Easter Ride: 39km

Sunday, April 20
Sunny, south west wind. 16C

I enjoyed a day off from my Sunday afternoon at Cafe Pyrus and did some yard work at Mrs King’s. It was such a beautiful afternoon I decided to go for a ride.

With the wind coming from the south west at a pretty good clip I figured it would be best to head into the wind first. I headed out King Street and onto Old King Street over the Grand River towards Sportsworld. Before reaching the 401 I was reminded of the new pedestrian bridge over the Grand River.

Last summer I had meant to get out and see the bridge, but never got out that way. So I pedalled off the main road in search of it and found myself riding through a deserted golf course. I circled the course but could not see a bridge in sight. There were some excellent views of the river.

image

After climbing the road up and out of the golf course, I continued my search. I rode through a relatively new subdivision and saw signs for the Grand River Trail. After investigating the remains of an old farmhouse I could see the Pioneer Tower in the distance.

image

I knew I was getting close after I picked up the Trail and saw an approaching cyclist. I asked her if there was a bridge up ahead and she confirmed, saying to just keep going. After a couple of short portages over some deep sand left behind from some flooding, the trail led me to the bridge.

image

Finally I had found it. I took my time crossing, stopping for a few photos at the mid point.

image

After the bridge, the trail meanders through another golf course, eventually leading to the pedestrian bridge over hwy 401.

image

This is another bridge I have never ridden across, only having seen it from the highway. I kept riding to Blair Road and then back to Shantz Hill where I climbed up the hill back into Kitchener. I retraced my route crossing over the Grand River For the third time. I took River Road to Krug Street for a little down time from the traffic and was back home just as the sun was going down.

Advertisements

Day 16: Mission to Florida Complete

Dania Beach to Fort Lauderdale Airport
Tuesday, April 15.
Partly cloudy, 28C

I didn’t set an alarm to get up and see the Lunar eclipse at 3:45am but was awake enough to sit up in bed and pull the curtain back. The Moon was high in the sky, right out our window, so I took my camera outside for a better look. I used the air conditioner as a make shift tripod and caught this picture between passing clouds.

image

Mom woke up too and got a nice look at the moon too. Then it was back to bed for a few more hours of sleep. Our alarms went off a little after 7am and we got up and finished packing. We took a short walk down the road before returning to our room for our yogurt and granola.
image

After we were organized we called Raul, our Haitian Angel and he said he’d be there to pick us up in 20 minutes. We got chatting with Maria, a neighbor of ours, while waiting for Raul and then right on time he arrived to pick us up.

image

It only took a few minutes to get to the airport and we checked in without any problems. We spent half an hour reassembling our bike boxes and then cleared security with flying colours.
image

Now we are waiting,
image

like you do in airports for our call to board.
image

Finally it was our turn and we shuffled onto the plane. We are seated beside the woman who we were chatting with in line and shared a few laughs together.
image

Lift off and we are away. Should be on
the ground in Toronto in two and a half hours and rumor has it that there is snow today. We shall see.
image

Bikes have arrived safely and our ride had perfect timing for our pick up. We are having dinner cooked for us tonight, but we get to make the salad.

Day 15: Mission to Florida

Lauderdale by the Sea to Dania Beach: 31km
Monday, April 14th
Sunny with some clouds, 31C

image

After a meager breakfast at the hotel we packed our bikes and headed south on the A1A towards Fort Lauderdale. It was hot and humid already, but pedaling into the wind helped keep us cool.

image

Our plan was to ride to the airport and then scout the route that we would take there on Tuesday morning. Everything was going smoothly until we saw a sign that read “Perimeter Road Closed”. This is the road we were going to ride on to get to our terminal in order to avoid pedaling on the curly-que highway. Turns out that there is a major road reconstruction project happening at the airport and our original route doesn’t exist anymore. We talked to a construction worker and got directions on how to get to the part of Perimeter Road that still exists. On the way there we passed through the Airport Green Belt which was a lush oasis nestled in beside the construction wasteland.

