Day 13 – The Long Ride Home

July 30, 2018

Yes, I made it home.  If you want to know how, you will have to read further.

It was a foggy morning as I packed and left at 7:45 am.

I started the ride on bicycle lanes and soon I was on a bike path that wound through a good part of Waterloo.   The route alternated between roads and paths.  At one point the path went through a heavily wooded area in the Kitchener area.

I didn’t even know that these trails existed, however, the Kitchener/Waterloo area is very ‘ Bike Friendly ‘ and they have several options for riding a bicycle in and around the city.

I continued to wind my way through Kitchener and eventually I had to cross highway 401 where Google Maps had directed me to a bridge over it:

As indicated on the plaque, this is the first pedestrian/cycling bridge over the 401 and it was finished in 2007.  After I crossed the bridge I entered the town of Galt where I stopped at a cafe for a short break.

I then rode through Cambridge and headed down highway 8 to Dundas and Hamilton. With very little wind, the ride went smoothly, but there were some steep hills to climb in Cambridge, which slowed me down considerably.  Highway 8  ( Dundas Street North  ) was quite busy and it had very narrow paved shoulders, plus there were a lot of transport trucks and tandem dump trucks passing me, very few of which, moved over.

At one of my stops, I noticed that Pleasant Manor Retirement home had called me, so I checked the message, which was from one of the placement officials letting me know that there was an apartment available for me, if I wanted it….hmmmmm….. I thought this was interesting.   I had put my name on the list several years ago to make sure I could get a retirement apartment, if I ever needed one but now I was wondering if someone was trying to tell me something.   After thinking about it for a while, I called them back and told them that I wasn’t ready for that yet, but that could always change.

I knew that I would eventually have to go down the escarpment, however, I wasn’t aware that the road would be very steep, with a very small shoulder and that the whole road was riddled with paved potholes and ruts.   I had to ‘ ride my brakes ‘  and dodge them to avoid capsizing or losing one of the bags.  I rode through the city streets of Dundas and then into Hamilton where I had to ‘ share the road ‘ with cars, trucks and buses.

Hamilton has modified a lot of the roads to make them more accessible for bicycle riders.   On several roads, they have designated one side of the road for 2-way bicycle traffic as indicated by the picture below:

It even has green and red lights just for the bicycle riders and a sign stating that bicycles are allowed to ride in both directions on that section of road, even though it is a one-way street.

At 12:30, I stopped for lunch in the east end of Hamilton shortly before taking a bike path with a bridge that crossed the QEW highway.   I have seen the bridge many times from the highway, but I never knew what it was for, until now.

After I crossed the bridge I was in Confederation Park and the bike path was full of people walking, roller blading ( I didn’t know they still did that ) and riding bikes.   From the shoreline, you can see Burlington.

I rode along the path until it ended and then I rode mostly on the North Service Road,  which is between the highway and the lake.   There are bicycle lanes on the service road and occasionally there were signs directing the bicyclists to different paths that are part of the bike trail along the south shore of Lake Ontario.

I stopped a few times for short breaks but I kept on going even though my legs were  starting to get tired because I knew I was getting close to home and it didn’t make sense to stop.

Just as I reached the Welland Canal bridge #1  on Lakeshore Rd, the lights came on, the barricades came down and the bridge opened up for a ship.  What timing!

As I waited for the boat to leave, I met a couple of visitors to Niagara on the Lake who were riding their bike around the area for the day.   We discussed riding and travelling and I found out that they are avid riders who have also climbed Kilimanjaro.   When we were finally able to cross the bridge again, we went our separate ways.   The wind had picked up and seemed to be pushing me back but at 5:35 pm I eventually arrived at home.   I unpacked my bags, took a shower and picked up some groceries before writing my journal entry for the day.

It was an interesting adventure and I saw a lot of things many of which weren’t added to my journal in order to keep the entries from being too long.

Day 13 – Waterloo to Home

Distance Travelled: 132 km

Travel Time: 7 hrs 30 min

Conditions:  17 – 26 C ( 62 – 79 F ) foggy and overcast at the start and partly cloudy most of the day.

Accomodations: Free – My house!

In total I rode 1127 km in 12 days although I was away for almost 13 days, dragging around 35 lbs of gear ( 8 lbs of which was my laptop and electronic equipment ). I didn’t ride on day 9 because I had to get a spoke changed on the rear wheel.

