I've had this certain ride on my "biking bucket list" for a while now. I wanted to ride from home out to the long closed up Little Lake Conservation Area and explore the area a bit. I was up nice and early on a Sunday morning so it seemed like the right time to check it out. I really enjoy Hay Creek (another closed camp ground) and the trails / old roads within it and thought Little Lake would be worth the look. I was out just after sunrise, leaving town via the Waterford Heritage Trail. At this early hour I had the entire trail to myself.
I really enjoy the Heritage Trail. Its a short (10km) ride from Simcoe to Waterford where it brings you through the old Co-Op silos and the Black Bridge, an old train trestle where you can get a birds eye view of the Waterford Ponds.
I left Waterford after a nice break / photo op and continued my quest North. This section from Waterford to Brantford is not as heavily used as the more Southern end of the trail and makes for a nice escape from the general population. I didn't see another soul for the entire ride from Waterford to Concession 3. Once at Concession 3, it was time to hit the open road and turn West towards my destination along the quiet back roads of Norfolk.
After grinding along I finally reached my destination, the old Little Lake Conservation area. I remember driving past this camp ground when I was younger and it being open. I'd have to guess its been closed for just over a decade, although I can't remember exactly when. I headed into the gate, hoping to find lots of neat abandoned roads and campsites. I did come across the foundation of the old camp office, but the roads where so overgrown it was tough to get anywhere. I tried pushing through but the brush was too thick. I'll have to come back one day in the fall / winter when the brush isn't so thick. It was a disappointment.
I left the camp ground and began my southern route back home. I took the opportunity for more photos in Teeterville at the Teeterville Pond, a man made reservoir with a dam on Big Creek. I have canoed this pond many times with my father and brother when we were young.
Just a bit more South from Teeterville is the little Hamlet of Windham Centre. I checked out the closed up Windham Public School where I attended middle school, which has stood empty for a number of years.
The crown jewel of Windham Centre is the WinDel Park. A baseball and soccer field that is heavily used. Out at the very back of the park though is another abandoned slice of history, The Windel Velodrome. Built in 1972 but it has been unused for many years, its one of the only Olympic Size velodromes in the province and the only outdoor one. The sad old velodrome is in bad shape, its asphalt cracked and weeds growing out of it, the surrounding grassy area over grown, and the lane markers barely visible. I cranked up the good ole CX bike and tore around the track like hell, dodging the renegade shrubbery as I tried to keep my speed up enough to ride high on the banked corners. I was surprised how much speed I was carrying and held a line just below the red center marker. It was a fun sprint but I decided that a few laps were enough as I still had some distance to cover back to Simcoe and my water was running low, not to mention my legs felt pretty heavy at this point.
The rest of the ride through Rattlesnake Harbor and Nixon was a nice quiet country stroll followed by some rail trail back home. I ended up riding nearly 60km and was back home for lunch, it was great. Even though Little Lake was a bust, I had a good time wandering the lonely roads. I've already formulated a plan in my head to get back to Little Lake CA on my fat bike when the brush is thinner in the fall so I can explore the old campground and beyond (Google Earth shows some promising looking stretches of dirt in the bush nearby). It was a typical Sunday adventure.
The plan was to ride, as long as the rain would hold out..... or at least not come down like cats and dogs. My cousin and fellow rider Kyle met me at my place and after fixing a flat on my CX bike we were off on our ride without a plan. Our loose idea is that we would pass through Port Dover at some point and that we wanted to ride some pavement, gravel, and singletrack along the way.
We rode some renegade trails in Simcoe then onto the rail trail system to head it out of town. Another flat tire on the CX bike gave us a bit of a breather while I replaced the tube. My patch job from earlier in the day didn't hold up, so I swapped the tube out and packed the old one to try patching again back at home.
We decided to get off the LVT on Lynn Valley Road so we could tackle the climb up the start of Ryerse Road. It was a hard go but we toughed it out. We carried on through a bit of drizzle and finally arrived at the old Hay Creek Conservation Area. The Conservation Area is home to a winding network of hidden singletrack, it was fun but also a bit sketchy at times. The wet roots and skinny tires on the CX bike didn't get along too well.
We headed down Radical Road, following two fully loaded touring cyclists the entire way. A bit of time spent at the Pier and we decided on a lunch a Willie's.
Upon leaving Dover, the dark skies broke and the sun came out. We rode back towards Simcoe on the LVT, stopping the check out the Lynn River along the way, scouting out possible future canoe / kayak routes. Once in Simcoe, we dropped into the Brook Conservation Area for more trail fun and checking out the dam on the river. We stopped for a little photo op and cyclocross action.
