Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Toronto to Kingston, ON: The Achilles Express

So we made it to Toronto to my cousin Anita's house for three days of talking, sightseeing, and entirely too much food and wine. We last visited Anita ten years ago, so we had lots to catch up. And the fact we have similar social and political viewpoints allowed us to indulge in long discussions of what is going on in this world. And after a bottle of wine we also came up with plenty of solutions to the world's problems, too. Anita zipped us around the city in her really cool black Honda Fit to visit with my Onkel Heinz at his assisted living facility, to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Distillery District, and dinner parties with her fun bunch of friends. She even made fresh pasta on our last night and, as you can see, food, friends, and wine make for happy faces.

We took an extra day in Toronto in hopes of a quick recovery for my sore Achilles tendon. We also took the ViaRail from Toronto to Kingston to reduce some kilometers and to buy some time for rest days. We rode the subway to Union Station in Toronto. Bikes are allowed on the subway after rush hour, and we barely got noticed with our fully loaded bikes, as is customary subway etiquette of pretending not to notice the unusual.

Kingston is a university town on the shore of Lake Ontario known as the "limestone city" because of the use of the local stone in much of the building construction.

There are no campgrounds in Kingston, so after leaving the train station we wheeled over to one of the hostels we found on the internet. The doorbell elicited no response, so we were standing outside pondering our next move. A very fit commuter cyclist came up to us to ask, as has happened so many times before, where we are from and where we are going. He offered to make a few calls to see if we could camp in the closed municipal campground. No luck, but he then offered to let us pitch our tent in his backyard for the night. We said, sure, and the next thing we know we were a trio of bikers winding our way through town.

Hal is a very avid cyclist, as evidenced by the multitude of bikes stored in his garage and basement. We cooked our dinner on his generous deck while he went off to a meeting of the local cycling club. Later, we talked cycling and travel until evening turned to night.

We were lucky to arrive in Kingston during the Kingston Cycling Week, a celebration of everything on human-powered wheels. Kingston Velo Club's contribution to the event was to host a Roll-In Breakfast -- free calories and caffeine to anyone on a bike. Since we qualified, we packed up our gear and rolled right in. It was like a party. The other members of the club welcomed us like we were one of them, asked about our trip, compared gear, and generally were outstanding hosts. It was a hub of activity -- there are lots of cyclists in town on their way to work or school, and the velo club reeled them in like fish on a line. These are fun people -- their brochure says their bike rides often end up at a local donut emporium. The local paper even was there, and the article the next day quoted Hal and John and was accompanied by our picture with Hal, our new cycling friend.

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badhatharry said...

I can see that more than half the fun in what you are doing is the people you meet.

Everyone is interesting and interested in you. You can't go wrong!

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