RA77: Fantastic Riding

Port Dover Ontario to Fort Erie Ontario – 84.8 miles

Despite some great-looking places along its streets, Jack and I reluctantly skipped breakfast in Port Dover in order to make some miles first today.  The AC route started us out as usual through corn, soybean, and wind turbine fields on roads that generally hugged the coast.  Past Nanticoke we ran into a tiny place called Floyd’s and decided to stop for breakfast.  It was an isolated little building a block or two off the water, with only a handful of houses in the neighborhood and no other businesses.  A young girl with a standoff-ish disposition took our order. At first we thought she was not very friendly, but then figured out that she was, but just had a sort of defensive attitude.  I recount this simply because it was interesting.  Food was decent but my pancakes were a little bit gluey again, like all pancakes I’d had here in Ontario.   Not sure why.

Inside Floyd's

We continued into Peacock Point, our original destination for last night, and found a very nice looking campground next to the water.  Our route also started to follow the shoreline even closer, weaving through neighborhoods of many modest but beautiful lakefront homesteads.  The riding became enchanting.  We might have been going 6 mph, or maybe 26 mph.  It didn’t matter.  Each turn in the road brought wonder at what we’d see – great little houses, big trees hanging over the shoreline, groups of Canada geese stadning in the shallows.  Not mansions, but idyllic summer homes with private docks and patios facing the water.  Time and miles flew by.  This is really touring cycling at its best.

Fantastic riding
Great Lakefront riding

In Selkirk we pulled in to an Esso station for cold drinks and the owner met us at the doorway.  “C’mon in – I like talking with you guys.”    We learned he’d lived in this area for more than 30 years.  We discussed our bicycle travels and the route eastward.  We also discussed the tug-o-war in these parts about additional wind turbines.  Opponents claim health issues (sonic-induced headaches), dubious energy gains, and believe property values will decline.  Jack and I tend to think this last point is the real driving force behind opposition.   While the turbines are initially gee-whiz, I agree that the day-to-day sight of them detacts from the landscape, and potentially lowers property values.  Anyway, when we went to pay for our drinks he wouldn’t take any money for them.  What a nice guy!

Selkirk Esso station

From Selkirk we rode another 20 miles along some of the prettiest lakefront area I’ve ever seen.  It is difficult to describe, but something in between a lakefront and beachfront.  Weather was perfect, with slight breezes in our face.  Once gain, the time and miles slipped by.  With each turn in the road I’d slow a bit and think, “Man, am I lucky to be here riding, breeze in my face, beautiful water on my right.”

In order to cross the Grand River, we made some jogs in the road to reach a bridge in Dunnville, the town Jesse had stayed in last night.    We found a Buckner’s Source for Sports, a bike shop and in it 2 new tubes for me.  Whew – I’d been running on zero spares for a couple of days, save for a too-small emergency spare that Jesse had loaned me.

Lunch at a place across the street called Flyers Bakery and Café.  We both ordered the egg salad on 9-grain bread – maybe I’m spending so much time with Jack that that vegetarian crap is starting to rub off.

More splendid riding east of Dunville.  Part of what made it so divine is the close proximity of the road with the lake’s edge, and the adorable little houses nestled all along the coast.  As we rode eastward, edging ever closer to Buffalo, it seemed that affluence rose along with the size and grandeur of the houses.

Gorgeous riding all day today

We ran into yet another couple riding west along this route and stopped to exchange notes.  It’s really neat how almost every touring cyclist will stop like that to chat.

These two touring cyclists were heading west

In Port Colborne, Jack and I found a little place called the Surfside Restaurant that had a aged old sign with an ice cream cone on it.  The women running it had only 4 flavors, but whipped us up some of the best milkshakes yet (chocolate for me and black cherry for Jack), which we enjoyed sitting outside watching the water.  We then crossed a big steel bridge and found the Friendship Trail.

Bridge crossing in Port Colborne

This trail is a rails-to-trails conversion that runs a beautiful 16 miles or so all the way east to Fort Erie, stopping only for some pauses with intersections with beach access roads.    After already riding 70 miles, getting on this trail was a treat – evenly graded and mostly shielded from the wind by trees, making the miles easier yet.   Quickly we reached Fort Erie, bending north following the trail, and then found ourselves on the Niagara Recreational Trail.  Crossing an intersection we spied a Howard Johnson sign.  We knew Jesse was staying at one, went up to investigate.  There he was!  We checked in ourselves.

On the Friendship Trail. Buffalo NY in the background
Pedalling along the Niagara River
Buffalo NY from the Canadian side

Dinner at The Barrel just up the street.  I know, “The Barrel” – how good could this place be?  Well let me tell.  I have made some mean spaghetti and meatballs in my time, but theirs is REALLY GOOD.  And the secret is the same – it’s in the sauce.

A GREAT day riding, among the best days riding on this tour.  85 miles total, and we’re back on our progress plan.  Tomorrow will be a scheduled “rest” day in that we’ll dawdle our way up the Niagara Falls Recreational Trail, see the falls, and otherwise mess around, figuring only on about 20 miles.