Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 2: Stoney Creek to St. Catherines 54km

Wednesday, May 15

Sunny and warm with an afternoon thunderstorm. Light West wind.

Neither of us trusted the forecast we saw this morning when we got out of bed. Sunny skies and double digit temperatures. I actually put on Sun screen, but had my feather vest in my hands as we checked out because it couldn’t possibly be warmer than 10C. It was and I reluctantly tucked my vest into my pannier before riding away from the hotel.

Once we had picked up the waterfront trail again it only took a few minutes of pedalling for both of us to request a stop to take off more clothes. This time it was my sweater that got stuffed in alongside my feather vest. Every now and then there was a gush of cool air off of Lake Ontario, but generally it was a lovely, warm Spring morning.

Riding with the wind at our backs we sailed through Grimsby and past Lincoln. Pretty soon 2 hours had gone by and I realized that I hadn’t taken a picture of anything. I started to pay attention and to wonder what I might document for today’s ride. I had noticed several Magnolia trees spectacularly in full bloom, but didn’t want to break our rhythm to stop for pictures. It was when we rode alongside an apple orchard bursting with puffy, pink blooms that I tried to snap a few pictures while rolling past at 25km/h. By the time I opened up my phone – ignored several push notifications, closed the map App and initiated the camera – we had pretty much passed the cotton candy colured orchard and it’s diverging linear rows of trees. I was a little disappointed but vowed to pay more attention to the passing beauty even if it meant not having pictures to prove it.

Soon after the orchard we stopped for a roadside picnic. Our pantry was not overflowing after our triple supper yesterday but we did have a small piece of cheese, a small piece of cucumber, half an apple and 6 grapes each to tide us over. Our rest stop would have been shady had the leaves on the tree been out, but since they weren’t, we were still in partial sun. After our quick snack we continued on, riding mostly along the North service road alongside the QEW.

2 cyclists approached from behind and the second one pulled up alongside for a rolling Q&A. His name is Jerry, a local out for a ride. He queried about us, our departure point and destination. He ended up inadvertently escorting us into Port Dalhousie all the while directing us along the best possible route. He also dropped back to visit with my Mom and he didn’t hesitate to wave cars past as they qued up behind him. By the time he rode off without us we were in St. Catherines.

It didn’t take us long to find somewhere to stay and it didn’t take us long for us to find some more food to eat. A little local bakery / deli had our mouths watering and provided the inspiration for our dinner this day. The regular grocery store is where we stocked up on the essential items like fruit and vegetables. It poured rain while were shopping and the rain stopped while we walked back to our room. It rained again while we were eating with some rumbling thunder and a flash or two of lightening.

Once again we have eaten most of the food before I could photograph it. Will try again tomorrow.


Spring 2019 – Ontario: The Golden Horseshoe

Day 1: Ajax to Aldershot to Stoney Creek 32km

Tuesday, May 14

Cool and cloudy with a light North wind. 11C

The weather wasn’t nearly as inviting as it should be at this time of year in Southern Ontario but cloudy and cool are actually perfect conditions to cycle in. You get to wear most of your clothes instead of sunscreen and no sweat means no laundry generally speaking.

My Mom and I left my parents place in Ajax just before 10am and rode our bikes 5km to the Ajax GO Train station. We had enough time to purchase our tickets and haul our bikes down the stairs, under the tracks to the elevator and up to the westbound platform. Once we boarded the train we had 2 hours to sit back and look out the window. At Union station in Toronto most of the other passengers got off the train and a whole new bunch got on. We passed through Oakville and Burlington and then Aldershot – the end of the line.

Once we got back on the bikes it was a short ride down to the waterfront where we stopped for a picnic lunch. Carrying on along the Waterfront Trail we crossed over the Burlington canal just in time to watch the lift bridge opening for a passing ship. Though the lake looked calm, every now and then a big swell would crash against the breakwall sending a big plume of spray skyward.

This time of year is when the lake bugs hatch in full force and we had our bug nets and bandannas ready for the occasion. The trail along Hamilton Beach is a wide, paved pathway and the riding was so nice that we overshot our turnoff to Stoney Creek by a few kilometres. Once we turned back we were off the trail and riding under the QEW into the Power Centre where our accommodations for the night are located.

After settling in to our room and stowing our bikes we set off on foot to see the sights. Actually, we went straight to the grocery store to satiate our foodly desires! Back in our room we had a three course supper. Veggies and dip, soup and then crackers and cheese. After supper the sun came out and we’ve been staring out the window watching all the people come and go and wondering what kind of food they may have purchased..

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 16: Saint-Faustin to Saint-Jérôme 68km

Our final day. Trip total 699km

Tuesday, November 6

Cool and wet. Lots of rain. 6C SE wind

After consulting numerous sources for a drier weather forecast they all seemed to reach the same conclusion. Today was to be WET.

Leaving the motel in Saint-Faustin the skies were certainly grey, but it was only sprinkling rain as we rode up the highway to rejoin the trail. There was a strong SE wind, precisely the direction we were heading. After reaching the trail we were sheltered from the wind but because we were at the summit of the trail – nearly 400 metres above sea level – there was still some wet snow covering our path. Some of f it was easy to ride over and some of it wasn’t. There was one stretch where we walked the bikes for nearly a kilometre. This actually helped to warm us up a bit.

It rained all day. Even though we’ve had about two weeks to practise dressing for cold and wet, our layers and rain gear were no match for the persistent precipitation that pelted our persons. It was too wet to take pictures with my phone and I also had plastic bags over my gloves to keep my hands warm. If a picture paints a thousand words, then hopefully some words can help to paint a picture.