image

We followed his directions and picked up Perimeter Road On the west side of the airport. It was not as busy as the highway, but it was busy enough with cars and shuttle buses from the economy parking. With little or no shoulders we weaved on and off the road to allow some of the busses to pass. By the time we reached the terminal entrance we had circumnavigated the entire airport. This is exactly the reason we wanted to scout our route beforehand. 

image

We rode up a steep ramp to terminal one, probably the steepest hill of this trip. After catching our breath we continued on to terminal three where we will be departing from.

image

We took a break to fill our water bottles and visit the bathroom. The air conditioning also felt nice. We were ready to depart and head to our motel. All we had to do was pedal out of the terminals, pick up the number 1 heading south and then a left onto East Dania Beach Boulevard. Well it turns out that due to the construction, highway 1 south is not there anymore and the detour involves driving out on highway 1 north. We had no choice so we went down the ramp towards 1 North and then my rear tire blew with a loud bang. I had to walk and then drag my bike to the bottom of the ramp where there was a little bit of shade  and where it was relatively safe to work.

image

We only had one spare tube left and it wasn’t mine, the nozzle was slightly too big for the hole in my rim. I was able to use a utility knife to bore out the hole on the rim until the nozzle fit. After that I changed the tire pumped it up and we ready to go. We crossed over a grassy divide onto a side road and were back heading in the right direction. Again, this is why we decided to scout our route the day before. So we started off again and then all of a sudden BANG! My rear tire blew again. This time there was wire sticking out if the side wall of the tire and the tire was brand-new.

With no more spare tires or tubes we were stuck. We flagged down a truck and found out where we were exactly and the guy gave us the number for a taxi. He would have given us a ride, but was in a work truck. We called for a taxi and while I was on hold one drove by and we flagged him down. We quickly explained the situation and where we were going, only 3 more miles, and he reluctantly agreed to take us. He was on his way to pick someone up very close to our motel so I put the bikes in his trunk as quickly and carefully as I could, then we were on our way.

image

He figured out we were Canadian and him being from Haiti, had very nice things to say about Canada and Canadians. We told him that he really got us out of a bad spot and now we refer to him as our Haitian Angel. After scouting our route we have concluded that we should not pedal to the airport afterall. We will hire him to take us there in the morning.

It was so nice to get to our motel after all of our misadventures and our room was a lot nicer than we expected. We ate lunch which was all of the leftover snacks we were carrying and then took a few minutes just to relax. Still bewildered about my brand-new tire coming apart we decided to catch a cab to the bike shop where we bought it two days before. The guy that sold us the tire claimed that it was puncture proof and lined with kevlar and it’s no wonder he looked a little surprised when I explained and asked if I could return it. He agreed and we decided not to get another one. This is the first time I’ve been without a tire at all on a bicycle trip, but considering it is our last day, it’s understandable.

We got a ride back to the grocery store down the street from our motel and did our shopping for our last supper and breakfast in the morning. We have had a quiet night in, although we’ve had a lot of laughs recounting the days events. It is like Florida doesn’t want us to leave. We have set our alarms and should be in our way to the airport by 9am. We have our bike boxes with us and will pack our bikes when we arrive at the terminal. That is if nothing else goes wrong.

Day 14: Mission to Florida

In and around Lauderdale by the Sea: 21km
Sunday, April 13th
Rain, heavy rain and more rain. 26C

When we poked our heads out the door this morning it was pouring rain. We already had our own breakfast fixings so we ate in our room. When it was time to check out we rode down the street to our next hotel to see if we could drop off our bags before going for a ride, but their office was already full of luggage. It is a good thing we double bagged our clothes in the panniers because now we were heading out in the rain.

image

We weren’t planning on riding far, just an hour out and an hour back and we were both wearing our bathing suits to keep our dry clothes for later. We started by heading north towards Pompano Beach and it wasn’t long before we were almost completely drenched. I suggested that we stop to swim so at least we wouldn’t have to worry about getting wet. So we parked the bikes and walked onto the beach and then into the Atlantic. The water was slightly warmer than the rain and the waves were pounding. After a little while we went back to the bikes and carried on.

