Road Trip – August 2019

Day 3: Belleville to Harrowsmith 72km

Friday, August 23

Sunny with cloudy patches. 25C N wind

Mission accomplished!

After another fairly serious day of riding we ended up at our desired location – Gino’s Pizza in Harrowsmith.

After sunrise in Belleville I went back to bed!

We travelled on the road from Belleville to Napanee and then to Strathcona to the beginning / end of the Cataraqui Rail Trail. Our final 25 kilometres were spent riding along through sun dappled forests and alongside sunny farmer’s fields. There were a few rough patches of loose gravel but that only makes us work up an even more intense appetite.

Many breaks was the strategy we employed.

In Harrowsmith we were picked up by my Dad and we were greeted by the dogs too once we arrived back at the cottage. Swimming ensued! We are very fortunate to have such a generous and available support crew.

Road Trip – August 2019

Day 2: Cobourg to Belleville 82km

Thursday, August 22

Sunny with some clouds. 25C NW wind

It was really a great day of riding today. We rode from town to town in manageable spurts. The wind at our backs helped us up the gently rolling hills and we were able to coast down them pretty quickly.

From Cobourg we went through Grafton, Colborne, Brighton, Trenton and then Belleville. We rode exclusively along Hwy 2 even when the waterfront trail signs directed us otherwise. This strategy minimized our mileage and maximized our stamina. Before we knew it we had arrived and it didn’t feel like we pedaled another 80 kilometres.

Our food rations were basically depleted when we arrived at the hotel so we rode a short distance to the grocery store to stock up. If soups have defined our cold weather trips, frozen desserts might define this one…

Road Trip – August 2019

Day 1: Ajax to Cobourg 85km

Wednesday, August 21

Sunny, hot and humid with a nice SW wind.

With only a week to spare and the end of August approaching, my Mom and I decided to take a few days to ride our bikes from Ajax to the cottage in Kingston. My Dad and the dogs (and Duncan) are there already so we’d have a welcome wagon waiting and eventually a ride home.

So the road trip begins! We are getting more crafty on our trips like today when we hopped on the GO train in Whitby and rode it one stop to Oshawa which saved us riding between 5 and 10km. This so called savings we planned on spending later in the day – which we did when we rode the final 10km from Port Hope to Cobourg.

The weather was quite warm and the humidity was thick. There was a lovely tailwind that helped to push us along and when we were near Lake Ontario we could feel the cool water on the breeze.

We stopped for many snacks along the way including two separate lunches.

At this picnic stop at Bond Head we did cucumber facials to help cool down.

The waterfront trail has some very beautiful parts to it as it stretches along the North shore of the lake. We have ridden this route before so it is not as mind blowing as the first experience. That being said it was so hot today that I kept my camera packed while we rode and I didn’t take any pictures of the beautiful scenery we saw.

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 7: Stoney Creek to Hamilton to Aldershot 57km

Aldershot to Ajax by train

Total trip distance: 351km

Monday, May 20

Cloudy and cool 15C Strong N wind

The wind was howling from the west when we woke up and we knew this would affect our riding today. We were still uncertain where we would end up but we knew that we needed to get to Hamilton. We followed a bike route through the city and into to downtown and then to McMaster University. From there we decided to ride up through the Dundas Valley on the Hamilton to Brantford Rail. On a previous trip we had pedaled this section only going down the escarpment.

Being a holiday there were a lot of other people out on the trail which was nice for a change. Once we reached the top of the valley we were exposed to the west wind again. This prompted another change in plans.

We decided at this point to turn around and ride back down the trail into Hamilton and then carry on toward the Aldershot GO Train station where we started our cycling six days prior. This way we’d be riding with the wind, a nice way to conclude our Golden Horseshoe tour. One last hiccup had us hauling our bikes up 165 steps to reach the bridge on York Boulevard that would take us over the water toward Burlington.

When we arrived at the train station we purchased our tickets and then the train arrived. We got on board, secured our bikes and set out our picnic lunch. 2 hours later we arrived in Ajax and rode the remaining 6km home with the wind at our backs.

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 6: St Catharines to Stoney Creek (Greenbelt Trail) 60km

Sunday, May 19

Mostly sunny, hot and cold 27 / 15C SE wind

Today we navigated our way out of St Catharines along the Greenbelt Trail. This trail runs parallel to the Waterfront Trail but instead of following the waterfront it runs along the top of the Niagara Escarpment as hwy 81.

Riding on the road was a nice change for us and because it was Sunday the vehicle traffic seemed light. We stopped along the way in Jordan and Beamsville for snacks and to fill our water bottles.

