Sunday, August 31, 2014

Toronto to Niagara Falls on Bikes - 2014

A bit over two years ago, a bunch of us rode to Niagara Falls from Toronto. It was my first time riding that far and proved to be a real challenge. Due to my knee that was hurting me, I could not ride back the next day and it has been a disappointment for me. Two years later, I wanted to do this again with my older kids, as an adventure and hopefully a fun time before school starts.

The gang - Dillon, Megan, Ryan and Lens Bubbles. Click for larger.

We planned to go at a slower and more constant pace of about 20 km/h  so that we don't exhaust ourselves early on, but that turned out to be less of a problem. We took the Waterfront Trail for most of the way there but switched to directions provided by Google Maps.  the Waterfront Trail has very good signage but sometimes signs were not visible at some turns. We spent quite a bit of time checking directions to make sure we are on the right track. The Google Maps directions had a couple of steps omitted, causing us more delays. One advice when using Google Maps directions is to check each point on the map to make sure they are correct.

Last time I rode a vintage Coppi bike with a Brooks saddle, which was a real mistake. The saddled was very hard and my butt felt like it was on fire at the end of the trip. This time I made sure everyone got comfortable seats, and I brought along a gel seat cover, which made a big difference.

Beautiful Port Credit - Sony A7 & Carl Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8 ZA. Click for larger.
The Waterfront Trail is very beautiful and a scenic route. It passes many towns and cities, parks and natural conservation areas, and best of all, most of the ride is along Lake Ontario. There is one section of the trail, the 8.5km Hamilton Beach Trail, is one of the best part of the ride. It is really beautiful. The last time we rode there, we missed it.

Sign of confusion: Note both street names are identical. Sony A7 & FE 35mm f2.8 ZA.

Checking the map to make sure we are on the right track.

I brought along my Sony A7 and the Zeiss 35mm f2.8ZA.  For the first 50km, I just hung it on my neck and took pictures of the kids while riding, but that proved to be tough on my neck, so I took it off and left it in my bag. My old problem, the pain in my right knee, was also starting to hurt. This really dampened my spirit as it ruined my trip last time. Expectedly, it got worse as I rode. We had to stop and get a knee brace, which helped a great deal.

Trail Blazers -- Sony A7 and Carl Zeiss FE 35mm f2.8ZA. click for larger.

We were lost a couple of times near Niagara Falls following the Google Maps directions.  Also, as we are closer to the end, the elevation in the last 30km was something close to 120 meters, and there are many hills to climb. It was difficult for Megan, as she being the youngest and riding this far for the first time, but she's tough as a nail and very determined.

Taking a break at the same spot we did two years ago!

We made it to Niagara Falls in around 12 hours. It would have been at least an hour shorter if we didn't have to do so many checks on the map and getting lost. My wife and my youngest son were waiting for us there.

My knee was getting very bad and I knew it would not be possible to ride back in this condition. My wife prepared some vitamin treatment for me, and I prayed for my knee to get better in the morning. In credibly, it did and I was feeling much better but still hurts. I really didn't want to disappoint Dillon, as I knew he really wanted to ride back, so I decided to do it.

We left Megan and Ryan in Niagara Falls, and Dillon and I headed home. 1/3 of the way home, my other knee was having the same symptom as my right knee, which was starting to hurt. Another knee brace and a couple of Tylenol later, I forced myself to continue. Needless to say, the last 20 km was one of the most difficult ride I had ever done, but we made it home.

I am so proud of the kids, especially Megan. She's one tough kid. Ryan has been training for this for a few weeks and it was much easier for him this time than the last, and Dillon, he made the trip seem so easy. He was carrying most of the supplies and tools, and he was the front person for drafting.  It's too bad this will likely be my last long cycling trip due to my knee problem, but I am happy I made it there and back.

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