July 12 - Fort Erie, ON to Middleport, NY: 54.8 miles
Eager to avoid the crowds at Niagara Falls, we got up at 5:30 am and started riding north on the Niagara Parkway at 6:30 am. In 9 miles we rode by buildings that diverted water from the Niagara River for hydro-power. The river gradient steepened, creating large patches of white water across the quarter-mile wide channel. A cloud of mist ahead portended the Falls. In spite of the “world famous” nonsense associated with Niagara Falls, they didn’t disappoint us. We watched the water glide over the edge of the rock of the riverbed a few feet away and felt the thunder of the crashing river below (see photo). Wow!
Horseshoes Falls on the Canadian side of the river dropped farther and carried more water than the American Falls. Only a few people watched the spectacle at 7 am. On the Canadian side, visitors can walk or bike along a wide paved path with panoramic views of the Falls. We rode north a half mile and climbed up to the level of Rainbow Bridge to the US. Once through customs, we biked a few blocks to the Culinary Institute, for coffee and a scone, and to find a book at the Barnes and Noble in the Institute building. Alas, the books mainly reflected... cooking. We opted to not explore Niagara Falls State Park - how could it beat what we’d already seen?
We rode north through the City of Niagara Falls on Hwy 104 for 4 miles, then, back on the ACA route, east on Upper Mountain Road to Lockport. At the post office we picked up a shirt I ordered from REI, then rode 2 miles south to a store to buy a can of stove fuel. We then rode north, back to Lockport, and east on Hwy 31 for 14 miles to Middleport, on the Erie Canal. Some of the towns along the canal, like Middleport, offer tie-ups, bathrooms, and showers for bikers, hikers, and pleasure boaters. We camped about 20 feet from the 100-foot wide canal, on a lawn near a boat. Today was a short but memorable day.