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Rural meets Urban

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Weeklong Tour 2016

RIDE REPORT BY ROSEMARY LYSAGHT

This year’s weeklong cycle tour (July 23 – August 1) was a tale of two cities – Kingston and Montreal – with a whole lot of rural in between.   A record 17 riders took part this year, 11 of them camping and the others choosing motel or B&B accommodations.  This year also saw our first international participants – a delightful couple, Andre and Frankie, from Florida who joined the tour on the urging of KVC member Gordon Smith.

The ride started at the Cataraqui Recreation Centre on a warm Saturday morning, and the group began its meandering route to Mallorytown via Sunbury and Lansdowne. Mallorytown proved to be one of our best campgrounds, with quiet sites, cooking facilities and even an entertaining evening Bingo event. (Some of the campgrounds proved challenging due to the proximity of highways and train lines – but somehow most of us seemed to sleep through the noise.  Could it have been a “good tired” at the end of a day long cycle?).  Days 2 and 3 took us on quiet rural roads to the small towns of Winchester and Alexandria. On the way to Winchester, we passed through one of our riders’ childhood hometown; and it just so happened that the owner of the Winchester B&B where we overnighted (campers on the grounds) was her childhood friend. A highlight of Day 4 was a perfectly awesome lunch at the Vert Fourchette in Vankleek Hill (not to be missed) followed by beer tasting and a tour at Beau’s Brewery. For the rest of the day we rode tailwinds into our next destination, Rigaud, Quebec, where our camping and motel groups separated for the night. Day 5 started with a beautiful ride along the Ottawa River, followed by a ferry crossing over to Oka, PQ. Later that day we left the quiet rural roads behind as we navigated our ways through Montreal to our lodging at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) (not recommended in a hot summer – no AC, and lots of student noise if your windows are open). Most of our KVC group negotiated the traffic together, and found that the route actually followed designated bike-ways. This was a stark departure from our country daydreaming.

Day 6 was a rest day in Montreal and our resourceful cycle-tourists used the time in a variety of ways: a tour of the Marinoni bicycle factory was enjoyed by 6; several toured Old Montreal; some took a bus tour of the city; others climbed Mont Royal for a view of the city; and several checked out the outdoor festival venue of Just For Laughs, which was on full force during our visit. It was a great break, and due to the timely visit of Gordon’s wife Marilyn, 3 riders hopped a ride back to Kingston at that point.

The return ride for the rest of the group was literally a breeze – tailwinds helped us the whole way. Highlights of the return ride were riding bike routes along the waterfront through the west suburbs of Montreal; riding the off-road paved paths for the Waterfront Trail; a visit to the Ontario Power Plant in Cornwall, where we learned the history of the St. Lawrence Seaway; cruising the Long Sault Parkway; visit to Blue Church (eventually final resting place for one of our participants); our last group dinner in Brockville on the upstairs, dockside patio at Bud’s on the Bay; our final picnic in the park in Gananoque; and finally, that rewarding clink of glasses at the Kingston Brew Pub.

The most common question from people not on this tour, on our return was, “wasn’t it awfully hot”? Yes, it was hot. It was sunny most days. But we had tailwinds, so most riders were finishing off their days earlier than they otherwise might and found cold beverages. There was a lovely breeze most days, at just the right angles to cool things off.  Advantage of the hot weather? We found virtually no mosquitoes when we camped. It rained only one day while we were riding – the final morning, and it was a gentle rain that persisted only until the morning coffee break. Too much heat? Nothing that ice cream, ice water and a cold beer couldn’t handle.

Trip by the Numbers:
- 10 days total
- 9 days of riding (one rest day)
- Total of 714 km (not counting evening rides around town, etc.)
- 17 riders at the start, 14 at the finish
- 6 first timers: Maggie Cowtan, Jeremy MacLaverty, Gordon Smith, Lisa Kelian, Frankie and André
- 7 morning coffee breaks in charming rural cafés
- 3 ice cream stops (that we will admit)
- 2 birthdays (Vicki Ryckman & Jeremy McLaverty)
- 1 campfire ( no smores)

Check the KVC Facebook page for photos and comments related to the 2016 Weeklong.

