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Date: 9/17/2019
Subject: September 2019 e-Newsletter
From: Lambton Outdoor Club

Lambton Outdoor Club
  September 2019 e-Newsletter

President’s Report

It’s already almost one year since our last Annual General Meeting (AGM) at which time I accepted the nomination as President of our Lambton Outdoor Club. It’s been a fairly active year for each of us outdoor enthusiasts, and I expect that to continue over the next 12 months following our upcoming AGM scheduled for 7pm on Tuesday, October 15, 2019. Details will be forthcoming but please hold that date and time open to you to attend.


As this year comes to a close, I would like to thank all of our volunteers who helped to make it a success. I would especially like to thank each of the committee chairpersons (Cynthia MacNeil, Louise Gibson, Judy Mahoney, Brian Seabrook) who spent considerable time and effort organizing and coordinating their respective outdoor activity groups. My hope is that each of them, as well as Sharon Crowe who recently volunteered to chair the Social Committee, will continue in those important roles.


I would also like to extend my appreciation to our Executive Council members who helped me in many ways to fulfill my responsibilities. Our Past President, Mike Tanner, with his decades of Club experience provided much needed continuity. Our Secretary, Joan Elliott, continued to surpass in the difficult job of keeping meeting notes and preparing important meeting documents. Our Treasurer, Rod Richmond, did an excellent job of keeping track of financial data and producing essential records. Of course, we continued to heavily rely on Chris Richmond in her dual role as Media Coordinator and Webmaster to manage our amazing website. Last but certainly not least, I want to thank Larry Suffield who has for years managed to keep our membership records up to date before recently deciding to retire from that important job.


As we begin our next year, I’m pleased to announce that Phil Vallance has graciously agreed to take over membership administration. And I’m equally pleased that after having been vacant for the past year, the position of Vice-President has been filled by outdoor enthusiast, Nico Van Dyl.


Finally, and once again, please note the date and time (Tuesday, October 15th at 7pm) for the very important Annual General Meeting and make every effort to attend. A formal notice of meeting including the agenda will be sent by email to you as soon as details including our feature presentation are finalized.

Les McDermott

Cycling the North

On the third of my one-week cycling adventures this summer, I once again participated in the annual Great Waterway Trail Adventure – this time on the newly established route over top of Lake Huron from the Sault to Sudbury. After driving to overnight at the Georgian College in Barrie, we were transported early on Day 1 along with our bikes and luggage by bus and truck to overnight in Sault Ste. Marie at the Delta Hotel from which we were free to explore the many dedicated area bike routes before an introductory dinner.


After early morning Day 2 formalities (during a torrid downpour outside), 150 riders headed out on the 80km trip to Bruce Mines. Lunch was provided enroute along with several water stops including one at the Loon Dollar Monument created to celebrate the local designer of our infamous dollar coin. Although I had originally planned on camping that night, threatening rain caused me to wimp out and book a motel.


Day 3 started out with a pleasant ride along quiet rural roads along with a side trip to the nearly two-century old village of Thessalon. Although the route was then to take us over about 19km of gravel roads, I snuck away and skirted the issue by instead following some very skimpy paved shoulders on Hwy. 17. That’s where my eye glass mirror came in handy once again since I was clearly able to see approaching big rigs from both directions well before they potentially intersected by me allowing me to then temporarily detour to the gravel shoulder. Camp that evening after a 95km ride was in a very nice setting at the Blind River Marine Park.


Because the trail network planned whenever possible to avoid cycling on the busy Trans Canada Hwy. 17, we were immediately challenged on Day 4 by a 16km stretch of recently laid very soft sand causing many of us to occasionally walk our bikes. However, all was soon forgotten as we spent the rest of the day partially on a surprisingly wide paved shoulder section of Hwy 17 as well as several paved (albeit rough) secondary roads on our 115km trip to Espanola where we camped at their regional recreational complex.


Our last day cycling 81km from Espanola to Sudbury was spent almost entirely on quiet paved secondary roads but often peppered by huge potholes. Sudbury is blessed with a network of designated bike paths which we generally used to find our way to the finish line at the Science North complex where we later celebrated our accomplishment with a nicely served dinner. Speaking of food, all breakfast and dinner meals were provided during the week.


In summary, another enjoyable Great Waterway Trail Adventure which generally allowed me to complete most of the Canadian Great Lake bike routes. We learned that next year’s event will take place up and down the Bruce Peninsula including Tobermory and possibly an extension to Manitoulin Island.

