Surprising southwestern Ontario

News Aug 28, 2009 Ancaster News

During the past decade, a group of cyclists led by Westdale optometrist John Attridge, has toured Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New York and Michigan.

For 2009, the cyclists explored southwestern Ontario, travelling some 350 kilometres in a circle starting from Chatham with stops at Belle River, Amhertsburg, Kingsville and Leamington. At this year’s organizational meeting, the group was delighted to receive tour notes and maps from the manuscript of Mr. Attridge’s upcoming book about the tours.

Dave Pringle of Burlington continues to provide planning assistance. David Chan from Ancaster, Bobbie Robb from Burlington, Sharon Kaczmarek from Hamilton, Freda and Clive Wright from Dundas, Joe Oosting from Burlington and Oakvillian Bob Adams completed the group.

Both Ms. Robb and Ms. Kaczmarek re-joined the cyclists this year after a few years absence and book-ended the group age range. Individual ages must remain a secret but the group averaged a mature 67. The start of the tour was a little ragged as two members had foot problems, two joined a day late in Belle River and the Wrights started late due to the effects of a disagreeable meal the night before. The Wrights are both strong cyclists, so despite this delay, they arrived in time for lunch.

Belle River, a small waterfront town on Lake St. Clair retains some lingering signs of its French history, but the cultural connection was missing in cyclists’ choices of cuisine and accommodation. The Le Petit Dragon motel was a very basic place with no windows or phones. As compensation for these omissions, the toilet seats were graced with a reassuring band of paper tape proclaiming that it was “sanitized for our protection.” Belle River was also memorable for the shad or fish flies that blanketed the ground in layers.

The route to Belle River tracked the Thames River to little-known Lake St. Clair. The cyclists hugged the shore of the lake into Amherstburg, then turned eastward to track the coast of Lake Erie and explore both Point Pelee and Point Pelee Island.

Visiting the island involved a short pre-breakfast ride to the ferry for its 8 a. m. departure. After cycling about 30 kilometres round the island and enjoying lunch at a winery, the group returned to the mainland barely in time to ride to their motel in Leamington before a major storm.

Later, the group learned a tornado had touched down in the area.

Some of the human consequences of the storm were evident the next morning when the cyclists were joined in the breakfast room by a barely ambulatory older couple who had to evacuate their 13th floor apartment across the road due to a fire. The woman’s main concern seemed to be having left in such a hurry that she could not bring her make-up and felt “naked” without it.

A significant portion of the cyclists’ route was along leafy river or lakeside roads populated with cottages, some of Muskokan proportions.

And, as usual, Mr. Attridge incorporated a number of “cultural” visits along the way. At Amherstburg, the group had a private tour of the African Methodist Episcopal Church where a Los Angeles couple had been married two days earlier.

The church sits next to the Black Historical Museum whose curator revealed details of his own family’s escape on the Underground Railroad from northern Kentucky to Amherstburg sometime after the U. S. adopted a policy that even free states, such as Ohio, had to return fugitive slaves to their owners.

At Kingsville, some riders cycled the Chrysler Greenway path to the Transportation Museum, arriving just as the gates closed for the day. Nevertheless, the cyclists were given 10 minutes to cycle round the church, school, general store and other local historical buildings that have been moved behind the museum and arranged as a village. Despite its name, there was no evidence that the museum considers bicycles as acceptable transport.

Kingsville also provided an inspiring visit to the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary where the group’s guide was the staff “jack of all trades,” responsible for group tours, bird banding, pond drainage, mowing and whatever else needs to be done. The small museum was filled with photographs of Jack Miner and other family members with international celebrities and 50 huge binders of newspaper articles about him and his work with birds.

After water vistas for most of the trip, the cyclists’ final day’s route took them along 64 kilometres of dead flat roads broken only by the town of Tilbury.

The day was relatively cool compared to the 28-plus degrees they experienced the rest of the week but the strong headwinds and unsympathetic truck drivers made the cyclists particularly grateful to reach Chatham and their cars.

This final day, one of our group experienced both of the only equipment problems of the entire trip.

Mr. Pringle, whose bad ankle was suffering due to the extra effort caused by the wind, had a puncture and later a broken spoke.

But overall, it was another successful trip, and the group is already talking about next year — in Europe.