Stay tuned for information on next year’s weeklong tour. Got an overnight tour you want to organize? Contact the Tour Director.

AN "ERIE" ADVENTURE!

WEEKLONG TOUR 2015 – LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE
RIDE REPORT BY ROSEMARY LYSAGHT

This year’s weeklong tour was the biggest ever! A total of 16 riders joined the tour for all or part of the journey from Dunnville, Ontario to Pelee Island and back. Along the way, our intrepid group of cycle-tourists enjoyed seemingly endless sunshine, the warmest days of summer, beautiful nights under the stars, and some pretty amazing campfires (thanks, Pyroman - Wayne!). We also endured some intense west winds and long stretches with no food or water options in the early days. Of course, those high winds were quite welcome as we wound our way back home. The 670 km tour took us through Simcoe, St. Thomas, Rondeau Beach, Pelee Island, Erieau, Port Stanley, and Turkey Point, with a brewery tour, two wineries, a museum and several ice cream shops en route. Great planning, Hal!

The tour was dubbed the “Survivor’s Tour” when we realized that several of the riders wouldn’t make it. We lost two riders to heat and exhaustion in the challenging early days, two to mechanical challenges, and seven riders cut the ride short due to other commitments. The seven “survivors” celebrated the end of the ride at the Dunnville ice cream shop, vowing to return next year.

As our leader Hal summarized the trip – by the numbers:
Days of riding = 9 (max)
Number of official KVC kms = 669
Max number of riders = 16
Min number of riders = 7
Max number of campers = 8 (on one or more nights)
Max number of non-campers = 7 (on one or more nights)
Number of tire punctures = 3
Number of broken spokes = 4
Number of sore bums = 2 (verified, but others may not have admitted)
Number of sore feet = 2 (one pair)
Number of insect bites = too many to count
Number of pints of beer consumed = 250 (just a guess)
Number of glasses of wine = 150 (again, just a guess)
Number of good memories to share and talk about = innumerable!

Highlights of the tour included our night of camping at the Walmart; swims in Lake Erie; our “dinner cruise” on the Pelee Island ferry; the barbeque lunch at the Pelee Island Winery; miles of dirt road that kept emerging from nowhere; and some pretty fantastic group dinners. Be sure to get the KVC 2016 weeklong on your schedule!

