Medalist Road, Toronto Ontario (1435 km)

Our only photo today: A long downward hill into Toronto

Friday 1 September 2006
Bro Bruce’s house, North York, Toronto, Ontario
142.88km, 17.9 kph
7 hrs, 57 mins; 9.30 – 8.00

END OF TRIP! 1435 KM TOTAL THIS YEAR

This was plan C, D or E, not sure which. Knowing that we couldn’t get to Montreal, we thought we would rent a van in Orillia or some such small town, skipping the long south leg to Toronto. No luck though – everything is booked for kids to go back to school and drop off in Montreal is not available. So we decided to go south after all and figure it out as we got closer to Toronto – finishing up the day by bus or train or TTC… But it didn’t work out that way.

Starting down Airport Rd from Collingwood was a nightmare, people go way too fast and negligible shoulder. So we stopped to reassess and took the parallel Fairground road. It went up and up… and up and up. We were on top of the world with a fabulous 180 degree view, but only about 23 km under our wheels. Then straight down to Creemore, to continue our strategy which went thru the day… ask for advice, get advice, find out it is no good, ask again, ditto.

So here’s where we went: Fairground to Creemore, E to Centre Line Road, S to Webster, SE to concession Rd 3, S to 89, E on 89 (heavy traffic, v dangerous), S on 4 (gravel), E on Sideroad Adjala, S on Concession Rd 5, E on 1 to Loretto and lunch in Loretto Inn (vapourised, so hungry). Asked directions from a drunkish guy, figuring he knew all the miss-the-police back routes – E on 1, S on Concession Rd 7 – nice blacktop for about 200 yds then more gravel. (Why did we not have a cycle route????) E on 14, S on Adjala Tecumseh Townline Rd – good – then SE on Mt Pleasant. Every inch of the way was up or down. Mt Pleasant Road was another mountain, we pushed our bikes up. Near the top were several country mansions, finally we got to top and could see Toronto about 30 km away, squint and you can see the CN Tower in the photo.

So we kept going, all the way to Toronto, thought we were nearly there but another 15 km across town to York Mills (taking Albion, Wilson Ave and York Mills Road), Bruce’s house, a fabulous meal (we were starving), then conked out.

Collingwood, Ontario

Downhill into Meaford

Thursday 31 August 2006
Holiday Inn Express, Collingwood Ontario
73.13 km, 16.7 kph
4 hrs 20 mins, 9.30 – 4.00

The road from Owen Sound to Meaford is half rebuilt but with a narrow shoulder. 2nd part is poor. Cycling lobby in Ontario has not been very influential – road standards are for cars not for people. However that was the least of our troubles today. Nor were the huge hills the killer, it was our continuing comrade the very strong east wind, straight into our faces so that it took 2 hours to go 30 km.

We climbed up a long way, then crested over a hill to a spectacular view of the bay and the road down into Meaford. Very pretty ride through the fields and farms and early apple harvest. The Niagara escarpment showed itself with trees growing from the rocks and odd and interesting formations.

Lunch at Meaford by the river, then jumped onto the new Georgian trail (old rail line) all the way to Collingwood. We did try the road for a while but it was bad and way too dangerous – so instead had a beautiful ride down the old rail right of way, protected from the wind and not very busy. We pedaled around Collingwood, hoping for a motel by the lake, but none existed so staying at the rather predictable Holiday Inn Express.

Old mill on way to Collingwood

Niagara escarpment

Trees growing in rock cracks

Owen Sound, Ontario

Celebrating our 26th at Norma Jeans in Owen Sound

Wednesday 30 August 2006
Best Western Inn on the Bay, Owen Sound Ontario
113.14 km, 20.7 kph
5 hrs 28 mins, 10 – 6

Heavy winds again today, veering from helping us to being right in our face – NE winds at 20 kph, we were going generally S and E. Lunch at Ferndale, tea in Wiarton – where we checked up on Wiarton Willy, Canada’s answer to the groundhog of Groundhog Day. Took a back road (highway 17) into Owen Sound through farmland and woods.

