Niagara Fall to Simcoe, Ontario
Today is lift-off! After months of fundraising for Habitat for Humanity and diligently training on our bicycles, it’s time to hit the road, leave Niagara Falls behind and begin the long but wonderful journey back to Winnipeg on our bikes! As we gather in our matching jerseys for a group photo before we depart, the excitement among the group is palpable. In total, we will cover over 1600 kilometers (1000 miles) in 12 days. Today’s leg begins in Niagara Falls and ends, 148 kilometers later in Simcoe, Ontario. For some of us, this will be the longest ride we have ever dared to try. New riders anxiously wonder whether or not they up to the challenge.
This is my fourth Cycle of Hope. When I pause to think about my first ride in 2011 starting in St. Louis, following the Mississippi River north, I can remember clearly my feeling on the first day. I can best describe it as a mixture of anticipation and dread – a feeling that I might have “bit off more than I could chew,” and a fear of the unknown. But we often underestimate ourselves. We, more often than not, have a reserve of strength and perseverance that we don’t know we have. Through the support and kinship of our group, we will all accomplish more than we could hope to do on our own. I think that is the message to be kept close to our hearts as we embark on this great challenge. With the support of 60 other people, we will accomplish things beyond our current limits and have a wonderful time along the way.
The First Leg – The Welland Canal Trail System
The first 30 kilometers of our ride ran alongside the Welland Canal on a bike and pedestrian path, providing an up-close view of the canal. The canal was originally built in 1824 to allow boat traffic to move between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, by-passing Niagara Falls. The canal is 27 miles long, and on average, it takes 11 hours to move from one lake to the next. The total difference in elevation between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario is a total of 99.5 meters (326.5 feet.) Today, as we rode along at 7:00 am, the path was very quiet. The most interesting activity we saw were groups of rowers in sculls. The Pan-am games are starting in Toronto on July 10th and we passed the new rowing venue along the canal.
Along Lake Erie
After reaching the end of the Welland Canal at Port Colborne, we head west along Lake Erie for 100 kilometers. It’s a hot, and somewhat humid day typical of southern Ontario and the breeze off Lake Erie provides some respite from the heat. Dotted with towns and cottage communities, it’s a beautiful ride. We are quite the spectacle – 50 riders in the same cycling jerseys. People often stop and look, with a sense of wonder or confusion in their eyes as we ride by. They wave or honk and offer support.
Heading into Simcoe
We head inland away from the lake, towards Simcoe. It’s hot and not a particularly interesting section of the ride. It requires perseverance, more than anything else, although when we arrive in Simcoe, it is a beautiful southern Ontario town. It is full of older brick homes like we have seen throughout the day along our route, parks with lovely old trees, and an historic downtown.
Details for today
I thought I would finish each blog post with the daily and total distances as well as a map of the day. Click on the link below and you will be able to see the map detailing the route we followed as well as turn by turn directions for the route. A map for the route of our entire trip is included as well.
Distance: 148 km. / 148 Total
Route Map: Niagara Falls to Simcoe, Ontario
Map of the whole route: Cycle of Hope Route Map