Wednesday, 19 August 2015

On some photos being posted

I have posted photos of my trip.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

On a new cyclist

Alice has posted on Facebook that my niece Anna has learned to pedal!  Way to go Anna!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

AMUAM JuNITO finito!!!

Short version: I got back to my flat at half past noon to finish AMUAM JuNITO in grand style.

Small update: I covered 1538 kilometers on this trip, not counting the rest days in Toronto when I didn't have the computer installed.

Long version:

We left the motel in Côteau-du-Lac in good time and rode down the main street to find a restaurant for breakfast. An older man (in his seventies or so) was on the terasse and as I arranged Leonardo for the meal, he asked "Vous venez de loin, les jeunes?"  (I don't think he had seen the Parents.)  I indicated that we had only come from the motel this morning, but we had started in Toronto. I think he was taken a mite aback when he saw my parents join me for breakfast!

After breakfast, we rolled along the Route Verte which was on the tow path of the Soulanges canal. This brought us over the newly extended Autoroute 30 which was particularly wide as there was a toll plaza nearby. The tow path was very pleasant to ride upon. Alas, it ended all too quickly and there was paucity of signage indicating where to go next. The Paternal Unit was some what obnoxious in wanting to know why I proposed to take a particular route onwards. The problem was that it based on a combination of careful scrutiny of less than satisfactory map, consultation of Google Maps on my iPhone, a well-honed sense of geography and an educated hunch. None of this was easy for me to convey quickly to my somewhat obtuse Papicito. My route brought us to Île Perrot with little trouble.

My plan had been to get the Parents onto the Island of Montreal and Lakeshore Road. There, I would have left them to proceed at my own speed back to my flat and they to car parked in Dorval. However, Mummy insisted that I leave them on Île Perrot. My Father later commented I was like horse smelling its home stable. So I left them. I later heard a something about them having to climb a steep hill which sounds suspiciously like they got lost in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, something I would have thought hard, as the Route Verte dumps you on Lakeshore.

There was truth in what my Father said as once on Lakeshore, I was home. Having ridden that road before, I could have easily claimed that I had completed my goal as I could now claim AMUAM JuNITO was complete as I have ridden from Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue to home several times. Actually, technically, I was finished. However, it would have been problematic to find another way home at that point. Also, it was still morning.

I pedalled along the familiar streets at a good clip, feeling quite pleased with myself (as well I might). My progress was slowed when I came across a street fair which blocked the traffic to pedalled bike traffic. I pushed Leonardo through the "obstacle" and remounted beyond. I rolled and possibly zoomed along beside the St-Lawrence. I was surprised to get a text message from Mummy that they were stopping for lunch as it was hardly even noon, if that. I replied that I was in Lachine and would head on home before lunch. In fact, I stopped at the Dairy Queen in Lachine for a Blizzard before using the Lachine Canal bike path to get to St-Henri. As I did so, I spotted a snapping turtle on the edge of the Canal.
The Canal bike path being what it is namely familiar and flat, I made very good time.  I was soon back at my flat. I was very pleased to find one of neighbours sitting on her doorstep as it gave me an audience and someone to take my picture! The picture below was taken at 12:32 PM!
I hauled my gear up and set about securing lunch, which took the form of Chalet-Bar-Q, the traditional post exercise feast of the maternal side of my family. Admittedly, it was more traditional after skiing, but it felt appropriate! Also, it was an easy option. While waiting for lunch to arrive, the Parent arrived by car. I can't accurately remember the precise order of subsequent events, however they included the opening and drinking of a bottle of bubbly I had bought in the Okanagan and had put in the fridge before leaving for the Soo, the arrival of lunch, my eating of the same in my bike shorts and no shirt as it was a muggy day and the Parents taking their showers.  As it was still fairly early, they didn't stay for supper and left for home.

Friday, 14 August 2015

On...tario finito

I suppose it was inevitable. Then again it might have been sheer random chance, but there is something highly unlikely in the timing. When I crossed the border between Ontario and Quebec and the end of the Waterfront Trail and at the beginning of the Route Verte, it began to rain. Not terribly hard but enough that I dug out my soft shell jacket and switched to my second best pair of biking gloves. To be fair, there had been a light shower near Lancaster and more rain had been threatening, but it seemed a little peevish of the weather to mark my return to Quebec with only the third time I had needed rain gear on this trip. It felt a bit like the ending to Passport to Pimlico when after a prolonged period of sunshine throughout the movie, when it is officially announced that Pimlico is back in England the skies open up with a torrential downpour and the temperature drops visibly!

