Lambton Outdoor Club
November 2018 e-Newsletter
Online research made the small Spanish island of Mallorca sound like a cyclist’s paradise, and it did not deceive. We made our home base a small spa hotel in the rural town of Lloseta, located in the north central part of the island on the south side of a small mountain range, and set out on our first independent international cycling holiday. We had great cycling, stunning scenery and a wonderful new experience. And we discovered that we like riding hills. Yup. We would not have predicted it, but the rigors of uphills were worth the twisting splendour, the stunning vistas, and ultimately the spectacular downhill's. It didn’t hurt that all the way up we encountered downward bound smiles flying toward us.
The Mallorcan culture favors cyclists; they are everywhere. The roads are willingly shared and mostly nicely paved. Some roads are even designated as cycling routes and motor vehicles are limited to 40 kph. I’m fairly certain we exceeded that on our bikes from time to time.
Among other things, we learned that while there are many excellent routes, it can be a challenge to get your bike to some of them. A ‘moving’ trip would resolve that problem, and we may go back to try out some of the routes we missed. Our favourite route was Cap de Formentor, a 38 km round trip took about three hours. People return to ride it over and over again, with good reason. Along with the varied scenery and mostly innocuous hills, there are side routes that lead to hiking trails and secluded beaches. A close second was the ride from Selva to Lluc, which is home to a nicely restored 16th century monastery (combining cycling with touring and experiencing a vast array of culture was definitely a positive for the trip).
Mallorca has something for everyone…art, history, architecture, caves, gardens, ruins, hiking, biking…in a nice sized piece of geography that has been occupied by people for thousands of years. Transportation infrastructure is good and weather seems perfect. The coastline towns were too touristy for our sensibilities, and I felt sorry for the people who drove to the destinations we reached by bicycle, but in the end, it’s a place where you really can choose your happiness. We recommend it.
Submitted by: Sharon (and Dave) Crowe
| Spectacular scenery and amazing riding on the Cap de Formentor |
Dave Crowe in the shade
LOC Council Meeting Notes, October 2018
The new, slimmed down LOC Council met for the first time on Oct 11, under the leadership of our new president Les McDermott. Present were Greg Hogan, Rod Richmond, Chris Richmond, Cynthia MacNeil, Joan Elliott, Brian Seabrook and Mike Tanner. Some of the business is routine, some strategic and some firefighting. It was decided to continue the schedule of meetings every 2 months.
The issue of Privacy and downloading of photos has been raised by a member, even in this age of Instagram, Facebook et al. It was decided to change the default setting if you upload photos to “view only”, with the option to "download by others", to be unavailable. We will also be limiting the number of photos per event to 12, hoping to improve the quality and reduce repetition.
The Social Committee has ceased to function; in the short term, a few people have offered to organize the Christmas Dinner at Olives. The ever popular 50/50 draw will continue, with proceeds going to a worthy cause, as was our former practice.
The Hiking Committee is also struggling to find leadership. Louise Gibson has volunteered to coordinate events for 3 months, providing enough leaders come forward.
There was support for holding an in house “coordinators” training day in the Spring, to cover off the organization and responsibilities for leading events.
Following an incident in the cycling group, it became obvious that we have a protocol for recording incidents, evaluating and following up, which has not been updated for many years. A subcommittee was charged with pulling this together.
The meeting ended at 8:30pm.
Mike Tanner, Past President
It was billed as a slow spokes bicycle trip along the Wadham to Avoca Rail Trail, but for me it turned out to be three broken spokes. (More on that later.) I had been reading about the interesting cycling trips the Lambton Outdoor Club had organized over the summer months, but because of a busy summer and fall, the Oct. 10 trip was the first one I had a chance to try. I’m glad I did because it was a lot of fun.
With a passenger and an extra bicycle in the back of my RAV4, the first stop at the U.S. border was a harbinger of what was to come. After butchering the pronunciation of “Avoca,” the agent asked me if I was taking a long way to get to Africa. It wasn’t a trick question: the guy was just messing with me. It turns out, he was a cycling enthusiast and looked like he would have rather joined us than stand at his post for an entire shift.
