30 Days of Biking – Day 19 : Riding towards the Byward Market

This afternoon my son and I biked downtown to do some gift shopping. Unfortunately there isn’t a safe route into the heart of the Byward Market so we parked our bikes on the outskirts of the market and walked the rest of the way. Here’s how we did so on day 19 of 30 Days of Biking.

We rode towards downtown along the Ottawa River Pathway and crossed over the locks where the Rideau Canal feeds into the Ottawa River.

Ice gathered in the canal lock.
Ice gathered in the canal lock.

We then climbed the steep pitch on the east side of the canal. It’s a popular descent with skateboarders and cyclists.

View from the top of the hill behind Majors Hill Park
View from the top of the hill behind Majors Hill Park

Usually I lock my bike in front of the National Gallery but today we rode through Major’s Hill Park and locked our bikes to the fence at the entrance to the park near the U.S. embassy, bringing us closer to some of our shopping destinations.

Bikes locked to fence at the entrance to Majors Hill Park
Bikes locked to fence at the entrance to Majors Hill Park

The market is down the steps across the street from the entrance to the park.

Steps down to the Byward Market
Steps down to the Byward Market

Purchases made, we rode home the way we came. Et voila!

30 Days of Biking – Day 18 : Ride to Hog’s Back Falls

Hog’s Back Falls is a pretty spectacular sight at this time of year as a result of the spring melt off. The falls were created at the time of the construction of the Rideau Canal, as explained in this very interesting post. On day 18 of 30 Days of Biking, my son and I biked over to check them out, and discovered some wonderful vantage points.

To get there we followed the O-Train path as far as Young St. That’s where the path surface changes from asphalt to packed dirt. (UPDATE Spring 2019: The path is now paved all the way to Prince of Wales Drive!). We rode through the arboretum and crossed the canal locks at Carleton University. (The purple line is an alternate route should the path through the Arboretum still be snowed in).

That got us on the canal pathway which we followed all the way to Mooneys Bay. The canal is still empty allowing for some great views of the locks, including this one at Mooneys Bay. The patine on the stonework is pretty fantastic. Nic says it looks like the walls of a medieval fortress!

Canal lock at Mooneys Bay
Canal lock at Mooneys Bay

The path circles under and up onto Hogs Back Road over the falls. You can’t really see the falls from this path, but you sure can hear them. Once on the other side of the bridge the path circles under Hogs Back Road once again, which takes you into Hog’s Back Park, from where you can go right up to the edge of the falls.

View of falls from the south shore
View of falls from the south shore

There’s a path that goes right over the falls, allowing you to stare straight down into the torrential frothing.

One point perspective of Hog's Back Falls
One point perspective of Hog’s Back Falls

On the north shore you can follow the path down onto the exposed rock.

Exposed rock
Exposed rock

There are a few short sets of stairs so you may wish to lock your bike on the opposite shore. We brought ours, allowing us to follow another path on the north side of the falls under Hogs Back Road. This path joins the one that continues along the canal.

Path under Hogs Back Road on the north side of the river
Path under Hogs Back Road on the north side of the river

I know this way-finding description around the falls is confusing, so zoom in on the above map to the area around the falls and it will make more sense.

I highly recommend riding over and checking out the fury of the falls before the snow melt excitement subsides.

30 Days of Biking – Day 17 : Ride to Courtwood Crescent

Courtwood Crescent is short street with small office buildings nestled in a tight triangular industrial zone south of the Queensway, west of Carlington Park, and east of Maitland. At the mention of industrial zone the backs of most cyclists justifiably bristle. That’s where trucks hang out, from pick-ups to transports, and where drivers of such vehicles often don’t expect to see two wheeled self-propelled pedallers. But they should, because everyone needs to feel safe biking to work. So here’s how I accessed and got out of the Zone on a job errand, on day 17 of 30 Days of Biking.

First, I had to get myself a new riding windbreaker. The 18 year old MEC-collectors-item I’ve been sporting was getting very tired, even with the new reflecto sewn on by Carla that helped me survive riding through the winter. So I stopped off at Bushtukah, who didn’t quite have what I was after, and MEC who did. Only realised when I got home that the jacket I LOVED (and bought) was a women’s large. It’s a windbreaker that needs to keep me dry and visible. Whatever works.

MEC Derecho Jacket
MEC Derecho Jacket

Purchase made, I rode south on Roosevelt, then across the lights at Cole and Carling. South of Carling is where things start getting industrial – i.e. lot of trucks, road sand accumulated over the winter street cleaners will probably never see, and supersized potholes. Even so there was enough shoulder space to feel safe with minimal street parking. The traffic felt less erratic and dangerous than the stretch along Richmond between Bushtukah and MEC.

Woodward Ave
Woodward Ave

What I find unique about this area of town, is that right beside the industrial muck and trucks sits a park, with an excellent hockey arena, two baseball diamonds, and a toboggan hill. Rather than re-trace my treads home, I cut along the paths on the edge of the baseball diamonds to the residential area on the other side. These were fine, although a little mushy as stone dust paths tend to be at this time of year.

