Author Topic: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.  (Read 23034 times)


former player

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #301 on: September 02, 2018, 04:59:12 AM »
Awesome.  Congratulations to both of you.

pbkmaine

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #302 on: September 02, 2018, 08:48:57 AM »
Lovely!

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #303 on: September 02, 2018, 09:05:52 AM »
Thanks for the links, Pizzabrewer. So exciting. The articles make me so teary.

Dee

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #304 on: September 02, 2018, 06:42:20 PM »
Yes, great links. So wonderful  to see the grand finale on the monster wheel.

Prairie Gal

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #305 on: September 02, 2018, 08:59:04 PM »
Way to go James & Prospector!

Frugal Lizard

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #306 on: September 03, 2018, 06:02:10 AM »
Thanks for the links, Pizzabrewer. So exciting. The articles make me so teary.
  Me too.

wordnerd

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #307 on: September 03, 2018, 11:24:12 AM »
Thanks for the links, Pizzabrewer. So exciting. The articles make me so teary.
  Me too.

Me three.

Way to go, James and Dad!

Le Poisson

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #308 on: September 03, 2018, 09:17:55 PM »
Thansk for posting those links PizzaBrewer... but there's another one.

https://www.insideedition.com/father-son-duo-bikes-canada-coney-island-support-autism-organizations-46456 - this one has nearly a million views on its Youtube version. Not bad.

oldladystache

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #309 on: September 03, 2018, 09:25:50 PM »
Quote
Not bad.

Not bad at all. How much did you finally raise?

Le Poisson

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #310 on: September 03, 2018, 09:41:30 PM »
Quote
Not bad.

Not bad at all. How much did you finally raise?

We're still a few thousand short of our goal money, but we're hoping that some of the "After" press will help boost us.

GT

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #311 on: September 04, 2018, 04:09:50 AM »
Thansk for posting those links PizzaBrewer... but there's another one.

https://www.insideedition.com/father-son-duo-bikes-canada-coney-island-support-autism-organizations-46456 - this one has nearly a million views on its Youtube version. Not bad.

The need to send the revenue that clip makes on Youtube to you guys.

andy85

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #312 on: September 04, 2018, 08:48:41 AM »
Awesome news coverage!! Congrats to your entire family on being so great! The publicity is well deserved.

Le Poisson

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #313 on: September 05, 2018, 10:46:40 AM »
If anyone following this thread works for a large mass media outlet, could you reach back to me through a PM? I've done enough interviews and shoots to have a handle on thigs, but I just got a request that's a little different by someone who resells content and I'm not sure what to do with it.

If you have related industry experience and can offer some guidance, please reach back quickly and I'll share details.

Thanks.

pbkmaine

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #314 on: September 05, 2018, 11:55:15 AM »
If anyone following this thread works for a large mass media outlet, could you reach back to me through a PM? I've done enough interviews and shoots to have a handle on thigs, but I just got a request that's a little different by someone who resells content and I'm not sure what to do with it.

If you have related industry experience and can offer some guidance, please reach back quickly and I'll share details.

Thanks.

You also might want to check with monstermonster.

Le Poisson

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #315 on: October 17, 2018, 01:23:37 PM »
It occurred to me yesterday that I never shared the full story of our ride with the folks here who supported us so much.

Going from memory, here is what things looked like... If you find the storytelling boring or lacking in detail, let me know and I'll add dragons. Dragons make things more exciting. FYI, I'm mostly relying on pics from twitter here, but if I have others at home I'll add them in later.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Day 1 tracklog here.

\We left home on Aug 18th at about 07h30, aiming to be at the Town Pier  for 8:00. Its a short 10 km ride down to the pier, so we figured we could easily do it in a half hour. Momma and J2 hopped in our family van and drove down to meet us there. When we arrived, there were a number of local dignitaries and some representatives of Grandview kids to see us off. The crowd also included a handful of Cycle TO folks who wanted to ride with us into the city, some old friends, and some kids from Cadets where I used to be a volunteer, and some scouts and scouters. The rag-tag crowd of riders was perfect - this is who cycling is. The folks at Cycle TO had put together a FB promo for us, encouraging their cyclists to meet us through the day, and although we were aware and excited, James and I expected a little uptake, but not a lot. The schedule they posted set a pace for us that proved to be the biggest challenge of the trip going forward (more later)


(Click image for full size)

Grandview talked a little bit about their goals and how much fundraisers like ours meant to them, and then we shared the Starfish story, talked about what lay ahead, and said goodbye to everyone. We hopped on our bikes, and Mom got hers out of the van to ride along for the first few km. <Departure video>

We rode around the harbour - familiar ground to James and I, and our group of about a dozen friends followed. The chain of riders was great, and we had fun chatting and sharing stories. Once we were past the first neighbourhood, Mom and the smallest scout turned back, and James and I were on our own with our crowd of friends. We rode along the Lake Ontario waterfront headed toward Toronto, stopping briefly in the towns we came through, sharing the local history with our entourage, and talking about the importance of the places. We also stopped to play at a few playgrounds, like the ones at Ajax Rotary Park and at Pickering beach. 

While we were playing at Pickering, I was surprised to find my boss waiting at the trailside. She had brought her kids to the beach to play, and they were waiting for us to cheer us on. We stopped and introduced the group, her kids and James played for a bit, and then we continued along. It was nice to have support from her and her kids.

Since Pickering abuts Toronto (ok, Scarborough, but that's one of Toronto's "Boroughs") we were excited to keep going, and the folks from Cycle TO were tweeting updates constantly letting folks know we were getting close. When we reached the Rouge beach, and Rouge Canoe club, two more riders were waiting for us. And to add to our rag-tag collection of cyclists, one was on a Brompton folding bike, and the other was one of my coworkers - who had told me he would never be crazy enough to bike into Toronto - he was riding on a department store bike. We had also been joined by a firefighter riding with his mascot, Molly the firedog - an adult Dalmatian in a kids bike trailer behind him. We now had a deaf scouter in his '70s, pre-teen kids, lycra warriors, a dude in jeanshorts and t-shirt (not helmet), James and I with loaded touring bikes, and just about every other type of cyclist you could think of. The group was awesome. The only problem was - it was all guys. I wished we had some women to round out the group, but I wasn't complaining. The support was fantastic.

We followed the Waterfront Trail into the city, knowing that a few on-road sections lay ahead. For the first of these, I had read about a shortcut that went alongside a rail line, through a park, and into a neighbourhood rather than staying on-road. When we reached it, I let everyone know I was doing some exploring... and after one or two false starts we found the trail and made the shortcut avoiding a long on-road section (near here)

What I didn't realize, was that taking the shortcut would bypass one of CycleTO's waypoints - meaning we stranded riders waiting for us there - including the president of CycleTO. Oops. Well, on tour you're supposed to be flexible and enjoy the ride as it comes to you. I felt bad, but we had to continue on... so we did.

