Archive for the ‘scene by bike’ Category

The Big Loop is an 83 km route put together by TBN that goes up the Humber River trail from Etienne Brule, across the top paralleling the Finch Hydro corridor, and then down past Don Mills and into the Don River trail system.


It was scheduled for late July, but it was cancelled by rain. I elected to load the route to my GPS to do it on my own, but noticing that today’s regularly scheduled Saturday morning ride went up to Humber College, I decided to ride along with them, and then split off at the appropriate point. Here is the crowd gathered for the ride. Chris is in the centre making announcements.


Looking back at riders crossing the Humber, all walking their bikes like good citizens.


After a brief stop at James Gardens, we have to take our first detour on Edenbridge out of the park because of continuing construction on the trail near Scarlett Rd.


Further north, we take the usual route through a few blocks of Weston to traverse a gap in the trail. We have to stay alert on the bit where we go through a parking garage.


There is a sign indicating construction on the trail past Albion Rd. The sign said that construction was due to be complete July 31, but on the other hand, the sign was still there so we elect to take the detour.


Definitely appreciated safety in numbers along Albion.

IMG_9406The sections of the Humber River tail past Albion are very peaceful and scenic.


At some point approaching Humber College, I had expected to turn off from the main group, but Chris informed me that due to the detour, we had bypassed the turn. I went with the main group to Humber to make a brief stop, and then I headed east to try to hook up with my original route. The difficultly was that I had erased the maps on my GPS, so it was not easy to navigate to the route. I decided to bike east along Finch until somewhere in the vicinity of York University. It was not as bad as I had feared due to relatively light traffic. There was even this pseudo bike lane in places.


However, after the 400 overpass I was only too glad to get on the Finch hydro corridor trail (FHCT), at York Gate Blvd.


It also turns out to have been a good move not to take the original route here as Adam had pointed out that the Rogers Cup was happening at York this weekend.

After a very short distance, I was not pleased to see no crossing at Jane St.


So OK, I have to go a little south to cross.


Past Sentinel Rd, I was happy to see this large area of community gardens, which made up for the fact that the trail was diverted to what was essentially a sidewalk for this stretch.


A seeming dead end at Keele St, with no signage.


If I had the cue sheet, I would have known to look to the right to see that the trail continues a little further south. The building on the right margin of this photo is the new Finch West subway station.


This map shows that you have to make a few twists and turns to stay on the trail, which eventually straightens out, paralleling the York U. busway on the north side.


This picture shows the trail and busway crossing tracks.


The line of high buildings in the distance is Yonge St., but coming upon Dufferin St, I realize that they are still some distance off.


Past G Ross Lord Park, the route takes me along Drewry Ave that becomes Cummer Ave, which was peaceful and uneventful, although the Ride with GPS route urged me to turn left at Bayview, which was not necessary.

At the end of the section on Cummer, the route turns south and then hooks up with the FHCT again. This downhill section that zigzags to the junction with the Don River trail was the most fun part of the whole ride.


Going down the Don River trail was uneventful until it seems to end at the intersection of Leslie and Sheppard. Here you have to cross the intersection to the south east corner to find the continuation.


This is what the trail entrance looks like.


The trail ends again at Duncan Mill Rd, and here I met a group of lost seeming cyclists. There was a sign pointing to the right that said that the Don River trail was 2.4 km away, but again, not enough signage. It turns out that the 2.4 km involves a couple of turns on city streets before you end up back on the trail.


The trail ends again, just short of York Mills, and the route map shows this.


There was a bike lane westbound on this short section of York Mills, but there was too much traffic to take a picture. Cross the street at the light at Scarsdale, effectively making a left turn, and then look for a doubling back of the trail under the bridge.


The trail then turns south and goes along a disused rail corridor. It is a straighter, more peaceful version of the West Toronto Railpath.


