Friday, July 07, 2006

Roblin to Dauphin Beach

(80 miles)

Well rested we wake ready for the day only for tragedy to strike. One of the tent poles breaks and has to be repaired with Duct Tape. As the pole carried I am now rather articulated and have to be careful about fine manuvering.

Dauphin Beach is preceded by a heavy tailwind that scoots us along nicely. The place has emptied after the weekend so we have our pick of spots and a quiet walk beneath the setting sun after dinner.
Duck Mountain Provincial Park to Roblin

Day 30 (43 miles)

We take off in the morning and almost instantly cross the border into Manitoba. No headwind today and an enjoyable roll along well repaired roads into Roblin. It shold be 2pm and time for lunch but apparently the timezone changed and no-one told us. We sneak in last orders at the Austrian restaurant and then rush around town doing shopping and so on. Trep keeps falling asleep whilst guarding the bikes so we call it a day and make use of the $5 a night campsite with showers included.

Naturally it rains on us.
Canora to Duck Mountian Provincial Park

Day 29 (47 miles)

We take it easy today following on from yesterday's gargantuan effort and head to Duck Moutain Provincial Park. On the way we stop in at the Doukhoubour National Heritage Village to learn of the history of the persecuted followers of Peter Veregin who's sect promoted toil and harmony.

Out of Kamsack the hill wore on us and to add insult to injury the attendant at the entry to the park tries to class two bicycles as two vehicles and charge us twice. I refuse on the grounds that two people in a car would only pay once. Reluctantly we are allowed to pass. At the entrance to the campsite we are informed we shouldn't be charged at all and refunded against the price of the campsite.
Quill Lake to Canora

Day 28 (92 miles)

Back on track for distance despite deteriorating road conditions and headwinds. We stop first in Wadena, home town of olympic star Pamela Wallin, and become local celebrities when a journalist is summoned to interview us. I never imagined we would be news. We are also invited to the Ride for the Heart charity event on a 30 man bike. We turn up to take a look but head outshortly afterwards.

A small town gem is found in Kuroki. First there is the very large Ukranian Orthodox Church, then the mexican style fronted convenience store and finally the cafe and gallery where a gourmet lunch costs less than ten dollars each and would be worth five times that in any decent sized city. Not bad for a town named after a Japanese general from the Sino-Prussian wars.

Buchanan, the planned stop, is another grassy spot campground. We push for Canora and stop in the Hotel there. Worth the effort and money.

Small town feeding tour

Humboldt to Quill Lake

Day 27 (43 miles)

Leaving Humboldt we pull into the small town of St. Peter for morning coffee. We arrive at the same time as the local gossip crew who are very intrigued by us. After a grilling we head back out again. The weather turns on us and after frequent stopping to combat exhaustion and eat at small town cafes we end up well short of our planned destination at Quill Lake.

The campground is a hedged bit of flat ground with running water. However, the health certificate has long since expired. We retreat to the local hotel/bar which hasn't seen visitors in a long time. We get a cheap but warm and dry night and in exchange for pulling it out of the garage we're allowed to cook on the patio furniture in the back yard.

In the bar we talk to a farmer and receive a discourse in remote Canada agricultural economic history. Not as dull as you might actually think.

Pass the Elk

Colonsay to Humboldt

Day 26 (62 miles)

A little headwind as we trawl north and then pleasant weather heading east into Humboldt. Cows seem frightened of us but we're not after them. Today is our first taste of elk burgers. Reccomended to all carnivores.

Despite it's teutonic roots there isn't much to this town. The campground is flooded from the previous week's worth of rain and the mosquito population has exploded. Early to bed and early to get out.

Normal weather service

Saskatoon to Colonsay

Day 25 (44 miles)

We hang about in Saskatoon in the morning looking for a replacement tire for me. My rear Continental Gatorskin has given up the ghost and been replaced by a folding racing slick. Alas the term 700/28 means little to the bike merchants here and I leave empty handed.

A gentle course through suburbia and then more faceless highway to the Painted Rock campsite which has been awarded the best washroom award by a couple in Kingston, Ontario. I'm more impressed by our first proper Land of the Living Skies sunset.

Berry hunting

Battlefords to Saskatoon

Day 24 (94 miles)

We make the best of today. Leaving the Battlefords behind and push through the lesser headwinds to Saskatoon. I call my parents from the small town of Radisson and they tell me that the weather has been wonderful. This is one of those times when you just want to be anywhere but here.

We arrive at the campground to be greeted with sympathy and free coffee so not all is bad.