After unloading at Avoca, I noticed the rear wheel of my hybrid bike was seizing up against the brake pads. I took off one of the pads and rode rather wobbly with the others in the group. Luckily, the trail was quite level, since 50 per cent braking power isn’t great, especially when the thought of flying over the handlebars isn’t a great way to make a good first impression. It was a gorgeous day and the 21-kilometre trip took us through shaded woodlands and farm fields and an impressive trestle over Mill Creek. There were road crossings too, but at least on two occasions motorists stopped to yield to us, a courtesy urban riders seldom experience.
And then there were the “poop alerts.” The trail, it seems, is also used by the one-horsepower set that leaves steaming reminders of their passage to the peril of others that traverse the same route. Luckily, none of our tires had a rolling reminder of some horse’s breakfast to contend with. The post-ride lunch was a good way to meet other club members, who were welcoming to this newcomer trying to find his way into retirement. And yes, they even roped me into writing this piece for the newsletter after finding out what I had done for a living.
And the busted spokes? The Bicycle Shop fixed that problem, which may have occurred the day before when a twig got caught in the wheel. See, even a bad thing couldn’t stop a good thing from happening.
Submitted by: Bruce Langer
(Bruce is a retired journalist who has worked in Sarnia (The Observer), Hamilton and Thunder Bay.
| Rod Richmond and Bruce Langer taking a well earned break on the Macomb Orchard Trail, a 40Km Paved Rail Trail 30 minutes from Sarnia |
Tuesday Easy Hikes
Back in July 2018 I volunteered to take on the organizing of the Tuesday Easy Hikes. Since then, we have had one hike every week with a total of 25 hikes planned thru to 18th December. After chatting with some of the earlier participants it was decided to limit the hikes to a two hour maximum hike time and a maximum distance of 6 kilometers. As the title suggests these are EASY hikes, with time to stop and smell the roses. We also decided that we did not want to exceed a driving time of 15 minutes from any meeting point within Sarnia.
The hikes have been very well attended, with up to 16 participants at one hike, usually 8-10 people show up. We have a list, and maps, of 17 different routes that we can choose from. People are amazed at how many lovely hiking routes we have within a 15 minute drive from Sarnia. I encourage people to come out and try and lead one of these easy hikes, as a starter, to maybe leading a longer hike. Maybe try a co-lead with one of our regular leaders to get your feet wet.( Not literally, we like dry feet) We will be there to help you. We do need more leaders so come on out and try it. If you would like to give it a try, just mention it to the leader on any of the walks.
These hikes also have an educational part to them. Stan for instance told us a lot about mushrooms (The fun guy....get it?) how to preserve them by pickling, drying or fermenting. Janet led us through Canatara Park to view the beautiful colours of Fall, while Chris added some stretching exercises (In the pouring rain I might add while huddled under a gazebo by the bridge.) to get us into shape after her walk to the Casino and back. Two weeks ago, Kevin took us to see a nesting owl. I think it must be the most photographed owl in the whole of Sarnia.
Last week we tried something different. Stan wanted to lead a hike in the Strathroy Conservation Area. This entailed a 40 minute drive from Sarnia to Strathroy. I didn't think anyone would sign up due to the long distance. Happily, 5 participants showed up and we enjoyed a wonderful hike through beautiful woods and alongside lakes filled with ducks and Canada geese. A visit to Strathroy Tims for lunch completed the outing.
Check on the website to see where we are going on our next adventure and to sign up.
So, if you have nothing to do on a Tuesday morning, come and join us (rain or shine) for an entertaining and social walk somewhere around Sarnia. You will be amazed at the people you will meet; retired school teachers, engineers, world travelers, concert conductors, realtors to name but a few.
See you there!
Submitted by: Tony Arnold
Tuesday hike through the DOW wetlands
Tuesday hike down by the Bay
The Knoydart Peninsula
Wilderness Scotland, an adventure company, described the Knoydart Peninsula as the “last true wilderness in Scotland” with “an Island feel”. That intrigued us, so we checked for more detail on this hiking trip and eventually committed to an 8 day adventure this past August 2018. We travelled by train from Glasgow to Mallaig on the West coast where we met 8 fellow hikers- one from Australia, one from Switzerland, one from Italy and the rest from the U.K. Our guide, Dave, was an experienced outdoorsman who capably looked after all the details. After a short transfer by boat, we made our way from Mallaig to the remote Doune Lodge, our base for all the daily outings.