The weather was strange too. An incoming weather system was pushing warm, humid air into the region but because we were so close to Lake Ontario there was a cold damp wind blowing. As we climbed up the Escarpment out of Jordan we hit the warm air mass and instantly started sweating. It was hot in the sun and the air was thick and sticky with humidity. A little further along as we descended a bit we pedaled into a mass of cool, damp air. Instantly it got cold. It was a drastic change in temperature and for us it meant coats on – coats off.

Nearing Stoney Creek we had a spectacular view of Hamilton and the Golden Horseshoe in general. Our route had us riding past Devils Punch Bowl Conservation Area before we turned onto Centennial Parkway and zoomed all the way down “the mountain” to our hotel at the bottom. Familiar territory but we went to a different grocery store for supper. We also bought extra food because of the Victoria Day holiday tomorrow.

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 5: Fort Erie – Niagara Falls – St Catharines 59km

Saturday, May 18

Partly sunny. Warm / cool mix. 14C NE wind

There was bright blue sky this morning when we pulled back the curtains in our room. My Mom suggested going for a walk to wake up so we took a quick tour of the surrounding neighbourhood before we ate breakfast. We saw a sign for a garage sale but we didn’t actually come across it.

Yesterday at the Bulk Barn we picked up yummy additives for our instant oatmeal (dates, coconut and ground flax) and so today we were both eagerly anticipating our first meal. We used the microwave in the room to hand craft our oatmeal and I made a cup of green tea for the road. Today was our earliest start so far, we pulled out of the motel parking lot at 9:30am.

It was a short ride to Mather’s Circle where we picked up the trail after leaving it yesterday. We passed under the Peace Bridge and followed the Niagara River north.

There were several other groups of cyclists out too and we waved and nodded as we rode along. The Niagara Parkway Trail is paved and parallels the road which fronts houses along the way. Big houses, small ones and in between too. New ones, older ones, modern and modest as well. It occurred to me that for all the mega mansions I’ve seen, I’ve never seen anyone sitting around in their expensive patio furniture enjoying their exclusive view – ever.

The city of Niagara Falls appeared in the distance as a staccato of glassy hotel spires. The mist from the falls could be seen from quite a distance too. As we got closer the river got quicker and more energetic and then we could hear the sound of the falling water roar.

We stopped for lunch by a row of magnolia trees in full bloom and as expected the place was busy with other tourists.

After we ate we made our way into the throngs of people and parked ourselves in the mist with a spectacular view of the falls. We were planning on staying up road and decided we would go and check into our room before venturing out again to see more sights.

At the motel we were quoted an expensive rate so we changed our minds, deciding instead to ride on. Thinking ahead as we do sometimes we ended up back in St Catharines in familiar territory. Upon arriving we were again quoted an unreasonable price for a room, but due to circumstances we couldn’t mitigate we checked in to stay. This is the same place we stayed a few nights ago and we walked to the same bakery and grocery store where we bought an entirely different supper. I guess we’re not going to Fallsview after all.

Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 4: Port Colborne to Fort Erie 40km

Friday, May 17

Sunny and warm 20C / Cloudy and cool 10C with a gentle SW wind

Today we slept in and admired the nice curtains in our motel room. We decided to have somewhat of a rest day today, aiming for nearby Fort Erie. There were a few shops in Port Colborne we wanted to see as well as the historic downtown. When we left the motel at 11am we took a short ride east of town, then south to the rail trail and eventually circled back into town by Sugarloaf Harbour. We locked up the bikes and then started exploring downtown on foot.

As we made our way north toward the bakeries and bookshop we’d seen yesterday we realized how far away they actually were. Too far to walk considering we still had to ride to Fort Erie and we hadn’t even had lunch yet. So we decided that we didn’t really need to see the bakeries and bookshop and made our way back to where our bikes were parked. Then we rode over the canal on the bridge and stopped at the start of the Friendship Trail where we had a trailside picnic lunch. It was cold when the sun disappeared behind the clouds with a cool, damp Lake breeze coming off Lake Erie. When the sun peeked out it was almost hot and we’d have to unzip jackets and take off our gloves.

Once we started riding toward Fort Erie along the Friendship Trail it was a lovely ride. The trail was paved and we’ll signed with road crossings and maps. With the wind pushing us along we made our way eastward. The trail eventually emerged from fields and farmland to a view of the sandy beaches of the lake. We passed by cottages and lake front homes before the Buffalo skyline came into view.

Then we saw the old fort of Fort Erie and peace bridge. At Mather’s Arch we stopped to get our bearings.

From there it was just a short distance to our accommodations for the night. All of the usual amenities are nearby too. Home sweet home..