I hate the prairies

Maidstone to Battlefords

Day 23 (62 miles)

Not much to today, not even lunch. Overcast, raining, nothing seems attractive here and I yearn for a return to the mountains. We couldn't find anything for lunch and were nearly out of granola bars and Snickers by the time we rolled into the Battlefords. A Shell station leads to overeating followed by feeling not too good.

I'm amazed at the distance we've made under the conditions but that's what you do when there is nothing else.

Maidstone, not Kent

Lloydminster to Maidstone

Day 22 (39 miles)

Today's short journey takes us to the rather small town of Maidstone. Again we've battled headwinds and rain all day. In reward of our acheivements we stop at the Maidstone Hotel a dated but clean place that looks like it regularly houses road crews than roadweary travellers.

It's a different kind of day when the high point is spice cake at the local diner.

Border Town

Vermillion to Lloydminster

Day 21 (44 miles)

It's a short hop to Lloydminster but every miles is paid for as the headwind howls out of the east. So many times we've heard of the prevailing westerlies, all lies I tell you. Maybe crossing into Saskatchewan will bring change.

In town we find the campground full but the manager takes pity on us and gives us a spot in the lee of a historical building.

A new wheel is found for Trep, the last one available it would seem but it seems good.

Rain, rain and more rain.

A little more red please

Viking to Vermillion

Day 20 (63 miles)

A civilisation free day took us on more back roads through fields that switch between grain and oil wells, many of which seem empty now. The prairie headwind has begun and the low rolling hills offer little relief.

We unpack the lunch provided by Food With Flair in Viking we find that our $10 has gone a very long way. At one point I stop to fill a water bottle and as I come to catch up with Trep I see she is being attacked by a dog. Too far away to do anything before she gets clear unscathed I stop and unpack my cable lock. As the rottweiller tries the same trick on me I give it a sharp rap on the nose and it turns tail and runs for home.

I'm not happy to have to do such a thing but it seems necessary under the circumstances.

Camp Stove Thai Green Curry for dinner, highly recommended.

Due Norse

Camrose to Viking

Day 19 (56 miles)

Camrose displays a little of it's Nordic heritage as we scout around for a replacement seat for Trep whose behind is suffering the miles a little. Alas nothing is available but the coffee is very good at Fiona's.

Just outside of town we pull away from the main road and travel in a nearly straight line towards Viking. A leaning barn and a herd of cows pose for a photo op and then just as we are about to turn north for the home stretch another spoke fails on Trep's read wheel. The wheel is holding but tempers are a little frayed.

Viking is a very friendly small town though and practice of locking bikes is met with humour. Dinner and a walk in the Viking Troll Garden finish the day.
Lacombe to Camrose

Day 18 (96 miles)

The day starts reasonably well here but there is a strong headwind from the north that doesn't do much for our ride into Wetawaskin where the principle business seems to be pawning.

A short ride out of town finds us at the Coal Lake Provincial Park which turns out to have no running water and little shelter from the impending storm. We dig in and press on for Camrose on the premiss that we will stop at the first motel we see. At the top of the hill above the lake we get lashed by rain and get soaked until sun finally returns just outside of town. There were no motels. Fortunately the town campground is a good facility with a covered cooking area and good hot showers.
Crimson Lake to Lacombe

Day 17 (72 miles)

We leave the campsite and pull directly into Rocky Mountain House where the roadside signs assure us that this is where adventure begins. I fail to concur on this point but I'm sure they have their reasons.

The roads are quiet but lack shoulders but heavy traffic is left behind when we pull off for Sylvan Lake. A fine coffee shop is discovered which is run by a fellow ex-pat and we discuss points of culture shock for a few minutes.

After Sylvan Lake we go through Bentley and get sight of our first proper grain elevator, a large, pristine white affair that makes everything around it feel very 20 years ago. A cycle lane takes us all the way out of town and into the adjoining provincial park for a quiet night and a beautiful sunset.

Crimson Lake, not red at all

David Thompson Resort to Crimson Lake

Day 16 (89 miles)

The ordeal of cowboy poetry was momentarily abandoned in favour of a Cowboy Breakfast and then back on the road for a swift escape. The rolling road and tailwind takes us through Nordegg for lunch and then one last chance to wave farewell to the rocky mountains before pulling into Crimson Lake Provincial Park for the night.