Weather was as expected: lots of rain and wind with intermittent sunny blue skies. We were well prepared, however, with suitable gear, including poles. The peninsula is isolated from the rest of the Western Highlands by the “rough bounds”, a notorious strip of mountainous terrain. This provided us with considerable challenges and while we had prepared for this trip with many hikes in and around Lambton County as well as the Bruce Trail, we found the hills in Scotland to be rugged and steep with long ascents and descents. Trails were rough, rocky, boggy and often non-existent.
The rewards were great, however, with beautiful waterfalls, heather in bloom, spectacular mountain and ocean views and wildlife – red deer, sea birds and dolphins. Most days began with a 30 – 60 minute boat ride in the Mary Doune, the Doune Lodges’ private boat. We explored the 2 small islands of Eigg and Canna and traversed the peninsula North to South and along the coast. After these 6 or 7 hour hikes each day we were rewarded with excellent tasting, fresh home cooked dinners, often featuring sea food caught in the cold waters right outside the lodge.
This was a unique and memorable experience that we will remember and savour for years to come.
Submitted by: Joan Rannie & Sharon Cathcart
| Dramatic Waterfall on the Isle of Eigg peninsula |
Rugged Scottish Coastline
Elbe Bike Trip – Dresden to Hamburg
The trip itself went down-river from Dresden to Hamburg, along the Elbe river, but to get there we flew into Berlin. Partly because that is the closest airport to Dresden served directly from Toronto and partly because the city itself is well worth a visit. It also gave us a couple of days to get our body clocks adjusted and to get used to the German beer. In fact, the day after we arrived we signed up for a city tour by bike. The company we used set us up with cruiser bikes and the guide took us through all the touristy sights like the remains of the Berlin Wall, Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, the Reichstag – and a biergarten for beer and schnitzel. We also passed the Humboldt University of Berlin where Einstein worked for some time.
Dresden is a two-hour train ride from Berlin and this is where we picked up the rental bikes for the actual tour. We had a couple of days there before heading out, one day was sightseeing, including a trip on an Elbe steamer for some of us and visiting different places in the city (the restored Frauenkirche was high on most people’s list.) The second day we took the bikes up-river on the train to Bad Schandau, Giving a day-by-day description of the trip would be rather tedious so I will just list the places we stayed at along the way, make some comments on the important ones, and on the trip as a whole:
After Dresden we stayed in Strehla, Torgau, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Dessau, Magdeburg, Tangermünde, Havelberg, Wittenberge, Hitzacker, Lauenburg and finally Hamburg. The first part as far as Hitzacker was all in the former Eastern Germany, the later part was in the former Western Germany. Making this distinction almost 30 years after re-unification may seem academic but from what we saw (and from what one reads) significant disparities still exist between the two regions.
One’s initial thought is that the Elbe cycle path probably runs all the way along one or other side of the river. Well, some of it is like that, but a lot is not. Some is along the extensive flood control dikes either side but not always close to the river, some is on multi-use paths away from the river, some is on country roads through small towns and villages, some is on paths next to busy roads. Surfaces vary from smooth concrete or asphalt, to interlocking paving stone, to compacted gravel, to really horrible cobble stone or pavé, particularly in some of the villages. Fortunately, the really bad parts did not last for too long. Overall, riding conditions were fairly good but you really need a strongly built bike with fairly wide tires to cope with the rougher sections.
In the early part of the trip through the former East Germany we went through numerous small towns and villages. Many of them had beautiful old buildings, particularly churches and public buildings. There were also lots of well-kept houses both new and old. In contrast to this there were also a lot of buildings falling apart and lots of disused factory buildings. The story is that many manufacturers could get by operating inefficiently in the communist era but could not compete with the rest of the world when things opened up after reunification. This part of the country also had the greatest contrast in trail surface from the really good to really bad, but overall it was very clean.