It rained so much today that I hardly had to sip from my water bottle. There was constantly water on my face, dripping into my mouth. My mitts ended up with water in the bottom of them. My shoes were soaked. My rain pants slowly started leaking. Cool rain running down my legs. My wool touque kept the rain at bay but eventually my neck warmer let a few drops seep through back behind my ears.

By the time we arrived at the car rental place in Saint-Jérôme we absolutely dripping wet – all over their floors and counter top. After loading the bikes into the back of the SUV we got changed into dry clothes and hit the road. It was a treat being dry and warm again. We stopped for food at the last grocery store before the Ontario border for roast pork and maple – cheddar cheese. We are staying in Kingston tonight, near where we started our trip 16 days ago.

My Mom summed up our day and our trip with a limerick:

There once were two people on bikes.

They loved to pedal – but yikes.

They pedaled in rain and

they pedaled in snow

Those crazy two people on bikes.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 15: Riviere Rouge to Saint-Faustin 65km

Monday, November 6

Cloudy and cold with a bit of snow and rain. 2C SE wind

After yesterday’s beautiful sunshine today’s silver skies were a reminder that it actually is November. At least the day started out dry.

We noticed brand new trail signs along our route today as we retraced our route down the Petit Train du Nord. Past Lac Mercer, Mont Tremblant and Saint-Jovite.

The snow started again after lunch as we pedaled toward the summit of the trail. We persevered uphill and stopped for a photo-op overlooking the quarry.

Our final push has us sailing along Hwy 117 for just over a kilometre to our motel in Saint-Faustin. We have 3 small suppers planned for the rest of the day; soup, burgers and fries and beans with toast. Looks like tomorrow might be our final day of riding and it is forecast to be a wet one! Stay tuned..

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 14: Mont Laurier to Riviere Rouge 77km

Sunday, November 5

Sunny and cold. 4C W wind

The weather was great for riding today. It seemed like we hadn’t seen sunshine in a week!

Before we left Mont Laurier I realized that we were missing something. Our mascot and travelling buddy Lambie was nowhere to be found! We looked under the beds, unpacked all our bags and still couldn’t find her. Ironically she was last seen during our picnic lunch on the side of the trail near Guenette. It was there where I took some pictures of her tucked into the back pocket of my pannier which I posted as part of our day’s adventure riding toward Mont Laurier on Friday. After her photo shoot, once we started riding again, we rode through several really bumpy sections of the trail. This is where we figured she might be.

Both of us scoured the trail with our eyes as we rode barely paying any attention to the scenery which is pretty nice on this stretch of trail. Hoping we’d find her either on the trail or along side it we remembered the time that we found Gloria’s green jacket 13 miles from Washington DC. We considered that someone may have found her and taken her home. I even entertained the notion that perhaps we had inadvertently reunited her with whomever lost her in British Columbia in the first place… so as we were riding, scanning the trail ahead of us, I spotted something pink in a tree to the right of the trail. It was Lambie! We were so relieved. We left a thank you note – with a link to the blog – hanging on the branch where they left her.

The remainder of our ride today was much more relaxing and we were able to soak in all of the sunny scenery.

For lunch we made a picnic at a table in the sun.

In the afternoon we saw more people on the trail than we have in the the last week. Once we arrived in Riviere Rouge at the Bar-Resto-Pub Motel we unloaded our bags and pedalled to the IGA. The sun was setting behind the hills in the west as we made our way home.

Another great supper in our room and we have been planning the final days of our ride back to Montreal.

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 12: Nominingue to Mont Laurier 57km

Friday, November 2

Cool and cloudy with a hint of rain. 4C NE wind.

We slept soundly and we slept in! Our room was nice and warm and the beds were very comfortable. Being the only guests we also had the breakfast room to ourselves to enjoy our porridge. We toasted our leftover bread and ate it with peanut butter and jam. After checking out we spent quite awhile on the front porch getting our layers of clothing – plastic bags to cover our gloves – just right.

It must have rained overnight because the roads were wet. We could see tiny ripples in the puddles so we were prepared for more rain. Our route today started off with a 20km uphill climb, albeit a gradual one. Pedalling uphill keeps us warm in this weather and we had to stop twice to undo zippers and remove layers. After reaching Lac-Saguay it was all downhill!

The final 33 kilometres were a treat and we sailed along at top speed. Near Guenette we stopped for a snack in the caboose shaped rest stop, one of many along Le Petit Train du Nord.

What we anticipated being a gruelling ride in the rain turned out to be fast paced, dry and fairly effortless.

Coming into Mont Laurier there was a detour with only 2 kilometres to go. Unfortunately we ended up having to ride on the main road / highway to get to our hotel. Our hotel, fortunately, is surrounded by grocery stores, bakeries and a cheese shop!

Fall 2018 Ontario and Quebec

Day 11: Labelle to Nominingue 39km

Thursday, November 1

Overcast. 5C

Cell block 7 is the nickname we gave our room in Labelle. Although it was warm and fairly clean we were excited to get going in the morning. We ate our leftover yogurt and I made tea from the hot water tap, then after packing, we fastened the padlock and checked out.

There was a chance of rain in the forecast, but thankfully it didn’t materialize and we enjoyed a dry day of pedalling. The section of the Petit Train du Nord we rode along today was paved which also was a bonus.

After our picnic lunch in Riviere Rouge we spotted some deer enjoying their lunch.

The final leg of our journey today had us arriving in Nominingue by 1 o’clock and we had two hours to kill before we were able to check in to the L’Auberge de la Vieille Gare. We took a walk around the small town and discovered a small grocery store and half a dozen hair salons. I was expecting to see everyone in town sporting a fancy hairdo, but a lot of people were wearing hats.

Upon checking in we were treated like royalty. I even had my luggage carried upstairs to our room. We are the only guests staying here tonight and rumour has it that we are the last people cycling on Le Petit Train.