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Day 27: St. Thomas, ON to Cayuga, ON

Fun news: I biked my 2,222nd mile of the trip today! (This only holds true if you include my warm-up ride in Seattle; otherwise I’m about 6 miles short.)

More fun news: The article from yesterday was posted, and you can read it here.

Still more fun news: Remember how my stated goal for daily distance was 80-100 miles? Today was the first day I achieved that goal since I got to Bismarck. Of the 15 days I pedaled between Bismarck and St. Thomas, five were over 100 miles and ten were under 80 miles, but none were actually in my target range.

So let’s get down to the day. Once again I didn’t get quite the early start I would have liked and hit the road at 7:50. Since my Airbnb was a few miles south of downtown St. Thomas, as I mentioned, it made the most sense for me to just head east on small county roads and avoid any more major highways. Of course, today had a lovely easterly breeze, so major road or minor road I was going to have to fight a headwind all day, and the only question was how strong the wind was at any given time.

The downside to avoiding highways is that there aren’t too many places to stop on small county roads. (The pavement also isn’t great. See my complaint from yesterday.) Mindful of what happened with the closed restaurant yesterday, I carefully researched a place to eat breakfast and took a 24-mile ride to Sunshine Restaurant. Besides serving me a nice eggs Benedict, they also gave me a 10% discount for no other reason than the fact that I was a first-time visitor to the area.

In the restaurant’s washroom (as Canadians call it), there was a notice that the restaurant had been required to post by the government, notifying patrons that local well water had been found to have unusually high levels of sodium. The notice went on to say that while the levels were still well below the point where they could affect the taste of the water, they might pose a risk to people with hypertension. My reaction however was, “Great! More electrolytes!” and I happily filled up my water bottle with the local tap water.

Another 15 miles past the restaurant, there was a sign warning me of a bridge out ahead. Now, “Bridge Out” signs can mean one of several things:

  • There was a bridge ahead but it has been completely removed. You’re only going to get across with a boat or by swimming.
  • There is a bridge ahead under heavy construction. Motor vehicles can’t get past but a pedestrian or a bicycle probably can.
  • There is a bridge ahead that used to be under construction, and we forgot to take the sign down when the construction was finished.

Two of those scenarios were situations where I could get across. I checked Google to see about alternate routes, and it looked like the best alternative would still cost me about 4 miles, so I decided to take my chances. Here’s what I found:

Given that the bridge was still passable for pedestrians and bikes, it’s annoying that they didn’t leave any gap between the barrier and the rail. As I’ve mentioned before, my bike is too heavy to lift more than a couple of inches when the saddle bags are attached, so I had to remove the bags, lift the bike over the barrier, reattach the bags, walk the bridge, and then repeat at the barrier on the other side. It was annoying and tiresome, but it took a whole lot less time than biking 4 extra miles would have.

At 47 miles, I arrived at my first brewery of the day, Charlotteville Brewing, which is located in a barn in the middle of nowhere. I’ve been to a few breweries in barns in the middle of nowhere before (see, e.g., Hitchcock Brewing in my “T minus 1 week” post), but it’s a rare enough experience that it still feels pretty unusual. The brewery visit is also why I didn’t mind my late start too much⁠— it was actually timed so that I would arrive at the brewery right when they opened at noon. Mind you, thanks to the bridge delay I actually got there closer to 12:15, but either way it was pretty well timed. It also meant I was more than halfway done with the day’s ride before noon, which is always good.

That’s the owner’s daughter in the photo, by the way. She was working the bar, and when I asked if I could get a photo I told her it was her choice whether or not to be in the shot. For the beer, my favorite was definitely the Middle of Nowhere super saison. It’s a really flavorful saison that sure doesn’t taste like 8.3%. Another really good one was their lemon lavender witbier. It wasn’t overwhelmingly lemony, just enough to be refreshing. It’s also not on the list in the photo because it kicked while I was drinking it and they replaced it with a different beer. I have to imagine they’ll make it again though. Oh and one cool thing they did was give me a discount for arriving by bike. They said they want to encourage environmentally-friendly means of transportation. Now they just need to get a bike rack 😁

I also learned at Charlotteville that there’s a whole Toast the Coast wine and beer trail sponsored by local wineries and breweries and the local tourism office. I hadn’t been to a winery since Wisconsin, so I figured I should hit one up today. Unfortunately, most of the good ones were quite a bit out of my way. Identifying two that looked pretty close to my intended route, I asked the bartender which one she’d recommend and she suggested Frisky Beaver, so I headed off to see them.

