The road stretches out in front of me as I begin a cycling trek in Ontario by straddling the saddle of my road bike, clipped in and set to ride off into the cool August morning air with the sun peeking over the horizon with divine hues of orange, scarlet, crimson, and yellow ginger.
Heading down a picturesque road lined with tall cornstalks on either side without a goal or destination in mind, open to where life takes me, I find myself on the Water Front Trail (WFT) on Ontario's Southern Coastline; the Shores of Lake Erie in Norfolk County, long known as the Gold Coast. Glancing right, I can catch a glimpse of the lake from time to time as the sun elevates transcending shimmering rays over the surface of the sparkling water. I marvel at the modern and historical architectural delights of the homes and farms along the way.
The lake breeze feels good minimizing the effects of the hot sun on my bronzed skin, I pedal on. Changing topography, vistas and landscapes pique my curiosity as I manoeuvre each terrain with precision and expertise -- climbing hills and meandering down steep valley dells for one spectacular cycling trek in Ontario.
My first destination is Long Point, known for many shipwrecks or sunken vessels jumbled near it's shores. Here's where the nickname "Gold Coast" began over the centuries for the lost or stolen treasures of these long forgotten ships.
Now, Long Point is a significant wetland complex for bird migration and home of the World Biosphere Reserve, as recognized by the United Nations in 1986. Miles of delicate dunes and marshes; This area is an excellent educational forum featuring freshwater aquatic ecosystems with a wealth of wildlife ranging from bird species, like songbirds and swans, to amphibians like frogs and snakes.
Heading East, I arrive in Port Rowan, a quaint little village with calm inlet waters that are protected by the sandy spit of Long Point and provides a unique habitat for wildlife and fish. Here a historical scenic park called Backus Heritage Conservation Area is home to John Backhouse Mill, and the Backus homestead. Maybe I'll stop another day to experience the real pioneer village featuring log cabins, a blacksmith shop, and an octagonal schoolhouse. I drink in the delicious view of Lake Erie and snap some photos of the marina, flagpole and observation viewing area before I set off up a sluggish hill. I smile at the tourism attendant sitting outside the little booth, and notice several unique shops in town before I turn right and continue on the WFT.
The road pavement is cracked in some areas making manoeuvring around the S turns a little tricky at times with traffic. I quickly pass just south of a tiny rural community known as St. Williams - first established as the town of Walsingham, after the township in 1831 but later changed in 1869 after an early settler William Gillaspey. A little known fact was that the first provincial forest nursery in Canada was established here in 1908 by conservationist Edmund Zavitz on 100 acres of wind-eroded, sandy soil. Today, the nursery produces millions of seedlings annually for reforestation efforts within Ontario and covers more than 4,000 acres.
Booth's Harbour is on Long Point Bay and boasts some of the finest bass fishing and is home to the Fin & Feather marina where there are trailer sites and a boat launch. Continuing on Front road, I pass the South Coast Eco Safari at the Blueberry Hill Estates where they feature a short journey through a Carolinian forest and a farmers market with a bright pink tractor for guests to autograph their visit.
Across the road is the UNESCO-designated Long Point World Biosphere Reserve where adventure seekers can zipline, swing on suspension bridges, kayak or canoe, or ride the many bike trails. A paradise for bird watchers and nature lovers with historical and ecological guided tours.
The Turkey Point Marshes are on the right side of the road and not far up the road is a memorial viewing point where turkey vultures soar with their 6-foot wingspan effortlessly slicing the wind, constantly tilting and rocking gracefully seeking a meal.
After a short break, I return to my cycling trek in Ontario and keep heading east where wine aficionados gather - The Burning Kiln Winery. The winery is s re-purposed tobacco barn offering historic and rustic charm and a spectacular view for patrons as they take pleasure in sipping award-winning wines.
It's a short ride to Turkey Point where I refuel and rest as I head to a busy white sand beach on Ordnance Road. My heart rate quickens, my breathing rate increases significantly while sweat seeps rapidly from my pores - the climb out of Turkey Point is tremendous.
I pick up the WFT again with the road now lined with fragrant pines and many other varieties of tall deciduous or broad leaf trees. The first descent is long and gradual which brings me into a tiny hamlet known as Normandale. I investigate another historical plaque about the Normandale blast furnace and discover a babbling brook, a bridge, and a beach lookout as part of the secret splendour here.
Cracked pavement, stones, pot holes, jutting weeds that whip my lower legs are all part of the obstacles as I keep tightly into the side to avoid other vehicles on the road. Another ascent and a tobacco field greet me as the WFT turns right. A single engine plane overhead and a convoy of motorcycles pass me on this section of the trail. Not far off is a sleepy little hamlet called Fishers Glen with a long easy decent but a quick hairpin and a hard ascent really gives my gears and legs a workout.
A well-deserved rest at Hill Creek Conservation Area in the pavilion then I set off right toward Port Dover. What to my wondering eyes should appear but a fortress of riches on the Lake; a huge mansion with a dazzling blue crown catches everyone's attention with its stone and wrought iron fence. I finish my ride for the day in Port Dover where the beaches are busy and a festival is hectic in the town's core. I enjoy a well-deserved meal at my favourite place - The Arbor. I feel good and ready to do it another cycling trek in Ontario tomorrow when I head back to where I started.
My thanks to by Patricia Kuhnen-Beaver of Port Stanley, Ontario, for this excellent article.
And for a hotel in Ontario or anywhere else:
Tours To Explore
Dvd To Explore