Yesterday I left home, but I was lucky to have another night under the cover of a roof. It will be hard to break away from this luxury living. I can’t imagine returning to the confines of my tent and my narrow sleeping pad after having a proper bed for the last week. My body was surprisingly tired despite the shorter distance yesterday. This was becoming the pattern after rest days. Kiran directed me through a morning stretch session, something that I have long neglected. As I prepared to leave, Kiran kept loading my bags with exercise bands, bags of tea, and other snacks to keep me nourished along my route.
I left under spectacular conditions – cool air with sunny skies. Have I continued to break the Ontario thunderstorm curse? Kiran’s apartment is close to the border between Toronto and Scarborough on Lawrence. I could have swung down to the waterfront and the Scarborough bluffs, but it would involve a fair bit of backtracking. The most logical thing to do was to continue on Lawrence until hitting the Waterfront Trail while traveling east. I had more hope for the trail since I was emerging from the big city. I’m not sure that I made the best choice by sticking with Lawrence. It’s a busy street with three lanes in each direction with aggressive Toronto drivers. Overall, it was a generally unpleasant stretch of road, but fast moving when I could get past the red lights.
Eventually I had enough of busy urban streets and sought a quieter bicycle route. My map directed me to the safety of one of the bike routes on Galloway Road. I told you that I would come back to my beef with Toronto’s cycling infrastructure and it struck me around this time. There was nothing to make this stretch of road a bicycle route aside from green dots on Google Maps and a blue sign when I first turned down the road. There were the same problems from yesterday – no traffic calming, no designated space, limited signage, and no obvious planning to connect to other routes. You can’t just slap up a blue sign, call it a bike route, and expect people to use it for that purpose. There’s some work to do here if the city wants to get people out on two wheels and feel safe.
I found my way to the Waterfront Trail as I made my way out of Toronto. Scarborough to Pickering to Ajax to Whitby to Oshawa. Ajax had done a particularly good job by creating a clear, smooth path and rerouted me in a short section where the trail was closed. These cities east of Toronto showcased the beauty of Lake Ontario. When I was growing up, nobody would even touch Lake Ontario. Eating fish from those waters was unthinkable. On today’s stretch, the water looked pristine. Glittering blue and green, it was starting to rival the Great Lakes beauty that I saw along Lakes Superior and Huron. The southwesterly winds off of the lake tempered the heat and humidity that are typical of Ontario summers.
It was actually shaping up to be a pretty spectacular day, but as I moved further east, the Waterfront Trail turned into stretches of gravel and construction. The dark grey clouds were also approaching on the horizon. A bad and messy combination! I struggled my way through loose gravel paths to Bowmanville when a few sprinkles of rain started to fall. I pedalled hard to Port Darlington Beach Park where I hid under the washroom awning while the clouds unloaded for over 30 minutes. I guess the thunderstorm curse isn’t over yet. Once the lightning cleared and the rain settled, I was back on the road and eventually connected to Lakeshore Boulevard. I was happy to be back on pavement and make up distance for the slow moving bits in the morning.
After returning to Lakeshore in Port Granby, I loved being back on quiet, paved country roads. I rolled along with farms on my left and Lake Ontario on my right. I couldn’t understand why more people weren’t out on the beaches or enjoying the views. Just before hitting Port Credit, the dark clouds appeared again and another thunderstorm rolled through. I hid under the protection of a railway bridge until the storm cell passed. Now I was trying to move fast to get to Cobourg where I would be crashing Kiran’s brother’s informal wedding celebration. I quickly passed through the charming downtown area of Port Hope onto Highway 2. There was a bike lane and nicely paved shoulders carrying me into Cobourg. Both Port Hope and Cobourg had a beautiful colonial feel with the city’s history painted in its architecture.
I would love to come back to this area to explore these small towns. Today, however, I was on a mission. The Masseys were waiting and the wedding celebrations had already started in the early afternoon. I mean, the curries were already being served and I couldn’t miss that! I found Kiran’s parents’ house on the east side of Cobourg, just about 100 meters from the lakeshore. I washed off the dirt and salt of the day before joining the celebration. I saw Kiran, her parents, and some familiar faces. It felt like I was still with family. There were also a lot of new faces who didn’t believe that I had arrived by bicycle. They didn’t know how crazy I actually am. I showed them the evidence – my bicycle covered in dirt, dust, and water. The evening was a perfect way to end a tough day of riding and thunderstorms. The Masseys offered their place and I managed to sneak in one more night of luxury.
Start time: 10:55
Finish time: 18:56
Riding time: 5 hours, 46 minutes
Distance: 135.8 km
Total distance: 4941.41 km
Elevation gain: 903 meters
Total elevation: 23,621 meters
Average speed: 23.9 km per hour
Number of thunderstorms I survived: 2