July 3: Webbwood to between Stinson and Callum (~112km)

Bikely map

My host in Webbwood fed me a good breakfast, gave me some good tips on alternate routes to the Trans-Canada for pretty much the entire run to Sudbury (and even a little past it) and I was able to get on my way by about 9am. My goal for the next little chunk of ride was to put in around 140km/day in order to make Deep River (to which some friends had recently moved) in three days, and keep the Sault-Ottawa leg of the trip down to seven days (though I’d budgeted eight).

The local roads back to the Trans-Canada, and the Trans-Canada itself were fairly uneventful, but the first stretch of alternate route, Old Nairn Road, had been indentified to me as being in a bit of disrepair. Having already ridden on some stretches of road which were in pretty horrific disrepair, I didn’t feel particularly concerned by this. As it turns out, the road did have a few spots where disrepair made it difficult to avoid cracks, potholes, etc. but was generally a very nice, quiet, scenic ride:

Unfortunately, a little ways down this alternate route, I noticed that my rear wheel was rubbing against the brakes in one spot. After doing a quick check for broken spokes in the area, I tightened a few just enough to get rid of the rubbing, resolved to get it back reasonably close to true either in the evening or the following morning, and continued riding. Not yet having encountered a grocery store, I stopped for lunch at a pizza place just outside of Sudbury, and then continued into town.

Sudbury had the first noticeable air pollution that I’d encountered since leaving Toronto to begin the trip, but it wasn’t terribly pronounced. The city being littered with metal refinery smokestacks much like the prairies were littered with grain terminals (except more densely), I felt compelled to take a shot of some of the local industry:

I then picked up a new batch of groceries in town, drawing stares in the grocery store as though I’d arrived from another planet. One woman nearly dropped her grocery basket when she saw me. I was mildly amused, but also surprised that this was the first time that my cycling clothes had drawn such a reaction. After all, I’d passed through plenty of other (admittedly smaller) forestry and mining towns without a reaction, so it wasn’t simply a matter of class.

Regardless, I picked up my groceries (and decided to grab a pack of citronella tea lights in an effort to keep the bug away from me rather than merely off of me while camping) and set out again. Right around the middle of downtown, the rubbing returned, and when I went to adjust it further, I noticed that the rim was actually coming apart.

I was a little put off by this, since it appeared to require immediate repair, and since said repair would take long enough to shorten my riding day to a point where I’d have to take a 4th day to get to Deep River. Additionally, I wasn’t particularly thrilled when I considered the quality of replacement rim that would likely be available in Sudbury. On the other hand, it was something of a relief that I had/identified this failure in a city large enough that it would be possible to buy a replacement rim at all. It also seemed that I shouldn’t have been terribly susprised by this turn of events since I’d started with a decidedly non-new rear rim, and put some 4000-4500km of extra wear (and heavy wear at that). My best guess is that it died with a good solid 7500-10000km life behind it, so it was just plain used up.

I still rode on it another kilometre or two in order to get to the sporting goods store that was along the way and had a suitably sized replacement rim (identified by calling back to Webbwood and asking after my options, then wandering up to some folks having a BBQ in a side yard and asking to borrow their phone book so I could call and ask about their stock). Then I pulled in, and their mechanic kindly allowed me to use the shop to rebuild my wheel with the new rim (they actually had a whole wheel, but I couldn’t bear to replace my hub with what they had to offer, so I gave them back the hub and spokes as thanks for the use of the shop).

I didn’t get a terribly good picture of the damage, but if you look closely near where the rim reads “OMEGA” you should be able to make out the thick, hooked portion of the rim (that holds the tire in) coming off the rest of the rim, and the edge of the rim being somewhat deformed around there:

All in all, it was about 4 hours from finding the problem in the wheel to setting out from the store with the new rim suitably installed on the bike (though it wasn’t a rim that I’d want to count on to get the rest of the way across the country, and had the wrong size of valve hole in it to boot).

It still not quite being dark when I was done, I figured that I’d set out and try and cover a little extra distance before finding a place to camp at the side of the road. Naturally, roadside campsites decided to prove themselves scarce, so I didn’t manage to stop until nearly 10pm, when I found a closed up restaurant with plenty of clear land behind it that I figured I could use. It was also right across from a cell tower, so I could confidently call ahead to North Bay and make plans for the following night (now that I wouldn’t be passing through it in the middle of a day).

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