Archive for June, 2008


Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Way back on June 3, my mother asked if we had mirrors. Both Scott and I ride with mirrors. I have a bike mounted mirror and Scott has a helmet mount. When I see him with helmet and mirror he reminds me of the borg!

Here is a view of Scott from my mirror:

Scott says:

I really like my helmet-mount mirror.  Early on I had trouble focussing on it, since I seem to be right-eye dominant, and I look at the mirror with my left eye, but I seem to have retrained my brain without too much trouble.  With the mirror appropriately adjusted, I can see cars coming from a distance in my peripheral vision, and check across multiple lanes of traffic with a slight turn of my head.

A few times when I’m off the bike, I have noticed myself trying to use the mirror to see something behind me.  Unfortunately, without the mirror I have to turn around instead!

A note to our email subscribers

Sunday, June 15th, 2008

Hi everyone,

If you are reading our blog using the email subscription method (right panel), you may notice that when you view the website later, the posts have changed. This is because the email subscription only sends out posts when they are first published. As we find snippets of time on the road, we go back to posts and update them pictures and additional information. Unfortunately, the email subscription utilities does not inform you when we make these changes.

I don’t have a great solution to this problem yet; however, it is something we will look at when we get back to Ottawa. Hopefully, we’ll have the time to find a better way to let you know when things are updated. For now, if you want to see pictures, then please browse back over articles a week or so after they occur.

The alternative is that we wait to post the articles until we know they are finished. Unfortunatley that would mean that you would first see posts 4-5 days after they occurred. I think our families would prefer to see partial posts in a more timely fashion, rather than completed posts later.



Out of the mouths of babes

Saturday, June 14th, 2008

64 km
4 hr 10 min
Oakville to Scarborough

I am constantly amused by the reactions kids have to our bikes. We often here comments and questions directed towards parents as we pass by. Here are some of the funnier ones:

  • That’s what I want for Christmas!
  • That’s not a bicycle!
  • How does that work?
  • Sick bike man!

Today was a relaxing ride through a variety of suburbs of Toronto and along the waterfront trail through downtown. When riding through the suburbs it was interesting to see the dramatic differences between the original homes (usually small bungalows) and the in-fill (huge 2 or 3 storey multi-car garage monster homes) all packed together on the same streets.

Over the last few days, I’ve be struck by how much of the Canadian Lake Ontario waterfront is publicly accessable parkland. The US side only had a few parks, and much of the shoreline was private property. In Canada, most of the waterfront property is set back from the water, with a buffer that is public parkland.

I have also been struck by how friendly the people we came across were in the US, and how much less friendly people seem to be here in Canada. When we ride, we say Good Morning or Hello to anyone and everyone that is looking at us. In the US, I don’t recall anyone who did not reply with a smile and a greeting in return. In Canada, we see many people who ignore our greeting and do not even return the slightest indication of a smile. As a Canadian, I find that very sad.

Here are some random photos from the Waterfront trail as we rode from Oakville to Scarborough.








Scott says:

No, I’m not trailing toilet paper from my left front pannier.  That’s white duct tape from an (unsuccessful) temporary repair.   Unfortunately, with the RT-40s hanging so low on the front, I’ve scraped them across the pavement a few times and worn a couple of small holes through the Cordura.  Several people have pointed out that RT-40s were never intended for this position, and I’ll try swapping them with my rear Ortlieb BikePackerPlus bags, which are both narrower and don’t hang as low.

Short and easy

Friday, June 13th, 2008

We had a short ride day today – 51 km. We decided we would do two shorter days in lieu of the rest day we didn’t take at Niagara-on-the-Lake. Today we bounced between trails (some of which were single tracks behind posh houses backing onto the lake) and the North service road boarding the QEW highway.

We agreed that both Hamilton and Burlington were rather cycle friendly, but Oakville was not. The moment you entered Oakville the nice paved shoulders and bike lanes disappeared! Hamilton and Burlington both had beautiful paths along the lake.

When we came to the bridge over Hamilton harbour, there was a sign directing cyclists and it says “cycle friendly stairs”. I thought that was a great oxymoron! As a loaded cycle tourists no stairs are cycle friently! In the end, we only needed to remove one pannier to get our wheels in the “cycle track”, and it too both of us to get one bike up!

