Before starting I wanted to make a brief note about pictures or the lack thereof. This bicycle touring adventure happened before I decided that pictures were worth taking so unlike all of my other tours I have no pictures to share unfortunately. I will eventually cheat by returning to the area on either another tour or in a car and taking the pictures that I should have taken back then. This tour report would have likely been much more interesting to share with others had I done so!
On to the tour report.
My route into touring was more a result of the bike I purchased then anything else.
I had a wonderful Peugeot bike for many years that I originally obtained at a garage sale for the princely sum of $35.00. This bike was an old ten speed road bike that had no water bottle mounts but it could have fenders attached. Ultimately I did figure out how to add a couple of water bottle holders without the brazings.
Overtime the bike would go from being a 10 speed to a 5 speed to a 1 speed and back as I neglected to perform cable maintenance.
I used this bike for many things from riding through double-track in woods, pulling an old newspaper cart with a baritone saxophone on board all the way to using it for basic and cost effective transportation as a student when I would bike up to 80 km in a day in multiple trips.
I finally decided that it was time to replace the bike when I saw rust on the frame. Now chances are the bike would have lasted another twenty years but I had an excuse and some money so why not see what a more modern bike was like?
My search for a new bike and a decision to commute by bicycle more often rather than always using my car led me to look for a bike that would hold a rear rack, had water bottle mounts, ability to realistically add fenders since I had long escaped the concern about fenders makig a bike look old manish and of course some good gearing and decent brakes.
This quest led me to discover touring bikes. I looked at a number and eventually decided to pick up a Trek 520. Sizing became an issue with the original Trek 520 I owned when the LBS initially recommended a 17 inch frame for me. I am 5'10" so this bike was a tad too small for me. Later the frame was swapped for a 19 inch one which seemed to work somewhat better.
My first runs on the new bike were amazing especially when I discovered that just riding the new bike compared to the old seemed to raise my average speed from 18 km/hr to about 21 km/hr.
Overtime I found myself wondering about this "touring" label that went with the bike though. Since I've always been the curious type it wasn't long before I started looking into bicycle touring. Most shops in London had some equipment that you could buy but no real touring experts so as is my usual want I turned to books.
My first book was the The Essential Touring Cyclist, 2nd Edition which gave me lots of information about touring including a brief taste of the potential adventures that could be awaiting me.
I purchased some rear saddlebags and did some training rides that for the first time in my life caused me to ride on country roads rather then the city streets I had always ridden on in the past. As a result of all of this I decided that I was ready for a tour and I was going to try one soon but when?
My opportunity arose during a mountain biking trip with one of my best friend's. My friend had not been camping in over twenty years, worked nights, enjoyed air conditioning at home and was inexperienced at packing light for a car based camping trip.
We went on a week long mountain biking trip that coincided with a busy holiday weekend, a heat wave and in a very small Ford Mustang especially once loaded with the tons of stuff that he brought with him.
The first few days of the trip were a challenge for him as he battled with going through the equivalent of a time change reverting to normal daylight hours, sweated to death due to the high heat and humidity and experienced the joys of camping in an open field where the early morning sun would rapidly cause the tent to heat up like a sauna in announcing the beginning of the day.
Many lessons were learned from this trip, all of which improved the second trip immensely a year later. However this trip ended after four days when the muffler was ripped off of his car while we moved to a rugged camping area in the Haliburton forest along a rocky, gravel road. This was the last straw for my friend so we packed up, fixed the muffler and drove home.
I still had five vacation days left which I didn't want to waste so my opportunity had arrived.
At this point most people would likely think about where to go? I recall putting very little thought into this. I remembered windsurfing at a place called Port Burwell on Lake Erie. This place was scenic and it featured a provincial park so it should be possible to camp there. Additionally there was a report of an old rail trail nearby so guerilla camping should be doable if it turned out to be necessary. I didn't know how far it was but my guess is that it was within 90 minutes by car so it should be reasonable. If it was too far then I already knew that there were conservation areas and private campgrounds along the way that I could stop at if I needed to.
I loaded up the bike and the next morning rode out the door.
The adventure began!
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