Sarah and I have holidayed a few times visiting Jeff on the boat and bringing our bikes. The best trips have involved canals or rivers with bike paths along the side. I think my favourite were the Montreal locks and bike paths. (We haven’t always done so well on the roads in cottage country.) I haven’t done it in awhile because of my knee troubles, but now with surgeries behind me, I’m back.
This trip combined two things–helping Jeff get the boat up the Welland Canal and giving me a chance to try out cycling in the real world. The idea is that you get on the boat, leave the car, get to the end, and then bike back to get the car.
The Welland Canal, connects Lake Ontario to Lake Erie with a series of 8 locks. “Regulations require a minimum of 3 crew. For those with less, there are people who will provide this service for a fee.” So this time we were actually needed on the boat.
Here’s a map of the canal:
You can read more about the trip and see more photos on Jeff’s blog here.
“Average transit time is about 12 hours. However, crews need to be prepared for longer times.” That’s from the online guide to the lock and it turned out to be important advice. We had to bike back to the car as it was getting dark and I should have packed lights.
We started out at Lock 1 at 9 am but had to wait for some shipping traffic to come through. These are commercial locks and the big boats definitely take priority. There was a fair amount of waiting. Shipping traffic was running in both directions but pleasure boats alternate days for upbound and downbound trips.
It felt pretty adventurous getting the boat through the locks. It was just us and Dixie Chicken, a boat from Maryland, and they had 6 people on board.
By the time we got to Port Colbourne it was 8 pm and getting dark. We quickly changed into bike clothes, grabbed some pizza and hit the trails. I was so happy to ride outside and discover that I could in fact do it.
Here’s me on my bike and some very happy smiles.