Carpe Diem, The Series: Riding for Charity

Riding for Charity

Paul Stevens

Carpe Diem (but in a relaxed sort of way)

Summer Daze

We’re into August already?! The summer has been moving quickly probably because the schedule has been pleasantly full. We recently had my sisters and their respective husbands stay with us for a weekend and we were able to show them around town as the weather was perfect – sunny skies and warm temperatures were the order of the day. Several walks around the neighbourhood comforted by the shade of old growth trees and an excuse to have a BBQ with the in-laws who live in town and nearby as well. No trip to Sarnia is complete without having ‘chips under the bridge’. 

I’ve mentioned this previously but it’s a local favourite that has a wide-spread reputation. You grab a plate of fries, apply a generous amount of vinegar, salt lightly and park yourself under the Bluewater Bridge as the large lake freighters amble by in majestic silence. Big as these things are, they are whisper quiet and kick up next to no wake, unlike their much smaller power boat cousins who would drown out a loud rock band and churn up enough water to create a small tsunami as they pass by.

Lake Time

After the family departed, the next day, we then headed to Lake Erie to spend a couple of days at the cottage with some friends from our old neighbourhood in Mississaauga. Our friends purchased a small cottage that would politely be called a ‘fixer-upper’ on a good day. Early into the renovation process, black mold was discovered blossoming in several interior walls and that’s when the ‘Stop Work’ order was issued by our friends. This is when Plan B came into effect and that meant a complete gutting of the place and starting with a clean slate. 

Our friends did a great job on the place and it has an open beach-house feels to it. Not big and in your face like so many cottages are these days but very comfortable with all the comforts you need for a relaxing time. When all is said and done, all you need to make yourself feel a step or two ahead of a pioneer is indoor plumbing, safe hot and cold running water, fridge, stove, BBQ and a view of the water. The rest is up to you.

Biking To Niagara-On-The-Lake

On our second day there, the gentlemen decide to head out on a bike trip. We drove with our lovely wives to the nearby town of Port Colborne where we were dropped off and the ladies continued to Niagara-On-The-Lake, our designated meeting place. This town is about as pretty as it gets as it has done a superb job of building upon its colonial roots that date back to the late 1700s and early 1800s. There is a lot of history in the area centered on the relatively unknown War of 1812 that was between British North America (Canada would not even exist as a country for another 52 years) and the United States. Let’s not concern ourselves with the causes of this skirmish but it seems everything worked out well for both sides. 

Starting our ride in Port Colborne, there is a nice paved bike trail that parallels the Welland Canal. To meet in Niagara-On-The-Lake, we would need to head east towards Niagara Falls and then proceed along the Niagara Parkway to our meeting place. This required us to ride through the town of Niagara Falls. The town can favourably be described as ‘kitschy’ to the extreme. Where else can you find one of the great wonders of the world – Niagara Falls – surrounded by the ultimate in tourist traps? Wax museums, House of Horrors and the like are all at home in Niagara Falls. Somehow, it all seems to work. Furthermore, judging by the number of tourists milling about, enough people think that this is the way to go. Who am I to argue with commercial success? 

The Niagara Parkway

Riding along the Niagara Parkway is a pleasure not to be missed as it is like one long park. There are many places to stop along the way and have a picnic lunch. Stop and overlook the Niagara River and its many natural attractions while enjoying almost limitless gardens. From Port Colborne to Niagara-On-The-Lake is about 70 km. It was nice to see the end of the road and meet up with the ladies. We thought they may have spent the day visiting the many shops in the area. However, to their credit, they took the opportunity to take their bikes and tour the area. They took in the many fine and well-preserved historic homes.

Although it was only mid-afternoon, the ladies did not want to go shopping. Now that is a puzzler of epic proportions and my friend and I could only scratch our heads in disbelief. Add this to the list of things men can not figure out when it comes to women. Our time at the cottage was too short as were obliged to head home at the end of the day. 

Carpe Diem, The Series: Riding for CharityGran Fondo Ride

Coming up for yours truly was the ‘Gran Fondo’ bike ride in our area that took place on Sunday past. This was quite the event and it was the first of its kind in our area. It attracted some 500 cyclists from the surrounding area. The city even had signs posted around town to welcome Gran Fondo participants. Riders were able to select routes of 50, 100, or 150 km. My fellow Manditos and I chose the 100 km ride which was the most popular choice. Ride organizers chose a nice route with pit stops that provided food and refreshments at two locations along the way. It was a warm and mostly sunny day so the pit stops were welcome relief. 

I have done rides of this distance previously with no side effects worth mentioning but on this occasion, I just could not get comfortable on my bike seat. For about the middle 35 km, the discomfort was palpable and not something I wish to repeat. I think my bike seat may have passed its ‘best before date’ so it’s on to the internet to get the low-down on what is available in the world of modern bike seats. I’m hoping for an “Ahhh, that more like it” moment with the next bike seat. 

I don’t know if I just became numb to the discomfort but the final 30-35 km was almost bearable. Finishing at a park on the shore of Lake Huron, the first order of business after the ride was to discard my riding shoes and helmet and jump into the cool and soothing waters. Instant relief! We were well-fed after the ride and hats off to the organizers who provided all with a well-run and memorable day.

Riding Ottawa

This coming weekend I’m off to Ottawa to participate in fund-raising ride to benefit Multiple Sclerosis. Since this is a ride of 100 km each of the two days, a comfortable bike seat will be more than just a passing fancy; it will be mandatory! I completed this ride two summers ago and I am looking forward to getting together with some friends from high school and travel through the very picturesque Ottawa Valley area.

And hey, any tips on comfortable bike seats would be greatly appreciated. You will have my undying appreciation.

Your friend, Paul.

And remember – Carpe Diem (but in relaxed sort of way)!

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