Are opinion on the facilities provided is sought and answered with a long indictment of the lack of consideration for cycling tourists. You have to take these chances when you can really.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Parkways and Plains

Lake Louise to David Thompson Resort

Day 15 (86 miles)

Leaving Lake Louise we join the Icefields Parkway where the inspectors tell us that cyclists go free today. Long slow climbing ensues and as the absence of much traffic in the very wilderness environment does nothing to calm my fear of bears. Even though they don't materialise, the shadows by the side of the road taunt my paranoia all the way to Peyto Lake.

Peyto Lake is place so beautiful as to be spiritual. Jaws drop on the observation deck by the coach load and pictures get snapped by the second.

Glaciers are admired all the way to Kootenay Plain where a good tailwind whips us along to the David Thompson Resort where we have to endure their first annual Cowboy Festival, including cowboy poetry. Bad timing happens to all of us I guess.

A Good Day Off

Day 14 Lake Louise no miles.

OK, not actually no miles. We sleep in, laze around over breakfast and then ride up to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Chipmunks bound around us in seach of food and to entertain Japanese tourists by the coachload whilst we take in the wonderful blue of the glacial melt lakes.

Lake Louise resort is another architechtural monstrosity, which I guess is how Canada sees fit to mark places of great beauty. Nonetheless this is a place I intend to return to for hiking and exploring.

Kicking Horses and switchback trains.

Golden to Lake Louise

Day 13 (62 miles)

Heaven is found again in the form of a combined bike shop/coffee shop. They repair the bike, we repair to the couch for breakfast. If you are even in this part of the world, look for Jita's, it really is worth it.

Torment is found again trying to get out of town. The hill is tough and we receive contemptous looks from the mountain goats who are distincly unimpressed with our progress. From here we hug the side of the mountains to road improvement works where we are allowed swift passage right to the front of the queue. Once the backlog clears we have a quiet road into Yoho Park where I finally get to observe a wild bear. We're on the side of the road, it is way down in the valley, a very comfortable distance indeed.

Field, the last town before Alberta is an oddity. Remote, picturesque with diverse architectural styles it sits peacefully away from the highway and you get the impression it doesn't like to be disturbed too much.

Climbing Kicking Horse Pass we stop to rest at the exhibition on switchback railway lines and spiral tunnels through the mountain that eased the passage of steam locomotives. The lake and plateau at the top take us gently into Alberta, finally a new province, and then the resort of Lake Louise.

Passes and tunnels

Canyon Hot Spring to Golden

Day 12 (78 miles)

The day doesn't start well when Trep loses spoke number two barely a couple of miles out of the campsite. After much consideration we decide to carry on over Rogers Pass into Golden rather than return to Revelstoke in search of a bike shop.

Mercifully the climb is not as bad as touted although we heed the advice to avoid cycling through the tunnels (actually avalanche sheds) when trucks are coming. The decent is long and rapid, if a little scary.

Despite a few showers near the summit the weather is starting to treat us well and we roll into Golden beneath clear skies and beside a very bright blue river. I missed the young bear beside the road feasting on carrion. Despite being curious I decide not to go back because I still want the bear to miss me.

The evening is spent at a pub in the company of a Scottish software engineer who has also left job and home to roam the country on a bike, his has a motor though. Dog chases us on the return to the campsite.

Start climbing (again)

Sicamous to Canyon Hot Springs

Day 12 (72 miles)

Wake up and barely before we have even contemplated breakfast it begins to rain. We pack up and head for the cover of the restaurant at the entrance to the camp where we endure the boorish taunting of one of the locals who says he'll follow in his truck whilst we get rained on. My tongue is bitten before ascerbic words can pass my lips.

There is nothing much in the way of back roads today but shortly out of town we find a string of small communities which are linked by a frontage road which runs parallel to he highway and keeps us from the spray of passing trucks.

Passing through the hills and climbing steadily we find ourselves at the architechtural monstrosity that is the Three Valley Gap Resort which serves the monied traveller with ghost town tours, helicopter rides and a wide range of glittery , chintzy trinkets to foist upon unfortunate relatives. All is not bad though, the coffee is well brewed and the pie is homemade.

In Revelstoke we are kindly informed by the tourist information that we have a killer hill to get out of town and then it's all easy climbing to Canyon Hot Springs. Some people have never ridden a fully laden bike anywhere.

The hot springs are enjoyed in the form of a warm swimming pool and a barely bareable hot tub beneath mountain peaks catching the sunset. Spectacular and relaxing, I vow to do this more often.

The flat before the tall.

Oyama to Sicamous

Day 11 (70 miles)

Rolling up through the Central and North Okanagan we skirt lakes along backroads through the delights of places like Vernon and Armstrong. The mountains loom over us, growong bigger but the road stays mainly flat.