We had left Long Sault relatively late in order to not have to wait too long at the Lost Villages Museum which Mummy wanted to see. When we got there, we were still early, but from looking in the windows we could tell that it was a country museum of old bits and pieces rather than a museum about the villages that were moved to make way for the Saint-Lawrence Seaway. Mummy remembers going to see it being built in a special steam-hauled excursion train. Consequently, we didn't wait for the museum to open to go inside.
 Just before downtown Cornwall, the Waterfront Trail took us by the R.S. Saunders power station, which posted the enviable sign of 6160 days since the last time lost accident. The Library were I work doesn't have that good a record! There was a visitor centre nearby which a worker hauling big water bottles on a cargo trike suggested we visit. It did feature some information about the Lost Villages but given the nature of the beast, its spin on the displacement was of the upbeat, "we did it for the overall good and we moved the houses, built new schools, etc. and we eventually apologized to the Mohawks" variety. There was a lot more about the generation of electricity, eel ladders and the building and the opening of the Seaway.
The museum even had the chairs that the Queen and then Vice-President Richard Nixon had sat on for the event. It also had a "detonator handle" you could push to start a film clip of a cofferdam being blown up. The Saunders the dam had been named after had been a huge booster of the Seaway project. Unfortunately, the man who'd been mayor of Toronto was killed in a plane crash shortly after the megaproject was begun. Much of his work had been shaming the reluctant Americans into getting involved. In the parking lot, I noticed there was a spot reserved for electric vehicles, complete with a recharging station.
As we entered Cornwall, we passed under a bridge being dismantled, girder by girder. As we were crossing a small bridge while leaving Cornwall, I noticed a log structure in the stream with three turtles on it of two different species. One had a very smooth looking shell, the others much more rough.

Since Kingston, Mummy had been desirous of seeing a ship in the Seaway. Her wish was granted near Summerstown when the oceangoing ship the Federation Hudson hove into view. We stopped to watch her go by. From the maple leaf incorporated in the company logo on her smokestack, I assumed she was a Canadian vessel. In writing this entry, I have learned she is registered in Hong Kong but owned by Fednav, a Canadian company based in Montreal.
Once across the border, there was a distinct change in bikepath design. For one thing, it no longer favored the waterfront. In fact, when the Route Verte encountered a bit of suburbia, it went away from the river on a rather tortuous (but well-paved) path designed keep cyclists from bothering drivers. One section ran through a forest near a marsh. There was suddenly a lot of very small frogs jumping off the bikepath. I hope I didn't hit one. So, here I am having done as much of Ontario as I am likely to do as part of AMUAM JuNITO and only a very little left of the whole thing. Something on the order of 30 kms as once I get to Ste Anne de Bellevue, I will be on roads I have ridden from home!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

On a mystery bird

Brendan served us up a mighty fine breakfast worthy as his birthplace in Dublin. He steered us to a suitable place to get sandwiches in Brockville. This proved to be kitty corner to a farmer's market where I bought some maple sugar tarts for elevenses.

To be honest, today has seemed to fly by with the exception of getting a bit turned around in the parking lot of Upper Canada Village. Mummy was anxious to see a heron for some reason. We went through a nature reserve that was reputed to house many of them. We saw a couple but I saw something odder. On a sandbank with gulls and Canada geese was something white, shaped like a heron with a yellow beak and black legs. It was fairly large, taller than the geese. I took some pictures at high magnification and stared at it with my binocs. For the time being it is "mystery" heron like bird but my working theory is that it was likely a cattle egret which I have seen in Southern California but never in Canada. Where's the bird book when you need it?

On visiting the unseen places

A little after leaving Kingston Pappy and I were passed by a Bison 8x8 armoured vehicle complete with a what appeared to be a radar on a telescopic mast. It made a U-turn in front of me and went back the way it came.

A persistent set of early childhood memories is that of driving along the 401 between Toronto and either Montreal or North Hatley. These were somewhat epic affairs given two adults and up to four small children in a car as small as a Volkswagen Type 3 Station wagon. It was undertaken 2 or 3 times a year though we sometimes took the Turbo (i.e. the train). While 2 or 3 times per annum isn't much on the face of it, for a small child it adds up. One persistent part of these memories and those of many other trips along the 401 (and by train) is all those names of places on signs that we didn't stop at such as Cobourg or Brockville. Places I haven't been to hold a certain fascination, especially in a case of so near yet so far. This trip has meant I have actually got to visit some of these "mythic" places.

One of them proved to be a serious treat for cyclists, namely the Thousand Islands Parkway. It had been built as part of the Toronto to Montreal highway possibly as early as the thirties. When the 401 came into being, it was incorporated into it to the annoyance of those who had built houses on it. In about 1968, it was relieved of duty by a new route for the 401 and in 1970 became the Thousand Islands Parkway. At some point in its past, it went from being a dual carriageway to being a single carriageway, leaving behind the basic infrastructure of that carriageway including the bridges. Since then, they have used this space to put in a lovely paved bike path for the whole length of the Parkway. It made for a very enjoyable bit of cycling. Parents enjoyed it particularly as they were more able to relax their vigilance and take in the landscape more than they had been.

The weather was very nice: cool, fairly sunny and finally a West wind. As has been our habit, late in the day I left the Parents behind to get to the end of the day's journey more quickly. I rolled into Brockville admiring some magnificent houses and stores that spoke of considerable 19th century prosperity as well as reasonable 21st century wealth. As I rolled along the main street, I spotted an ice cream shop and stopped for an orange pineapple milkshake. The girl behind the counter asked me where I had biked from. She was surprised and impressed by my answer and that of my parents. As well she should. Within five minutes I had retold the story two more times getting the same reaction. The last time was at the local bike shop which is particularly gratifying. (I am trying to get the phrasing right on this as a standard turn of phrase irks Mummy.) In biking between Canada's two largest cities, we are not doing something utterly unheard of. Nor are we going particularly fast or far per day. However, we are doing something that most people find hard to imagine even if many of them might actually be able to do given the right equipment, good guidance and a bit of practice. I don't find it that hard, but then I have all but done it. It is sometimes difficult to remember that. So, without undue false modesty, I can say that what we are doing is indeed relatively remarkable especially the Parents given their age. The Parents independently decided to stop at the ice cream store in a clear cut case of great minds think alike.