Les McDermott

LOC President Les McDermott set for the road
Les has finally forsaken hotels for tenting

Paddling Summer

On August 9, 2019 ten members of the LOC enjoyed a paddle to view the tall ships visiting Sarnia for the weekend.  It was a clear, sunny and crisp morning.  Perfect conditions for paddling in Sarnia Bay.  We entered the bay from the Sarnia Bay Marina boat ramp and once everyone was in their boats we leisurely paddled past the marina and around to the Government Docks where we found the Picton Castle, Empire Sandy and Appledore IV already docked.  Life on board was just getting started and as we paddled by we were greeted with a few waves from the crew members.   A considerable amount of time was spent paddling by these beautiful ships of old and many pictures were taken.  The group gradually moved on and paddled through the Bridgeview Marina.  Several members were tracking the progress of the Bluenose II and The Neo Santa Marie as both were approaching Sarnia via Lake Huron.  As the Bluenose II entered the St. Clair River the group paddled back to the Government Docks to greet this beautiful and historic Canadian icon!   We greeted The Bluenose II as it made its way to its assigned space between the Empire Sandy and Picton Castle.  One member (yours truly!) came a bit too close and was warned to back off as the Bluenose II was gingerly moored to the dock.  Unfortunately, the Santa Marie did not come in until the next day, so we missed out on getting a look at it.  After spending more time appreciating the majesty of these ships, we paddled back into Sarnia Bay and made our way over to the Fair Jeanne.  This small but stunning schooner was docked close to the Duc D’Orleans.   Later on that day or the next it moved to the Government Docks to join the other ships.  We took our time viewing the Fair Jeanne and then headed back to the boat ramp and with the help of all members we were loaded and ready to go in quick order.  A group picture was taken and as tradition has it most of the group enjoyed a post paddle lunch and no doubt a beer or two at Alternate Grounds Dockside.  It was truly a great paddle and offered a unique perspective of the Tall Ships. 

The Tall Ship paddle was quickly followed by the “Ausable River” paddle on Sunday August 11, 2019. Seven LOC participated in this paddle along the quiet and serene Ausable River.  The put in point was just north of Bog Line where it crosses the river. The bank was steep and entering the water in our kayaks was a bit challenging.  All but one of us made it in without incident.  One member lost his balance and tipped over while getting into the water.  Other than getting wet no harm was done.  With our fearless leader’s help (Judy) the boat was drained, and we were soon on our way.  This served (at least for me) as a good reminder to make sure any valuables or electronics you carry on your canoe or kayak is in a watertight bag or sealed compartment!  You just never know and as most of us know getting in or out of the kayak is really the time when accidents are likely to occur.  Unless of course you are white water paddling or conditions on the water change.  We headed north on the Ausable River (towards Port Franks) and enjoyed the peaceful countryside.  Although the river is surrounded by farm fields, they are not really visible due to the high riverbank and lush vegetation.  While paddling we saw Bald Eagles, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons and of course the ever-present Turtles.  We also passed by many lovely homes/cottages that back onto the river.  Shortly after passing under the bridge that marks highway #21 we took the channel that runs past the Scout Camp and into the Pinery.  This section narrows down considerably and is quite beautiful.  Due to the high-water levels we were able to pass through the large culvert and bridge that indicates that start of the Pinery Provincial Park.  From there one could continue into the park until you reach the next road/culvert (the park store and canoe rental etc and go even further if your willing to portage around the bridge/culvert.  However, we chose to take a break for a few minutes and head back to the Ausuable River and then to the Port Franks Marina where we put out at the boat ramp.  Once again with everyone’s help, we were loaded and ready to go in no time.  After the obligatory group picture some members enjoyed lunch at the Ipperwash Beach Restaurant!  Both paddles were great, and a good time was had by all.  I would encourage any member with an interest in exploring the wonders of our local waterways and just having a good time with fellow members to consider joining us!  All levels of experience are welcomed.  Take a look at the LOC website for more information and upcoming paddles.   Pictures of both paddles can be found on the LOC albums page.  Happy paddling everyone! 


Mario Aquilina


LOC Paddlers up close with the Tall Ships
Paddling the The Ausable Cut

Another Successful BIGF

For the fourth year running the Bluewater International Gran Fondo has gone off without a hitch, and the weather this was was very favourable. This very successful fund raiser for supports our local St. Joseph's Hoslice and Bluewater Health's Palliative Care with a donation of over $60,000 and has grown to be one of the top cycling events in the country with close to 1000 participants.
This year a 30 km route was added to the other distances of 50, 100 and 150 kms; something for everyone. LOC has always had good participation in the event and this year was no exception. Member Joan Elliott explains that the GF is a family event with her son riding 150 km, daughter-in-law 100 km, husband and her 50 km and other son babysat so the riders could participate. What a great multi-generational event for the Elliott family! We are very lucky to have such a well-organized and fun event in our own back yard and look forward to the event in 2020. If you're keen registration has opened already.
Chris Richmond
Joan and Jim Elliott's son, daughter-in-law and grandson. 
Start them young!!
Chris and Rod Richmond

Who Do You Meet at RAGBRAI?

