Monday, June 16, 2014

Environment Hamilton Lake to Lake Ride

As mentioned in my summary post on the New Orleans to Hamilton bike trip, I had signed up for a local two-day ride: the Environment Hamilton Lake to Lake ride from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie.  (If you sponsored me, please don't think I'm ignoring your generosity; I just haven't gotten my donor list yet.)

I have to say, I'm really glad I did it.  While the turnout was small (only about 14 riders for the two-day option), the people were great, and the trails and roads were beautiful.  Plus, we had amazing cycling weather - cool but sunny.

On both days we stopped in Caledonia for lunch.  This was on the first day...
and this was the next.

Our gear was carried in a van by our great volunteer, Ken, who also stopped along the way to provide water stops for us.

We camped right along the shore of Lake Erie.  Some of our group went into the water.  I put my feet in, and that was enough.  Still a bit frosty for my liking.

My tent.  Super cute if I may say so myself.

On the way home, I saw a quilt square that I'd missed on the ride out.  Bonus!

It's too bad, however, that I read about the cyclist killed in Kentucky this morning.  My dad sent me the story; to top it off, neither of us were surprised it happened in Kentucky.  It was the least cyclist-friendly place we rode.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Ride for the Masses

As part of a week-long bike festival (huzzah!), there was a "Ride for the Masses"* tonight.  My reignited bicycle passion overcame my inclination to sequester myself with my crafts, and I headed out to join the ride.  It didn't hurt that the starting point was at a park near my house.

There were all kinds of cyclists represented, which was nice, and I met a woman from Poland, visiting her cousins in Hamilton, and a young man from Uganda, who was here on a volunteer exchange program.  There were families, hipsters, city cyclists, and more.

He had a Brooks saddle on this.
There was also live musical accompaniment, courtesy of the Velo Stage.

I bailed at the turnaround point; it had been one of those slow and steady rides, and the Rangers-Kings game had already started.  I figured I had helped make a statement;  my Rangers were calling me home.

Tomorrow - the Lake Ontario to Lake Erie ride.  Yay!

* as opposed to Critical Mass, which apparently has negative connotations for some.  Note:  the revolution will be polite.

Craft Frenzy Output: Cat Rug or Giant Potholder?

This is the rug that I whipped up during my frenzy yesterday (yarn is Blue Sky Alpaca Bulky).  I used this pattern because it was the easiest of all (I don't really crochet), and I'm totally happy with the results.

Mulberry is, too.  This was last night, right after I'd finished the rug. (Gwendolyn seems to enjoy the swatches more, but if I see signs of jealousy - nothing like a little more anthropomorphism - I'll make her a blanket as well.)

And just for comparison's sake - here's the rug with the to-be-felted hat.
Next to the hat, the rug looks more like an oversized potholder.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Some of the Crazy Sh*t That Can Go On When I'm Home Alone

So the ladyfriend is away with Orby for a few days as part of Struts Gallery's Heat Wave series, and I've been left to my own devices.  There are always cooking changes when she goes; for example, she doesn't like eggplant, so I'll almost always make it when she's gone. Ttoday I made mayonnaise when I ran out while making chicken salad (the ladyfriend is dedicated to Hellman's), and tonight I'm making Miso-Creamed Kale for dinner.  Yes, I hear the peals of laughter coming from those who know my ladyfriend.

But there's more!  It seems that my month on the bike built up an incredible backlog of crafting desire.  In the past three days alone I
  • knit a hat (to be felted) 
  • started sewing an Alabama Chanin skirt 
  • started a lacy cowl 
  • unraveled and washed a tank that didn't work out (for the bamboo yarn destined for a pattern I saw while looking for the felted hat instructions)
  • grabbed some extra "oh, these might be good for quick projects" skeins of yarn
  • looked up how to crochet a circular rug because Mulberry took a liking to the to-be-felted knit hat, and I thought I'd make him a rug (of course!)
  • planned to make the Taproot tunic (fast! easy!) (I'll be throwing the fabric in the laundry tonight and potentially cutting it out - damn!)
  • gotten the supplies together to fix the blanket I made for our friends' child (love can be so damaging!) - it needs to be returned to him before I can use their washer to felt my hat
 So...the living room is a bit of a craftory.

And just when I thought my temporary insanity might have mellowed, I pledged money to the UNICEF canvassers who came to my door.  It's an awesome kind of madness!

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Things I Carried

I thought it might be interesting and/or helpful if I wrote out what I brought on the trip with notes.  Questions are welcomed.

  • Five pairs of bike shorts (Sent one pair home)
  • Five bike jerseys (Sent one home but acquired another on the road; one of my jerseys was a short-sleeved wool Swobo jersey, which was great in the rain, and I kept with me, but often too hot for regular wear)
  • Five pairs of socks (One pair of socks never got worn)
  • Three bandanas; borrowed two more from my father (Used four out of five)
  • Arm and leg warmers (think cycling, not Flashdance)
  • Four sport bras
  • Five pair of underwear
  • Half slip
  • One regular bra
  • Bike shoes
  • Saucony running shoes (for when it rained)
  • Teva sandals
  • Hiking pants
  • Long-sleeve merino blend active top
  • "Sporty Spice' skirt (Blurr Elektra in grey)
  • Shirt from Berlin Nike run
  • MichFest t-shirt
  • PrAna dress (yes, I brought a dress)
  • Hash House Harrietts t-shirt (Sent home)
  • Running shorts (Sent home)
  • Hind jacket (wind/rain)
  • Patagonia NanoPuff pullover
  • Bathing suit (Never used; next time - black sporty underwear and a black sports bra = instant bathing suit if needed)
Sleeping Gear
  • Slumberjack sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Therma-Rest pillow
  • Camping mattress (ditched the leaky Slumberjack and upgraded to a Therma-Rest on the road)
  • Two small towels
  • Toiletries
  • Bike journal
  • Notebook
  • Knitting - two socks at a time, using magic loop method
  • Headlamp
  • "Halt" dog spray (used whistle Dad gave me, but I'd carry the spray again)
  • Small bag/purse-type thing
  • Ballpoint pens
  • Some Emergen-C and a few Luna bars
  • Cell phone
  • Camera

