Going on a croc hunt …

June 16th, 2008 by becky

77 km, 5 hr – Scarborough to Port Darlington

Today began with an early start. Both John and Tina needed to be places, so we got up, packed up and headed out to MacDonalds (across the street) for breakfast. We were on the road by 7:30 am.

The weather finally felt nice. It was a nice temperature (about 20 deg) and sunny.

Our ride began with 18 km of busy city streets. Although the streets were busy and often 4 or 6 lanes, it was always quite comfortable to be on a bicycle. There was always an extra lane so that vehicles could pass you with a full lane. The only time cars came close was when they wanted to make a right-turn. So, it made for a pleasant and comparatively fast ride.

Once we were out of Scarborough, the lakeside paths recommenced. The paths through Ajax, Oshawa, and Whitby are very nice. The waterfront is mostly park land.

P6160613
Occasionally, the waterfront trail presents you with some stairs. Not too fun with a loaded bike.

P6160617
A remote part of the waterfront trail.

P6160618
One of the many nice pathways.

P6160623
Scott approaching on one of the bridges.

P6160630
Birds taking a nap near Whitby.

We stopped in Whitby for lunch at the A&P grocery store. There is a new store / strip mall right along the waterfront trail (where the trail heads out to Victoria Road). We picked up some food from the “fresh 2 go” section. Not long after arriving, we were invited to use the staff picnic table for lunch. We sat down and chatted with several people while enjoying our lunch. One lady even invited us to stay in her basement in Oshawa. Unfortunately, we had to decline, as we really needed to put on more miles. Oshawa was just too close, such that stopping there would mean a need to ride over 100 km the next day.

Throughout the day, I was aware of the changing weather. When we left lunch, there was a very dark cloud over top us. With the cloud came cooler temperatures, to the point where we considered putting on jackets. Fortunately, that cloud passed over us without releasing any rain, and the sun was soon with us again.

A few km down the road, my gears started acting up. I’ve found that my shifter can sometimes get very hard to shift. I was told this was normal break-in for the Roloff, but it really didn’t feel right, and it was almost impossible to shift. Scott gave it a try and agreed. He removed the cable from the hub, and we noticed that it was still difficult to shift. The problem appears to be in the cable, not the hub itself. Not able to do much else with it, Scott put it back together. It seems to be working better now. This has been an intermittent problem, so it is unclear how much longer it will remain better.

P6160634
Darling power plant.

When we reached Darlington Provincial Park we discovered that the park store was closed Monday through Thursdays. It appears the parks are not running in full swing yet. Summer hasn’t really begun. We had only gone 60 km and didn’t really want to do a century (100+km) tomorrow, so we decided to move along to Port Darlington, where there were several motel options. Not long after leaving the park, a few large raindrops hit me. I totally panicked and freaked out. I wanted to get the tarp out and get under cover; and yet, the clouds were separating and the sun beginning to shine. All these crazy thunderstorms lately have definitely made me oversensitive to rain. Scott managed to calm me down and made me realize that we really didn’t even need rain gear. The short spattering of rain didn’t even wet the pavement before it stopped. We only had 6 km to go to Port Darlington, so even if it did rain, it wouldn’t be long before we were indoors.

Just before Port Darlington, we turned off into a single track lane that went under the high power lines. The paths got a little more interesting, in that they were no longer paved bike paths, rather packed gravel or dirt single track.

I had a little fall on the way to the path (large bump on a bad angle, meant the loaded bike didn’t land flat! – oops). The folks in the hydro truck watching must have been amused. The driver gave a small honk to let Scott know to wait for me.

P6160649
Single track just before Port Darlington.

We soon arrived at the Port Darlington Marina Motel. Scott negotiated a reasonable rate ($87 for ground floor room), so we decided to stay. The clouds were promising to throw a storm at us yet. Shortly after arriving, I discovered that I had lost one of my crocs :(. Scott had warned me that my attachment mechanism wasn’t secure. I knew that it couldn’t be that far away, since it was on my bike when I put my rain jacket on the back after my little weather craziness. I hypothesized that it fell off when I fell entering the track (only about 1.5 km away).

So, we unloaded our bikes and headed out on a croc hunt. As we re-entered the single track, the clouds were looking rather dark. It appeared that two different storm clouds were going to intersect with one another. Meanwhile, we are riding along single track underneath high power lines. At one point, Scott asked “how badly do you want your Croc?”. I figured that we really did not have that much further to go to get to where I fell. We could see the beginning of the path (about 1 km max). Fortunately, my croc wasn’t that far away. Within 200 m of Scott making the comment, my Croc appeared, so we turned around and headed back. We were off the trail and just outside the hotel, when we stopped to talk to a couple walking their dog. They were quite curious about our bikes and how we managed to stop and sit up on them. We had a few minutes to discuss the bikes before the thunder reminded us that the weather was about to hit, so we parted ways. We made it back to the motel dry.

Scott demonstrated how to get started riding the bike to the curious folks sitting outside their hotel rooms. Once we were settled in the room, the storm began, giving us the all too familiar thunder, lightning, and rain. It didn’t last too long, and now we have a lovely evening. Hopefully tomorrow will be as nice :).

When I checked the weather channel in the morning, I discovered that Niagara-on-the-Lake and Toronto had hail and wicked storms. We seem to always be on the right side of the severe weather. When we left Rochester, all points east had tornado warnings – fortunately, we were going west.

Leave a Reply