Signalized crossing at Eglinton. It almost felt like I was in Vancouver for a moment. (except for the exceedingly long response time to a button push)


The other thing I liked about this section was that at intersections with other trails, there was this round about like feature, with embedded sections of train track as a decorative element.


Sadly, as with most bike infrastructure in TO, this cannot last, and the trail ends abruptly, and you have to make a sharp right turn on a short section of gravel that then leads to this narrow section that leads to Leslie St.



The short section of Leslie leading to Willett Creek park was the scariest part of the whole ride, no thanks to the many drivers that whizzed by less than a meter from my handlebars. Bastards.

From Willett Creek, the Don Trail is probably more familiar to many of you so I didn’t take many pictures. Here are the elephants.


And the stop with the gargoyles just north of Bloor, where I’ve never bothered to stop before. It was good to be riding the Tamarack. Much as people rave about Bromptons, I do find it easier to ride longer distances on a standard bike.


Thanks to TBN for organizing the first part of my ride, and for plotting out this nice route.

Note: for those not in TBN that want more information about the route, it is available here, at least for the moment.



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This past weekend, I rode Seattle to Portland, a ride I also did in 2016. Two differences this time, leading up to the ride: the forecast was for beastly hot weather, and I decided to ride on my Brompton.

Here is Steve and I leaving his house at 5:45 am.


Riding down the Burke Gilman trail towards the start.


As we approach Husky stadium, we see more and more cyclists with luggage.


One last picture just before we start.


Off we go.


Skirting Lake Washington, it’s still nice and cool.


At the first rest stop in Kent, Kaiser Permanente were handing out cooling towels. They turned out to be really great on Sunday.


A sign pointing out the obvious.


Leading up to the major climb of the day in Puyallup. It was different hill than usual due to a road closure.


At the top of the hill, I see a group from the Major Taylor project, a program run by the Cascade Bicycle Club to introduce diverse youth to cycling. They were all over the course during the first day.


Lunch on the first day. It tasted better than it looked.


Right after lunch, we are in heavy traffic.


However, once we cross into Joint Base Lewis-McChord, we don’t have to deal with car traffic for 10 blessed kilometres.


Very peaceful riding, if you ignore the sounds of distant gunfire.


Coming out of the base, we hit an informal rest stop at Roy.


I took this same picture the last time: first sign showing the mileage to Centralia.


The city of Yelm put on a great rest stop where they were giving out free root beer floats and Gatorade. Just past the rest stop, I saw these Major Taylor riders on a Counterpoint Opus tandem that was towing a spare bike for good measure.


One of the things that makes the first half of STP really pleasant is a 14 mile multiuse trail from Yelm to Tenino.


After Tennino, there is this stretch along a railroad. It was very hard last time due to a strong headwind, but this year, no problem.


Just a little further along, we come upon this unfortunate scene. Several cyclists called 911. No one was hurt, but the car was still in flames as we left.


Arriving at Centralia College, the overnight stop for two day riders. The mist station was appreciated.


Fueling up for the next day.


This year we elected to stay in an Air BNB in town. It was a very scenic spot on top of Seminary Hill, which unfortunately entailed an additional climb of about 100m. The apartment itself was cute with many quirky details. Being a cyclist, I liked this toilet paper holder.


Getting ready to descend Seminary Hill at first light. The only things up at this hour were some roosters jumping the gun by crowing, and many bats having their last flight of the night.


Riding out of town during the golden hour.


This kid in the Weehoo trailer was playing tag with us all day.


Rolling hills between Napavine and Vader.


This time we had to stop at the world’s largest egg in Winlock


which was accompanied by one of the longer potty lineups for the day.


At Vader, I heard a kid say “this is the stop with the potatoes!” so I had to try some.


The short, steep climb out of Vader.


This is probably the slowest anyone has gone wearing an HPVDT jersey.


Medical riders wearing red jerseys were happy to supply pain meds on the road.


Lunch the second day.