Between Hitzacker and Lauenburg the Elbe essentially formed the border between the two parts of Germany and we saw three watch towers and a section of the “iron curtain” that has been preserved. We did learn quite a lot about all the measures taken to prevent people escaping to the west, both from the display there and what we heard in Berlin.
The trip ended in Hamburg after 12days and ~750km of cycling. Hamburg is a major port city but the Elbe cycle path takes one fairly close to the city centre without going on any busy roads. The last part took us along a rather busy path by the river front and then there was a short distance on city streets to get to our hotel. Although Hamburg has many places of interest, there are some areas where you do not feel very safe and the graffiti seen all over the place leaves a very bad impression. As mentioned earlier we went through and stayed at a lot of interesting places, apart from Dresden a few other cities are worth a mention:
Torgau is a beautiful old city. We stayed in a really old (but internally modernized) hotel on the city square. There is a castle in the town that is well worth a visit. The city’s (fairly recent) claim to fame is that it is where the American and Russian troops met up in the final stages of WW2 and there is a monument to commemorate this. Lutherstadt Wittenberg is where Martin Luther lived and worked and started the Protestant Revolution. One can learn all about the history, including his 95 theses nailed to the church door (fortunately none of us found the need to buy any Indulgencies while we were there!)
Tangermünde was another lovely old city with some history. I checked out some of this on the web and one item of note was the 1488 revolt against an excise tax on beer! (How about trying this on in Ontario?)
Although most of the trip was on the Elbe cycle path we did have to find our way through some busy towns to get to our hotel. At first sight this was rather intimidating but the towns are generally well set up with cycle paths and light controlled crossings at major intersections. For the most part, cycle paths in the towns were on the sidewalks. These are usually constructed with different coloured paving bricks with red used to denote the cycle lane. Because so many people use bikes as a regular means of transportation drivers are used to this and treat cyclists with respect. (There is a refreshing lack of giant pick-up trucks driven by people determined to show they are king of the road.) All of this brings me back to thinking that there is nothing much wrong with cycling on the sidewalk if the proper provisions are made and if drivers and pedestrians are expecting cyclists to be there. In Hamburg we saw several kids ~5 years old cycling to school. Another bike-friendly aspect is that trains are well set up to take bikes from one place to another at quite a reasonable cost.
Something we were looking forward to was being able to stop at coffee shops, backerei etc. for a morning coffee and some form of kuchen. Some days we were lucky, others not. We came to the conclusion that there is an opportunity for Tims there – so long as they up their game with the coffee and serve pflaumenkuchen or apfelkuchen rather than doughnuts.
The obvious question that comes up is would this work as a ride for cyclists in the Outdoor Club? The answer is maybe. Limiting the group size to less than ~10 is essential, a larger group would just become unmanageable. Although the average of ~60 km/day does not sound too challenging, some of the rides were longer: Our worst day was ~90km some on rough surfaces, this, using a heavy bike with a significant head-wind some of the way required some effort. Having someone in the group with a good knowledge of German helps a lot, so does having someone with good navigational skills. (There are maps and routes available that can be loaded on to a smart phone or GPS.) One certainly needs to ensure that everyone has the necessary cycling skills and stamina to ride day after day for that length of time.
Submitted by: John & Margaret Lovegrove
| LOC Riders at the Brandenberg Gate, Berlin |
|Frauenkirche Church, Dresden |
The LOC Newsletter
People join LOC because they have a love of the outdoors, a yen for adventures big and small, and love to eat. We come from many walks of life, young and mostly older, artisans or professionals, parents and grandparents. We paddle, hike, ride, ski and enjoy the challenge of embracing our world in a strangely intimate way. The northern sun dropping over a serene lake; the breathtaking view over a dappled fall valley; the first tracks in pristine snow; the sound of hidden tumbling waters as you pedal up wearying mountain roads. In short, we all have stories, and the monthly e Newsletter is your chance to share that passion with a wider audience.
