2015 Ontario Parks Tour: Day One

Off We Go…

Toronto to Bass Lake – 140km
(Sept 19, 8pm)

We had a generally nice start to our tour today.

We left home and had a largely uneventful first section out of Toronto. The only notable challenge was on a section of trail (the Newtonbrook Creek Parkway) that I hadn’t ridden before, right before Finch & Bayview.

After a REALLY steep climb up out of a ravine, we promptly descended back into it (to Father’s disgust), only to encounter Mount Son-of-a-bitch shortly thereafter. Both of us took one look at it and got off to walk up, but it was so steep that even walking was a challenge. It wasn’t all that bad, I guess – we were both winded but we also saw two deer in the area so there was a silver lining to the early quirk.

The rest of the morning was uneventful. We rode pretty hard until around 1pm, then stopped in a little town called Stroud (near Innisfil) for lunch, at a place called Flapjacks. As we were eating the skies opened – rain pouring down and being blown almost horizontally. We waited until we thought the worst had passed and then headed out. Sadly we were wrong – the previous rain was, apparently, just a warm-up. I remember Father pointing at a large flock of birds that all took off from an electricity wire at once, and said “it’s about to rain.”

Sure enough, we were soon caught in a Noah’s Ark-level downpour that continued for about an hour and soaked us both to the bone. The rain was heavy enough that we were riding through what felt like mini-rivers, and I was having to blink a couple of times per second just to be able to see.

Happily, the rain cleared as we hit the lakeshore in Barrie and we only had light showers (really just a few raindrops) after that.

The rest of the ride went smoothly. We had a looong stretch of 20km on a gravel trail – the Oro Medonte Trail, I think – that looked like a disused railway; it felt like it would never end. Funnily enough, when we did finally turn off we did so at Carthew Siding – I grew up just a mile or so from a place named Carthew in England!

From there it was only about 10km to the campsite. We hit a few ridiculous hills near the end – ridiculous for gradient and length, but also because for three (I think) consecutive hills we hit the top and immediately dropped back down! Sigh.

We set up camp at Bass Lake with no issues, although there was one last steep climb up to the Hillside Campsite itself. Dinner was at Montana’s in Orillia – about 4km of unwelcome rolling hills away.

Father is exhausted – this was 50% (ok, 40%) longer than his previous longest ride of the year. I have a feeling he’ll be asleep before too long. I’m fine – I actually found the day quite easy – although my left knee is getting quite sore (I think it’s the IT band, which has played up in the past). I’ll stretch that out before bed. (note: in hindsight I didn’t, and it cost me the next day)

It rained again right after we got back to the campsite – we cut that one fine. Managed to rig up clotheslines inside my tent to dry out my gear, which in some cases (socks) is still soaked and in others (jacket) is damp. Shoes will be wet for days, I think. I used the elastics that I’ve used to fix my tent to the bike as the clotheslines.

Our neighbours are playing music but don’t think that’ll matter – we’ll both sleep well tonight.

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The author

I'm a born and bred English guy - a Britnadian, if you will - living and working as EVP and National Practice Leader, Digital at Edelman in Canada. Outside work, my life splits a few ways: I'm a father, a cyclist, a video gamer and an explorer of the many ways that digital can bring companies and their stakeholders closer together. All of these bring me great enjoyment; one brings more pain than the others. Opinons are mine, not my employer's.