It was getting pretty hot, so I decided to deploy the cooling towel.


This fellow had one of the more interesting bikes I saw all weekend, a Rawland Sogn. It had high volume 26″ tires from Compass, and a very nicely fitted Honjo fenders.


Approaching the Lewis and Clark bridge.


Our timing was perfect. If you look closely, you’ll see that a group of bikes is just starting a crossing as we arrive, and we managed to get in on the tail end.


Steve passing slower cyclists during the climb.


Crossing the mighty Columbia.


48 miles to go.


A very welcome mist station at St. Helens. This was during the hottest part of the ride, with the sun beating down, and no shade. We passed a gas station whose sign flashed 101°F, but I didn’t want to stop to take a picture. This would have involved waiting for the sign to cycle through about four ads.


Entering Portland! (still about 20 km to go, though).


Some additional verbiage on the sign.


One last climb up to the bridge access.


Crossing the St, John’s bridge. There was some hesitation among riders to take the lane. Some wanted to take the sidewalk. There should have been a volunteer here.



At this point we were running a bit late and were rushing to beat the deadline for bike drop-off and the buses back to Seattle.


The bus ride back was smooth and uneventful. However, they did not allow me to load the Brompton as luggage, and it had to come back with the regular bikes, which was a bummer.

We picked up our bikes on Monday morning.



Thanks to Cascade Bike Club and the army of volunteers for running a very smooth event. Thanks to buddy Steve who provided riding company and inspiration the whole weekend.

Just a few additional notes (more for my own use)

  • My Bikes and Beer jersey from Henderson’s Brewing got lots of comments.
  • The Brompton did fine. Many people commented whenever I did the quick fold as a built in kickstand. I also got a few comments when I passed people on one downhill at about 50 kph.
  • All the mods to the bike worked well aside from:
  • The only quibble was that I shouldn’t have switched to a new saddle a few weeks before the ride. I’m going to put my Selle Anatomica on this bike for the future.
  • We were slower than last time, but that was probably partially due to the punishing heat, and the fact that neither of us had trained as hard. We spent more than 12 hours on the road each day, and this event is really not geared to riders that are that slow. We barely made the 7 pm cutoff on Sunday, arriving around 6:30, and were not able to grab any food before boarding the buses.
  • One of these days I’m going to take the opportunity to spend a little time in Portland.



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Over the past week, the local media has started to stir up anticipation for the bloom of sakura in High Park. The blooms are much later than usual. Those that braved traffic over the weekend were probably underwhelmed as the trees were perhaps between 10-25% in bloom. However, a few days of warm weather can do wonders. This morning, I did a little scouting on the way into work and I say that the blooms still looked to be only about 50%.


Today was the day that we decided to try to get our annual family photo with the sakura. This evening, we biked into the park as per usual. It was very crowded for a weekday.


Traffic jam. Also loads of pedestrians which I guess is progress of a sort.


The nominal family picture.


Turning the camera 180°, this is what the scene looked like. Crazy for a Tuesday.


Lucy says “Can we go home now, Dad?”


Leaving the park. In and out in about 15 minutes. Biking is best as usual.


I’ll have to go back when it’s a bit more peaceful. Tomorrow should be good, but there is rain in the forecast for Thursday and Saturday.

If you want to see a fuller, less crowded display, check out the south west side of Robarts Library.




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This is Jane’s walk weekend (to celebrate the birthday of patron saint Jane Jacobs) where volunteers lead tours all around the city to point out various things of historical interest. My Facebook feed flagged a Jane’s walk on bikes that advertised an 18km loop in the heart of the city that was almost completely on off road trails, and some of them were unfamiliar to me, so it was a golden opportunity to explore more of downtown by bike.

The ride started at Ben Nobleman Park, which was highly appropriate since it was located at the southern terminus of the Allen Expressway: the stub that was supposed to continue downtown as the Spadina Expressway. Jane Jacobs led the fight to quash the expressway. Here we gather in the shadow of the many cranes that are building a station for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.


