I thought it would be fun to do a little ride to Niagara-on-the-Lake one evening. This week was ideal because I took Thursday off to celebrate American Thanksgiving. I decided to leave work a little early on Wednesday and head to Niagara-on-the-Lake knowing that I could sleep in the next morning.
I installed a seat post mount rack onto the Guru and filled a single pannier. I was ready for a nice ride.
Guru Equipped for Touring
As I left the driveway I heard a THUMP. Darn it, my pannier fell off the rack. Well it’s a big bump at the end of my driveway so I realized that I had better take it easy over the bumps. I re-attached the pannier and took off.
As I started down Glen Erin Blvd past St. Claire school I hear THUMP. Dag Nabbit … there is my pannier in the middle of the road again. Something’s not right.
Another kilometer … THUMP. Another 2 km … THUMP. My pannier is starting to get ragged from being tossed onto the road so much. I figure that there is no way I’ll make it to Niagara-on-the-Lake with my pannier in one piece.
I stopped and made a phone call to my bike shop (Van de Velo). I said “I’ve got a problem and I’m coming in.” I felt like an indy driver calling into the pit crew.
There were some problems with my rack attachment and pannier clips. Paul, the owner and chief mechanic, modified the clips and mounted a sturdier rack on the back.
Fixing the Rack
It took a little while to figure everything out and swap the racks. I lost some daylight but at least the problem was fixed.
I headed down to the Lakeshore and was on my way.
It was pretty windy and the sound of waves crashing onto the beach was pretty nice. As I approached Burlington it was getting dusk.
Burlington at dusk
I was carrying about 20-25 pounds of gear (I’ll pack lighter next time). The weight was not much problem when I was moving but when I stopped the front wheel kept turning and the bike wanted to fall over. It was really annoying. I decided to head to Mountain Equipment Co-op and get a second pannier to balance the load. MEC wasn’t too far off my route but I ended up killing another hour getting there, shopping, installing the second pannier and redistributing my load. Now I was ready to go. The only problem was that I had killed the afternoon and only got about 40km … I had 80 km to go and it was dark.
This is the last picture I took because all of the rest turned out black.
Hamilton at Night
I had my Cygolites charged and a recharge pack as well. I knew I had about 4 hours of night riding. I’ve been practicing night riding and I am comfortable riding in the dark. But my night rides have only been 60-90 minutes so far.
My plan was to follow the Waterfront Trail the whole way to Niagara-on-the-Lake. When the sun went down the temperature dropped to near zero. I put on an extra base layer and as long as I was moving I was comfortable. When I stopped I got cold.
I stopped for a meal around 7:30 in Grimsby. I was going to lock my bike to a fence but as I approached the fence I did not see 6″ of standing water in the weeds until too late. I stepped in and both my feet were soaked. I was a little worried about wet feet, zero degrees and two hours to go.
My socks were wool. I had only bought them a few days earlier for winter riding. My feet remained wet but the wool held the heat and it was not a major problem.
I arrived at Niagara-on-the-Lake at 10:30pm. My Cygolites worked the whole way … over four hours of night riding and still going. I was really impressed by that. Those light are amazing.
I enjoyed riding at night. The wind died down and the traffic was almost non-existant after 8pm. I was rolling down country roads and along the lake enjoying the lights from Toronto and the stars above.
The ride was 120km and I was pedalling at an easy pace (16-20km). Rolling time 6:25. Total time, with all the stopping, 9:13. My worst case planned scenario was 10 hours so I wasn’t disappointed. I had some leg left but after working that morning for 6 hours and then riding for 9 hours I was just plain tired.
This was my longest distance ride; my longest solo ride; my longest night ride; and the ride with the most problems. It was also one of my best rides.
The next morning my legs still felt good and I started pedaling home around 10AM. I got to Welland and had to wait about 20 minutes for a ship to pass through the lock.
Ship at Welland
It was windy and 1 degree Celcius … I got very cold waiting. The headwind was strong and was wearing me down. My legs were feeling heavier and heavier. I started thinking about Turkey and Football. I decided to call my pit crew (Denise). She picked me up in St. Catherine and we rode home to enjoy the rest of Thanksgiving day together.
Niagara-on-the-Lake Ride 120km