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Gates Gully

I’ve been meaning to check out Gates Gully for a while since it has the reputation of being one of the more interesting gravel climbs in the city. I was particularly taken by this route on RidewithGPS. Here is a picture of the eastern part of the route.

Here are a few notes from my ride this past Sunday. The first non obvious bit comes after you turn north from St. Clair and go through a neighbourhood to Jeanette Park. The route tells you to turn just past the houses, and not onto the clear paved path across the park.

Turn north here.

Lo and behold, a path opens up through a field of wildflowers.

When you reach Brimley Rd, you actually have to jog to the left to join onto this path. I complimented the nice lady on her vintage Apple hat.

Crossing McCowan.

At the end of the path, you are directed onto Eglinton headed east, but it is not bad since there is one of those new lanes for buses and bikes.

You continue to Kingston Rd, then Guildwood Parkway to the Guild Inn. Ride into the grounds past the building entrance and you will see an entrance to a path.

Note that the first part of the path had some switchbacks that were steep and tight enough that I couldn’t ride down with my gravel bike. I elected not to ride on the paths that cut across the switchbacks either.

This section of path was rideable but the eroded gully made it a bit tricky.

Shortly after this bit, you join onto a descending part of the Doris McCarthy trail. The next time, I’m going to descend on that trail rather than what was suggested by the GPS route.

Turning right at the lake, you are treated to some wonderful flat riding along the lake with great views of the bluffs as well.

After several kilometres you begin to see more people, and there is this sculpture called “Passage” that I’ve seen many times in photos.

Facing away from the lake at this point, you see Gates Gully.

According to Strava, it is about a kilometre with about 90 m elevation gain. It was easier than I expected although I certainly didn’t set any speed records. I will note for those of you that use climb detection on a Garmin that it behaved a little strangely. The first thing is that it announced the climb very early, including at least a kilometre of flat riding before the real climb. The second thing is that the climb segment ended with about 20% of the climb to go, which was a bit annoying since the last bit was steeper than the middle.

Looking back at the top.

I’m going to have to do a few more reps of this climb before I feel I’m ready for Side Road 7b.

CargobikeTO

There was a cargo bike meet up at Withrow Park that was organized by Robin of HappyFiets.ca, Janet Joy of TCBC, and Dave of NRBI. In addition, there was a ride to the meetup starting at High Park. For the occasion, rather than riding my Haul a Day, I had the opportunity to borrow a Riese and Müller Packster from Curbside Cycles. Getting to ride a state of the art German engineered e-assist cargo bike? Yes please.

Here we are testing it out earlier this morning.

At the meet up at High Park.

Along Bloor, here is the dangerous bit just east of Dundas W. Hopefully the construction will be done by the end of the year, and the long promised protected bike lane installed under the bridge.

You might have noticed the Paul Taylor signs on Janet Joy’s bike. While we were biking along Bloor, a car rolled down a window and someone started to talk to us. It was Paul Taylor. He drives a beat up Toyota Camry. Another reason to consider voting for him.

A brief stop at Christie Pits where we are joined by Rob Z of two wheeled politics.

Across the viaduct.

Lots of cargo bikes of all shapes and sizes at Whitrow Park.

I really like the folding basket feature of Rob’s Muli cargo bike.

The Richardson family enjoys trying out the packster.

Heather and Pier of Bromptoning were intent on trying out all the bikes.

I really liked Dave’s Riese and Muller Load. I remember Davey Oil telling me about how well built the R&M cargo bikes where, and the Load with the rod actuated steering seemed a little more intuitive than the pulley steering on the Packster. Also electric shifting on the Rohloff hub!

I also liked the steps on this Birola cargo bike that made it easier for kids to clamber into the box.

There was a very good turnout, and quite a diverse collection of cargo bikes to admire, somewhat putting my Haul a Day to shame. There have been a few other Toronto cargo bike meet ups in the past, but I hope that with the increased interest in this type of bike that a meet up like like this can be an annual event.

Thanks to the organizers, and everyone who showed up to chat.

Update:

Rob has posted his pictures in this twitter thread.

