2011-09-16 12:08:14+0000

After last night's rain, it's time to go home. Unfortunately, last night's rain has become this mornings rain and the breakfast debate is to stay here another night. Deadlines loom for tomorrow however and Marina and I are pushing on at least. The weather looks to be better North of here. Forecast says rain stops by 4pm in Tyrone, but 12 in Ellicottville. Paul joins the believers.

Toronto to the Gap: Day 8 - Homeward

Toronto to the Gap: Day 8 - Homeward

Not the most interesting route home, certainly once you get past Ellicottville, NY, but before it's quite lovely as you wind over hills and into and out of the valleys of the Alleghenies. You get ...

As we head North, the water comes in waves. It's either falling from the sky or sprayed by trucks ahead from the road surface. Meh. We're soaked before we started, but wetter now and it's apparently cold to boot. Still, this would be a nice route on any other day.

Instead, we grumble at each other over the headsets and ultimately stop in Renovo, PA to alter clothing. I don't have rain gear, but at least it looks like stopping and we're all freezing. As such, we hit the local diner, eat stodgy (but good) food and each put on at least two more layers of clothing. It helps, a little. I'd still guesstimate that unless the sun comes out and my gloves and jacket dry, mild hypothermia is an option.

Miles rumble past with the trees and the grey sky promises more rain but delivers little. There's even some light mist. And then, over the next ridge, we hit sunshine and everything brightens up.

The roads are also getting straighter now, straight enough to have more confidence, especially on drying roads. We stop for coffee in Ellicottville and dry out still further in front of the fire.

From here, it's a straight push to Buffalo and the border. But it's windy all of a sudden. I guess all that flat Ontario land and the wind just whips around. Crossing through Buffalo was hard work. Trucks everywhere (it was basically rush hour) and the side wind made crossing the elevated roads and bridges tough. Blown side to side, it was almost more than poor Marina could handle to the point where she had tears in her eyes as she told herself to "stay calm" all the way across the bridge. Poor girl. She's a total trooper and despite what she says she's proved to be a very competent (if slightly nervous) rider on this trip.

At the border, there's no problems this time, unlike crossing south. A cursory glance at the papers and for some reason, a toll charge that didn't exist on the way south and we're on our way into... the wastelands of Canada's road system. The highway is all of a sudden way more crowded. Detritus litters the QEW and it's added to when a truck not 50 feet from me has a blow out on the far side tire after passing me. We safely dodge the debris, but not before it's continued at least 5km, throwing shards of rubber and radial all over the place.

And the drivers: I have to say, Canada: I have driven all over the world and you take the award for the worst driving I've ever seen. Cars get as close as possible before pulling out, vehicles entering the highway make a bee-line straight for the far lane (even on the rare occasion there is no traffic) and similary do the reverse when pulling off. Mirrors seem to be completely unused as nobody looks. In parts of Burlington, it even seems the coming thing to ride without headlines on. Trucks in the center lane without end. I could go, but when you come North across the border, you really get a sense of how bad it really is. But the worst it is to come. The roads themselves are a disaster.

It seems that it is mandatory on Canadian roads to dig it up and patch it at least every 50m. Ideally, the patch should be of different material to the rest of the road and you clearly are fired if you make any attempt to level it off. Promotions must be awarded if you somehow manage to put an access cover in the middle of any work and leave it at least three inches higher or lower than the rest of the pavement. For a real bonus, you also need to make sure this access cover is on a bend, too.

For some reason, the on-ramps in Mississauga are behind large, solid fences. Great for the people living behind them as I am sure it cuts down noise, but when there is a small gap in it and a car shoots out at greater than highway speed and has to merge in 300m or less, it's FUCKING SCARY. Especially, as we have already discussed, they seem to have no need or regard for mirrors. It's the same when the various highways merge. There's maybe 1km when you have a chance to switch lanes and get to the right exit, but everyone feels the need to do it at once and from the farthest possible lane.

They say slow and steady wins the race and for once, I have to agree. We took things very slow. By slow i mean about 5km/h over the speed limit and we were being passed constantly by everything on the road, which is espeicially hairy around the merge points.

Eventually, it's downtown and the activity is overwhelming. After spending a week in sleepy little American towns, there's so much going on. The roads downtown (Dufferin street, I'm looking at you) were worse than off-roading was a few nights ago and the cyclist all seem to be British. Why else are they on the wrong side of the road? There's taxi's stopped in the left of two lanes because they don't have the sense (or skills) to pull 10m further up in a proper parking spot). And their passengers open doors without looking. The last 15 minutes of any journey are definitely the worst.

But we made it home, again, in the dark. We've made it. No real disasters and just a series of smaller dramas to show. Scratches and bruises are the mental kind and will heal quickly.

4013km later, we've been through some of North America's best roads, but I'm already thinking where's next. If I had anywhere to go, I'd be off tomorrow, but I've too much to do for now. Like start poring over the maps for next year...

1 Comment
You must Log In to submit a comment
  • Jordan
  • 2011-09-20T04:57:42-04:00

Great post. Couldn't agree more about the drivers! ~sandra