Finale of the Hamilton-Brantford-Cambridge Rail Trail Adventure

It was time to finish the trail 🙂

In one shot – almost 60 kms to go…

We decided to challenge ourselves, see if we could do it, giving each other allowance to stop if needed while the other continued. We both knew I’d keep going until I fell off my bike – I’m a little stubborn sometimes 🙂

It was the first bike ride of the season, and it wasn’t a particularly smart idea to start with a 60km haul, and there are always going to be so many reasons NOT to try something, and sometimes you just have to go for it and see what happens.

So we did.

It was supposed to be great weather, both boys were in school, we worked out plans with Josiah for driving everyone around after school and coming to pick us up wherever we stopped for the day (thank you so much Josiah!), and…

OFF WE WENT!

I looked up the average cyclist can travel 20 kms in one hour on level ground, so we figured this might take 3-4 hours with a couple of snack stops along the way.

We bought Josh a pair of padded bicycle shorts just before heading out of town to the Jerseyville starting point.

We loaded up the tiny backpack with water, Gatorade, and protein bars.

We spread on the sunscreen, put on the hats and sunglasses, and starting pedaling.

There are not many pictures of today’s adventure… we were intent on pushing the pedals as opposed to stopping for pictures… but here are a few to share… this first one not so encouraging!

And yes the trail did erode at some points! But not many, and the feeling of off-roading was sort of cool once in a while 🙂 The trail was dry almost the whole way, the weather was just right, and we were in the shade for much of the journey. It was perfect riding weather.

I remember farms, fields, towns, the city of Brantford, birds, rivers, and many people on the trails once we got near Brantford, then quiet again as we traveled through to Cambridge. We could always tell when a town was near because more people would be on the trails.

There were portions of the trail that were cared for by people – their names were on the markers. One person even provided a bicycle repair station! And some provided bird feeders. Some cut the grass on either side of the trail – it was interesting to see how different people cared differently for the trail.

Some parts of the trail were gravel, some were paved.

We would have got completely lost at one point coming out of Brantford, after stopping at McDonald’s to rehydrate with a $1 drink! The trail took us on a city street and looped back onto a trail behind a cemetery. Josh gets all the credit for keeping us on track at that point. We spent a good while looking at the map and the GPS on our phones and trying to figure it out, and Josh got us back on track.

And I suppose I get the credit for saving us some time (and possibly a few kms) as we biked through Brantford, when there were many trails combined together, and navigating our route was tricky.

A great memory is crossing a big rail bridge just before Paris… I asked Josh to slow down and take it all in… a Great Blue Heron flew overhead and landed on the shore of the river, and a deer was grazing on the river’s edge on the other side of the river. The water was sparkling, the sky was blue… magical 🙂

I remember a few times along the way the dandelion seeds were so thick in the air that it looked like it was snowing.

I remember ducking under bridges and gliding through the darkness of tunnels.

I remember Lilac Way (or at least that’s what I’m naming it 🙂 )…

The smell of the lilacs was amazing. I couldn’t help but stop for a few minutes and smell the purple and white blossoms on either side of the trail. It took me back to my lilac trees in Sudbury – they’d be blooming just about now. I used to smell them at least once a day when I checked the mailbox at the end of our long driveway.

There were so many interesting people sharing the trail with us that day too…

Many senior couples on bicycles (this gives me hope for biking for decades to come!).

A young man who ran almost as fast as our bikes – telling us he’s been doing this for many years, many miles.

A man jogging and pushing a woman in all-terrain wheelchair.

A man with 2 metal side bags and 2 canvas side bags looked like he meant to put in some serious miles on the trail.

In the end we spent about 6 hours on our bikes that day instead of 3-4 hours.

Did we want to give up?

Yes I know we both did at different times. But we just kept going.

Did it hurt?

Yes, most certainly, without a doubt, we were both finding it nearly impossible to sit on the bicycle seat for one second longer! And that’s with the padded shorts 😉 That might have been the toughest thing to push through.

Pain.

And that’s something I’ll be processing for a while – that feeling of fpain, and keeping going, and not stopping even though we could have anytime. Because emotional pain is invisible, intangible, elusive sometimes, and not easy to measure. But physical pain increases, reminds you it needs attention, lets you know your limits, and gives you the choice to stop or push through.

I’m glad we pushed through.

I’m glad we finished the Rail Trail adventure.

I’m glad for companionship on the journey.

I wonder what adventures await next? 🙂

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