We’re back!  This year’s group of nine included three RAGBRAI virgins on what has apparently become an annual pilgrimage.  Like the rest of us the new riders survived the routine of early morning wakeups, quickly packing bags and tents, riding all day, stopping periodically to eat, drink, wait in long lines, wonder where your riding buddy is, check out what the locals have to offer, pitch the tent, go to bed, repeat seven times.  Each day we pedalled about a hundred kilometers across Iowa, a state formerly believed to be flat (IT’S NOT, in a rather big way!) until our cheeks (both sets) were red.  We were hot and tired, except when it was wet and cold, then we were wet and cold and tired.  I know you wonder why we go back; why fifteen thousand or more people go back every year for forty-seven years.  How can it be fun?  Exhilarating actually?  Part of it’s the success of accomplishment, part of it is the joy of riding on roads with like-minded people and without cars, and a big part of it is the atmosphere - a weird symbiosis created between the communities and the riders.  

Atmosphere, of course, is created by people and I’d like to give you a little insight as to the people we meet at RAGBRAI, that bring us back for more.

In General

The people of Iowa were very generous to share their towns, put on exibitions, build bike art, give up their roads, volunteer and make us welcome for the week of RAGBRAI.  Many entrapueurs sold their wares, provided water, church dinners and entertained us... As we entertained them.

It’s a Small World

On this year’s ride I met a woman who was helped by Scott McPhee (owner of the Bicycle Shop)  a few years ago.  She had been leading a group of youth on a bike trip that included Southwestern Ontario from Niagara Falls to Sarnia.  Shortly after London, where she purchased the Canadian jersey that led to our conversation, her fully loaded pannier began to fail miserably.  She stopped in at the Bike Shop on Front Street to solve the problem.  As she tells it, the good folks there basically rebuilt the pannier while her group waited, then they were sent on their way with smiles and best wishes, without charge.  She wears her Canada jersey proudly, still has The Bicycle Shop sticker on the window of her car and is happy to share her story of Canadian goodwill.

American Goodwill

Also this year we met Joe.  He was riding groupless as his buddies had for various reasons all withdrawn from the ride so we made a point of including him when we could.  Not surprisingly we had some things in common.  Now, as misfortune would have it our companion Mike H. lost his wallet, including phone, credit cards and cash, on the last day of the ride.  You can imagine the sinking feeling he had as he reached for it to pay for his lunch only to discover it gone.  He happened to mention his loss to Joe at the end of the ride as they said their farewells.  Two days later Joe called.  He had located the wallet!  He had contacted the local police where the found wallet had been deposited, confirmed that he knew Mike and arranged for it to be mailed back.  Amazing!

Captain Jack Sparrow

Yup, as in Pirates of the Caribbean.  No, not Johnny Depp, but verrrry close.   Jack was hanging around charming all the girls, including Lori who danced giddily with him and was treated to one of those bend over backwards dips amidst his braids, beads and gold capped teeth.  What a heartthrob!

Very Old Guy

Imagine you live in a town where one of your local treasures is a very old Rotarian  What do you do when RAGBRAI comes through?  You put him on display and share him!  I had to stand in line for my turn to meet Paul Hassman and it was absolutely worth it.  At 103 years old this gentleman still had his wit and charm. Three years later it is one of my favourite encounters. 


Dean Matthais is his actual name and he’s famous.  He’s called bareback because he rides a bike without a seat.  Always.  Amazing.  And the story of the guys who make that bike work is another story.  What he is at RAGBRAI is a guardian angel on wheels.  He has been doing good deeds along the way so noticeably that the United States Air Force Cycling team even named an award after him and present it annually to their member who goes above and beyond in helping at RAGBRAI.  And this year he won an award usually reserved for groups who promote safe riding, the RAGBRAI  Rider Cup. Somehow, despite his uncanny ability to have the right parts at the right time along the ride, he comes across as slightly inept at camp, although maybe it’s an act.  Regardless, our group has developed great affection for him and demonstrate such when we pitch in to pitch his tent from time to time and offer refreshments at the end of his very long day.