 

Day 12 – Goderich to Waterloo

July 29, 2018

I left the motel at 7:45 am and by 8:45 I arrived in Clinton, where I had a quick breakfast before continuing my ride.

Highway 8 would take me directly to Stratford but Google Maps suggested that I take a parallel road called Front Street.  I was a bit hesitant to ride the extra distance, but I took the suggested route and I soon found that this was the best option.   The road was less travelled, most of the road surface was smoother and it was quieter, so much so that I could hear the crickets and cicadas singing there summer songs.

I rode the rest of the way to Stratford with only a few short stops to rest and re-hydrate..   I eventually stopped east of Stratford fat 12:30 for a lunch and to decide what I was going to do.   I searched for a place to stay and I found that there were a places available in Stratford and in Kitchener, one of which was the Delta Marriott.   While I was looking at my options, I received an email from Marriott stating that I would lose my Marriott Reward Points if I didn’t use them.   I wanted to visit my cousin in the hospital which was near the Delta Marriott and I still felt good enough to ride further, so I decided to book it with some of my points and ride the 47 km to get there.

I left at 2 pm  and when I got to New Hamburg, it started to rain and just after I crossed a bridge, the rain started to come down very hard and I quickly ducked under an overhang, which kept me from getting wetter.   While I was waiting I checked my route and realized that I had just missed my turn at the bridge.   The rain stopped after a few minutes so I headed back to the bridge and continued on my route.  After going a little northeast and for about ten minutes, I noticed that this area was completely dry, which seemed a bit odd because it had come down so hard just a short distance away.

The rest of my ride was uneventful and at 4:30 pm, I arrived at the Delta and checked in.  The concierge was very helpful.  He gave me an upgrade due to my ‘silver’ Marriott status and he offered to store my bike for me.   The hotel is fairly new, very luxurious and quite extravagant, not the type of place I was planning on stay.  I took a shower and then headed to the hospital to visit my cousin.  She had been hospitalized due to a severe pain in her leg which has been diagnosed as an infection, so the doctors are trying to heal it with antibiotics.

I graduated from Waterloo University, so I am familiar with the area, however, the city has  made some significant improvements, especially the downtown area.   I noticed that they have almost completed the new electric streetcar system.   I always liked this area and it is one of the places I would consider living if I didn’t live in Niagara.

It was only 2 km to the hospital so I walked there and surprised my cousin, because I had mentioned to her that I would probably be coming on Monday.   She has was my inspiration for writing this blog.   Several years ago she asked me to keep her informed about my trips so after trying several options, I decided to create a blog where I could write my journals for each trip and she and a few others, could follow my journeys when it suited them.

I had a wonderful time visiting her and after a few hours, I returned to the hotel to get something to eat and to write my journal for the day before going to bed.

There is nothing in particular that I want to see and it is about 135 km to get home plus I am ready to go home to my own bed, bath and kitchen.   Tomorrow might be a long day, depending on how far I ride.

Day 12 – Goderich to Waterloo

Distance Travelled: 119 km

Travel Time: 6 hr 20 min

Conditions: 15 -23 C ( 60 -73 F ) cool in the morning, warm with a little rain in the afternoon and a slight tailwind,

Accommodations: Delta Marriott ( 20000 Marriott points or $160 – I used points )

Day 11 – Lambton Shores to Goderich

July 28, 2018

It had rained during the night, causing the temperature to cooled down to 16 C ( 60 F ) overnight so that it was still a little cool when I got up in the morning.  I was up  early and I left the motel by 7:30 am.   By 7:45 I found a restaurant along the way and had breakfast before continuing on my journey.  One of the patrons in the restaurant asked me if I was participating in the MS Bike Tour on the weekend.  I told him that I participated in the ride for 17 years and now I sponsor other riders and I was just passing through area.

The temperature remained cool all morning, however, I had a favourable wind that made it easy for riding.

The landscape hadn’t changed much.   There were still alternating fields of wheat, corn and soya with windmills located among them, however, there wore more wooded areas in between the fields.

As I rode through Grand Bend, I looked for the riders attending the MS Bike tour from Grand Bend to London but I didn’t see them, so they must have changed the start location for the ride from what I remember.

The road was quite busy, but there was a shoulder for bikes so it didn’t impede my progress and I reached Bayfield at 11 am, where I stopped for lunch at Renegades Diner Bayfield.   The diner was full and there were no empty seats so the waitress set up a single table for me.   The food and service were very good and I could see why it had a high customer satisfaction rating.