A ways further along the trail, we came to a partly closed entrance to "The Guild" - one of our escorts who had lived in the area as a child recalled cutting through the property "back in the day", and was sure he knew a way we could get through. We decided to go on another exploring mission, and after descending a very steep, loose gravel, rough hill with washouts and all sorts of gnarly ugliness, we came to a fence. A fence we could not get around. Everyone turned around and with much chiding of Dave and good hearted laughs, we made our way back up to the main road, and found the established path. Dave became the guide after that, with everyone asking him for advice at every turn, and then doublechecking and teasing him about how it was probably the wrong way... it wasn't and he was a great guide through Toronto.

Just beyond Guildwood, the waterfront trail route cuts through neighbourhoods, before climbing the Scarborough bluffs. Here it has a climb of about 150ft over about 1km. Its a big hill, and when we were first riding, it presented a major challenge, but training all summer paid off, and although it was still a good feeling reaching the top, neither James nor I were particularly winded. Some of our entourage struggled though, so we waited for them at the top, before swooping down the other side and coming out to Kingston road - a major high speed arterial that James and I normally choose to use the sidewalks on. Today though, with our pack of cyclists nearing 15 members, we took a lane and rode all the way down Kingston Road through Scarborough, right to the Toronto Hunt club, and then down into the Beaches neighbourhood. It was like being a truant schoolboy riding along a main road where normally we would be picking our way through sidestreets and neighbourhoods - and we rode with speed, descending into the Toronto beaches at around 25 km/h carrying the weak riders and being carried by the strong ones.

James was getting hungry along here, and it was close to noon, so we popped into KFC to grab lunch. While we were ording I realized I had made a terrible mistake... I had left my wallet at home. Completing a 1000 km bike tour, in which we were relying on a credit card to do our cooking was going to be mighty difficult without my wallet. I called up Momma and let her know the problem. She and J1 were nearby staking out a spot to cheer us on as we rode past, so she drove to the KFC and they cheered us there, then they drove home (45 minutes by car) and got my wallet, and told me they'd meet us at the end of the day.

Once we reached the beaches, we turned into the Balmy Beach Canoe Club, and to take a break. Here I gave James a choice - either we could keep riding, or he could play, but if he played, we would fall off the pace set by CycleTO, and we wouldn't have time to ride on the miniature trains at Toronto's Roundhouse. James opted to keep going, so we picked up a few more cyclists and then got the Martin Goodman Trail to cross Toronto.

As we headed out, a few more cyclists joined us, and then as we rode across the Beaches, folks jumped in as we passed by recognizing us from the media and facebook/Twitter posts we had put up. Our group grew and grew.

We had no trouble crossing off the miles to the Roundhouse park with our escorts, and before long we had crossed under the Gardiner Expressway, and zipped along Queens Quay. As we rode we were joined by more and more riders, with more and more of them female. Now our group was truly complete - the Toronto crowd had every gender, ethnicity, and ability level. One of the riders who jumped in was a special ed teacher in from DT toronto who James really gravitated to. The two of them chatted away at the front of the group as the rest of us followed along. We were also joined by the president of Ontario by bike, by a GO Transit special constable, and by piles of other cyclists. As went people would join and leave our group and it truly became a living organism growing and shrinking and changing shape and identity as we rode.

When we reached the Roundhouse, James and I ran to catch the mini train while a few of our group ran into Steam Whistle Brewery to see if we could get a table with everyone together.
The train ride had eluded us all summer - every other time we had rode this trail the train was closed for repairs, or because of weather, or because we had arrived at closing time. In fact we had seen the train in the process of being garaged at least twice - but never been able to ride it. So tantalizing, but no reward. This time, James finally got his ride on the train...



When the Roundhouse heard who we were, they gave a round of beers to all the riders - and a pop and pretzle to James. After the refreshments, we started to see an attrition of all the east-end riders. Many took a quick ride over to Union Station to hop a GO Train home, but a few riders stayed with us - and a few new folks joined in as we continued west toward Mississauga.

Our group now was small, but excited - we were getting closer to our goal of ending at the Clarkson GO station, and we had food in our bellies. We were set to go!

We rejoined the Martin Goodman Trail, and rode across the bottom of Toronto. When we reached the Caledonia (a tall ship parked on the Toronto Waterfront) we met a family who joined up, and then as we crossed the Humber Bridge, we found a whole crowd of west-end cyclists waiting for us - the group began to grow again. We stopped for a quick nosh break at the Toronto Butterfly Garden, and then headed off, aimed at Mississauga. By now the president of CycleTO had found us, and he rode as far as Prince of Wales Park.

Our group had a lot of fun through all of the west side of Toronto, finally arriving at Marie Curtis Park close to on time, but feeling much tired than we had in the morning. It was a hot day, and James knew there was a splashpad in the park. He ditched his bike and went running through the water, thoroughly soaking himself. At the park, we were met by Mississauga Cycling who came out with (not exaggerating) 30 cyclists to join our ride. While we were at the park, Dave (not the getting lost Dave, another one) who had been riding with us since the start of the day confessed to me that he had at least two broken spokes in his rear whell, and that he was getting worried about continuing to ride.

After playing in the splashpad, James and I rode off with all the other cyclists following us. We zipped along through Mississauga, but James was clearly losing steam. When we spotted a Dairy Queen, I diverted the ride and we got ice cream. While we were eating, Dave let me know he had lost another 2 spokes, and his wheel felt like it was going to collapse. I offered that I could call Momma since she was nearby with my wallet, and maybe she could take him and his bike to safety. Another cyclist chimed in that they knew a wheelbuilder nearby who could lend a hand. Another suggested a friend. Dave decided to go visit the bike shop while we continued on, and he would meet us at the end of the day.

After our ice cream, James and I, along with our entourage rode off to find Clarkson GO. At a point about 2 blocks from the GO station, there was a disagreement between the guides from Mississauga and half of the group took one route to the station while half took another. We all met back at teh GO station without any incident.  According to the twitter tweets, we arrived sometime around 3:30 PM, said goodbye to our friends, and then rode with one of the guides to the home of our host family. Our hosts were coworkers of "Dave with the broken spokes" and when we arrived, Dave was already there - looking somewhat forlorn.

The bike shop had told him that his wheel was unrepairable, and that he should buy a new wheel - they could build him one or order one, but either way he wouldn't get a new wheel until our ride was over. Dave had wanted to keep riding to Niagara Falls with us. He was truly and honestly bummed out. Momma had his bike loaded into our van and was trying to make him feel better, but it wasn't hard to see how disappointed Dave was.