image

We stopped for another short break under a shelter in a park and the rain seemed to lighten. When we continued riding the skies opened up again as if the rain was waiting for us. We rode as far as Hillsboro Bay where the draw bridge was up, then we turned around.
When we got back to our hotel our room was ready and we rolled in absolutely soaked. It took us a few minutes to settle in and hang up all of our wet things. We walked to the store in our wet outfits to get our groceries for the day before finally getting changed.

image

Thankfully our dry clothes were still dry and we did a load of laundry to help spin out some water from our wet stuff.
We prepared our supper or late lunch and found a hockey game on TV. It was another great meal and we probably ate too much because both of us fell asleep for awhile afterwards.

image

Once we woke up we took a short walk around the neighborhood to freshen up and then started organizing some of our stuff when we got back to the room.

image

Tomorrow we will scout out our route to the airport for Tuesday and then continue on to Dania Beach for our last night in Florida.

Day 13: Mission to Florida

Sunrise to Lauderdale by the Sea: 44km
Saturday, April 12
Sunny with clouds, east wind. 28C

We left Sunrise one last time on the New River Greenway. It was hot already and we enjoyed every piece of shade that we could.

image

What we thought was a weird piece of wood at the side of the trail was actually an iguana and we flushed several of them along our route back into the canal. We followed the canal until the trail ended, then we made a short jig onto the 84 which has bike lanes. To reconnect with the other side of the New River Greenway we had to negotiate a minor construction site. The workers were more than happy to let us past and even moved their truck off of the trail so we could pass. After that we had our own little concrete highway running alongside the big highway.

image

After another minor detour we followed the 84 up and over another highway and finally were on Marine Boulevard. Earlier I noticed a bump in my rear tire and found that the tire was shredding and ready to split. There were a few bike shops closer to Fort Lauderdale we just had to make it there.

We stopped at the first shop we came to and got the replacement tire. After that we had a little picnic in the shade before carrying on. Finally we crossed on last bridge and Fort Lauderdale and the coast were in sight. We could even see Miami in the distance to the south.

image

Shortly after crossing the bridge my rear tire finally blew with a loud bang. We pulled over to the side under the shade of a tree and installed my new tire. After that we were on the coast following the A1A or North Ocean Drive. The bike lanes were handy as traffic came to a standstill. The Tortuga Music Festival was happening and there were people everywhere. We pushed on. A few more miles and we arrived in Lauderdale by the Sea and found the Dolphin Harbor Inn, our home for the night.

image

Our room is adequate and we settled in before biking up to the grocery store. It was going on 5 o’clock now and we had a very light lunch. We rode back to the motel and got to see the strip.

image

After supper we took a walk to the beach. We were prepared to swim, but didn’t as it felt too cool with the breeze.

image

The Moon was up and the sun was setting. The sand was soft on our feet as the water washed over them. We were starting to relax after another exhausting ride.

image

I think this will be a nice way to finish our journey and we plan on hanging around this area for the weekend.

image

We finished our walk by the pier and then made our way back to our room. We’ll be staying in town tomorrow night too, but at a different motel.

Day 12: Mission to Florida

In and around Sunrise: 38km
Friday, April 11th
Partly cloudy, east wind. 25C

Both of us slept in today and we made it down to the breakfast room with only a minute to spare. All the tables were full so we took our cereal back to our room and ate it in bed. After yesterday’s ride I guess we needed to catch up on our sleep. The pool was open and still in the shade so we decided a dip might help wake us up.

image

The water was refreshing and it was nice not to have to be racing around on our bikes. We did a few lengths and tried some synchronized jumping.

image

Once we were finished playing in the pool, we pedaled over to the grocery store to pickup our supplies for lunch and dinner. We made a nice salad in our room for lunch and then hopped back on the bikes and took the New River Greenway west to Markham Park. The park is only a mile or two away and has camping, a model airplane park, mountain bike trails and a target shooting range. We also saw an interesting dog park complete with an obstacle course. We circled the park looking for the levee trail that goes by the everglades and after speaking with a park attendant got heading in the right direction.

image

Just like the line on the map delineates, the everglades are like a desert of marshland that seems to go on as far as you can see. We rode the trail on top of levee for awhile into the wind, hoping to find somewhere to cross back over the canal. After double checking the map we realized that it would be miles before the next crossing and since this was supposed to be our rest day, we turned back.

image

Riding with the wind we made good time and were passing the shooting range again. Initially we thought the loud bangs were the sounds of construction, but as we approached we learned otherwise.

image

After checking out the park and finally seeing some everglades we stopped in at the hotel for our afternoon snack. Our next adventure was to ride up to the Sawgrass Mills outlet mall, apparently the largest outlet mall in Florida. 