After we had finished, Mummy went on the B&B while Pappy and I went back half a block to a bike shop. Brendan, the owner and manager of the King Orchard B&B was a wonderful host giving us the rundown on the various eateries in town and an aperçu of the history of Brockville and its considerable past glories.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

On getting to Kingston and what I did there

We left the Barn in Prince Edward and rode on a variety of back roads recommended by Cathy in pleasant sunshine albeit with a slight East wind. Since Toronto, the wind has been uncharacteristically uncooperative. We rejoined the Wayerfront Trail around Bloomfield. We made decent time to the Glenora ferry waved on by 18th century Union Jacks, i.e. just the crosses of St George and St Andrew. These are the chosen of the descendents of the Loyalists who settled the area under that flag. I would have liked to buy one in order to tease the Paternal Unit, but no joy even in Kingston.

 On the ferry, we held our arms out from our bodies to let the breeze dry our sweat. This devolved into pretending to be cormorants drying our wings. After the ferry, I left the Parents to proceed at their pace whilst I sped ahead. At Finkle's Park, I chanced upon a couple of young guys on their way to Maine from Seattle. Joel was riding a bike from 1975 that must of have been older than he was! Like a number of the cycle tourers I have met on this trip, they didn't have front racks. Now that I think of it, MEC only had one model for sale. Joel and his buddy Gabe looked like they had started out from Seattle clean shaven but had left their razors behind. ;-)
 The parents caught up to me as I had lunch. We rode loosely in loose proximty to the edge of Kingston. As traffic lights slow the Paternal Unit down significantly, I left them to make their own way to our destination, namely the house of Cookie, a very accomplished and slightly eccentric friend of Mummy's from their days at the Penguin Ski Club. In order to gain access to her house, I had to cross a portion of CFB Kingston, complete with signs ordaining the priority of marching soldiers! I found her house at the end of wooded lane and let myself in as she was out at an art gallery displaying her paintings. Her house had been built by her mother and rather reminded me of Aunt Lorna's house in that it was built on a slope with the bedrooms below and kitchen above. The Parents arrived a bit later and we made ourselves comfortable in the rooms assigned to us. Cookie appeared a bit before six. We had supper with her and her neighbor Jean, a somewhat shaky but spry older woman who is clearly a dear friend of Cookie's.

While parking my park in Cookie's garage, I noticed that her rear mudguard had seen better days. Over supper, I inquired if I might repay her hospitality (we would be there for two nights) by replacing her rear mudguard. She graciously declined. Mummy then made an ungracious about how men always want to weigh down women's bikes with "unnecessary" bits and pieces. This was a clear reference to my attempts to get her to carry a second water bottle in a cage and when I installed a rear mudguard on her bike as a Christmas gift for the benefit of herself and Désirée who would be starting to be hauled in a bike trailer by Mummy and others. (I felt that it would hard on Désirée to get sand in her face.) It has been two years since the trailer was retired and Mummy hasn't removed the mudguard. Hence, I found her comment a bit unfair.

We talked about plans for the rest day on the morrow. I mentioned I was going to see the Meagher house plaque which I had seen unveiled in 1984 with Granny. Cookie being an long time Kingston resident, produced a book about the buildings of Kingston which included it. I noted some particulars. The next day, we split up to do our own things: Pappy wanted to read chez Cookie, Mummy and I both had museums in mind but in different ones at least at first. We also items to buy and we agreed to meet for lunch at an Indian restaurant with Cookie. My first stop was the first I came across: Fort Henry. It is a splendid example of mid 19th century fortification and its only actual use was to house prisoners from the 1837-38 uprisings and enemy aliens during the First World War. There was a traveling exhibition about the latter. I fell into a guided tour which cunningly took us through the old bakery which was still being used to bake mouth-wateringly delicious smelling bread available for purchase in the gift shop, no free samples available. ;-) The fort had been designed quite cunning and cold bloodedly with carronades positioned to grape shot into the ditch from positions in the outside wall which were accessed via a tunnel from inside the fort. Unexpectedly, the fort was mainly designed to withstand an assault from the landward side rather than the river as an amphibious assault would be so much easier to repel. As I left, one of the tour guides in period uniform brought out a goat graze on the the lawn. I joked to another guides/guards: "Ah, the Regimental lawn mower." I bought a wonderfully tacky guardsman T-shirt and some baked goods.
I met the others for lunch then did some shopping before visiting the Great Lakes Maritime Museum and the old ice breaker/aid to navigation vessel they had. I was mildly disappointed the tour of the latter didn't include the engine room or the helicopter pad. On the other hand, the museum had the very first Laser sailboat, viz number 0, as owned by the designer. My mother inherited her mother's Laser number 308, named "Wombat". As the first one sold was number 100, this puts Wombat in with the first. The current production level is over 200,000.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

On the ideal number of bikes to own

Addendum to previous:

-At the café in Brighton, I had asked a small group if they minded if I parked Leonardo next to their outside table. They didn't, but when I came out to get something off the bike, one of them commented that it wasn't often they saw a bike with kangaroo stickers in these parts. From this comment, their accents and the Australian football T-shirt one of them was wearing, I concluded they were Aussies and had a short chin-wag with them.

