Stage 48 – New Tecumseth to Toronto! In my mind this Crossing Canada adventure is divided into two parts; from the Pacific to Toronto, then from Toronto to the Atlantic. By arriving in Toronto late this afternoon I’m actually feeling as though I’ve completed Part One, and I’m ready for a bit of a break. The amazing encounters and unexpected happenings that are part of everyday on the road are what makes this trip so fascinating for me, but I’m ready for some familiarity, “normality”, a home for a week, and to spend some time with my wife, Susie, after nearly two months apart.
- Today’s Distance (miles/km): /100
- Time in saddle: 7h 44
- Max/min temp (°c): 41°/14°
- Climb/descend (feet) : 1689 / 2004
- Calories used: 3119
- Cafe time: 8h 43!!
Although I made quite a big dent in the ride down to the big city yesterday, there were still a fair few kilometres to get in today, and city cycling is always much slower than belting along empty highway, with all the people, the traffic and the endless intersections/traffic lights. There was lots of riding down just one street, the street where Susie’s father lives, Bathurst Street.
I was kept company as I made breakfast before dawn this morning by every single mosquito in the area. They must have had a bit of a sleep after feasting on the campground BBQ shenanigans, then seen that I was providing them with another breakfast option. I packed at high speed due to the mozzy-deluge, and got moving slightly faster than a mosquito can fly as soon as possible. I was so touched by Tom’s gesture of leaving some beers for me, as mentioned in yesterday’s blog. An act of random kindness is a very powerful thing, and that thought has been brought home for me on countless occasions over the last 48+ days. I passed a stunning old feather-shingled barn, but don’t feel that my photo quite does it justice. It really looked more like plumage than shingles, and made me want to go over and stroke it!
My route was pretty simple in theory, to just wriggle south towards Toronto on as bike-friendly a route as I could. Various road closures and diversions kept me on my toes however, and today was very much a day for concentrating on every turn and, once in the Greater Toronto Area, watching where you put your wheels. The surfaces are so variable that my whole trip could have come to an ignominious end in a pothole, a ditch or a bollard. The rural area north of Toronto really is very beautiful, green, and rolling. The only thing I always feel is missing is the villages that are the feature of similar terrain at home. I passed one golf course out there this morning:
I actually think that these Canada Geese have no idea of the rules of golf. They need to learn – one at a time! And no beaks, it’s cheating.
And on the same subject, how about this sign today, which I’m putting my new section, Pedant’s Corner:
(The pedant being me, by the way). You can’t blame the golf ball, there’s nothing wrong with them and it’s not their fault where they get hit. It should read “Watch out for totally innocent golf balls hit by errant golfers.”
I turned off a rural road for the final time, before picking up the big roads into town, on this avenue with the same name as the area of London I grew up in…
..and found myself straight away in a lovely, smart, chi-chi small town that was enjoying a very high-end relaxed Saturday morning, with the ostentatious reading of Saturday newspapers at every open air cafe, and loud, very very important cell-phone conversations held on the street by dads who had left their family during breakfast again. But as I said, it really is a very pretty place, and it’s called Kleinburg, smalltown. Sorry to all Canadians if I’m pointing out places that everyone knows about as if I’ve discovered them, but to me I have.
There was also a gallery which I now regret not making the time to stop at. This is often the way, I find. If you’ve only just got going you often dismiss the idea of stopping again too easily. (What I discovered at supper this evening with Jerry and Mayta is that it actually is a Group of Seven museum, not just a catchy name).
As the day heated up as forecast, I crossed over to the east on Major Mackenzie Drive, passing a huge traffic jam in every possible direction at the big interchange with the infamous Highway 400. I sailed through on the separate sidewalk/cycle lane, feeling the incredible heat and noise generated by each stuck car as I cruised past. This was all beside a funfair, with a sickenly steep rollercoaster to keep the idle traffic entertained. Part of the jam was people trying to get in to this place.
Also en route was this beautiful new library building, looking like a major international art gallery:
By the time I approached Morley’s house I was feeling very hot and sweaty, but had a sudden and helpful flash of memory – when our kids were younger we took them several times during hot summer weather to a lovely local free swing pool in a park nearby, so I made a slight detour, parked the bike, showered, swam in the lovely cool water, changed into some normal clothes and headed up to the 14th floor for a late lunch with Morley and Dinah.
(We always get a thrill from the first glimpse of the CN Tower and downtown Toronto from Morley’s balcony)
After a delicious meal (thank you Dinah) and a long chat about the journey I’ve been making, as well as catching up on family news, I left for my next port of call, Susie’s Uncle Ellie, who lives in a very elegant retirement building just off Eglinton Ave. He was having supper in the restaurant with his friend Toby when I arrived, but he bought me a beer and I sat at their table and we chatted for a while. (Note that there aren’t yet pictures of the people themselves, as I was far too busy talking and eating and drinking to think of it!) Ellie is the grandfather of Micah, who appeared in the blog all those weeks ago in Vancouver. I’m hoping to meet up with Micah again this week:This building had an unimpeded view the last time I was here. Toronto has been growing as fast as almost any city in the world, China included. The whole section of Eglinton Ave I needed was under construction for more metro train development, and this tower (one of three) had sprung up since last time:
My mission this evening was to round up all three of the Markson brothers on my bicycle, in the order that they appear on the way downtown to our apartment this week. So last were Jerry and Mayta in Yorkville, who welcomed me with supper (I should apologise again for thinking that the large bowl of pasta was all for me, when in fact it was for all of us – I’m still laughing at the way Mayta realised this as I was preparing the whole thing just to my taste with cheese and pepper whilst they waited their turn) We looked at maps, discussed plans this week and talked more about this vast country of theirs.
There was quite a gathering in the lobby downstairs as I prepared to ride off into the night, as fellow resindents in their building turned out to be keen cyclists and we talked about all the different aspects of preparing for and executing a trip like this. I could feel that my week off was already kicking in, and details of fairly recent events were evading me! Sorry to all if I was a bit spacey.(Susie’s Unlce Jerry and Aunt Mayta to my right)
And so this long day, and Part One of my trip, came to an end with a lovely warm nighttime bikeride through the streets of downtown Toronto, heaving with life and activity, which was great to see after all the lonely miles. I’m signing off for a while now, with possible postings if anything comes up…..you never know….the plan is to leave for Part Two at the end of next week, so don’t go away whatever you do. Thanks so much for all your support and brilliant comments so far, which have made every day a pleasure. This adventure is a long way from being done…