Biking around Lake Ontario
April 23, 2006 4:08 PM   Subscribe

I want to bike all the way around Lake Ontario, starting in Toronto and heading East. I have questions!

I'm a novice biker, as in I use the old 12 speed I used when I was 13 and just bike around the city. I don't have any experience going on multi-day trips or biking for 10 hours a day (or whatever it takes).

Anyone done this before? Any advice/good motels/campsites/spots to recommend?

Some more specific questions:

- What kind of bike would be right for this (I know nothing about bikes either)? I'm going to buy a new one, mountain or road? Any suggestions? Any specific equipement I should look for?

- Can I realistically do this (bike at least 100-120 km a day for 7 days or so, figuring about 15 km/h on average)? I'm in good shape, I run, whatever. I plan on going on some longer rides before then, but I get the feeling that it's possible I might lie down on the side of the road for three or four days somewhere near Rochester. Anything else I should do to get ready? How long do you think it would take (700-800 km)?

- What else should I bring? Spare tube, water pack, tools, chain, pump I guess are standard, anything else one would suggest?

Thanks in advance!
posted by loquax to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: This is the Ontario trail and the New York trail, by the way
posted by loquax at 4:14 PM on April 23, 2006

The most important consideration for this type of bike is comfort and fit. You should go to a good bike shop -- not sporting goods store/ Canadian tire, etc. -- and be fit properly, which includes both choosing a bike and having certain variables (seat height, seat position, stem height, handlebar position, etc.) tweaked for your body type and riding style.

Here is a pretty exhaustive list of bike shops in the GTA (you're in Hogtown, yes?) by neighbourhood. Duke's Cycle on Queen West is good; Urbane Cyclist on John, too. Other MeFites might have better suggestions.

As to type of bike, I would recommend against a mountain bike. For this type of riding -- long days on paved roads -- the fat, knobby tires and heavier weight of a mountain bike will only increase how much energy you need to expend. Go with a touring bike, or even a light "plush" type. I don't know your budget, but $500-$1000 will get you something decent.

Have fun!
posted by docgonzo at 4:36 PM on April 23, 2006

Best answer: I would just read up on other bike tours and follow their advice. I wouldn't buy a mountain bike - you want something light and with low rolling resistance, not something that you can ride up and down mountain trails. Skinny tires, not knobby tires.

Hey, here's someone else who biked around Lake Ontario. Took them 8 days and they're clearly pro cyclists, so I think you should add a day or two to your schedule.
posted by jellicle at 4:38 PM on April 23, 2006

Response by poster: That is just excellent jellicle, thanks, I hadn't come across it.

As for the bike, I'm going in to Duke's on Queen, and 500-1000 was about what I was looking at. I've heard varying advice between mountain bikes and road or touring bikes. Some have said that generally speaking, mountain bikes are more durable, and I'd likely have fewer problems on the road. I'm disinclined to agree, but I've never had anything but a mountain bike before. What does "plush" mean? Google doesn't seem to return anything too relevant(?)...
posted by loquax at 4:58 PM on April 23, 2006

Sounds interesting! Let me know when you're headed through burlington and I'll join you :-)

A road bike would seem ideal for this situation, or maybe just a "cruising" bike. A mountain bike is uncecessary...I assume you plan to ride on roads/sidewalks and not take the hard way.

With a mountain bike you could probaly average 20km/h excluding breaks/stops. I imaginge you'd go a bit faster with a road bike.

The only thing you didn't list that I would bring is cash, or even a credit card. I assume you already thought of that, but just in case :-)
posted by Sonic_Molson at 4:59 PM on April 23, 2006

Best answer: So, while I live in Toronto, my experience doing that kind of ride was many years ago when I biked from Sydney (australia) to Brisbane. I only did about 700 of the 1000 km because I was running out of time and I got hit by a wicked storm, so I bussed the last bit up.