-At the Clossum Chase wine barn, cousin Sarah poured me a glass of water, which I swirled, held up to the light, sipped and then pronounced: "Ah yes, light yet refreshing." ;-)

My room wasn't ready at the Barn, magnificent folly of agricultural architecture, burly beams, comfy couches, dramatic decor, eccentric eclecticism, etc. Rough hewn looking wood was the dominant motif, much of it authentic barn boards and the like though rebuilt on site to Mike's specifications and equipped with all the modern cons including a screened in "outside" dining area and a swimming pool complete with an uninvited frog. I discovered the latter while taking a dip, followed by a sprawl in an odd but comfortable contraption that allowed me to float mostly in the lovely cool water with out effort.

The parents arrived about forty minutes later. Pappy quickly got into a long conversation with Han which "could not" be interrupted by such petty concerns as taking a shower so that everyone's laundry could be tossed in the hand washing machine. Aside from this, the evening went fairly smoothly aside from a momement of panic when it seemed the power cable for this iPhone had been left in Cobourg and another when a Google Maps estimate of the distance to Kingston was seen to be 115 kms rather than the previous 90 kms and thus too far for my parents who have their limits now that they are over 70. I offered a backup plan of them going to Belleville and taking the train to Kingston as a possibility before Pappy came up with a map deduced estimate which was an acceptable distance.

The Barn lacks an outbuilding or garage so bikes are stored just inside the front door, in the entrance area. I think I counted seven including ours. Somehow, the topic came up about the ideal number of bikes to own. Cathy came up with the following:

"The ideal number is X+1, where X is the number of bikes you already have. And it is Y-1, where Y is the number of bikes that will cause a divorce."

(I believe she had it from someone else but that isn't important.)

We had an excellent supper of Mike's cooking. I have the feeling that there was more I wanted to write about but I don't recall what it was.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

On biking in glorious weather

We packed our bags in our room, then went around the corner for breakfast opposite the grandiose Victoria Hall opened by the young Prince of Wales in about 1856 or so. As a city hall it was outsized for Cobourg but back then it was hoping to become the capital of the Province of Canada. Afterwards, we "bailed" the bikes out of their cell. As today's ride was relatively short and particularly straight forwards, I opted to ride independently of the parents.

Given that is was a gorgeous day, sunny, warm and nearly windless, there were any number of cyclists of many descriptions out and about. Among the most colourful were a trio from France, two of whom were on recumbent trikes. They were on a trip from Windsor to Montreal. When I told them I had come from Sault Ste Marie, I had to explain where the Soo was. A little later as I entered Colborne, a cyclist in spandex and on a road bike came up beside me to ask me where I had come from and where I was going. I filled him in, and sought a polite way to ask his origin. I found it, namely that he was from Jamaica (which had been my theory based on his accent). He lived in Barrie but was in these parts on a visit with his wife who wasn't riding. He was apologetic about his short trip compared to mine. I replied: "The important thing is to ride." I must remember that line.

A little later, I had stopped at an intersection to check my map about the best way to make a diversion off the Waterfront Trail into Brighton for lunch when a minivan hauling a tent trailer turning onto the road suddenly went "BANG!" quite loudly making me jump. I turned to look more closely as it slowed. The minivan stopped opposite me and the driver asked me if I could seen anything from my vantage point. I said that one of the tires on the trailer had gone flat. He got out to have a look. I have been helped enough times by strangers that I went over to offer my assistance. I wasn't required as the guy looked like he knew his way around a tire and as we assessed the situation, his wife got out of the minivan wielding a large tool kit in a manner suggesting she was no slouch either. Consequently, I didn't think to offer my services twice.

 In Brighton, I found lunch in a Beer Store. Well, that was what the big sign said. In fact, it was a former Beer Store that was so recently converted to a café that the big sign hadn't been changed. There was a kid of about five that looked and acted very much like Edward. Longish, curly blonde hair, on the thin side and clearly living in a world of his own imagination, sometimes strumming a guitar.

There was a railway museum in Brighton that was, alas, shut on Sundays. There was a plaque outside that confirmed my suspicion that unlike in many parts of Canada, the CN line in these parts the older rail line compared to the CP as the CN line was in fact the old Grand Trunk line which predates many things including Confederation and of course CP. In the last few days, I have been seeing and hearing a number of Via Rail trains. One consist in particular caught my eye. It started with a Genesis locomotive hauling about three Renaissance coaches followed by another Genesis locomotive facing backwards followed by a chunkier F40PH hauling three or four old stainless steel coaches. My explanation for this odd consist is that it was two trains destined to split in Kingston, one going to Montreal, the other to Ottawa. While only two locomotives were needed for power, Via included the second Genesis locomotive in order to connect the lower Renaissance couplings to the F40PH.