On today’s program: a short ride from the Bentway to a place on Eglinton West to get some Jamaican Patties.

Obviously I should have worn my ManDem CC shirt today.

Chris describes today’s ride.

Off we go, north on Strachan.

On Shaw, waiting for the light at College.

On Davenport.

Old Weston Road.

We arrive at TinNel’s.

Although I would really have liked to get a Pattie and to try a kola champagne, there was long, slow line since there were so many of us waiting. I took my leave at this point, but I enjoyed today’s ride vibe. Thanks all!

I see on social media that some of the riders went a little bit to the east to partake of Randy’s patties. Another place for me to try the next time I’m in the area. Apparently there is some disagreement about which place is better.

Out for a ride this evening, and I took a few pictures of some updated bike infrastructure near the lakefront. Firstly, I heard that there was a new protected bike lane on Birmingham which parallels Lakeshore between 1st and Kipling. Here is Birmingham, headed west from Dwight. You can see that this is a construction zone with sewer work, but I imagine that they will install bike lanes along this stretch as per the 2021 Toronto Cycling Map.

Crossing Islington, you see a curb protected bike lane.

Unfortunately it ends just short of Kipling.

Granted that Birmingham becomes Elder past Kipling and it is much less busy, but it would be nice for it to at least continue as a signed bike route, especially since it connects with Thirtieth St, which is one of the few small streets that crosses the GO train tracks. Nevertheless, this new bike lane is a good alternative to biking along Lakeshore between 1st and Kipling.

On the way back, I took a few pictures of the latest updates to the intersection of Colborne Lodge and Lakeshore. I noted new paint back in July, and this has been followed up with bollards.

Here is a view of the northbound cycling crossing. You can see some bollards on the west side that protect southbound cyclists at the median. This bollards also ensure that eastbound cars making a U turn have to swing very wide.

The corners of the central median on the east side of the intersection have been effectively squared off. This provides two small areas that could provide some refuge for cyclists that don’t make it all the way across during the very short cyclist green light. This picture is crooked since I was in a rush to make it across.

Here is the north west corner, facing west. Here the corner is squared off to slow down right turning cars. We had asked for no right turn on red at this point, but that hasn’t happened. Note also that one of the bollards (marked with the red arrow) is already gone.

Here is the northwest corner, facing southbound. This would be the view of a cyclist coming down from High Park. The bollards define a large staging area where cyclists can remain separated from pedestrians.

Here is a closer view of the median, southbound.

It is good to see these improvements. I guess the city has finally decided that this intersection is a priority, after two separate fatalities at this spot (RIP Jonas and Nigel).

I appreciate the fact that these changes were made quickly, and more easily than actually having to put down curbs. Similar protections have shown up downtown at several intersections, such as Elm and University. We shall see how they hold up, particularly to snow plowing.

The light timing on the northbound cyclist light seemed really short today. I’m going to have to go back down there to time it again to check if they changed the duration again. It sure didn’t seem like 15 seconds.

Update:

Update: It is 15 seconds, but note that it can take a few seconds to react to the green light, and that this quite fit cyclist makes it across with seconds to spare. 15 seconds is not enough!

TBN: Ancaster Ascension

Today was another enjoyable ride with TBN, this time starting in Waterdown. Here are seven of us at the start.

The consensus was that we would do the medium length ride, but cutting out the side trip to the Tim’s in Ancaster and opting for a stop in Dundas instead. I only took a cursory look at the map, and I assumed that since we would descend on the Brantford-Hamilton rail trail from Jerseyville and then do Clara’s Climb, that the rest of the ride would be more or less flat. As soon as we left town and rode down Snake Rd, I knew that I was wrong.

The section of the route along Patterson and Valley Rd was actually a lot of fun, winding roads and rollers as we worked our way along the mountain brow, more or less. We paused here on Patterson Rd where some local citizens were clearing a downed tree.

The Lynden General Store, which had the smallest Beer Store/LCBO outlet I had ever seen.

At the rail trail off of Jerseyville Rd.

A stop at the station while Dave fills us in on some railway history.

