Toronto-Niagara "Hair Shirt" Double Century of 1996

Excellent Weather

*** Pat Buckley ***

The "Hair Shirt" Double Century bicycle ride occurred last Sunday (June 23, 1996).

The weather was excellent. There was no rain, the humidity was moderate, the maximum temperature was 23 C, and the wind was light. This is the best weather we've had for many years. Last year was hot, hazy, and humid; one year it was cold and raining all day.

The riders assembled in the Square One Shopping Center in Mississauga around 6 am and left by 6:20 am. The first 90 minutes is relatively flat on roads parallel to Lake Ontario; the next couple of hours are hilly when the route goes around Dundas; the rest of the route is relatively flat with some rolling sections and a few downhill sprints.

We rode through the Hamilton Bicycle Club's time trial near Binbrook. Now, those people WERE MOVING! We were going about 30 kph. at the time. They were going twice as fast?

All of this double century is quite scenic. This year the trees and fields are very green since we've had too much rain lately. At about 100 miles, the route goes by Niagara Falls, the scenic high point of the trip. Shortly after Niagara Falls, you can see the Brock Monument. It was constructed about 1850 (1856?) in memory of the war of 1812.

Just after the monument, bike riders get the largest downhill blast of the trip. Next is Niagara on the Lake where there seem to be more tourists than in Niagara Falls! After Niagara on the Lake, the crowds thin out. Here, one passes by many vineyards and apple orchards. These are the major agricultural enterprise here since climate is milder than in the rest of Ontario.

Soon most riders are thinking of one thing, THE END, but it is many kilometers farther on. After Stoney Creek and Hamilton, the route follows the shore of Lake Ontario. The route goes through the remnants of a festival in Oakville. A few people are cleaning up. The route goes by the restored site of a chemical plant. The route goes by the rowing club on the Credit River. There are no rowers out training. The route turns away from Lake Ontario to the parking lot where it began. :-)