Rolling into town late we see no sign of the Sicamous Moose (sheer genius). However, from tourist leaflets we are able to determine that this is a person in a mouse costume with some felt antlers stuck on top (a little less sheer genius).

Enter the Okanagan

Penticton to Oyama

Day 10 (69 miles)

A very northerly route today. We push up through Summerland, Peachland and Kelowna.

Coming out of Peachland, Trep suffers tragedy in the shape of a broken spoke. Good luck has it that there is a bike shop in the next town, about ten miles away and the wheel is still ridable. Once repaired we return to the important business of enjoying the South Okanagan's delightful scenery including a very long bike lane that leads out of Kelowna and almost to the next town.

Oyama is a quiet place which fills in the gap between two lakes. We survey the first campsite which is expensive and rather holiday campish. It's stuffed with RV's and hyperactive kids. After deliberating we go another kilometre north to the Owl's Nest where after dinner we sit on the dock and watch it rain on the other site. Barely a drop touches all night.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

The heroines return.

Keremeos to Penticton

Day 9 (39 miles)

Returning to Trepid Explorer's old hom town of Penticton we took the bypass out of Keremeos to avoid traffic and then along Green Mountain Road which is curvy and picturesque in places and another good alternative to the main highway.

This is where we encounter what is to be the first of many being chased by a dog moments. I am losing faith in the "man's best friend" label. Bring me cats.

Comfort and large amounts of food are provided courtesy of Ian and Wendy who are refreshingly british. I did have to counsel Trep on the wisdom of having friends who live at the top of a hill though.

Making descent time

Manning Park to Keremeos

Day 8 (90 miles)

Sunnyish and calm is the way we make our descent out of the park. Just a little olimb takes us through Sunday Pass where Trepid Explorer lies to me that there are no more climbs before Princeton. There are in fact three.

After the third we finally spend much time making speedy descents amd wearing the brakes on the corners. After Princeton we take the old highway to Hedley, a far more scenic and wild route which meets with our approval. Pulling in early we decide to push for Keremeos. Big mistake, our ambition is punished with a downpour.

Pity is given by the campsite manager who upgrades us from wet tent to heated cabin on the promise of a postcard from Newfoundland and $10 extra dollars. Faith in humanity pulls slightly ahead of cynicism to end the day.

Hope to Hell

Hope to Manning Park

Day 7 (46 miles)

The hardest bit of riding that I have ever encountered. Keen hurting and soul destroying through the rain to Hope Slide, the scene of a tragic landslide and two plane crashes.

Exhausted we finally encountered some down into Sunshine Valley, a rather reclusive buy in community that offered no refuge from the road. We pressed on and found a picnic area for our packed lunch (Subway again) before more climbing to the peak. Part way up the second climb I succumbed to the patches of sun and low blood sugar and crammed chocolate and pistachio nuts.

After the top rolling hills took us down to Manning Park Lodge where we were greated with the news that the only campground with showers was still closed for the season. Defeated we treated ourselves to a night in the lodge. Being the only the people in the pool, hot tub and sauna was a much appreciated method of recovery.

Lucky Number 7

Fort Langley to Hope

Day 6 (71 miles)

We awoke to blueish skies which turned tail and ran before we could be on the road. At about which time the rain started again. Not so bad and certainly abating but still much use of the waterproofs at least as far as Mission.

I discover to my chagrin that pretty much all roads in Canada seem designed to retain as much surface water as possible to spray onto my feet and be splashed up by passing traffic.

We diverted by Nicomen Island, a protracted farming community that I can reccomend as an antidote to the occasional drudge of the main road. As we pulled off and pushed forwards the sunshine finally fought its way back to carry us along to Hope.

Hope is reputedly named by Dante enthusiasts as in "Abandon all...." I didn't find it so bad except for getting bitten by an apparently friendly dog at the campsite. Not much damage done and a free dinner so I'll leave it at that.

Bridge the the Fort

North Vancouver to Fort Langley

Day 5 (40 miles)

A slow start to the day for a round of laundry and into yet more rain which abated briefly as we pulled out of Stanley Park and into central Vancouver for coffee. A brief discussion with some other Brits about the inadequacy of fish and chips and curry in North America ensued. At least we didn't complain about the weather.

