Thursday, September 9, 2010

Another trip to Rockcliffe

August was hot with a few minor exceptions. Actually, it wasn't just hot but boiling hot with humidex values rivalling the inside of the sun. So, we didn't get out too much (I don't trike when it's stinking hot) but this past Sunday would see us hit the road for the last Alcatel/Lucent Sunday bike day. This time, our trip wouldn't just take us along the Colonel By drive as in times past. Today, we had a different plan.

We had arranged to meet up with Jane at her place, enjoy a breakfast together, head out once more and aim ourselves at the Aviation Museum where we would meet up with Rob and Debbie, other friends of ours. We packed a lunch, extra tools (you never know if they'll be needed) and so headed out early on the morning of Sunday, September 6th. We followed our usual route winding our way through suburbia until we got to Mooney's Bay park. We knew there was still a lot of construction going on around there, complete with path closures and little in the way of guidance to get around the mess. Thankfully, it was only a small matter of pulling over right at Hog's Back Falls, retrieving our map and plotting our own detour.
I'm grateful for maps. Without them, who knows where we'd have wound up??

We found ourselves pedalling slowly along gravel strewn pathways and down that awesome hill at Vincent Massey Park. From that point, the construction fence prevented us from going any further so we had to put our trikes on the road. Thankfully, as it was early on a Sunday morning, the amount of vehicular traffic was quite low and so we had no problems zooming along Heron Road to get to Riverside Drive. That's where we discovered that Riverside itself was down to one lane...and a pretty rutted one at that! Again, I am grateful that there wasn't much in the way of motor vehicle traffic though that's not to say there was none.

Sailing down Riverside, Adam and I did our level best to avoid as many ruts, frost heaves and bumps as possible. Still, on two occasions did I find myself airborne for a second before landing. Lemme tell you, that's hard on the back. Yet, we survived all that and, as soon as we could, got ourselves back onto the pathways. We took a water break, commented on just how - uh - challenging that part of the trip was and then resumed our trip to meet up with Jane at her place.

Far from the roads and the cars (Bank Street isn't one of those roads that's closed on these Sunday bike days), I found myself enjoying the quiet of the pathways and in greeting the growing numbers of joggers, cyclists, people out walking their dogs and roller bladers. I also couldn't help but notice the tall and thick clusters of butter daisies.

We got to Hurdman, veered north on the trail and wound our way along there. Within a few minutes, we caught up with Jane at her place and went inside for a breakfast and a chance to catch up, not to mention warm up. We had had a bit of a cold front come through, sweeping away the hot humid air and a chilly air mass was now firmly installed. It was also quite windy though not as windy as the previous day. In fact, when the three of us started out (for me and Adam it was a resumption of the trek), we noticed that a rather large tree branch had fallen and was blocking the trail. Still, we were all able to ride up on the grass and sneak around the branch.

At one point, the trail turned and followed a more westerly direction and that's when the impact of the strengthening winds hit us. At least we weren't late so we could just plough our way upwind for the short time that we needed to. In short order, we were off the trail and onto that quiet network of streets that circle behind the governor general's residence. From there, we headed down yet more torn up roads and caught up with the pathway heading to the Aviation Museum. The car traffic on the road was beginning to pick up a bit but it wasn't anything too onerous; not even the - at times extremely - narrowed lane proved to be a concern.

We got to the museum by around 10:40am; just enough time for a quick bathroom break before Rob and Debbie were supposed to meet us. Sure enough, by 10:53 (yes, I checked my watch), they caught up with us having cycled all the way from their house in the city's south.

We five headed out, travelling (predominantly) east along the closed-to-motor-vehicles Rockcliffe Parkway. As with the last time we cycled this particular route, the road was silky smooth. The clouds had that post cold front look to them, little fluffy cotton balls being systematically torn to shreds by the strong and now *very* gusty winds aloft. Wearing out - as is the way for me - I did have to pull over twice before we reached the far point along our way. The other four also pulled over and we each enjoyed a good water break and a chance to catch our breath. At one point, Adam noticed that Jane's tires looked a little low so he used our mini travel air pump to top up her bicycle tires. By then, the morning was wearing on and we all were planning to stop at Rockcliffe Park for a picnic lunch despite it being chilly, windy and not really all that 'picnic-y'.

We turned around and headed back though, this way, we were now beating into the strong winds. Still, a good time was had by all despite the straining muscles. I guess images of sitting down and enjoying a good lunch kept everyone motivated to keep going. So, we cycled onward, stopping where needed and pushing on otherwise. It wasn't too long before we got to Rockcliffe Park...where that ice cream stand is. Of course, it being chilly and windy, ice cream wouldn't have figured too prominently in everyone's minds...except that you do build up a fair sweat slogging into the winds.

Lunch was had, along with ice cream and then, after lunch settled, we five continued our journey back, retracing our steps as we did. We said our "goodbyes" to Jane when we got to the point in the trail where she would have to turn off in order to get home. Then, the remaining four of us cycled along towards Hurdman.

Once at Hurdman, we said "goodbye" to Rob and Debbie who had elected to take a different path home. That left us meandering through the pathway around Hurdman and back along Riverside...and the seemingly perpetually torn up road.

In the end, we wound up taking a slightly different route from the bike path on Riverside, along Data Center Road to Heron and then through more suburbia and down to the Walkley transit station. The city had recently extended the bike paths through the Sawmill Creek constructed wetlands so that now one could ride from the transit station all the way down to - essentially - Hunt Club Road and Airport Parkway. Of course, our route would have us at the Walkley station entry on Walkley Road...not the transit platform below. To get there, we would have to individually wedge our trikes into the elevator (yes, it's possible) and take it down to the transit platform and, of course, the northern start point of the constructed wetlands trail.

Long, grunting story short, we bobbed and weaved our way through it all and were ejected at Airport Parkway. A quick turn onto Airport Parkway, a little ways down to Hunt Club Road, another left turn there and we found ourselves at Bridlepath. From there, it was a mere hundred or so metres to our garage door.


Total distance, 60.668 kilometres by my trike's trip odometre.

So, now another Sunday bike day season has come and gone. I use this program as a prime cue for me as to when seasons start and end. Even though it is still, technically, summer, in my eyes, it is autumn. This was emphasized to me by the increasing numbers of trees whose leaves have begun to metamorphose into that gorgeous fiery palette. To be sure, the triking season is by no means over and we will continue cycling until the first snows fall. At that point, we will park our trikes for the season, covered and well oiled/maintained of course. Then, we haul out the x-c skis. We typically ski at the Sawmill Creek constructed wetlands and, with the city having expanded the pathway, can only mean more skiing!


No comments:

Post a Comment