Our host spoke up after a while and asked what a bike for a ride like this needed to be, and we explained that any bike could make the trip. He suggested Dave take a look at the bike in the garage - he had bought it intended to ride to work, but had never used it. The bike had been sitting for over a year - he wasn't even sure how to change gears on it. I piped up that with the tools we had on hand, we could transfer all of Dave's lights and racks etc. to the other frame. Dave took the bike for a ride. It was a good match. We swapped out the seat and racks and other bits to match Dave's setup and he had a bike for day 2.

After that things looked a lot brighter and everyone enjoyed a great visit, talking about what lay ahead, and how the ride was going. Momma left after dinner, and James and I camped out in the backyard. One day and 107 km down, we settled in for a quiet night of backyard camping.
« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 08:09:10 AM by Prospector »

Apples

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #316 on: October 18, 2018, 07:19:48 AM »
Thank you so much for sharing this with us, I'm so happy to get to read about your adventures.

Le Poisson

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #317 on: October 18, 2018, 09:44:50 AM »
Day 2 tracklog here.

James and I were up early, and tried to be quiet, but our hosts were up ahead of us, cooking up bacon, pancakes, making fruit plates, gourmet coffees, and generally putting on a massive spread. After all the food the night before, we were already full but the extra calories didn't hurt. We ate quickly - but not quick enough, packed up the tent still wet with dew, and then hit the trail. We were late onto the trail and needed to make time up. Dave of the broken spoke (DOTBS) got our host's bike and was ready to ride with us. Our host hopped on his wife's bike - his first ride in ages and rode with us as far as the edge of Mississauga.



Our first matter of business was to retrace our steps to the Clarkson GO station to make sure that any joiners would be able to find us, so we went out of our way a couple KM to check in - no one was there, but we loitered until the next train arrived anyhow, just to be sure. More lost time - problematic since our schedule was already kaked and we weren't even on the trail (a pattern emerging early that I ought to have gotten under control).

I hadn't turned on our tracker since our hosts had asked for some anonymity, and we wanted the track to appear to bee continuous from the GO station. Then the wait, then post-coffee-hafta-pee set in. Sadly the Clarkson GO is under construction and we couldn't find a bathroom. We set off down Southdown Road aimed for the Waterfront trail... and searching for a restroom. A ways down the road we found a fruit stand that was opened early. James bought some peaches and plums and tucked them into his handlebar bag, and I found the bathroom. After the fruit stand, I remembered to turnon the GPS... oops.

Near Lake Ontario, we connected with the Waterfront Trail where it leaves Southdown Road. Here the trail winds through a park, and as we entered the park, there was construction paper on the trail weighed down with pebbles. The paper had notes on it with messages about fun times ahead and encouraging words for James. As we went there were more notes and James was excited to have a treasure hunt. before long, @ElleFiji was spotted on the trail along with her love-interest and her Dad. They cheered as we came into the park, and then played on the great equipment there for a few minutes.



After the park, we rode on to Lakeshore Road where the trail ended and we found ourselves sharing the road with morning traffic as we went through Oakville. The beauty of our trip though was that even though it was a major road we had to ride, early on a Sunday morning, there was more MAMIL traffic than cars, so we only had bikes buzzing past us. A few recognized who we were and waved, most were ambivalent. Riding through Oakville was mostly meh. We sped along at about 20 kph on the mostly flat roads past rich people's houses.

As the day wore on, we neared a park that looked like a good rest stop, so we started watching for opportunities to cross the road into the park. Coming the other way, we spotted some familiar faces. Uncle Charles, Aunt Sue, and some cousins had come to ride with us. We were excited for the new company, but they were riding the other way, on the opposite side of the road looking for us. James and I flagged them down, and we all rendezvoused at the park ahead. While we played, a family with a disabled child came by and asked if we were RideJamesRide and if they could get photos with us. We talked for a while about autism and their child's struggles, and then rode off with Aunt Sue and Uncle Charles.

Aunt Sue and Uncle Charles were not accomplished cyclists. They were uncomfortable in the bike lanes and were slow and deliberate in their riding. I was glad they were keeping safe, but our schedule was already behind, and now it was getting behinder. We waited under a shady tree for them to catch up, and then tried to explain how glad we were that they had come out to support us, but that we needed to be in Hamilton on time since riders were waiting for us there. They understood and congratulated us on doing so well, then encouraged us to go our own speed... so we did, riding back at our normal pace of about 20 km/h.

We passed out of Oakville and into Burlington, where our ride continued along the Lakeshore Road bike lanes, eventually leading to a point where the waterfront trail (really its a route at this point) split two ways - either to continue into Hamilton and the Royal Bottanical Gardens, or to wrap around Hamilton Harbour on a causeway aimed at the Niagara Region. With a 50-50 chance of getting things right, we went the wrong way.

This added a few km to our route, so it wasn't a big deal, but they were uncomfortable km on a busy road, when we should have been on a nice trail... and the schedule dammit - the schedule!

We doubled back, found the trail, and got on it, headed for the Hamilton Harbour lift bridge. At teh lift bridge the trail is a little confusing, but we sorted it out without issue. Here you get up onto the bridge using a wheel trough on a set of stairs. It was no easy feat pushing loaded touring bikes up those stairs - and I'd hate try and take a non-traditional bike (a trike or a recumbent) up there - in any case, after hauling the three bikes up, we walked the bridge without incident. On the other side, we repeated the staircase but this time downhill, holding the bikes against gravity (with much braking) as we trudged down the steps. Crossing the bridge was an event. It meant we had crossed out of the hold of the Greater Toronto Area, and entered Niagara. Now we were on a real trail, and beside us were sand beaches filled with holiday-makers. I started watching intently for "Sharp Guy" a twitter fiend who sharpshooted first comment on many of our posts and sounded like a die-hard cycling advocate.

We found him eventually - but he was not at all what we were expecting. At heart he was a nice guy - but his workboots and jean-jacket, nicotine stained fingers, and (to steal a word from Dickens) capaciousness gave evidence that he might not be so very hard core. What he lacked in capability though, he made up for in generousity. Sharp guy waited for us despite our lateness, and he had gifts for James - buttons to add to his handlebar bag, and stickers and trinkets we could easily carry - he was thoughtful.

James however was getting tired, and my insistence on maintaining the schedule was wearing on him. I decided that we should take a perk-up break soon to keep him from losing his edge, so I asked Sharp Guy for the location of the nearest ice cream stop. Sharp Guy volunteered to lead to a place right on the trail... which he did... at about 12 km/h. DOTBS and I were exchanging looks. We tried leading ahead. We tried having James lead ahead. No matter what we did, Sharp Guy plodded along at the same speed in the same gear. I was trying to let go of the schedule, but I also knew that further down the trail we had other folks waiting for us. We needed this guy to get some kick going.