The mall is near the arena so we were familiar with how to get there and it was only a couple of miles away. We were probably the only people who arrived there on bicycles and we locked them to some strange sculptural steel tower. We took a deep breath and went in.

image

None of the prices that we saw seemed any cheaper than any other mall, but both of us aren’t fond of malls in the first place, so what do we know. We made it from one end to another and actually stopped in a few stores to look around. In the end, I bought a new t shirt that I’m pretty happy about. After about 90 minutes we were done and rode back to our room for supper.

After eating we planned our next few days of the trip, at least in terms of what direction we will be heading from here. We are still pretty tired from yesterday and were happy to be having a lazy Friday night.

image

Day 11: Mission to Florida

Sunrise to Dania Beach to Sunrise: 81km
Thursday, April 10th
Sunny with some clouds and an east wind. 26C

Our mission today was to retrieve our bike boxes from the Amtrak station and deliver them to the motel we’ll be staying at our last night in Florida. So after breakfast we did just that. We took our bikes with one empty pannier each and stopped to buy some packing tape. We retraced our route from the train station yesterday and it started on the New River Greenway.

image

Mom spotted an alligator in the canal and shortly thereafter we stopped to read one of the signs that cautions users about alligators and poisonous snakes on the trail. Good thing we didn’t read that sign last night when we rode the Greenway in the dark. We arrived at the train station about an hour before a train was due so our baggage buddy Hunter was pretty busy. Eventually he was able to fetch our empty bike boxes for us.

image

Now both overnight and on the ride to the station I had been working out ways to transport these boxes on our bikes. My plan worked out and we were able to fold the boxes up and fold them over our luggage racks.

image

With one end tucked into an empty pannier, we taped each box to our respective bikes until they seemed secure.

The wind was tough to pedal into as we rode towards Dania Beach, but it didn’t really bother us or the boxes strapped to the bikes. Dania Beach is an area that is quite close to the Fort Lauderdale airport and because if this, we booked our last night of the trip at a motel there. We need to have the bikes in boxes in order to get them on the plane so this errand had a pretty high priority for us.

To get to Dania Beach we had to negotiate around two major freeways, the airport and the canal. After studying the map we tried to pick a route that would avoid most of these things. Florida is very busy and there have been several times now where our route appears to be a side street or secondary road when in fact it is a six lane road with filled with distracted, lead-foot maniacs hell bent on getting to the next red light. Today’s route was no different.

image

I swear at one point I thought we must have misread a sign and were destined for the I-95, but sure enough our bike lane would magically reappear. We persevered and made it to the Motel 6 in Dania Beach. We had to persuade the staff to store our boxes for us until Monday and after they figured out that the boxes were actually empty they were not as concerned with their liability. Mission accomplished. After a stop for a quick snack at a grocery store we rode back to the New River Greenway with the wind at our backs.

Then, the final 7 miles of the Greenway itself and we were back in familiar territory in Sunrise. By the time we got back to our hotel is was 6:30pm and time for our supper. The hockey game wad scheduled to start at 7:30pm so we ate and showered quickly and then hopped on our bikes and then rode to the arena.

We were possibly the only people there who arrived by bike, but our bright yellow jackets would prove to be an asset. While watching the game we were texting with family back home who were watching it on TV. They were able to hone in on our location and through the magic of PVR, took and sent pictures of us in attendance.

image

This was a highlight of the night because Toronto got their butts kicked again. We cheered for Florida and Luongo too, but I might be turned off pro hockey for good. Anyways, we had a lovely ride back to our hotel along a winding sidewalk and except for the part where I almost got taken out by some asshoke in a BMW, I’m glad that we rode to the arena.

Looking forward to a relaxing day tomorrow.