Wednesday, 14 August 2013

All Dressed Up...and Nowhere to Roll.

Time hadn't been on my side recently.  Come to think of it, neither has Mother Nature...that cruel, heartless ethereal being who causes great consternation amongst the human race, but always provides great watercooler conversation fodder.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the TD requires riders to climb and descend 200,000 feet in 2,700 miles.  There is nowhere close to 200,000 feet of vertical elevation, let alone accessible trail, in Ontario.  I realize that to acclimatize myself to that type of elevation change, I will more than likely have to leave the province for some mountainous riding - perhaps upstate New York or the Laurentians in Quebec.

However, my problem at the present time isn't necessarily gaining the climbing miles...its simply gaining the miles, period.  Its been a couple of weeks since I've knocked of a 50+ km ride, with my latest plans scuppered by other commitments.  I need to get out riding, and while local runs and ditty-bops through the surrounding trails are fine for evening rides, I need some good old thigh-burning, leg-cramping, butt-numbing long distance riding, and I need it now.

I thought I would share with you some of my thoughts, hopes, and dreams for some LD riding in the future.  Some of this is more realistic and immediate than others, but no one can say that I haven't done my homework.  Like everything when you are preparing for the TD, a lot of preparation in the beginning saves you from some potentially epic fails at the end.  These are just a smattering of some of the trails I would love to ride, both near and far.

The Waterfront Trail

The first one that caught my eye (and stretching over 1,400 km from the southern border city of Windsor to the Ontario-Quebec border), is the Waterfront Trail - designed to give riders, runners, hikers, and the general public, a legacy trail that could be used to traverse the province via a dedicated and properly signed route.  The history of this trail, as told by the website, originates in 1988 when environmental evaluations were completed on the status of Toronto's waterfront.  Over the following years, the Waterfront Regeneration Trust was created to suitably recommend and implement "regeneration" initiatives along the Lake Ontario waterfront.  Through countless amounts of back-and-forth bickering, the WRT finally opens the Waterfront Trail in 1995 thereby creating "a 350-kilometre, virtually continuous trail along the Lake Ontario shoreline, which connects hundreds of parks, historic and cultural sites, wildlife habitats and recreation areas from Stoney Creek to Trenton." *

*Sourced from .

1,400 km of cycling good fun!
The evolution of the trail eventually grew and took hold in two sections - the Lake Ontario Waterfront Trail (Niagara Falls to the Ontario-Quebec border), and its newer cousin, the Lake Erie Waterfront Trail (Lakeshore to Fort Erie).  Joined in the middle by the Welland Canal Trail and the absolutely gorgeous Niagara Parkway Trail, the provincial utility trail is a combination of paved and unpaved road conditions; dirt paths and minor highways.  This ride fascinates me for several reasons:
  1. Mileage - This is 1,400 km of multi-purpose, well marked trail (I was down in Niagara this past weekend and noticed signage all over the place).  While not exactly the Rockies, this ride would offer a rider like me a great opportunity to tack on multi-day centuries.
  2. Scenery - I love my province.  I have seen the province in all its splendour - from Windsor to Ottawa to Thunder Bay, and all points in between.  Well, almost.  A route like this is designed to get you intimate with the communities that you ride through; but gives you ample opportunity to escape the human race.  And I'll bet you there are some ghost towns along the way!
  3. Testing my Manhood - This is not what you think (Actually, what is it that you're thinking?).  What I'm referring to is testing my mental fortitude.  Let's face it...I've never ridden my bike on an overnight...ever.  While the route no doubt passes by luxury hotels and B & Bs, there is also ample opportunity to rebuke all of the hospitality temptations in front of you for the more homely activity of camping.  This would be a great opportunity to test a long day's ride with the packing and unpacking process.
I'm not sure that this year will be the year to tackle this.  With summer quickly transitioning to autumn in the coming weeks (however, if you woke up in Ontario this morning, you most likely thought summer was over today.  It was only 9 deg. C when I left for work this morning!), the opportunity to tackle this with the shorter days is simply not realistic.  However, I'm going to file this one in the "to-do" pile for next year, or perhaps the month leading into the TD in 2015.

The Central Ontario Loop Trail

For something apparently "legendary" about this trail for those who live near it, there is a God-awful neglect towards posting quality information on this trail online.  While there is mention of it here and there as a multi-purpose 450-km loop.  According to, the Central Ontario Loop Trail is "[a] 450km multi-use trail, open 12 months of the year. The trail consists of old rail line trails, and secondary roads. The trail passes through five counties, Hastings, Haliburton, City of Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough and Northumberland. For free print maps, trail rules and more information on the Central Ontario Loop Trail, please see their website.  Umm...OK.  The website does not exist, so I implore that anyone from the Hastings/Haliburton area who might stumble on this modest blog...can you please send me some information or some maps?  I'd like to check this route out, but without any idea how and where the trail runs, its hard to commit to this.

La Tour de KW

While not an official trail per se, I do have to give a shout-out to a local rider (Garmin Connect user "rvandermey") from the Kitchener area who mapped out a route on his GPS taking him over 77-km along every nook-and-cranny trail circumventing the K-W area.  Starting at the famous Hydrocut mountain biking trail in the west end of Kitchener, the loop takes riders south through Victoria Hills towards the Huron Park area.  From there, the path leads to the Homer Watson Park area (and some really beautiful singletrack).  After playing in HWP for a bit, the trail saunters towards Chicopee Ski Hill and some slight elevation changes.  Onward to connect to the Walter Bean Trail, which aligns itself with the Grand River, the route passes through some low-lying terrain and pulls back out near the border of the two cities and heads towards Uptown Waterloo.  Following the bike-friendly University Avenue (thanks to the 45,000+ students attending the nearby University of Waterloo and Wilfrid Laurier University), the trails finishes off in the Ira Needles/Boardwalk area and the trailhead.  I AM going to do this trail before the end of the season.  I was supposed to ride it a couple of weeks back, but I ran out of available time.

Lake Champlain Bikeways

OK...this one is a bit of a stretch, and also not in Ontario.  It does however, offer something unique to my training regimen - elevation.  The Lake Champlain trail system runs over 1,100 miles through the Adirondacks in Upstate New York, Vermont, and southern Quebec.  I recently stumbled on this, so more information will need to be gathered; however, from a high-level glance, this appears to be an excellent and well-supported system that would help me build some tolerence to the changing air pressure at elevation, as well as to gain climbing strength.  Certainly not this year and as a "hope and a prayer" for 2014, but with some planning and good fortune, this could be one to target.

Kitchener - Hamilton - Niagara Loop this one I sort of made up on my own.  Sort of.  Its an amalgamation of several different trail systems that interconnect to form a 425-km+ "loop" from Kitchener to the north shore of Lake Erie, east to Port Colborne, north to Niagara-on-the-Lake, and returning west to Hamilton before retracing the early part of the route back to Kitchener.  I REALLY want to do this ride.

Much of this route is spent on pre-esisting rail trails and side roads, ranging from colourful farmland to wonderful vistas overlooking the Lake Erie shoreline, with the return from Niagara-on-the-Lake spotted with the always lush orchards and vineyards of the Niagara Peninsula.  I estimate that a rider could likely knock this route off (weather permitting) in about 3 - 4 days.  I don't think this will be a 2013 run (maybe Fall, but unlikely), but definately something I will tackle in Spring 2014.

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