Eventually we found the ice cream shop, and got our treats. James' ice cream immediately fell into the beach sand outside, resulting in many tears. Things were starting to really fall apart. I took the sand-covered ball of ice cream inside and got a replacement. We ate our treats. DOTBS and I plotted an escape. Sharp Guy shared his stories.  Eventually we just got on the bikes and started riding.


(James eating Ice Cream, Sharp Guy behind him, DOTBS under tree in BG)

If I had of known how uncomfortable the next leg of our day was going to be, I might have charted a different route. Sharp guy rode alongside us for about an hour or so, and we found ourselves riding on the South Service Road alongside the QEW - the major freeway between Niagara Falls and Toronto. I had been warned by the Waterfront Trail folks that this was a tough piece of the route, but had shrugged it off (how bad can it be?) it turned out to be about the worst piece of riding in the whole trip.

As the day warmed, a headwind built. Cars on the QEW were snarled as always and we got to hear horns and listen to engines. When they weren't stopped they whizzed by at 130 km/h close enough that we felt their draught. On the service road immediately beside us were cars trying to best the travel times on the QEW - many of them feet away travelling at 100km/h.

Eventually DOTBS asked me to keep an eye out for a spot to take a pee break, and we spotted a Costco on the opposite side of the freeway. We stopped in for hotdogs and bathrooms. While I stood there a pile of folks came up and asked what we were doing, where we were headed, and a few mentioned seeing us on the news. The acknowledgement was nice.

After the break, we got back on the bikes and rode a gruelling few hours in the heat and wind. DOTBS was losing his mojo, James wasn't talking. I was unhappy but trying to keep up a good face. It was flat and harmless riding, but the environment was so uninviting that what could have a beautiful ride along the lakeshore was instead a slog through a concrete wasteland. We were surrounded by wineries and grape vines grew in rows right down to the water. All we saw though was traffic, noise walls, and concrete. And it went on, and on, and on.

As we rode, I started getting messages from the Niagara Freewheelers cycling club asking for our location and our ETA to Charles Daly park. I shared our location with them, and let DOTBS and James know that riders were waiting ahead... we can look forward to some company! The world is great! The slog will soon end! (No effect).

Eventually we came to Jordan Harbour where we saw the famous pirate ship. Then we found the entrance to the park. Somewhere nearby was deliverance. I started texting furiously while James played and DOTBS wandered. The freewheelers were waiting for us at the next intersection. They had 4 riders to escort us to our camp for the night. They refused to ride on the South Service road - it was the worst riding around. (As if we didn't know!)



We left the park, and sure enough at the next corner were a handful of riders - 2 women and 2 men, waiting to escort us the rest of the way to our destination.

The ride from the park to the scout camp where we spent the night was fantastic. Our escort rode this route regularly, and they knew the roads well - right down to where teh potholes to avoid were. Plus having their wheels to draught made a big difference. We rode along at 18 km/h, and enjoyed the scenery away from the busy traffic of the QEW and with only the odd farm vehicle to disturb us. This part of Niagara was really flat, so we focussed on the fruit trees and houses and gardens - and before you knew it we were pulling into the scout camp... which was decidedly not flat.

Wetaskiwin Scout Camp is built on floodplain in the bottom of a ravine that can't have permanent dwellings. The road down into the camp is loose gravel, and control on it is... variable. Our escorts warned us that we might want to walk down it. Two of them loaded their bikes into cars to drive down. We opted to ride in along with our two other escorts. It was great fun swooping down the hill, a welcome reward after a tough day. The gravel rolled everywhere as we went, and we may have skidded once or twice, but no one wiped out. At the bottom of the hill we found some scouters waiting for us. We were late - but still in time for dinner.

A bunch of kids ran and played on the property, organized mayhem as parents and leaders tried to corral them. James joined in and finally got to be a kid after two days of pictures and hurrying up and schedules and grown-ups.

A load of laundry was put on. James went swimming in the pool. We cleaned up, and then had a BBQ with hamburgers and sausages and all manner of junk food before settling into our cabin for the night.

The cabin we had is worthy of mention. It was once the camp caretaker's summer home. A simple 2-room shack. The three of us would share it for the night. We were warned to be careful about where we stepped... and sure enough the floor was covered in old highway signs. Lifting the signs showed holes where the floor had rotten through. The walls were covered in outdoor gear - skis, snowshoes, fishing poles and baskets, old lanterns, trail markers and so on. The place was fantastic. On the door frame was a plaque to memorialize a scouter who had camped there on his first night of through-hiking the Bruce Trail as a charity walk for kids.



At dinner, the camp leaders called everyone to order for an announcement, and then presented James with a plaque - it matched the one already on the door of the cabin. This one talked about how RideJamesRide had stayed here on night two of his historic ride to Coney Island, and we went straightaway to mount it on the door frame next to the plaque for the Bruce trail thru-hiker. We felt special. Then it was a campfire, and finally, off to bed.



Total distance travelled: 205.1 km
Distance travelled today: 99.3 km. Felt like a billion. Never slept so well.

« Last Edit: October 18, 2018, 11:11:35 AM by Prospector »

LifeHappens

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #318 on: October 18, 2018, 10:50:18 AM »
You are a great storyteller. I'm really enjoying the tale of your ride.

joonifloofeefloo

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #319 on: October 18, 2018, 10:53:50 AM »
+1. I had quite the emotional and psychological journey through that post!

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #320 on: October 18, 2018, 11:03:03 AM »
You are a great storyteller. I'm really enjoying the tale of your ride.

+1. Although I almost wish he wrote this up with a man cold.

Great story so far. Eagerly awaiting the next installment.

Le Poisson

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #321 on: October 18, 2018, 09:51:31 PM »
Day 3: Prologue

In the days before we headed out on this adventure, our day 3 host family left us a message that he had found a new job after a long bout of unemployment, and was going to be out of town when we got to Medina. Since he couldn't offer us a place to stay any more, he had arranged for us to stay at a Lama Farm/B-N-B someplace else in town.

Two days before our trip we called teh lama farm to confirm plans and let them know what to expect. The farm didn't know what we were talking about, but offered us a room at a reasonable rate, and breakfast would cost extra. They didn't do dinner.

About this time we started getting emails from a town staff saying they had heard we were out of luck on staying with their friend, but they wanted to take us out for dinner, and they would try to find room for us if they didn't hear anything.

The night before we left home, we were at a sendoff party, and mentioned what a mess Medina had become. One of the clients (a 20 yr old, wheelchairbound with limited mobility in all her limbs) told us not to worry about it, she would take care of us. I hid my skepticism. Poorly.