At about 1:30 pm we met up with Scott’s parents for a wonderful picnic lunch. The food was amazing and the company good as well. Thank you Mary and Hugh for making the trip from Guelph to meet us, and for having the patience to wait until we arrived (over an hour after the planned rendezvous time).

After lunch we continued along the Waterfront trail, which alternated between Lakeshore Drive, side streets, and narrow pathways until we got to Judi and Jim’s place in Oakville. Judy is Scott’s father’s cousin. They are not home, so we are camping in their back yard, which is beautiful. Thanks Judi and Jim.

Scott says:

It’s nice to know that we can survive happily with a hose to rinse off with, and a nearby Tim Horton’s for food and bathrooms.

None of Judi and Jim’s neighbours approached us, and apparently they didn’t call the police either, so we must have been fairly innocuous.

My brother and his wife drove out for Kitchener to join us for dinner. We had a lovely meal and visit, thanks Mike and Kathleen.

We are now sitting in the tent and the thunder and lightning, which held off nicely all day, is now with us. The thunder is crazy loud. This is another big storm. It is helping to cool down the tent, which is really nice. I guess you could say that evening thunder and lightning has been a theme for this trip!

Tomorrow we will be staying at John and Tina’s place in Scarborough. John is Kathleen’s (my sister-in-law) son. We are looking forward to a nice visit with them.

OK…this storm is definitely one of the more severe ones … I just hope it doesn’t last as long as the one while we were camped on the Lake. It actually has me jumping out of my seat now and then! Here is a sound bite: Thunderstorm

Waterfront Trail – a study in contrasts

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

70 km
4 hrs

Niagara-on-the-Lake to Grimsby

Leaving the Shalamar Lake campground we followed the Niagara River to Niagara on the Lake. We saw many estates and “family compounds” (according to one for-sale sign) along the Niagara Parkway, and the path was beautifully treed and very nice to ride on. As usual we waved and said hello to people we saw on the path, but noticed that fewer people actually responded. Along the Erie Canal everyone said Hi, so I was a bit sad to be greeted with stony silence now that we’re back in Canada. Once we reached Niagara on the Lake, our Recumbents were a tourist attraction on their own, with many people coming up to talk to us and ask us about the bikes. I had a nice lady from Annapolis, VA ask to take my picture on the bike, and Becky got her extraversion fix with a long conversation about our bikes while we were eating breakfast.

We we had hoped to buy a Waterfront Trail map book at the start of the trail, but ended up crossing the trail further along, so missed the info booth. We did pick up a Niagara cycling map, which was helpful, and between that and the road signs we didn’t get lost too often. The trail does make some strange twists and turns along bike paths and through quiet residential streets, so it’s easy to miss a turn.

We stopped at a fresh fruit stand selling locally grown strawberries. They were picked this morning, and it was the first day of the season. We gobbled up a quart pretty quickly! I hope this fresh produce a sign of things to come.

At the fruit stand, we were passed by another pair of loaded cyclists (our first of the trip). They were a father-son team riding from central Pennsylvania to Toronto for the World Bike Messenger games this weekend. We chatted for a bit, but didn’t ever get their names – I need to get better at introducing myself.

Through Saint Catherine’s to Grimsby, the ride became a study in contrasts. We moved rapidly though exclusive lakefront enclaves, lower-income neighbourhoods with small apartments and shabby homes, quiet orchards and long stretches parallel to the busy QEW highway. Some neighbourhoods were quite interesting, including this one – filled with brightly painted gingerbread on the houses.

We both felt strong today – a good sign after our 100+ km day yesterday, given this was originally going to be a rest day.

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

Partdistance Parttime Partspeed Distance Time Speed
0.000 km 0s 0.000 km 0s
10.006 km 45m 40s 13.15 km/h 10.006 km 45m 40s 13.15 km/h
10.027 km 2h 11m 56s 4.56 km/h 20.034 km 2h 57m 36s 6.77 km/h
9.977 km 1h 16m 01s 7.87 km/h 30.011 km 4h 13m 37s 7.10 km/h
10.018 km 1h 30m 37s 6.63 km/h 40.029 km 5h 44m 14s 6.98 km/h
10.009 km 48m 04s 12.49 km/h 50.038 km 6h 32m 18s 7.65 km/h
10.005 km 31m 21s 19.15 km/h 60.043 km 7h 03m 39s 8.50 km/h
8.893 km 39m 59s 13.35 km/h 68.936 km 7h 43m 38s 8.92 km/h

Niagara on the Lake to Grimsby

Canal paths and borders

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

Holley NY to Niagara-on-the-Lake Ontario.
107 km (our longest day so far)
7 hours

The Holley drawbridge and tower. We camped to the right of the tower.