We even happened upon some local wildlife. A deer nibbling on some tender leaves, a snapping turtle crossing the trail. All good things that brought together a great ride. We ended up with just over 35km and lots of laughs and stories told between us.
It wasn't an epic ride, or a soul crushing test of metal, or even a winding singletrack trip, but it was a really great just-two-guys-riding-their-bikes kind of ride. Nothing to prove, no one to impress, going our own pace, and just going with wherever the road takes us. It reminded us of our trips around the back country near Delhi and Teeterville from years ago..... but those are stories for another day. Ride on!
Sometimes you need to go the hard way and test your metal, to see what you are really made of. This is why I've decided that I'll tackle the TillsonBurn ride this year. Its going to be the "short" loop for me, which is 50km or so of gravel roads and trails with lots of hills tossed in. We are less than a week away so I thought I should get a dry run in and and see if my metal is up to the task at hand come Friday. I hopped aboard my trusty cross bike and decided to make a loop of 50km comprised of road and trail to somewhat mimic what I had ahead of me.
I left Simcoe via the Lynn Valley Trail, one of my usual ways of getting out of town. The air was still cold and each breath was a could of steam from my nose. I imagined myself as a coal powered locomotive, puffing steam with each rotation on the cranks. The trail was quite as it was still quite early and cold for the dog walking and trail running crowds.
Once out of town I left the limestone pathway of the Lynn Valley Trail and onto the asphalt of Lynn Valley Road. My first test of metal was just ahead of me, a gruelling short climb up the North tip of Ryerse Road. I held each gear as long as I could, frantically downshifting just as I was about to stall out, until I reached my granny gear. I kept my legs turning and my eyes looking ahead to the crest, eventually besting the hill. The morning cold seemed to have burnt away while under full power and I was warm now, although breathing hard. I made my way down Ryerse Road pointed South towards the lake. A quick stop at Hay Creek for a water and pee break and I was in Port Ryerse before I knew it.
The next few miles along Front Road would be a tough set of short hills. The first of which was up and out of Port Ryerse travelling West, a short but punchy climb that had me sweating. A few miles of rolling hills and lake shore scenery and I was descending into Fisher's Glen which is home to the infamous descend-hairpin turn- cilmb of Front Road. The climb out of Fisher's Glen can be brutal, it seems like you go from the lowest point in the county to the highest in one short steep climb. I reached the top, gasping for air but exhilarated at the same time. So far my dry run was going well and I was crushing these climbs one after another.
I throttled down a bit and spun my way into Normandale and up to the dead end of Mole Side Road, the popular staging area for the Turkey Point trails. This would be the trail section of my "test of metal". As I rolled into the TP trailhead I met, by chance, with Russ who was heading out to do some training with his new trail dog Ryder. Ryder was super excited and bouncing through the woods along the trails. A little bit of chit chat and we went our own ways, each of us having spoken of our commitment to doing the "Burn" on Friday. I rode in on the Finn and Feather trail, then on through Dizzy Lizzy where I met up with the TPMBC gang. They were heading to the dump property and I decided to hang with the group as I was heading that way anyways.
The cross bike wasn't too bad at keeping up with the full on mountain bikes, although after being repeatedly jarred along trails like The Stroller and Methane my wrists were crying in pain. It seems that 42c tires and drop bars are not as pillowy comfortable as four inch fat tires and flat bars. We rode out of the dump and out to Motorhead where I really tested the limits of the CX bike on the big rollers, bridges, and minor jumps along the trail. This sure isn't the kind of bike you want to "get loose" on, some of it was downright scary. After Motorhead (during which I always have the song 'Ace of Spades' playing in my head, RIP Lemmy) I hit the road again for the ride back towards Simcoe.
Back on the road and I was moving North towards the four corners of Walsh. I moved quickly from TP to Walsh but was running out of steam now with about 10km or so to go before hitting home. I turned onto a concession road and was hit by a nasty headwind. It wouldn't have been so bad but I was really starting to feel the burn and the wind was kicking my ass. I found a good gear and just kept churning the pedals, I felt as if I was riding through oatmeal. Lots of effort with little payoff.
