Day 42 / August 12, 2017 – Toronto, ON to Cobourg, ON

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.

Lake Ontario, you’re so pretty. This was taken along the stretch by the Pickering nuclear power plant.

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.

More lakefront views in Rotary Park in Ajax.

More beautiful stretches of waterfront views along Rotary Park.

Windmill next to the nuclear power plant in Pickering. You can see the strong winds by “reading the weeds”.

The pier in Whitby where I started for a poutine recharge.

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.

Approaching thunderstorms in Bowmanville.

And here comes the rain. An impressive amount of rain soaked the ground around my sheltered area.

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 had always thought that Port Hope was an industrial town. I was surprised to find this charming town. This is a view of downtown overlooking the creek.

Downtown Port Hope.

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

Day 41 / August 11, 2017 – Hamilton, ON to Toronto, ON

It was finally time to leave home. The first time I left my parents’ home was after my first year of university. I had no real reason to leave aside from slightly more convenience and an increasing desire for independence. I had secretly signed a lease and filled my new space on Main Street with Ikea furniture. I was replacing Mel and joining Andrew and Renee from the same Health Sciences program. It was our version of Three’s Company. I think I moved into the role of Chrissy. I kindly gave my parents about five days notice. I eventually moved back in for my last year of university. After the program was over, I surprised them again by telling them that I was going to move across the country. I decided to make Vancouver my home and left home for a second time. I seemed to like the shock factor…

Signs of hope – I made it to the border of Toronto and they seem to like cyclists here!

It was hard to get back on the road after days without worries about shelter and food. As you may have read in the last post, I was well nourished. My legs had been given near complete rest. It felt like a fresh start. A new start if you will (for all you Arrested Development fans). I felt like I had tackled the hardest parts of the trip – the terrain of the mountains, the terrible winds in the flat lands, the stretches of America without seeing a familiar face and the “Make America great again” brainwashing. Now I was about to set off on the last portion of this trip.

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Days 37-40 / August 7-10, 2017 – Hamilton rest days

After my alleged “rest time” in Nelson, Winnipeg, and Sault Sainte Marie, I decided that my Hamilton rest time would be actual physical rest days. I wasn’t in terrible shape with rhabdomyolysis or a tendon about to snap or anything like that, but it would be good to recharge the reserves and prepare for the last leg to Halifax. Believe it or not, I only rode my bike once and less than 40 km over that whole stretch of these four rest days. My butt was very happy to be on couches and carpet, not the saddle.
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Day 36 / August 6, 2017 – London, ON to Hamilton, ON

I left Hamilton almost exactly 10 years ago. It’s my hometown. Steeltown. It was always a little rough around the edges and it was not always a good thing to be from Hamilton. The Toronto crowd would never find themselves there – voluntarily. Things, however, have changed over the last decade. I was just in Hamilton earlier this year for the Hamilton Pediatric Review in January and a quick surprise visit before my final exam in May. I’m amazed at the transformation at each visit. Housing prices in Toronto have created an influx into Hamilton. With that movement, more arts, a thriving food scene, and culture have been infused into the city.

Lynda and I pose for a selfie before I left London.

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Day 35 / August 5, 2017 – London, ON rest day

I’ve now entered an area of higher density and development than, say, southern Saskatchewan. London is the biggest city on my route since my rest day in Winnipeg. It will continue to be this way until Montreal or Quebec City. There’s comfort in knowing that I’m within a short drive of family and friends. That I’m not 50 or 100 km from the next city. That the cell reception is reliable at all times. On the other hand, it will be more urban landscapes than the familiar field and forest tapestry.

The Beaufort Bridge crossing the Thames River.

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Day 34 / August 4, 2017 – Walkerton, ON to London, ON

Do you remember those winter days when you’d hear about an approaching snow storm? The weather forecast predicted at least 30 cm of snow and everything would certainly be shut down the next day. I would go to sleep thinking about what I would do on what would have to be a snow day. Then I would wake up in the morning to find the scene looked exactly the same as the night before. No snow? Where was my snow day? How could the forecast get it so wrong?

Don’t worry, there’s no snow in this story. I woke up this morning hoping that the forecast got today’s condition all wrong. There was a call for more thunderstorms, but what concerned me more was the wind. Not just a little tickle of headwind, more like like an assault with a 30 kph baseline of direct headwind and wind gusts over 50 kph. If you’ve been following along, you know what a strained relationship we have. You may remember the Battles of Fort MacLeod ( or Bow Island ( or Chaplin ( to name a few. Today was another one of those days. It’s hard to believe that south western Ontario was where it would happen, but today’s weather posed the hardest conditions that I have faced this entire trip.

Day 34 - Horse carriages

One of the few interesting things about today was the number of people riding around in horse carriages. I thought it was in bad taste to take a picture of the horse carriages and their riders without their consent, so you get this sign instead.

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Day 33 / August 3, 2017 – Ferndale, ON to Walkerton, ON

I’m finally in reach of southern Ontario. You see, my dad is leaving for Vancouver on August 11. He’s going to help Alex with apartment renovations while I’m away. Isn’t he a good guy? Aren’t they both good guys? There was some urgency to get to Hamilton before his departure. I would feel pretty guilty about passing through town while he’s installing baseboards in our new place.

Okay, let’s get back to the Bruce Peninsula.

Day 33 - Trees

Back in the trees along the Bruce Peninsula.

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Day 32 / August 2, 2017 – Manitoulin Island, ON to Ferndale, ON

I’ve been on the road for one month. Well, one month and one day if you’re sticky with the numbers. I’ve been lucky – or maybe unlucky depending on how you look at it – to have almost zero rain. There was a brief thunderstorm in Alberta about three weeks ago and two nights with rain overnight while I was already camped out in the safety of my dry tent. I made up for that drought today.

Before the pouring rain started, one of the bays before hitting Little Current. These clouds were the friendliest I saw all day on Manitoulin.

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Day 30 / July 31, 2017 – Sault Ste Marie to Bruce Mines

I usually feel like I’m in control of how this trip is going. I can plan the distance, the route, the start time, and even the end time to a certain extent. There are some things that are beyond my control, mainly weather-related things like headwinds and temperatures. I have yet to develop Storm’s mutant super powers, but I wish I had them every time I hit a headwind. It would be tailwinds, every day, all the time.
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