I blogged last summer about combining boating and biking. It’s part of my effort to spend time seeing beautiful Ontario countryside by boat (thanks Jeff!) while also getting some road cycling in. That’s partly about fitness but mostly about pleasure. I like moving, not sitting, and the bike/boat combo seems like a great way to do that. In Europe there are lots of bike paths that run alongside the canals and there’s a whole tourist industry built around the boating-biking thing. It’s your mobile home on water that you meet up with at the end of each cycling day. No need to carry stuff. It stays in the boat. Got a non-cycling friend or partner? They can stay in the boat too. You’re both going to the same place.
Last year it worked really well. This time it didn’t work so well but the boating part was a lot fun anyway. The basic idea is sound. For us it’s not about following the boat by bike. What bikes allow you to do is go back and get your car and keep your car near to the boat for trip home. With all the locks and no-wake zones the boat isn’t making great time and so mid-afternoon it’s easy to bike back to where you started and rescue the car. That way when you go to leave the car is nearby.
On day 1 we started in Peterborough with the world’s highest hydraulic lift lock and with best of intentions of biking but we started late and Jeff didn’t have bike shorts and instead we motored on up the canal.
We had dinner out that night and stayed in Young’s Point, anchored where we could hear loons with some bonus cottage noises–playing children and personal watercraft. Zoom zoom.
Bikes at rest on the boat
The next day it was raining hard. But now we couldn’t avoid biking as we had to go back and get the car. Biking and boating involves bike trips back to the car and then shuffling the car on ahead. We waited the rain out until it stopped and then went on what was possibly the worst bike ride of my life. I don’t usually write about things that don’t go well. But this time, cottage country, I’m making an exception.
The main road we needed to ride on was busy and had an inadequate shoulder for riding on. Worse though were the people honking at us and passing too closely.
I got home and posted to Twitter
“Dear cottage country, Would it kill you to pave the shoulders? It might kill us cyclists if you don’t. I’m not asking for separate bike lanes, nothing fancy, but paved shoulders, please.”
“Dear cottage country drivers, We’re bikes, riding single file, just two of us. Speed 25 km/hr. You’re cars going 95 km in an 80 zone. You’re passing us and there’s a dotted line and no oncoming traffic. You’re allowed, in fact required, to leave the lane. Please pass safely. #opp.”
(You can follow me on Twitter. I’m @SamJaneB)
Later, we looked at a bike guide for the area and saw this road labelled, “High volume road, use appropriate caution.”
After the busy road there was my next favorite: gravel bike path. And it was followed by a construction zone that had us riding on the sidewalk. Just 3 km from our car I got a flat. Argh!
At first I thought the drivers just hated cyclists but later I drove a car through the area and continued to get abuse. Argh.
The next day we could have ridden some more but I looked at the roads and decided to stay on the boat. It was a gorgeous day and we made the right call.
My highlights were the Kirkfield lift lock and Fenelon Falls.
And no one honked at us!
Lesson learned. The next time we plan a biking and boating adventure we’re going to check out the cycling options more carefully.
Check out Jeff’s boating blog here and follow his adventures.