Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bike Trip 2011 Recap - Day 7 Toronto

Day 7 - Bronte to Toronto, ON 33 mile route
We ate some breakfast at Tim Hortons then headed out from the Quality Inn to Toronto. We stopped about 10 miles in to get toothpaste, and I dicovered that I had lost my wallet. This is pretty standard for me traveling (china, seattle, patagonia), and originally I had a credit card stashed with my passport and separately a debit card with my liscense. But at some point I put the cc with the liscense and dc, so all sources of $$ were now gone. I think that I left it in bed after we went to Tim Hortons, but the hotel never found it. We pushed in though industrial areas, and were able to finally find a bike shop that was open. Sadly, they only had giant tubes of chamios cream, so we didn't get any, but JG bought me some socks and a triathlon magazine to cheer me up. So nice of him!
We also saw a bird with a lure though it's beak which was sooo sad:
We rolled into the Courtyard in downtown Toronto on Young Street, first passing through the financial district where they were handing out Carlsberg beer for free on the sidewalk. Luckily I still had my passport & realized that everything was okay. The Courtyard was so amazing because it had LAUNDRY FACILITIES and FREE INTERNET! (the internet in the regular Marriott's is around $15 a night but you can only have one device on it, ridiculous)
We had cocktails and swam while we did laundry then headed out. We had dinner at the Beer Bistro consisting of a wonderful mushroom & blue cheese flatbread pizza and steamed greens. It was so refreshing to eat a meal out that wasn't beer & cheese fries. (though we could probably write a "beer and cheese fry cycling tour of Lake Ontario book now...) We stopped at the 3 Brewers Microbrewery on the way back to the hotel, honestly expecting a palatable beer and I really wanted a piece of cake. To our suprise, the belgium was delicious and resonably priced. I wanted to try one of the beer cocktails on the menu, but the belgium came in a bottle and it was enough.
I woke up early in the am and wandered around Toronto and shot some pics.
hockey hall of fame:

Read about the previous Day 6, the following Day 8, or look at the Flickr photo set

Bike Trip Recap - Day 6 - Ontario

Day 6 - Niagara Falls to Bronte, ON - 90 mile route
We reluctantly left the comforts of the Marriott and charged ahead. There was a bit of construction and traffic to get out of Niagara Falls, but some of the views were stunning:
We tried to follow the Waterfront Trail around the lake, which is a great, well-marked trail, but some sections weave through neighborhoods to get to the shoreline. We tried to cut those sections out, and just keep a straight shot. Our original intent was to stop in Hamilton, but we were really cruising that day, averaging almost 16mph and there weren't many stops. We pushed on to Bronte.
Traveling by bike lets you be much more aware of your surroundings, and there are always interesting indications of the town's place on the socio-economic scale. Such as here- when we were nearing the town, there the people on bikes were now older white men on triathlon bikes, indicating a wealthy neighborhood & a high likelyhood that the grocery will have good vegan protein options and quality produce selection. So we stopped & loaded up on tofurkey slices and veggies dogs,then continued on Lakeshore Drive to find the Beer Store. Another lesson learned is never ask a non-cyclist for directions, or have an appropriate scale that you can correlate it to. After about10 miles, we ended up in Oakville. We had gone about 76 miles at this point,so were trying to figure out if there was another camping area to push onto or a hotel nearby. No luck on either, so we turned back about 8 miles then headed away from the Lake towards Bronte State Park. The road heading away from the Lake was not the best for riding- fast 4 lane highway, and the large sidewalk/bike path flipped sides about 1/2 way up. We read the directions from the 'Round Lake Ontario guidebook, but just couldn't find the park entrance. At about 9:30 we asked for directions at a church (and hoping that they would offer us a space to camp on their land). The directions were about 10 miles further to the park entrance or chance camping at the day-use area. Neither sounded appealling, so we headed back towards the lake a few miles & got a room at the Quality Inn. The hotel was actually really nice, with modern decor. Sadly the pool had closed just as we arrived though. The downfall of staying in a hotel is that you always eat poorly. We had delicious quinoa and veggies to cook up and were very tempted to fire up the Jetboil in the room, but instead ate raw broccoli, cheese & tofurkey slices on bread, chips and desert.  We had put in over 90 miles that day, but it was fast, flat, and cooler than other days, so we were feeling good and not too hungry. In retrospect, we were probably dehydrated as JG got pretty sick through the night, but a little Tim Hortons in the am & he seemed to be fine.
Looking for the park entrance:

You can read about the previous Day 5, the following Day 7 or look at the entire
Flickr Photo Set

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Bike Trip Recap - Day 5 - Rest day!