 Cathy had suggested a slightly alternative route than the Waterfront Trail in Prince Edward County. At one point this brought me in front of a military communications facility connected to CFB Trenton complete with massive antennas. There something about one of the triple armed arrays that seemed out of place. Then it struck me: at the center of the arms was what proved to be an osprey nest complete with osprey! Like my parents later in the day, I overshot Mike and Cathy's living barn and went into the winery barn where I got directions from their daughter Sarah. Mike, Han and a friend were playing croquet when I arrived. Bella was happy to see me as was Cathy. I would write more but sleep beckons.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

On being in (a former) prison


The B&B in Oshawa was over decorated with rooms named for Old Testament figures. I was appropriately in the Daniel room. We were told that the other guests were "an elderly couple from Alberta." Mummy was piqued when we saw them at breakfast and they appeared to be no older than she was. ;-)

We rolled down to Lake Ontario to rejoin the Waterfront Trail. Today, it consisted mostly of quiet country roads near the lakeshore. In fact we were mostly on Lakeshore Road.

We had been warned against one bit in Oshawa by a passing local cyclist on a recumbent tricycle hauling a trailer with a few too many flags. His grounds for warning was that it had a very steep climb on a pea gravel trail. We did it anyway and the hill was pretty trivial for us. My theory about him was that he was a zealous recumbent rider. Recumbents aren't good on hills and with a trailer it might have been overly hard. Also, he struck me as a mite odd.

We suffered light rain at times and a tedious donning of rain gear as Pappy's organization of his clobber leaves something to be desired especially as he went with a larger size of rear panniers so he could "find things easily." All very well, but it doesn't fly as there are too many spots and not enough thought in keeping things together. Mummy and I waited with diminishing patience as he searched for his ankle velcro straps. It proved part of the problem was that these were home made from black webbing material. Given that ones incorporating reflective material are frequently given away at the end of bike events and colorful and fun factory-made ones are quite cheap, I can only wonder at what he was thinking. (Note to self: give him a pair of from my surplus stock in Montreal.)

On some of the bike trail sections, I saw no less than three young rabbits. At least, they seemed small, hence young.

We passed a couple of barns with stone foundations that suggested considerable age (viz early to mid 19th century). At one spot, there were gladiolas and hollyhocks growing by the side of the road adding glorious color.

As the roads promised easy navigation, I left the Parents behind after a picnic lunch beside the road in Port Granby. I rode on to Port Hope, a town I had often admired from the train. As it was Saturday, the farmers' market was in swing and I bought a cherry cheesecake tart, before sampling a Chardonnay from a winery near that in Prince Edward County where we will be spending tomorrow night.

I arrived in Cobourg and found the Jail House Inn, formerly the King George Inn and evidently, still very much in transition as some of the signs still refer to the former name. There was some disorganization evident amongst the friendly staff. (The first one I met commented favourably on my legs.) I think this partly due to the place being more heavily a pseudo-British pub/inn with good beer and food (though the only desert available was terrible ice cream.)

The building is in fact a former jail, complete with a limited museum in some of the former basement cells. The displays included a number of Gilles cartoons on the subject of prisons. Another display showed a list of offenders from 1908 or so. It included a relatively large number of listings for vagrancy and simple-mindedness which makes me wonder if it wasn't being used in part by the local society as a form of hostel. The bikes were housed in one of the basement cells.

Friday, 7 August 2015

On the Waterfront Trail


The last leg of my journey has begun. My parents and I are now on the road to Montreal. Armed leftovers from the last three suppers, departed at 20 to nine, even though my plan been to leave after nine to reduce the impact of commuters. However, Mummy was ready and restless.

Despite having been told the night before that I had already ridden it about five times, my Father expressed amazement that I was easily able to follow a recommended bike route Cathy and Mike's down to Queen Street. Mummy was surprised at how many cycle-commuters there were as "Toronto isn't a biking city." The truth of the matter is that does a better job than Montreal (especially in the matter of bike racks). However T.O. doesn't blow its own trumpet on the matter like Montreal does. Also, the riders we were seeing were likely only going shortish distances whereas the sprawling suburbs are the sources of Toronto's notorious traffic and the ultimate of T.O.'s most notorious S.O.B. a.k.a. Rob Ford.

We made our way to the Waterfront where my father began displaying the dangerous and irritating habit of apparently being unwilling or unable to stop in less than 20 meters and/or twenty. When challenged on the point he has produced several lame excuses, at least one of which relate to his being lame. Combined with his habit of reading the signs he sees out loud suggests that one of these days he is going to plow into the back of Mummy's bike after she brakes after hearing him yell "Stop" as a witless attempt at wit and failing to come to a halt.

I am tempted to put him on the train.

We followed the Waterfront Trail for most of the day as it weaved back and forth passing industrial areas, residential areas, conservation areas and a nuclear power plant. The trail is a mishmash of perfect bike paths, quiet streets, busy roads, crowded parks and boardwalks tied together with haphazard signage and maps of varying degrees of accuracy. At one point, just after a steep hill, we couldn't figure out where the trail was supposed to be. At this point, a dad arrived by bike with his (disabled?) teenage son on trike. We chatted. We were surprised that the father didn't know about the Waterfront Trail despite him cycling into Dowtown Toronto on a regular basis. As our map sections were printed PDF's that we have been chucking in recycling bins every 15 kms or so, we happily gave him one as an aide-memoire to find the whole thing online.