I start my mornings with a level of nervousness that I don’t completely understand. I’m afraid that I won’t be comfortable on the bike, or that I won’t be able to ride as far as we have planned for the day. I’m afraid we have set a target that is beyond what I could reach, and if we fail it is because I am not strong enough.

Today was a really long day. We wanted to make a run for the border, and by lunch it wasn’t clear we had any chance of making it. We were slogging along the Erie Canal trail at approximately 12 km / hr. Both a strong headwind and the chipped stone surface of the pathways were slowing us down. We had a long way to go and the daylight hours were limited. I did not want to be attempting a border crossing in the dark!
Becky’s view when there is a headwind.

After lunch things improved dramatically. The headwind stopped and we gained a fair bit of strength. Our average jumped up to over 15 km / hr, even when I was leading. Before lunch, to get to 12 km / hr Scott had to lead and I would follow in his draft. Without him breaking the wind, I would only make 10 km / hr! So, after lunch it was delightful to speed along the canal path.


Scott at the northern most point of the Erie Canal path.

Erie canal safety gate
Guard gates on the Erie Canal. Note the arrows to tell boaters where to go!

We reached the end of the canal path at 5 pm (Lockport). We had 30+ km to go to the campground on the Canadian side of the boarder. At 15 km / hr this is over 2 hours, but that doesn’t include stops. We stop every 45 – 60 minutes for bio breaks and to stretch out our legs; otherwise our feet fall asleep and our legs get really unhappy with us when we get out of the bikes. At the top of the locks in Lockport, Scott stopped to chat with a lady. Unfortunately, that chatting went on longer than I would have liked, since I was watching the clock and wondering if we could make it to the border on time, plus I needed to get something to drink (with sugar) to sustain me. By 5:30 pm we were on our way out of Lockport. We picked up the pace to an average of 20 km / hr (no headwinds and mostly flat).


Becky climbing the steep hill at the locks in Lockport.

We reached Lewisville at 7:45, but then made a few wrong turns. If we had just followed the “to Canada” sign, we would have been OK. Unfortunately, the sign was followed by a sign for the I-190, so I thought the onramp led to a major highway, and not straight to the bridge. We were searching for the back road to the bridge. Eventually, we found our way back to the “to Canada” sign and followed it. It turned out to take us directly to the bridge and Canadian Customs. We had no issues clearing customs and didn’t need to pay for the bridge (the toll to cross is collected after crossing, and the toll booths lead directly to the QEW – major highway). The nice toll booth person sent us around back of the toll building and into the employee parking lot. From there, we could get directly onto the Niagara river parkway, and pop down into Niagara-on-the-Lake.

We pulled into the campsite at 8:30 pm. We were able to pick up a couple of things from the camp store, so dinner was quick (canned corn, canned yellow beans, and textured vegetable protein with some spices).

We had originally thought we might spend two nights at the camp ground in Niagara-on-the-Lake, but it turned out to be a pretty mediocre campground. I was especially disappointed with the locked shower/bathroom building and the need to pay for showers. When you pay $30 per night to camp, you should at least get a free hot shower! The tent sites were just spaces in an open field with a few trees. There was no privacy with sites and the picnic tables were old and chinsy. Since the facilities didn’t add up to a peaceful rest day we decided we would just take it easy tomorrow, but move on to someplace else.

Sitting under a bridge

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Start: East Rochester 12:49
End: Holley, NY 8:05
Odo 59.0
Max 33.6
Moving avg 13.0
Moving time 4:33
Stopped time: 2:43


I have started writing this while sitting under a bridge on the Erie Canal Path, waiting for the rain to stop. The day began with a wicked storm. Fortunately, we were at Tim’s place visiting when it hit (and we had already packed up the tent). We knew from the weather radar that another system would pass. The black sky was are second warning. I remembered a spell of rain in Ottawa where I sheltered on the pathway underneath the Queensway bridge, so when the first drops of rain occurred and there was a bridge near, we decided to stop .. and not a moment too soon. Within seconds of us stopping our bikes under the bridge the heavens opened into a downpour. We stayed dry!

