Biking Ancaster and Hamilton

Photo: Vic Gedris: More on Vic's site: Vic Gedris: More on Vic's site:

When one is obsessed with cycling one tends to bring the bike everywhere. The GF and I brought our bikes to a wedding in Ancaster this last long weekend. The GO bus and its bike rack took us and our bikes to McMaster University, Hamilton, where upon we mounted our steel horses and rode up the "mountain" as they like to call it in the "Hammer". (Sorry, forgot the camera!)

Ancaster is full of nice people, being a bedroom community of Hamilton and a nice place to bike. They've got waterfalls nearby. Their main street bike lane seems to be a bit of an afterthought with a painted bike symbol over the wide paved gutter. Still, no on complained as we took our part of the road. Most of Ancaster's roads were bike-friendly.

We stayed just outside of town at Ridgemoor B&B which was secluded enough in a maple forest so as to give us a restful state of mind. (Disclosure: we were given a bottle of owner Bill's "Old Geezer" maple syrup in exchange for exposure.) We refreshed ourselves in the pool after each bike excursion and even made s'mores in the fire pit, allowing us the illusion of camping while sleeping in a large bed. Bill Bell was keen enough to start thinking of how he could attract more cyclists by providing more amenities for cyclists such as secure storage, basic bike tools, bike-friendly breakfasts, showers, and so on. If you have suggestions for bed & breakfasts please put them in the comments, Bill will be reading them. (Some day we may even have an accommodation for cyclists certification like Quebec's Bienvenue cyclistes!)

After the wedding (where friend and owner of Hoopdriver wed another friend) the GF and I biked some verdant routes through Dundas valley and Hamilton area. Here's a list for your perusal:

  • Dundas Valley rail trail - gentlest way up the escarpment and very peaceful. Could use signage and maps.
  • Chippewa rail trail - a gentle gravel trail into the city and between industry that peters out to nothing at the south end with no signage and a hidden entrance right next to major bike path on Stone Church. Do you not want people to bike it, Hamilton?
  • Red Hill Valley trail - promises to be one of the best route through the middle of the city and disappointed us again and again. There was no signage. It quickly became inaccessible with steep washouts, a washed-out bridge, and a side path that ejected us out to the road, again with no warning to where it would take us. Hamilton seems to have plenty of money to build a brand new expressway but can't even put up signage to warn of closed trails let alone fix the trails. Very disappointing. The only redeeming aspects are the useful bike wheel troughs on their stairs - better than Toronto's.
  • Waterfront trail - a well-used trail along the beautiful waterfront and nicely paved. Must cross major unfriendly highways to access (even worse than Toronto's access points). It's not a great thoroughfare for cyclists especially on weekends and holidays when it's full of dogs, kids and bathers.
  • Lakeshore Road - the only option between Hamilton and Toronto, the road is full of cars but slow enough to make it safe for cyclists. Many, many mansions blocking view of Lake Ontario.

It is not uncommon for cities to have spotty bike infrastructure and signage, so a cycling or regular map is always a must or you'll quickly be frustrated and lost. (Please get with it, Hamilton, you could be so much better to bike around).



Three words for you... "you're my hero".

(Okay, that's actually four words, but who counts apostrophes!)

Get right on it!

I drove the Red Hill (Creek) Valley expressway for the first time last week; the interchanges I encountered seem to have been designed by engineers on crack, so I guess the bike trail travails are not a bit surprise. It's too bad, though, as it would make a nice route up or down the mountain in the east end.

I've always wanted to ride the Hamilton-Brantford rail trail,

There are also trails here and there on the long-abandoned Brantford & Hamilton radial:

pennyfarthing ok frye