Driving west from Toronto, the Niagara Escarpment juts up from the Central Ontario plain, beckoning those of us who are locked in the ever sprawling metropolis of the Golden Horseshoe to seek out it’s natural beauty. On Saturday May 5, participants in our annual spring Rally did precisely that. In the past few years our adventure run was based in downtown Toronto and provided an opportunity to discover interesting tidbits about its architecture and history. However, increased road construction and congested traffic made for a Saturday drive that felt more like weekday rush-hour traffic. So this year we decided to take a scenic country route, and one that was only 30 minutes from downtown Toronto.
Nebo Djurdjevic, Jim Sciberas and I mapped out the route in the Fall. We posed 7 questions about things visible along the way that, if answered correctly, would mean you win the rally. The route was a lovely mix of country roads that twist and snake through the Niagara Escarpment. There are a couple of steep hills that require an ascent in 1st gear in a 2CV! It’s the nicest country drive you can experience within an hour’s driving distance from Toronto. And is perfect for a half-day outing because you can do the whole route in about 90 minutes.
The weather was sunny, just a bit on the cool side, and perfect for the driving outing. We met at 10 am at John McCulloch and Chris Deja’s house for coffee and decadent breakfast cakes prior to departure. Raj arrived to show his newly acquired XM Diesel Wagon that he imported from England. Herb Arnds and his daughter Alicia came in their Lomax to participate in their first Club outing.
We got many enthusiastic “thumbs up” along the way from other cars, bystanders and cyclists alike. But the most notable came from a fellow and his wife in an Audi convertible who stopped at the corner of Cedar Springs & McNiven Roads. As we were making a left turn they waved their arms and shouted their enthusiasm on seeing us out on the road. Turned out they were Linda and Al Eady a retired music teacher who knew (and recognized) John McCulloch. Al has always had eclectic tastes in everything and exotic automobiles are certainly on his list.
We stopped for a refreshment break at The Ice House Cafe in Campbellville. It was next to an Esso gas station. While Larry Lewis added gas to his Traction, another fellow was filling up his VW Passat. But when he went to leave, he couldn’t start it. Being the mechanical geniuses we are, to keep our Citroëns on the road, we of course went over to help. Opening the hood though presented a totally different world. Electrical connections that looked like they belonged in an IT department rather than in an automobile. Fuel injection lines that disappeared below the engine cover to some obscure place. The only thing readily accessible was the fuse box. Herb checked a couple of the 30A fuses and changed two around in case one was bad and that is what prevented the Passat from starting. Even with that the problem still persisted. A few more cranks and nothing… “Ah! You must have flooded the spark plugs” we said. Try cranking and make sure you don’t touch the gas pedal.” The owner responded “I haven’t touched the gas”. We countered with “You need to leave it for a few minutes. Meanwhile as we waited Alicia Googled car tips on her iphone. Online it said that if fuel injection cars are flooded and can’t start and the engine is warm, you should push the gas pedal all the way down and turn the key. This will send a command to the on-board computer to minimize the fuel. She brought that to our attention and the driver heeded her advice. One turn and in 5 seconds the engine fired up and ran perfectly. Very happy to be running again, he drove off. But I’m pretty sure as he drove away we was thinking what useless guys we were when only a 16 year old girl can solve the problem!
From there we headed along the Niagara Escarpment ridge stopping for lunch at Lowville. The weather had warmed and cleared allowing us to relax on the outside patio. At that point we tallied the correct rally answers and determined we had a 1st place tie!. So Herb and Alicia, and John McCulloch and Chris Deja were awarded CITROËNVIE t-shirts. As we finished lunch and reflected on the wonderful
route we took, Jeff, Larry and I decided to drive it again, taking it from the end back to the start at John’s place. We drove it in a “spirited” manner, that put us back at the start in 30 minutes less time than going the other way.
When we got to John’s, he and Chris had just arrived having stopped to go shopping at their local grocery store. The manager of the store with whom he had spoken often over the years, greeted them at the door with “Now I can go home- you guys are here.” John mentioned that they had been on a Citroën event and he says -”You should talk to my next door neighbour, he has a Lomax!” His name is Herb!” Small world!!