Day 117, stage, 90, 117km
Start, Municipal Camp, Springbok
Finish, Municipal Camp, Garies
This was the kind of day I expected in the last week of the ride: short, on tarmac, not too windy, pleasant countryside. It was the kind of leisurely, cruise control kind of day that makes people believe that cycling is easy. Today it was. There was quite a lot of climbing today, as there was yesterday but it wasn’t the frantic up and down small peaks and gullies type of climbing you get where road builders have simply carved a track through the existing terrain. These were engineered roads. Undulations were smoothed out. Climbs were longer but also more gradual – a steady 2 – 6% rather than sharp 10 or 14% pulls.
Before lunch I went out a fairly good pace again, this time I cycled for quite a while with James Campbell and Wayne Gaudet. This time I also lingered a bit longer at lunch and cycled mostly on my own for the latter part of the day. But I was still in in good time.
Garies is very different than Springbok. While Sprirngbok is very much the up and coming town with the Toyota dealership, Garies is the town time has forgotten with tumbleweed blowing down the main street. It reminded me a lot of a 1950s northern Ontario lumber town. The old hotel in the middle of town on the main street was a classic. You could find it on the main street of any small Ontario town circa 1950: the restaurant off the reception with varnished wood booths; the Black Label beer posters and lights; the taxidermy on the walls. Vince, Alex and I went in for cheeseburgers, grilled cheese sandwiches and milk shakes. The waitress was also old fashioned. She had one of those old fashioned order taking pads, beautiful handwriting like a primary school teacher, and she smiled. I expected to see my grandmother’s faded green 1953 Chevy parked out front when we left. But no, all I saw was the town drunk shuffling into the bottle shop for some cheap sherry. Yes, even their cheap booze is the same as 1950s small town Ontario.