Luckily for you, the shore of Lake Ontario is basically flat. Certainly compared to the sea coast of NSW in Oz. Second, the whole area is pretty populated, so you should always be able to find someplace to stay. I recall having to camp without having fresh water available one night.

As for distance and speed, I averaged 19.9 km/h overall. I did some days of 100+ km, but really, those days sucked. I organized my route around stopping points that I planned ahead of time, so there was never any question of how much farther I had to bike to get to my destination. If I did it again, I'd buy a GPS this time just for the extra security. You can probably get by with a map and a bike computer though, which is what I did.

I stayed in hostels sometime, but camped sometimes. I had to pack both front and rear panniers, plus a backpack on the top of the rear rack. I had a tent, a sleeping bag, one change of real clothes and one set of biking clothes, some toiletries, a Trangia stove, some basic tools and a spare tire and tube, neither of which I ended up using. Assuming your bike is in good shape to begin with, the only issue I encountered was having my wheels go slightly out of true over time. So learn how to true a wheel before you go - I met one guy who decided he need to tighten all his spokes one night before going to bed and when I woke up the next morning, he had completely warped his wheel. In the middle of nowhere, Australia. Don't do that. Again, if I had to do it again, I could probably have skipped the stove. If you can stay somewhere every night, you can skip the camping gear and probably get by with just two big rear panniers. I also packed a duffel bag so I could throw all the bags into it when I put the bike on a bus (I had always planned to bus it back from Brisbane at the end).

Heck, if you're in a hotel every night, you may not need much more than a backpack. I don't like riding with a backpack, ever, because it makes me really sweaty. But it's probably possible.

My bike was (and still is) a Cannondale M700. M800? I've had the bike for 14 years I don't even know what the model is. ANyway, it's an aluminum, all rigid mountain bike. I found that was good because the low gears where helpful when doing climbs with all that gear and I generally like the stiffer ride of an aluminum frame (I'm 6'4" and was probably about 190lbs at the time). I wouldn't get a road bike, as it probably would stand the abuse of all those long rides while carrying gear, but there are touring bikes, which are basically the same as road bike, with the right holes to mount racks. The fastest I ever went on that trip was 60 km/h on a long, steep downhill. Thankfully nothing shook off, though I spent much of the descent watching my front rack vibrating rather vigoursly.

And you may be in shape now, sure, but you'll be in a lot better shape when you're done. Holy shit did I look good at the end of all that. My quads were huge. I did the 700 km in 14 days total, with 4 days of no riding, so an average of 70 km per day. I am lazy in truth and could have done more; I was partly limited by where I needed to stop every day. And prepare to eat like a horse. I ate bananas like mad, partly because people were selling them at the roadside off their own banana trees, though this is unlikely to happen to you in Ontario. One morning I ate a large box of cereal with a 2 litre carton of milk for breakfast and was quite hungry by lunch. I honestly had trouble believing I was eating that much food. Which is next to impossible for a 21 year old (at the time) guy.

I had two 1L water bottles on my frame and the weather was relatively mild for my ride. If you're doing Ontario in the summer, have at least two bottles at all times and make sure to keep them full. You may also want to pack some gatorade powder or buy a bottle a day to keep your electrolyte levels up. I get sweaty riding the TTC in August, so hydration will be an issue if you're biking for 4 hours or more. They have those water-bladder backpacks now - one of those would probably be a good investment.

As for specific tools, get a good bike maintenance book and it should be able to outline the tools you'll need. Your bike should be in good condition before you go, so most things won't be an issue - you shouldn't need to repack any bearings while on the road, for example. A tire changing kit, some alan keys to adjust brakes, etc, maybe some chain oil, an adjustable wrench, a spoke wrench, a chain breaker and a few spare links and you should be good to go. You can't carry enough stuff to deal with major problems, so just take the basics to deal with minor problems. If you destroy a wheel, you'll need to get to the next town somehow and get to a bike shop. I had a seat stem that had a pump built into it, so that was easy to carry, but in truth, I don't think I ever used it. Just make sure to top up your tires every time you go by a gas station.

