By Pico Triano
Photos by Pico Triano
Living on an undesignated road that is in places little more than a dirt track brings back some fond childhood cycling memories. One thing I liked to do on my old beat up one speed bicycle was to go exploring. Unopened road allowances, motorcycle trails and virtually any other cyclable path would satisfy that urge. You would not believe the number of hidden little places like that are often just around the corner from where you live right now.
I had several places I liked to go growing up. Number one was easily the Shorthills located just outside of the nearby town of Fonthill, Ontario. There were an endless number of trails and non-maintained roads all through there. Closer to home there were a few unopened road allowances which were great nearby getaways. For an occasion change of pace I would visit “The Pit” which was an unapproved dirt bike paradise in an old unused sand quarry.
The Shorthills is a geographical feature left by the glaciers. Most of the roads on the Niagara Peninsula are laid out on some kind of grid. Because of the terrain that doesn't work in the Shorthills. The roads squiggle all over the place. The regular roads in there are fun to drive on but that isn't all that is there. For example Sixteen Road appeared to dead end on Effingham Road. A trail used to continue on through and it was a terrific fun ride. Hogsback Road and St. John's Conservation area were other great adventures. I haven't been in those places for several decades so I imagine things have changed a lot. There is probably still a lot of places in there where you can get away from everything on your bike.
The unopened road allowances were a lot easier and closer to find. Since most of the roads in the area were constructed on a grid, just look for a place the grid says there should be a road and the map say there isn't one. Cream Street and Foss Road both had missing sections according to the map. In both instances there was a road allowance and a rough trail going down it.
Riding off road as it were doesn't work too well with a racing or touring bike. In those cases I would stick to the paths more travelled. A mountain bike or anything with fat enough tires is great for exploring these places off the beaten path.