Navigating the Trans Canadian Highway between Spanish, Ontario to Blind River, Ontario on bicycles.
June 15, 2012 4:52 PM   Subscribe

Bicycle touring logistics: Navigating the Trans Canadian Highway between Spanish, Ontario to Blind River, Ontario on bicycles. Crazy? Any other suggestions?

Posting for my sister: HELP! We aren't too keen on biking on the Trans Canadian Highway, but need to get with our bikes from Spanish, Ontario to Blind River, Ontario. We are doing a 1,500 mile bike ride this summer that includes this 20-25 mile stretch. There is only about a foot of paved shoulder and then gravel. This is the only east-west road in the area. We invite any information/ suggestions on how to bike this leg or how to avoid it. Thanks!
posted by fieldtrip to Travel & Transportation around Ontario (8 answers total)
A friend's boyfriend is right now perhaps halfway through a cycling trip from Ottawa to Canmore, Alberta; I don't know how often he's on-line, but he is here and there and I've asked and will report back if there's any advice. He is going along with a bike trailer, a tent, and his dog. Crazy -- possibly -- also looks like a fantastic adventure...
posted by kmennie at 6:08 PM on June 15, 2012

I don't know anything about that section of it, but I can offer a nitpick: it's called the Trans Canada Highway.
posted by fullerenedream at 8:30 PM on June 15, 2012

kmennie - that is awesome. Thanks for checking in with your friend.
posted by fieldtrip at 9:20 PM on June 15, 2012

I might put on the usual high vis clothing, the usual red flasher and possibly even a "slow traffic" emblem and then just "get er done". There are a few short parallel roads on the way but they don't go all the way -- though they could be used as a "break" from the main highway. It's a couple hour ride broken up into a few 15-20 minute sections. Not pleasant but in good weather on a weekend (to avoid most commercial traffic) it shouldn't be horrid.

The alternative might be to go to a busy cafe at Spanish and talk to the locals and see if anyone isn't willing to just drive y'all to Blind River for the cost of gas and some good conversation -- would take less than an hour out of their day. That might be my second choice -- striking up conversations while on a tour like that is lots of fun.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:01 AM on June 16, 2012

I just took a look at Crazy Guy on a Bike to see if other people have navigated the Trans Canada Highway along that stretch. They have, and lived to tell the tale. Sounds like it's not considered a friendly stretch of road, but not impassable.

It also looks like you can take a pretty significant detour if you really want to avoid it.
posted by adamrice at 9:21 AM on June 16, 2012

"I had to bite the bullet and cycle on the gravel shoulder a number of times, though usually not for longer than 20k or so. I have no real advice other than to say that it helps me to try to think of this -- and of things like pushing a loaded bike up the hills of West Superior for many hours in 30C+ weather -- as fun. There is another unpleasant 50k stretch like this near Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. The speed limit there is 110k/h (not 90k/h as in N. Ont), truck traffic steady, and fog frequent, so we ended up having to enjoy the gravel shoulder."

...happy travels!
posted by kmennie at 5:40 PM on June 16, 2012

Would you consider changing your route? We avoided that stretch by riding Highway 101 from Wawa to Timmins, then down Highway 11 to North Bay. That route was really quite lovely. That said, lots of cyclists do ride Sault St. Marie to Sudbury every summer, and survive.

We found putting large slow moving vehicle signs on our bikes worked well. They certainly made us much more visible, both during the day and at night.
posted by dttocs at 9:35 AM on June 17, 2012

So, for future reference: My sister ended up making arrangements with staff at the hotel that they would be staying at after that section. Someone is going to pick them up and drive them through that section.

For those who were telling her (via me) to just suck it up...I'm not sure you understand how bad that piece of road is. My sister had heard stories of people being blown off their bikes by the air from trucks passing so close. Safe travels to everyone!
posted by fieldtrip at 8:06 PM on July 16, 2012

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