Trail Talk: Warm showers – a community of bicycle tourists and hosts
As a local cyclist who lives, has a bike shop and rides along the Lake Erie waterfront, I meet a significant number of touring cyclists. Many travellers are riding across North America, along the Canadian side of Lake Erie, enjoying the quiet roads and scenic towns that make up the Lake Erie Waterfront Trail. A popular cross country ride is from Portland, Oregon to Portland, Maine. Riders re-enter the United States at the Niagara crossing to continue east.
I am amazed at the diversity of touring cyclists, representing a wide range of demographic, geographic and economic backgrounds, who stop by my shop. Last summer I met a mid-50’s male rider from Los Angeles who literally rode out of his driveway and across North America. He was riding a custom touring bike and carrying camping gear in case he “got stuck somewhere and could not find a nice B&B”. We call these guys the ‘credit card’ tourers.
But the next day, three young riders stopped by, one in need of a new spoke. They were riding old, reclaimed bikes and had homemade gear (large coffee can with holes poked in the bottom for a stove). They were exploring the world on two wheels.
Cyclists like to share their experiences with each other. And for the most part, they simply need a place to clean up (warm shower) and a safe, low cost (preferably free) place to set up their tent and get a good night’s sleep. Thus, the creation of Warm Showers.
The Warm Showers community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. Participating members, both hosts and cyclists, provide their profile, background and contact information. Members can also provide feedback on each other, enabling everyone to decide who to host or where to stay. Currently there are 93,998 members worldwide with 5,931 in Canada.
Last year, my wife and I decided to enrol with Warm Showers after meeting Tuft University students, Erick from Los Angeles and Clara from New York City. Clara had never seen rural areas, small towns, camped or seen the night time sky filled with stars. It was a joy to see her discovering these experiences. Other guests included:
- 58 year old Chris from Colorado, travelling solo on a recumbent bike and planning her trip to exclusively stay with Warm Showers hosts.
- An Anglican Minister from Boston completing the Great Lakes Loop (around all the Great Lakes) with his teenage son.
- Two Scottish university grads travelling across North America before settling down to careers in the financial industry in Great Britain.
- Brothers from Minnesota riding across the country, in part to raise money for ALS research in memory of their father.
Next year we plan on having a guest book to record and remember the people we host.
As an avid cyclist and bike mechanic I love to meet touring cyclists, help them repair and maintain their bikes, see what they are riding and the gear they are using, hear tips for long trips and stories about their adventures. They inspire me to expand my cycling horizons and travel and explore the world on my bike. Not all hosts are avid cyclists and some, like my wife, simply enjoy meeting and sharing hospitality with others. Check out Warm Showers and consider using it to help you explore the world on two wheels and host others doing the same.
Submitted by John Fulton, Ontario’s South Coast Bicycles and Tours Inc.
Join Norfolk Pathways for People at the St. Williams Conservation Reserve
- Discover the trails
- Learn about the Conservation Reserve
- Connect with nature
When: Sunday, March 4th 2018 – 2pm. Plan for an hour walk
Snow or shine. Walk or snowshoe.
Where: Meet at the St. Williams Forestry Station Interpretive Centre – 885 HWY #24 (NW corner of Hwy 24 and Forestry Farm Road – Norfolk County Road 16)
Dust off Your Bike Event
Most people learn to ride a bike as children. And then for many, riding a bike is their main mode of transportation until they get a driver’s license. Sound familiar? If it’s been awhile since you’ve experienced the joy of riding a bicycle, it might be time to blow the dust off your old CCM, strap on a helmet [a smart idea even if you’re over 18], and hit the trails. Pathways for People and Ontario’s South Coast Bicycles and Tours Inc. are partnering with Bachmann Law to plan an event for Bike Month in June to help you do just that. Stay tuned for details.
Ontario by Bike
Many people have already rediscovered the joy of riding a bicycle. Their riding comfort may range from summer Saturday afternoons to months-long cross-country cycling vacations. People travelling any kind of distance on a bike know that staying fueled and having places to rest all add to the enjoyment of the journey. Small and large businesses across the province are also figuring that out.
