Sunday, 12 June 2011

Niagara Crawls

We left Niagara Falls (USA) and drove across the Rainbow Bridge to enter Niagara Falls (Canada). After facing more questions from a trained-to-be-miserable border guard ("look this place is practically ours, you've got The Queen on your money… just let us in"), we drive along the other side of the river and can see the falls from a new angle. This is a better overall view in many ways, but the surroundings aren't as nice as on the US side and we're glad we chose to stay over there last night.

But the traffic is absolutely unbelievable. We're sitting in a jam which stretches all the way along the promenade (or whatever you call the pavement alongside one of the natural wonders of the world) and we're wishing that we'd grabbed a parking space we saw just after we crossed the border. As we crawl along, with The Falls to our left, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary Sunday lunchtime at Niagara. There's loud music pumping out of a serious PA system up ahead, while a guy booms encouragement down a microphone - "here's number 2182, it's Dave, give him big hand… good job Dave"

It appears that we couldn't have arrived at a better (or worse) time as this is the finish line for the annual "Ride To Conquer Cancer", a 2 day, 200 mile or 200 km (depending on how energetic you feel, and also where you stand on the whole metric/imperial political divide) cycle ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls. There's a fantastic atmosphere, thousands of people and it feels quite emotional to see cyclists, many in little team groups, coast across the finish line cheered on by family and strangers.

Our first night in Canada is spent at a B&B in Niagara on the Lake (a very pretty little town right on the edge of Lake Ontario, about 30 mins drive from Niagara itself). Over breakfast we meet a couple who took part in the event. They set off from Toronto, having loaded their luggage into a massive truck, cycled the 100 miles to Hamilton, camped overnight, along with the other 4500 participants and then resumed on Sunday morning to do the second 100 miles to Niagara. I did a 100 mile cycling event last year, but believe me, if it's a choice between finishing at a leisure centre car park on the outskirts of Bolton, or cheered on by thousands as you glide past Niagara Falls, I know which one I'd choose.

What a finishing line
But I may have been a little over-enthusiastic when I told them I'd love to do the event next year and they gave me their e-mail address so we could get in touch and they'd help us sign up.

Cliffe… Adam… Arms... Any of you up for joining "Team Crabsticks" next year?

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