Wine on the Waterfront Trail; Quebec City to Toronto

 

Leg; 734 miles / 1,181 km
Total; 13,882 miles / 22,341 km

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We rode south from Quebec City into some of the worst headwinds of the trip. The ride was made even tougher as we decided to take the unpaved Route verte bicycle trail. And it was raining. After a tough day we rolled into Victoriaville at 7pm, thankful that the days are longer and we arrived in sunlight. The next day was similar conditions but a shorter ride to Sherbrooke. We took a detour to the university town to meet Arkel, the company who manufacturer Chris’ panniers. Arkel had provided excellent customer service in Florida and we’d stayed in touch ever since. We met the owner Paul, the head of marketing Yves and the head of design Adam. After an interesting tour of the factory we headed to Yves for a BBQ and a wonderful stay his family.

We followed la Route verte west to Montreal where we had lunch with Chris’ friend Eddie and met up with Leonie and Matt, who we had met on Instgram. We had been following each others’ cycling adventures and Leonie and Matt offered to host us if we came through Montreal. The ride into the city, over the Jacques-Cartier bridge, was amazing. The bridge has a dedicated cycle path on the side and there is a constant flurry of riders heading into and out of the city. The views are incredible and it’s a great way to enter an awesome city. We had a fun night with Leonie and Matt and the next day followed the canal west to Beaconsfield to stay with Simon, Chris’ friend from university.

From Montreal we took a short ferry across the Ottawa River and headed west, desperately trying to avoid the thousands of caterpillars carpeting the road! Ties has a phobia of the furry creatures and was disturbed as we had no choice put to ride right through them, and flick them off as they landed on us from overhanging trees. We re-entered Ontario over the Alexandra Bridge that takes you directly into the heart of Canada’s capital city, Ottawa. We went on a free tour of Parliament and went to the top of the Peace Tower where we had an incredible view of the river and many grand government buildings.

Like many cities we’ve ridden in, Ottawa was very cycle-friendly in the centre but the surrounding area certainly not. Heading south was arduous and we were pleased to eventually rejoin the St. Lawrence River and the Waterfront Trail. We followed the trail to Kingston where we met up with our friend Andy who was driving his classic Ferrari 328 GTS around the US and Canada. Andy tore off in his powerful sports car and we trundled along the trail to catch the ferry to Prince Edward County. The County is an intriguing place. There is a very bohemian feel to the area and whilst tourism is obviously important to the economy, there’s a shabby chic character that is both surprising and welcoming.

We stayed at the Bloomfield Bicycle co, who have been Warm Showers hosts for over 20 years. Rick and kt have an open doors policy and provide comfortable sleeping quarters in there barn at the back of the store. The whole arrangement feels like a hostel, but very clearly catered towards cycle tourers and their needs.

Ask anyone what to do on Prince Edward County and they’ll tell you two things; Sandbanks Provincial Park and wineries. So after a fun night with Rick and kt we cycled down to Sandbanks to see the famous dunes and crystal clear water. There are great trails through the park and it’s free to explore on a bike. We headed to the wineries and decided to visit a few in Hillier. Our first surprise was that wineries charge for tasting. The wine was delicious, but we quickly realised things work a bit differently from vineyards in Europe and we wouldn’t just try all the wines at the next venue.

At the third winery we visited we were sampling some vino when two guys starting asking us about our trip. Turned out we were talking to the owners son-in-law Theshan, and within no time he offered us a place to pitch our tent. Theshan and his cousin Ram laid on an awesome BBQ, accompanied by lots of delicious wine! Soon after leaving the County we got hit by a snap thunderstorm. An hour into a good drenching a police car pulled alongside us with its sirens on. We thought were in trouble but the officer was just concerned about our visibility and insisted on giving us an OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) hi-viz vest to wear! We gladly accepted and enjoyed a wide berth from cars for the rest of the day!

The next day the sun came out for the most picturesque section of the Waterfront Trail, which led us to our next destination Ajax. We had been warned Against riding through Oshawa, but we were oblivious to peoples’ concerns as the trail winds through parks, along cliffs tops and boardwalks. Our last days riding in Ontario was shared between the busy Kingston Road and Toronto’s fabulous Lakeshore Boulevard. We rejoined the Humber River Recreational Trail – where we started our journey almost a year ago – and followed the path all the way to our friends’ house in Warren Park.

We spent a week in Toronto catching up with our good friends Greg and Michelle. When we left Toronto Michelle was pregnant with Hannah and now there was a new member of the family to meet! We went to a Q&A session between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the NY Times at the Rotman School of Management, and the next day held our own Q&A at the same building with Greg’s colleagues. We also visited Niagara Falls (by Megabus, not bike!) and spent the morning sailing on Lake Eerie with friends we made during our trip.

Well rested and very well fed, we caught a flight to St. John’s for the final leg of our trip on Newfoundland. It feels very strange to think the trip is over soon, but equally exciting to visit such a beautiful province. And envisage our soon-to-be new life’s in