About three weeks ago, Jihan and I completed our first joint ride to Port Dalhousie, ON, a quaint, historic harbourfront village located within the city of St. Catharines. It was not only her longest ride since her knee injury, but also her first metric century ever. We cycled 115 kms that day!
Since then we had mainly done short 15-30 km trips within the city or between Hamilton and Ancaster, Stoney Creek or Burlington two or three days a week. Last Wednesday night, after taking our bikes out for a quick evening ride and doing a quick oiling of the chain, my front dérailleur wouldn't bring the chain back to the highest chainring. I tinkered with it for a while and finally, being unable to properly adjust it, took the bike inside and gave up for the time being.
Yesterday, however, being the first of five long weekends in a row for me (I decided to take my last week's vacation one Friday at a time) and wanting to make the most of the day off, I really wanted to go out and ride. So we packed up our bikes and went to MEC in Burlington to see if they could adjust the front dérailleur quickly. They were booked up through the weekend. Same deal at Brant Cycle and Neworld Cycle.
Before heading back to Hamilton to check at one last place, Downtown Bikehounds, we took a break at Kindfood, a recently opened vegan restaurant, cafe & bakery. We had discovered it the last time we cycled through Burlington, but being a holiday, they were closed. Another place we discovered that day -- there appears to be an improvement in bike culture in Burlington -- was a cafe & bistro run by the Waterftont Trail Leisure Company Inc. While the latter really points to an upswing in bicycle culture in the area and I like their combination of services, their menu is not very vegan-friendly, though they do have some veg*n offerings. Kindfood, however, is all vegan, mostly organic and mostly local, and they're also cycle-friendly (they have a neat bike parking area).
Sean, at Bikehounds, despite being rather busy, took a quick look at my bike and fixed my front dérailleur problem on the spot. Thanks, Sean. I was now able to use my day off to go for a ride.
We decided, on a whim, to cycle to and follow the Hamilton - Brantford - Cambridge rail trail (click here and here -- anyone have a better link?). We left home about quarter to five, making our way to the trail beginning in West Hamilton on Ewen Rd. near Main St. W.
It was a beautiful evening for a ride. There was a cool breeze and a little cloud cover to shield us from direct sun. We rolled along the westbound trail at a leisurely pace of 15-20 kph. We stopped briefly at the Trail Centre, a reconstructed railway station in the Dundas Valley Conservation Area near Sulphur Springs Road , to refill our water bottles. Between West Hamilton and the Trail Centre, there were a few joggers and cyclists, but as we continued along the trail towards Brantford, we had the trail ever more to ourselves.
We enjoyed the ride so much, watching, listening for and discussing the flora and fauna along the way, that we decided to keep going until 19:00 to 19:30. We saw some of the increasingly abundant Turkey Vultures, a murder of crows, some juvenile Blue Jays and Northern Cardinals, a Chipping Sparrow (looked up in Sibley as we knew it was a sparrow, but didn't look exactly like a Field Sparrow), Black-capped Chickadees, American Goldfinches, American Robins, Eastern Kingbirds (these little buggers we did not know the name of, so had to look them up at home too) and Gray Catbirds. There was also an abundance of wildflowers along the periphery of the trail with occasional brilliant splashes of yellow, violet, blue and pink. Much of the trail is also lined with fairly dense tree cover, of which the majority appeared to be a variety of deciduous trees with a few individual or small stands of coniferous trees.
Around 19:00 we decided to turn back, having left Hamilton and entered Brant County some time before. We turned around where Ronald Rd. meets the trail. Backing onto the trail here is Heart's Content Organic Farmstead.
The way back, because much of it is downhill, went much faster than the way there. We were also more determined because we wanted to reach Hamilton and get off the trail before sundown. Most of the way back we cycled between 25 and 35 Kph. We were back in Hamilton before 21:00 and indeed made it past home to Gage Park in East Hamilton, where the Festival of Friends is taking place this weekend, to reward ourselves with some yummy fresh cut fries.
All together we cycled 68 km yesterday and had a great time! During our ride we made plans to cycle the entire route from Hamilton through Brantford and Paris to Cambridge, and back, next Saturday. We plan to leave early, about 06:00, to arrive in Cambridge in time for lunch (at a very leisurely 16 kph, it should take just over 5 hours). After a relaxing and hopefully re-energizing lunch at a local vegetarian restaurant with a good selection of vegan fare, we intend to return home. If we complete the return trip as planned, we'll have surpassed not only a metric century (at 168 km), but also an imperial century (104 mi).
If all goes as planned, expect a post about the experience here afterwards (probably Sunday, as I'll be too tired at my return on Saturday night).
Click here for a link to the route. Sorry, no pictures -- camera broken.