This morning began well when I confirmed that the videos I had left to upload through the night had indeed finished successfully. With work “finished” (seriously, I’m sure there will be more revisions), I set about packing up for the big day. Whether “big” is good or bad is a matter of perspective. Either way, if all went well today I would be back in Canada. Sadly, it would also be Ontario. For now.My next “long term” stop is set to be Delhi (population: not many). More specifically, my brother and sister-in-law’s place (while they’re off travelling across the country). The question of the day was whether I would get there today or tomorrow. If it would be the latter, it would mean two short (85 km) days of riding. If it would be the former, it would mean 170 km of riding today. With no plan in place for accommodation along the way, I decided I would push on and power through to Delhi today. I’ve done 170 km before, but not for a long time. And this would be the first time I actually PLANNED a ride of that distance. In the past, those long days just “happened”.
Of course, deciding to make today a long riding day was made easier by the fact that it was a beautiful morning. Sun shining. Warm temperature. I didn’t even bother with my long sleeve shirt. I know, I know … pretty bold for me!
The ride to the Peace Bridge was very easy and much shorter than anticipated. For some reason I thought it was going to be a 35 km ride but it ended up only being 25 km. It didn’t really matter. Either way, I was still planning on 170 km for the day. The shorter-than-expected ride to the border simply meant I’d be spending more time riding in Canada.The short distance to the bridge wasn’t the only surprise of the morning. Upon my arrival at the turnstile/gate on the U.S. side (the same turnstile/gate I passed through back in June) was now supporting a large orange construction sign which informed me that the sidewalk was closed and that a shuttle would take me across the bridge. I’m not one for putting my bike in/on a vehicle (that’s cheating, after all) but in this instance I didn’t have a choice. And since I would otherwise have had to walk my bike across, the shuttle didn’t seem so bad. That said, I still would’ve preferred riding across the bridge.
My big concern was how long I was going to have to wait for said shuttle. That question was answered promptly. I phoned for a shuttle and it arrived within ten minutes. Pretty impressive. Side note: the sidewalk is scheduled to be closed until the spring of 2019.
Today not only marked my return to Canada but it was also the first time I’ve cycled IN to Ontario. And yes, I found that a bit depressing. I’ve happily cycled OUT of Ontario three times (east, west, south) but in the first two instances my return had been on a plane. I guess I could make the argument that I didn’t actually pedal into Ontario as I was actually on the shuttle. Either way, I was back in Ontario. At least it was still a nice day. Side note: I opted not to have the drone follow me across the border from high above. Although the temptation to do so was high.
The border crossing was entirely uneventful. Upon reloading my bike after the shuttle ride, I slipped into one of the car lanes and a few minutes later I was officially back on Canadian soil. Well, pavement actually.
My route to Delhi required some necessary backtracking along the route I followed back in June. The route in question included a lot of trail riding: The Friendship Trail (mostly paved), the Gord Harry Conservation Trail, Blue Heron Way, and Lynn Valley Trail (all of which were mostly unpaved but not too bad for a loaded bike). The trails were helpful in blocking the wind to which I would’ve otherwise been exposed.
Along the way, I had a brief encounter with a cyclist from France. He had started in Vancouver and was heading south to the U.S. – clearly, he’s much smarter than I am. I informed him of the closed sidewalk and shuttle and he offered me his map of Ontario (I declined) before we went our separate ways.
My first major stop for the day was in Port Colborne where there was a slight delay in my progress as the bridge was up to allow a very large boat to pass. As I recall, the bridge was up when I passed through back in June.By this time I had been on the road for about four hours and was more-than-a-little hungry. Sure, I had cereal for breakfast but, as I said, that was four hours ago. Once again, I opted for a sub. And once again, not at one of those famous chain sub places. Instead, across the street from one of those famous chain sub places there was Archie’s Subs … a very busy place, I might add. Maybe because I got there shortly after noon. I went with a meatball sub with homemade meatballs and it was more-than-a-little good. And filling. Knowing I still had a long way to go, I opted to eat half for lunch and save the rest for later. I figured there wouldn’t be many food purchasing options along the trail. Plus, it was a really stuffed sub. Oh, and there may have been chocolate milk.