So, starting out on Day 3, we had no clue where we were ending the day, or even if we'd have a place. I figured that the worst case was we'd pitch a tent  on the side of the trail someplace and rough camp. Best case was we'd have a backyard.  </Prologue>

Day 3 Triplog

Waking up to an empty scout camp was strange. The night before, this space had been filled with people shouting and running, but now it was Monday, the world was at home or at work, and we were the truants, out playing on a workday. We packed up our things, went over the day ahead, and got on the road on time for the first time in the whole trip. Here's our departure tweet.

Today we would cross the border into the USA, we'd find the Erie canal Tow Path and begin riding it, and we'd have to figure out our nighttime accommodations on the fly. We had much to look forward to - and much uncertainty. A screw-up at the border could send us into a tailspin, and while not knowing where we were sleeping could be an issue, a bigger problem could be slighting the mayor if he showed up at the wrong place looking for us. First we had the hill to face though...

Flying down the hill into camp the day before had been exhilarating, but now facing it first thing in the morning - before breakfast even, since we lacked the foresight to set aside food the night before - was not something we were looking forward to. DOTBS was particularly unhappy about setting out without food - he's a big guy who monitors his nutrition closely with his exercise regime, and apparently working out without feeding the machine means a loss in muscle mass...  or something. I forget. I also don't work out and rarely eat breakfast.

We began cranking our way up the hill, and found that it was easier than we had expected. In fact we emerged at the top with a sort of "That's it?" moment before heading off toward Niagara Falls. We were on some pretty narrow roads twisting along the "short Hills" next to the aptly named "Short Hills Provincial Park" and enjoying the views and early morning temperatures when my phone started ringing. I pulled off the road in the next driveway and called back the number expecting a Niagara Falls reporter or similer. Instead I got a person talking to me as if they knew me... while I didn't know them. The message was really short. They saw our GPS tracker moving, and wanted to let us know everything was taken care of. Camp at the Medina Methodist Church. Click. Hummmmm.

I looked at Dave and shrugged. Everything is taken care of I guess. We're camping at the Methodist church.

As we started cranking away at the pedals again, I tried to think how food would work, and if I should call back the other woman who was eager to feed us - maybe she'd be willing to arrange dinner. No worries, we'd just get there and figure things out. For now we needed to find breakfast.


We rode around the Short Hills, screaming down the steep descents at 40 and 45 km/h, setting new record speeds with each one, and grinding our way up the next rise. It was some tough riding, but not terrible, and once we were past teh ravine and river drainage, things leveled out again with the grape vines reappearing. We were really hungry, but there had been no sign of life on the road at all. Unless you count one landscaping crew burning brush along a ditchline, or the cars that passed us 2-3 at a time heading into Niagara Falls to work.

Eventually we crossed over hwy 406 - the freeway that leads to Buffalo, and teh Welland Canal, and I knew we were getting close to Niagara Falls. But the guys didn't care.

DOTBS was becoming increasingly hungry. Before long James started chiming in as well about breakfast. I diverted from our planned route to take us past a gas station with a Subway attached. Maybe a breakfast sub would be OK. It wasn't. But James and I stopped in the gas station to see what we could find in the corner store. James found gummy worms. He bought a container of them to fill his top-tube bar. I found a coffee. But no cream... and it was too hot to drink. I had a few sips, and then in the interest of keeping on time dumped the rest of it and rode off.



The ride into Niagara Falls along MacLeod Rd had us alongside some busy traffic, but we didn't care too much. We were too focused on finding breakfast. Up ahead we saw the Golden Arches, and DOTBS decided that was where he was heading. He rode like the wind, and with James went inside to find breakfast while I stood watch over the bikes outside again. I'm pretty sure that by this stage, DOTBS didn't care what he ate, he just wanted calories.


As DOTBS and James ate breakfast, a couple came by and shyly asked questions about us. Apparently they too had heard of us on the news, and they were excited to see us here on our way. The wife kept elbowing the husband as they spoke, and they were the cutest couple ever. They went to their car to leave, and then the husband came back and handed me $40 - he was embarassed and explained that sometime he didn't know why his wife nudged him. He hoped we had a great trip.

Once we were on our own, James asked if we could go to Marineland or Great Wolf Lodge, and I had to say no - we were going right past them, but we just didn't have time to go to the amusement parks. Some time we'd Come back with Momma and J2 for those things. James was crestfallen. We left McDonalds with a pretty glum chum.

It wasn't long after McDonalds that we rode into the Niagara Falls Tourist centre. We went past the "skid Row" of old restauarants and gift shops and past the Ricoh Tower and FallsView Casino, and then, we came to Clifton Hill. Here the lights and sounds of the Hill caught James' attention. He wanted to do all the things. He wanted to buy all teh stuff. He wanted to just stop the whole ride here and not get back on his bike. It took some explaining to tell him that this looked like fun, but we had to keep going, and we were going to come back with Mom and Joe so we'd do all this stuff then. We got a picture, and the poor kid rode down the hill past all the distractions. I felt like a schmo.



At the bottom of the hill we came to the falls. We needed to get a pic of the FROG bike with the falls in the background and James wearing his FROG gear. We tried. It went poorly. No matter what we did, it got worse. Eventually we gave up and just posted up the best of the worst photos. Frog never complained, so I guess that's a win. The pics got a lot of likes, but you can see that James really isn't happy.

From the lookout, we rode back up Clifton Hill (worst Dad ever) and toward the Duty Free shop and bridge to the USA. I had been looking forward to crossing on the Rainbow bridge, but in just the days before our trip I learned that bikes had to use the car lanes to cross the bridge. I was a little worried about it. I had also learned that the best photos of the falls could be had in the duty free parking lot. We stopped in the duty free lot and tried once more to get a good picture of James and the bike. here he liked the novelty of sitting on the ledge, and was a little better about the pics. His smile is still pretty forced though. Ugh. So much for the glamour shots with the bike.



Once the pics were done, we said goodbye to DOTBS - he wasn't continuing on in the USA with us - hopped on our bikes and rode out of the duty free lot, onto the rainbow bridge. According to our tracklog it was at about 10:37 that we left Canada. we'd been on the road for 3 hours.

Our trip across the bridge into the USA would have been without incident, except that I asked James to stop for a minute so I could try a photo on the bridge. As we took the pic, a car came across and was upset that we delayed him, and decided to sit on the horn. I wasn't sure why he would care about the delay since we were heading into the customs queues where we'd all be sitting anyways. We snapped the photo quickly and got out of there.

