Born Again Pagan
Need Help Planning a Cycling Weekend!
I am planning a two-day excursion for the 2nd week in August and I would like to spend those days riding on parts of the Greater Niagara Circle Route, while stopping to browse whimsical shops and neat, out-of-the-way places. My wife and I hope to spend the night in a nice B&B. We spent a day last year in NOTL and really enjoyed it so a similar setting would be nice.
My wife is a novice cyclist and she rides a FS MTB with slicks (not my choice - but at least she's riding) and I will be breaking in my new Norco Ceres. Since she's a novice we would like to stick to parts of the Route that are relatively flat and (if possible) somewhat sheltered from the wind. We probably won't be cycling for more than an hour at a time, and likely for no more than 5 hours per day.
Thanks in advance for the replies and any links to shops, B&B's, restaurants, bike shops, etc. on the Route would be greatly appreciated. BTW we will be transporting the bikes by rack on my car so any starting point will do, but I'd like to end up back there again in 2 days!
The whole loop is about 145 k -- and is mostly flat everywhere -- the only real up is at Queenston Heights but even for novice that is not all that bad. Trying to do it in two days might be a bit much for a novice cyclist (I did the whole loop in 3 days 2 years ago as a relative novice -- that was a comfortable pace -- with lots of time for excursions and wine lunches). Almost all of it is on bike path. If you want to do only two days you are left with not much choice but to double back on the same route. Niagara Falls to Niagara on the Lake is the most scenic part of the route.
I suggest you get the map from http://www.niagararegion.ca/exploring/cycle/maps.aspx
Conquer Cancer rider
You can also cut the loop in half by taking a little (free) bike ferry across the canal and cutting across country to Niagara Falls. It's a lovely ride and the ferry is fun -- this dinky little thing that just fits two or three bikes. I've done it a couple of times, but even that's a 100km loop. A bit much for a rookie, specially as there's no logical place to stay in the middle.
If you're looking at a weekend, with rides of an hour at a time I'd be tempted to base myself in Niagara on the Lake and do a couple of excursions and save the loop for another day. One trip would be up to Niagara Falls and back -- you can always push up that Queenstown bit, and you can stop at the Butterfly Gardens or the Botanical Gardens or any one of a number of wineries and be a tourist on the way up and the way back. You can even stop and look round the electrical station -- they do guided tours which are actually quite interesting.
And on the second day you could ride out toward St Catharines and ride up the canal until it start going up the locks (and the trail gets steep) and then head back the way you came. There is an interesting little museum along the canal, and you can stop at fruit stands on the road and eat.
NOTL has a million B&Bs, and I can't for the life of me remember where we stayed. Will look it up and message again. For food I recommend the Stone Road Grill http://www.stoneroadgrille.com/, which looks like nothing from the outside (it's in a pretty dismal strip mall), but has wonderful food.
I haven't done the whole loop, but ride the path along the river from NOTL to Niagara Falls and back at least once a year, it's a very nice route. Nice views, pretty houses to look at, vineyards on the other side of the road. All on an off road path. The ride is 25 kms one way, and the only real hill is on the way to Niagara Falls, at Queenstown, I think. The Botanical Gardens are very nice, Butterfly Conservatory well worth a visit.
There's lots of nice B&Bs in NOTL. They're on an expensive side, but usually pretty nice. The one we stayed in is not a B&B anymore so can't make a recommendation, but have a look on line.
Also many nice restaurants, but we usually stop at the pub after the ride, Angel Inn is right downtown Niagara-on-the-Lake.
I will make a note of a Stone Road Grill, thanks Boudicca!
Last edited by lucille; 07-27-10 at 08:23 PM.
Born Again Pagan
Thanks for the replies so far, folks! We will likely use NOTL as our starting point, and head for the Falls on the first day. Our energy level will dictate how far we get on the 2nd day, but the canal route sounds inviting. We will definitely check out the Stone Road Grill, thanks!
I took a snapshot of a picturesque hotel in downtown NOTL when I was there last summer; maybe it's the Angel Inn. Nope, I just looked up the pic - It's the Prince of Wales Hotel. Looks expensive!
If memory serves, while walking through town I also saw a place or two to rent bikes. We'll have our own bikes but it's nice to know we're heading somewhere that seems to be bike friendly.
Last edited by irclean; 07-27-10 at 09:12 PM.
Conquer Cancer rider
If you go to Niagara Falls there's a nice lunch place called Mide Bistro that's away from the main tourist drag -- it's in the old town center -- Queen Street, I think. It's on the right hand side of the street as you head away from the river and it does wonderful salads and sandwiches. And they have a nice patio if the weather is warm. It's not open Sundays.
Trip Advisor has 140 inns and B&Bs in NOTL, from crazy expensive to almost cheap. Prince of Wales hotel is expensive.