Becky taking a nap in while we wait out the rain. Yes this is actually quite comfortable!


How did we end up on the Erie canal path? We were following the Seaway Trail. When we went to pick up the rental car, we had to ride 15 km south. As a result, we were very close to the canal path. Rather than riding back to the Seaway Trail, we decided that we would spend a couple of days riding the Erie Canal path from Rochester to Lockport. From Lockport we will make our way to Lewiston and the bridge over to Canada. We hope to spend a couple of nights camping at Niagara on the Lake (although, I’m not sure we can afford the time, given how few miles we ride in a day).

Life is becoming a balancing act, and we haven’t figured it out yet. One important part of this trip was to get away from the rush of it all, and yet we keep finding ourselves in need of pushing forward to get to the next place in time. We don’t seem to have the time at the campsite to just enjoy camping.

We are finding that we are meeting so many more people that we have met on other cycling trips. When you carry all your gear and ride funny bikes, people are much more apt to talk to you. It also helps that we move rather slowly. Our average speed is somewhere around 12 km per hour. Since we joined the canal path, about 75% of the cyclists we see stop to ask us where we are going and where we come from. This can be really handy for gathering local knowledge. When a local cyclists stops, we can find out the condition of the roads ahead, locations for campgrounds, and great places to eat. This information can be hard for us to find on our own.

=== Afterwards ===

Our first attempt to leave the bridge was not particularly successful. The rain had eased to just a spit, so we decided to continue riding – without our wet weather gear. After about 100 m, I realized I wanted my light rain jacket. Shortly thereafter, the rain began to pick up. Unfortunately, my wet weather gear wasn’t easily accessible. So, we headed back under the bridge to put on our full wet weather gear before continuing to ride. Of course, this meant that the rain never really got heavy again. It did spit on and off for about an hour. Then we got too warm and needed to take off our wet weather gear. Fortunately, mother nature cooperated, and it did not end up raining again – although it did look rather threatening at times.

We took the advice of the canal master at Spencerport and headed up to Holley for the night. Immediately upon arrival at Holley, Mike the bridge keeper greeted us and provided us with directions on where we could camp, how to access the showers, and how we could access the Internet. We were amazed and grateful for the service :).

Not quite a rest day

Sunday, June 8th, 2008

Today was meant to be a rest day; however, we had to get ourselves to Rochester before we could rest. We had a dinner appointment with my grandparents in Port Colborne. We wanted to arrive at my Aunt’s place in time for showers and to do a load of laundry before dinner.

The day started early. I was up at 5 am with the birds. We’ll need to get a recording of the birds from a few different places to compare. I enjoy listening to the birds most mornings; however, there are times when I’d prefer to be allowed to sleep in!

The ride to Rochester (actually Webster, the eastern-most suburb of Rochester was 30 km).

About 10 km outside of Rochester, we met our first self-supported cycle tourist of this trip: Gerry Olafson from Austin Texas. Gerry road with friends from Chicago to Rochester, and was just beginning a one month stint by himself. He plans to ride for a month, through New York to Quebec and possibly to the maritimes. His only criteria was that his trip ended someplace where the could get a train back to Chicago. We exchanged information regarding the road ahead, and we were on our way again.

The road was mostly flat with some rolling hills (a nice change from days past). When we arrived in Webster, we stopped at MacDonalds (quick food and Internet).

As usual, we parked our bikes out front and found a place to sit inside where we could see our bikes. We were soon approached by a nice gentleman who was curious about our bikes and our trip. He was a local cyclist named Yar. He helped us find a good bike route to the rental place, and even offered to lend us his car! It is great to meet such friendly people :).

Frinding a rental car place turned out to be more challenging than we anticipated. We soon discovered that most non-airport agencies were closed on Sundays. The airport was more than 30 km away and I was not mentally prepared to ride that far! (I prepare for 30 km). Eventually, we found a place that was open and only 15 km away (yay!). Before we headed off, Yar gave us his number just in case we needed help. Thanks :).