Surprising southwestern Ontario

News Aug 28, 2009 Ancaster News

During the past decade, a group of cyclists led by Westdale optometrist John Attridge, has toured Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New York and Michigan.

For 2009, the cyclists explored southwestern Ontario, travelling some 350 kilometres in a circle starting from Chatham with stops at Belle River, Amhertsburg, Kingsville and Leamington. At this year’s organizational meeting, the group was delighted to receive tour notes and maps from the manuscript of Mr. Attridge’s upcoming book about the tours.

Dave Pringle of Burlington continues to provide planning assistance. David Chan from Ancaster, Bobbie Robb from Burlington, Sharon Kaczmarek from Hamilton, Freda and Clive Wright from Dundas, Joe Oosting from Burlington and Oakvillian Bob Adams completed the group.

Both Ms. Robb and Ms. Kaczmarek re-joined the cyclists this year after a few years absence and book-ended the group age range. Individual ages must remain a secret but the group averaged a mature 67. The start of the tour was a little ragged as two members had foot problems, two joined a day late in Belle River and the Wrights started late due to the effects of a disagreeable meal the night before. The Wrights are both strong cyclists, so despite this delay, they arrived in time for lunch.

Belle River, a small waterfront town on Lake St. Clair retains some lingering signs of its French history, but the cultural connection was missing in cyclists’ choices of cuisine and accommodation. The Le Petit Dragon motel was a very basic place with no windows or phones. As compensation for these omissions, the toilet seats were graced with a reassuring band of paper tape proclaiming that it was “sanitized for our protection.” Belle River was also memorable for the shad or fish flies that blanketed the ground in layers.

The route to Belle River tracked the Thames River to little-known Lake St. Clair. The cyclists hugged the shore of the lake into Amherstburg, then turned eastward to track the coast of Lake Erie and explore both Point Pelee and Point Pelee Island.

Visiting the island involved a short pre-breakfast ride to the ferry for its 8 a. m. departure. After cycling about 30 kilometres round the island and enjoying lunch at a winery, the group returned to the mainland barely in time to ride to their motel in Leamington before a major storm.

Later, the group learned a tornado had touched down in the area.

Some of the human consequences of the storm were evident the next morning when the cyclists were joined in the breakfast room by a barely ambulatory older couple who had to evacuate their 13th floor apartment across the road due to a fire. The woman’s main concern seemed to be having left in such a hurry that she could not bring her make-up and felt “naked” without it.

A significant portion of the cyclists’ route was along leafy river or lakeside roads populated with cottages, some of Muskokan proportions.

And, as usual, Mr. Attridge incorporated a number of “cultural” visits along the way. At Amherstburg, the group had a private tour of the African Methodist Episcopal Church where a Los Angeles couple had been married two days earlier.

The church sits next to the Black Historical Museum whose curator revealed details of his own family’s escape on the Underground Railroad from northern Kentucky to Amherstburg sometime after the U. S. adopted a policy that even free states, such as Ohio, had to return fugitive slaves to their owners.

At Kingsville, some riders cycled the Chrysler Greenway path to the Transportation Museum, arriving just as the gates closed for the day. Nevertheless, the cyclists were given 10 minutes to cycle round the church, school, general store and other local historical buildings that have been moved behind the museum and arranged as a village. Despite its name, there was no evidence that the museum considers bicycles as acceptable transport.

Kingsville also provided an inspiring visit to the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary where the group’s guide was the staff “jack of all trades,” responsible for group tours, bird banding, pond drainage, mowing and whatever else needs to be done. The small museum was filled with photographs of Jack Miner and other family members with international celebrities and 50 huge binders of newspaper articles about him and his work with birds.

After water vistas for most of the trip, the cyclists’ final day’s route took them along 64 kilometres of dead flat roads broken only by the town of Tilbury.

The day was relatively cool compared to the 28-plus degrees they experienced the rest of the week but the strong headwinds and unsympathetic truck drivers made the cyclists particularly grateful to reach Chatham and their cars.

This final day, one of our group experienced both of the only equipment problems of the entire trip.

Mr. Pringle, whose bad ankle was suffering due to the extra effort caused by the wind, had a puncture and later a broken spoke.

But overall, it was another successful trip, and the group is already talking about next year — in Europe.

