Biking It: Orrville to Seguin Falls

This is a follow on to the Tally Ho - Swords Road to Orrville post and covers the larger part of my ride on a warm sunny day. All of my rides involves riding the trail in both directions to get back to my car.

The Orrville to Seguin Falls is about 12 km (7 mi) one way. It's a managed trail area that is for the most part flat and alternately runs alongside lakes and through bush area. Along the first part of the trail leaving Orrville there are a few cottage and camp roads off to the side of the trail, but for the most part you feel as though you are away from civilization.

There are a few ups and downs on the trail, and there is one section where it seems Seguin Township decided to take over the trail for a local road and relegated the trail to running along the side. 

The ups and downs relate to bridges that have come to replace the original trail trestles. As you can imagine trains do not like going up or down over short runs, let's say anything less than a couple of kilometres (a mile). Gradual grades are okay but not steep dips, or rises. To that end the Seguin Trail, which is built on a former rail bed, is a cyclists dream. But that was then and this is now. In some cases the rail trestles were too expensive to maintain and were simply torn down and replaced by bridges that were are suitable for rail traffic but more than acceptable for motorized and non-motorized traffic. This is best seen at the bridge now crossing at Seguin Falls (below).

The old trestle structure alongside the bridge at Seguin Falls.

The old trestle structure alongside the bridge at Seguin Falls.

The image below provides a better sense of the size of these trestle support structures. This support at Seguin Falls has a tree growing on top of it. You get a sense of how in the past, with the trestles in place, the rail line effectively was flat as it crossed these streams and rivers.

Trestle support - Seguin Falls.

Trestle support - Seguin Falls.

In some cases the original trestle structure is completely gone as it is here where the Seguin Trail crosses Fume Creek, and require a rough down and up for cyclists. 

The Bridge at Fume Creek, another trestle converted to a bridge. 

The Bridge at Fume Creek, another trestle converted to a bridge. 

In other places you are crossing a land bridge that you don't realize is a bridge. A good example is when you pass over Diamond Lake. You see people fishing on one side, and water on the other side, but don't really appreciate that the two parts were/are a single body of water.

Fishing on Diamond Lake.

Fishing on Diamond Lake.

There is one other section of the trail worth mentioning. It is the section that runs along Chain of Lakes Road closer to the Seguin Falls end of this section. In this case the original rail bed was used for the road and the trail was forced to the side, This section has many ups and downs, and when wet some atrocious puddles that can swallow an ATV. I chose to ride along the paved road for this section and make up a little bit of time. The trail looked rough and would probably be rated a 4 or 4.5 according to the scale described in the next section. 

All-in-all the run from Orrville to Seguin Falls is very pleasant for cyclists with some water to deal with, some bridges that may require you to get off the bike and walk, but mostly a flat and reasonably groomed trail. There are lots of beautiful views along this stretch. In terms of difficulty it probably rates a 2.5 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being flat and paved and 5 being rough with plenty of hills. Plan on taking about an hour and a quarter each way for this stretch if you intend to stop and take pictures, or just enjoy the views.

Panorama from the Fume Creek Bridge.

Panorama from the Fume Creek Bridge.

Biking It: Tally Ho Swords Road to Orrville

Continuing on with my exploration of the Seguin Trail I headed out on a warm (28C / 83F) sunny day to ride from Tally Ho - Swords Road to Seguin Fall, and back. This post covers this first portion of the ride with comments and suggestions.

This section of the Seguin Trail is quite short, about 5 km (3 mi) and starts where the trail crosses Tally Ho - Swords Road, and ends as you cross Highway 518 just north of Orrville. There is a spot alongside the trail where it crosses Tally Ho - Swords Road that it is possible to park without blocking road or trail traffic.

It's a short ride to Orrville, but not without a few large puddles that require a decision to go through or around. I chose to go around in the case of the deepest puddles. They are probably only about 25 cm (10 in) deep, and perhaps 15 metres (50 ft) long, but muddy and it's not possible to see what's under the surface. In one case I rode through and bit by bit slowed down until I hit a rock that stopped me cold. That resulted in one wet foot and a lesson. On the way back I walked on the edge of the puddle, leaning on my bike that I pushed through puddle. That approach worked for most puddles. It's likely that you will face these puddles regardless of when you ride the trail, it was more than five days since the last rain and they hadn't drained. The issue really isn't how deep the puddles are, it's the unseen rocks that can twist a tire and cause a spill.