We did successfully find our way to Port Colbourne in time (only just) and had an enjoyable dinner with my grandparents and a brief visit with my Aunt and Uncle.

By 10 pm we were both ready to collapse. We defininely need to find a way to get more sleep!

Thank-you Aunt Sharon and Uncle Mike for allowing us to take over 1/2 your home with our stuff. Our visit was brief but greatly enjoyed.

Becky and grandma at dinner.

Port Colbourne sunset.

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

Partdistance Parttime Partspeed Distance Time Speed
0.000 km 0s 0.000 km 0s
10.019 km 43m 07s 13.94 km/h 10.019 km 43m 07s 13.94 km/h
10.011 km 1h 05m 07s 9.22 km/h 20.030 km 1h 48m 14s 11.10 km/h
10.002 km 1h 02m 05s 9.67 km/h 30.032 km 2h 50m 19s 10.58 km/h
9.979 km 1h 51m 20s 5.38 km/h 40.011 km 4h 41m 39s 8.52 km/h
6.645 km 27m 51s 14.32 km/h 46.656 km 5h 09m 30s 9.04 km/h

Williamston to East Rochester

4 H’s – Hills, Heat, Humidity, and Headwinds!

Saturday, June 7th, 2008

Scott dubbed today a 4H day – we were hit with Hills, Heat, Humidity and Headwinds to slow us down. We got up early (5:30 am) and packed up quickly. We left by 6:45 am. We were hoping the early start would allow us to put some miles behind us before the heat and humidity got to us. What we didn’t expect were the hills. The approach to Oswego yesterday was an introduction to the hills. We didn’t know that they would continue for another 30 km afterwards. We pushed on until shortly before 1 pm, (4 hrs 18 mins ride time, 59 km), at which point we found a BBQ café with air conditioning ordered lunch, relaxed and cooled down.

Scott Says:

As we were cycling through the heat of the day, I was thinking of all the people back home out in the heat too. This is the Weekend to End Breast Cancer, and I was especially thinking of Johane and all the other people walking 60km in this heat! Good luck! It’s also the weekend of the Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour – I hope everyone packed a lot of water and gatorade-equivalent.

Joyce’s BBQ is a great little restaurant in Alton, NY with an attached fruit stand. Joyce is a lovely lady who serves great BBQ ribs! She was kind enough to let us stay and relax in her air conditioning for two hours in the heat of the day before we pressed onward.

With each hill, I’ve been playing with different techniques for climbing. I find with the hub that I change gears more often. I think this is because each gear is unique (and an equal step), so I have more confidence in what will happen when I turn the shifter. This allows me to keep spinning up a portion of the hill. Then, when the bike slows too much (or pedaling is too hard), I gear all the way down (sometimes only to 3, but if the hill is steep down to 1). When in the lower gear, I can either push up the hill (this uses mostly the power of my quads and glutes), or I can spin circles (this engages portions of my lower legs as well). I usually push as much as possible and when that gets too tiring, I change to spin circles. If I want to push with a lot of power (similar to standing on your pedals on a regular bike), I lean against the back rest, lift my glutes slightly off the seat and push will all my strength. This engages my abs as well.

In the end, we decided that we were not going to make it to Rochester. Instead, we camped at Hughes Campground and Marina near Williamson. (Thanks to Tim for the recommendation!) We arrived at around 5 pm. It was hot up at the road, but much cooler at the campground. The campground mostly catered to RVs and permanent campers, and the tent site was just a spot in a field with a couple of picnic tables and a fire pit. They had showers which is all I really needed at the end of the day.

One warning to anyone cycling that direction, they do not have a campstore, and there is no place to buy anything in the area. We were lucky that I had picked up the essentials after lunch in Sodus Point when we realized we were not going to make to Rochester. The last 10 km of my ride, I was focused on the ice cream I was going to have upon arrival at the campground. Unfortunately, with no campstore, that meant no icecream (or orange juice for breakfast) 🙁 …

We met a few nice people at the campsite. A local from Williamson, Steven, who spends a week every year camping at Hughes, and a couple from Holland (Frank and Toos) who were nearing the end of a five week vacation driving around the Eastern Provinces and States in a rental RV.

