I mentioned my idea about biking to Montreal in my posting about Worldcon 2009. I’ve finally returned home and can report that I made it but not without sore parts.
Although I did not have months to prepare for this trip I did find several internet resources that helped me to plan it. Chief among these was Brian Hedney’s excellent Ultimate Toronto to Montreal Cycling Route. Brian’s route uses the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail but his notes and deviations from it are excellent advice. I also found time to listen to some podcasts while preparing. And, this recipe for homemade Gator/Power/Ade I googled was a good find.
So the first day of the trip: August 1st.
I wanted to avoid the traffic of the city and I didn’t have that much time so getting around Metropolitan Toronto was required. My wife and son had planned on going to see some guitars at the 12th fret, a music store in the Danforth section of Toronto, so I came with! My bike was detached from the carrier on the car and I then cycled the short distance to the Danforth GO train station. I purchased my ticket and maneuvered the bike onto the proper platform by 11:30. The smell of the garbage remaining from the recent strike was definitely present or at least I hoped that was the explanation. Phew!
The weight of the panniers was incredible. It was certainly a bigger challenge to muscle them (attached to the bike of course) onto the train when it arrived at about 11:45. The problem was exacerbated by the tightness in getting past the floor to ceiling pole in the middle of the doorway.
On the ride to Oshawa we were stopped at Guildwood for several tens of minutes. An announcement came over the speakers indicating that the announcer (a woman who didn’t introduce herself) had a “need to re-spot the train”. That confused me. There was a VIA train that was stopped on tracks to the immediate left. It wasn’t hard to spot at all. And, seeing how I could see myself and the rest of the train I was currently located in, I had a hard time imagining that the train I was in was difficult to spot. I was pretty sure they didn’t mean they were going to be repainting or re-applying a polka dot somewhere but all this spotting may have been happening in a car different that the one I was in. So I was left with the idea that the voice was actually as disembodied as it sounded and needed to somehow float towards us until it could spot us again. Eventually the voice came back, opened and closed the doors, and then we went on. One should always start a new adventure with the surreal. It’s very grounding.
We reached the Oshawa station at 12:40 and then I was off! Watch me go. Pedaling! OK, so I wasn’t all that fast with around 40 pounds of crap making my back tire look flat. But I wouldn’t let that stop me (at least not until I biked past a place with a pump where I did stop to inflate). I biked down through Cordova Park and the Oshawa Valleylands Conservation Area until I reached Simcoe Street South and the rendezvous with Brian Hedney’s route.
It didn’t take long to get out of Oshawa, through the Second Marsh. I took a picture of the GM office as I passed it on the way. I learned how smart it was to follow Brian’s advice when I went through the Darlington Nuclear Generating Station Trail which he advised against. There were some pretty things to see in there (including some beautiful swans in a rather bleak pond) but the trail was rough and difficult to get a pannier-equipped bicycle through. At one point I had to detach the panniers to get through a gate. By 3:00 I had arrived near to Newcastle and by 4:00 I was in Port Granby. There was a lot of country road travel happening here and a few places pretty enough to snap a few pictures.
Port Hope had on some kind of festival which I rode through, pausing only for a little bit to take a picture at the Firefighter’s Museum, until reaching the busy Highway 2. Cobourg I reached at 6pm and stopped to eat at Happy Gilmore’s bar and grill. I ordered a hot hamburger entré with Greek salad on the side, a Caesar, Vanilla ice cream and 2 full pitchers of water. Okay so I was hungry. I made some more P/G/ade drink (which works well to keep up my electrolytes) while I waited for the meal to arrive. It started to get dark around 8:15 when I stopped to call Karen from a pay phone in Colburne. I reached the Salem Woods trailer park at 9:30 and set up my wee tent. I went and had a shower and was in bed by 10:00.
And that was my first day. It amounted to about 100 kilometres plus the distance from the Oshawa GO station to meet up with Brian’s trail and a few spots where I got lost. In other words I had made it about 1/2 the distance to Kingston. With only half a day it was a pretty good start and the first ‘century’ I’ve done in cycle-touring.
More adventures continued tomorrow for Day 2.