The European Capitals Tour 2014

The European Capitals Tour 2014 – 9 days on the Road with KVC
This year a record 10 participants participated in the KVC weeklong ride – a journey that traversed a range of exotic European capitals, aka central New York State. We exited Kingston on July 26 via the Wolfe Island ferry under overcast skies, ready for adventure, fun and physical challenge in a foreign land – and found plenty of all the above! From thrilling mountain climbs to ferocious storms, we saw it all....
Day 1 took us across the two ferries, through Watertown, and on quiet roads to the village of Copenhagen (83 km). The day was overcast, but improved steadily as it progressed, and we were greeted by a town alive with the annual Firefigher’s Festival. There being no campground, Hal had arranged accommodation for the campers at the local school.  The caretaker and groundskeeper welcomed us like old friends, as they opened the school for our showers, and pointed us to a grassy field for camping. We were treated in the evening to the Firefighter’s parade – a short but spirited event featuring all the squads from the local counties, the highlight of which was the Belgian horse-drawn patrol. The Veloists, perched outside Jacobs Place (the only restaurant in town) were probably the most animated of all the spectators, and Graham in particular was very good at snagging the candy being thrown to the crowd. Margaret and Maureen ended up with lovely mardi gras beads, which draped over their panniers as they rode on through the week. Other than that, the town was remarkable only for its Stewart’s variety store and gas bar, which was all things to us: washroom, ice cream stand, beer outlet, and breakfast cafe.
Day 2 started late due to lingering thundershowers that had awakened us all about 4AM and persisted as light rain until nearly 9AM. It was a hilly day, with only a few sprinkles of rain – but a LONG stretch on the unpaved and hilly state route 45. When we finally hit the paved highway again, a roadside diner called the Gathering Place emerged like an oasis in the desert. It was fabulous. We were rewarded after that with an easy ride, tailwinds all the way down to route 69, which took us into Rome. The campers stayed under the cover of a large pavilion at Erie Canal Village, an interesting little attraction beside the Erie Canal and the Erie Canal trail. The day totalled just over 100km.
Day 3 started with some rain as we all met up at the Denney’s in the center of town. Much of the day was spent on the somewhat muddy and puddle-filled Erie Canal bike path, leading us to call out the motto, Keep Calm and Pedal On (or equally appropriate, Keep Calm and Puddle On). The trail guided us to the town of Utica and the Saranac Brewery, where we left the bikes under cover from the ensuing showers and enjoyed a brewery tour complete with free beers in the “pub” at the end. A good and educational time was had by all. We then proceeded under overcast skies to the town of Ilion, named for the Greek island and Athens suburb (total distance 55km). The campers again found shelter from the rain under a pavilion, this time at the marina campground, and met up with the rest of the group for an Italian dinner at the Sorrento Italian restaurant.
Day 4, and finally some serious sunshine. Again we followed the Erie Canalway Trail for part of the day, but opted for the parallel Route 5S most of the way. It was a rolling, beautiful highway with amazing views of the river valley. After the required afternoon ice cream stop, we started our final 15 km ride to Fulton-Montgomery Community College in Amsterdam, where the majority of the group were to spend the next two nights. This journey was memorable for Switzer Hill Road – a brutal ascent none of us will soon forget. This climb gave Wayne a crunched derailer which made the rest of the distance to the college precarious. Nonetheless we all made it, and were greeted as celebrity guests by the College President and the Director of Student Life. Our main man Coy took care of us at the residence hall, and drove us all in his air-conditioned mini-bus to the nearby town of Johnstown where we celebrated our 75km day with beer and dinner at Applebee’s. Moe joined us for this one final meal, as she was due to head back to Kingston with her friend Don the next day.
Day 5 Hal gave us a break – a well needed rest day.  The group split up, with 4 riding to Amsterdam centre, 3 riding back to Johnstown, and Bob & Margaret off hiking with Bob’s daughter, Rebecca. Those at the College had a smorgasbord feast that evening – way too much food and beer, but a great game of cards for entertainment.
Day 6 we departed the College and headed for Lake Pleasant. We met an affable old gentleman who was working in the NY Information Center at the Junction of Hwys 29 & 30 where we were to meet Margaret & Robert.   He provided lots of local lore, and supplied us with maps. Hal asked him, tongue in cheek, if the route to Lake Pleasant was flat. The old guy had a great laugh and replied, “Yeah, that’s why they call them the Adirondack Mountains – because they’re flat!”. The old guy was right – they weren’t flat. We later endured a ride in a thunderstorm as we valiantly tried to make it to our lunch spot at Sport Island – after which we were all thoroughly drenched – and then rode mostly uphill to our final destination at Lake Pleasant. It was over 100 km in the end – and we were all dog tired. Those beers at Logan’s Pub &Grill that evening tasted pretty good.
Day 7 was a generally uneventful day (read sunny, not too hilly, no missed turns) which saw us ride 107 km to our destination at the North Country Manor B&B in Boonville. Our plan for the night was to have the campers stay on the grounds of the B&B ($20 for use of shower, washroom and breakfast) while the indoor folks stayed in the inn. Shortly after our arrival in Boonville we met a couple who were crossing the US on a tandem bike. They were close to completing their journey, with what they estimated to be about 500 miles left to reach Bar Harbour, ME. We invited the couple to join us rather than trekking out to the closest campground, so we all spent the next 12 hours or so together at this beautiful, historic inn set in the rolling hills of eastern New York.
Day 8 took us across lovely, rolling terrain to the town of Lowville, which as one might expect, sits at the bottom of a deep valley. After our coffee break, we braved the long ascent out of the valley and up onto the high plain. Not long after we hit the level ground we noticed dark clouds. These soon turned into a violent storm – one most of us have not seen the likes of in Ontario or otherwise. The group ended up taking shelter in 3 different barns and/or abandoned houses along the way, and we all watched while winds estimated at well over 100 km/hour whipped through the countryside, along with heavy rain and hail. The group closest to the centre of the storm was holed up for over 2 hours. Luckily the farm of our choice sold cheese curds, so that even in the absence of the owner, we were able to self serve, and we had lots of food to finish up. The rest of the day seemed comparatively calm and quiet, and found us in Watertown by about 5 PM. Total riding that day was just over 80 km.
Finally, Day 9 – Watertown to Kingston (70 km after getting off track a few times). There were rumbles of thunder, the leader got lost from the start, and Margaret had 4 flats – but other than that, we all made it back to Cape Vincent for our final meal together at Captain Jack’s. The day was perhaps symbolic of the trip – some ups, some downs; beautiful scenery; some missed turns; threat of rain;  mechanical issues; good food; and most importantly, good company to share it all with. One way or another, we all made it back to Kingston and to our own start points – with a great adventure under our belts.
Lessons learned:  We discovered some interesting things along the way...
- Google maps cannot be trusted to indicate when roads are paved or not, if the pitch is flat or intensely steep. Local knowledge is invaluable
- Diners provide voluminous servings of good honest food at low cost; “restaurants”, or even “restaurant-taverns” are priced more like what we are used to in Kingston, with slightly more upscale menu offerings
- Ice cream in New York is plentiful – and the servings are HUUUUGE. Be careful what you wish for!