I put my head down and kept moving. Before long I was riding back into Simcoe along Evergreen Hill Road, just a few km through town and I would be home. My test of metal complete. Once I pulled into my laneway I nearly collapsed, my legs felt like huge rubber bands. My GPS says I did 49km, but it always reads lower than my bike computer for some reason (I've tested this on a few bikes, all the same results) so I'd have to hazard a guess that I was actually closer to 53-54 km.
My test of metal felt successful, I think I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be for the TillsonBurn but I'm sure I'll still have my ass kicked by the terrain and the weather. I'm really just hoping to survive the ride without having to call Mrs. Bric to pick me up along the route, and I want to keep myself from crying too. I don't mean crying the sense of "my brakes are dragging" either, I mean that I hope I don't give up and sob myself to sleep in a puddle of my own urine on the side of the road. That would be embarrassing.
Can't wait to have my ass kicked and my soul crushed on Friday! See you out there.
Another great cold ride today. Not much to say. Went on a bridge hunting ride out to Waterford and back. Had a nice trailside lunch while freezing my ass off. Next time I'll build a camp fire. I'm two for two so far in 2016, might try to hit 100 days of riding this year. Closest thing to a resolution I'm getting near.
My weekend was a bit "meh" with lots going on and a slight case of the blues. I didn't feel like riding but my wife pushed me out the door with my helmet in my hand and told me to get lost. I hopped onto Grandma's Bike and pedalled into the evening along the Lynn Valley Trail. It wasn't long before I was in Dover, and just in time for the sun to set on the lake. It was a cool beautiful night, the sun was fading behind the horizon and the moon was shining brightly to the East. I sat for twenty or so minutes to watch it all unfold, sipping from my water bottle and listening to the night. Port Dover is a sleepy little town when the tourists all pack it in for the season. Its quite peaceful actually.
Even the busy beach area was deserted, a sight that any non-local wouldn't usually see. No yelling or laughing from the beach, no thunderous roar of motorcycles along the strip, no drone of boats coming in and out of the marina.
Once the darkness had set in I began the return trip to Simcoe. I brought my 1000 lumen headlight and a flashing tail light that could have been used on a police car. Back onto the Lynn Valley Trail, this time alone and in the dark. The trail is usually bursting with hiker, bikers, dog walkers and the like, but once darkness falls it becomes derelict. The darkness of the night and the focused beam of light from my bike made for a claustrophobic tunnel of vision through the blackness, it was eerily quiet, the kind of creepy that makes the hair of your neck stand. No sasquatches, rakes, or slenderman to be seen though, but I did have the feeling of being followed for a while. Hate that feeling.
A chill had set into the air and I could see my breath in the bit of light I had to work with, my legs were cold and the tips of my ears hurt. I quickened the pace and worked it harder, getting my body heat to warm me up as much as I could. Before long I was back under the street lights of Simcoe, safe from the boogey man out in the blinding darkness. The ride itself was pretty normal, although the sunset and dark ride home where fantastic. I need to do this again..... maybe on Devil's Night for the ultimate in creepy?
Its Thanksgiving and I read a lot of Facebook posts from people saying they are thankful for this and that. I am thankful to have such awesome kids that love to come on bike rides with me, and a wife that sends me out the door with my helmet in my hand a couple of times a week. I decided that I would take the kids out for a spin along the Lynn Valley Trail to Dover and back this morning and give Mrs. Bric a bit of breathing room while she prepares our turkey dinner. The weather was perfect and off we went on an early 8:30am start. The kids play with eachother in the trailer for the first 30 minutes before going silent and slipping into an early morning nap. The silence and near-empty trail make the fall colours enjoyable and I start to think about what I am thankful for and the things that really matter in life.
I've got two great kids that love to play and be around me, they also like to come riding with me and help me tinker in the shop. I see a lot of myself in them and am amazed by their imaginations everyday.
I've got a wife that understands me. She knows that I can only ride one bike at a time, but also realizes that each bike I own serves a purpose. She is okay with the N+1 rule as long as it stays within reason and the kids are fed.
I live in the most beautiful county in Southern Ontario. I've seen enough of them to know that Norfolk is a special place. Lots of forest space, 60km of the best mountain bike trails in the Province, and an interconnected system of rail-trails that bring together the four major towns in Norfolk. Whats not to like.
We rode into the Sunrise towards Port Dover, eventually arriving at the pier where we watched a wind surfer for a while. The wind was strong today and the waves came into the beach powerfully.
We made an important stop at the boat shaped playground at Silver Lake Park. This playground is a staple in our trips to Dover and back, the kids love it and its nice for them to stretch their legs after the journey from Simcoe. And how cool is it to play in a boat shaped playground while in a fishing town?
