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Archive for the ‘scene by bike’ Category

Lucy and I decided to check out the sakura in High Park this afternoon, by cargobike of course.

They are probably about a week shy of full bloom.

The city just announced that the park will be open during the bloom, unlike last year, but in the sort of compromise that will satisfy no one, they will fence off the largest groups of trees.

They should have just closed it down again, given that the number of COVID cases is above seven times higher than last spring.

If you are desperate to see the sakura up close, there are plenty of small displays around the city, such as this group by Robarts Library that I photographed on Monday. They should be in full bloom this weekend.

As per usual, the trees nearest the white concrete bloom first due to the reflected sunlight.

If you must see them up close, stay safe!

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Given that it was fairly cold over the last week or two, I decided to see how thick the ice was on Grenadier Pond. In the past, I’ve skated from this spot just off the bottom of Ellis Ave.

This turned out not to be ideal. In fact there was a spot where my foot went through the ice and I got a soaker. Second time in the last few months when my feet got wet. However, once I got clear of the bull rushes, it was clear that the pond was well frozen. I can’t really explain why the ice was so thin nearer the shore.

The ice was relatively smooth and largely clear of snow which made for good riding. I was on my trusty Garneau winter bike which has not had much use thus far this season. Studded tires, of course.

Given my earlier misadventure, I was reluctant to ride too far from shore, but I did chat with a fellow that said it was perfectly safe to walk across. I didn’t see too many skate tracks.

A short video to give you a bit of an impression of what it was like.

If you want to check it out, it turns out that this spot off the MUP on the south side of the pond is a much better entry point.

Ride at your own risk, obviously.

and yes, I miss the Ice Cycle races.

Also note this. “Man issues warning to others after falling through ice”

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Sometime before dawn on Dec 31, someone erected a monolith by water’s edge at Humber Bay Park. Sadly, it didn’t take long for it to be vandalized. It was then reportedly cleaned off, but then slapped with white supremacy posters. The city took it down this morning before I had a chance to see it.

Then I heard that there was a second one at the foot of Windermere, so it was time to hop on the bike to check it out. It turned out to be on the breakwater.

Several people waded across to take a closer look. I decided to brave it myself.

The workmanship on this one is not very good. The aliens must be outsourcing their monolith fabrication.

Naturally I was lazy so I biked out to the monolith on the breakwater. This was one of the rare occasions where I elected to keep both hands on the handlebars, so no pictures while riding.

While I was out there, I thought I’d go to the other end of the breakwater to take a shot of the Humber Bay bridge from an unusual angle.

BTW, my feet stayed warm while soaking wet because of my wool socks.

A bit of fun to bring in the New Year.

Update: now quoted in the Star: “Toronto removes the shiny Space Odyssey ‘monolith’, but another mysteriously arises on Lake Ontario breakwall

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Glorious weather today, so I had to get out to do perhaps my last long ride for the year. Most probably the last long ride in shorts.

Over the past week or so I’ve been starting to watch Schitt’s Creek. I thought it would be fun to ride up to Goodwood where they filmed a lot of the exterior shots. In keeping with this theme, I started in Unionville at the fictional Blouse Barn.

A small detour to pay my respects at the ghost bike for Safet Tairoski.

The city has changed the road markings at this spot so that there is now a bike lane.

Compare this to what it looked like back in June.

Making infrastructure safer after someone dies is a bit late, but don’t get me started.

After a bit of riding and some getting lost, here we are at a familiar looking intersection.

What they don’t show is Annina’s Bakery on the northwest corner. I wanted to try their butter tarts, but the COVID constrained line up was too long.

They have bike racks for their customers.

Riding by Roland Schitt’s house on the way out of town.

A slight detour through Stouffville to see Ted’s Veternary Clinic.

One of these days, I’ll also ride out to the motel, but it is actually on the other side of Toronto near Orangeville.

Paying my respects at the ghost bike for Colin Patrick Sztronga, on Elgin Mills, just east of Kennedy. Nice to see that this memorial has also been kept up.

This is a link to the 69 km route that I planned. With the detours, and also getting lost, I logged about 80 km. Tomorrow also looks like good weather. I hope everyone gets a chance to get out there and ride. There were certainly a ton of cyclists out today.