Surprising southwestern Ontario

News Aug 28, 2009 Ancaster News

During the past decade, a group of cyclists led by Westdale optometrist John Attridge, has toured Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New York and Michigan.

For 2009, the cyclists explored southwestern Ontario, travelling some 350 kilometres in a circle starting from Chatham with stops at Belle River, Amhertsburg, Kingsville and Leamington. At this year’s organizational meeting, the group was delighted to receive tour notes and maps from the manuscript of Mr. Attridge’s upcoming book about the tours.

Dave Pringle of Burlington continues to provide planning assistance. David Chan from Ancaster, Bobbie Robb from Burlington, Sharon Kaczmarek from Hamilton, Freda and Clive Wright from Dundas, Joe Oosting from Burlington and Oakvillian Bob Adams completed the group.

Both Ms. Robb and Ms. Kaczmarek re-joined the cyclists this year after a few years absence and book-ended the group age range. Individual ages must remain a secret but the group averaged a mature 67. The start of the tour was a little ragged as two members had foot problems, two joined a day late in Belle River and the Wrights started late due to the effects of a disagreeable meal the night before. The Wrights are both strong cyclists, so despite this delay, they arrived in time for lunch.

Belle River, a small waterfront town on Lake St. Clair retains some lingering signs of its French history, but the cultural connection was missing in cyclists’ choices of cuisine and accommodation. The Le Petit Dragon motel was a very basic place with no windows or phones. As compensation for these omissions, the toilet seats were graced with a reassuring band of paper tape proclaiming that it was “sanitized for our protection.” Belle River was also memorable for the shad or fish flies that blanketed the ground in layers.

The route to Belle River tracked the Thames River to little-known Lake St. Clair. The cyclists hugged the shore of the lake into Amherstburg, then turned eastward to track the coast of Lake Erie and explore both Point Pelee and Point Pelee Island.

Visiting the island involved a short pre-breakfast ride to the ferry for its 8 a. m. departure. After cycling about 30 kilometres round the island and enjoying lunch at a winery, the group returned to the mainland barely in time to ride to their motel in Leamington before a major storm.

Later, the group learned a tornado had touched down in the area.

Some of the human consequences of the storm were evident the next morning when the cyclists were joined in the breakfast room by a barely ambulatory older couple who had to evacuate their 13th floor apartment across the road due to a fire. The woman’s main concern seemed to be having left in such a hurry that she could not bring her make-up and felt “naked” without it.

A significant portion of the cyclists’ route was along leafy river or lakeside roads populated with cottages, some of Muskokan proportions.

And, as usual, Mr. Attridge incorporated a number of “cultural” visits along the way. At Amherstburg, the group had a private tour of the African Methodist Episcopal Church where a Los Angeles couple had been married two days earlier.

The church sits next to the Black Historical Museum whose curator revealed details of his own family’s escape on the Underground Railroad from northern Kentucky to Amherstburg sometime after the U. S. adopted a policy that even free states, such as Ohio, had to return fugitive slaves to their owners.

At Kingsville, some riders cycled the Chrysler Greenway path to the Transportation Museum, arriving just as the gates closed for the day. Nevertheless, the cyclists were given 10 minutes to cycle round the church, school, general store and other local historical buildings that have been moved behind the museum and arranged as a village. Despite its name, there was no evidence that the museum considers bicycles as acceptable transport.

Kingsville also provided an inspiring visit to the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary where the group’s guide was the staff “jack of all trades,” responsible for group tours, bird banding, pond drainage, mowing and whatever else needs to be done. The small museum was filled with photographs of Jack Miner and other family members with international celebrities and 50 huge binders of newspaper articles about him and his work with birds.

After water vistas for most of the trip, the cyclists’ final day’s route took them along 64 kilometres of dead flat roads broken only by the town of Tilbury.

The day was relatively cool compared to the 28-plus degrees they experienced the rest of the week but the strong headwinds and unsympathetic truck drivers made the cyclists particularly grateful to reach Chatham and their cars.

This final day, one of our group experienced both of the only equipment problems of the entire trip.

Mr. Pringle, whose bad ankle was suffering due to the extra effort caused by the wind, had a puncture and later a broken spoke.

But overall, it was another successful trip, and the group is already talking about next year — in Europe.