Our last stop in Dundas just before Clara’s Climb. Dave knows several of the restaurants in the area. Regrettably, the cafe that he suggested had sold out of butter tarts.

All in all a very pleasant ride with good company. The wind came up in the afternoon, but it was a tailwind for once.

Thanks to Rick for organizing the ride.

Nikita Victoria Belykh, just ten years old, was struck by a driver on Sept 1 while riding her bike in Thornhill. She died in hospital the next day. Today was the ghost bike ride in her memory, one week after she was struck.

photo provided by the family.

Joey is talking with the father before we get started.

The riders get ready to set off from Finch station.

Along Centre St.

Crossing HWY 7.

Stopped at Dufferin and Centennial Parkway.

The ghost bike riders approach the crash site where family and friends are gathered.

There was already a sizeable memorial in place.

Installing the ghost bike.

A minute of silence.

Mike, the father, thanks us for the ghost bike installation, and describes for us how wonderful and well loved Nikita was.

The parents decorate the bike.

A few adjustments.

The banner.

Thanks to everyone who rode with us today in Nikita’s memory. Deepest condolences to her family and friends.

A go fund me page has been set up for the family.

This is the sixth ghost bike installed by ARC in 2021. Even more upsetting, this is the fourth ghost bike for a child. The three previous were:

Please no more.

Update: video of the entire ride by Adrian.

Today was my first ride with the Wednesday Wheelie group. Sadly, given the fact that their rides are on Wednesday mornings, and that the new academic year approaches, this will probably be my last with them for this year as well. I did have a great time.

Here is ride leader Dave briefing everyone. He mentioned that there are four John’s on the ride. He also said that I’ll be writing a blog post about the ride, so here it is.

It was a brilliantly sunny day with thankfully cooler temperatures and little humidity. There were two routes on offer: 69K and 81K. I elected to do a slightly shortened version of the longer route for reasons that will become clear later on.

Off we go.

The 81K group started distancing the other group, and at some point Ed organized the lead group into a double pace line.

As was not unusual, I was dropped by the lead group after about 30K, but I thoroughly enjoyed riding and chatting with Paul who had a beautiful Ti True North custom touring bike with S&S couplers and a Rohloff hub.

Here is where I planned to stray from the posted route. The first northbound road west of Airport Rd was gravel and looked interesting on Google Maps. Note that the street view track had a gap in it just south of Hockley Rd.

The view where the southern track ended didn’t look too bad.

Paul was up for some gravel riding as well so he agreed to turn as well. “No exit”

Beautiful gravel riding.

Here is where the road started to deteriorate. It became basically a steep downhill Jeep track, and it didn’t help that recent rains had carved a lot of trenches.

Nevertheless it was ridable for the most part. Paul did extremely well on much narrower tires.

Eventually we reached Hockley Rd, and turned right, thereby trimming about 5K from the long route. He went ahead while I paused to take this picture to complete my series of “Schitt’s Creek” riding photos.

Here is the common rest stop at the Hockley General Store, with that all important LCBO component. The next time I’ll stop to check it out.

However, on this day, just as I rode up a couple of riders from the 69K were leaving, so I bid adieu to Paul and decided to ride on.

Left to right: Connie, Pat, John and Nancy

Pretty much ideal riding conditions.

A roadside memorial at a level crossing.

Here we are at the end. Thanks to Nancy for leading us home.

Thanks everyone for a wonderful morning of riding. I’m going to have to make a point of freeing up more Wednesday mornings next summer so that I can join in on the fun.

Brompton announced that this year’s Brompton World Championships would involve a crowdsourced photo competition with several themes, rebranded as the “Brompton world challenge”. This was an excuse to put out the word for a group ride for local Brompton owners.

Here is the first in a series of group shots at our meeting spot (Nicol Macnicol Parkette)

Have to sneak in this photo of the very fancy saddle on Paul’s new e-Brompton.

Riding down the Beltline.

Yes, there was one big wheeled bike with us, but it was a state of the art Cervelo gravel bike, and Carol assured us that she also has a Brompton.

Trying to get a group shot on the bridge over Yonge, which didn’t turn out to be such a good idea.

However, this view of the Yonge bike lanes made me very happy.

