What a perfect day. It started cool, crisp, dry and sunny at the beach in Port Stanley. Breakfast was included with our rooms, and was as good as the dinner that we had last night. It did take a while to arrive, which caused us to leave later than we had planned, but with satisfied stomachs which is important when you’re cycling all day. There were crazy number of seagulls on the beach this morning with turkey vultures overlooking them from the lifeguard stand.
I had so much energy that I cycled for a couple kilometres, while the others finished packing, knowing that I was taking the first shift driving. Here is the gang ready to ride. We turned north from Lake Erie today so we had a day of climbing, the worst of which was at the beginning getting out of Port Stanley, so I decided to take the first shift in the car for not only that reason, but also to visit friends in St. Thomas and check out the new Whistlestop Trail.
The Whistlestop Trail runs from Port Stanley to downtown St. Thomas. From Port Stanley to the south end of the St. Thomas, the trail varies between a raised multi use path beside the road and a painted buffered cycling lane with signs warning drivers at all cross streets.
Once in St. Thomas it turns into a multi use path adjacent to the train tracks through a parklike setting with excellent street crossing signage and wayfaring signage.
I drove straight to my friends’ house and caught them for a super quick visit as they were heading out to an appointment. I was also able to use the facilities. Then I cycled the urban sections of the Whistlestop Trail, around the beautiful Courthouse District, Talbot Street, the armoury, the old railway station which has been beautifully restored, but is still largely unoccupied, and the many murals off Talbot Street.
Then, seeing on Google maps that Rani was getting close to our arranged meeting spot, I headed that way. However, a few hundred metres from the spot I came to a very steep hill which I decided not to ride down, just to ride up it again. I messaged that they should come to the top. Rani and Nelson were ahead of the others and said they would wait, but after a while, decided to come up. I messaged David to say I would give Rani and Nelson a tour and then meet them at the elevated park.
On the way to the bridge we visited Jumbo, a famous circus elephant hit and mortally wounded by a freight train in St. Thomas.
A local non-profit has begun rehabilitating the Michigan Central Railway bridge to create Canada’s first elevated park. The first section opened this spring. It is worth a visit. The views are wonderful and will be even better in a few weeks with the fall colours.
Then it was lunch time. Rani and Nelson hit Tim Hortons and the rest of us had a tailgate lunch in the Jumbo parking lot. I then cycled to Tim’s for coffee and a cookie. They appeared to be out of cookies, but on closer inspective there were two broken ones that had fallen off the tray to the bottom front of the glass case. I asked if the server could reach them and she could so I bought one. She ended up giving me both and they were delicious. I referred to them as my “floor cookies” – not quite, but close. I always have believed in the 5 second rule.
We then carried on with Wayne taking his first turn driving and the rest of us cycling. We agreed to meet in Belmont for another driver switch. The roads were lightly travelled and the winds diminished from yesterday, but unfortunately the western winds we suffered circled around to the southeast and we had headwind when going east, but tailwinds going north, so it was still a dramatic improvement.
I drove the next section meeting at Lake Whittaker Conservation Area, then Dayle took over. We are getting good at these meet ups and switching over. The gang getting ready to go. Unfortunately, Dayle forgot to start her Strava.
I decided while riding the second last leg that I could finish since the last leg was only 6km.
However, when we caught up to Dayle and the car, she was all ready to go and the road had been dug up. I was happy to change my mind and drive the last leg.
I got to the hotel and unloaded my things. I discovered laundry drying . Isn’t this clever?
Rani and Nelson had arrived and gotten our rooms, but then we got a message from Dayle – second flat in two days. They tried to fix it, but it wouldn’t hold, so I went to pick her up.
The hotel had a pool so David, Dayle and I spent a wonderful half hour going from pool to hot tub and back again. So relaxing. There was an amazing sunset when we went out for dinner.
Dinner was Thai in Ingersoll at Mango Salad. It was very good
I’ve had an amazing Day 4 and 5, which more than made up for my disappointing Day 3. I’ve had so much energy and been on a natural high since yesterday morning.
As I write the blog I am hearing constant traffic noise. We are close to the 401, Tim’s and a gas station. I’m glad I brought ear plugs.
Tomorrow we have 115km to go, but 60 of it on a rail trail. I am content and excited, but sorry that we are down to our last two days.
• Moving Time – 3:(8:32
• Elapsed Time – 6:24:46
• Distance – 59km (Plus 2.1 in Port Stanley for 61.1 total)
• Elevation Gain – 320m
• Average Speed – 16.2kmh
• Maximum Speed – 65.2kph (wow, surprising on my upright bike)
• Calories Burned – 1993
- Cookies eaten – 3 (One more at the hotel, last one in the lobby jar)