

The rest of the ride somewhat blurs together in my mind. The hills were a constant but the beautiful scenery made up for it. One spot – I think it was called Muskoka Lakes or something like that (that sounds like the name of an area, not a place…) – stood out, both for the lovely view across a lake and for the long, steep hill away from it. I snapped a pic of Father as he got to the top.

For some reason our route zig-zagged back and forth across the busy Highway 11. Happily our crossings were uneventful, but I didn’t relish doing them.

Eventually we came into Huntsville, where I picked up a cold compress for my IT band which is getting sorer and sorer. Also grabbed a support for my knee; don’t know if it will help but worth a try.

Eventually we left Huntsville for the final push to Arrowhead. Another big hill after we crossed Highway 60, before we descended to Arrowhead Road and made our way to the entrance to the park.

We thought we’d made it to the end, but then found ourselves with 1.5km to go to the office – all of which was up the biggest hill of the tour so far! It was a monster, especially on tired legs and with a fully-loaded bike.

Once we arrived at the park office we were confronted with a somewhat under-trained and very sloooow clerk who couldn’t figure out how to give us a $9 refund that he’d offered us for Father’s senior citizen discount. Eventually he called a park warden who figured it out. In the meantime, having decided there was no way we were going to climb that hill again, we looked around for food. Not a great selection – the park store was closed for the season and the office only had a few things – but we grabbed a couple of cans of ravioli, two snickers bars, some peanuts, pepperoni sticks, ginger ale and a bag of chips. Dinner of champions!

Now we’re sitting by a campfire at our site. It’s warm here, but step away from the fire and… not so much. It was 9 degrees when I woke up this morning and I expect it’ll get colder tonight. It was pretty cold and hard to get out of bed today; think I’ll stuff tomorrow’s clothes in the sleeping bag to keep them warm overnight.

Shower at the comfort station here at Arrowhead was LOVELY. After two days I was pretty ripe.

Algonquin tomorrow. Yay!

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The author

I'm a born and bred English guy - a Britnadian, if you will - living and working as SVP of Digital at Edelman in Toronto. Outside work, my life splits two ways: I'm a cyclist, and I'm a social media explorer. Both bring me great enjoyment; one brings more pain than the other. Opinons are mine, not my employer's.