Scott Says:

Frank and Toos have done a lot of travelling, and have friends currently cycling in South China, so it was very interesting to get ideas from them. They also live fairly close to Zwolle in rural Holland, which is where we were for Neil and Theresa’s wedding a few years ago. Small world!

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

Partdistance Parttime Partspeed Distance Time Speed
0.000 km 0s 0.000 km 0s
10.031 km 51m 18s 11.73 km/h 10.031 km 51m 18s 11.73 km/h
9.977 km 55m 39s 10.76 km/h 20.008 km 1h 46m 57s 11.22 km/h
10.014 km 1h 24m 07s 7.14 km/h 30.022 km 3h 11m 04s 9.43 km/h
10.019 km 1h 01m 41s 9.75 km/h 40.041 km 4h 12m 45s 9.51 km/h
10.011 km 45m 59s 13.06 km/h 50.052 km 4h 58m 44s 10.05 km/h
9.972 km 3h 13m 38s 3.09 km/h 60.024 km 8h 12m 22s 7.31 km/h
9.986 km 56m 09s 10.67 km/h 70.010 km 9h 08m 31s 7.66 km/h
10.027 km 46m 08s 13.04 km/h 80.037 km 9h 54m 39s 8.08 km/h
0.982 km 8m 41s 6.79 km/h 81.019 km 10h 03m 20s 8.06 km/h

Oswego to Williamston

Hot Humid and Tired

Friday, June 6th, 2008

Last night was absolutely crazy. The thunder and rain started at about 7:30, just before I made dinner. Fortunately, I moved all our food preparation stuff to a covered picnic table near the showers. The rain stopped at about 10 pm, when we made our way down to the tent for the night … but there was an occasional grumbling of thunder and a lot wind. So much so, that I decided to sleep with earplugs in! I woke up shortly before midnight and all was well. Then the thunder and lightning show started in earnest. The storm lasted a full 4 hours! It was crazy non-stop downpour with thunder (a few times really close) and constant flashes of lightning. It made for a night of very little sleep.

At 7 am, we dragged ourselves out of bed. We knew the weather was due to heat up, but couldn’t get up sooner do to the lack of sleep because of the storm. We also had to deal with a wet tent and wet laundry (I had hung a bunch of stuff on the line last night – oops). It took us until 10:45 to eat, pack up and do yoga. The day was not beginning well.

The heat and humidity was intense. Not even a slight breeze was to be found. At noon, I called a stop at a small roadside restaurant and we sat inside air-conditioning, having lunch, and resting until 2 pm. By 2 pm, we were getting bored, so we hopped back on the bikes and began the slog towards Oswego. About an hour after lunch we decided that Oswego would be our stop for the night, rather than just stopping for an hour or two to update email and then continue riding.

Stopping in Oswego turned out to be a good decision. By the time we arrived, my decision making abilities were questionable. That is how I get when I’m tired, I don’t always make the best decisions. When my mind starts to get slow I know it is time to stop. The distance markers in the US give me the opportunity to test my wits. My GPS (and my bodies understanding of distances) is all in kilometers, so I need to do some math to figure out how much further I need to go. When that math starts to get too slow, I know we should be stopping for a rest!

In the end, we stopped at the first hotel we saw – a Days Inn. It was a little expensive from our budget perspective, and pretty run down; but the room was air conditioned, and at 6 pm, all I wanted was to be in someplace cold! If we want to camp when it is this warm, we need to stop earlier in the day.

Elevation Profile
Speed Profile

Partdistance Parttime Partspeed Distance Time Speed
0.000 km 0s 0.000 km 0s
10.075 km 47m 23s 12.76 km/h 10.075 km 47m 23s 12.76 km/h
9.934 km 56m 52s 10.48 km/h 20.009 km 1h 44m 15s 11.52 km/h
10.123 km 2h 48m 47s 3.60 km/h 30.132 km 4h 33m 02s 6.62 km/h
9.878 km 42m 01s 14.11 km/h 40.010 km 5h 15m 03s 7.62 km/h
9.997 km 1h 25m 26s 7.02 km/h 50.007 km 6h 40m 29s 7.49 km/h
6.056 km 21m 31s 16.89 km/h 56.064 km 7h 02m 00s 7.97 km/h

Southwick Beach State Park to Oswego