Just before we started, a community group called the Ben Nobleman Community Orchard was wrapping up a fundraiser, and one of them was able to tell us a little more about the history of this spot. The very long picnic table was made from reclaimed wood that had been part of a dock in the harbour. It also more or less marked the line where the province under Premier Bill Davis had a narrow strip of provincial land leased to the city  for 99 years as part of a strategy to ensure that an expressway would not extend further south than Eglinton Ave.


Our ride leader, Burns from the Cycle Toronto Midtown group, shows us the newspaper account of the cancellation of the Spadina Expressway.


Then it was a short ride up to the starting point of our ride: the western end of the Beltline Trail at Allen Expressway. (I do realize that the belt line extends further west). The sign had a lot of interesting information. The Beltline trail marks the path of the northern part of a railway loop that ran for a scant 28 months before it went bankrupt. The northern section of the rail line continued to be used for freight as far east as Mt. Pleasant, but then in 1990 it was converted over to a rail trail.


Here where the Beltline crosses Bathurst, there are no road markings. After a lot of lobbying, the city has agreed to put in a small refugee island and some signage at this crossing. This is due to go in sometime this year.


A brief stop under the bridge where Eglinton crosses the Beltline. Burns tells us that we have Eglinton above us, and below we have a buried storm sewer that was Yellow Creek, as well as the Eglinton Crosstown.


The first of several obstacles that mother nature provided us from yesterday’s wind storm.


Here is the crossing at Avenue Rd, which was the most improved of all the major crossing. Heavy lobbying by the Cycle TO Midtown group was crucial in making this happen.


They are less pleased with what the city did at Oriole Parkway, with this island in the middle, and no road markings.


What a beautiful day to be riding the Beltline.


Across Yonge lies Mt. Pleasant Cemetery. Here you can see another downed tree.


At Mt. Pleasant Ave, we enter the cemetery and head towards Moore Park Ravine.


Moore Park Ravine.


Another downed tree.


We stop briefly near the spot where there was the Moore Park train station.


Riding down the hill, we end up at the bottom of where the City is making a new switchback trail to connect the Beltline to Chorley Park. This trail had significant opposition from local residents.


Now onto towards the Brickworks.



Now climbing back up the Park Drive Reservation trail.


A very unfriendly crossing of Mt. Pleasant to get to David Balfour Park.


Up another ravine that I’ve never seen before.


After about a km or so on city streets, we are back on the west side of Yonge St. We pause briefly at Poplar Plains where we are told that the bike lane there was the first in the city it was installed in 1979. Note the newspaper article visible in the binder.


“Bike Lanes have drivers up in arms”. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

At this point, I had to cut off from the group who were headed back up Nordheimer and Cedarvale to the starting point.

Thanks to Burns from Cycle TO Midtown for leading the ride and teaching us things, as well as to Ken, also from the Midtown group, for providing supplemental information.

If you are so inclined, this ride is running again on Sunday, and it has also been offered several years so you might be able to join next year.



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The blooming of the sakura around town looks to be much later than usual due to the spells of lingering cold that we’ve had this spring. The earliest harbinger of blooming that I know of is a small stand of trees on Shanly St. that get a lot of reflected sun from the building immediately behind them. Last year they went straight to leaf, but this year looks a bit more promising. Here’s a photo from yesterday.


The other trees that bloom early are on the southwest side of Robarts Library. They looked like this on Monday:


This morning, some of the trees at Robarts were close to full bloom.



It is amazing what a few days of warm weather can do. They should be pretty nice this weekend, and all of next week if the weather is decent.

Unfortunately, the path bordered by sakura is partially blocked off due to construction.


High Park is not quite so far along, and I would say that they will start to bloom during the upcoming week. Here is a picture of one of the trees by the soccer field, taken this morning (Friday).


