London to Port Bruce, four days, by bicycle
“I settled on lunch under a shady tree at New Sarum Diner at 12:45.”
CHAPTER TWO - A detour and a free lunch
I left my house and my anxious wife (“What will I do with all my free time, now that he’s gone?” she wondered.) at 9:45 a.m. on Friday, the 24th of August, and headed to a nearby bike shop to buy pedals with toe clips, but I found it was closed, so I past some time by pumping up the tires on my bike and heavily-loaded trailer, and tapping my feet.
In all I waited about 15 minutes but couldn’t wait any longer because the thought of riding 60 kilometers weighed heavy on my shoulders, as did the extra pounds of gear I had behind me... compared to a similar trip earlier in the summer. (My large can of Irish Stew with its ‘preformed chunks of meat’ alone felt like five pounds of excess cargo during the first two blocks of pedaling. I decided to keep it on board anyway, along with a lot of other stuff I used once - or not at all - during four days of camping. My packing skills are a work in progress).
“Forget about the pedals,” I said and headed south toward Bradley Avenue, Pond Mills and Wilton Grove Roads. They led me to my favourite route south to Lake Erie, i.e., Old Victoria Sideroad.
Though Old Vic has a few sections still in gravel (the road isn’t called ‘Old’ for no good reason), the hard-packed dirt is a decent ride and the lack of traffic is a welcome relief. When motorcycling to Port Bruce in the past I often used the road at low speed for sight-seeing. I once spotted elderberry bushes in bloom and another time wild turkeys on the run - nearly 50 miles per hour it seemed - in harvested corn fields.
On this day I found it closed due to construction.
[My favourite route is closed]
“Darn it all,” I said, though not politely. “Now I’ll have to take the Belmont Road to New Sarum (on Highway 3).”
On the plus side I would have all paved roads. On the minus side I would have heavier traffic, more noise - compared to birds - and less solitude. And I like solitude. I like stepping off the bike in quiet spots and listening to the wind in the willows, chirp of golden finches and quietness of wide open spaces.
[Sometimes, on a quiet day, I hear corn grow]
Not today, I thought. At least, not until I get to Quaker Rd. south of Highway 3.
My trip diary - it’s always close at hand - records the following: I continued east (RATS!) on Wilton Grove Rd. = busier, w chewed up shoulder. Belmont Rd. was OK w shoulder and I arrived in Belmont @ 11:50 but pressed on (w 2 major hills) to Mapleton. Made good time so settled on lunch under a shady tree @ New Sarum Diner @ approx. 12:45.
According to my well-organized ‘camping menu’, which I kept on a separate piece of paper in my wallet (close to my money, as if to say, “Go easy, man. Stick to some sorta budget”), I planned to buy myself, as some kind of reward for endurance, a nice lunch at the New Sarum Diner, the home of ‘four-penny cheese’ in the not-too-distant past.
[I planned every meal. But didn’t stick to it!]
But my wife had packed a lunch for me so I relaxed in the shade outside the diner, stuffed my face for free and put the frustration of the detour behind me.
[In the shade, outside the diner]
Note to readers: I wrote a column in The Londoner (London’s finest community newspaper) several years ago re the New Sarum Diner
and their world famous ‘four-penny cheese’. If it wasn’t world famous then, it is now.
When I find a link to the actual column I will provide it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!
Please join me soon for CHAPTER THREE and more PHOTOS FROM ALONG THE WAY.
[Photos by G.Harrison]