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The Simcoe County Loop Trail (SCLT) is a ride that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and today (Friday) was the day. I started in Barrie.

I’ll also note that part of my preparation was reading the summary of the ride by Cory Kawa, which was the most detailed description that I could find online.

Wayfinding signs were helpful all around the whole loop. Here is one at the corner of Sunnidale and Anne.

Anne with an “e” Street dead ends, but you can continue north on an ATV trail.

The first bit of the trail is fine.

However this downhill section was a bit sketchy, as noted by Cory. Lots of loose sand and I imagine the fact that it rained last night didn’t help.

This is the intersection of Snow Valley and Vespra Valley Rds. Apparently Snow Valley is a popular starting point.

Heading north from the intersection, the road soon turns to gravel.

and shortly after that, you see the North Simcoe Rail Trail off to the right.

The adventure begins.

Yeah, I don’t think the posted speed limit is going to be much of an issue… at least for me 😉

A beautiful day.

A little trail maintenance.

At Flos Rd 7W, there is a gap in the trail and you are directed onto a detour. If you look at the ridewithgps map, this shows up as a little rectangular deviation just a little south of Elmvale. I’m assuming that a landowner didn’t want to yield the right of way.

Traveling north on the detour route.

At Flos Rd 8 W we are back on the trail.

Once you hit the village of Elmdale, the trail turns off of a road through Heritage Park.

A pair of portapotties. Don’t know if these are seasonal. In any case “better than the bushes”.

Just past the park, there was a tree down. (this is on Friday Sept 4, and I imagine that it will be cleared away fairly soon, although perhaps not during Labour Day weekend.)

Breaking and moving a few branches, I made an opening large enough that you could hike through with your bike.

Flos Rd 10 W is a spot where there is an inconsistency between the GPS route and the wayfinding signs. Here you are directed to the right, but you can see that there is a railtrail that continues straight. However, the trail appears to be overgrown, and it is fenced off in any case.

In all the confusion, I missed out on the spring water, which was very close to this spot. I was passed by these two faster riders, who were also having problems following prompts from the GPS.

A little further north, you enter Tiny Township, and the trail changes name.

The Tiny Rail Trail takes you all the way to Penetanguishene.

At the three hour mark, it’s time for a stroopwafel.

As you approach Penetanguishene, past this gate, the trail is paved.

It becomes apparent that the trail no longer follows a rail bed and there are plenty of ups and downs, and many little bridges across streams. Watch for pedestrians along here as there are plenty of blind corners.

The Tiny Trail appears to end here, but you can continue straight on through the tunnel.

Now you are in Penetanguishene, and you soon reach a multiuse trail along the waterfront.

Lake levels are really high again this year.

I actually got a little lost in town, but eventually found my way heading SE out of town on Murray Rd which ends at another trail entrance. Note the sign indicating a steep grade. I’m glad that I’m doing the route in a clockwise direction.

A fast, mostly downhill paved trail through beautiful woods almost all the rest of the way to Midland.

In Midland, you are routed onto another MUP along the waterfront. Part of it was flooded. There was more than 10 cm of water on this section, but I discovered that if you ride really slowly, your butt will stay dry. (I’m riding my only bike without fenders.) A city worker I met just around the corner said that she had never seen the trail this flooded, and there were ducks swimming along it.

Grounded Coffee is a popular spot with a nice view of the harbour. However, given the line up to get in, I elected to ride on.

I’ll also note that the published GPS route leads you to a motel for an overnight, but you can continue to right right along the waterfront trail all the way out of town. Just follow the signage for the SCLT.

Just as you leave town, you pass by the back side of Ste. Marie among the Hurons, which at least in southern Ontario is a traditional grade school trip.

Now you are on the Tay Shore Trail which is paved, and very well signed.

A mural in Victoria Harbour.

The same spot has what is probably one of the nicest public washrooms along the whole loop, complete with a bottle filling station.

After 19 km, you reach HWY 400, and the trail changes over to the Uhthoff Trail, which is gravel.

Nice, fast gravel all the way to Coldwater. Between the Tay Shore trail and this section, you have the opportunity to make up time if you want.

Lunch stop in Coldwater at Em’s Cafe. They have bike racks and outside tables beside the building. From my starting point, this was at the 100 km mark.

