Retropost #2: Birthday in Ontario

So somewhere around Thanksgiving 2015 I got tipsy with my Uncle Dan and we decided we should go back to Lake Nippissing, Ontario. We had done this every year when I was a kid. My cousin ended up agreeing to go as well, and we happened to be leaving the day before my birthday.

As we did when we were kids, we decided to listen to a book on tape for the drive. We chose Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. On the first night we ate in some chain restaurant that I don’t remember the name of, and I got some boozy milkshake “for my birthday” and then they brought out a big desert “for my birthday” – all very good.

The next day, as was also tradition, we cut our trip into two parts by stopping at Webers. It’s this fantastic burger joint with mostly outdoor seating and a giant walkway over the highway so that it can be accessed by people travelling both directions. The lines go pretty far back in the parking lot but service never takes that long. I was extremely glad to find that my memories of the food weren’t just good because of nostalgia… everything was delicious.

We got to the cabin and found out that we couldn’t build fires because they were in the middle of a very dry spell. We also didn’t have direct access to the water, but that also meant people weren’t walking by the cabin all week.

The next day, I decided to take a ride while Dan & Doug went out on the boat. I had looked at a map before coming on the trip and had an idea of a few trails that I wanted to find. I noticed that everything was pretty much highway so I brought a cyclocross bike with road tires.

As it turns out, highways in Canada are not always paved, and even if they are they handle construction by laying a ton of gravel and dirt in patches. I flatted 8 miles in. I debated on turning around after fixing the flat but decided against it.

I made it into some more residential town and saw a couple on bikes standing outside of a shop. I approached them and asked if they knew where Kate Pace Way was. I knew I was close but wasn’t exactly sure how to get there. They told me it was in the direction of their house, so if I didn’t mind riding at their pace they’d show me the way. The woman had a pedal-assist bike to help her with any of the smaller hills in the area.

They actually stopped at their house on the way and let me use a floor pump to get my tires back to where they should be (the hand pump did well, but wasn’t perfect). They also gave me their business card – they owned an outdoor shop in North Bay (similar to REI). Then the wife showed me the rest of the way to Kate Pace Way.

I had failed at mapping this trail out in its entirety. It actually went the whole way to the waterfront. I got there, ate some ice cream and chips, and turned around to come home. Another trail started around there and went to the airport, but I didn’t have time for that.

On the way home I checked out the Cranberry trail, which was unpaved and likely contributed to my bonking later. Traffic was getting angry and passing me pretty close, so I took a little detour – very rocky and uncomfortable on slicks. I ended up passing part of the trans-Canada trail, but it was a section that didn’t go anywhere or connect to anything.

Two days later I decided on a shorter ride. I wanted to find Restoule Provincial Park. My tire was flat. I also had trouble shifting and sat fiddling with my derailleur for a while. This was unfortunate because I was trying to beat the heat by leaving early.

This ride started out with a little more climbing than the first one. There isn’t much climing, I managed about 2000′ over 40 miles which was the most I could really get when I was mapping things out beforehand. It was really nice and the roads were mostly empty. It did get really hot though, and at some point I saw signs for a honey farm and decided to step inside to take a break from the heat.

Board’s Honey farm was pretty cool. They actually took me back into the kitchen to pour me a fresh bear of Ginger Honey, which needed to be strained first.

I didn’t end up making it all the way into Restoule Provincial Park. The last few miles were under construction and were very roughly covered in gravel. I sat down to eat a peach, was attacked by black flies, and decided to get out quickly. On the way back I stopped at a restaurant and asked if I could sit outside to eat my fruit.

The rest of the ride home was extremely hot. I had one work truck almost run me over (I bailed into the grass and he came right on through at full speed with an oncoming car). I made one last stop for some mountain dew with about two miles to go – I do not do well with crazy heat.

I don’t really remember the chronological order of everything else. We ended up going to the outdoor adventure shop and we went to Board’s Honey Farm via car. We even stopped at that same restaurant and ate ice cream. We visited New Ontario Brewing. Doug & I half-sank a paddle boat, then I took him out in a canoe for his first time. We had to race a thunderstorm back, which was challenging. We had several good sunsets and at least one quiet evening in with books & board games. We discovered that my tire had actually been torn open during my first bike ride and I later found out that my derailleur hanger was bent.

On the drive home we stopped at Weber’s (of course) and Niagra Falls. We found a few breweries. Then on the second day we detoured to Southern Tier, and it happened to be some kind of summer party.

 

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