Since the regular exit from Mt. Pleasant Cemetery at Moore Ave was closed, we entered at Heath Ave, which is something I’ve never done. A bit of a steep gravel incline after this bridge.

Into the brickworks for a snack break.

A few of us chose to ride up to the viewpoint on the ridge overlooking the brickworks. We will have to do this again when the fall colours are out.

photo: Carol

Lunch break.

Paul shows us his battery pack.

Seventeen Bromptons, all in a row. We’ve decided that the official term is a “fold” of Bromptons.

Our photographer had a nifty tripod that I’m going to have to look into.

Off we go again.

Taking over lower Bayview.

I think Pier is saying that I’m blocking his shot.

Final destination was Corktown Commons.

Thanks to Heather and Pier for organizing today’s ride. You can read about their Brompton related adventures at Bromptoning.com. Nice to see so many people!

As people post pictures and videos, I’ll link to them as updates.

The Bromptoning report.

Miguel Joshua (MJ) Escanan, 18 years old, was killed by a cement truck driver last Wednesday on Avenue Rd just north of Bloor. His death attracted a lot of media attention as it was the first cyclist fatality of the year in Toronto.

Tonight was the ride and ghost bike installation in his memory.

The crowd gathers at Bloor and Spadina.

photo: Kay Pea

From this video, it is evident that over 200 cyclists were in attendance.

Riding up Spadina.

photo: Martin Reis
Photo: Martin Reis

Turning from Bernard onto Avenue Rd.

Down Avenue Rd. Safety in numbers for once.

Photo: Martin Reis

Geoffrey and Joey installing the ghost bike.

Photo: Martin Reis
photo: Kay Pea
Photo: Kay Pea
Photo: Kay Pea

Another view of the crowd.

Photo: Martin Reis

The Whitla family sang “We have come too far” by Jane Sapp.

photo: Martin Reis
Photo: Martin Reis

This tragedy renewed calls for more bike infrastructure. It has been pointed out that bike lanes on this stretch of Avenue Rd were suggested as part of ActiveTO, but city council turned back the request. We also remember Adam Excell who was killed at Avenue and Davenport in 2015. Better training is also essential for drivers of these huge trucks. One also recalls John Offutt, killed last year by the driver of another cement truck.

Deepest condolences to the family and friends of the deceased. We will always remember him.

Photo: Martin Reis.

Updates:

This video by Louis-Eric Simard shows the ghost bike installation, the call for a minute of silence, and the song by the Whitla family. You can also see Martin Reis and Nick Kovats taking lot of photos.

A nice annotated video of the ride from B.F. SInger.

Calls for more road safety on Global News.

Pictures by Kay Pea.

Pictures by Nick Kovats.

B&W pictures by Nick Kovats on actual film

Article about MJ’s death in Toronto.com

All cyclist deaths are tragic. Although this was the first such death of the year in Toronto, this is the fifth ghost bike installed in the GTA by ARC in 2021.

Rest In Peace:

What can you do about cyclists dying on our streets?

Stay safe, everyone!

Toronto Bike Rave 2021

Last night was Toronto Bike Rave 2021. Just a few pictures taken on the fly to give you a taste of the evening.

The crowd gathers at Ramsden Park on Yonge St. The meet up time was 7:30 but I figured if I got there by 8 it would be fine, and I was correct.

Syncing up the music track.

Getting set to go.

and we’re off.

Headed to Rosedale Valley Rd.

Gerry is herding bikes at the junction with Bayview.

Another regroup at the foot of River St.

Up River St.

Natalie had bubbles going full blast.

Dundas St. E.

Our leader “Mr. Anonymous”.

Our first stop at Greenwood Park.

Dancing, and some serious hula hoop skills.

And we are off again.

Queen St. E.

Alley way.

Headed west on Lakeshore.

Taking over Villers St. This was a highlight: just peaceful riding along with my fellow cyclists.

Next stop: Aiken Place Park under the Sturgeon Moon.

At this point I took my leave. I see from their twitter feed that they continued west to the Canoe, Garrison Crossing and the CNE.

Thanks to all for a fun evening.