What's the east end of Lake Ontario? Amherstview on the Ontario side? ANyway, the entire west end of the lake is thick with civilization. Once you're past Ajax or so on the east, it does get pretty thin and camping the probably a good idea. I got a friend with the Australian equivalent of CAA (AAA to you Americans) to get a route planned out for me with the maps and everything. Again, you should have your route planned out 100% ahead of time, It's not really that much work and it makes your life a lot easier. Take a map though, it doesn't take a lot of space.

Was I tired at the end? Not that I can recall... I spent a few days in Brisbane with the family that lived next door to me in Canada for a while (small world) and then I bussed up to Cairns and went scuba diving for a week. Ah, to be 21 again.

I'll go and put my email in my profile if you have any questions that I didn't answer here. And let us know when you come through Toronto.
posted by GuyZero at 6:05 PM on April 23, 2006

Oh, I see comments on tires. I put a pair of "Towne & Country" tires on my bike, which are smooth, without being slick. Much less rolling resistance. Just because it's a mountain bike doesn't mean you need knobby tires.

Are you in Toronto Loquax? I think Duke's is something like, I dunno, about 300m from where I work.
posted by GuyZero at 6:07 PM on April 23, 2006

I bought a new bike 2 years ago with some help from Ask and a lot of friends. I hit many of the bike shops in Toronto and settled on SportSwap on Yonge between Davisville and Eglinton.

The people at Duke's were *total* assholes and I would never ever recommend it to people. The sales people were rude, didn't answer my questions, and did their best to sell me a bike I clearly wasn't interested in. All that without even a test ride. I walked.

SportSwap was completely the opposite. I test rode 6 different bikes (road bikes and mtbx and hybrids) and got one I love (a Lemond). A great thing about the store is that you can bring any bike back within 2 years and, assuming it's in good shape, they'll give you back 50% of your cost to apply to a new bike.
posted by dobbs at 6:21 PM on April 23, 2006

If you use Kingston as the end of the Easternmost Canadian portion of the trip you can take the free ferry from Kingston to Wolfe island at the mouth of the St. Lawrence, and then a second ferry from Wolfe Island to Cape Vincent New York. Here is a schedule for both ferries. Oh, the Wolfe Island Hotel (or Inn, I can't recall) serves an excellent authentic caesar salad if you're looking for something to eat, and there's a nice campground on the far east side of the island, if you don't feel like sleeping in Kingston.

Let us know what you plan on doing before you go and if I'm down in Kingston or the Bay of Quinte area around that time I'd be happy to meet up.
posted by furtive at 6:56 PM on April 23, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, great comments (especially that travelogue GuyZero, that really got me going, I'll definitely email you later on if anything specific occurs to me, thanks). Thanks all, getting nice and excited (and planning for more time off than I originally planned).

GuyZero, Dobbs, I live in Toronto, and will check out Duke's (it's around the corner from my office too) and SportSwap, and there was another shop recommended to me up around Yonge and Lawrence or something that I was planning on visiting. It never even occurred to me that you could put non-knobby tires on a mountain bike, that's how much of a noob I am.

I used to live in Kingston and haven't been back in a while so that's definitely a key stop, may even spend a day or two there and cross to the other side of the lake from there. Maybe the first ever K-Town meetup?
posted by loquax at 9:38 PM on April 23, 2006

Best answer: I rode T.O. to Montreal a few years ago. From central GTA to Oshawa is rather nasty (all industrialized) - I'd skip that portion and take the GO train if I were you. The rest of the way up the lakeshore / St. Lawrence is gorgeous.

You want to take Highway 2 (the old pre-401 route east) and then the 1000 Islands Parkway. Let me emphasize again that this route is GORGEOUS. In some parts there are lots of rolling hills which mean quite a bit of climbing even if you're never far from sea level.