In this edition we share Sharon and Dave’s serendipitous cycle ride around the Mediterranean island of Mallorca; John and Margaret Lovegrove and companions cycle adventure across Germany, and the intrepid Joan and Sharon trekking across the rugged Scottish Highlands. They all wrote because I happened to hear of their trip and asked them. Bruce Langer volunteered to share his first ride with the club. My point is that your story impacts others, and sharing it inspires and encourages people in ways that you cannot imagine. I like to write, and I realise that many do not. If you have a story idea about a trip, an outdoor experience or memorable encounter then let me know. Kodak coined the phrase “Kodak moment” before they succumbed to the digital wave. Pictures help, but words carry the essence of experience, and your story has an audience. Take the time to share in only 300 words send it to the club at firstname.lastname@example.org
Better still, if any members have ambitions to help with the Newsletter, they are very welcome to join the team of two (Chris and I).
Mike Tanner Newsletter editor
One great feature of our website is the ability for members to share photos they have taken on LOC events, with other members. Via your website profile, you can create a photo album and add one or more photos.
To provide the best viewing experience for our members, we are planning to limit the number and ensure quality photos are uploaded. In addition, we’d like to use space on the web server responsibly and not waste space.
What can you do? The first thing is to ensure the best possible quality of photos taken. If your camera or phone has seen better days and is taking out of focus shots it might be time to upgrade. Or maybe you just need to make sure the camera or phone lens is clean. You should also be selective when posting photos; some people tend to just upload every photo taken without taking any time to check them.
When photos are posted to any website there is some degradation of quality automatically, so if a photo starts out blurry, it will only get worse when viewed on the website. Some sites have strict guidelines for the number of pixels or resolution accepted. We're not there yet, but asking members to have a keen eye and recognize when a photo is not suitable for optimum viewing.
Next look at the photos in general. Some shots are too dark, and some are washed out with too much light. Also look for repeats of virtually the same thing and pick one shot that best represents what you are trying to share. If taking nature shots pick the best of the best.
We are going to soon place some limits on photo albums to 12-15 photos maximum, and have a volunteer review the photos. If you start to think now about quality over quantity the review required will be minimal, and the photo albums will be ready to go.
Another change we are going to implement is to turn off the ability to download photos from the photo albums. This is currently turned on now as a default, but due to privacy concerns of some members we are going to have members turn this feature off when uploading their photos.
There will be more info coming soon on exactly how all of this will work, but wanted you to be aware of the upcoming changes. We are not trying to discourage members from sharing their photos; we love to see the events you have attended and a good photo album can transport the viewer right to the location, but we want to ensure that quality photos are the norm.
Submitted by: Chris Richmond - Webmaster
The cut off date for the Christmas dinner is fast approaching, Nov 10. Please sign up with your menu choices on line
LOC Christmas Dinner
Olive's Casual Cuisine
1591 London Line, Sarnia ON N7T 7H2
Sunday November 25, 2018
Reception 5:15 pm Seating 6:00
YOU MUST PRE ORDER & PRE PAY IN ADVANCE TO ATTEND THIS EVENT
Select ONE - APPETIZER: Tomato Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Heirloom Greens w/ raspberry poppy seed vinaigrette, pickled spanish onion, toasted walnut, cranberry, crumbled smoked gorgonzola
Select ONE - ENTREE:
Sweet Potato Mash, Roasted Broccolini, Cherry Tomato Jus
Roasted Fingerling Potato, Butternut Squash Puree, Glazed Green Beans, Arugula & Sauce Gribiche
Butternut squash puree, roasted mini red potatoes, green beans, cherry tomatoes, honey mustard jus.
AAA Beef Strip Sirloin
Herb Crusted Potato, Roasted Cremini Mushrooms, Kale & Red Wine Jus
Select ONE - DESSERT:
Vanilla Bean Crème Brulée
Peach Melba Cheesecake
Chocolate Gateau & Berry Compote
NO other menu changes/options.
COST: $ 45.00 each
(Includes meal, coffee, tea, tax and gratuity)
Alcohol billed separately to each member.
Please do not contact Olives.
|Hike, Paddle, Ride... Smile!
Lambton Outdoor Club | P.O. Box 653 | Sarnia, Ontario, N7T 7J7