After lunch I rode around Bayfield for about 30 minutes.   There is a nice park

and next to the park is Heritage Main Street which reminds me of a more rustic version of Niagara on the lake, with plenty of shops and restaurants, however, parking here is more convenient.

As I left this ‘quaint’ little town around 12:30, the temperature had warmed up a little but there was a headwind, as well as I rode the last 20 km to Goderich,.  When I arrived in Goderich, I rented a room in a small motel and rested for couple of hours before I toured the town.   I haven’t been to this area for over 30 years, when I visited one of my classmates who worked for Sifto Salt in Goderich.

There is a large salt monument that was erected in 1966 by Sifto Salt to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the  discovery of salt in Goderich.

The town of Goderich has a large circle in the centre of town with the courthouse in the middle surrounded by a little park and many different shops, banks and restaurants around the outer edges of the circle.

There is also a large shipyard that is still used for transporting salt and other goods.

There are a lot of businesses, parks and shops that have the work BlueWater in there name long the east shore of Lake Huron due to blue colour of the water in Lake Huron. The shallower water is a turquoise blue and the deeper water is closer to the a navy blue.

And as with most port cities, it has a lighthouse on display,

as well as, commemorative canons along the shore.

As I drove around the town, I saw a United, Anglican, Presbyterian and Catholic church but as I found out later there are several other churches in this small town which only  has a population of 7600 people.   The churches I saw were quite large and St. Peter’s church had many people attending the 5 pm mass.

I stopped for something to eat while I was in town and I bought a few things in preperation for breakfast in the morning because there are no restaurants along my route to Stratford until I reach Clinton.

Day 11 – Lambton Shores to Goderich

Distance Travelled: 89 ( 74 to Goderich and 15 riding around town)

Travel Time: 5 hr ( 4 hr to Goderich, 1 hr around town).

Conditions: 16 – 22 C ( 60 – 72 F ) cool

Accommodations: Silver Birch Motel ( $99 )

Day 10 – Sarnia to Lambton Shores

July 27, 2018

I left Sarnia at 9 am and took one of the BlueWater Trails which followed the south side of highway 7.  It is a relatively wide trail and I rode on it for approximately 10 km before exiting it to continue on Highway 7.

The highway wound its way around Lake Huron and occasionally,  I could see the water.   It was a short ride, so that by 11:30 I arrived in Lambton Shores and checked into the Village Inn motel.   I talked to the owner, Harry Daykin for a couple of hours regarding many different topics.  He is from Northern Ireland and he worked for IBM.  After he retired, a few years ago, he purchased the motel and is enjoying the slower pace of life. During our conversations, he suggested that I ride to Ipperwash Beach and then to the town of Forest.

There are many public entrances to the beach from the road and when I got there,  I saw that there were many families taking advantage of it.

I then rode to the small town of Forest and went to the library that had been the former railroad station as was evident by the railcar at the entrance.

Leading up to the library is the former railroad tracks that have been converted into a bike trail.

After riding on the trail for a while, I returned to the town for something to eat.   I found a nice cafe called Karyn’s Java & scoops, where I ordered the special of the day and a Cappuccino.   While I was waiting for my food, I read a little of the town’s history.   Forest was a railway station for the Grand Trunk Railway in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  It received its name from the area which was deeply forested, when it finally achieved town status and now it is mostly farmland.  In the 1960’s the station was officially closed, with one last train ride.

From Forest, I returned to the motel and started to write my journal before going to bed.

Day 10 – Sarnia to Lambton Shores

Distance Travelled: 74 km ( 40 from Sarnia to Lambton Shores and 34 riding around Lambton Shores.

Travel Time: 4 hours

Conditions: 17 – 22 C ( 63 – 72 F ).  It was cool and there was a tailwind.

Accommodations: Village Inn, Lambton Shores ( $109 )

Day 9 – Sarnia

July 26, 2013

After a leisurely breakfast and completing my journal for the previous day, Sauro, Marianne and I brought the rear wheel of my bicycle to Blackwell Cycle.   I had hoped that they could re-spoke the entire wheel but I was told that it was a long process, especially since they were sponsoring the ‘ Grand Bend to London MS Bike Tour ‘ that was going to take place during the upcoming weekend.   However, they would be able to replace the broken spoke by the end of the day.

I took the opportunity to relax, visit with my friends and we go for a walk along the waterfront before picking up the finished wheel.