Frisky Beaver is just outside the lakeside resort town of Port Dover (the lake is named Erie; I hear it’s pretty Great), which was going to be my next destination otherwise, so it wasn’t much of a detour at all. They mostly focus on blends, and they just opened a new facility and are still getting set up there, so they only had a chardonnay, a white blend, and two red blends available for tasting. Now mind you, these are more table wines rather than vintage wines, though one of the red blends was under their “higher end” label of Smoke & Gamble. Still, I liked the Frisky White blend of vidal, riesling, and gewurtztraminer, which makes for a nice, easy-drinking summer white. I also enjoyed the Smoke & Gamble red blend of pinot, cabernet, and merlot. My one disappointment was that they didn’t have any of their ice wines available to taste. The cute Canadian beavers sitting around the shop made up for it a bit though.

After the wine, I headed into Port Dover, which put me 60 miles into my day. First order of business was lunch, but after that I walked around town a bit. It was really hot in the sun (I got an ice cream cone that I had to rush to eat before it melted), so that meant there were a ton of people on the beach and in the water.

There was also this cute lighthouse dating to 1847 at the end of a pier.

From Port Dover it was only 9 miles to Jarvis, but at this point in the afternoon the headwind had really picked up, and the sun was still beating down, so just going 9 miles felt like a huge slog. At 5:15 I rolled into Jarvis feeling pretty exhausted and went to Concession Road Brewing. Boy was it nice to have a cold beer in an air conditioned room! There was one beer, in fact, that I found so refreshing that I ordered a second pour of it: the Summer’s Here tropical pale ale, with peach, pineapple, and lactose. If you’re wondering what a tropical pale ale is, it’s the pale ale equivalent of a milkshake IPA. Basically, the owner told me that she had been trying to make a milkshake IPA, got the hops wrong, and wound up with a tropical pale ale. But it worked so well that they continued making it, trying different fruit combinations as they’ve gone along. The peach and pineapple combination really worked well for me. In terms of their more standard brews, the Grand Trunk red ale had good flavor and a medium body. It was also the darkest beer they keep on tap in the middle of the summer.

I wound up chatting with the owner at some length, and she decided I should be in the brewery’s photo for this blog. I asked her to include as much of the artwork as possible for the signs for their mainstay beers.

By the time I finally left, it was 6:30, I had told the innkeeper at my B&B that I’d be there at 7, and I was still 15 miles from Cayuga. Oh, and did I mention there was a headwind? So I bolted out the door, and while I wouldn’t say I did an all-out sprint, I was certainly pedaling hard. At least with the sun lower it was much cooler, and the wind wasn’t as strong either. It still took me a bit over an hour to get to Cayuga.

Unfortunately, I realized en route that I had never closed my tab at Concession Road. If this had been the US, I would have called them, explained the situation, told them to put a good tip on the card, and then canceled the card once I knew the charge had gone through. But in Canada it’s illegal for restaurant and bar staff to take a card out of your sight for any reason (presumably to prevent fraud), so bar tabs are on the honor system. (Of course, if this were the UK this never would have come up because pubs there are strictly pay-as-you-go.) So I emailed them once I got to my B&B and asked if they had PayPal or any way for me to pay them. They told me they were happy to make it on the house. I still feel bad because they’re a really small brewery and I like supporting small businesses. So PLEASE drop by Concession Road if you’re driving across Southern Ontario. It’s not too bad a detour from the 403 in Hamilton or Brantford, and you can check out the beach at Port Dover while you’re at it.

But one way or another, I’m in Cayuga now, and New York State is within striking distance! I won’t make it to Rochester tomorrow because I took it easy yesterday, but I should definitely be able to make it past Buffalo.

Total distance: 84.1 miles
Average speed: 14.3 mph

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