Canadian Style

And then there’s us, a small band of Canadians.  Cheryl sums it up well:  

Well I loved the group I travelled with.  The more time I spent with everyone the better it all got.  Who knew everyone was so nice?  Tents were up when we got back from long biking (beering) days and there was always ice and sometimes mixed drinks!!  Help in the mornings and coffee all around.  

My last day was focused on being nice and doing kind things.  This meant I chatted up a storm (surprise surprise).  I wore the jersey I had made up to recognize my son Luke and all the goodness he spread to me and pretty much everyone that met him.  It was remarkable how many people rode beside me and asked about Luke.  I think mostly though it was an opportunity for them to tell me about themselves and someone they loved or had loved.  A wife with mental health issues, a son that was a heroin addict, a friend that lost a child.  It was so easy to just say ‘just give all the love’ ‘give them a hug from me’ ‘just do the next right thing’ spread the word.  

There was a mom with two young girls that were struggling up a hill so I rode as fast as I could to the top and ran down and took one of the bikes.  The little girl thought I was trying to steal her bike, but the mom was so grateful and I ran it up the hill and came down and walked with them.  This isn’t about me bragging (I hope) but about putting myself out there and even when it might be awkward (little girl yelling “‘mom that lady is trying to steal my bike!!!! In front of everyone) just lending a hand. 

So I met a ton of folks, but the ones close by are pretty cool.

And Lori confirms it:

I really do want to thank everyone for all the kindnesses on the trip – setting the tents was easy after dragging all the bags – especially after 100 km days.  And Dave P always going even farther to find ice and more cold drinks.  I wondered sometimes where all the energy came from.  Guess that’s why when we finally did sit down for a coolie it was hard to get up – and sometimes to get organized.   Everyone always had a smile.  Even offering help to others not in our group – QCBC and Bareback, Mary, Chattanooga, etc.  Maybe we should join a foreign rayjohn project.

True group spirit – going with the flow, “always offering to help – What can I do”;’ courteous and respectful; lucky to be part of it.’

Maybe we love RAGBRAI because the people we meet are versions of ourselves reflected in others.


Compiled by Sharon Crowe, thanks to all for their stories

Some of the Ragbrai crew at  the end of the ride
Each of the riders selects the right sign

Cycling the Michigander

While this annual cycling event in Michigan has been around for about 28 years, I only became aware of it about 5 years ago and was finally able to fit this 6-day event into my summer schedule. So, just 2 weeks after my 5-day Manitoulin Island ride, I began this latest adventure by driving to Evart, Michigan where buses and trucks awaited to transport about 150 riders along with their bikes and luggage to the starting point in Tawas City.

Having recently decided to camp at such events, I arrived at our elementary school site just about an hour before sunset and with barely enough time for me to set up my new tent for the very first time. Washrooms were readily available as were showers in a mobile shower trailer. We spent three nights at this location in order to experience two full days of approx. 145km cycling in various directions along paved rail trails and a wide paved shoulder on US 23 hugging the Lake Huron coastline. Day 3 saw us heading westward on a 72km highway route straight into such a strong west wind that we missed out on the eventual reward after tackling long high hills by having to almost peddle rather than freely coast down the other side. Our campsite was the Rifle River Recreation area near Roscommon. The weather was not kind at our destination as we generally faced the discomfort of setting up in the rain along with threatening thunderstorms. Our 90km ride and weather on Day 4 was much more favourable as we stuck primarily to paved rural roads on our way to the Houghton Lake State Campground. While the location was quite pretty, our camp was unfortunately right beside (almost sounded as if it were right on) a busy road where you could hear the 18-wheelers come and go for quite a distance. Day 5 was also an enjoyable experience as we travelled 88km along quiet rural roads which were generally reasonably flat until some major final hills were thrown in just before arriving at our camping destination at a high school in Cadillac.
Our final day was the best of them all as our 74km route back to our parked vehicles at the starting point in Evart was entirely along the level and nicely shaded White Pine and Pere Marquette paved rail trails. In fact, I was so impressed with this route, I’m going to suggest that our Club perhaps schedule a cycling event with an overnight stay at each end of the trail. All breakfast and dinner meals were prepared by very talented chefs during the entire week. Charging stations were provided for all our electronic devices as was a mobile bike repair service. All routes were clearly signed and monitored by volunteers. Since the Michigander tour travels along different routes each year, I might seriously consider doing it again and would recommend it to our members.
Les McDermott

Mark Your Calendar - Event Leader Training
LOC is planning to hold a training session for new and current event leaders (all activity groups) on the evening of September 30th. Mark your calendar and plan to attend this informative and interesting session.
Hike, Paddle, Ride... Smile!

Lambton Outdoor Club | P.O. Box 653 | Sarnia, Ontario, N7T 7J7