Rain rolled on and off throughout the rest of the day as we rolled through notorious Hasting Street, Burnaby and onto the highway. When lunchtime came we contemplated Subway but decided to look for something better, afterall, there would be another one not too far away and indeed there was. Sheltered and fed we pressed through taking minor diversions from Highway 7 where possible. Trepid Explorer continuously promises me that there would be views of the mountains were it not for the clouds.

Finally we pulled off for the free ferry to Fort Langley and another dampish night.

More of the Up

Port Alberni to Capilano (North Vancouver)

Day 4 (76 miles)

The day started out with the discovery that there were in fact two campgrounds in town. No great loss as the farewell from the residents of the hostel was quite heart warming.

Following this there was a knee breaking 5 mile climb out of town which took over an hour and many false summits. When I am ruler of the world supreme these will be swiftly done away with. The reward was a scenic but far steeper descent into the Cameron Lake forest with it's massive cedars and arching canopys.

Good weather followed us without too much headwind all the way to the coast and down along beautiful quiet roads almost all the way to Nanaimo. As we waited for the ferry back to the mainland the skies grew grey and dull. By the time we docked in Horseshoe Bay, we were in the mist of a downpour that lasted all the way along Marine Drive to the foot of Lions Gate Bridge and our campground.

At least the welcome from the owner was warm.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

What goes up thankfully goes down.

Ucluelet to Port Alberni

Day 3 (81 miles)

A taste of the rockies today, but not before first finding a place to dip our wheels in the Pacific for good luck. Not as easy as one might imagine. routes down to the beach in this town are not quite as evident due to the rocky nature of the coastline. 30 minutes of tooling in light mist about finally found a way down and the evidence can be seen on Trepid Explorer's blog site.

One false lost wallet panic later (mine) and we began the ascent into the hills. Things turned out to not be as bad as expected. The roads here are still somewhat deigned to cope with heavy truck traffic which can't cope with killer grades and on top of that the logging seemed to be shut down for the long weekend. In total we managed to see only 5 artics pass us and four of those happened while we were stopped to do other stuff like catch breath, take pictures and eat.

We were a victim of my own silly ambition and passed up the chance of camping at Sproat Lake. Bad information lead us to beleive that there were no campsites close to Port Alberni so we stayed at a hostel that was a bit more of a halfway house than a haven for backpackers. None the less the residents were pleasant, the sleep was good and comfy and the free breakfast was good if a little odd.

Dinner was found at La Dolce Vita and so far the best restaurant that we have stopped at so far. Mussels, very good.

The catch up will continue soon.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Mountain Fear

Nanaimo to Ucluelet

Day two.

Recovery from jet lag took place on the Tofino Bus which runs on the sole road across Vancouver Island. Naping was broken by views of the scenery we would be riding through soon and long up hill hauls. There are indeed mountains here as well. Some trepidation sets in as a continuous stream of logging trucks and other articulated trucks run the other way. Not a good prospect.

Tofino is North American twee personified with smatterings of chintz thrown in for good measure. Lying at the top of the Pacific Rim Park is seems to be the last stop and magnet for aging beatniks and hippies fighting the surfer tourers for a bit of space to unload money before heading south ahead of the cold.

Our stay was only long enough to be quizzed on our destination by a surf bum Quebecer settling in for the summer before rolling south towards Ucluelet. The road through the Pacific Rim National Park gave me my first taste of an optical illusion that punctuates the next couple of days. Because of the close high trees and backdrop of mountains, flat and gentle uphills have the appearance of being downhill rolls and I am left wondering why it seems to take so much effort to get anywhere. We stopped momentarily by Long Beach to get a taste of ocean air and then into town.

Ucluelet is a curious little place, evidently once a busy fishing area now aiming to capitalise on quiet tourism and surfing as a source of income. On an evening walk we discovereda mas of empty lots for sale for pospective house builders and in a freshly developed area a collection of tennis courts and a free to use skate park that would put many pay ones to shame.

The imminence of dinner time and cooking found us searching for Methylated Spirits for our Trangias. Such a thing seems not to be heard of in this country and we made do with Fondue Fuel which worked rather well. First night under canvas, OK by me.

Airborne and westbound

Toronto to Nanaimo

There may be a bit of a delay in delivery of reports due to lack of computer access on my handlebars so bear with me.

Day 1

Naturally my trip starts with rain, which on all other vacations has been followed by nothing genuinely bad happening. Note: I'm typing this nursing a dog bite, it's not severe but more about that later.

The flight was much as any other, but thanks go out to Westjet staff for pointing out the oversize baggage drop better suited to bikes than the closest one and the ground staff for delivering my pride and joy safely to Vancouver on the right flight.