Dinner at Norma Jean’s – it’s our anniversary! Owen Sound famous for being the home of Billy Bishop – and Billy Bishop Goes to War was one of our first dates….

Wiarton Willie

Willie's plaque

Afternoon tea at Wiarton

Tobermory, Ontario

Blue Bay Inn in Tobermory

Tuesday 29 August 2006
Blue Bay Mote, Tobermory Ontario
28,7 Km, 19.3 kph
1 hr 29 mins

Rest day today – easy ride to the ferry, hung around South Baymouth, patronizing the gift shops and a sunny patio, then took a ride on the Chi-Cheemaun ferry to Tobermory. At Tobermory visited the new visitors’ centre for the national park and had a wonderful dinner in the sunset.

 

The Chicheemaun

Spinnaker Pub in Tobermory

Manitowaning, Manitoulin Island, Ontario

Black Rock Inn

Monday 28 August 2006
Black Rock resort, Manitowaning, Manitoulin Island
95.74 km, 19.1 kph
4.59 hrs, 10 – 5

We think our days will be short but they all seem to turn out so long…

Espanola to Little Current is steady hills, not too hard but constantly up and down. First part of the road was terrible but the second part was new and had a very generous shoulder, so we felt comfortable cycling for the first time in a long time. Very pretty ride, watched the famous swinging bridge to Manitoulin Island (1913), then into Little Current for lunch. We crossed Great La Cloche Island, very unusual landscape, flat and barren like we were in the Arctic.

Lunch at the Anchor on a patio – they are few and far between anywhere we have been lately (none between Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie).

The second part of the day was hard again – strong SE wind slowed us down considerably. Road very bumpy, cracks across it every 20 feet. Staying in a family resort of cabins on the lake and had a swim in Lake Huron. No food at the resort, and we don’t carry any, so the proprietor kindly loaned us her car, we bought groceries and Olin cooked us a nice dinner. Life is grand.

We’re on Manitoulin Island because… we could go through Sudbury and North Bay, where we might possibly go again, or we could come to Manitoulin where we will never come again. Just too far away. Interesting to be here, but it does seem very remote and very Canadian shield.

Manitoulin swing bridge

Swing bridge closing

Former power plant close to Manitoulin

More hills on Manitoulin

Black Rock Inn beach

Espanola, Ontario

Espanola pulp mill

Sunday 27 August 2006
Pinewood Motel, Espanola Ontario
97.7 km, 21.7 kph
4 hrs 29mins, 10 – 4

We flew down Hwy 17 this morning, finally getting a more favourable wind, ie just a gentle breeze. Shoulder OK but narrow, except in one unfinished section where it barely existed. Extremely dangerous road for cyclists – heavy traffic and no where to ride. The road is mostly new and it is very bad that it was built only for vehicles. None of the people living alongĀ  our TCH can use it except by car.

Good lunch at Vance’s restaurant in Spanish – another delicious BLT – did I mention that I am an expert?

We kissed the highway goodbye at Massey, having been on it since West Hawk Lake, Manitoba. We turned down a country road which was flat but very rough surface. no traffic. Not sure that I would recommend it because of the surface, “cold pack”, a local told us.

Espanola looks pretty good – nice walk before dinner, but like many small towns it has not figured out how to put people on the street, just cars. The wind came back into our faces in the pm, to remind us that it is there.

Our motel

Pulp mill, Espanola

Blind River, Ontario

Eldo Inn in Blind River

Saturday 26 August 2006
Auberge Eldo, Blind River
77.8 km, 17.2 kph
4 hrs 32 mins, 9.10 – 5.00

Ouch – that was slow. Heavy head wind again with rain. In spite of poor conditions I enjoyed the day – we stopped at Thessalon (beautiful), Iron Bridge (lunch) and various places between. The last part of the ride down the Mississagi River was stunning – we were in a jungle. Good dinner at the Eldo, followed by a stroll down to the sandy beach of Lake Huron – all very beautiful.

Met a couple on a motorbike going to Vancouver; another couple on bicycles crossing the country same way as us, but they left 5 July… and were waiting out the rain under the same outhouse roof we were sheltering under. Mississagi Park, that would be.