Marshall here. I’m originally from Welland and still visit family there very often.
I might be a bit biased, but biking in this area, especially in the Fonthill area, is worth the visit.
I’ve designed this tour thinking of a couple of conclusions that were made from our recent club survey:
- Great friends was the overwhelming theme that everyone agrees makes our club a special meeting place.
- Let’s all be mindful of our varying ride levels was echoed by many of you.
The Welland 2017 tour is not meant to be a race but rather a chance to ride with good friends, enjoy each other’s company, stop along the way to smell the roses, taste the wine, sample the food . . .
With the above in mind, I’ve set things up so that we will tour in two riding groups – Leisure Riders and Longer Distance Riders – and on two different routes. The longer distance routes will involve a bit more climbing but let it be noted that, other than the escarpment (which we’ll all go up and down once) and a few hills in the Fonthill area, the Niagara Peninsula is very flat.
Each group will have 2 leaders to ensure that no one falls behind and rides on their own. Hopefully we can all do the defined distance. However if, for some reason, the distance has to be cut short, 2 leaders gives us the ability to divide into 2 groups.
We will ride as a group and will not knowingly drop any one. No one will ride on their own.
Ready for the details? Here goes.
- Recommended Friday, August 11 evening arrival
- Saturday, August 12 and Sunday, August 13 rides starting at 10:00 am.
- Saturday evening – free time (with options to choose from)
- Ganaraska Freewheeler members
- Family and friends welcome – waiver form and nominal fee required
- Starting location is Welland
- Accommodations the responsibility of each rider
- Recommended accommodation (if we can obtain group rate)
- Other motels in Welland worth checking out:
- Any number of motels and b&bs in Niagara Falls, 30 minutes away
- Will depend on your choice of accommodation and restaurants
- Niagara College Residence group rate possible
- $89.00 plus tax for 2 in a room
- $109.00 plus tax for 4 in room
- Breakfast not included, but kitchenette is!
- Group rate requires commitment for 12 rooms
- If you comment or email Marshall to let us know your preference for this option, we will email you the password to access the booking information page.
- Your Leaders: Glennis & Marshall
- Distance: 55kms / 118m of climbing
- A leisurely flat ride from Welland to St. Catharines and back to Welland via the Welland Canal bike trail
- Only real climb is the assent up the escarpment at Thorold and if too steep for some, can be a lovely walk up with rest stops (including the odd bench) along the way, overlooking the locks and hopefully giving you a view of a ship or two on its way up or down.
- 75 % of the ride will be on paved trails with the remaining on fairly quiet paved roads.
Highlights of Saturday Leisure Ride
We’ll cross the Welland Canal by a small ferry at Port Robinson (just for the fun and novelty of doing it) and ride the opposite side of the canal for a couple of kilometres on the road, crossing back and onto the bike trail at the Alanburg bridge. This ferry crossing is provided free of charge (I believe paid for by government) and replaces a canal lift bridge that was destroyed many years ago by a large ship, thereby splitting the village of Port Robinson in half.
There are 8 locks on the Welland Canal and we’ll be passing by 7 of them on today’s ride. The 8th is in Port Colborne and you will see it on Sunday’s ride. The most famous is lock 7 at the top of the escarpment climb. A stop at the Lock 7 Viewing Complex will gave us a picturesque view from their viewing platform of Where the Ships Climb the Escarpment.
At this point it may be time for a coffee and snack or perhaps even lunch. There are numerous cafes and restaurants located just a few blocks ride in the downtown area of Thorold. Thorold’s downtown is unique as many historical buildings have been restored to their original canal city streetscape.
Next stop will be the St Catharines Museum and Welland Canals Centre at Lock 3. A small museum with local history exhibits, history of the Welland Canal, plus an elevated observation platform for ship sightings.
The Welland Canal Trail ends at Lock 1 – the entry lock from Lake Ontario. At this point we will begin our circle back to Welland, crossing the Canal at Lock 1 Bridge and along Lakeshore Road to Reid Road and back on to the Welland Canal Trail after crossing over the Lock 2 bridge. Hopefully a ship will be sitting in the lock.
If we haven’t had lunch yet, MJ’s Own Munchies restaurant at the corner of Lakeshore Road and Reid Road could be a good spot to fuel our ride back to Welland.
If everyone agrees, we might also venture a bit off course (about a half kilometre further along Lakeshore to Irvine Road) to visit a small unique Winery called Small Talk Vineyards.
We will return to Welland along the bike trail. Yes, a repeat of our trip down but a completely different view due to the change of direction. By this point it is expected that we will be joined by the Longer Distance Group who will also be returning to Welland via the bike trail. Should be loads to talk about on the way back.