With my belly full, it was time to get back on my bike. Despite having pedalled 60 km this morning, I still had another 110 km to go. As it turns out, most of remaining ride was on actual roads (as opposed to unpaved trails) which was nice (wind notwithstanding) … although, most of the final 15 km was back on an unpaved trail.
Fast-forward several hours and I arrived at my brother’s place in Delhi. It was around 6:30 PM. Considering the wind, I thought a 170 km travel day of 10.5 hours was pretty good (a little over 8 hours of which was actually on my bike).
However, the adventure wasn’t over yet. Attempts to get into my brother’s place weren’t entirely successful as the intended route of ingress was very much un-ingressable (yeah, I know … not a word). A few texts to my brother revealed that the cause of such un-ingressability (yeah, I know … still not a word) was an unfortunate and unintended oversight by the current holder of the house key. A backup plan was needed.While exchanging texts to solve the problem my brother had contacted Diane, one of his fellow paramedic friends, who offered to put me up until the return of the key master on Monday. An offer that was very generous and greatly appreciated. However, before it came to that, Diane and I set about searching for alternate sources of ingress. It took some effort but Diane and I proved to be rather persistent and eventually created a “less traditional” point of entry. I won’t go into details. Suffice it to say that access to the interior of the house was successful. Side note: I have to say that I may have had far too much fun trying to gain access to the inside of the house. Thanks again to Diane!
After my somewhat long day on the road (not to mention my post-ride adventure), I spent the rest of the evening resting in front of the TV watching Archer. And eating. And eating. And eating.
Distance travelled: 171.70 km
Ride time: 8:10:38
Average speed: 20.99 km/h
Maximum speed: 43.58 km/h
While the title of this update essentially sums up the day, it’s not really a FULLY accurate assessment of the day. Yes, it was wet and then it wasn’t. But in between there was a progression from wet, to very wet, to VERY REALLY wet. And then it wasn’t. At all. One might even say it was sunny … and it’s not even Philadelphia (sigh).
It would be safe to say that today’s plan was vague. The only thing I really knew was that there would be biking. And there would be rain. The latter I only knew because Dale, last night’s host, checked the weather forecast. I rarely do that. I figure I can’t change it and it’s not going to affect whether or not I ride, so I generally don’t even think about checking the forecast. That said, I’m glad Dale checked because my rain covers are more effective for visibility than water repellency these days – especially the front covers. So, with the heads up regarding the pending rain, I was able to wrap up some of my more “water sensitive” gear in plastic bags.
I’m not sure when the rain actually started but by the time I crawled out of bed everything was more than a little wet. On the upside, the rain was limited to a bit more than a drizzle.
After an oatmeal breakfast (made by me, I might add … highlighted with fresh blueberries courtesy of Dale’s backyard), I loaded up the bike and suited up in my rain gear – which is really more about providing warmth from the wind than keeping the rain out. One way or another, when you pedal for hours in rain gear you’re either going to be wet from the rain or wet from sweat. Waterproof and breathable just don’t go together. And really, biking in the rain isn’t all that bad if it’s warm. And today was warm … ish.
Today’s destination was …. well, a bit unknown. I was planning on finding a motel tonight because I was hoping to finish off a freelance project by tomorrow morning. And that would be hard to do while wild camping somewhere. I figured somewhere south of Buffalo would provide a solution.
When I hit the road, the rain was what I would call a steady drizzle. Enough that you knew it was clearly raining, but the not the kind of rain the beats down on you and pelts your face into submission as you try to ride through it. Although, that would change. But fortunately, time was on my side when that happened.
I was about 35 km into my wet ride when I became mildly concerned that I had missed a turn. Fortunately, there was an open garage at the intersection in question so I figured I’d retreat to some shelter to check my map. There was good news twofold when that happened. First, I didn’t miss a turn. Second, just as I was about to return the road, the skies opened up and the rain came pelting down. I delayed my return to the road.
Things continued that way for another two hours but as I neared Arcade, NY there were actually glimpses of blue sky to be seen. As I arrived in Yorkshire, NY there was considerable blue sky to be seen. Considering the forecast had led me to believe I’d be riding in the rain ALL day, this was a VERY pleasant turn of events. I decided to celebrate with two whoppers for $6 in Yorkshire. Yeah, I know … we all have our own way of celebrating and apparently destroying my arteries is high on my list of celebratory methods. Don’t judge me!