Written by Rosemary Lysaght

For pictures, see gallery

Shoot the Rapids and Over the Falls ---

Eight intrepid souls decided to journey north for this ride originating from the Smiths Falls Curling and Squash Club. What was originally only a challenging route of 98 kilometres was expanded, with the gentle urging of Margaret Wild, to include a moderately paced route of 52 kilometres. Margaret then suggested an optional addition to this route extending it to 69 kilometres. The counter-clockwise circuit of the moderate route (another idea of Margaret’s) and the clockwise direction of the challenging route, when factoring in the speeds of each group, would allow both to rendezvous at the pre-arranged luncheon stop in Merrickville at approximately the same time. A brilliant stroke of genius from our club president! Also, one good reason why I would never be suitable for the position of club tour director.

Three bicycles, no waiting. Andrew's, Kristine's, and Paul's bicycles wait in the back of the MacLeod's minivan at the start of the Smiths Falls-Merrickville ride. Three bicycles, plus a bag full of brand-new KVC jerseys, too - you should have been there! Photo by Paul Rappell

Not so mellow in yellow. The gang is itching to go. What a coincidence! Seven of the eight riders wore KVC colours - three in their brand new jerseys. Then they hit the road and got them all sweaty. Joan, Paul, Darrell, Andrew, Kristine, Harald, and Robert await the starter's pistol. Margaret is on the business end of Paul's camera.

At 10:00AM on what promised to be a warm humid day, Paul and Margaret set out north and then east toward Merrickville on the moderate route while Joan, Kris, Andrew, Robert, Harald and I set out south and west on the challenging route around Smiths Falls and out of town. Everyone was resplendent in their KVC jerseys (might I be so bold as to say that it was the first club ride to debut the new jersey!) but for one notable exception … our club president! (NOTE: This is a career-limiting strategy for any would-be presidential candidates.) Passing motorists were heard to say “Wow, look at those cyclists! … All the way from Kingston! … Must be lost!!”