A provincial group called Ontario By Bike encourages businesses to be bike-friendly and welcome cyclists. Whether it’s for a meal, a tune-up, a place to sleep or an attraction to visit, these businesses are making it easy for cyclists to find them by joining the online community. Learn more, find participating businesses or register your business by visiting: www.ontariobybike.ca
Pedestrian Safety on Roads and Trails – the rules are easy but a little reminder never hurts.
- Cross only at marked crosswalks or traffic lights; not in the middle of a block or between parked cars.
- Make eye contact with drivers before stepping into the road to cross.
- Wear bright or light-coloured clothing or reflective strips, especially at dusk or when it’s dark. Carry a flashlight!
- Always walk facing traffic where sidewalks are not provided.
At a traffic light:
- Cross when the traffic has completely stopped.
- Begin to cross at the start of the green light or “Walk” signal, where provided.
- Do not start to cross if you see a flashing “Do Not Walk” symbol or the light turns yellow. If you’ve already started to cross, complete your crossing in safety.
- Never cross on a red light.
- Watch for turning traffic at lights and in and out of driveways.
Sharing the Trail:
- When riding a bike on a shared trail, let pedestrians know you are coming by ringing your bell or call out ‘on your left’. Make sure they see you before passing.
- When walking on a shared trail, keep to the right hand side of the trail or path to give cyclists room to pass. Don’t wear full head phones so you can hear other trail users coming.
For more information: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/pedestrian-safety.shtml
Compiled from MTO files with input from Officer Ed Sanchuk, Norfolk County OPP
2017 Great Waterfront Trail Adventure
In 2008, the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, in partnership with Great Lakes communities and First Nations, launched the Great Waterfront Trail Adventure (GWTA), now one of Ontario’s favourite cycle holiday tours. Last summer, Norfolk County welcomed 156 cyclists from all over Canada and the United States as they travelled 530km from Pelee National Park to the Rouge National Urban Park.
Norfolk County made quite an impression on the participants with its paved shoulders, some challenging hilly terrain and a lovely mix of farms, roadside stands, forests, beaches, heritage sites, and ports.
The GWTA is so popular in largely due to the relaxed, travel at your own speed, pace. Participants visit communities, attractions and enjoy off-bike activities. Norfolk County has much to offer: a cone from the Twins Ice Cream Parlour, exhilarating canopy tours and zip lining at Long Point Eco-Adventures, gourmet food truck, stand-up paddle boarding, swimming, shopping and restaurants in Port Dover. And that was just day one.
For accommodations, the group enjoyed the hospitality of glamping suites at Long Point Eco- Adventures and the Erie Beach Hotel. Campers stayed at the Port Dover Arena, transformed into a comfortable campground with access to arena showers.
The next morning, Ward 6 Councillor John Wells welcomed the group for one of the tour’s finest breakfasts ever featuring local favourites such as apple donuts from The Apple Place in Simcoe, Nighs of Jarvis sausages, and Matz Fruit Barn tomatoes. We left the Lake Erie section of the Waterfront Trail to follow Brock’s Route into Hamilton, using a wonderful system of rail trails. Along the way, we enjoyed Simcoe’s Lion’s Park, a rest stop hosted by the Waterford Heritage Trail Committee and a highlight for everyone—the Waterford Black Bridge.
The stay in Norfolk County was a huge success thanks to the help and guidance of county staff Mark Boerkamp and Todd Shoemaker and many community businesses and partners. Interested in the 2018 tour? Check it out: 2018 GWTA.
GWTA 2017 Quick Facts:
# of riders: 156
Participants who stay in hotels rather than camp: 30%
Bikes used: Hybrids, road, recumbent
97% see the Trail as an important part of regenerating the Great Lakes
92% will recommend the GWTA to friends and family
92% rate the Great Waterfront Trail along the route as a “great cycling experience”
63% will return to the area
$184K economic benefits related to the GWTA. Average spending per participant $745 (transportation, accommodation, food, retail, groceries, other activities)
Submitted by Marlaine Koehler, Executive Director, Waterfront Regeneration Trust
Turkey Point Mountain Bike Club – Hanging with the Landlords
TPMBC’s excellent trail network only exists due to the grace and cooperation of Turkey Point landowners. The club has eight land agreements – four private and four crown/government. We maintain these properties solely for recreation – to ride our bicycles. The landowners have other uses and sometimes they invite us out to learn about the other land functions. Two such instances have just occurred:
St. Williams Conservation Reserve (SWCR) – Turkey Point Tract.