I’m not a big fan of eating large meals during a ride, so I was grateful that they sold half sandwiches. Grilled panini with chicken salad, a butter tart and lemonade.

South of Coldwater, the trail is less groomed.

Some trees down here as well, but nothing serious.

The trail is actually closed until November 2020 between Foxmead Rd and Uhthoff Line because a bridge is being repaired.

Can you tell that I have a significant tailwind on this part of the detour?

Back on the trail, as you approach Orillia, it is wide again, and there are some newish looking bridges as well.

The Lightfoot trail takes you to the lakefront in Orillia.

Couchiching Beach Park

The Oro-Mendonte Rail Trail takes you most of the rest of the way to Barrie. Make sure that you have enough water as there is nothing to be had between Orillia and Barrie.

I’m not sure if it was because it was late in the ride, but I found this stretch to be boring since the rail trail was dead straight without much variation in scenery (except for a pretty pond to the right early in this section). I was grateful for the trees as they provided some shelter from what would otherwise have been a very strong headwind.

Near the end of the trail, you will be directed back onto a road, but don’t miss this turnoff to the left on Penetanguishene Rd.

It brings you to a gravel MUP that takes you all the rest of the way into Barrie.

All done.

For me, it was a total of about 167 km, given that I got lost a couple of times. I’m slow, and my target was a rolling pace of about 20 kph. Total elapsed time was about 9.5 hours.

Other things I learned (mainly notes to my self).

  • Wildlife highlights: a blue heron on the trail at Elmvale relatively early in the morning, and a big fox on between the 400 and Coldwater.
  • It was great to have my heart rate monitor. If I stay between 70-80% of my MaxHR, I can ride all day. Of course for me at my current level of fitness that translated to the aforementioned 20 kph on gravel, etc.
  • I got a low battery warning on my Assioma power meter just as I left Barrie, and it cut out after about eight hours. (another reason I’m glad that I didn’t opt for Di2 on my bike.)
  • My ancient iPhone 6s wouldn’t quite last the entire ride, so for the first time I brought along a small battery pack. I run the cyclemeter app, and photos, with the display turned down low, bluetooth off. I have found that both Google Maps and the RidewithGPS apps can be real battery hogs.
  • A couple of times when I deviated from the set route, my Garmin Edge 530 would try to route me back and at one point it was directing me in circles in Midland. I’m probably going to turn that feature off. BTW, the Garmin was at about 36% battery after the ride. Maybe some small paper maps of the towns would have been good.
  • My eating and drinking seems to be at a lower rate that many other reports. This probably has to do with the fact that I am a relatively slow rider. I general eat something every 90 minutes (like a pack of clif shots, or a stroopwafel). After lunch at Coldwater, with about a third of the ride to go, I stepped this up to once an hour. The total was three gel packs, two stroopwafels, lunch, and a very sad kind bar that I think was in my handlebar bag for a long time.
  • This was my first ride with a pair of 7Mesh cargo bib shorts. Supremely comfortable. However, this also being my first pair of bib shorts, I discovered something about topology: when I had to go #2, I had to take off my jersey as well. Perhaps if I could do that trick that women do to take off a bra without removing their shirt, but I digress. In any case, perhaps too much information.
  • I picked the clockwise direction as I thought that there would then be more climbing earlier in the day. However, there was nothing that really amounted to significant climbing anywhere along the route. Perhaps a couple of the turns in Penetanguishene, along with the steep downhills going out of town that would have been a chore to climb in the other direction.
  • Not anything particularly sore after the ride, aside from my neck which was stiff from holding my head up all day. Once again, very happy with my new bike. Just over 2000 km on it at this point.

All in all, a good day. Perhaps if I had split the ride over two days, I would have been able to take in more sights. However, I wanted the physical challenge of doing it in one day. A nice way to cap off the summer.

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Today was the first time I’ve biked downtown for a while, and so I saw a few enhancements to local bike infrastructure.

Here are the bike racks that have been added to the concrete curbs that were laid down along the Bloor bike lane a while back.

They look like they are oriented the wrong way, given that they are on the east bound side of Bloor. You have to turn your bike almost 180° to park the bike, and back around again to ride off. I was questioning this design choice but then I noticed that all the similar racks installed on sidewalks all had the same configuration.