My estimate Google Maps generated estimated distance for the day was off by about 25 kms. I account for this difference by the fact I may have asked Google for the Toronto-Oshawa distance rather than the Cathy to B&B distance. Also, I don't think Google Maps plotted us along the inefficient but mostly nice Waterfront Trail.

At one point early in the day, we passed the Redpath sugar refinery. Just next to it, there was a sea-going bulk freighter (or "saltie" in the Great Lakes parlance) called "Andean" tied up at the dock. It didn't take that much thought to suspect it was delivering sugar products. A little further, I saw what looked like a large landing craft, possibly a landing ship, tank (or LST) painted in "dazzle camouflage" and undergoing repairs. I wonder what that was about?

Late in the day, I stopped to photograph a sign advertising kilted window cleaners ("Nae peeking allowed.") I have the notion that it is a gimmick aimed at bored housewives. Another interesting sign was one for the parks in Pickering which forbade "Obnoxious or annoying behaviour". Unfortunately or possibly revealingly, it wasn't one that someone referred to above didn't read out loud.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

On a good place to have a mishap and other tales of T.O.


In hindsight, I probably should have done something more about front rack as the wear around the top securing bolt was significant. At the very least, a few washers should have been deployed. However, that idea had been had been put in the wrong mental file.

Instead, after a morning of riding on the Waterfront Trail and the bumps it generated as it went from street to trail and back repeatedly, I was approaching Bathurst Street in Toronto on a bike path in a park when the sheet metal in the front rack around the top right securing bolt gave way, causing right bag to get in the spokes. I braked but not quickly enough as the "U" of metal joining the two sides of the rack came into contact with the tire and became jammed. This damn nearly threw me over the handlebars as the front wheel stopped. Thankfully, the weight of my rear bags kept Leonardo from bucking me off. While was happening, I couldn't uncleat my shoes fast enough which added to my fright.

I extracted myself from the bike stood back and audibly asked "WTF just happened?" No one else had witnessed the event which was either a good or a bad thing. Or possibly both.

I took a minute or two to allow my heart to slow down and for the adrenaline rush wear off. I then examined Leonardo to assess the damage. The front rack was definitely toast with the "U" clearly bent. I began by removing the front bags, then deflated the front tire. I then unbolted the front rack. I spun the front wheel to see if it was okay. I wasn't sure but I thought there was a shimmy in it. A casual glance revealed no obvious spoke damage.

Now what? I could roll but no longer had a front rack. What did this mean for the trip? Was it over for now and what would that mean for the Parents? Would they ride to Montreal without me? I then calmed myself by pointing out that the breakdown had happened in about as perfect conditions as imaginable. I had more than 48 hours to get Leonardo into shape in a large city full of cyclists and shops catering to them. More to the point, I knew where one of the bigger ones was and it was within blocks of me: MEC.

I bungeed the front bags onto the rear ones along with the front rack. I then set off gingerly to MEC. I boldly rolled Leonardo into the store and to the bike repair bay. I gave a semi-coherent account of what had happened to the guy in repairs and asked him if he could give the front wheel a look. His impression was that it was a bit out of true but that it should get me to Montreal. He said that if I wanted it trued, they could get done within 24 hours.

Time to think. "Do I leave Leonardo here and navigate my way to my cousin Cathy's house with all my clobber?" I didn't relish the notion. Nor did I like the idea of riding any more without a front rack and gear. So instead, I bought a new Filzer front rack and installed it then and there in the store. One of the staff members admired the hex key I was using. I smugly revealed that it was from Ikea! (I made a post about my "discovery" years ago.) He enjoyed my idea and said he would add an Ikea hex key to his tool kit.

The Fizler rack is sturdier and more complex than its predecessor. Consequently, it required what seemed like an hour to install. (Note to self: see if you can get a PDF of the instructions for future reference.)

I made my way to Cathy and her husband Mike's house following the Toronto bike map. I let myself in using a key code Cathy had provided me with and said "Hello" to Ella the housekeeper and Bella the quiet Westie. (She is quietest terrier I have ever encountered.) Ella showed me to the room assigned to me. I dumped the bulk of my clobber down and made an "excursion" selection of gear. As I did so, I noticed a text message from Cathy regarding my arrival and that of Mike later that evening. I replied that I had arrived but was about to leave again due bike repair issues. There followed an exchange on the matter as she suggested another location which was closer than MEC. However, it might have been busy and I didn't know exactly where it was. On the other hand, I knew where MEC was and that it had the time. I went back to MEC to hand Leonardo over to their loving care. I was given a card to pay at the cash, but first decided to do some shopping for an assortment of bike munchies and other bits and pieces. By the time I had been to the cash, Leonardo was ready! I don't think it had been 24 minutes, let alone 24 hours!

I returned to the house and settled in. By the time Mike arrived, I was bathed and relaxed. This was a good thing as Mike is a very intense man which is something I hadn't really appreciated before. He strode into the kitchen looking a mite like Richard Branson and proceeded to whip up a very nice supper of lamb, potatoes, Greek salad and grilled zucchini from scratch in less time than I would have thought possible.

We chatted on a number of topics ranging from the upcoming election to the role of librarians in the Information Age and much else over wine and supper. He gently chastised me for using his water glasses for wine, the main difference being size.

