Thursday, June 17, 2010

NY to Ontario

My stay in Oswego, NY was fabulous, just what I needed before heading into Canada. I'll admit, I was a bit down saying goodbye to the Schaefer's and riding off, anticipating an incredibly long and lonely stretch through Canada.

Bob and Kim Schaefer

After a day of rolling hills along Lake Ontario, I met up with the Erie Canal for some long flat stretches. The trail was mostly gavel, so although flat, not very fast and was actually a bit boring doing that for ~70 miles. It was nice and quiet though obviously with no cars and very few people.

Dodging the hissing geese on along the Erie Canal

I then made it to Niagara Falls, arriving late at night and camping on an island in the park. I arose bright and early to have the place to myself. The amount of water is incredible and it really is a beautiful place. I'd always heard you should see the Falls from the Canadian side, but I wanted to see all angles, and I'm glad that I did.

View at Niagara Falls from the US side

I ran around enjoying my last bit of the US before I crossed the bridge to Canada. At the boarder I was asked a lot more questions then I'm used to getting into Canada, but I guess that was expected. The woman was not thrilled that I 1)wasn't sure if my health care was good in Canada, and 2) that it runs out in a month and I'll be uninsured. She also thought I needed to be checking in with someone everyday, not 1-2 times a week as I do, but that may have been the mother in her. Anyhow, she let me in.

It was afternoon by the time I crossed, so the viewing spots were packed with people. I enjoyed the views but didn't linger too long before riding south to follow Lake Erie for a ways (I did a long round about way to avoid Toronto and all of the suburbs).

American Falls from Canadian side

Horseshoe Falls from Canada

On my second day riding through Ontario, I was stopped alongside the road for a break when Kevin rode up to me and asked if I needed a place to camp. He has done many tours so knows the gig well. He worked on a nearby organic farm, they were having a party that evening with a few bands. A few minutes later, Rodrigo (one of the farm owners who has also bike toured all over and now wants to hang glide to Chili) drove by and invited me to the same place. That surely settled it, I rode to Plan B Organics. I set up my tent in the field then set out to see the farm and met some of the 18 or so folks working it. I wandered into the peas and weeded with Kate for awhile, it felt great to get my hands in to dirt again! That evening three bands played and it was a fun, low-key party with some home-brew and a movie projected into the barn.

The beginning of the music on Plan B

I decided to stay the weekend on the farm, working in the fields in the mornings then relaxing and hanging out in the afternoons. There are around a dozen interns working the farm, most from the Toronto area, but others from all over the world. It was a great group of diverse folks and such a wonderful surprise to be invited to the farm. Although I felt like I could stay for weeks, I know it's not the time to stop for too long or I could get stuck and never finish this ride. So I took off once again through the rolling hills towards Barrie.

Ontario's Badlands

So far I have not been impressed with the roads in Canada. It's extremely rare to have any shoulder (many roads don't even have white lines), if there is a shoulder it's gravel, maybe with a few meters of pavement interspersed occasionally. The roads are busy so it hasn't been all that pleasurable to ride. This morning I had my first 25k of nice paved shoulder, but now I'm getting to where there is really only one road so I'm hoping it'll have a shoulder as it will surely be very busy.

Arriving in Barrie, I met Jack riding along the lake. He and his wife, Sue, had just returned from a bike trip around Lake Michigan (they go to Europe or the States to ride because it's so much better then in Canada). We talked awhile and he invited to his house for coffee. Jack and Sue are fabulous, we talked, I used their computer and they cooked me a great lunch!

Jack and Sue

Jack then rode me to a bike shop in town where I picked up a new pair of bike shorts (very exciting!). Riding just a few km out of Barrie, I saw three girls taking lunch. Carmen, Morgan, and Tao had just begun their cross Canada tour, from Barrie to Vancouver. I rode with them to the next town and we camped together that evening on the beach of a provincial park (the parks have showers and it was time I had one). For expecting Canada to be so lonely, this first week had been so social, such a great surprise! I'm hoping that this will continue across the country.

Making dinner out on the beach

I rode off alone yesterday morning on a rainy day. I think I'm getting softer as when it started to rain harder I pulled into a park and waited it out while reading in the bathrooms. I then had a very nice twisty road with no traffic and camped at a picnic area last night.

A sample of the shoulder on Route 11, a main highway.

I'm continuing north to Sudbury, then turn west. Folks keep telling me that northern Ontario is gorgeous, I just hope the roads aren't too bad.

9 Month Inventory:

Miles: 11,801
Flats: 41
Tubes: 15
Tires: 6
Jars of Nut Butter: 30
Nights under a roof: 92 (25 nights these past two months!)
States: 28
Provinces: 1
National Parks, etc: 31
Bike-free days: 39
100+ mile days: 11
Rain: 49
Riding in Rain: 28
Riding with companions: 11
Books: 17
Spontaneous hosts: 3
Ferries: 8

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