Today I had to bring a bunch of big painting drop cloths to Les Ateliers du Théâtre de l’Ile in Gatineau, so I stuffed them in my panniers and biked there. Now I may have driven there on this rainy day if I hadn’t taken the 30 Days of Biking pledge – a personal promise to pedal every day throughout April.
Good thing I did, because I would have missed an opportunity to pause and contemplate the brooding Edgar-Allen-Poe-ish beauty that hung over the region on this rainy spring day. Take, for example, the mist rising over the majestic Ottawa River, as seen from the Portage Bridge.
Or the big old abandoned carbide mill on Victoria Island.
Vieux Hull has some fine examples of heritage architecture to admire while passing through.
Fairmont Park is a great place for kids to play and run around, as did my son this afternoon with a group of friends from his days at Devonshire School. Here’s a safe route we followed to get there and back on day 21 of 30 Days of Biking.
We carried our bikes down the stairs that join upper and lower Primrose Avenue and wove our way along residential streets to City Centre where you can access the O-Train Pathway. We zipped up the path that brings you to Somerset, and turned onto Breezehill Avenue which took us past old Devonshire School. The Tudor entranceway was of the Collegiate Gothic style typical of ottawa schools in the early 1900’s, as mentioned on the bronze plaque to the right of the entranceway.
We then turned right on Laurel St, then left on Irving. A short distance south on Irving there’s a short alley that allows you to cut across to Fairmont Avenue.
Then it’s left on Fairmont which goes under the Queensway, one of the few Queensway underpasses that feels safe for biking.
A couple of blocks beyond the Queensway is Fairmont Park.
Ever since I set out on my goal to ride down every street in Ottawa/Gatineau four years ago I’ve shied away from big industrial parks as they aren’t usually the safest places for cyclists. Or pedestrians. Or anyone else not encased in moving metal. This shouldn’t be the case as everyone needs to feel safe getting to work, but reality and desirability often don’t match up when it comes to bike infrastructure. Yet. That’s why, when I do venture in to these pedal badlands I often choose a quiet Sunday, and what quieter Sunday could there be than Easter? So on the 2/3 mark of 30 Days of Biking, between egg hunting and feast hosting, I rode over to an industrial park in the east end behind the Museum of Science and Technology. Blue line is how I got there. Red line shows how I got back to Chinatown.
To get to the east end of town I often pass under the Queensway along the path on the western shore of the Rideau River, and cross the river on the old train bridge, however having been warned via Twittersphere that it was closed for construction, and encouraged by a myriad of detour signs, I took the the Lees Ave bridge sidewalk over the Queensway. Another sign said to walk your bike because the sidewalk is pretty narrow. I recommend avoiding this route until the construction is completed.
I rode past the train station, then followed the bike path along Tremblay Road and crossed St Laurent Boulevard. That’s where the Industrial Park begins. While there is very little truck traffic in these areas on Sunday mornings, there are things to watch out for, like loose sand and debris along the edges of the roads, and GIANT POTHOLES! These are particularly treacherous on rainy days when they are filled with muddy water and less noticeable. This one’s about 3 inches deep.
I crossed Innes at Bantree where a ghost bike rests against a light post on the north west corner in memory of Tyler Brown, killed in an collision with a pickup truck. As I approached there was a woman quietly contemplating the roadside memorial so I rode on without disturbing her.
What I find most interesting within industrial parks are the designs of many of the buildings and surrounding landscapes occupied by various companies. Their need to be noticed often results in some audacious architecture shaped by the amount of visibility they desire, or by the large and unique scale of the service they provide. One particularly interesting building is the headquarters of RJW Stonemasons on Edinburgh Place. Their huge front facade is an exhibit of their fine craftsmanship in stone masonry, made all the more obvious in stark contrast to the blue metal siding of the rest of the building.
Here are a few other buildings and sites that caught my eye.
On the way back I rode along Old Innes Road, which leads to a desire-line path that takes you down to the bike path that running along Innes Road.
Industrial Avenue on the other side of St Laurent turned out to be pretty dangerous even on Easter Sunday with 4 lanes of speeding cars and small shoulders, so I turned on to Russel Road, then Coronation street to where it becomes Blair St. From there I wove my way back downtown along the route shown on the above map and described in more detail in this post.
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.
We then climbed the steep pitch on the east side of the canal. It’s a popular descent with skateboarders and cyclists.
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.
The market is down the steps across the street from the entrance to the park.
Purchases made, we rode home the way we came. Et voila!
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!
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.
There’s a path that goes right over the falls, allowing you to stare straight down into the torrential frothing.
On the north shore you can follow the path down onto the 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Once beyond the baseball diamonds, accessing the Experimental Farm pathway required a bit of a stair climb up to Caldwell Ave.
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.
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.
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.