The next morning, I went out looking for the bike shop, Cathy had referred to. I found it and another one close by which I visited out of curiousity. These proved to be relatively close to the house I really remember living in Toronto so I went to have a look-see of the place I learnt to ride a bike. The rest of the day was spent chasing my tail looking for a new watch, books and bits.

Cathy was home when I returned. She informed me that her father Han would be there for supper as well as Melody, his significant other. It was good hear as I hadn't seen him since his wife's Mary's funeral a few years ago. At the time I had been concerned at his appropriate grief. My parents arrived a little after six, with Pappy wearing a stealth T-shirt.

Cathy and Mike's daughter Alison also joined us for supper. She was quite quiet and almost seemed out of place amongst the old fogies. Melody seemed a good fit for Han though nowhere the strong personality Mary was. This may have been a deliberate choice of Han's or simply a result of few people having a personality as Mary! ;-) (And I say that with all due love and respect.)

Today, I spent looking over maps with Cathy and Mummy, cleaning and prepping Leonardo, finally finding a suitable watch and mailing a box of surplus bits to Montreal. That and writing blog entries.

On a wet and warm welcome in Oakville


As consequence of the power failure the night before, my laundry wasn't done until mid-morning, so it was only around 11 that I finally hit the road. This wasn't a critical delay as Oakville was only about 60 kms away not the grueling 144 between Meaford and Guelph. Indeed, I had barely gone a dozen klicks or so before I stopped to visit a streetcar museum. I spent more than an hour there. At one point, I was ordering ice cream in a snack bar made out of an old trolley bus. Looking at the menu, I asked for butterscotch ripple.

"Sorry, we're out."

"Okay then, how about black cherry?"

"Er, no. I meant remove it from the menu."

Thankfully, she did have my third choice, or else it would have taken a dangerous step into the Pythonesque. While she was getting my cone, I offered to remove the two unavailable flavours from the board. She accepted my help and gave me the cone for free.

Afterwards, the highway I was on dipped down off the Niagara Escarpment near Rattlesnake Point, where I been taken to as a child. It then climbed again before dropping again. A little before Mount Nemo, the road dropped again and with another climb in sight, I managed to avoid by taking a road eastwards. After finding another southerly road, I descended into Burlington, hung a left onto Lakeshore Road and soon arrived in Oakville and found Rachel's home.

I was warmly greeted by Rachel and her daughters Abigail (7) and Charlotte (4). After initial hellos, clobber stowage and bike parking, I had a nice swim in their pool with the girls. Their father joined us in the water as various games were played.

After a while, my body was asking me for a break and I went to take a nice hot shower. Afterwards, I had a beer and shucked corn with Charlotte and Abigail's assistance. Supper was barbecue grilled boerwurst sausages (a favorite of Cecil, Rachel's stepfather), with hot, freshly made chutney, corn on the cob, potato salad and green salad. I remarked to Rachel that the meal she served was oddly similar to that Quintin had given me! I hope she wasn't offended as her meal hit the spot.

On a warm and wet welcome in Guelph


Elin escorted me out of Meaford onto Route 12 which promised to be less hilly than other alternatives. It began with a predictable slog up the Niagra Escarpment before settling into gently rolling fields and headwinds. Generally headwinds except when I was in the lee of a forest.

It was a long slog of a day going through small towns with considerable long weekend traffic both four wheeled and two wheeled. Around four in the afternoon, it began to sprinkle as I came into Arthur with dark clouds getting very close. I made for a Union Burger restaurant and ordered a burger and a milkshake. The storm hit with intense rain, along with lightning and some wind. I phoned Quintin in Guelph to give him an update on my status, namely tired, behind schedule and sheltering from a storm.  He offered to pick me up if necessary. I gratefully declined though admitted I might take him up on the offer. The storm seemed to be settling down to just rain, so I donned my rain gear and set off again.

The wind had died with the storm so I was able to make much better progress. I passed through Fergus admiring the lovely 19th century stone buildings. The road to Guelph from there was familiar as I had ridden it several times when I had been working on a master's degree in Scottish history twenty years earlier. Unfortunately, Quintin and family live in a new development in the extreme Eastern edge of Guelph so I didn't see my old stomping grounds.

Quintin was waiting for me with the news that in addition to leaving the big bottle of detergent behind in Meaford (as planned) I had also left behind the Campsuds. Thankfully, a friend of Elin's Alexander had been going from Meaford to Guelph that day and had dropped it off chez Quintin and family.

After a supper of an assortment of barbecued chicken and spicy sausages, potato salad, green salad and corn on the cob, we were sitting around the table chewing the fat and looking out at a thunderstorm when the power failed. Thankfully, candles were already lit so we could find headlamps and the like. As it was getting late, we decided to call it a night anyway.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

On a warm welcome in Meaford


At breakfast, I consulted with my hosts as to the suitability of some of the nearby roads for cycling as while the way I had come was nice, I was suspicious that there was an easier way to go South from Dyers Bay than going all the way back to the 6 directly. My suspicions were correct and I made an excellent start to the day despite having to climb up the Niagara Escarpment.

It was only mid morning and many kilometers later that I realized that I had neglected to record and reset my bike computer. After some thought, I decided to wait until Wiarton before recording and resetting the bike computer as it was a point from which distances were measured.

