Yesterday I posted a small mention of heading to Niagara and my intention was to keep adding to the post through out the day from my Blackberry but unfortunately my Blackberry didn’t charge over night and therefore I had to turn off my cell to help save battery life until I could find a place to charge it.
Around 6:40am, my friend arrived to pick me up with my bicycle and we headed over to the Oshawa GO station. When we arrived at around 6:50am there was no GO Transit employee selling tickets. One person mentioned this to the GO Transit Security Officer who was there. The officer appeared surprised and after a few minutes got in his car and left, never to be seen again. My friend spoke to the VIA ticket person and was told that if no one shows up just to get on the GO train anyways but both my friend and I felt that would be wrong so at 7:20 when a GO bus came in to the station, he and I went over and asked the lady if we could purchase our tickets from her to which she kindly agreed. I must say that I wish I had gotten her name so I could mention it to GO Transit because of all the GO bus drivers I have dealt with, this women was probably the most friendliest one in a very long time.
7:24am my friend and I got our tickets from the bus driver and we proceeded to grab our belongings from the van and went on to the train. We chose the handicap car since there is no bar preventing bicycles from easily getting on and off the train but when the conductor came on board, he told us we could not be there. He was not very friendly either, more bit of a grouch but what I don’t get is I have NEVER EVER seen anyone in a wheelchair get on the train of all the times that I have taken the GO since the wheelchair ramps were first brought out. If GO Transit doesn’t mind people bringing bicycles on to the train in the other cars then they need to remove that damn middle bar in the door way to make it easier for bicycles to get on and off. Leaving the bar in place is basically telling cyclists that we are not welcome on the train and that we should use our own car to take our bicycle to where we plan to bike ride.
We arrived at Union and transferred on to the Niagara bound train. This train has two cars (should have been three going by the number of people with bicycles) where there is bike racks on the lower level and guess what…no middle bar in the doorway…if they can remove the middle bar on these cars then surely it can be done on the regular cars.
The train ride was quite pleasant and I now have an idea of some other areas I would like to bike around but not sure if I would take the GO unless they make it easier for cyclists to get their bicycle on and off the Lakeshore train. In fact, I as well as other cyclists I spoke to, feel that the Lakeshore train on the weekends should have at least 1 car with the bike racks since most cyclists will travel by Train during this time. I was also trying to get a group of friends together for this trip and if we did, we would either have to split everyone up amongst the train cars since the only area for the bikes can only hold 2 bicycles or everyone on one car with our bicycles blocking the seats and/or isle way which is not being respectful to other riders.
Shortly after 11am we arrived at the Niagara Falls train station and boy was I disappointed. I would have thought that a station in a high attraction area like Niagara Falls would have a much more elaborate looking station. Surely VIA and GO Transit could work together with Niagara Falls Casino, Marineland and other tourist attractions in the area to generate enough funds to improve the station. One thing the station does need is some kind of shelter over the platform because if I was one of those people I saw using a walker and it happened to be raining when we arrived, they would have been completely soaked by the time they got to the actual station. Why on earth the train stops so far away from the station is beyond me.
As we were leaving the train there was some nice people handing out maps for the area, this was great for someone like myself who has never been to the area.
My friend and I biked south along the Niagara Falls Parkway making short stops along the way so I could snap a few pictures before my cell phone completely dies. Check out the photos below. The Niagara Falls Parkway path is very long with no stores, water fountains or roadside vendors to purchase fluids from so if you decided to venture along this path South of the attraction area, make sure to pack plenty of extra bottles of fluids to drink. I am surprised that along this very long route, Niagara wouldn’t have at least water fountains every couple km for people to refill their water bottles. If the homes along this path are not on city water, the fountains could still get the water from the Niagara river right there with a filter system inside each fountain.
After riding along the parkway I was starting to feel extremely exhausted, mostly due to the problem just stated of no where to purchase more fluids so my friend and I decided to bike West along Sherk Rd. over to Sodom Rd then ventured North to Lyons Creek Rd where thankfully there was a chip truck selling bottle water.
After getting some water in to me, we ventured West again along Lyons Creek Rd to Stanley Avenue and proceeded North to McLeod Rd. During this time I wished I had bought 4 or 5 bottles of water at the chip truck. Had to make one stop along the way to take a 5-10 minute break to rest my back and knees which were really starting to hurt.
Once arriving at McLeod Rd, we proceeded West again to Drummond Rd and took another break at the 7 Eleven where I purchased two Gatorade2 950ml drinks for $4. I drank almost both of them I was so thirsty. After a 10 minute break we then went North up Drummond Rd to Lundys Lane and stopped at McDonalds so my friend could eat. I was going to eat but after drinking all that Gatorade, I didn’t feel like eating anything so I just had a large Coke and boy was that refreshing. We also managed to get a table that had an outlet so I could charge up my phone which was almost dead.
We stayed at McDonalds for at least 40 minutes then proceeded back to the train station. We went East along Lundys Lane to Stanley Avenue, North up Stanley to Morrison since there was construction signs of Bridge Street being closed and proceeded East to Victoria then North to Bridge and East to the train station.
Arrived at the station around 6:30pm where we stayed until the train left at 7:20pm. The total distance was 42km and that consist of both riding and walking. Last night I was sure that I would be in extreme pain from this long ride but to my surprise my knee pain is at it’s usual level. My lower back is hurting a bit more than usual but no where near as I was expecting. My shoulders are much more stiff than usual and poor me, I don’t have a women in my life to give me a nice shoulder massage.
Well there you go, that was my day trip to Niagara Falls. Will I go again, you bet but unless GO Transit changes their way and either add a bicycle car to the weekend Lakeshore trains or remove that damn middle bar in the doorway, I may actually look at driving to Niagara with my bike instead which would not only mean a loss of my $50 but also that of every friend I happen to gather up for the next trip.