The challenging group, now clear of town, proceeded up Code Drive with a short 2 ½ kilometre stretch on gravel (note to self: Kristine does not enjoy chain cleaning) before heading north at a brisk pace on the sparsely travelled Rosedale Road North. From there it was a short jaunt west to Highway 15 and then north to Franktown, “The Lilac Capital of Ontario”, for a brief rest stop. At this point it was evident by yours truly, that he was not going to be able to maintain the pace of the others. With that in mind, the torch was passed and the rest of the group turned northeast for the first seriously long straight stretch of 13 ½ kilometres along busy Richmond Road. Single file riding was the order of the day here and a blazing pace was maintained until they reached Dwyer Hill Road. Eventually I caught up to them waiting for me, refreshed, relaxed and ready to tear down the next strip of pavement. “But wait, I only just got here … !”

From there it was a straight 21 kilometre run southeast along a less travelled but well paved road through some sparsely populated countryside into the picturesque hamlet of Burritt’s Rapids. Again a torrid pace was maintained by all … except me. Joan awaited my arrival at the end of Dwyer Hill Road and proceeded with me to the swing bridge where the rest were waiting … refreshed, relaxed and … Noticing a pattern here?

Now it was an 8 ½ kilometre ride into Merrickville (and our luncheon break!) along a quiet idyllic country road with riding stables, neat well-kept farms and beautiful waterfront homes. Arriving at the Main Street Family Restaurant in Merrickville (Yes! Everyone else was already seated!), I rejoined the group along with Margaret and Paul from the moderate route. Apparently they had succumbed to the seductive lure of Merrickville’s charms and opted out of the extended loop of their tour in favor of an extra hour of relaxation next to the locks. Good food and conversation were had by all with Joan enjoying the added privilege of learning how to grow her own lemons and grapefruits from the friendly restaurant proprietor.

Together again, for the first time. Slow and fast riders gather on the patio. Funny, but the "slow" riders were there about an hour before the "fast" riders. Lots and lots of water was consumed with lunch. Darrell, Harald, Robert, Paul, Joan, Margaret, Andrew, and Kristine pose while waiting for the food to arrive. Paul Rappell photo

Lock monsters! At Kilmarnock Lock, Darrell, Joan, Kristine, Andrew,and Harald say "cheese" for photographer Robert. Or is that "wheeze", Darrell? Robert Tolley photo

Bellies full, we headed out; Margaret and Paul north then west for the return to Smiths Falls, while I led the rest south down St. Lawrence Street with its many quaint shops and out of Merrickville, turning right on to County Road 16. I mentioned to the group that this 13 ½ kilometre stretch to Jasper was a favorite of mine on my frequent solo rides due to its light traffic and flat, long straights and that I often liked to “air it out” along here. As if Kristine et al needed any encouragement. Following their vapour trail, I eventually arrived in Jasper to find them waiting, refreshed, relaxed … am I repeating myself?

From here it was a right turn on to County Road 16 or the Jasper Highway heading back to Smiths Falls. However, our group would not be taking the direct path back to our destination. We were going to soak up some more of the local scenery. A little over 1 kilometre down (up?) County Road 16 we turned right on to Kilmarnock Road, a 7 kilometre link heading north to Route 43 West or the Merrickville Highway. This road passes through some rich agricultural land bordering the Rideau and a small tributary that helps to create Kilmarnock Island. Past a large apple orchard, the road makes a sweeping, descending curve over the picturesque lock at Kilmarnock. Here the group paused for some photos and a short breather before the final home stretch. Meanwhile, on the moderate route, Margaret and Paul headed north along Rosedale Road to Matheson Drive where they would turn left for the 5 ½ kilometre trek back into Smiths Falls then on to Elmsley/Queen Street before a right turn over the Old Slys Road lock and back to the curling club. (Ed note: As if! In Smiths Falls, they change the street names as frequently as they change their ... . We got lost on Elmsley, or was it Queen, or ... .  We discovered that Elmsley goes downhill - only to end in a dead end. And you have to climb back up.)