An internet search while enjoying my lunch revealed a motel in East Aurora which looked like it would suit my needs. My vague plan for the day was becoming significantly less vague. I finished off my burgers and set course for the Bluebird Motel.
The ride to East Aurora ended up being beautiful. The sun was out. The sky was blue. The temperature was more than comfortable. And the wind was negligible. I certainly didn’t expect any of that when I set out this morning. If only I had some pizza to finish off the day.
I checked in to the Bluebird Motel without incident and promptly got my laptop up and running as I had more than a few videos to export and upload by morning. Fortunately, that could be done unsupervised. So, with my laptop working away I turned my focus on to more urgent matters. Pizza.
While the the Bluebird Motel is a bit isolated there are food establishments about 2 km down the road. And yes, there was pizza. I opted for Papa Geno’s based on the recommendation of the manager at the Bluebird. The challenge of course would be carrying the pizza on my bike – not that it would be a first. Moritz and I each did so in Sault Ste. Marie in 2014 … as I recall, it may have been too much pizza (if that’s possible).
Anyway, one of my favourite recent additions to my collection of gear is my bungee cargo net. Today only added to my fondness for said item. It was more than up to the task and made pizza transport completely effortless. I can’t believe I used to tour without it. Okay, yes I can. But it’s certainly VERY useful and effective.
Upon returning to the motel, it took all of 11 minutes to eat the pizza. While I probably (i.e. definitely) could’ve eaten more, I certainly didn’t need any more. Especially since I also bought chips and salsa while waiting for the pizza to cook and had that for dessert. Oh, and I bought milk too since my room has a fridge – strangely, it had two. Anyway, there will be cereal for breakfast tomorrow. Yup, the day may have started off slightly less than idyllic but today was another great day.
Distance travelled: 122.43 km
Ride time: 5:30:06
Average speed: 22.25 km/h
Maximum speed: 46.65 km/h
Due to the shorter distance of today’s ride, I didn’t get going until about 10:20. Sometimes I think shorter rides are tougher than the longer days because my brain (and body) kind of take the day off.
Much like yesterday, today’s ride included a big climb and a big descent. Unlike yesterday, I didn’t benefit from any sage advice and instead followed Google’s route. A route that took me on Parker Hill Rd. I’m pretty sure nothing good ever came from a street with the word “Hill” in its name. In all honesty, the hill wasn’t the issue – I kind of like hills. It was the gravel road that went up (and then down) said hill.Completing yesterday’s big climb was rewarded with a screamingly fast descent of fun. Completing today’s big climb was punished with an occasionally terrifying, brake-shredding, descent of terror. Seriously, I think Google owes me a new set of brake pads. Front and back! Grrrrr. Gravel roads aren’t fun at the best of times. Trying to manoeuvre down them at 45 km/h on a loaded bike with thin tires and no suspension is a good way to shorten life expectancy.
Anyway, having not shortened my life expectancy while surviving the descent of terror I returned to paved roads which, of course, were infinitely more pleasant. I guess that’s why Google then decided to put me on “The Wag Trail”. A trail comprised primarily of grass. GRASS!! Like Wimbledon (just to be clear, you don’t see many bikes at Wimbledon). Seriously, Google needs to buy a bike. For the life of me, I can’t understand why Google Maps would take me off an actual paved cycle route and put me on a trail that clearly was not meant for bicycles. Sure, it’s my own fault for following the route presented to me but it’s still pretty annoying. As you may have guessed, when the first opportunity came to escape The Wag Trail, I took it.
The most significant (and sad) aspect of the day was that it was my final day in Pennsylvania (for now). For a brief moment I actually don’t really know where I was. I looked one way and saw the “Welcome to New York” sign and when I looked the other way I saw the “Pennsylvania Welcomes You” sign. And there I was. In between them. No man’s land. Wherever I was, Goodbye Pennsylvania. I look forward to my return.
With the gravel roads, grass trails, and even Pennsylvania behind me, my day ended very well with another great Warm Showers stay. Admittedly, most of the night was spent doing some freelance work and wrapping all my gear in plastic bags. Apparently it’s supposed to rain tomorrow. All day. At least it’s going to be cold. Sigh. Why am I heading north again?
Distance travelled: 68.02 km
Ride time: 3:35:15
Average speed: 18.96 km/h
Maximum speed: 48.87 km/h