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Man! Dis is de life! I dun know what you was complainin’ ‘bout earlier ‘cause dis is smooth sailin’ brudder.”

Thierry is straddling the white front reflector on my bike. He has managed to steal a little cowboy hat from a gas station/souvenir shop just outside of North Bay. There were some Western action figures for children on sale. He tips it forward to shield his eyes.

“You weren’t there, Thierry. Trust me. Two 100 kilometre days in a row through rain. Climbing hills as steep as ski slopes. I had to walk up most of them. That whole section of highway was cut out of sheer rock, pal.”

Nevertheless, I am also enjoying the sudden change from blasted rock corridors to a wide, flat plain with farms on either side extending to the tree line in the distance.

“Listen, brudder! Listen to dat!”

Silence. For about a minute there is no traffic from either direction. Not silence, really. But briefly the dry rattling of leaves in the wind. Bird song. Ducks in the marsh by the gravel shoulder produce a kind of chortle. It almost sounds like an affable “hello”. It’s a little disconcerting.

“Hey! Check dat out!”

A little girl is bouncing on a trampoline behind a farmhouse. There are horses in a corral behind her. She waves. We wave back. She is suddenly shy, stops bouncing and lies face down with her head buried in her arms. A group of Harleys overtakes us with a roar.

“Way to break de mood!”

I reach down and shield Thierry from view. He is giving them the finger. I’ve met plenty of nice folks on Harleys… but no use pushing our luck.

“So when we gonna eat?”

“We passed a sign for a Tim Hortons. Another 10 kilometres, maybe.”

“You wanna split one o’ dem new BiebsBrews?”

“Not really.”

We get a turkey and bacon sandwich, chocolate milk, and a plain black coffee. At one point Thierry ventures off to scrounge around and comes back rolling on top of a Timbit like he was some circus act.

“You eat like a monk, man. You should live a little.”

“We’re on a budget, Thierry. And the Quality Inn back in North Bay was a little more than we  could afford.”

“But dat hot tub. Ahhhh.”

After a visit to the North Bay Library and a couple hours hanging out at Coles (sold four books and left six signed copies behind) Thierry and I had a pretty luxurious evening. Well… luxurious by bicycle touring standards. And hot breakfast included. But the next two nights are tenting.

“You want de rest o’ dis Timbit?”

“No, Thierry, it was on the floor.”

“Your loss.”

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