There's little towns all along the way with food, water, etc -- you'll never go more than 10km without seeing a store, house, motel, etc. I'm not sure where you'd turn off to go south...somewhere past Kingston I imagine to hook up with I-85.

I have no idea what the American side of the lake is like, nor have I ridden from Niagara back to T.O.

And, echoing some other opinions already expressed:
- a week sounds about right for the amount of time it would take.
- you definitely want a road bike, though more a touring bike that you can mount a rack and panniers on. mountain bikes are tougher, certainly, but overkill if you're not bombing down a mountain, slamming into tree-roots and flying off 3-foot drops.
- in terms of fitness - just ride, and go on progressively longer rides. as soon as you can do 100km a day on two consecutive days and still feel ok, you're ready. you'll find that on long rides, the limiting factors aren't your legs, but rather your wrists, your neck, your back and your butt.

One last thing - don't go alone unless you're used to spending days in complete isolation. Once you go beyond a day or two, the main challenge with cycletours is pyschological. Not the pain, not the soreness, not the physical challenge. The hardest part is the monotony. You'll find yourself reciting the alphabet forwards and backwards, counting pedal strokes, singing every song you remember in your head to pass time, etc. I can't tell you how many times I was tempted to flag down a passing pickup and throw my bike in the back just because I got mentally bored. If you have a friend or two with you, it'll be like a walk in the park.
posted by randomstriker at 9:43 PM on April 23, 2006

That is pretty awesome! And that's all I've got to say.
posted by Chuckles at 9:49 PM on April 23, 2006

Make sure you're comfortable maintaining your bike at the roadside, so you can take care of things when something snaps fifty miles from the next town. And don't forget to carry the tools you need to do it!

Be sure to carry a passport for the border crossings. Not required yet, but just easier. You might want to call ahead to the places you're planning on crossing to find out what the procedure is for bicycles at that particular crossing. It'd suck to get there and find out that the last mile is freeway.
posted by mendel at 10:01 PM on April 23, 2006

Make sure you're comfortable maintaining your bike at the roadside.

Yes, but if it ain't broke don't fix it. You don't want to strip threads or snap bolts when you're miles from civilization. Believe me, riding for more than 30 seconds with a broken seatpost binder is a real drag. Iron out all the mechanical kinks on your training rides, then resist the urge to tinker once you're committed to your epic trip.

So learn how to true a wheel before you go - I met one guy who decided he need to tighten all his spokes one night before going to bed and when I woke up the next morning, he had completely warped his wheel.

Case in point. Tightening all the spokes at the same time is NOT truing a wheel, it is retensioning a wheel. If you do that without a tensiometer, you're asking for trouble. And once you've pringled the wheel, you have to throw it away.

During your entire lifetime, your bike will probably spend more time between your legs than any woman will. Build a relationship with it. Nurture it. Cherish it. Love it right and it will love you back.
posted by randomstriker at 10:33 PM on April 23, 2006

the main challenge with cycletours is pyschological

Well, the hills were pretty bad, but yeah, I certainly have to echo randomstriker's comment. I spent many, many hours singing the Cure's "Friday I'm in Love" over and over in my head. Not that I liked it so much, but after a few hours of empty road & forest, your brain starts to do as it pleases.

I liked the solitary aspect of the trip, but the downside, aside from the isolation, is that had anything gone wrong, I would have been well and truly screwed. A cell phone would probably fix that problem these days versus my trip.

your bike will probably spend more time between your legs than any woman will.

Disturbing, but quite true.
posted by GuyZero at 6:25 AM on April 24, 2006

I'm in for the Kingston meetup if it ever happens! Look me up when you're here loquax!

posted by LunaticFringe at 6:25 AM on April 24, 2006

Best answer: I have some personal experience with this type of thing as well. Last summer I rode my bike around Lake Erie. It was 1300km and it took 8 days.