According to the GPS, we were in the customs queue for about 10 minutes. As we crept along behind the cars, a motorcycle was beside us. These guys were heading home to Indiana after a tour of Ontario and Quebec. We shared stories and wished each other well as we inched forward in the queue, and then, just like that, James and I were next in line for customs.

Of all the things that could go wrong in this trip, this was the one that scared me most. First, I wasn't sure whether James and I could go through together, or if we would need to be processed individually. Second, I wasn't sure how we would be treated since we were fundraising along our ride. Finally, with recent news stories, I had some irrational fears that James would be detained someplace while I was freed to go - or vice versa - and either way, without each other things would go really bad really fast - James doesn't always behave as one might expect, and on his own in a detention room, things could get tough.

We rolled up to the customs window and I handed over our itinerary (complete with host families and media contacts), passports, and notarized letter to travel alone with my son.

The guard read it over and asked where we were going. "Coney Island"
"New York City?"
"That's the one!"
"How long will that take!?!"
"We expect to arrive by labour day"
"Good luck son."

And it was over. We were in America.

We hadn't even left the customs booth when we were being waved over by Charles. He was a member of the Frontier Cycling Club, and had heard of us through a friend. he was here now to ride with us through Niagara Falls and over to the Erie Canal... let's go!



We rolled out into Niagara Falls roads and started away, james still gnawing on gummy worms, and Charles leading us along. James asked if there were any playgrounds nearby, and Charles said he thought he had seen one. A few blocks later we stopped at a playground and let James go. He ran and played and did kid stuff until he'd had enough, and then we rode some more.

I felt bad making Charles keep on stopping but I had to get a cheap charge on my credit card to activate our US travel insurance, so we pulled in to a dollar store and bought... something. I forget what. Then James wanted ice cream, so we stopped by a KFC to get some soft-serve. We learned that in teh USA, KFC doesn't have softserve, so poor James struck out again and didn't get his Ice cream ball.

We kept on riding though, and eventually we came to the edge of town. Across the road I could see a handful of folks pointing at us and riding through parking lots. We came to busy, 6-leg intersection and rode across, and when we got to the opposite side the riders met us. Apparently they too were part of Charles' club, and had been watching our progress and waiting to ride with us. We were now a pack of 6. And these Moms had brought their son to ride along.

Pretty soon we had a good pace going with the Moms leading the ride, James and the son in the middle, and Charles and I bringing up the rear of our little pack. The lot of us whizzed through what remained of Niagara Falls, and James and his new friend chatted (and shared gummy worms) all the way to Lockport.

With a friend to talk to, all of James' disappointments from earlier in the day melted away, and he chatted away cheerily about everything and nothing. Topics ranged from Minecraft to bikes to all his expertise on the things we had seen on the trip. The two boys had loads of fun.

Once we arrived at Lockport, we stopped at Lake Effect Ice Cream, and there the Mom bought everyone a treat. This place had an assortment of every kind of ice cream - and every combination - imaginable. I think I got a coconut milkshake. I forget what James got. He was feeling pretty good about it.

As we ate, I got a message on my phone that we had been spotted in Lockport, and not to go anywhere, they were coming to us. Getting these messages can be disconcerting, but also exciting. sometimes the media has gotten your number, but also with how public the ride was, it could be a "fan" or a weirdo. You never know. We finished our ice cream and then wasted a little time. When no one showed up, I suggested that James and I should head over to the canal museum, and the moms and the son headed away to the rest of their day.

We went to the museum, where we were surprised that the staff didn't know we were coming (we had been tweeting them incessantly for weeks) and James loved playing with the displays and pushing buttons. Here he actually insisted that I take pictures of him - which I did. When we were done, we returned to Charles who was resting outside waiting for us.

We were surprised to find Charles wasn't alone when we got outside. Instead he was surrounded by a family - two parents and two kids - both the kids in wheelchairs... one of them very familiar.

Without an introduction the father set in and explained that everything was taken care of and we shouldn't worry about anything. They would meet us up there and if there was anything we needed to just let them know and it would be OK. The Mom kept interrupting with details and facts as though it was helpful but everything was lost on me until two words were mentioned... Methodist Church. This family was who had called me in the morning. They had set up a camp for us at the Methodist Church. The daughter wasn't their daughter. She was the girl from the sendoff party. Somehow she was here in Lockport NY, in her chair, and had arranged for these people to set up camp for us. You could have knocked me over with a feather.

We said goodbyes - after the family made sure we wrote down the address of teh methodist church and looked it up on Google Maps, and explained how to get there - and then got back on our bikes to ride the rest of the way, with Charles still escorting us.

We rode from Lockport along the trail. Its gravel was a big change from teh smooth asphalt we'd had through Niagara - we hadn't been on a proper trail since riding with Sharp Guy back in Hamilton. It gave resistance and we had to work harder on it. It was late in the day and our speed dropped by a few km/h, but we still felt pretty good. The lift of a good friend and some ice cream went a long way. We rode past our first canal towns - Gasport and Middleport and I commented on how pretty they were. I wished I had time to stop and poke around their downtowns. Oh well. We'd have to come back some time with Momma and J2.

 Still though it was getting late as we rolled in to Medina and made our way past the town hall, past the Lama farm, and up to the Methodist Church to find our camp. It was no camp at all.

There in the church parking lot, parked under a big tree and next to a gazebo was a 40' Class A RV with three slide-outs. Under an awning a carpet was laid out and chairs were in a circle. On them sat our friends from the museum, and from inside we could smell pizza and wings. The whole of the thing was decorated with cards and posters drawn up by schoolkids - apparently our Grandview friend had a sister who taught a grade 2 class, and she had encouraged them all to draw up cards and posters for James.

I was blown away.

Charles had a slice of pizza and some wings, then hopped back on his bike - he was riding back to Lockport where his car was. I gave him our Waterfront Trail guide to thank him for riding with us. The family disappeared. Then a car pulled up, and a lady asked how she could help us out - she had wanted to take us for dinner, but she heard from the pizza shop that we'd already eaten. What else could she do for us? I asked if she'd mind doing a load of laundry, and she happily disappeared with our clothes.

James and I melted into the leather seats of the RV. He put a movie into the TV in his bunk and laid there with candy and cookies he'd found in the cupboards. I had a cold beer and pizza. Sometimes when you let providence provide, it provides really well.
« Last Edit: October 19, 2018, 09:10:40 AM by Prospector »

ElleFiji

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #322 on: October 19, 2018, 06:51:58 AM »
I'm not crying you're crying. The connections and community you meet and build on your rides is amazing.

Shinplaster

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #323 on: October 19, 2018, 10:15:05 AM »
I'm not crying you're crying. The connections and community you meet and build on your rides is amazing.

Oh yes!  Thank you for sharing your adventure with us.

