Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Random Ride: One-Day Introduction to Canada


Random Ride: One-Day Introduction to Canada

One of the perks about living in Ohio is that Canada only is a few hours away. Being a long-time hockey player, I've grown to be very picky about the quality of my goalie equipment. I've often complained over the years that the inaccessibility of (good and comprehensive) hockey stores is rampant all over the United States, which makes a lot of sense because the sport itself isn't taken as seriously as it is in the north. So, one of my goals after moving here was to visit the Don Simmons store in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada, a little custom goalie equipment shop just over the border. I had that opportunity yesterday as part of a one-day escapade to our neighbor to the north. Matt planned out this ride after realizing that he had a complete day off, a rarity for him nowadays because he works two jobs.

So Matt and I decided to take a day ride to visit Canada. We set out yesterday at 6AM and rode a direct route via I-71 and I-90, crossing Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. With only two stops for gas and quick snacks we made it to the US/Canada border via Buffalo, NY right before noon. Crossing the border took less than five minutes with a passport check. Note to all you riders out there: only one motorcycle at a time at the customs and toll gates.

Our first stop was the Don Simmons Store in Fort Erie. After staring and drooling at their website for so many years, I had the chance to go and actually try on their products. (I had purchased a set of Simmons 992 goalie pads about five years ago and have been a fan ever since.) Rick at the store was wonderful and took the time to help me out. I spent almost three hours playing around and testing the equipment for the proper combination of gear I'd like to move to when I can afford the upgrade. I did get out of there with a new goalie pelvic protector; a strange but very much sought after souvenir for me.

For a late lunch, we rode to Niagara Falls and watched the falls from the cruising comfort of our bikes. We then parked the bikes and had a buffet meal at the Casino Niagara before hitting the video poker for a few minutes. Thanks to a lucky four-of-a-kind, I turned $5 into $20 and we got back onto the bikes to ride west toward Michigan. Surprisingly, this was the first casino where the entire establishment was completely non-smoking (smoking gamers had their own area blocked off by doors). I guess you can pull that off here, because that certainly wouldn't fly in Las Vegas.

Instead of going back the way we came, we traveled around Lake Erie by riding westward on the 402 toward the Michigan side of the border, gassing up at Canadian Tire and winning $2 on a lotto scratcher in Brantford (home of Wayne Gretzky). We passed some other famous cities and sites that were also accessible via 402 such as Straftord (home of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival), Simcoe (home of former Sharks defenseman Rob Blake), and a nudist beach. We didn't stop again until we were about ten miles from the end of 402, filling up again and switching over to rain gear after a light sprinkle hinted at the heavier rain up ahead.

The northern bridge back to the US (entering into Michigan) wasn't as smooth. The Memorial Day weekend traffic, combined with a light rain, turned the wait into an uncomfortable stop-and-go for almost two hours. We finally reentered the country a little past 11PM and ended up sleeping for a few hours in a hotel south of Detroit before waking up at 6AM to ride the last two and a half hours back home via I-94, I-75, and US-23. If it wasn't for the last border crossing we would've been home by about 11PM that evening. Note to self... when planning an Iron Butt run, do not involve crossing into other countries for the possibility of delays.

If you're planning to take this route, expect to pay a few tolls. It's approximately $6.00 total per person for entry and exit at the border and $3.00 the end of the New York turnpike en route to the border.

This was definitely a scenic, long distance quick run. I'd recommend trying this one on a non-holiday weekend to avoid the border traffic. Otherwise, it's beautiful during this time of the year. The weather ranged from 70°-90°F all day and with the exception of the rain at the end, it was quite pleasant.

Route is below. Approximately 780 miles. Very doable in a day but it'll keep you on your bike for most of it...if you're up to the challenge.

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