What a day. 230km and we made it all the way back to Toronto, fully-loaded bikes and all… eventually.
We started the day at Sandbanks Provincial Park. I’d wanted to camp there for a long time; unfortunately we had a grand total of about 12 hours there after arriving late the night before, and I didn’t really get a chance to look around. Will have to head back there soon as at first glance it seemed to live up to the hype.
Coming in to the day we had a choice to make – to ride to a campsite in the centre of Cobourg (about 105km away) and stay the night, or to power on for an additional 125km to Toronto. As agreed to make that decision in Cobourg, depending on when we got there and how our legs felt at the time.
The ground was heavy with dew in the morning, and my tent seemed to weigh about double its usual weight as I packed it up thanks to all of the water on it. We got on the road by around 8am; happily both of us felt refreshed compared to the previous day and we made good time through to a town called Bloomfield (home to the helpful bike shop we’d called the day before).
With our lesson learned from the day before, we took the chance to grab breakfast relatively early into the ride. We stopped at a little place called Bull Frogs Eatery about 13km from our start – a very unassuming place with a lovely atmosphere, a wonderfully friendly proprietor and HUGE breakfasts.
We lost a bit of time to the huge plates of food, but it was worth it.
The scenery was again very nice – lots of lake views and relatively few hills, and we continued to make decent time on the road.
Unlike previous days we made frequent stops in anticipation of a long day – making sure to stay hydrated and keep snacking on bananas, gel cubes, granola bars and the like. We stopped for a little longer close to Presqu’ile Provincial Park, where we had originally intended to spend the night before we’d decided to push harder and on to Sandbanks the day before. We stopped again in Colbourne, swinging into the Foodland there to stock up on Gatorade and food before heading on to Cobourg.
We arrived in Cobourg at around 2pm, and stopped at a funky coffee shop called Meet at 66 King East, with delicious cakes and a very friendly owner who we chatted with for a while.
This was also the point where we needed to make our decision on whether to split the day in two or do it all in one – there weren’t many campsites on the map after this point. After a brief debate, we made the decision to keep pushing through to Toronto. Our legs felt good, and I think both of us were looking forward to a soft mattress after the week of biking. We expected it would take about another 8 hours of cycling to get there; as it turned out, that was fairly accurate.
Port Hope was just along the route from Cobourg, and it featured the toughest (and perhaps most unnecessary) climb of the day – about 600m along Dorset Street. A 7% gradient isn’t much, but when you’ve got 30lbs of gear on your bike and you’re 120km into your sixth day of riding, it grinds. Frustratingly, we proceeded to go straight back down to go back under the same train tracks that we’d gone under right before the climb. Sadly, there was no alternative.
From there we had a straightforward ride until we reached the edges of the Greater Toronto Area. The roads were straight and relatively quiet as we avoided major streets, and the scenery was nice until we began to reach the more built-up areas around Oshawa and Ajax.
By this time the sun had started to go down, and our ride along the Lakeshore Trail became a bit hairy as there were no streetlights to see by, and we needed to rely on our own lights. The pay-off was some nice, scenic moments – the one that sticks in my head most is seeing two different groups of people with driftwood fires at the lakeside – very serene moments amidst the tension of trying to pick out potholes on dark trails.
Ultimately we detoured back onto the streets in order to avoid some rougher stretches of the trail.Shortly thereafter we had our last real climb as we entered Scarborough – a climb that was never really steep or noticeable but which ultimately lasted about 8km.
By around 9:00pm we were pretty weary and I had started to feel a little light-headed when we stopped. We made one last coffee + donut stop in Scarborough to refuel, then made our final push for the last 15km home. Ironically (but not surprisingly, in hindsight) this was probably the most unpleasant part of the whole trip – while we were close to home, we were riding in the dark, on very busy, pothole-covered roads. Still, we made it back without further incident.
And there we have it. 941km in six days. Trip: complete.