My Route

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Day 16: Tuesday, 17th July. Destination: Budget Inns, Niagara Falls, New York

Cycling along the restored canalway has been a real pleasure, though 91 miles of gravel track has taken it’s toll on our bottoms. I composed a song entitled “(I’ve Gotta) Sore Butt (And My Butt Is Sore)”, and sang several dozen choruses to keep myself going. No cars and some people walking have provided a nice change. Early morning today, a flock of Canada Geese flew in formation down the canal, passing us in elegant silence. We saw beaver, squirrels, chipmunk and an abundance of ducks and geese.

The last day of our cycle trip together took us past elevator bridges that opened upwards to let boats pass underneath, past locks, and past more small towns serving the boating community. Arriving in Lockport, we had a steep ascent past a large lock that marked the end of our Erie adventure, and then rejoined the world of cars and roads. Welcome enough, at least by our bums, though the peace and quiet will be missed. The final 20 miles to Niagara Falls were straight and uneventful, passed flat, green fields dotted with woodland. It started to rain as we negotiated the grey, industrial outskirts and major road intersections approaching Niagara. It seemed that according to the ACA map we were almost in the centre, yet all we saw were huge areas of electric transformers and concrete overpasses.

As has become our routine on this trip, I usually cycle ahead navigating with the current panel of our unfolding series of maps displayed in the transparent cover of my handlebar bag. Ewa is behind me and Edward usually brings up the rear – not because he’s not Mr Muscle, I hasten to add – have you seen his calves recently? - but (and this is conjecture because I never asked) to make sure there were no stragglers left behind. At any questionable junction I’d wait for E&E and, if necessary or for the purpose of reassurance, consult with Edward who had the same route unfolding on his sat nav. The limitation of the printed map becomes evident when it’s necessary to go off-route, or the town is slightly more complex than the 4m/1” scale can illustrate (I suspect that’s what happened back at the foot of the Kanc). At such points Edward would take over using his sat nav, and that’s what he did here. He took us up and over a fabulous abandoned bridge into the heart of the somewhat seedy and dilapidated old town till we finally found our Motel on the edge of the tourist strip. We made it! Celebration commenced in the motel room with a jumbo bag of doritos and an extra-large can of beer for me, phone-texting for Edward and TV watching for Ewa.

After the usual shower and clothes wash procedure we walked into town to admire the Falls, which revealed themselves dramatically at the far end what would otherwise have been an ordinary city park. Quite mesmerising, watching the sheer weight of water pound down into the gorge below. Still, you know, we’re cyclists at the end of a 71 mile day and hungry, so enough with the view, already: where’s the food? We chowed down at the unexpectedly charmless Niagara Centre, which had all the character of a partly closed-down 1980’s shopping mall. Its saving grace being an Indian buffet which, although about to close and just about run out of food, served us some rice, naan and veggie curry on polystyrene plates. Don’t say we don’t know how to party.