Path behind baseball diamonds
Path behind baseball diamonds

Once beyond the baseball diamonds, accessing the Experimental Farm pathway required a bit of a stair climb up to Caldwell Ave.

Stairs up to Caldwell
Stairs up to Caldwell

I got on to the Experimental Farm Pathway from Caldwell. Sad to see a bunch of ash trees recently felled along Ash Lane in the middle of the farm, probably more victims of the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. Some creative tree cutter made the best of it by carving this champignon out of the trunk.

Ash trunk toad stool
Ash trunk toadstool

Et voila.

30 Days of Biking – Day 16 : Evening errands from Chinatown to Westboro

I had a bunch of errands to take care of at the corner of Richmond and McRae in Westboro, all do-able by bike. First, a visit to Bushtakah situated on the north/east corner, where good service and reasonable prices on bike stuff can be found. I had to exchange some tire levers. On the south/west corner I stopped in to the Canadian Superstore for groceries, and on the south/west corner there’s an LCBO where I purchased a nice bottle of wine to go with supper. So, lot’s of good excuses to bike over to this active intersection, for the 16th instalment of 30 Days of Biking !

The route I followed there and back corresponds to the one described in more detail in this post, EXCEPT for one adjustment. Sometime in the history of Ottawa’s planning it was decided that all roads crossing Wellington between Huron and Island park Drive should be off set. On my original route I suggest crossing at the traffic light at Caroline and Wellington, which is still quite practical, but requires that you walk your bike 100 yards or so east to get to the light. On this post I suggest crossing Wellington at the lights located at Western Ave and cutting through the parking lot of the garage to get to Mayfair Ave on the opposite side of Wellington.

View across Wellington from lights at Western Ave to Mayfair Ave
view across Wellington from lights at Western Ave to Mayfair Ave

At the end of Western you can get dip down a short incline to get on the bike path that runs along Byron.

With my panniers all loaded up I followed the same route originally posted on the way back. With all the talk about spring flooding I was apprehensive about riding along the river, but was pleasantly surprised that the water has not covered the path as it did last year. The ice breakup on the river is quite beautiful.

Ice break up on the Ottawa River
Ice break up on the Ottawa River

Et voila.

30 Days of Biking – Day 15 : Return to Les Ateliers du Théâtre de l’Île.

On day 15 of 30 Days of Biking I rode to Les Ateliers du Théâtre de l’Île in Gatineau for some set painting. Had to put on my goggles mid way there because the freezing rain in the eyes was nasty.

The rain had turned to snow by the time I headed home. Very pleased to discover the smashed glass that was all over the underpass on the Ontario side has been all swept up and enough snow has melted to allow for a clear ride along the path between the bridge and Albert St.

I followed the path heading west along Albert, then crossed at the lights at Empress, which leads to the stairs that have bike trough up to the top of Nanny Goat Hill.

Bike path along Albert St
Bike path along Albert St
Princess St from Albert towards stairs
Princess St from Albert towards stairs

Et voila!

Snowy trees

30 Days of Biking – Day 14 : A short ride to pay the taxman, and another to learn how to fix brakes

Today I managed to squeeze in a couple of short bike errands, thus maintaining my 30 Days of Biking pledge. The first was a quick morning ride to the government drop box on Laurier. The second was an even quicker evening ride to Re-Cycles on Bronson to attend a bike fixing workshop.

There is a drop of box for federal tax stuff at 333 Laurier. That’s very convenient if you are biking along the Laurier Bike Lane. Also saves you the cost of postage.

In the evening I rode a few blocks south to Re-Cycles. Re-Cycles is a win-win sort of bike shop for those who want to learn how to fix their own bike. For a minimal hourly fee you can go in and, using their tools and the timely advice of a head mechanic, fix your bike. I’ve done so on numerous occaisions, and it’s been great. Another way to do it is go in and volunteer on fix-it nights. The time spent volunteering can be redeemed for personal use free of charge. They also have group workshops on fixing specific parts of the bike to prep you for when you go in to volunteer, as well as teach you how a bike works. Tonight I went to my first one, which was on brakes.

Bike parts cabinet
Bike parts cabinet

Re-cycles is located very close to the dangerous intersection at Bronson and Gladstone. That’s why I rode a block further south to Arlington and circled back along Bronson. I recommend avoiding Bronson altogether and arriving via Percy and McLeod. Red line’s how I rode home.

Among the many tid-bits of great info gleaned from tonights workshop was the importance of having cable cutters like these in your tool chest.

Cable cutters
Cable cutters

30 Days of Biking – Day 13 : Chinatown to the Coliseum

My son is a trooper. After yesterday’s 10 km loop around town I was worried it would take quite an effort to convince him to join me on a ride over to Hog’s Back Falls. Not only was he keen, he suggested we ride even further out towards Britannia Bay to a favorite store of his called Games Workshop. It recently relocated to a mini-mall beside the Coliseum Cinemas. So, for day 13 of 30 Days of Biking we saddled up and headed off!

