I've been mulling over the idea of doing a counter-clockwise loop of Lake Ontario this summer, and thought I'd throw it out to the forum for advice and suggestions. I've posted this here in the Touring forum, but will be posting to the Regional / Eastern Canada forum to get advice from folks in the area as well.
Google maps shows the distance as approx 800 km (it's difficult to get exact distances on cross-border directions, and the ferries from Cape Vincent/Wolfe Island/Kingston are difficult to take into account). Anway, 800 km is in the ball park. It will probably end up being around 1000 by the time all is said and done. I'm confident that I should be able to average about 100km (60 miles) a day loaded. My average speed loaded is around 20 km/h (12-13 mph), which works out to about 5 hours of riding time. (Breaks excluded).
I have 3 weeks off (last week July, first 2 weeks of August), so I figure that's plenty of time. Usually I tour with my wife, but she's taken on a new position at work, and can't get the time off, so I'm considering going solo, although if anyone else were interested, I'd certainly be open to the idea of teaming up.
I bought a new Surly LHT earlier this year, with 26 x 1.5" tires, and I've got about 700 km on it since early May. I've got rear racks and waterproof Serratus panniers (from MEC), a decent handlebar bag (Vaude), but looking to put on a front rack and an additional pair of panniers to carry my gear. I'm still deciding between an overpriced, heavy Surly front rack, and something a little less robust (and less pricey!).
I've got more biking/hiking/camping gear than you can shake a stick at, but for this trip, I thought I'd try using my Hennessey hammock rather than a small tent.
My intention is to start around Niagara Falls, and follow the Erie Canal trail from Tonawanda, NY over to somewhere between Rochester and Syracuse, and then switch over to the Seaway Canal trail (although this seems a bit less documented than the canal trail) and head north to Cape Vincent where the ferry crosses to Wolfe Island, and then again to Kingston.
I think the Canadian side of the route should be a no-brainer. I picked up a Waterfront Trail book at the Toronto bike show this spring, and figured I'd follow it (more or less), except perhaps at the west end of the lake, where I hear the trail weaves through some residential streets. (Still have to confirm in the book). I have family and friends in Prince Edward County, as well as Toronto, and can count on a couple places to crash if necessary.
I've read a few CGOAB tour blogs about other folks doing the same trip, and it sounds like a great vacation/ride/experience.
On past tours with my wife, we've pre-planned everything, including our daily destinations and accommodations, and even made reservations on occasion. For this tour, I'd prefer to not go to that level of detail, but let the road decide when/where I stop - but also have a good idea of what is available so that I don't get caught short. I'm ok with camping in public areas (like along the trail), provided it's safe, but my preference is for state/provincial parks and conservation areas with the occasional motel/B&B thrown in for a treat.
Does anyone have experience with this route, or parts of it? Are there any portions of the route that present challenges that might not be reasonably anticipated? Is there anything that a naive Canadian travelling solo should know about the US - aside from the availability of cheap, cold beer! (My wife is concerned with the US portion of the trip, as she's convinced I'm oblivious to my surroundings, and far too trusting of strangers. She may have a point, but we're talking about rural upstate New York!
Thanks in advance for any advice, suggestions and route pointers!