This past Sunday I participated in the third annual Tour de Greenbelt in Niagara. Not as a staff member, but as a bona fide participant. Having worked on this project for the majority of the spring and summer, I was eager to see the event unfold from the family perspective that we had been promoting.
Unfortunately, at the last minute my husband was unable to join me due to craziness in his work life. Undeterred, I rented a mini van, packed up my little guy Harrison and headed out to Niagara bright and early on Sunday morning. Loaded in back? My bike, the bike trailer, Harrison’s own little runner bike in case he wanted to be part of the action, and (of course!) our helmets.
I’d been nervous about the weather so was originally planning on sticking to the family route around the Henry of Pelham vineyard. With the overnight rain shifting things, I decided that I’d just “go for it” with the 22km Meander route hauling Harrison in the trailer behind me, his bike stuffed in the back compartment.
The weather was perfect - a little brisk, but refreshing once the body was warmed up thanks to cycling up a big hill almost literally right outside the gate! It was a nice way to get warmed up and I settled in for the ride, chatting with a few other cyclists and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.
About 6km in we came to the first rest stop, St. John’s Conservation Area. The loop around the lake was was so quiet and peaceful and it was nice to see folks hunkering down to check out the fish and tadpoles.
Madly peddling to keep up to the group, I soon realized that I was at the very back of the pack and relaxed enough to embrace the meanderingness of the ride. This meant pulling over to the side of the road when I spotted a field of enormous, bright orange pumpkins. They were huge already so who knows how big they’ll be come October!
As I came to the top of another hill I saw the next rest stop for the route, at about 11km, Jacob’s Fruit Farm. Apples were hanging heavy on the trees and kids were excitedly climbing in and out of a wagon, ready for a ride around the orchard.
Harrison and I took the time to see how apples are polished in a apple polisher, pick some varieties of apples and collect some new apple recipes, as well as take that wagon ride, along with his bike (he just had to bring it with us on the wagon!).
After all our fun I felt it was time to get back to the festivities at Henry of Pelham since we’d fallen well behind the group. Luckily, we were able to get a ride back on the support bus for the Tour, along with a few other over-lingering meanderers like ourselves. Since the bus circled the route to pick up anyone else who might need a lift, we got a chance to see the rest of the stops and the gorgeous Niagara countryside before arriving back at the vineyard in time to join in the BBQ.
And as for Harrison? The day was a complete success (his bike had to be parked in the front hall once at home, so it was “close by”) - as evidenced by the late afternoon nap in the mini van on the drive back to Toronto.
-- Allison Decker
The Tour de Greenbelt has one more weekend left if you’d like to have a Greenbelt experience on two wheels! Saturday, September 25 the ride takes place in and around Newmarket in York Region and Sunday, September 26 the ride will be happening in Uxbridge in Durham Region. More details can be found at www.TourdeGreenbelt.ca. Use code 951595 to save $5 off of registration.