It’s really unfortunate that whatever the vendor is that the city uses, that they can’t make a mirror image rack to suit a particular situation.

Not surprisingly, Vancouver does this better, like these racks along Hornby, installed back in 2011.

I also saw the new curbs with bollards along Hoskins.

I was glad to see that the uprights were much more sparse than they were on a recent pilot installation along Bloor near Palmerston.

Always good to see families taking advantage of the bike lanes, instead of riding on the sidewalk.

Very much looking forward to the day when the Bloor bike lanes extend past Shaw.

This is my favorite kind of traffic jam. They are waiting on the northeast corner of Dundas and Old Weston Rd. I will note that if you wait there and there are no cars waiting beside you on Old Weston Rd, the green light to cross Dundas St westbound does not activate unless you press the pedestrian beg button that is not conveniently located for cyclists. This is probably why the first group of cyclists are on the sidewalk. We really need some kind of sensor where the last two bikes are so that this is no longer a problem.

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Today was another brilliantly sunny Saturday. Once again, the city closed the eastbound lanes of Lakeshore from Windermere to Stadium. I could get used to this.

As I posted before, my preferred weekend destination is Tommy Thompson Park. You can see from this map that I bypassed the madness that is Queen’s Quay by leaving the lakeshore between Strachan and Sherbourne, using the Adelaide and Richmond bike lanes, as well as Garrison Crossing. I also used Unwin rather than the MGT because the section east of Cherry Beach can get packed.

Although the park was crowded, there was plenty of space to keep apart (although I avoided the floating bridge as per usual). Also great to see so many families out.

This is about the most people I’ve ever seen at the point at the lighthouse.

I explored a few bits of the park that I hadn’t been to. Here are a very large number of comorants.

Here is some built single track just to the east of the lighthouse.

This really bad selfie shows how much work it took to outline both sides of the trail with bricks.

Since I was on the gravel bike, I didn’t do any of the jumps. Looks like fun, though.

Always nice to find new spots that are fun riding, and yet not too crowded.

Not like this place:

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Off for a ride downtown to check on some lab equipment at U of T. On the way in, I see lots of cyclists, including this family on Annette. Makes me feel good about fighting for those bike lanes back in the day.

I’m assuming that this group was riding together while maintaining social distance.

On the way, I checked out a few sakura trees on Shanly. These have generally been the first to bloom in the west end.

I also wanted to check out the enhanced bike lane protection that was just installed earlier this week, on the north side of Bloor between Palmerston and Euclid. These are the bollards on curbs that are going to be used for the Bloor bike lane westward extension.

You can see the difference between the bollards on curbs and the old style bollards in this picture.

One thing that I noticed was that if I was waiting on a bike facing south at Euclid and I wanted to make a left hand turn, these new bollards screen my view of oncoming traffic to some extent.

I thought that this would be an issue for cars as well, but the position of a left turning driver is farther back, and so this would be the view.

One possible tweak would be to install the bollards at an angle so that they would not block the view as much, as per this diagram.

However, looking at the base of the bollards, it would seem that this would be difficult with the existing mounting system. Perhaps if the curbs were spaced a little further apart, that would be better. That would also give a little more space for those cyclists that want to weave in and out of the bike lane. At any rate, this early installation is a great chance for the city to get feedback on this new type of bike lane protection.

Finally, I wanted to check out the sakura grove by Robarts Library.

They are pretty close to blooming.

Interestingly enough, the branches of one tree that are closest to the wall get more reflected sunlight, and so they bloom earlier.

Just as a side note, U of T has fenced off the grass field at Kings College Circle. Perhaps this is the start of the reconstruction project where they will install underground parking, as well as banning car traffic and parking on the circle itself.

Just for completeness, I visited the High Park Sakura as well. These trees by the soccer fields usually bloom a bit early.

High Park has been closed to cars for a while, and there are plenty of cyclists and pedestrians about.

The sakura at the top of the hill by the Grenadier Restaurant are about a week away from full bloom, just a bit behind those at Robarts.

Of course the city plans to close the entire park during peak bloom. From the looks of things, they will probably close the park sometime this coming week.

