Today was probably the best day of cycling I have ever had. I think all the others on this trip agree. The day started with breakfast at 7 AM on the second floor of the 1840 Guest House in Merrickville. If you out of the French doors to the balcony showed a stiffly blowing flag indicating that we would have a tailwind for much of our ride. Given that this was planned to be the longest day of riding that each one of us had ever had, this was a welcome sight. The weather was overcast and cool at 15°. People fretted about what to wear but mostly agreed they would rather ride in weather like this than hot humid and sunny weather that is more typical of mid July. The weather remained cool and overcast for most of the ride with a negligible amount of rain, but became sunny towards the end of the day.
Merrickville was a little lovely little town and we didn’t have much time to explore it but we enjoyed the time while we were there. The roads today had paved shoulders, a smooth surface and courteous drivers who changed lanes to pass, or slowed down to wait to pass, when necessary.
Our first break was North Augusta at 20 km. Jim, man of many great ideas, had put up an orange ribbon at the corner where we were meant to turn. It was a ribbon like this we managed to miss the prior day when we cycled 2.5 km beyond lunch. Today we were keeping a better eye out for them.
Rani and I arrived first and searched for a bathroom, almost in vain, until Rani convinced the lady at the convenience store/post office/LCBO to allow us to use the employee bathroom. When we returned to the corner at the centre of town we discovered Dayle bandaging John’s ankle. It transpired that John missed the last step coming down the stairs first thing this morning and turned his ankle, but told no and by North Augusta it was swollen. Still smiling, John assured us he could continue.
Nelson also managed to sustained an injury today, when riding with his feet clipped to the petals, over gravel behind the general store, in search of a place to relieve himself, fell over. He also assured us he was well enough to continue and required no first aid.
The next stop was at the Starbucks in Brockville at about 40km into the route. I thoroughly enjoyed a cappuccino and chocolate chip cookie. John elevated his foot for a while and Dayle provided some therapy. Jon was still smiling!
On Tuesday, as we returned to the residence in Ottawa after riding, we ran into John who was heading to Beaver Tails in the Byward market to meet Jim. We loaded our bikes into the trailer and walked over with him. Part way through the walk I realized I was still wearing my cycling gloves and I took them off and wrapped them with their Velcro closure around the strap of my purse. The next morning, as we were setting out for Merrickville, I realized I only had one glove. Fortunately, Dayle, ever prepared, was able to provide me with a second pair she had brought just in case she needed them. I was on the lookout for somewhere to buy a new pair yesterday but was unsuccessful. Today as we pulled up to the Starbucks Rani spotted a Sport Chek. We went over, and I found gloves – the same ones that I had lost – for just $25.
- Our next stop was lunch. Not long after leaving Brockville we came to the start of the Thousand Islands Parkway cycle path, which is one of the most amazing pieces of cycling infrastructure I have ever used. It runs 37 Km from west of Brockville to get an Gananoque. Of course, we had to have a group picture in front of the sign. We are all laughing in the picture because David and I had each set up our cameras on the utility box on the other side of the road from the sign with self timers and then run to get into the picture. David ended up with a picture of me running. Fortunately my camera managed to capture us back in line where we hoped to be when the shutter opened.
The Government of Canada gave away free national park passes this year to anyone who applied for one. I didn’t have any specific plans to visit one, but thought I might as well apply. What arrived was one of those little tags that you put over your rearview mirror. So, as I entered the Thousand Islands National Park I hung my sign on my cycling rearview mirror. We didn’t actually need to pass to get in, but since I had one I thought it would be fun to display it.
Rani’s legs were even worse than mine, because she decided to haul her bike, and Nelson’s, up on a rock outcropping for Nelson’s series of “bikes against the sights” he sees. Rani just likes to climb things.
Then, we had another case of late afternoon silliness when “someone who shall not be named, but knows how to read municipal moving violation signs”, suggested that we ride the wrong way up a road around a bend marked “no bikes” and race back down in pairs for pictures.
In Gananoque, there was a giant Adirondack chair that we had to stop and take a picture with. We stopped for a quick break at McDonald’s and then we were on our way. Nelson was having some mechanical issues with his bike, and arranged to take it to a bike shop when we got to Kingston, so he and Rani cycled ahead and David, Dayle, John and I stayed together to make sure John had company, felt supported and made it to Kingston.
It’s was so exciting to cross the bridge into Kingston and arrive at Queens. The five of us got cleaned up, ordered Chinese and date at the residence. It was a long but wonderful, satisfying, amazing day. Rani and Nelson arrived back after having a terrific experience at the J&J Bike Shop , having both of the bikes tuned up, and having the mechanic refuse to be paid, when he heard that they were doing cycle tourism.