A chain of puddles, it's number four in the distance that's a challenge.

A chain of puddles, it's number four in the distance that's a challenge.

Other than occasional water the path is flat, and different than the section from the 400 to Tally Ho - Swords Road. The trail in this section runs through farmland rather than bush. It's a an easy ride with lots of bumps but no real challenges. Short sandy sections of the trail makes things tricky, but they are few. The tail actually goes around Orrville, but it's easy enough to get on 518 (paved), head into the town possibly with a stop at the Orrville Bakery, and then continue on and catch the trail again a few hundred metres (yards) ahead. That avoids at least one puddle that is close to where the trail crosses 518 on the north side. Or just head back to where you left the trail and continue.

Next: Orrville to Seguin Falls. 

Biking It: 400 to Tally Ho - Swords Road (Part 2)

The puddles are either part of the fun, or no fun at all. The photo below shows one of the 'fun' puddles. You can ride through them if you want to pretend you are eight once again, or simply go around them. Riders choice.

A little one.

A little one.

More challenging are the couple of deeper ones on the trail. You can't ride around them so you need to go through. That takes a little, just a little, bit of courage and some speed. You can't see what's under the surface and you don't want to get 'stalled' in water that might be knee deep in the middle. My strategy was to ride close to the edge where I suspected it wasn't so deep and keep moving. I wanted to be going fast enough to bounce over a rock rather than get stopped by one. My feet were under water at the bottom of my peddle stroke if that provides some sense of the depth on the edges.

I headed out a day after we had a big rain the day before so the deeper puddles might well not be quite so deep as summer progresses. They were certainly much deeper on the "Do It For Dads" ride ("Mario Kart - Living the Video Game" post). Walking around the puddles is probably an option in some cases, but wasn't an obvious choice for me.

Overall the ride back and forth took a bit less than two hours with stopping to take photos and admire the scenery. It's a highly recommended bike ride, not too tough and not too long. The bugs weren't too bad, I didn't even bother to slap on any insect repellent. And if worse comes to worse you aren't far from help.

I would gauge this section of the Park to Park trail as a 2.5 in difficulty, with a 1 being a flat paved or packed trail, and a 5 being a very rough trail with lots of inclines and descents.

Here are a couple more views from the ride.

Further along the trail.

Further along the trail.

On the way back.

On the way back.

 

Biking It: 400 to Tally Ho - Swords Road (Part 1)

After taking a motorized ride on the Seguin Trail from the 400 Trailhead to Sprucedale as part of the "Do It For Dads" ride, I have decided to ride the whole trail on my bike, bit by bit as time permits. I'm an enthusiastic cyclist for more than five decades now, but certainly not competitive in any sense of the word. Cycling is a way for me to get out and enjoy the outdoors that is slow enough to catch the details, but fast enough to cover considerable ground. My Tales from the Trail contributions "Biking It" will offer a little bit of perspective on the various sections of the trail in hopes it might provide some insights on what to watch for, and what to watch out for.

This past Wednesday, July 8th, I took my first bite of the Seguin Trail, starting from the PetroCan area trailhead just off Highway 400. It's possible to park in their parking lot, or a few hundred metres closer to the trail, right at the trailhead sign.

It was later in the day and I had a couple of hours before it would start to get dark. That turned out to be just enough time for the ride and stops to take photos.

Heading east on the trail from the 400 the trail is essentially a well maintained gravel road. And because it is a former rail bed it has only very gradual slopes, at least where there is no requirement for a trestle. In this ride, from the 400 to Tally Ho - Swords Road there is only one up/down hill section where I imagine there was a trestle that was removed long ago. It's not too steep, but it's gravel covered and sometimes you lose traction going uphill if you aren't 'sitting' on your back tire.

That first stretch of road like conditions is perhaps 4 kilometers in length, and then you are presented with more typical trail conditions, hard pack for the most part with some puddles. There are a few sandy stretches that can be hard to ride, but they aren't more than ten or 20 metres in length.

Heading east, a sense of the scenery and the trail.

Heading east, a sense of the scenery and the trail.

The ride is pretty leisurely, but you need to hang on to your handlebars. Rocks that wouldn't budge an ATV will quickly grab a bicycle tire and lead to a fall. It's also hard to get much speed on the trail. It isn't particularly smooth and you regularly need to steer around different ruts, holes and rocks. For the whole trip, including stops for photos my average speed wasn't much more than 12-14 km/hour. For perspective, I'm usually riding in the 20-30 km/hr range when I'm on paved roads and not stopping for photos. 

