Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Picnic time notes and a little more!

I have nothing against geese. As summer trickles towards an end, I have seen small flocks of them flying and honking and otherwise gearing up for their annual migration south. What I do object to, however, is how colossally stupid and inconsiderate they are when it comes to approaching cycles...including mine.

Here we were, on a beautiful but breezy and quite chilly morning, heading up to the ByTown museum and Rideau Canal locks for a planned picnic. We had taken our usual route to the Hog's Back area via Mooney's Bay and saw about two dozen geese ambling about on the ground. They didn't seem to notice that there were a few other cyclists on the pathway including ours. They certainly didn't seem to care one way or the other even as I tried to hasten their forward movement by repeatedly ringing my little bell. Adam, who was behind me, joined in the chorus of bell ringing but it was to no avail. In the end, I took advantage of both the cut grass at the side of the pathway and my relatively high ground clearance to just divert around the oblivious birds.

Cheez, I hope they aren't as unaware of things when they fly!

Past these geese, we continued along the pathway. We rounded the corner, followed the trail down, around and under the little bridge on Hog's Back road and found ourselves riding comfortably along the bike path paralleling Colonel By road. With it not being Sunday and that the Sunday bike program is done for the year, we were relegated to the bike path only. No matter, the day was warming up nicely and the path wasn't too crowded.

In short order we found ourselves at the Corkstown Pedestrian Bridge right across from the University of Ottawa Campus transit station. I saw quite a number of tourists there. Well, at least I thought they were tourists judging by the number of suitcases I saw and the frenetic picture taking that was happening as well. A lot of people travel to Ottawa after the Labour Day long weekend to take advantage of the lower number of other tourists. We would see more of these people in short order.

We got to the end of the Rideau Canal locks right at the Bytown Museum by about 11:30am. The grass was still quite wet from both the chilled previous night and the recent rainshowers we had had so it would be the bench for us to enjoy our lunch.

One of the many things Adam and I enjoy doing when we go on these kinds of outdoor urban adventures is people watching. There we saw all manner of people cycling, walking, ambling about etc. We even saw a young teenage couple (shouldn't they have been in school?) dragging themselves up the slope of the canal itself. We saw other tourists, armed with cameras and conversing with each other in accented English about what a beautifully charming place Ottawa is.

So, we sat there next to our Catrikes and ate our lunches and otherwise just took in the scenery.

The trip back to Hog's Back was fairly uneventful though the day was warming up considerably and enough that we decided to stop at the one and, it seemed, only concession stand that was still open to the public. I bought an ice cream drumstick for us both and we managed to gnaw at it. The freezer that these ice cream treats were in was set too low, we both thought, as in liquid nitrogen low. We were afraid to drop the chilled treat lest it shatter like the proverbial rose from a grade 10 science class (anyone else remember those?). It was also at that time when we both realized that the day was still young enough to venture somewhere else. So, we altered our plans and decided that, rather than go straight home, that we would take another trip.

So, we left Hog's Back and headed down to Vincent Massey Park, along the pathway that travels along the Rideau, past Carleton University, under the O-Train bridge and eventually comes up along Riverside. The pathway is one of those winding, hilly prospects that's a favourite for picnickers, dog walkers and joggers alike and we did pass a few of those. Eventually, though, we found ourselves on the bike path right at the corner of Riverside and Bank Street. With the green light we pressed on and headed towards Hurdman.

The bike paths in that area are numerous and lined with thick clumps of butter daisies, violet coloured mini asters and, yesterday, changing leaf coloured trees. The number of other cyclists, joggers and pedestrians was steady though not too many in number.

Unlike many of the streets here in Ottawa, the network of bike paths is very well signposted and it was a simple matter of following the signs to Hurdman to prevent anyone getting lost. We continued even past Hurdman before I felt that it was time we should head back.

One of the more critical issues with people who have MS is energy management. This means, for me at least, that I really need to listen for signs from my body that I'm getting tired and that I need to think about getting some rest. When I'm out and about that also means knowing when it's time to head back home.

We reversed our track and began the journey home. The winds, now from the southwest, had picked up somewhat so it was a bit of a headwind we were beating into. However, the catrike is such a fun and low-drag vehicle to ride that I'm sure the headwinds didn't cause nearly as much of a hassle as it did for people on upright bicycles.

In short order, we found ourselves back at Vincent Massey park, then the climb uphill on a switchback portion of the bike path to Hog's Back and then into Mooney's Bay where the geese weren't.

The afternoon was wearing on by the time we were out of the bike path network and onto suburban streets. We saw a few schoolbuses driving around the streets. We wound our way along well travelled roads, successfully negotiated the traffic on Hunt Club Road (it really isn't that difficult) and rounded our way back home.

Since I met my goal of cycling no fewer than 300 kilometres this season, I'm no longer keeping track of my progress but I am happy to note that I did 45 kilometres yesterday. At this time of year, you take advantage of the good weather since autumn can be a cold, rainy and windy time.

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