Blue Skies Music Festival is a wonderful three day event that takes place on the first weekend of August in Clarendon Station. For the third consecutive year I’ve biked down to the site, exploring different routes each time (click here for route #2, and click here for route #1). This year I cheated a bit on the way out of town. I’ve been wanting to try the OC Transpo Rack&Roll for quite some time, whereby you mount your bike on a rack attached to the front grill of the bus. So, at 5:25 a.m. I caught the 96 at Lebretton Flats and bussed it out to Kanata. I was nervous using the Rack&Roll for the first time however after studying an online video the night before, as well as following instructions printed on the rack itself, it was relieved to find it all very clear and straightforward.
The blue line on the following map is the route I rode to Blue Skies. The purple lines are alterations followed on the way back.
After the bus driver dropped me of at the Kanata Centrum Shopping Centre I rode along Terry Fox Drive which has bike lanes.
I turned west onto Richardson Side Road
– two narrow straightaways of crazy speeding truck traffic and soft gravel shoulders.
UPDATE – August 2018: Very pleased to discover that generous paved shoulders have been added along Richardson Side Road between Terry Fox Drive and David Manchester Road, narrowing to about 1 meter along the bridge over the Trans-Canada Highway.
Once across the bridge over the Trans-Canada Highway I was very pleased to turn off onto David Manchester Road.
I then headed west along Old Almonte Road, which alternated between packed gravel and paved surfacing. It was very pleasant ride all the way to Ramsay Concession 12.
Next time I would continue all the way along Almonte Road to Mississippi Mills, rather than via March Road, as suggested by the purple line on the above map which I followed on the way back from the festival.
I took the advice of a theatre colleague who lives in Almonte and popped in to Baker Bob’s just off Mill Street for a tasty snack & coffee.
I headed west out of Almonte along Wolf Grove Road. This was a another extended white knuckle riding stretch of road, i.e. two lanes of fast moving traffic with minimal or no paved shoulder. I had to ride off onto the gravel shoulder a couple of times, like when the big ass Winnebego roared up behind me as a cement truck flew by in the opposite direction. On such occasions I use my trusted rear view mirror to assess what’s coming up fast, and whether they look like they have time and room to safely get around me.
I exited off Wolf Grove Road onto quiet Purdy Road.
The roads to Herrons Mills and the 511 were a combination of paved and gravel surfaces along farms and woodland.
North on 511 took me to Watson’s Corners Road, another paved two laner but with much less frantic traffic. Everyone slowed down as they drove up behind me and passed only when they were sure there was lots of room to do so. Why do driving behaviours change on various rural roads, even though their physical arrangements are similar? I don’t know.
I was soon in need of a big lunch break. The sun was beating down, the hills were mostly up hilly, and the strong easterly wind had been in my face for quite some time. Fortunately the Dalhousie Lake Restaurant down the road at the eastern edge of Dalhousie Lake was open and very hospitable. Even offered to fill my water bottle without my having to ask.
After a yummy lunch I worked my way over to McDonalds Corner Road and continued west. McDonalds Corner Road was another two laner which became the Elphin-Maberly Road. Parts of this section were freshly paved. The white stone gravel along the shoulder created a very dense surface, more so than most typical gravel or sand shoulders. The harder the shoulder, the safer the bail-out.
I turned off Elphin Maberly onto Robertsville Road, a packed gravel road that went up and down all the way to the 509.
I turned south onto the 509, which is another two lanes of very speedy intermittent traffic.
I made it to Clarendon Station by 2:45.
I followed the same route back to Ottawa early Monday morning, apart from a short cut to the 509 from Clarendon along School House Road, the short section along Old Almonte Road as previously mentioned, and the portion covered by my bus ride to Kanata. I made very good time on the return trip because the wind was at my back, and Ottawa is at a lower elevation by 162m, so mostly downhill.
Here’s a painting by artist Janet MacKay, inspired by an image I included in last years post. Many of Janet’s works draw upon and capture the rich contrasts evident in the landscape of Frontenac County where the festival takes place. She spends much of the year painting at her cottage nearby on Sharbot Lake.