Watch out for that crack in the pavement! The group, fortified with ice cream, gets ready to make the final turn into the parking lot after a good day out. Andrew, Kristine, Harald, and Joan finish the ride in fine form. Photo by Paul Rappell

Home at last! Robert Tolley heads for the finish, satisfied that he's had his fill of ice cream. Photo by Paul Rappell

Andrew took the lead as our crew made a left turn on to Route 43 West for the final approach to Smiths Falls. The narrower road and the increasingly heavy traffic as we approached town, made single file riding a necessity. Anticipating the finish, the peloton surged ahead of me. Either that or my pace was lagging again. No doubt the latter. In any case, a decided gap had opened up between the others and me, so much so that by the time the final left turn for the 500 metre sprint home was reached, they were too far beyond shouting range for me to warn them that they had missed it. Oh well, I would just return to the curling club and wait for them. Surely it wouldn’t take them long to realize their error.

Arriving back at the curling club, I saw that Margaret and Paul had safely finished and were patiently expecting everyone else’s return. (Ed. note: Margaret's comment was, "It would be very embarrassing if the other group finished ahead of us!") I informed them of what had just happened and assured them that the others would be along very shortly. Ten minutes passed. I started to worry. I began to imagine next day’s headlines (“Inept Ride Leader – no relation to Costa Concordia captain – Loses Entire Entourage!”) when suddenly I realized … our cell phones! A quick call to Kristine quickly allayed my fears.

Let it not be said that KVC members are not an attentive bunch! During idle conversation at the restaurant, I had mentioned to Robert the existence and location of a new ice cream parlour in town. Their wares apparently were “to die for” and line-ups were frequently seen outside the door. It appears our wayward cyclists had merely made a detour to reward themselves for a great effort. Rumour has it one rider downsized his/her original order to a single scoop when seeing the actual size of a double! (Maureen: eat your heart out!) Not only had this group put a fine finish to the ride, they had also unofficially turned it into a metric century by going the extra distance!

Thousand Islands

CYCLISTS LEARN FRENCH, OR NOT.
NAPOLEON GOES MISSING AT CAPE VINCENT FRENCH FESTIVAL

Thousand Islands Ride Report by Margaret Wild (Ride Date July 13, 2013)


In days gone by KVC (under former names) was primarily a road racing club, sponsoring the 'Kingston Classic' Road Race from the early 1970's. But there was always strong interest in touring, both as a vehicle for training and sheer enjoyment of Kingston's spectacular location amongst the 1000 Islands.

The KVC 1000 Islands Tour, at 124km long, is one such ride traversing four of these islands. Today, starting by Kingston ferry dock, we must concern ourselves with passports and insurance, but do have the benefit of improved roadways with well paved shoulders all the way. The route continues through Howe Island (optional) to Gananoque, then follows the 1000 Island Parkway to an obligatory walk over spans of the International Bridge on Hill and Wellesley Islands, providing unique opportunity to linger and enjoy the view!

The NY Visitor Center proved a welcome break before heading on 12E 'Seaway Trail' to lunch in Clayton. This year's ride was timed to arrive in Cape Vincent for its renowned French Festival. We missed Napoleon on his white charger, but captured much of the outstanding parade. A ferry ride had some heading home across Wolfe Island, while others stayed to enjoy dinner in the totally transformed Wolfe Island Grill.

Enjoying the view, or, maybe, just stopping for a break because walking the bridge in those cleats is just too uncomfortable? Joan, Rebekah, David, Margaret, and Aaron take in the scenery - with not a transport truck in sight. Phot by Robert Tolley

All in all, it was a most scenic, interesting and varied ride, which attracted interesting and varied participants. Robert led the challenge group accompanied by KVC stalwarts: Graham, Mike, Joan, and new member Vicki. His daughter Rebekah and son-in-law Aaron from Albany (triathletes both) looked us up on the web, decided this was a neat ride, and travelled up to join in. Margaret's moderate group started out with Jay our famed Lake Ontario swimmer (who did stay with us part of the way), and a new member, David. Dave first raced in 1948 in the UK, is now 82 years young, and set such a spanking pace that it's quite possible KVC has turned full circle!