Ontario and Canadian Hospitality
The funny part about bicycle touring is that you never know what’s in front of you. We tried our best to use the internet to see what was awaiting us down the road, but even with that invaluable tool, there was rarely an accurate representation of our destination. My girlfriend, Lindsey, and I have been riding our bicycles across the United States from Oregon to Maine and have just finished up the third and final month of our trip. After leaving the midwest states of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan we crossed the border into Ontario to ride along the north shore of Lake Erie and then continued east through New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and finally Maine. In Canada, each day the mystery of what lay ahead was even greater because our phones were no help. In bicycle touring we’ve learned, sometimes you just need to ride on in good faith that you’ll find food, water, and a safe place to pitch a tent for the night. Luckily Canadians, as we all know, are ridiculously nice and always willing to lend a hand or answer our questions. One couple in particular was incredibly generous. They fed us dinner and brought us in for the night after our original accommodations fell through and we were caught after dark getting to town.
History and the Erie Canal
After leaving the nice flat shore of Lake Erie, we crossed into New York at Niagara Falls. We lucked out and saw the falls on a gorgeous fall day midweek, which meant the crowd of tourists was relatively low, and so we took some time to enjoy the view and grandeur of the falls. Apart from the stunning beauty of Niagara Falls it was also very intriguing to learn about all of the history of the area as we rolled along. All throughout our journey it’s been fun to see sites and read about the places and events that really shaped our country two and three hundred years ago. We rode past forts, graveyards, and battlefields that date all the way back to the French and Indian War in the 1750s, and then further on to the iconic Erie Canal which was a major player in westward expansion and commerce throughout the 19th century.
Continuing east through New York we rode about 150 miles on the old towpath, now a bike path, that the mules used to pull barges up and down the canal. Riding along the canal was absolutely amazing and one of the top highlights of the entire trip. Although it is no longer used for commercial traffic, the canal is still maintained for historical and recreational purposes and is very pretty. Many small towns had beautiful canal-side restaurants, shops, and parks, which made our traveling very fun and easy.
Adirondacks — the Greens, the Whites, and the Leaves
As we left the Erie Canal and the Finger Lakes region of New York, our route took us northeast through the middle of the Adirondack Mountains. Being back in the mountains brought back many things such as colder weather, fewer cars, more forestation, and obviously more climbing. Although they may not be as big, the climbs of the eastern region are steeper and there are considerably more of them. But with that, we were rewarded with the constant beauty of all the rivers, lakes, and streams and the rolling mountains extending for as far as we could see. Ever since Minnesota we’ve been enjoying slowly watching the leaves turn as Autumn closes in on us. Finally, in the Adirondacks, they reached their peak. The maple trees were so vibrant they lit up the mountainsides as though there were spotlights on them. It truly blew us away.
Into Vermont the colors continued as we climbed the steeper Green Mountains past picturesque, quaint little towns. We were rather cold in the elevation, so we stopped into diners and enjoyed many a breakfast with blueberry pancakes and real maple syrup. Next was New Hampshire with the even larger White Mountains. The temperatures were in the 40s, but climbing up the passes kept us toasty warm right until we topped out. When we came screaming down the other side we would be frozen by the time we reached the bottom, but the views and the leaves made it all worthwhile.
Maine and Lobster
After a quick few days in Vermont and New Hampshire, we were finally in Maine and out of the big mountains and into warmer temperatures. We headed straight east towards the coast through what seemed like a million steep tiny mountains, which made for a couple of harder days than we’d anticipated, but our legs could handle it at that point. And then, at last, we got to enjoy riding along the Atlantic Coast on US Route 1 for our final few days, past fishing villages and sailboats on the way to our final destination of Bar Harbor.
After 4,500 miles and with ribbons of flat road to enjoy, our legs felt strong. We were able to slack off and take our time drinking in all of the scenery and surroundings. We stopped at a few breweries and grabbed lobster rolls for lunch before finally making it to Bar Harbor. On our last day, we connected with a few friends and family, who watched as we took a very quick dip in the Atlantic to finish off the trip. And now it’s celebratory lobster dinner time!
By Mike Dicken, Guest Blogger