Tourist Day!
We took an extra night to enjoy the luxuries of the Marriot/Fallview Hotel and try and track down a few items. Sadly, they did not have laundry facilities, so we washed some items in the sink & made good use of the hotel pool.  The only bikeshop was about 5 km from the hotel, so we got to walk through all the new, crazy, casino tourist area where our hotel was, then explore downtown Niagara Falls, track down a helmet for myself (though no chamios cream) and other tolietries. We stopped at Taps Brewery which was actually really good. We have found the most microbrews just don't have quality beers, but this one was a pleasant suprise. They were also an anomoly as you could get growlers to go and they export 6 packs to Toronto to sell. Ontario's liquor laws are similar to Pennsylvania's in that you can only buy beer by the case, no takeout from bars, not sold on holidays, etc.  We also stopped at their sister brewery, which didn't have as great a selection of beers or food, then stopped at the casino.  The hotel resturant had great food and drinks, so we stopped there before heading to bed.
we clean up nicely!
From the hotel bar: mango alcoholic slushie with Boone's farm sangaria around it

Read about the previous Day 4, the next Day 6, or look at the entire Flickr photo set

Bike Trip 2011 Recap - Day 4 NY to ON

Day 4 - Evangola State Park, NY to Niagara Fall, ON 60 mile route IMGP7355
After a peaceful night of rest, we actually got the wheels rolling early, around 9:30. We continued to head up 5, I believe it's also call the "lakeside route" or similar. It was really beautiful here. There were large homes, nice roads and we could watch the storm rolling in from the lake. About an hour in, JG had a flat and we pulled over in a yard to change the flat. The flat couldn't have happened at a better time. We were able to pull over into an actual yard (most of the properties were surrounded by gated fences & security booths) and the owner ended up being a mountain biker who recently had broken his collarbone so was home watching his two young girls. The storm ended up being pretty bad, lasting about 2 hours. The temperature dropped significantly and I kinda wished that we would have brought rain gear. After leaving, we decided to not follow the Adventure Cycling map to Buffalo. Their route had to you inland, passed a historical place in regards to the Underground Railroad and a Pedalling Museum. The only downfall of the Adventure Cycling routes is that it doesn't indicate if it takes on a specific path because the direct route has less-than-desirable conditions, or if it's just to sitesee. So we took 5 basically into Buffalo. Buffalo has a good amount of bike paths, but they were not labeled so well. The AC maps was a bit dated, the Google Maps car doesn't seem to have accurately driven in Buffalo, and the Greater Buffalo Maps are a bit too large to easily view on your phone.
After about an hour of riding around, we were mentally beat & stopped to see if we could find a hotel for the night. Unbelievably, all the hotels were sold out for the night and all of our technology was dead. So we headed to the Pearl Street Brewery to recharge devices & get wifi for the ipad. We had only gone 36 miles for the day (it was probably about only 25 into Buffalo, then 10 of wandering around...) so we decided to push onto Niagara Falls and found a room there for the night. So we crossed the border...
Then headed up the Niagara Parkway. The Parkway is a service road with a path next to most of it, but paths can get annoying fast when used for transportation not recreation, so we stuck to the road.
The route was so amazing. The road comes right into the back of the Falls, and the tourists were already gone for the day. It was the lull before the storm though. The road then drops down into the area of the Falls, which was pretty crowded. We then climbed up the steepest hill on the trip (glad there were a million tourists around or I may have been tempted to push my bike), and headed to the Marriott/Fallsview Hotel.

From the hotel:

Read about the previous Day 3, the next day- Day 5, or look at the entire Flickr photo set