Frugal Lizard

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #324 on: October 19, 2018, 06:42:55 PM »
I am loving the story.

Le Poisson

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #325 on: October 22, 2018, 06:59:14 AM »
Day 4 Tracklog - Medina NY to Rochester NY.

We awoke on time on Tuesday, and had a breakfast of all the stuff in the RV. Leftover pizza and wings, cereal with milk, candy, fruit, literally everything. Then after we were sufficiently suffonsified, we went outside to a light rain and packed the bikes. The rain looked uninviting, and I took my time, hoping it would clear.

James and I put on our rain gear, and I found a rain cover for one of the panniers. (We had 4 waterproof panniers, and 2 water-resistant ones.) Finally I decided that the rain wasn't going to get any lighter and we should just head out. We had barely turned on out lights and there was a crack of thunder, a whoosh of wind, and the rain intensified. We stacked the chairs under the awning and scurried back inside the camper to hide from the storm.

Inside the RV:


I remembered having heard of awning on RVs like this being torn off the vehicle in a storm, and I was worried about ours being damaged, but I had no idea how to retract the thing, so I just crossed my fingers that all would be well. Half an hour later the wind abated, and James and I headed out in the light drizzle.

Today was James and my first day of riding entirely alone. We knew there would be no escorts popping up in rural towns, and this was our first chance to have real Dad & kid day. I hoped it would be a fun time.

We retraced our route through Medina to the Erie Canal Towpath (ECTP). The streets were quiet this early and we had no issues at all. Once we found we got on it, and found that the crushed limestone surface when wet gave off a grey slurry that coated everything. The surface was fine for riding on - it was well packed and smooth, but the spray from it was rock dust and it acted like ultra-fine sandpaper in our chains and brakes.

The ECTP runs alongside the canal on top of dikes or on the bank in a mostly straight, flat line. It has very little in terms of hills or curves. In fact the Canal is often referred to as "The Long Level." It is not hard riding, except for the rolling resistance from the gravel. Because the path is so consistent, any departure from the gravel trail is interesting.

As the towpath came into Medina, it went up onto the canal wall. Here the trail is only a few feet wide, and there is no safety railing. To make matters worse, the concrete surface is grooved with channels to take water into the canal. A tire getting caught ion one of the grooves would have unfortunate consequences. But the town - as with all the other canal towns was pretty. These small places set back 100 years - pften with traditionally painted boats and buildings are interesting and fun to see. We rode carefully along the canal wall, and passed safely through town. Video: https://twitter.com/i/status/1031885761275080704

One of the more interesting sights in Medina (especially in a rain storm) is that here the Canal is in a bridge, and the bridge passes over a waterfall. We were able to ride over the waterfall on a bridge carrying a river. It was a strange thing indeed - especially with the waterfall at high flow as it carried off the rainwater from our morning storm. (Google Map - https://goo.gl/maps/DLMH4AxDG4y )

Outside Medina, we spotted a deer lying down in a corn field. It was a big healthy deer, and we felt lucky to have spotted her. Probably the farmer didn't fell that way though.



Along the canal, every town has a matching lift bridge. The bridges mostly serve pleasure boaters today, and they are all painted the
 same with the town name on them. In Eagle Harbour the scene was quite nice as there was a canal boat tied off beside the bridge and rain made everything look shiny. I tried to  caprture it, but I'm not that great of a photographer.



We rode past Eagle Harbour in no particular hurry, enjoying the pretty morning, and chatting about nothing and everything. The trouble with the canal though is that you ride past these towns and just get a peek into their downtown as you pass the bridges into them. I felt like Tantalus peeking into the villages but never visiting. I would have loved to stop and poke through the antique shops, walk the downtown and see what secrets were waiting to be discovered.

The next town we rode past was Albion where there is a jail, and I joked with James that we better watch for escapees - we didn't find any, but the prison did look like it was big and important over on the other side of the river. We rode past a couple of other towns. We stopped at a bike shop in Hulberton. Here the bike mechanic adjusted James' computer so it could pick up mileage properly, and we talked about how he had left a "real job" so he could explore his passion for bikes, and his wife could run a business selling her art and hemp oil products. We bought a couple coasters to take home with us, and with a working bike computer.

When we got to Holley, James said he needed a bathroom break, so we pulled off the trail into a park. James found a bathroom and I took some pictures.  There was a sign in the park for a museum, and James asked if we could visit it. Without a schedule of people to meet today I thought we could afford the time so we headed off along a trail looking for the museum. We never found it though, so we just returned to the trail and headed off toward Rochester. Holley was really quaint, as pretty as any other canal town.



The canal continued on, quiet and still as we rode alongside in the post-rain grey, all the colours of the landscape intensified against the flat sky. As we went, we passed some trail maintenance vehicles looking for downed trees from the storm, and a crew repairing a gopher hole - these holes could breach the dike, and there is a need for constant maintenance of the canal banks.

It was lunchtime as we rode into Brockport, and James and I were talking about where to eat. I suggested we could hold off until Spencerport, and had barely finished saying so, when I smelled that mixture of woodsmoke and bacon that can only mean one thing... a pig was being roasted someplace nearby. Lunch plans were immediately changed.

We rode across a bridge into Brockport, and down into town, and sure enough, just off the road there was a fellow feeding wood into an oil drum smoker in a parking lot behind some businesses. I asked him if we could buy our lunch off him, and he told me he was cooking for a restaurant a block down the road. We headed over and took a seat.

James got pizza, and I had a Cuban sandwich made with the smoked pork. It was delicious. On our bill I wrote for the restaurant to give us a shoutout on twitter, and they did - we replied with a message about how great lunch was. It really was fantastic!



Today's pace was much more relaxed a than previously, and it was much more enjoyable. We saw the Corning Glass barge, and stopped at some parks. Through the day the sky cleared and the rain dried up. The ride was really quite enjoyable.

Beyond Brockport, there were more and more houses as we approached Rochester, coming through Spencerport and Greece. We passed "Henpeck Park" which made me laugh, and then we were into Rochester proper, leaving the comfort of the trail to ride through an industrial area in Rochester. We crossed a busy, industrial road, following sharrows through a part of town that was all factories and busy-ness. Just when that was over there was huge park - with a splashpad that looked like fun, but when we pulled up to play at it there was a sign that made it very clear that this park was for residents of a certain neighbourhood.

We rode on right through downtown Rochester, and finally ended the day at our host family's house where we were welcomed by the Mom and her son - a 3 year old who was very excited to have a famous person - James - stay there.

