Archive for September, 2011

A Short Day

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Today ended up being a short day. It started out well enough. The sun poked it’s head out from time to time as I cruised through Creemore and started climbing the Niagara Escarpment. At first I thought my rear tire was going flat, I just couldn’t get any speed going. It wasn’t until I looked at the altimeter on the GPS that I realized I had already climbed a few hundred feet. That climb was the easiest, but longest, way I’ve found to get up the escarpment.

But not long after I crested I started watching a big storm to the North near Collingwood knowing that storms can develop fast near the big lakes. And sure enough it did. Not long after the temperature dropped several degrees, the wind picked up enough that I had to brace my bike against it, and it began to absolutely pour. I was soaked through in minutes and getting cold fast with no where to take shelter. I sprinted in to Dundalk, the next fair sized town, and started looking for a motel and warm shower as I started losing feeling in my fingers. Finally got talking to some mechanics at an auto shop and the nearest motel was 4 miles down the highway.

So it was a short, but intense, day. The weather calls for only -1 tomorrow, but sunshine, so we’ll see how it goes, I have some time to make up

The Highs and the Lows

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Getting ready to head out on a trip like this you have to expect that some days will be good, and others just the opposite. Now that I’m ten days in, I don’t think you can realize just how much your mood will swing on the road until you’re actually out there.

I mistakenly believed that while out here I would be able to completely leave the outside world behind, but Tuesday I was ready to go home because of things happening in the outside world. Then Wednesday started out bad, but the combination of a great trail and the sun coming out just in time for an amazing view over high bridge made the day great. Then there was Thursday.

I started the morning still sore from the previous day, without much power in my legs, and it started to rain as soon as I hit the road and continued to pour all day. All this while riding bad roads with heavy traffic just North of the city. While stopped in Barrie for supplies some particularly nasty storms rolled through, one bad enough to force me right off the road. From Barrie I could continue West on my route, or take an easy rail trail North and home. I honestly think that at that point I only went West because I was already on the West end and didn’t want to go back through city traffic again. But that put me in an area with very few options for rest for the evening and a weather report calling for a big storm overnight and more rain the following day. I was ready to call it quits and was very close to calling for a ride home. But it’s morning, everything is soaking wet, but I only have a few more kilometres to go. So I expect to be yet again today, but the weekend is calling for sunshine.

Flying West

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

I’m always impressed by how great the rail trail between Peterborough and Manilla. Yesterday I seemed to be just flying along that trail and kept arriving at points west sooner than expected.

However my luck with good weather did run out, it was raining almost all day. But none the less, despite a 20km handicap over the last time I did this ride, was still able to make it to Sutton to visit a friend just ahead of the sunset.

Today’s plan is to find my way into Barrie for some new camera cards (these ones are filling up quick) then continue West in search of a new rail trail which should take me all the way to Southampton on the shores of Lake Huron – obviously that will take more than just today

1000km down…

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Just stopped on the high bridge West of Peterborough and noticed that I’ve passed my first 1000km of this trip. And for those of you who don’t know what high bridge is, wait until you see the pictures. The sun broke through the clouds just as I arrived, pretty amazing

Some Days…

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

I’m convinced there are some days that you should just never get out of bed… Today was one of those days.

I had expected an easy day into Peterborough so took my time getting moving in the morning and the day started out promising with blue skies and a good quality trail that was easy to find. That was the last of any of those I was to see.

The trail rolled along nicely for the first 20km or so with just a few soft spots. But as the clouds rolled in overhead, the ground softened under wheel. Hastings County allows ATV’s and farm tractors on the rail trail and both chew some sections up so that they’re almost unusable by touring cyclists. In one spot the trail had actually been partially plowed over.

Also, either the maps are wrong, or I’m so out of it that I missed an entire rail cut through a dense bush. I didn’t think they hid so well…

Stopped for the night in Duoro under a sky of lightning. Thankfully there’s a little shelter and my tent is free standing, so who knows, maybe I’ll be able to put my tent away dry for the first time tomorrow morning because of it.

Got some financial news from home today though and may have to head back early to sort things out. I’ll finally be to a town big enough to have a bank in the morning and see what happens… I guess the moral of the story is don’t expect things to happen a certain way just because they’re supposed to.