On Saturday, January 27th, a work bee was hosted by SWCR and TPMBC was invited to help out. Our participation was low due to the short notice and bad weather, but hopefully we will provide more assistance at the next work day on Saturday, February 24th. Volunteers cut tree limbs and cleared an area of forest to encourage the growth and restoration of the beautiful flower, Virginia Goat Rue, an endangered species present in Turkey Point. The work crew also took the opportunity to remove rubbish from the forest.
Norfolk County Woodlot c-8
On Saturday, January 20th, TPMBC was invited for a tour of Norfolk Woodlot c-8 by Adam Biddle, Superintendent of Forestry for Norfolk County. TPMBC has three trails on Woodlot c-8, Wild Turkey, Motorhead and The Big Easy. The tour gave us the opportunity to learn about sustainable forest management and good forestry practices.
The trails will be closed in the spring of 2018 while woodlot c-8 is being harvested. Adam explained all the tree markings: some were designated for use as hydro poles, some were for sawmill lumber, while others were marked to be cut as a thinning process to allow the healthiest trees more growing space. Trees with bird nests were identified and will not be harvested.
After the trees are cut, the stumps must be sprayed to prevent the spread of Fomes root rot – an infectious disease found in coniferous forest stands. 1200 trees (99.5% of which are Red Pine) will be cut on this 20 acre area. The long term plan is to create regeneration and more species diversity that will ultimately result in healthy hardwood forests.
Submitted by Rob Luke, President TPMBC
Waterford Heritage Trail
The Waterford Heritage Trail is looking forward to awakening from winter hibernation. Spring finds us hungry for funding and this year we will arouse like a Monarch from chrysalis and transform from being beggars to choosers. By this I mean we have overhead costs to meet early in the year and this year we have a solution that will put us on the road to self-sufficiency.
To achieve this goal we are embarking on a sponsorship program for each kilometre of trail. Area businesses, organizations, groups and individuals who accept the offer to sponsor will receive recognition via two 8×8 inch signs attached to the km markers embracing their chosen km. In recognition of the significant impact the trail has had on the community, the Waterford Chamber of Commerce has taken the lead in committing to a 5-year sponsorship of the Black Bridge km.
If you have any suggestions of potential sponsors please contact President Terry at 519-428-0060. We have a km awaiting your name. Don’t wait, call soon.
Submitted by Frank Woodcock
The Lynn Valley Trail and the New York City Marathon
Port Dover resident Ingrid Eaker shares her story:
A year ago my long time college friend, Vina, who resides in the U. S., asked me if I would serve as a volunteer guide to an athlete with a disability. I hesitated at first when the request was to guide the athlete in the 2017 New York City Marathon as I am not a runner. I have kept myself physically fit over the years with exercise and trail cycling and thought why not, a new challenge. I trained at first with power walking and slowly graduated to running (the Jeff Galloway method) along with my soon to be daughter-in-law, Allegra. As it grew closer to Marathon Day – November 5 – I needed to train long distance and the Lynn Valley Trail was ideal. In the months of September and October we trained on the trail every weekend from Port Dover to Simcoe and back to Port Dover. The 2017 fall weather was ideal and the trail was at its finest in beautiful colours. I was well prepared for the 26.6 mile marathon. We all crossed the finish line strong and proud that day. My training did not let me down.
November 5, 2017 will always be a proud memory for me as a Canadian and Norfolk County resident. The Lynn Valley Trail provided the best training as my attention and focus was on the beauty of nature surrounding me and not so much on my running technique. I looked forward to the trail training each weekend. The trail gave me energy! Thank you Lynn Valley Trail Association!
If you are not yet a member…
Consider purchasing a membership or making a donation to help keep the trail safe, beautiful and accessible. Join and / or donate at www.lynnvalleytrail.com/donate