Niagara Falls, New York: After three awesome days of cycling through quiet back roads of Canada’s Ontario province, this afternoon we returned to the United States for the final push to the Atlantic.
Cycling in Canada has been a real treat. The grass was green and the landscape clean, and the meanders through farmland more varied with tobacco and ginseng growing alongside the now familiar corn and soy fields and cow and pig farms. The weather has been mostly agreeable. We got some chilly drizzle yesterday and some headwind today, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
What really stands out from three days of cycling is how neat and tidy the homesteads are. Many lawns are immaculately landscaped and developed, such as this one. The owner (pictured) came out for a good chat and explained the history of the lawn jockey, which dates back to George Washington. The above patriotic bear adorns a front yard near Niagara.
Along the way we also found some ways to entertain ourselves. During an impromptu stop at House’s fruit and vegetable market on the way to Brantford there was a cherry pit spitting contest. Turns out the two Connecticut men, Gary and Jeff, are the best spitters among us in both the distance and the accuracy categories. I am not sure what, if anything, that means. I was among the worst.
To show our affection for Canada many of us bought Maple Leaf jerseys in London. I joked that I came on this cycling trip to enhance my American-ness, and ended up Canadian. NJ Mark even suggested that the US trade Minnesota for Ontario.
While the farmland was amazing, the town of Brantford, where we stayed last night, was depressing. Brantford is a city under disrepair (I’m being gracious here). The birthplace of Wayne Gretzky, a true Canadian icon, the town has fallen on hard times with the departure of major industry.
In Canada we were spoiled by the hospitality of the Canadian Americans. Susan, Toronto Mark’s wife, treated us to home-made chocolate chip biscotti yesterday, and to salmon sandwiches today. She originally won the crowd in Wyoming, when she came out for a visit with biscotti in hand.
Here are a few snapshots of the country road scenes, including some requisite barns:-
This afternoon we arrived at Niagara Falls. On first impressions the place has as much cheeziness and glitz as Vegas, though the Falls are beautiful. I wished we had time to visit Ball’s Falls, which are in the region . Love the name. Tomorrow is a rest day and I will post many more photos of the Falls after playing tourist for the day.
Shortly after arriving at Niagara Falls many of us headed to the Legends bar in the hotel. Generally, there is very little drinking on this trip — we are too busy eating and we signed agreements that we would not cycle and drink, anyway. So on the eve of a rest day heading to the bar for a weekly beer seemed appropriate. What’s noteworthy was the conversation at the bar about the 1960’s and the Vietnam War. Dave mentioned he attended Woodstock. Steve mentioned he was too busy fighting in Vietnam to attend a music festival. I wanted the details on both experiences, and it made for one of the most memorable conversations of the whole trip.
After dinner, we made our way to a local ice cream shop, Twist of the Mist, that sells 56 flavors of Perry’s ice cream. Perry’s is an upstate New York ice cream maker. I had the cinammon-infused Snickerdoodle ice cream and it was heavenly enough to send me back for seconds the next day. Perry’s will definitely make it on the shortlist of my quest to find the best American ice cream.
Days 41 and 42 Summary:
Days 41 and 42 route: London to Brantford, Ontario; Brantford to Niagara Falls, NY
Days 41 and 42 mileage: 67.09 miles (Day 41) and 72.4 miles (Day 42)
Cumulative mileage: 3,151.24 miles
Days 41 and 42 climbing: 1,250 feet and 1400 feet respectively
Cumulative Climbing: 86,385 feet of climbing
Terrain: flat with some rolls