James wasn't even off his bike and the boy had gotten under his skin. For the remainder of our stay, parents had to play referee as the boy tried to be friends with James, and James tried to escape the boy. To be fair, a 3 year old only child without social boundaires is pretty hard to take when they keep pressing for attention, but on James' side, he could have managed the situation a lot better than just telling the kid to go away.

I spent a lot of the night apologizing. James just wanted to get away. This family had such high hopes for our visit, and I felt bad that we weren't better guests.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2018, 08:55:25 AM by Prospector »

Le Poisson

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Re: 1,000 km - Toronto to Coney Island by bike with a 10 yr old.
« Reply #326 on: October 23, 2018, 07:58:34 PM »
Day 5 - No Tracklog (Rest Day)

James and I woke up in the back yard of our host family's house in Downtown Rochester to a heavy dew and the sounds of a city waking up. We had plans to visit the Strong Museum of Play and to try a "Rochester Garbage Plate". We had some chores to complete as well - we needed to get laundry done, find the "Visit Rochester" Tourism office, and to try and replace the bike light that I had given DOTBS when he had to outfit the borrowed bike. I had forgotten to take it back when we crossed into the USA, and now I felt naked riding without a tail light.

When I went downstairs to get stuff from the bikes, I snapped a pic of our mileage on the bike computer. I'm glad I did. This became a daily routine, and a way to track how far we had gone each day. We were up 379 km by now. A long way from home.



Our host family prepared us a breakfast of watermelon and pancakes and a billion other things, and then offered to escort us to the museum - since she worked there, she knew how to get in quickly and could get us free passes. It was very generous of her. James and I along with our host and her son went to the museum right when it opened, and she showed us some of the rooms her family enjoyed. We visited the fish and saw the play land with construction sites for kids to play in, and the controls of a space ship, and the Bernstein bears room... then as her son tired, she said goodbye, and left us to enjoy the space.



The Strong is unlike any other museum I have ever visited. it has hardly any "displays" - instead the place is full of scenarios and imaginary worlds for kids to play in. Looking for pirates, dragons, and giants? It has them. Looking for futuristic robots and space? It has those too. Looking for a full size store with carts and cash registers? It has that too.

The special displays when we were there were pinball and video games on loan. We went into the room, played with a sphero for bit, then got tokens and started playing video games. The games took me back to when I was kid with titles like "Streetfighter" and "Galactica" - James had a blast flitting from machine to machine, playing away. I was a little disappointed though that there was only one pinball machine. When I was a teenager, I may have pumped a lot of quarters into a certain F-14 TomCat pinball machine.

It was nearing lunchtime when another museum visitor mentioned to his kids that there were more video games upstairs. When James heard this, his ears perked up, and we went hunting for the games. Now we found the museum's permanent collection of video games that was a continuum of games through the ages with everything from old oscilloscope "pong-like" games played using dials and switches up to the most modern of arcade and console games. And in the middle of the floor was a whole room dedicated to pinball machines. We played and played and played. I didn't take too many pictures though - too busy with the flippers. I did manage one of James on the Merry-Go-round.



Before we knew it, it was late afternoon, and we had to get to the Visit Rochester centre to  make ourselves known. We dragged ourselves away from the pinball and video games, hurried through the remaining rooms of board games and toys, and aimed ourselves at the very heart of downtown Rochester.

Along the way, we found an old-school bike shop where there was all manner of cycling paraphernalia on the walls and the floor and you had to be careful where you stepped. The owner watched us poke around and when I told him what I was looking for (a certain style of tail light that is very bright - even daylight visible) he told me what he had and grabbed it off the shelf without thinking.

As we prepared to pay, another customer came in riding a brompton folding bike, and asked the owner to put up a poster about an upcoming cycling event involving a family picnic and a ride through town. I figured the guy must represent the local advocacy group and inserted myself in the conversation, sharing some of our efforts to get more folks on bikes back home. He was thrilled and surprised to hear about our ride. Before long we were talking, and he asked if it would be OK for him to round up some folks to ride out of Rochester with us the next morning. Of course we accepted the offer.

We paid for the lights, left the shop and continued toward downtown. Along the way we passed a couple police officers on bikes, and we went through a lovely open space where we later learned a freeway had been filled in and replaced with a cycletrack. Eventually we found the address for the Rochester visitor centre... but there was just a big office tower there.

A small sign directed us to the 4th floor, and it was once we were in the elevator that I realized we were in the Rochester Administrative building - possibly the town hall. When we got out of the elevator, staff were excited to meet us and they showered James with gifts - sunglasses, buttons, colouring books, and stickers. It was great meeting these guys and seeing how happy they were that we chose to visit. I got the sense that not too many folks make it up the 4th floor of that building to see the visit Rochester offices. (Watch for the sunglasses in upcoming pictures - he loved them)

Now that we were done there we needed to get back to our host family for dinner. I had decided we would take them to dinner and get the Garbage plates since they had been so good to us - and to make up for how James had acted toward their son - so i called to let them know we were on our way home. No one picked up.

My phone was down to 7% battery life.

No worries, I'd just get an Uber and then handle things once we got there. This was when I realized that the Uber app wasn't on the charity's phone that I had been using, so I tried to download it. Battery at 5%.

The app finally loaded, but it wouldn't recognize my credit card... after three attempts, I finally got it to associate my Gmail, credit card and facebook accounts - or some combination of them. Battery at 3%.

We were outside in the bright sun,. but the screen was basically black and it was hard to see to order the car so I turned up the screen, pressed the button to get a car, and the phone died. Ded.

No worries, Rochester is fairly compact and since we were right downtown, we'd probably see a taxi or something soon. James and I started walking toward our billet, watching for taxis. We've traveled enough with him and he's seen us flag down enough cars that for James this wasn't too weird. We'd just keep an eye out.

There were no taxis. We saw cars for transporting hospital patients (couldn't take healthy people) and cars for transporting office supplies, and all other manner of delivery vehicle, but no taxis.

Eventually we were passed by a bus, and we tried to flag it down, but it just cruised past us. I could see a long delay in traffic ahead though, so James and I ran for it, getting to the bus stop while the bus sat in a line of cars. By now we were already halfway home, but whatever, a ride partway was better than no ride at all, and the bus was cheaper than the taxi or uber would have been.

We got off a block from our billet, walked through the neighbourhood, and came home. We'd made it.

The Mom didn't want to go out for a Garbage Plate, so we went with the Dad and their son. Apparently a restaurant called "Nick Tahou Hots" is the home of the Garbage Plate, and it is the real deal, so we went there. Folks, the Mom had the best dinner that night. No one was very impressed with the traditional dish of Rochester.



We returned to the billets house, got teh bikes ready for the riding on the following day and went to bed having had a load of fun all over Rochester - and promising ourselves that we'd return with Mom and J2 - they'd LOVE that museum.