I have travelled 713 km in the past 8 days and I plan to travel north for a few more days before heading back home.

I plan to take a short ride to the outskirts of Grand Bend and stay there overnight before continuing on my journey.

 

 

Day 8 – Chatham to Sarnia

July 25, 2018

After breakfast, I packed by bags and headed to the hardware store to find some screws to fix the broken saddle bag.  I found the store, which was a very small home hardware store in a renovated house.   As I parked my bike, a customer who had pulled up in a car directed me to the entrance in the back.   The lady behind the counter directed me to the area where the screws were and helped me select a box of screws that were the same length and diameter of the rivets that had secured the mounting bracket to the bag.  When I got back to the bike, I found the lady that had directed me into the store, watching my bike.   She informed me that I shouldn’t leave my bike unattended  or at least park it next to the entrance or it might end up disappearing.   I thanked her for watching it for me and I rode the short distance to the Smith Cycle and More bicycle shop to have my wheel repaired.

When I got to the bicycle shop, they weren’t open yet, so I started the repairs on the saddlebag while I waited.   When the store opened, they replaced the spoke and the tube ( because the tube ” blew ” when he tried to replace the spoke ) on my bike, while I finished the repair to the saddlebag.   The technician informed me that I should carry spokes with me because it is one of the most common things to break on a bike  and if one spoke breaks, there are probably a few more that will break soon, due to fatigue, so I bought 3 new spokes to take with me.  Before I left, he recommended a route to take towards Sarnia.

At 10:45, with the bike rolling smoothly, I headed towards Sarnia, with the intention of riding along the scenic St Clair River after I reached Wallaceburg.  There was a headwind, so I was making slower progress than usual and when I reached Road 29, I decided to go West and continue my route on Highway 40.   I had only gone a short distance when I heard that ” pop ” again and when I looked at my rear tire, I saw the all to familiar wobble.  With the tire rubbing against the brake pads, my progress became slower, so much so that I was having trouble maintaining half the normal speed of the other days and I still had at least 66 km (40 miles) to get to Sarnia.   When I reached highway 40, I stopped to see if I should replace the spoke, but it would require the removal of the gears to get access to the spoke insert so I decided to take the most direct route to Sarnia and have it repaired the following day.

When I finally reached Wallaceburg, it was 1 pm, so I stopped at the Black Goose Grill located on the edge of the river running through the town and had yellow perch for lunch on the patio overlooking the river.

From Wallaceburg, I slowly headed north on highway 31 to Sarnia.  With the headwind it seemed like a long ride from Wallaceburg and I was conserving the little water I had but I was getting extremely thirsty due to the heat.   When I finally reached the stop in Lucasville there was an Esso station where I drank an ” Monster Java ” energy drink, a large Gatorade and took a bottle of water with me.

I hadn’t checked the directions clearly and I rode east without knowing it and I was 5 km down the road before I realized that I was going the wrong direction, so I rode back and headed north again.   It was on this route that I saw a farm I hadn’t seen before.

This solar farm that stretched for at least a mile.  Apparently there are quite a few solar farms in the area.

I was following the google map on my phone and at one point, I had trouble following the directions because I didn’t realize that it was directing me to a bike trail and I rode in a zigzag pattern until I understood where I was supposed to go.

I finally arrived at my destination, the home of Sauro and Marianna DiGiacomi.  Sauro and I went to University together and I have known them for 40 years.

I will be staying in Sarnia for at least a day to have the wheel fixed.   If all goes well, I plan on leaving on Friday and heading towards Grand Bend.

Day 8 – Chatham to Sarnia

Distance Travelled: 98 km

Travel Time: 6 hrs

Conditions: 22 – 28 C ( 72 – 82 F ) mostly sunny and hot with a headwind.

 

Day 7 – Pelee Island to Chatham

July 24, 2018

I was very fortunate that it didn’t rain overnight, but, on the other hand, it was very humid because it didn’t rain which made it so uncomfortable that I didn’t get to sleep until after midnight.   By 6:30 I got up, packed my bike and rode to the ferry dock.