Longer Distance Riders
- Your Leaders: Paul B. and Ruth
- Distance: 79kms / 306m of climbing
- A beautiful ride through the winding back roads of Fonthill, down the escarpment and passed vineyards and orchards to Port Dalhousie
- Return to Welland via the Waterfront Trail and the Welland Canal Trail
Highlights of Saturday Longer Distance Ride
Just my biased opinion, but the 10km winding road from Metler Road around and back to Effingham Street is a cycling paradise. Be sure and stop for group pictures along the winding brook on Sulphur Springs Drive.
Rockway Falls lookout at the intersection of Wessel Drive and Pelham Road rates a stop.
Flat Rock Cellars winery at the intersection of Seventeenth St and Seventh Avenue most certainly rates a visit.
Enjoy your descent down the escarpment on Seventeenth Street. If it’s a clear day you should have a beautiful view of the Toronto skyline across the lake.
We recommend lunch on the deck of the Kilt and Glover Pub at the corner of Main and Lock Streets in Port Dalhousie.
Be sure to take a ride on the century old lakeside park carousel for the traditional price of 5 cents.
Ride your bike to the end of the break wall and enjoy the view across the lake to Toronto.
The Waterfront Trail from Port Dalhousie over the Welland Canal Trail is a mixture of shoreline paths and quiet streets. Watch for the Waterfront Trail signs and don’t get lost.
Enjoy your final 25 kilometres along the Welland Canal Trail, passing 7 locks, up the escarpment and on to Welland. By this point, if plans work out, you should be meeting up with the Leisure Riders who will also be returning to Welland via the bike trail. Loads to talk about on the way back.
- Your Leaders: Glennis & Marshall
- Distance: 42kms / 27m of climbing
- Another leisurely flat (make that very flat) ride along the Welland Canal Trail
- Route heads south from Welland to the shores of Lake Erie in Port Colborne and back to Welland via, again, the Welland Canal Bike Trail.
- Early lunch with the Longer Distance Riders who are taking a longer and different route to Port Colborne and ride back to Welland together along the bike trail.
Highlights of Sunday Leisure Ride
We’ll be riding south along the Welland Canal trail…actually it’s the old Welland Canal. In 1972 when I was very young, a new shipping channel for the Welland Canal was diverted east of the city and the remaining waterway, the Welland Recreational Waterway, was born. Known affectionately as the Old Canal, this beautifully landscaped water park area runs through the heart of the City of Welland.
The first point of interest is the Aqueduct (water bridge) where the canal passes over the Welland River.
The next point of interest we will come across is the old Main Street Lift Bridge. Although it no longer lifts, it’s being maintained as a historical point of interest in Welland. I recall many a traffic jam I had to sit through at this bridge as multiple ships passed through at the same time. Two similar lift bridges at Lincoln Street and Broadway Avenue have since been replaced by new flat bridges.
Next, if you want, we can take a short side trip at Broadway Avenue and bike down to see the old house I lived in as a kid……..Just kidding!!!
Actually the next point of interest will be the Welland International Flatwater Centre, a canoeing and kayaking facility which has been used for the 2013 ICF Junior and U23 Canoe Sprint World Championships and the 2015 Pan American Games. It is always active with national and international flatwater events. With both its north and south courses, it stretches along a good 4 to 5 kilometres of the canal. Hopefully a major event will be on as we pass by.
On Saturday’s ride, we rode by the first 7 Welland Canal locks. These locks are used to raise and lower the ships up and down the Niagara Escarpment. Today we pass by the 8th lock in Port Colborne. It’s used to control the water between the Canal and Lake Erie as the ships enter and leave the canal.
If plans go right, we meet the Longer Distance Riders who are taking a longer and different route to Port Colborne for an early lunch and ride back to Welland together along the bike trail.
Longer Distance Riders
- Your Leaders: Paul B. and Ruth
- Distance: 68kms / 78m of climbing
- A relatively flat ride through some beautiful Niagara Peninsula farm land, along Lake Erie cottage shore lines to Port Colborne
- Plan to meet for an early lunch the Leisure Riders who are taking a longer and different route to Port Colborne and back to Welland together along the bike trail
Highlights of Sunday Longer Distance Ride
For a number of kilometres we will riding along the Welland River, a winding (but muddy) river starting in the Hamilton area and emptying into the Niagara River near Niagara Falls.
Feeder Road West which we follow for 4 or so kilometres runs along the old Feeder Canal which was originally built in 1829 to bring water from the Grand River to the first (of 3) Welland Canals.
Our ride along the Lake Erie shore line starts at the Long Beach Conservation Park and continues for 10 plus kilometres to Port Colborne. Watch for one of many public entrances to the lakefront and check out some sandy Lake Erie beaches.
If plans go right we’ll meet up with the Leisure Riders in Port Colborne for an early lunch and after ride back to Welland together along the bike trail.