Day 61 – Arlor Haven Mariatown to Coteau-du-Lac . In which we say goodbye to Ontario, after being here for over half of the trip, since Day 29 when I made the fateful journey out on Black Sturgeon Lake with my ukulele. That includes a week in toronto, but it’s still a ridiculously vast Province, and we’re only talking about the southernmost edge.
- Today’s Distance (miles/km): 59 / 94
- Time in saddle: 5h 24
- Max/min temp (°c): 33°/15°
- Climb/descend (feet) : 854 / 938
- Calories used:
- Cafe time: 4h 23
No map today until I dig out the Quebec one from my panniers
Firstly, I owe a grovelling apology to Tim Horton’s. Today I discovered that despite trying so hard to do the right thing by using Ecosia as my web browser and getting a tree planted every time I do so, it transpires that Ecosia doesn’t connect you to the “Log-In” page at Tim Horton’s. Using Safari it worked perfectly, and I even sent and received emails. Sorry.
I should say that today was quite a day for photos., with good weather and lots to see. On the road I bumped into Mark, who was out for a speedy session on his fine aero-bike. We noodled along together for quite a few km, chatting and enjoying the finest cycling weather I’ve had for a while. He’s a chemist with Dupont, and has three kids, the oldest (16) being very musical and studying hard at her piano, and now the violin too.
We stopped at Upper Canada Village, a historic landmark and, ok, the place where I took those camp photos. They have the world’s only cycle-thru museum there, which is a great innovation if you’re a bit short on stopping time, like me. I’d like to share it with you:
Mark told me a critically important bit of local info: this weekend is RibFest in Cornwall, the next town I would reach on my route. He said that his family were planning to go so if I cycled fast enough we might meet up again. He headed back home and I enjoyed the spectacularly beautiful stretch of immaculate cycle paths all the way to Cornwall. This is still the Waterfront Trail that began (for me) all that time ago in Toronto. I know I was a bit sniffy about it on the first day, but I was quite wrong – it’s incredible and quite unlike any other attempts to accommodate the bike that I’ve seen so far. It’s so spacious, like cycling in Holland. You just relax when the ride is as clear and stress-free as this, with views of the water and lots of house-peeking.
RibFest was like a huge funfair with a field at the centre. Here there was an auditorium where the free music is (I was too early) and on the right is a long parade of enormous BBQ stalls, all competing with each other for your custom by calling out, whistling, singing, flaring up their fires and billowing out smoke, anything that makes them stand out.
I chose Fat Boys, because they were the least noisy, and ordered a 1/2 rack of ribs, and the lady serving asked if I’d like beans, coleslaw or cornbread? I said I’d like beans, slaw and cornbread, and she said “Well al-right!”. At the next stall a lad was yee-hawing and whistling in an attempt to make it sound like they were all having just the greatest time, and the guy cooking my ribs said, in a lazy drawl, “Well that’s going to start to get annoying”. I guess they’d only just set up for the weekend.
When my ribs were done I headed over to the ‘beer tent’ which is soft drinks only. They had root beer and also ‘butterbeer’ which I asked to try. I don’t know if JK Rowling based her Butterbeer idea on this, but it’s the most revolting drink I’ve tasted in years. It’s butterscotch flavour, and sickeningly sweet. As I pulled a grimace after tasting it, the guy serving said “It’s kind of, sweet, like, isn’t it?” I bought a souvenir metal cup and filled it with iced root beer instead:
As I spread BBQ sauce and ribs all over my face, Mark and his family appeared in the tent! It was great to meet them all and speak to his daughter about her music studies (sorry to have forgotten your name!) They go up to Grade 10 and she’s on Grade 8 piano which involves learning 5 pieces, classical, baroque, romantic, modern and I think popular. Plus all the usual listening tests and what she called “technique”, or scales and arpeggios. Quite a tall order. Mark also had very kindly brought me a gift, a Canada 150 tin camping mug, which I hooked up alongside my RibFest one. A day of many cups. I now make a nice rattle when I go over a speed bump.
I didn’t think this sort of sideshow still existed, and I regret not having a look now. I think that’s a picture of a man hammering a nail into his nose. Check out the hat of the man at the entrance. He was not impressed by me taking this without paying to come in.
I got talking in Tim Horton’s to guy called Rod, who is in the lumber business and has met Mike Holmes (the Canadian ambassador for SOS Children’s villages) several times. He was on his motorbike but also loved cycling and we had a bit of a route-comparing session about the Rockies and elsewhere. Without fail, the motorbikers I’ve met have been incredibly friendly and always very respectful on the road.
I cycled for the last 20km or so with a French-Canadian teacher, Annie. She was returning from two weeks in Toronto on a course to improve her English, and either the course worked or she already spoke it perfectly well. Along the way I finally said goodbye to Ontario after all this time together, and welcomed in my sixth Province, Quebec.
It transpired that we were heading for the same campsite, although she had a connection with someone who owned a trailer. This turned out to be a great guy called Pablo, who invited me over for supper with them: There was a pool at the entrance to the site so after a shower I walked back up and had a swim. The pool is amazingly deep for a campground, with a diving board. As I prepared to swim the attendant said to me (in English)”You must shower”. I said it was ok, I just came from the shower. “No, you must shower there and I must see you”, pointing to an outside shower. I must admit, it was a very clean pool. After a very welcome swim (great for tired shoulders) I changed back at the tent and headed over to Pablo’s place.
We sat at his table which rocked, or rather slid, back and forth, remaining perfectly level so the beers didn’t spilll. Probably Normal for Canada but I’d never seen one before. It’s a really addictive motion, and if you stop you feel like a kid – “more!”
Pablo has lived here for eight years but spends the winter down on the Pacific coast of Mexico. He used to run a bike shop near Montreal and puts up cyclists travelling through. He said his life was much better since selling up the business, his home, the car, everything, and living as simply as he could, getting around on one of his three bikes. They both very kindly spoke English for my benefit (and I know that Annie wanted to carry on practising) but this is now exclusively a French-speaking area. We had such a good evening together, eating an excellent chicken casserole, and it was a great way to end another memorable day. Merci Pablo! And also Annie for inviting me along.
This made me laugh out loud, combining as it does the Canadian love of nature with their love of shooting at it.