Tour de Tigerrabbit (Part 1)

Posted: June 1, 2011 in Bike, In Transition

I didn’t know it growing up, but I am very blessed where I live.  I am blessed in that depending on which way the wind blows I can travel in any number of directions that will take me through aromatic wine country, past enormous ocean and lake-going vessels sailing miles inland between Great Lakes, along the scenic Niagara Parkway from Queenston to Niagara Falls, sprint past the endless orchards and vineyards along the Concession roads in Niagara-on-the-Lake, cruise the rural back roads of Effingham, Pelham, and Fonthill, tackle the steep climbs up the natural Escarpment that cuts through the entire Niagara Region, etc.  Sometimes (particularly in the Fall) I will even make the long 130k haul all the way to the US border at Fort Erie, or even onto historic Ridgeway; it never ends. Oh, and did I mention all the opportunities you will find to stop for ice cream along the way? Either way, I’m guaranteed a fun, challenging, and scenic ride.  It’s seldom I ever return home without having seen something of particular interest or beauty – some of which I have posted already.

Today’s short ride was just a quick jaunt past some of the iconic landmarks from my childhood that are all within an easy 60 minute bike ride from my own downtown St. Catharines home; something I will call the ‘Tour d’ Tigerrabbit’.  And given that I also happen to be on my haloed ‘Taper Week’ this month, today was the chance to mount my aluminum stallion – affectionately known as ‘Daisy’ – and take her out to relive some of these past memories, as well as just enjoying the day and the view. These types of rides are few and far between these days so when the opportunity comes (as it has today), I like to take full advantage.

The current homestead: Foxbase Alpha

This is Foxbase Alpha – my current home on Woodland Avenue in St. Catharines.  It’s a nice old house in a quiet downtown residential neighborhood.  This is where I begin and end 95% of my outdoor workouts, so you know then that that particular front porch has seen it’s fair share of sweaty asses and awkwardly stretching guys in leotard (much to the dismay of the neighbors perhaps).  That’s Daisy in front.

YEILD to big ass ships

Here’s something you don’t see everyday this far inland.  The fourth Welland Canal cuts right through the heart of the Greenbelt of the Niagara Region between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie so, often, it’s not bad traffic or a passing freight train that may delay my bike ride, but an enormous 1000 ft. long sailing vessel capable of carrying up to 68,000 metric tons.  It never ceases to boggle my mind and the sight of a massive ship such as this passing within meters is absolutely mesmerizing.

Quart fruit baskets

There is a large agricultural community here (Greenbelt, remember?).  You name it: apples, pears, peaches, grapes, apricots, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, corn, hell, we got it for sale or for fresh picking somewhere nearby.  Often, these same fields and orchards can provide a convenient and healthy roadside snack for a tired passing rider (or runner).  A freshly plucked peach from a nearby orchard tree is about the sweetest reward any exhausted chubby triathlete could ask for; I just wouldn’t recommend trying to climb any peach trees in your riding cleats.

The train doesn’t stop here anymore

This CN Rail sign used to mark the public crossing at the old Merritton train station at Walnut Street.  I used to cross here everyday for years going back and forth to high school.  I lived on the ‘other side of the tracks’ you see – literally.  The train station is long gone now, as is the stop itself.  All that’s left is a pile of dried lumber and this sign hidden back from the roadway.

The ‘ol homestead.

This is my childhood home on Pinecrest Avenue in St. Catharines – my bedroom was the left hand corner window.  Lots has changed, of course, but the house and the neighborhood still rings with a distinct familiarity as if one of my childhood chums is about to come tear-assing around the corner on their shoddy BMX during a heated game of ‘bicycle tag’.  Making the trip from here to where I live now downtown used to be an entire day’s journey for me back then by bike.  Now, it’s just all in an easy days warm up.

My quiet place

This is Montebello Park in downtown St. Catharines.  I finish some of my runs and rides here for the opportunity to relax in the shade and do some light yoga stretching (when nobody is looking) before proceeding home…slowly.  If I’m lucky there is an orchestra playing in the bandstand or some square dancing going on in the Pavilion.

I will post more of these random glimpses into my past from my training runs/rides throughout the summer as opportunity presents itself.  Many of these mental snapshots will no doubt serve as the motivation I need for many of my longer workouts and I will definitely plan out my routes around them from time to time so that I can draw strength from their familiarity and sacred appeal.  Call me sentimental, whatever, but I’ll take all the good karma I can get at this point.

  1. Kelly says:

    Very nice nostalgia induced post Terry ! I love the pictures 🙂
    I hear that the old MerrittonTrain station may be considered one day as a GO stop for this area.

  2. Jeff C says:

    You truly are blessed to live in such gorgeous countryside. Did you get all that humidity down there today? It was crazy here in T.O.

    hey I just noticed your post says June 1st…you riding into the future now?! now that’s dedication!

  3. Jan says:

    Ahhhhh good old Daisy is still looking good and even rates her own picture. Way to go Daisy!!!

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