Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day 71: Simcoe, Ontario

What a difference a day makes! Today's ride was 52 miles, from St. Thomas, Ontario, to Simcoe, Ontario, and I had good legs from start to finish. But, as importantly (and, likely, part of the reason for feeling strong), I was successful in navigating almost the entire way on low (or non-existent) traffic back roads, all of which were nicely paved (with one trivial exception for half a mile).

I relied primarily on Google Maps, although, when it hit a bump in the road (so to speak, but also  literally in the sense of not being paved), my Garmin GPS unit (which, with some modicum of accuracy, depicts which roads are paved, unpaved, large, small, etc.) was pretty good at finding a work around. Indeed, the very first smaller road on my Google-generated route, once out of town, was....wait for it...loose gravel (it was even signed as such). I wasn't going there. But the Garmin showed a paved, small road nearby, that worked perfectly.

Although my Google Maps route didn't have any further mishaps of that magnitude, I wish I could figure out Google's bicycle routing algorithm (of course, if I could, I'd be a gadzillionaire). Clearly it relies on their traffic data to find low-traffic roads for biking. But the priority it gives to distances, and whether or not its database distinguishes between road surfaces and/or scenery (or even knows about either), are all things I'd love to know.

In any event, it was lovely to pedal, with the sun out and nicely warming me, the breeze in my face from my forward movement, and be able to listen only to the sounds of my tires whirring on the pavement, the birds overhead and the crickets in the fields. It was really excellent and enjoyable riding.

As an aside, not having extraneous bicycle-related noises is an important factor in my book to a good ride. Leaving aside that various noises might indicate you have something wrong (or about to go wrong), for me they become a constant distraction to staying in the moment and enjoying where you are riding. So, if my chain is creaking, or my derailleur clicking, or my disc brake rubbing, I'm typically right on the job to eliminate it. Of course, wanting to do that is not always the same thing as being successful in doing it. On this trip, probably the most basic and frequent maintenance, especially after riding in the rain or on an unpaved road, is chain cleaning and oiling. I probably do it at least once a week -- even more than I re-inflate my tires. It makes a huge difference in having a quiet ride.

As for today's scenery, it continued to be top-notch: a ton of farms and crops, open fields, silos, farm machinery, horses and buggies (I rode through some Amish country), cattle and sheep -- and, equally nice, the absence of anything eye-jarring (e.g., ugly houses, power transmission lines, etc.).

As a second aside, the thought also struck me today that Canadians are better at training their dogs to stay off the road. I managed to stir up a handful today (one of the downsides of back roads), but not a one actually left its yard. Safer for them and for me! Now, admittedly, this conclusion of mine, hazarding an opinion on a particular nationality characteristic, is based on a pretty small sample size and may not have much validity. But, if you'll excuse me, I'm not all that interested in expanding the testing!

Here are today's route and metrics:


1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a joyous and deeply satisfying day of riding, Rog. Seems like you're only a day or two away from being back in good old New York State. I assume you'll stop by Niagara Falls.
    Last fall, Maggie and I spent some time in the Finger Lakes district. There's an amazing state park tucked away near Ithaca, with remarkable almost slow-motion waterflows and waterfalls over shale. We were dazzled by its beauty. If you're interested, I can dig up the info. Also, what about Cooperstown?