Here's how I did it:

I got my road bike at a hardware store, for all of 15 dollars. It is an early 80's Schwinn, made of steel, and bomb-proof. The steel frame makes it absorb shocks better than an aluminum one, but it is marginally heavier. But when you are carrying all the gear you need to live for a week or more, a few pounds heavier bike is no problem. A key factor was the type of tires I had on my bike. It was a road bike, and some road bike tires are going to be unsuitable for a long tour. They are literally designed to be so light and slim that they will get flats, guaranteed, before you finish. I went 3000 miles on my tires before I had to change them. The ones I use are Kenda K35's, because they are heavier and thicker, and they have this center running strip right where the tire contacts the pavement. It is about a half inch thick or more, and you literally ride on that strip, and it's extremely easy to tell when you need to change them, because the strip is gone and you are starting to wear the tire smooth.

You should have a good knowledge of the basics of working on a bike before you leave. You might be able to get away with very cursory study though because Lake Ontario is so populated. Trust me though, you do not want to feel helpless when something breaks. That's the worst feeling in the world. Working on a bike is easy, so take the time to learn it. There are a lot of resources online.

I got a BOB trailer, because I had heard that panniers can make the bike ride a lot different and become unstable at high speeds. I didn't want to have to preclude myself from going downhill at high speeds (a favorite pasttime), so I got the trailer. The trailer was great. On level ground and downhill it was like it was not even there, and I was just riding my bike like I would any other day. Uphill it was a b*tch, but carrying weight on panniers upwill will be too. The only time the thing was even a little cumbersome was if I stopped on an uphill, and you do that weave thing with your bike to get going again, that was a bit unstable. But other than that it was completely great.

I took camping gear and cooking gear to be self supported, and stopped at grocery stores along the way to fill up on food. My tent consisted of a one man "bivy sack" which was free standing, and cost me all of 40 dollars I think. It was fantastic, only weighed a couple of pounds, stood up to some big storms, and packed up pretty small. Make sure to get a ground pad of some sort, there are a large variety of choices there based on your budget.

I didn't even take a map, other than a google map of the entire lake that literally had nothing on it but major highways. But then I am very directionally minded, can reckon by the sun, and I figured I would just keep turning left until I got around the lake :-).

Finding places to stay wasn't hard. In America, I stayed at a couple of volunteer firehouses, because they usually have yards and will allow you to camp in them. In Canada, I stayed at provincial parks, which weren't even open during early May when I went, so I had them all to myself. Other than that, I stayed on a few farms. People will usually let you camp on their land if you ask nicely.

I showered once in 8 days, and never slept indoors. I found freedom like none I have ever found before or since, living on the road like that. This summer I am going to ride around Lake Michigan. Lake Ontario is on my list, along with all the other Greats.

Something I would consider, loquax, is that yes, you can go and stay in hotels and eat at restaurants every day, but then how different is this trip really from any other trip? You may even come to resent the biking part of it, and just wish you had it easier. I found the best feeling came from the fact that I literally supported myself for the entire trip (with the exception of killing my own food). There's a feeling of accomplishment that came with that, and I'm not sure going to hotels and restaurants would have yielded the same feelings.

I know some people like to do that, and I am not disparaging them, I am just saying that you should determine what you want out of the trip before you make a decision. I am a stubborn person who doesn't believe in obstacles, and the outdoors are where I feel at home. If you're like me, you might find value in taking a slightly harder, slightly purer approach. Don't do it because I said so, don't do anything because someone says so, do it because you really thought it through. That's true of everything on this trip, though. You're going to get a lot of bogus advice from people who really have no idea what they're talking about. (note: I didn't even read the other replies, so I'm not talking about you if you posted here) You have to do your own research and try to get a real understanding of what's going to happen on the trip, how your bike actually operates as a machine, and how your body operates as well.