I arrived at the dock at 7:30 am, just as the two motorcyclists from the campsite pulled in and we started a conversation.  John Carter is 68 years old and he is a retired Polymer Scientist who lives in Ohio and had worked in the research department for Goodyear.   His son, Brett is a 35 year old firefighter, married, has 5 children ( and one on the way ) which are home-schooled and he lives in Chambersburg, PA, but he works in Maryland.   John & Brett are both devout Christians and Brett is a worship team leader in his church.   We had very interesting discussions as we had a coffee and muffin/bagel at a local shop while we waited for the ferry.   After we boarded the ferry, which was around 8:45 am, we continued our conversations.   John and Brett were taking their annual trip together and this year they were riding from Ohio to Pelee Island, Niagara Falls Ontario and then back home again through Buffalo.   Initially, they had taken annual bicycle trips but for the last few years  they had started to take motorcycle trips together.  John has published a book called ” Western Humanism – A Christian Perspective” and he is in the process of writing another one.

I enjoyed getting to know them and when the ferry finally reached the Leamington dock at 10:30 am, we parted our ways, however, I hope that our paths will meet again.

My first objective  after leaving the boat was to get some wifi so I could publish my journal from the previous day before I continued my journey, so I headed to a nearby Tim Hortons.   In the Tim Hortons I met and elderly couple and when I mentioned that I was writing a journal of my adventures, she suggested that I mention that I met a 93 year old man and an 82 year old woman at the Tim Hortons when I wrote my blog, so that has been done.

By the time I finished my previous day’s journal, it was noon.  I had been told that I had to go to Pelee Point because it is the southernmost point in continental Canada, so I decided to go there.  There was some water and sewer pipe construction on the municipal road a few km before the park entrance but fortunately I didn’t have to take the long detour around, like the cars, because I could slip by the construction vehicles and therefore, it only took about 30 minutes to ride to the park entrance.

The ride in the park is all nicely paved and there are several spots to view the scenery, see historic sites or even go for a swim.

From there it was another 9 km to the very tip of the park.  I had to walk the last 500 meters ( 1/3 mile ) , but I made sure I put my shoe in the water at the very tip where other tourists were experiencing the view and taking pictures.

I then started my ride north, back the way I came, until I got a little past the construction work and I saw ” Birdie’s Perch – Bustaurant and Takeway” which is restaurant built in a double-decker bus.   I had the Perch Po Boy and it was excellent.  When I was about to leave, one of the customers who was from Cottam ( Kingsville area ) walked up to me and we talked about different types of bikes for a few minutes.

From there, I started my journey towards Jeanettes Creek.  When I reached Tilbury, which is next to highway 401, I had already travelled a fair distance so I stopped to figure out where I might stay for the night.   It looked like Chatham was my best option for a room although I was considering going a lot further to Wallaceburg.

As soon as I left from Tilbury, I noticed one of my saddlebags was swaying back and forth so I stopped to take a look.   Three  of the four rivets which attach the holding mechanism to the bag were gone so I tied a bungee cord in a makeshift fashion around the bag and decided I would not go any further than I had to so that I could repair or replace the bag the following day.   I rode the 8 kms ( 5 mile ) to Jeanettes Creek and I was just leaving the town along the Tecumseh Parkway, when I heard a  suspicious ‘ popping ‘ noise from my rear tire and I stopped to check it out but my tire seemed to be fine so I continued riding, cautiously , while glancing at my rear tire occasionally to see if I could determine what had happened.   It wasn’t long before I noticed that the rear tire was wobbling and I suspected that one of the spokes had broken, but none were missing, so I continued to ride, hoping that the problem wouldn’t get worse during the last 20 km ( 13 miles ) to Chatham.  Fortunately I made it there and I rode a little past the highway I would have to take to go to Sarnia, in order to get to the motel and on the way I noticed that there was a bike shop, so that I could stop there in the morning and have repairs made, because it was 6:30 pm and it was closed for the day.  Unfortunately they don’t open until 10 am so I will have a late start in the morning.

When I reached the motel, I had ridden 106 km and I was tired, so I took a shower and treated myself to an upscale dinner.   There was a ” Churrascaria” ( Portuguese steakhouse ) next to the motel, so I went there and had a very nice 8 oz filet mignon with asparagus, carrots, black olives and a salad.

It was a long day and I am not sure what will happen tomorrow, but then, that is normal for me.

Day 7 – Pelee Island to Chatham

Distance Travelled: 106 km by bike (i.e. not including the ferry ride)

Travel Time: 5 hrs 40 min

Conditions: 22 – 29 C ( 72 – 84 F ), partly sunny and dry with a tailwind most of the time.

Accommodations: Saxony Motel ( $74 )