After lunch, I noticed a pedal related ticking noise that I associate with a pedal that was insufficiently tight. I spotted at a sporting goods store in Hepworth. I stopped to see if I might borrow a pedal wrench for a minute. Alas, they didn't have bike tools. However, they did have Campsuds for washing pretty much anything, so the stop was hardly a waste.

While Owen Sound did provide me with use of a pedal wrench, it was a blow to the senses being much larger than I had anticipated. Larger, louder and brasher. Also, it meant I had to go down to lake level and reclimb the Niagara Escarpment late in the day. However, I had a useful wind during the climb and eventual screaming  descent into Meaford at over seventy kilometers per hour. (Actually, that was a peak speed achieved whilst pedaling madly whilst crouched over.)

I found my cousin Elin's second home in Meaford. (I use the term second home as it is a substantial brick building dating from the 19th century or there abouts if I remember correctly. To call it cottage, is to understate it. Admittedly, she and her husband Rob use it as a cottage, but that is a detail.) Actually, Elin spotted me before I had definitively identified the house: I was rolling along looking for house numbers when she came out from a neighbors house, saw me and called out.

After a warm welcome, she, Rob and her son Alexander showed me the house. Elin and Rob are fairly avid cyclists and were a source of useful local knowledge as to the relative merits of the routes to Guelph. I had realized earlier in the day that I needed a macro scale map to plan my path as Southern Ontario has a plethora of roads. Rob was surprised that Leonardo was geared high to do 70. I did point out that that was a downhill, bent over and pedaling like mad speed.

On a warm welcome in Dyers Bay


The disadvantage of staying with relatives is that I spend so much time chatting that I don't have the time to write proper entries! In fact, I even forgot to record my stats on the 31st and neglected to reset the bike computer! This caused "calibration" issues for the next couple of days, i.e. I had trouble gauging my performance in order to predict how it would be in future.

I left my motel in Manitowaning and set out in for South Baymouth with an eye out for a restaurant connected to a garden centre in the hopes of a second breakfast. I was lured onto a side road by a sign and was rewarded by the sight of a couple of sandhill cranes followed by a fish hatchery. When I got the place it was closed which was odd, but I didn't mind.  Returning to Highway 6, I rolled along and finally found the place I was looking for. I had a second breakfast of eggs, bacon and perogies.

I was surprised by the small size of South Baymouth. It proved to be only a little more than the ferry terminal, a few motels, gift shops, restaurants and a museum. The latter had a section of the ferries past and present. One of the former was the Nindewayma which as I informed the staff person was in the wonderful movie "Bon cop, bad cop". She was quite interested by this and took down the information for future use.

There were eight cyclists waiting for the ferry: two short distance riders on hybrids, three through Trans Canada cyclists, a couple going around Georgian Bay and yours truly. We, the long distance cyclists, chatted a fair bit comparing notes on X, Y and Z.  When the Chi-Cheemaun (or Big Canoe in Ojibwe) arrived, one of the cyclists getting off was a young woman who looked as if she might be First Nations asked our group for biking info. I dug out a biking map of Manitoulin Island I happened to have and gave it to her.

Once on the ferry and heading for Tobermory, I noticed it had a list to the port (and no sails (in rags or otherwise) and I did not see the cook in the scuppers). I joked with some of the cyclists that it was the weight of our bikes lashed against the port side that was causing the list. One of the others suggested the crew had put all the SUVs on that side. Actually, it was the wind on the starboard beam.

The ferry company laid on entertainment in the form of Falcon Migwans, an Ojibwe drummer and singer who explained to us a lot about First Nations drumming, singing and pow-wows. It was fascinating.

From Tobermory, I took Highway 6 South, in company of a lot of cars off the ferry. At times, the South bound lane was full of cars as far as the eye could see given that the road was very straight. Ontario has something of a fetish for straight roads laid out in a grid that fails to align with the cardinals points or even other grids. ;-). The Ontarians also have a tendency towards numbering their roads in a slightly bewildering succession of roads, concessions, side roads, lines and highways based on counties rather than the province. It paid to keep an eye on the map.

I turned off (Provincial) Highway 6, onto Dyer's Bay Road which brought me to cousin Mary's house on the shores of the Georgian Bay. I had never met her before and she is in fact a cousin of my cousin Michael, a.k.a. The Mole or El Topo Potente (as opposed to Cathy's Mike whose house I am writing this in.).  However distant the connection, the Mole had put me in contact with her and she was most welcoming. As mentioned earlier in this entry, the chatting precluded blogging. She, her husband and some friends from London, Ontario (my birthplace) were almost overly impressed at my venture to the point I was almost embarrassed to mention that, err, um, my parents (who were a few years older than they were) would be joining me for the Toronto to Montreal leg. ;-)

On a status update

I have arrived chez Cathy and Mike, non sans peine on account of a near disaster that could hardly have taken place at a better place and time viz within blocks of MEC and just before two rest days. No physical harm to me (psyche expected to make a full recovery) and no harm to Leonardo that hasn't been fixed.

More later.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

On current location and status

In Guelph and tired after fighting headwinds until a late afternoon thunderstorm.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

On an update

Still too busy to write. Long sunny day, but somewhat tiring. In Meaford.