Eastern Ontario and Rail Trails

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Eastern Ontario, or at least Hastings County, doesn’t seem to understand rail trails. Where they exist, which isn’t always where the map says they do, they’re used as either ATV trails or as farm lanes. One section was even plowed over. May have to hit the pavement for a bit, but getting tired of staring at that white line. Starting to consider heading North at Lindsay instead of West and cut the tour short…

Aboard the Enterprise

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Started the day along highway 2 this morning. Nice spot along the shores of the St Lawrence but obviously has seen better days, a lot of boarded up buildings and things generally falling apart and then into kingston. Who knew Kingston had their very own Mississauga? I thought I was leaving town as you get the usual edge of town businesses, then crest a hill and see two big condo towers and rows of any stores. One could easily have mistaken it for Mississauga… and I don’t mean that as a good thing.

But spent the rest of the day in the middle of nowhere. But while there I stopped for ice cream in Moscow and spent some time in the Enterprise…or at least the town of Enterprise. For the record, Enterprise is pretty high tech – they had fresh new asphalt West of town, and was one of the biggest towns of my day outside Kingston – Enterprise had a general store, two stone churches, and a garage door retailer – it was huge.

Raced the sun into Tweed for the night and splurged on a hotel room – a shower, laundry, and a bed – utter luxury – worst nights sleep of the trip. Taking an easy day today, just want to get past Peterborough today then I’m just one days ride from a friend that I’ll try to meet up with

Climbs! How I’ve Missed them So

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Lessons for a sunday: the town of Smith’s Falls is confusing and they apparently don’t want people to find the Cataraqui Trail; the Cataraqui Trail sucks as a cyclist and doesn’t need to be found; and climbs are good.

I’ll tell you more about my adventure in Smith’s Falls after I get back, but with some mid-way route changes I found myself on some rolling, country roads and realized it was just what I needed. Along the Rideau everything was flat – and boring. Throw in a couple climbs and things get exciting. The road is filled with small victories. Maybe my life needs more hills.

Spent the night camped behind a church just outside Gananoque, and managed to pick the one night they had a function at night. Got invited in and spent a few hours with other people, such a shock after all this time on the road.

But just finishing breakfast in town and getting ready to hit the road once more. Swinging back fully West again this morning. Seems so soon to be making this turn. And seems so odd to have the sun at my left…

The Rain Caught Me

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

Today started with a scenic tour around Ottawa. It was amazing how much has changed at my old school. But within a few minutes of riding around Ottawa, seeing the number of people on their bikes enjoying the day, I realized I could move back here in a minute. I’m not a city person, but Ottawa’s never felt like a city.

The real shocker was the south end of the city. What was once a few farms and a couple industrial buildings is now a city in it’s own right approaching the size of Orillia. But hey, what would we do with farms? What have they done for you lately? The world is a strange place…

But starting to tire of Eastern Ontario – not much to look at around here. Tomorrow should change things up a bit. But found a Lions Club run campground in Merrickville and decided to call it an early night. Had a hot shower, clean clothes, and a good meal, feel like a new person. Though now sitting here at camp it feels strange having this free time.

Some bad news today. Had my first bout of rain for about fifteen minutes – I can handle that. And if anyone in the Ottawa area needs a good bike lock, I’m pretty sure mine is sitting at the side of Bank Street just below Walkley. I’ll send you the keys. That road is getting incredibly rough. I lost my water bottle there, didn’t realize my lock was missing until I got to camp tonight

On Getting Lost in French

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Quebec has cycling facilities figured out, without a doubt. Spent most of today on the Cyclopark PPJ – a 92 kilometre stretch of cycling path starting just one kilometer across the river. I had expected la Route Verte to be little more than designated bike-friendly roads. I wasn’t prepared to see an 8 foot wide dedicated bike lance physically separated from the road way. About 20km in, where I stayed for the night Thursday the path changes to an old rail line.

Started the day on a beautiful spot on the Ottawa River and made quick time trying to out run a storm blowing in from the West (successfully). Even ran into a school in Shawville having a running event along the trail. But it all fell apart at Wyman.

The route takes you through town then back out onto the 148 – a busy but not bad road. But then the signs just end. I found out when I reached Ottawa that ka Route Verte does turn off the highway to follow the river, but there’s no sign to tell you that. And then to make things even more interesting, the road splits into a four lane divided highway. The GPS didn’t give of any reasonable options so I pushed on, aiming to get off this road before rush hour began.

Success. The only time I really saw rush hour traffic was waiting in line to cross the Champlain bridge back to Ottawa.

But now it’s back to Ottawa to do some sight seeing before I leave and see what’s new in my old city and then south towards Kingston and Gananoque. I’ve made it around the first of the four big corners on this trip. Time to change direction.