After our play and cookie break, we loaded back up and headed for home. The kids were tired from their playground adventure and had another nap on the way home.
There won't be many more days this nice left but its hard to think that this might be the kid's last ride of the season. There has to be at least one or two more nice days before things get too cold for them. Pulling them is good training too, the weight of the kids and the trails is over 70lbs. Riding 25km pulling a 70lbs dead weight makes for some ripped looking claves.
Little Bric is getting big for the trailer now, next year I might have to put him on a trail-a-bike which poses problems for when Princess comes along. A bike, trail-a-bike, and trailer is a long combination.... might have to talk the Mrs. into riding along more often.
Happy Thanksgiving and may it be filled with family and friends, the things that really matter.
My Norco cross bike had a flat tire. After swapping tubes I realized that I bought a bad batch. Damn. I had no more tubes, a flat, and Little Bric was itching to go to Port Dover. I said to hell with it and hooked the trailer up to the fat bike and pumped the tires up a bit from trail pressures.
We set out through the Friendship Festival happening in town, go lots of stares and pointing at the size of my rubber. I guess this bike is built to impress.
Huge tires and rolling resistance aside, the Nashbar is a pretty comfortable rail trail rider. The upright position (compared to the Norco) and the big tires mean cruising comfort.
Once in Dover we rode to the pier and took a break, then set out and rode along the beach for a distance before cutting through town and back to Simcoe via the Lynn Valley Trail.
It was a fun ride, the fat bike hauling a 50lbs dead weight is one hell of a workout though. Maybe I'll get myself a few tubes for the Norco before the next ride out, on the other hand though I might have schwarzenegger-esque calves if I keep using the fat bike for this ride.
It was big. I got tired. Started in Simcoe on my CCX with the trailer and little Bric in tow. The plan was to ride into Dundas to my sister-in-law's house for a pool party / BBQ with Little Bric riding along the entire way. Looked easy enough to link together a loop using all the rail trails from Norfolk / Brant / Hamilton.
We started out in Simcoe along the Lynn Valley Trail, heading north out of town and hitting the Sunrise Trail at the Lion's Park. The Sunrise Trail is short and turns into the Waterford Heritage Trail.
We rode over the Black Bridge in Waterford and continued north. After some saddle time we reached the boarder of Brant County where the trail turns from gravel into pavement. Nice touch Brant County!
We reached Mount Pleasant and Little Bric needed to stretch his legs. We found a park just off the trail and he spent some time playing while I massaged my legs. I was running out of fluids already, we need to find a store soon and get a drink or two.
We rolled into Brantford and I ran out of water. We crossed the bridge over the Grand River and found a gas station with a store. I got a juice for Little Bric and lots of water for myself to get me to Dundas. A quick run through the city along the pathways and we were on our way, riding the Brantford - Hamilton rail trail.
Somewhere between Brantford and Hamilton it started falling apart. I was getting exhausted from the effort of pulling a 50lbs dead weight on wheels behind me on gravel and the beating sun on me. Stops to stretch my legs were getting more and more frequent. I finally had to call Mrs. Bric for a rescue boat at Copetown Road. We were within 10km of our destination but I could no longer go on. Mrs. Bric picked us up and drove us the 10 min to her sisters place. I was disappointed in myself, I didn't finish the trip and the pictures to document it got missed as I was having some brain fade. In the end though, Little Bric had a great time, it was a huge ride for him. We rode 64km in total. Maybe next time we will make the entire distance. Until then, more riding to Dover with Little Bric to build my legs up and harden up my butt.
Good weather conditions this morning. Took "Little Bric" out for a ride along the Simcoe - Delhi Rail Trail.
We tried our best to break our 1000km season milage today but ended up around 980km this year (so far), pulling Little Bric. Not bad for pulling a 2 year old the entire way in a trailer, and good on him for slugging it out with dad. If we get another good weather day we might just break that 1000km cap, but next week is November and its getting a little cool on the wee-man in the trailer. Might be more solo rides from here on out. I've managed to get alot of riding in on my own this year too, and all things considered its been a decent year for riding thus far.
Little Bric takes a cat nap.
The haulin' rig. My Norco CCX cross/ commuter/ do-it-all bike and the excellent Chariot Cougar2 trailer. This outfit has seen ALOT of use this year.
The Bric...._ mountain biker, road rider, heavyweight gear abuser. Built like a brick sh*thouse. No bike is safe.