Usually we would have ridden west along the Ottawa River Pathway starting at the Portage Bridge, but with rumours of river banks flooding, and memories of how much the path was inundated last Spring I decided to cut through Hintonburg to the bike lane along Scott. Traffic is usually less frantic on the weekend, and I didn’t want to push my luck on the distance my son could ride as it’s a more direct route than riding along the Ottawa River pathway. At the western end of Scott we followed the path along the transit-way that joins the path along the south side of the parkway. This section of bike path was fine, apart for just a few muddy puddles like so.

Puddle pedalling
Puddle pedalling

I did notice some cyclists riding along the path on the north side of the driveway, so when we arrived at the intersection west of Woodroffe I made the executive decision to take the parkway underpass and continue along the north side. It was great. The views of the melting ice on the river are quite spectacular.

Ottawa River in  Spring
Ottawa River in Spring

There was only one slushy patch around Mud Lake, but otherwise the path was very rideable.

Just a bit of slush
Just a bit of slush

We accessed Carling from Burland St, which was a bit of a mistake. We should have done so one block west at Kempster where there is a traffic light. On the ride home I was reminded of how windy it can get along the river, particularly in the spring when there are no leaves to dampen the wind. It was really strong, but still the boy braved on. On the way back we also noticed patches of trees with the bottom portions of the bark freshly chewed off. Hope they survive.

Chomped tree trunks
Chomped tree trunks

So, all in all, a fine outing indeed. I am very proud of my lad.

30 Days of Biking – Day 12 : 10 km loop along O-Train path, Rideau Canal, and Laurier Bike Lane

A fine day for a ride on day 12 of 30 Days of Biking! Here’s the route my son and I followed on this sunny Saturday.

Took the stairs that join the upper and lower sections of Primrose Avenue, then wove our way over to the O-Trian path behind City Centre.

Stairs from upper to lower Primrose
Stairs from upper to lower Primrose

The O-Train path is in great shape, apart for a patch of ice under the Somerset bridge and muddiness where the path isn’t paved between Beech and Prince of Wales.

Muddy section of O-Train path
Muddy section of O-Train path

The path along the Canal was filled with folks jogging, strolling or biking. Years ago I passed a man walking his elephant in this spot just east of Dow’s Lake. I kid you not! This was back when the Ex was held at Landsdowne Park. It was a hot day so the trainer was taking the elephant for a swim in Dow’s Lake.

Path along the north side of the canal
Path along the north side of the canal

Once downtown we turned off the path and rode through Confederation Park to get to the Laurier Bike Lane. My son made a quick stop into Fandom II, and I dropped off some library books before continuing along the Laurier Bike Lane. Before the lanes were installed I would never have let my son bike down Laurier. A fine example of how bike infrastructure is good for business.

30 Days of Biking – Day 11 : West, North, South & East from Chinatown

Day 11 of 30 Days of Biking saw me riding all over the map. Blue lines are the routes that got me to where I was going, red lines are slight alterations to get me home.

First foray was westwardly to deal with a domestic emergency – no TP in the house! Off to Giant Tiger on Wellington. Probably could have gone to the Indian Store on the corner, but I’m also on the lookout for a 15″ sphere as part a set I’m designing, so I checked out what GT had in stock. No luck, but TP was acquired!

O-Train path and ramp up to Somerset
O-Train path and ramp up to Somerset

Next direction: North to Les ateliers du Théâtre de l’Île in Gatineau for a production meeting on said mentioned set.

Next: South. Technically, it wasn’t a ride, but it did involve bikes. My son and I walked a couple of my old frames with bits attached to donate to Re-Cycles on Bronson.

Couple of old reliables off to find another home.
Couple of old reliables off to find another home.

Finally: East when I rushed to City Hall to attend an evening presentation on urban critters. I was rushing because I took longer than I had hoped to replace my front studded tire for the studless one that came with the bike. Yes folks, a sure sign that Spring has officially sprung!

30 Days of Biking – Day 10 : Riding to the Canadian Museum of History

For day 10 of 30 Days of Biking Carla and I rode to the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau. On the way back I scoped out the snowiness of the Voyageurs Pathway between the museum and the Portage Bridge along the Ottawa River.

To get to the museum we rode over Portage Bridge and along Rue Laurier on the north side of the museum (blue line on the above map).

On the way back I got on the Voyageurs Path along the river (red line), which is cleared….

Oooh goodie - no snow!
Oooh goodie – no snow!

… until just west of the museum, where you will encounter this pile of mush, then patches of slushy ice beyond.
BUT, I predict, it will be all gone by the weekend. UPDATE – Spring 2018:  This section of the Voyageurs Pathway is closed until at least the Fall of 2018 as the NCC has not finished repairing the damages caused by last Spring’s flooding. 

Pile of mush..... and icy patch.
Pile of mush….. and icy patch.

I took a peek under the Portage Bridge on the Quebec side and am pleased to confirm that it is good to go, apart from this little bit of slush, but it’s manageable and minutes away from disappearing.

Path under Portage on Quebec side
Path under Portage on Quebec side

No such luck for the path under the bridge on the Ontario side. It’s still mucky and filled with broken glass under the bridge.

Et voila!