August 6: Dunnville to Pelham - Cannon Ball 300 on a Cannondale (Tour 20) - 2021 🇨🇦 - CycleBlaze

August 6, 2021

August 6: Dunnville to Pelham

Rail-trails, canal-side paths and town streets

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Hipwells Motel, $74

GUESS who was excited to get going this morning? So much so, that I was up around 6 am to eat my breakfast and shower then was rolling around 7 am or so. Into the slightly hazy morning I went, back toward the town centre and along past as the road went alongside the river.

I hadn't made the adjustments to my gps properly so I stopped a few times to be sure I was on the right track. At a key point there was a guy walking his dog so he came over to chat a bit but had no idea about the route I was looking for. So once I got going I pulled over again to make sure it was the right path. It was.

Initially the traffic was really busy with lots of dump trucks. They were all turning at one specific spot so before long the route was quiet, and when I turned onto North Canal Road there were almost no cars. It reminded me of a road I was cycling just out of Navalmoral, Spain, in the way the road and sunlight combined.

The route was arrow-straight through the fields of corn dotted with wind turbines. I was keeping an eye out for the turn onto a rail-trail which was easy enough to find as the steel gates were in place to keep out cars and ATVs. This was the former railbed that ran from Dunnville to Port Colborne and was also arrow-straight, eventually meeting up with 'live' tracks in Port Colborne.

Most of this route was on packed gravel, but for a while there were two narrow strips of gravel running through short-cut grass. I assumed that this area was not as used as the spots closer to the towns. Again, one of the main ideas for the Cannon Ball 300 was to run along little-used trails to try to increase their popularity. These are used but not a great deal. I saw one jogger before getting to Port Colborne. Of course, it was early, and maybe over the weekend thngs would be busier.

Arriving at the edge of Port Colborne the route diverted onto the road since the tracks were still being used in town. I meandered first through a number of new subdivisions, then through a number of streets where the houses were three story brick houses of about 100 years old, all surrounded by old towering trees. I stopped at one house to ask a woman about a cafe and she suggested the Green Apple and gave me directions - through the downtown and along the canal. It was easy to find, but I had to wait as it seems everyone in town knows about this little secret. Their pastries were all sold out (it was 10 am) so all I had was a delicious capp then got my water bottle filled to make more electrolyte drink.

Now the sun was really beating down and the humidity was rising - realfeel was in the low to mid thirties so I maade sure to drink a lot of fluid. I backtracked my route to where I had diverted to the Green Apple and resumed. It gradually drifted over to the Welland Canal, past the huge Robin Hood flour silos then right alongside an Alogma Central lake liner (is that the name?) which was chugging down the canal at about 10 km/h. There would have been enough room for another one going the other way - but just. And with the venturi effect which would pull them together, I would not want to try my hand at piloting one of these ships through this tiny canal.

After a bit I was alongside water but not the main canal, and it actually even stopped at one point then resumed after getting across the active east-west railbed. I'm not sure if these were going to be joined together to make another canal joining Lakes Ontario and Erie or if they were here as water buffers for the main canal. They had rows of red and white lane markers for rowers and at one point there were some pairs rowing.

Once into Welland, my route diverted in a NNW direction and away from the water. There was a designated bike route, though, so the going was quiet and only occasionally did I cross some really busy city streets. When I was in the Pelham area I came to a sign indicating that I was on the Steve Bauer cycle route. For those who don't recognize the name, Mr. Bauer is a cyclist, now running tours, but in the 1990s was an elite racer and held the yellow jersey for many days prior to the final stages. I told myself at the time that if I ever met him, I would like to tell him how proud of him I was and what he must have done for cycling in Canada. I'm not sure if he is running tours during Covid, but look him up if interested.

I came to the Fonthill section of Pelham and made a few zigs and zags which made me miss as much of Hwy 20 as possible, but then there was no other choice. Though I don't like to do it, I rode the sidewalk in one portion where the road narrowed and went down a dark ravine - I was worried cars might not see me in time. Coming up the other side of the ravine I could see my little motel. Though Hipwells Motel is an old-style motel, it must have been the only thing surrounded by grapevines in the past. Though old, it is neat, tidy and well manicured outside. The family running it have been very pleasant.

I dozed most of the afternoon, then decided to look for supper. When I had booked the motel a few weeks ago, they told me there were nearby places to get food. Well, nearby if you have a car, but it was about 1.5 km away. Not bad, except it is hot out. A Thai restaurant was the closest, so I ordered some... pad thai... and held it in one hand as I held the handlebars with the other, back through the ravine and up the hill. I ate under the shade of a big pine tree and am now luxuriating in the breeze of my ac which I had left off until now.

I am looking over maps for tomorrow's route. The way I planned it, I am returning to where I left the canal to resume my route. This will give a total of about 40 km. The other option is to head straight east to the canal then head north to St. Catharines which would be a total of about 30 km. I am pretty sure I will do the former unless there are gale force northerly winds tomorrow. I doubt it. Then sister is supposed to pick me up for a holiday-within-a-holiday and bring me back to their place for the day. I will also take the opportunity to bring anything I won't need on my last day of cycling to lighten the load. I'll just pop the stuff into my car.

As for the rest of the evening, I might watch a bit of tv, read, and see what is happening in the world. Flags are hanging at half-mast nearby so something has happened somewhere.

Out of town and once cars had turned onto a main highway, there was just me, the canal, my bike and the road. (Dunnville, ON)
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There were many fields of corn and a few older barns. I love barns. (Dunnville, ON)
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A bit of the old and the new. Dotted throughout the area and surrounded by cornfields were quite a few wind turbines. (Dunnville, ON)
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Some farms seemed unused. I am not sure if they were going to be built up or farmed but they sure are pretty. (Dunnville, ON)
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Just another barn and wind turbine under the morning sun (Dunnville, ON)
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This was the start of the rail trail. The trail actually ran back to Dunnville, but that portion had not been made suitable for cyclists and had tall wild grass that maybe a person could walk through. From here to Port Colborne there was always at least a small strip of gravel. (Dunnville, ON)
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As is the case with most of the trails this week, this is part of the Trans Canada Trail. (between Dunnville and Port Colborne, ON)
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Arrow-straight, once this trail began I never had to make any turns. I rolled and rolled and rolled and... Smooth gravel right to PC. (between Dunnville and Port Colborne, ON)
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Sometimes a little narrow but always easily rideable even with a road bike I would say. (between Dunnville and Port Colborne, ON)
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Mr. Bauer is from nearby Fenwick and the last I checked, he was running cycle tours. Of course in the 1990s he was wearing the Yellow Jersey in the Tour de France before giving it up in the last few days. A Canadian cycling hero in my books. (Pelham, ON)
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Today's ride: 62 km (39 miles)
Total: 293 km (182 miles)

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