Introduction to this trip
Friday June 4, 2010
Last summer we did a 4 day bike tour around Lake Champlain. We biked from B&B to B&B and found that we really enjoyed the experience. That trip was done with our road bikes and only rear panniers. Fortunately we did not break the bikes.
Building on that experience and having the summer stretching out in front of us we decided try a more serious ride this year. Our goal is to circle Lake Ontario, about a two week trip. Schedules and commitments this summer push that trip into August.
We have the bikes and the equipment and are itching to get on the road, so, we decided that our maiden voyage would be a shorter trip to Pelee Island over 8 days. We hope to camp along the way except for one night in an area that we cannot find a campground (not into stealth camping)
Saturday June 5, 2010
So far we have run about 400 unloaded km on these bikes and are pleased with the ride.
The rest of our equipment is coming over from our canoeing experiences. It will be loaded in MEC rear and Venture Front panniers. We also bought a new MEC 2 man hiking tent. It’s pretty small, but we like each other.
Creature Comforts or A Balancing Act
Sunday June 6, 2010
But…we also want to be comfortable and a good night’s sleep is essential. So is good food.
Some of our choices:
tent–we bought a smaller one for this trip as we don’t need space for the dog.
sleeping pads–essential, directly on the ground would leave us too stiff to move in the morning.
cooking equipment–it’s pretty compact, only takes up one front pannier. food–only packed snacks, we’ll pass lots of grocery stores and restaurants.
clothing–packed for 3 days and took some detergent, we’ll look for a laundromat warm clothing–took one set, there’s nothing worse than being cold.
electronics–took cell phone, net book, camera and adapters
books–made our trip to a used book sale for paperbacks–a family tradition cribbage board–can’t do without it! lawn chairs–left them at home
In the end K is carrying 42 lbs and I’m carrying 36 lbs.
Time will tell if we’ve guessed right.
Donnybrook to Ailsa Craig
Monday June 7, 2010, 97 km (60 miles) – Total so far: 97 km (60 miles)
The first 20 km of the trip are quite hilly and should be about the worst climbs we will see for the rest of the trip. The wind was in our back and we made excellent time. We made a short detour into Exeter for lunch and to pick up another bike lock. We found one that was actually a better system than the one we left behind
The tail wind was wonderful and we arrived at Shady Pines Campground around 3:00 with an average speed of almost 22km/hr. Shady Pines is really a campground for trailers, generally retired folks who spend the summer here and the winter in Florida. We were the only nomadic campers. It was sort of funny when the lady running the place had to think hard about which site to put us on. She was great though, coming to see us before she left and first thing in the morning to make sure that we were ok.
We were in bed by 9:00pm
Ailsa Craig to Ridgetown
Tuesday June 8, 2010, 108 km (67 miles) – Total so far: 205 km (127 miles)
The afternoon was a bit tougher. No hills to speak of, but the wind picked up making the cycling more challenging. We also went a little farther than we usually do. One section of road was quite broken up, causing our poor private parts to get banged over and over. I don’t think a truly comfortable bike seat actually exists.
We cycled through some road construction. It’s rather cool to ride on brand new asphalt. It’s a really smooth ride but not necessarily fast as it’s so sticky. It’s also one of the few times when a cyclist can feel equal to a vehicle. Those cars coming the other way have to wait for you, no matter how long it takes!
There are no campgrounds near Ridgetown so we’re holed up in a Howard Johnson’s. It’s not the classiest place but the king size bed is muchly appreciated. A motel also means a restaurant meal and no dishes.
Weather forecast tomorrow is not that great, we’ll see how it goes.
Ridgetown to Pelee Island
Wednesday June 9, 2010, 110 km (68 miles) – Total so far: 315 km (196 miles)
Rest day on the island
Thursday June 10, 2010, 26 km (16 miles) – Total so far: 341 km (212 miles)
Pelee Island to Wallaceburg
Friday June 11, 2010, 103 km (64 miles) – Total so far: 444 km (276 miles)
We stopped in Tilbury for lunch. A bunch of high school kids were out by the road (smoking maybe?) so we asked them if there was anyplace in town with high speed internet access. They looked a little confused by the question at first and then came back with “No….you’re in Tilbury you know.
Tilbury turned out fine. The library had internet access and we got free lunch. The Bank of Commerce was having a customer appreciation day and was aggressively giving away hot dogs and drinks. We had our fill.
The wind was with us most of the day so we made good time to Wallaceburg. Since it is supposed to storm over night we decided to hole up in a Days Inn rather than camping. Our early arrival in town allowed us to do some laundry and then go for supper at a great spot called the Black Sheep Pub.
Wallaceburg to Wyoming
Saturday June 12, 2010, 76 km (47 miles) – Total so far: 520 km (323 miles)
A lot of the roads on this trip have been uncomfortable. Broken and frost heaved, they do well for cars and trucks but are a bit unpalatable for biking.
We ended the day at my brother’s house. We are camped in his backyard and look forward to a nice evening visiting with him and his family.
Wyoming to the Pinery
Sunday June 13, 2010, 91 km (57 miles) – Total so far: 611 km (380 miles)
b) make a shorter day and head for the Pinery Provincial Park and spend some time in Grand Bend
c) divide the trip closer to half and stay in Dashwood, another RV park where we would be welcome but way out of place.
We chose to head to the Pinery. The day was overcast and at times even drizzly, but nothing serious. Ride was mostly uneventful. We stopped in Forest for breakfast, every one stopped and stared at us when we walked into the restaurant. Was it because we were dressed in our cycling clothes, complete with spandex or was it simply because we were strangers in a small town?
After setting up out camp we biked toward Grand Bend to a huge flea market. Unfortunately, it was near closing time. They still charged us a dollar each to get in. After leaving the market we headed to Grand Bend for supplies and back to camp. This “sightseeing” added 26km to our day.
Adventures in the Night…Pinery to Home
Monday June 14, 2010, 101 km (63 miles) – Total so far: 712 km (442 miles)
First, we had no car to lock our food in. On Pelee Island we hung the food pannier up so no creatures could get it. Last night, we simply tucked the pannier in the vestibule of our tent. I think we thought any nocturnal creatures would be turned off by the fact we were sleeping only inches away. But they’re pretty bold. First the raccoon went to Ken’s side and did some exploring. The first thought upon waking up is “Is it a raccoon or a skunk?” K scared it away.
A little later we hear noises again. This time on my side of the tent. By the time I could get untangled from the sleeping bag, find the flashlight and turn it on, the raccoon had dragged the pannier bag, with food in it, to the edge of the camp site, eight feet away. I got up, rescued the bag, and put it in the tent (I know, you should never put food in the tent with you, because the bears will go after it).
By that time I had to pee.
We did manage to go back to sleep.
Our trip home was long and uneventful. We added kilometers to try to avoid hills. After 6 days with virtually flat terrain it was tough coming back to hills. The wind was not our friend today either.
It was great to get up that last hill which is our driveway. The trip was a success. We can do day after day of relatively long distances. Lake Ontario in August is now more than just a possibility.