What the heck is an S24O you ask? It’s a short overnight bike tour (S240 stands for Sub 24-hour Overnight) for those of us who can’t get away for anything longer. Since you are not gone for long, you don’t need to bring too much stuff and you need less time to prepare. Once your bike is kitted out, you can easily do an S24O on a weekend and still have time for the Sunday afternoon BBQ with friends. Russ Roca describes it well in his blog post here.
For our first S24O, we decided to go south to Manotick and the Rideau Canal, about 65 km each way. Preparation took longer than it should because all our all our gear was spread about the basement and the kitchen. Becky took advantage of having a kitchen and did all the prep work for dinner and breakfast – what a change from expedition cycling!
We finally managed to get our gear all packed up and were ready to go by 2:30 pm. We looked into the sky to see some pretty scary clouds and questioned our sanity. It was all very reminiscent of our first day touring, leaving late in the afternoon with thunderclouds in the sky. Fortunately, the clouds seem to be moving out of our away. Each time we approached one, it moved before we got too close, making for a beautiful ride on traffic free back roads.
On our route out we followed a bike route from the Eastern Ontario Recreation Map. We highly recommend this map for anyone riding from Kingston or Cornwall to Ottawa as it shows many different rural routes where you can enjoy the countryside with very little traffic. We didn’t use the map for the route home, and we regretted it. The recommended route was much quieter and more relaxing.
Following along the canal, we took advantage of a policy that allows those arriving on bicycles to camp at the lock stations for minimal cost. We stopped and enjoyed dinner at the Burritt’s Rapids lock station, then continued on to Lower Nicholsons where we camped for the night, all for the princely sum of $4.90 per person.
We arrived an hour and a half before sunset, but as the sun was sinking the mosquitoes came out. Anyone working at the locks might not realize just how bad the mosquitoes can be, as the lock staff had all left before they came out to feast. We quickly set up the tent and crawled in. Once it got dark, the fireflies provided us with a show, lighting up in the field and trees in front of our tent. It was so nice to be camping out under the stars again!
Morning came early, as Scott had to be home by 1 pm for a meeting. Becky crawled out of the tent shortly after 6 a.m. and immediately became breakfast for the mosquitoes. The remnants of mosquito coil we had bought in Malaysia, which did us well all last summer, seemed to have lost it’s potency. The mosquitoes were not all affected by it. Fortunately, Becky packed some DEET, so we were able to eat breakfast without getting too annoyed. By the time we packed up, all the mosquitoes had gone away – melted in the morning sun.
Our trip home turned out to be a physical challenge. Normally, 65 km would not have been a problem; however, that day Mother Nature decided to give us a 20km/hr headwind. We pushed ourselves and barely made it home in time. In the end Scott got to his meeting a little late, since a shower and a big lunch were necessary first.
Overall, it was a great trip and we’ll definitely do it again!