On arrival at YVR I was greeted by my travelling companion, Trepid Explorer, who is more lovely in real life than in correspondence and is turning out to be both an enjoyable and very valuable travelling companion. She guided me out of the airport post bike rebiuld and introduced me to the amazing scenery of British Columbia. Warm sun against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains is how I would like to arrive at any destination ever.

Vancouver is amazing as far as cycling is concerned and I hope to find time to explore the city sometime. The major road leading out of the airport and over a freeway bridge off the island has full and spacious cycle lanes and the drivers, despite some reputations are some of the most bike friendly I have experienced in a big city. Time was only wasted on coffee before rolling through lush green Stanley Park into North Vancouver where a a long and winding Marine Drive took us past a Gleneagles Golf range and some veritable mansions to Horseshoe Bay. We made it just in the nick of time for the 6.15 sailing to Nanaimo. The decor and food was rather reminiscent of the England to France cross channel ferries that haven't quite made it out of the 80's. However, this was more than compensated for by the view of mountains everywhere. Jaw and eyes agape whilst in the back of my mind there niggles the thought that I will be crossing these soon.

The first nights accomodation was to be found in the reccomendable Nicol St. Hostel, comfy if a little compact.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Pre-flight checks

Things have been a little busy of late, hence the lack of general updating here. However, I felt that it was probably obligatory to get in at least one more post before hitting the road.

Tomorrow I will be picked up by a cab and taken to Toronto Pearosn Airport (YYZ) to catch an 11.15 flight to Vancouver (YVR) where, I can now reveal, I will be meeting my travelling companion, none other than Trepid Explorer (see links in sidebar for details). For reasons I won't be going into at this time she, like I, has decided to abandon the nine to five and a permanent home to pursue adventure and exploration as far as cycling across Canada will allow.

From there we will be cycling to a harbour for a ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. After staying the night there we will be taking a bus to the far side of the island to the town of Tofino to begin our ride. This is the home of Kilometre 0 of the Trans Canada Highway (TCH) and where our journey east will begin by heading south to Ucelet and then back towards Nanaimo. This is about as much solid route planning that has been done for this trip and is probably for the best. I like the taste of uncertainty that I'll have from not knowing precisely where I'm going to be 10 days from now and not feeling tied to a definitive schedule that would prohibit making the kind of discoveries that will hopefully make this trip for me.

I'd just like to take a moment to thank the Novak family for putting me up and putting up with me since January, this trip would have been much harder to organise without their hospitality.

I now await the last load of laundry to dry so I can do the last bit of packing and then lie in bed biting my nails over all of the things that I have definitely done but the fear part of my brain insists I have not. Still, I'm not unused to this as I have regularly questioned the sanity and my ability to spend three months on the road in a tent. Naturally I'll keep you updated on how that works out.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Easter Weekend pt3 and other stuff.

A bit of a hiatus. I won't be letting osting delays like this occur when I'm on the road.

On Easter Sunday I decided to take the short route home for ease. I was looking forward to a gentle ride back and a bit of peace in an empty house. True to form with me this plan did not pan out as intended. I ended up rediscovering my touring legs and turned over quite a pace on the way back. I also discovered a gazebo in need of assembly in the back yard so I go on with that as well. Since moving in with my very gracious hosts I seem to have become the appointed odd job man. It's not the least I could do but certainly the least I will do.

The following weekend I had signed myself up for a 200k ride with Randonneurs Ontario. The forecast had promised showers in the morning and clear in the afternoon. The reality was rain all day, a long slow ride and honking great cold that kept me off the bike for three days trying to avoid bronchitis. There really was little rewarding about the ride except a few wonderful views of the Niagara escarpment (dutifully climbed and decended a couple of times) occasionally shrouded in mist.

This weekend just gone, instead of heading out for a century because of feeling a bit weak from the cold, I headed out with the world famous Crazy Biker Chick, cyclist and knitter extraordinaire. I can recommend her company to anyone fortunate enough to be presented with the opportunity. We took a roll down the Martin Goodman trail, where the usual crowds were boosted by a Walk for Life, and up the Humber Trail, where idyllic ravines and meadowlands provide a peaceful relief from the sounds and smells of the city. We managed to get as far as the Humber Arboretum but not enough time to investigate it properly. Another place to make it onto my much neglected "visit one day" list.

Finally in cycling news, I decided on a diversion on the way home last night. Working my way down the Don Valley I started riding with this guy who turns out the have won at the Seoul 88 Paralympics. 18 years on and he still rides like a pro.