Shared Items My Father Brought
  • Tent
  • Cribbage board & cards

What I Wish I'd Brought
  • No surprise here - wish we'd brought a small camp stove.  I think this one is a good option in the future
  • My regular journal; I tried to keep the Bike Journal readable by others, but I could've used a bit of space for my own private musings
That's all I can think of at the moment.  I'll amend if necessary.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

At Home - On the Bike and Off

My dad and I rolled into Hamilton Thursday afternoon.  I finally got to ride the entire Hamilton-Brantford Rail Trail, and it was great to share it with my father.  Along the way, we encountered a group of people peering over the edge of the path and signalling us to slow down and be quiet.  We stopped, and they told us a doe had just given birth.  We got to see the fawn take its first steps - an auspicious homecoming. to say the least.

But first we had to finish our trip.  From Granville, OH, where we'd enjoyed some time off, we made our way way to Galion where we stayed at the Rainbow Motel.
Our next stop was Sandusky.  Along the way we encountered far more motorcyles than we had previously (we were also off our beloved trails - sigh).  Riding into Sandusky, we saw signs that said, "Welcome, Bikers!"  Of course we wished they were for us, but they were for the bikers coming into Sandusky for Biker Week.  What great timing!
We had five or so hours to kill before taking the ferry to Pelee Island, so we naturally parked ourselves at a bar (pictured above) where I repeatedly disabused patrons of the idea that my father was actually my "old man" and endured a few comments ( or what straight drunk men think of as compliments) about lesbians.  What great timing!?
I did love that the bar seemed to be a family affair, with this young guy washing dishes.  I think the couple behind him are his grandparents.

Eventually we boarded our ferry
and made our way to Pelee Island, Ontario.
The ferry got in a little after 10pm, and we then made our way to the campground on the other side of the island.  Thankfully there is very little traffic on the island, and it's small.  It was great riding along roads lit only by our headlights.  You don't get to safely do that very often.

The next day was basically a day off for us, so we made our way around the island.  They'd just had the Pelee Island Half Marathon the day before, but many of the runners had already left.  It's not high season yet, so a lot of things weren't open, but by stopping by one of the marinas, we found out the Canadian Legion served breakfast.   After breakfast, we were ready for our Pelee Island Winery tour.
It was actually one of the best and most informative tours either of us have taken.
Antique wine press
We took another ferry to Leamington where we had accomodations with a Warm Showers host.  Robbie is quite the athlete and bicycle tourist, having toured Chile and Patagonia this year already.  It was too bad we didn't have enough time to learn more, but maybe another time.

Being in Ontario made me feel like the trip actually had an end to it although we still had three days of riding ahead of us.  I was concerned about where we were going to stay between Leamington and Woodstock as there didn't seem to be a lot of options along the Talbot Trail, which we'd chosen as our route.  [Note:  it's not really a trail but a road.] We found a campsite via Google Maps and decided to try to make it there.  Along the way, we stopped at this great cafe and gift shop (a rare and welcomed sight along the road) - the Crazy 8 Barn.

Not only did we have a great piece of rhubarb crumble there, but we also learned that our proposed campground for the evening was to be avoided.  Thankfully, they suggested a couple of other options, and that's how we ended up at the Port Glasgow Trailer Park.  It was like a combination of Brigadoon and Cocoon - a totally charming community! (I also learned from the people at the Crazy 8 Barn that the local counties were doing a quilt trail like I'd seen in Kentucky - images of the quilt blocks we encountered are on the next page).

We were helped by a really sweet couple, Larry & Pauline, who not only showed us where we could camp but offered their hose to wash the mud off our bikes (we happened to have been on a dirt road when the brining truck came by).  Later, Larry took me on a tour in his souped-up golf cart.

They also had a snack bar (yay! dinner) and a beautiful beach on the shores of Lake Erie.
We really felt lucky to find such a great place to camp.

The next day we rode to Woodstock, and it was the longest day we've ridden - 87 miles.  We hadn't intended for it to be so long, but somehow it ended up that way.  We were also on some high-traffic roads, which made it seem even longer.  But we had a campground in Woodstock, so that should be good, right?

Wrong.  The campsite was not only ridiculously expensive ($40 to pitch a tent?) but off a main road without any nearby services.  It also felt like we were in someone's backyard (again, for $40?!).  I was deeply unhappy and asked my father to see if we could get a refund.  I figured we could take our chances in town; plus, I knew there were hotels in the vicinity, and I was willing to ride a bit more to get to a better place to stay.  It was our last night on the road, and neither of us wanted it to suck.

Thankfully we found a Quality Inn, and they really hooked us up.  It was perfect - nice room, laundry, and an attached restaurant/bar where we could watch the Rangers-Kings game (sigh).  The only thing that could've been better is the beer they served and the outcome of the game.  But I'm not complaining; just commenting.

And so, we took off the next morning and wended our way into Hamilton.  I got home a little bit after 3pm.  The ladyfriend filmed our ride down our street.   I'm sure it's amusing.  It's good to be home, and my transition to "regular" life is including a lot of cycling.  I just signed up to do a two-day ride from Lake Ontario to Lake Erie next weekend, benefiting Environment Hamilton (if you'd like to sponsor me, you can follow this link:, and today I carted a 40lb bag of cat litter on our city bike.  I'm just exploiting the momentum!  Ride on!