101 months ago

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Ketchup Files: Think you're tough? Try this route! (completed)

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Welcome to the Ketchup Files! - these are for motorcycle experiences that took place a while ago but for one reason or another I didn't write up at the time. This one I started on but got frustrated with doing the Google Maps routing. So I`ve added the links to the maps - sorry best I can do...

So... here's a challenge: Ride from Ajax Ontario to Niagara Falls ON without taking the highway.

Sounds like fun? OK not really... but can you say you've done it? And survived? It's not the usual challenge, granted. No lap times. No extreme distances. but it is long and challenging.

I know it's not Paris-Dakar rally but here's the route,+ajax,+on/hutch%e2%80%99s+on+the+beach,+van+wagners+beach+road,+hamilton,+on/@43.594366,-79.8754144,9.75z/data=!4m18!4m17!1m5!1m1!1s0x89d5200f0476a599:0x20594930d36ef8c1!2m2!1d-79.0269323!2d43.8793887!1m5!1m1!1s0x882c9f34360c89a5:0x92a8bff90a8075b8!2m2!1d-79.7655835!2d43.2591779!2m2!1b1!2b1!3e0!5i1?hl=en

Stylin and Rarin to Go (360x640)

Stylin and Rarin to Go (360x640)

Following Kingston Road to Lakeshore Blvd (sneak a little along the Gardiner because that's an EXPRESSWAY, not a full-fledged highway - otherwise the provincial govt would be watching it crumble rather than the City of Toronto trying and failing to please everyone and finally doing the opposite of the most sensible thing - and wasting millions of dollars in the process... sorry, got off-topic there....) then back onto the Lakeshore all the way to Burlington, then across the lift bridge to Hamilton.

Stop for an ice cream or other goodies at Hutch`s on the Beach.

Hamilton at Hutchs on the Beach (352x316)

Hamilton at Hutchs on the Beach (352x316)

Apres Ice Cream (488x264)

Apres Ice Cream (488x264)

Then through Hamilton up to Ridge Road (worth it! lovely views! and windy) then down to King Rd (aka old Hwy 😎 then a dash up Victoria Rd to pick up North Service Road and then road 87 into Port Dalhousie section of St Catharines which becomes Lakeshore AGAIN heading towards Niagara on the Lake. Take East-West Road to Virgil, then county 100 to Niagara Falls (turns into Portage Road). I DARE you.,-79.7643477/43.141504,-79.3592053/43.1753794,-79.5044425/port+dalhousie,+saint+catharines,+on/virgil,+niagara-on-the-lake,+on/4465+simcoe+st,+niagara+falls,+on+l2e+1t8,+canada/@43.1139014,-79.4730236,10z/am=t/data=!4m75!4m74!1m5!1m1!1s0x882c9f34360c89a5:0x92a8bff90a8075b8!2m2!1d-79.7655835!2d43.2591779!1m25!3m4!1m2!1d-79.6931758!2d43.2012976!3s0x882ca3032d327e41:0xf2f8377df81f1884!3m4!1m2!1d-79.590883!2d43.1866111!3s0x882ca517b8b0a4dd:0x6a39191bf0bd4ea!3m4!1m2!1d-79.6057248!2d43.1770102!3s0x882ca52091d67be9:0xd981f9c5fade2a19!3m4!1m2!1d-79.5764759!2d43.1855755!3s0x882ca56949c173ad:0x79026e9576755383!3m4!1m2!1d-79.5148645!2d43.1623176!3s0x882cae2ccf726e5b:0xd0bdd7e44859b3de!1m0!1m15!3m4!1m2!1d-79.3586021!2d43.1412356!3s0x89d34d602268dc71:0x49309900e57d23d0!3m4!1m2!1d-79.307517!2d43.156164!3s0x89d3523ea2d042fd:0x7651c662d759fbc6!3m4!1m2!1d-79.3085883!2d43.1846416!3s0x89d353c61f8da00f:0x7b3e7114f2455811!1m5!1m1!1s0x89d351427f88d88f:0x7c3f2e053e4bc132!2m2!1d-79.2676406!2d43.2009119!1m5!1m1!1s0x89d35939a5cdd919:0xc625645c8d961636!2m2!1d-79.1214455!2d43.2196469!1m5!1m1!1s0x89d34327b7c414b3:0x794d4290a1e00696!2m2!1d-79.0667388!2d43.1027725!2m1!1b1!3e0!6m3!1i3!2i2!3i2?hl=en

Betchya can't do it in less than six hours.That's right SIX hours.

Highway drive time: 2 and a bit hours in light traffic.

It seems such a pathetically small distance for how long it takes. And very tiring. Even with a couple short rest stops.

What makes this route so challenging is the constant vigilance it takes to ride in traffic - stop light to stop light, watching for other (stupid) vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, pets, trolley tracks, patched potholes, potholes-in-training, sunken manhole covers, raised manhole covers, construction, throngs attending community events, other idiot vehicles (different from the stupid ones above) - for HOURS. It's annoying enough to do for an hour or so stuck in construction - try it for four hours or so. Not really bumper to bumper stop go - just a relentless intersection to intersection drag wondering if you are going to catch that always elusive green light. You have to sneak up on them very very quietly.

Try it - I Double Dog Dare you!



Why do this? Well it was making the best of a poor situation. My friend, while eligible for M2 licence (in Ontario's graduated licencing program you can't ride on highways, after dark or carry passengers until you have an M2 class licence) hadn't gotten around to upgrading the paperwork so our options were limited. Kingston-Lakeshore was the most direct route - anything else may have been faster to ride, but being farther since the route would have been much less direct and probably have nearly as many intersections, would take just as long or longer. Many people would have taken the risk of jumping on the highway anyway - and it was sorely tempting. Except my friend is getting back into the sport again and is in a confidence rebuilding stage and as such is riding a Honda CBR125R which will do about 110km/h tops and is petite which makes it harder to see. Most highway traffic around here goes average 20 km/s over the posted 100 km/h limit (roughly 75 mph in a 65 mph). Risking life and limb, not to mention a ticket and insurance premium increases made the highway unacceptable.

Not sure that it achieved the confidence-increasing goal for her... but an ice cream stop at Hutch's on the Beach in Hamilton helped to buoy flagging spirits.

On the return trip, since I live in Niagara Falls, she drove my car and I took the CBR125R on the highway. One trip every five or so years along the Lakeshore is plenty! On the highway, I got so far ahead of my car-bound friend that she gave up trying to follow me. The bike earned it's namesake "Zippy" that day. And I am pleased to say, with a headwind and me in a full-race crouch I could hit 120 km/h pretty well. I was even PASSING cars. No other bike would allow me to ride full throttle, stomach on the gas tank, top gear, revved at the redline on a public highway - legally. (well, it was PRETTY legal...). It was a rush and made for an interesting return trip.

I don't care if it was only a CBR125R - when I made it to my friend's house in Ajax before she did in my car - I felt like I had won a MotoGP!


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100 months ago

Slyck255, excellent write-up. It brings back memories of loooong ago in the late eighties when as a young man just turned 20, I decided it would be great fun to ride from my new residence in Toronto, to my old home town of Fonthill (a stone's throw from "the Falls"!). I went on much of the same route as you describe now but, made the error of climbing up from Stoney Creek to Hwy 20 at the top of the Niagara escarpment and riding along there. The wind blast from oncoming cars and especially trucks was fearsome! It only took nine hours! Oh yeah, I was on a bicycle as I didn't have a motorcycle let alone my "M" license. Oh to be younger and stupid again. But it was then as it is now, all about the ride! Cheers ; )