Here are a couple of shots of the trees closest to the Grenadier Restaurant, on the path leading down to the pond.



Porta potties and extra garbage cans have all been laid out. Mother’s Day weekend will be madness. Just the usual reminder to come by bike or transit if at all possible.





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One of the landmarks on my commute in to work every day has been Honest Ed’s, a Toronto institution that has been in the process of being demolished. Back in December, I started taking a series of pictures, mostly from Bloor and Markham, where I would pull over briefly, just off the bike lane.

Here is the first picture from December 3, 2017, where most of the building south of the Bloor St. Facade was already gone.


Dec 8


Dec 12


Dec 27


January 4


Jan 10jan10

Jan 13


Jan 30


January 30, from Bloor and Bathurst


February 5


At this point, I had to go out of town for a few days, and I didn’t manage to get the last pictures of the corner, but you can see an Instagram video here:

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 10.37.59 AM

Feb 9: just as last bits of the corner entrance are demolished.



Feb12: From this panorama, you can see that all that’s left of the ground floor is a little section off Bathurst.


Feb 15


Feb 27. Even some of the hoarding along Bathurst has come down, and now you can see across to some of the properties on Markham St. that have yet to come down.


Feb 28: Oh yes, there is a small block of stores on Bathurst that refused to sell, and so they have been left alone.


There is also a second block of stores at the corner just south of here. According to this rendering, these buildings area part of the final design.

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 2.17.35 PM

(image source)




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Round about the middle of January, I started recording my rides in parallel on Cyclemeter and Strava. The reason was that Strava seemed to have a pretty active ecosystem, and I was particularly interested in the features offered by Veloviewer. Veloviewer offers many of the features of Strava Premium, but at minimal cost. For example, it can plot fun infographics like this:

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 7.20.19 PM

It can also provide a personal heat map.  Here you can easily see that my riding is dominated by my regular commute from High Park to downtown.

Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 7.25.04 PM

In addition, there is a subculture of  veloviewer riders that collect tiles, which are squares about a mile on a side, that are a measure of how much area you have covered with your riding. It is a clever incentive to vary your riding so that you explore different areas around your home. It certainly works for me. This past weekend, I took advantage of a little more leisure time than usual to add to my tile collection. On Saturday I rode with Scarborough Cycles, and collected about six tiles in the east end of the city. They are shaded on the map below.


You can see that there are gaps in the pattern of my riding, so today I decided to take a really long detour on my way into work to fill in some of the gaps.

First up: adding a little riding on the southwest corner. Here you can see that the Humber Bay Bridge is now clear of ice, unlike last weekend.


Heading east on the MGT, I check out the ghost bike for Xavier Morgan.


Next up: checking out Trillium Park and the William Davis trail on the east side of the Ontario Place lands. One nice surprise is that the gate to the rest of Ontario Place is open, letting me get this picture of a really scenic smoking area.


On the way back to the MGT, you can see the city from a new vantage point.


Here’s a good shot of the fixed choke point on the MGT. It took several years and the cooperation of all three levels of government to get a small triangular area of pavement installed so that the sidewalk is separated from the multi use trail.


The waterfront proper had a series of art installations called Icebreakers. The easternmost installation was a giant percussion instrument.



The second was this giant gummy bear. It was covered in a lot of pink pile fabric.


The third one, Winter Fanfare, actually looked better in person than in photos.


A driftwood sign with the inevitable hashtag.


This piece was called Black Bamboo.


The final piece is a cabin made of tree roots. What was sad was the traces of clothing indicating that this was used as a makeshift homeless shelter.


Now working my way further east, I see these crazy balconies on the side of this condo; they look like diving boards.


Now that’s a pothole (Unwin Ave)


After my little ride, I see that I’ve filled in seven more tiles


and Veloviewer also tracks how many tiles I collected this weekend.

tile count

It’s a fun incentive to ride more, and to explore the city at the same time.

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