Lastly, I'll put my email in my profile so you can contact me if you have any questions. I probably won't get a chance to see this thread again. Good luck!
posted by zhivota at 7:03 AM on April 24, 2006

Shoot one last thing, I had 6 water bottles, they were just Dasani bottles from a six pack of it, and I had them strapped all over my bike and trailer. I would just rotate them through my bike bottle holders until they were empty, at which point I would find a kind homeowner to let me refill them all at once. That was very handy.
posted by zhivota at 7:05 AM on April 24, 2006

Best answer: I rode Ottawa to Niagara Falls in 2002, covering much of the route you're talking about. The Ontario side of the route is the Waterfront Trail. Unfortunately, it's not continuous---there are gaps in many sections and you'll have to travel on city streets. Still, the Trail map book well worth buying and using as a planning guide.

How far you plan to go each day is probably one your biggest concerns. Some people prefer to do shorter distances each day and sightsee in the afternoons. Figure 50-60 km/day this way, 3 or four hours cycling. I prefer to do a couple of longer days, about 150 km/day, followed by a day off at some destination. That's with lots of breaks, a long lunch and arriving in plenty of time for finding accommodation, supper and a night out.

Ottawa to Niagara, return, about 1500km, too me about 10 days. That's with a couple of days off for sightseeing in the middle. Seven days sounds doable, but that means 150km days.

The most beautiful riding I had was east of Toronto: Brockville to Ajax has some of the nicest strips of road I've seen. The Thousand Island parkway (Brockville to Gananoque), the Loyalist Parkway (Kingston to Prince Edward County) are both great rides. The highlight of the trip for me was the road from Port Hope to Ajax via Bond Head.

The worst part was Oshawa to TO. There are few good trails, and your only options are busy, narrow streets. On the way back, I cheated and took the GO from Victoria station to Oshawa. Saved a half-day of aggravation and high-pressure riding. GO will let you take bikes on the train on off-peak hours. It worked really well as a bridge between sections of the ride and isn't very expensive. The Waterfront trail picks up just outside the Oshawa station.

For the bike, I really prefer a road bike with longer chainstays and relaxed angles, the classic touring geometry. The bike is really stable, easy to keep in line. Racing bikes and ATBs have much twichier steering---good in a race or off-road, but more work for long distances. Hybrids are about half-way between. Try a couple of varieties of handlebars too. The best way to avoid buzzing hands is lots of hand positions. Drop bars offer at least three, but flat bars with barends work for many people too.

In terms of training, you should build up to it. Try to do 200-300km/week for a month (that's commuting to work and one or two rides on the weekend). Plan on doing at least a couple 120 km+ rides. This will give you an idea of what to expect on the road. Running gives you core aerobic capacity, but doesn't train the right muscle groups. Biking uses the quads and the calves; running emphasizes the hamstring much more.

Consider packing when you consider accommodation. Are you planning to camp? If yes, that means tent, stove and bag. You'll need front and back panniers. If not, you can get away with only back. I usually "credit card" tour; I stay at B&Bs most nights. I phone ahead the morning or two before for reservations. If you plan to hit the Niagara region on a weekend, however, I'd book up to a month in advance.

In terms of tools, don't take anything you're not comfortable using. Your goal is to be able to get to the nearest bike shop. This can be as far as 50 or 60 km, however. At least carry a spare tube, know how to change a flat, patch a ripped tire, fix a fubared chain and deal with a broken spoke. My take-along toolset includes a frame pump, tire levers, a bit of duct tape, a spoke wrench, a chain tool, a combo wrench all wrapped in a shop rag. That weighs less than most multi-tools and the individual tools work better. A word about pumps: the short ones don't get above 30 psi. Get one of the longer "roadie" frame pumps for 50 psi+. Blackburn and Zefal both make good ones.

Feel free to drop me a line if you have anymore questions.
posted by bonehead at 7:09 AM on April 24, 2006

I got a BOB trailer, because I had heard that panniers can make the bike ride a lot different and become unstable at high speeds.

Bike with only rear panniers = unstable handling.

Bike with BOB trailer = jack-knife when you skid the rear wheel.