Further east along the trail.

Further east along the trail.

The scenery alternates between big sky and forested areas. Each have their own charm, until ..... you hit the big puddles. (Part 2 follows.)

Mario Kart - Living the Video Game

I had thought about titling this post “Mud Max”, but Mario Kart offers a better sense of my first ATV ride on the Part To Park Trail as part of the 2015 ATV Ride of Hope this past weekend.

I am not an ATVer. My involvement with Park to Park is based on my interest in non-motorized sports; I like to bike and hike. I don’t have an objection to motorized sports, but cycling and hiking provide a better opportunity in my opinion to ‘stop and smell the flowers’. For me it's more 'stop and photograph the flowers'.

As a volunteer at the 2015 ATV Ride of Hope I was offered a ride on one of the new CF Moto Side-by-Sides with Don, a rookie driver. I refer to Don as a rookie only because he hasn’t driven a side-by-side on a trail as challenging as the one we faced on Saturday. He is an experienced sledder and drives a smaller ATV on a groomed trail. The 2015 ATV Ride of Hope was a different experience and he did a great job.

About the Mario Kart reference. I have played Mario Kart pretty much from when it first came out. With each generation of Nintendo console it becomes more realistic and challenging. The game has kept a pretty standard cast of characters over the past two decades while adding and removing others. If you are familiar with the game you will recognize that they range in size from Toad on the small side, to Mario, Luigi and Princess as the mid-weights, to Bowser on the heavy end.

Well that pretty much describes the cast of characters that went out for the 2015 ATV Ride of Hope on Saturday. On the Toad end of things there was a young man riding a small green and white older ATV that I suspect was a Polaris Scrambler. It looked like a toy, but he more than kept up, taking what amounted to a bath along the way.

In the Mario and Luigi class there were a large number of mid-sized single rider, and 2-Up, ATVs that represented the majority of the ATVs participated.

In the Bowser class there a dozen or so Side-by-Side ATVs, many of them CF Moto, along with a few Polaris machines. These machines looked like dune buggies, with tall suspensions and hard tops.

The first sense of living a live Mario Kart experience was at the start of the ride. As the rookies we were asked to stay at the back of the pack with a sweep riding behind us. That gave me a chance to watch the group roll out. There was no specified order, it wasn’t a race, but it looked like the start of one. Toad was quick to hit the trail. This was followed by the Mario/Luigi class ATVs with the Bowsers mostly waiting a bit before heading out.

We hit water almost as soon as we started, passing through the Highway 400 underpass. This was followed by a steep uphill, more water and a rough ride until we hit the smooth trail west of the 400.

The first 'puddle', under Highway 400.

It took a good three hours working our way along the trail until we reached Sprucedale for lunch. There were hills, rocks and water; lots of water. In one puddle, or was it a lake, I felt our side-by-side start to float. We were a few feet from the next piece of dry land and our momentum carried us to solid ground. It was at this point that I learned to keep my feet up, or be guaranteed getting them soaked above the ankles.

I met 'Toad', I mean the young man on the small green Polaris, at lunch and asked him how he did in the puddle that almost floated us. He was splattered with mud and showed told me he was wet up to his waist. I then understood why a couple of the riders had shown up wearing neoprene hip waders. This wasn’t their first rally.

Part of the cast of Saturday's Mario Kart adventure. That's 'Toad' on the far left side of the photo. (click for larger view).

The ride home was quicker. With the ride out Don had developed confidence with the CF Moto (it was very stable) and at lunch he was told the washboard sections and bumps are not so rough if you ride faster. Well, I’m not sure about that. When it came to the few washboard sections, it actually felt rougher but we spent less time on them. So all-in-all it was perhaps a little more comfortable running faster.

It certainly wasn’t a race, people regularly stopped to let others pass and to see if anyone needed help. One thing missing from being a full-on Mario Kart experience were the red and green Koopa shells. We had the expected Mario Kart hazards, including rough sections of trail, off-road segments and water, lots of water. There weren’t any Power Ups, but I’m not sure we would have been able to handle them. 

I'm pretty sure that I'll stick to the non-motorized side of trail riding, but there were times it would have been challenging running the Park to Park Trail without an ATV. In spots there were large ponds on either side of the trail, and a one to two foot deep puddle on the trail. Hmm, I guess wading and swimming still qualify as non-motorized.

Bach at the start, dirtied but not damaged.

Bach at the start, dirtied but not damaged.