By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano, Lydia Zacharias
Four days and 320 kilometres of riding, this is what the Brampton cycling club had done all its training for. This series of stories started here http://picoscycling.blogspot.ca/2013/12/scouting-route.html and continues here http://picoscycling.blogspot.ca/2014/01/rattlesnake-point.html. The payoff proved to be worth all the hard work.
Four of us started off the same way we started to Rattlesnake Point tour only this time we were loaded with the gear we would need for a longer trip. We even started out riding west on the same road as before. Shortly after clearing city limits though we turned south toward Lake Ontario. Before we got wet we picked up Old Highway Two and followed that all the way to Burlington.
Hamilton Harbour is a major obstacle if you don’t know your way through. There are only two bridges across the mouth. The QEW goes over one of them, one of the busiest roads in Canada and no place for a bicycle. We took the other one.
From there we rode through Stoney Creek and followed Old Highway Eight along the Niagara Escarpment. We had to climb that, but we picked our spot. Easiest place to do that was a back road called Mud Road in Beamsville. Perfect choice. The gang handled it with ease. Fly Road to Townline Road and then Highway Twenty and we rolled into Fenwick without major incident.
We did have minor incidents right from the start and it continued for the whole tour. I have never had to deal with so many flat tires in all my riding on tour. I’m tempted to call down a curse on all those idiots who pitch glass bottles out of car windows when they’re done with them.
There was a large tent set up in the yard before our arrival. The boys got to stay there. Our lone female rider got to sleep in a real bed inside the house. The arrangement went very well.
The following day was a rest day for everyone. We visited church and spent most of the day lounging around. I've always felt that planned rest days are a good thing in a tour even when they are not religiously inspired.
Our second riding day was lighter on riding and heavier on sightseeing. Our route was a wide loop that allowed us to visit Niagara Falls and travel along the gorge some. We relaxed by the Welland Canal and visited several War of 1812 historic sites. The day was not physically demanding but it was still very full.
Our return trip followed a different route than the first. We elected to stay on top of the Niagara Escarpment all the way to Stoney Creek. We rolled through flat farmland before picking up the route around Hamilton Harbour. Gave us a bit of variety.
The flat tire woes continued and it did lead to some trouble. We ended up arriving home at dusk. It was starting to get pretty dark before we arrived. I was the only one equipped for night riding and I hadn't planned on that. We made it though and the display we put together boasting of our accomplishment was a big hit at church the following week. There was suddenly a great deal of enthusiasm for a new set of tours for the following year.
Learned a great deal about the dynamics of working with a group of riders. Because most of my riding was solo efforts, the learning curve was a little steep at times. Terrific experience though and I would set up something like that again in a heartbeat.