Bike with evenly loaded front and rear panniers = sluggish but as steady as a bowling ball.
posted by randomstriker at 8:49 AM on April 24, 2006

Which brings up a good point:

Try a few rides with your full loadout on the bike. Handling is surprisingly different that unloaded.
posted by bonehead at 9:01 AM on April 24, 2006

I knew this was on the web somewhere: a Toronto to Montreal route.
posted by bonehead at 9:09 AM on April 24, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Biking Around Lake Michigan:

Some acquaintances from a math class convinced me to ride around Lake Michigan back in August of '97. For some insane reason, I thought that if I put slicks on my mountain bike, I would be able to keep up with their road bikes. Also, that I smoked while they competed in triathlons did not faze me.

What happened: The plan was to meet in Chicago, leave the next day at 5 am, and RIDE. (I had spent a month running 6 miles a day and going on increasingly long rides with my bike weighted down with gear) We had maps, tents, spare tires, and a shitload of power bars. But that was it. We never estimated how far we would go per day or where we would stay. In retrospect, not having a plan turned the trip into a fantastic adventure, but perhaps you may take away from this what not to do...

On day 1, after successfully avoiding being murdered in Gary, we arrived at some cool ass state park in Michigan. Unfortunately, the camp sites had all been booked for months in advance so we had to sneak into the woods. A really nasty storm hit us that night and some of our gear disappeared. We narrowly avoided a huge fine from park rangers when we left 5 minutes before they rolled through on four-wheelers.

This became a general theme during the trip: arriving at our destination after dark and being too exhausted to care where we slept. The next night we slept in the grass next to a full Motel. And the night after that, we pitched our tents on a grassy spot in the middle of a marina parking lot. Other nights, we found crappy motels, a campground with vacancy, and a public park with plenty of cover.

I found out three things by the third day. First that I could eat and ride at the same time. Second, that my friends were dicks and would say "we'll meet you at the next town," and third, that my crotch went completely numb, and I biked for 20 miles worried that I had just lost my manhood. (I had to adjust the front of the saddle down - make sure you are very comfortable with your seat before you leave).

We pushed ourselves too hard, shooting for 120 miles plus per day. I remember that is was very difficult to walk. There was a thrill in it all though. A thrill in pushing ourselves to the edge.

At one point, we ran into some other bikers who asked us if we were carrying guns. No indeed. Later, when this creepy old guy showed up three consecutive nights in the three towns we slept in, I wished I had a shotgun. Or mace. Something. You might want to bring some sort of protection. None of us had cell phones, and I cannot imagine doing this sort of thing today without one.

What was later diagnosed as a loose spoke, was the mysterious cause for 8 flat tires over a two day period. This was a collossal pain in the ass.

We kept going, and stopped in Sault Ste Marie, which is possibly the most depressing place I have ever visited. We stayed there for two nights, and ate non-stop.

One of the guys told us he was going to stop for a week in Northern Michigan, and no amount of coaxing would get him off his ass, so we left him. Outside Green Bay, I was drafting too close, my tire got knocked, I fell and stupidly tried to catch my fall, shattering my hand. As I stared at my pinky bone sticking out of my palm, my companion was laughing, and trying to flag down a vehicle on the highway. After 20 minutes of nobody stopping, I dragged my bike out in the middle of the road and blocked the lane. After the ambulance to the ER, and a night at my Aunt's, my friend took a cab back to his bike, and made it the rest of the way to Chicago that day.

The next year, he asked if I wanted to ride west to Seattle. I declined. He got hit by a car in Montana, lived in a coma for 2 months, and then died.

Not to end this on a bad note, because if I could do it over again, I would.
posted by brheavy at 3:04 PM on April 24, 2006 [10 favorites]


posted by furtive at 4:08 PM on April 24, 2006

Response by poster: Wow, me too. This has been the best thread ever...
posted by loquax at 5:54 PM on April 24, 2006

I had no idea there were so many other mefites that loved their bikes as much as
posted by stilgar at 8:52 PM on April 27, 2006

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