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There is a rail trail from Hamilton to Brantford, and today I decided to explore the portion from Ancaster to Brantford. Earlier this year, I rode on the rail trail from Brantford to Port Dover, and I’ve ridden to Hamilton from Toronto several times. Today’s ride filled in the gap between Ancaster and Brantford.

I elected to head out of Ancaster on Jerseyville Road. There were a few more rollers than I expected.

Just after you pass the hamlet of Jerseyville, you will see the rail trail off to the left.

Open skies.

Fallen leaves.

About 3 km in from Jerseyville Road, there is this bike repair stand.

There are distance markers along the trail. They measure the distance from the beginning of the trail near Ancaster. Jerseyville Rd was just before the 19 km mark.

It would have been great to have the other side of these signs measure the distance from Brantford, but this was not true.

Passing under the 403. There is a short section of paved trail here, albeit in pretty rough shape. Nevertheless, it helps when going down this dip, and coming back up the other side.

Welcome to Brantford.

This gate marks a section of eroded trail, but it was nothing serious.

The rail reaches the intersection of Locks and Beach at about the 31 km marker.

The intersection of Beach Rd and Locks, facing towards town. At this point, you turn left, and Locks crosses a bridge and becomes Mohawk.

On the other side, the multiuse trail continues along the road for a while.

Then it veers off and becomes a proper off road trail again.

This is the intersection with Greenwich St. Although it is tempting to continue straight, you are better off turning right and riding along Greenwich.

At the intersection with Mohawk, continue slightly to the left on Cayuga.

After several blocks, turn right on Foster.

At the end of Foster, you can go on a trail whose entrance is just to the left of the pick up truck.

The path will take you to a larger trail along the Grand River, and you should head to the right.

Passing under Veterans Memorial Pkwy.

Fairly soon, you will come to a pedestrian/bike bridge going left across the river.

Turn right at the other end of the bridge.

Here you can see the underpass so that you can cross Colborne St.

The path then ends here but you can continue for a few km along Ballentyne Dr, and it will take you to the start of the TH&B rail trail to Port Dover.

Here is a map of the portion of the route through Brantford.

Since the forecast was for light rain, I took the opportunity to test out some rain gear. I was wearing the shorts portion of a pair of convertible rain pants over my wool knickers. Before heading back to Ancaster I decided to also put on a pair of lime green shoe covers.

From the splash pattern I can tell that I need a mudflap on my front fender.

At Jerseyville Rd, I decided to continue along the rail path, rather than going back the way I came.

The signage at road crossings is more fancy on this section of trail.

A little rain never hurt anyone.

At the finish: dirt on the bike, and my shoes and socks.

I left the rail trail on Mineral Springs Rd, and then took Sulphur Springs back up to Ancaster. If you look at the altitude profile, you will see that from the blue circle onwards, the rail trail was actually sloping down, and that is why I had to climb back up to town.

In retrospect, the better route from Ancaster would have been to descend Sulphur Springs, and then to make the height back up gradually on the rail trail. I’ll do this the next time.

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After a week of very pleasant rail trail riding near Halifax, I was looking at some of the local rail trails, and I decided to check out the Caledon Trailway, which runs from Terra Cotta, through East Caledon and Palgrave, to Highway 9. As it turns out, it continues further north and ends in Tottenham, although this northernmost section is technically a different trail. I decided to start in Tottenham. The starting point is the southernmost point on the South Simcoe Railway. There is a small town parking lot a block east of this point.

Looking south from this point, you see the start of the rail trail. This portion is called the New Tecumseh Trail, which is also part of the Trans Canada Trail.

The trail is very well groomed.

Road crossings are well marked.

The trail technically ends at HWY 9.

However, the continuation is now the Caledon Trailway.

The Caledon Trailway is older, and I’m not sure if it is combination of the finer gravel or the fact that it is well packed, but I could roll noticeably faster now.

The gates at road crossings are a different style, and it is notable that the opening is very narrow; too narrow for a recumbent trike, for instance. I’m guessing that a bike trailer might not fit.

This is the reddest tree I saw all day.

You can tell that this far north of Toronto, we are past the peak for fall colours.

Here is where the trail meets Airport Rd in East Caledon. There is a push button actuated bike crossing at the intersection. It is notable that the response time for the light is less than 10 seconds. There is also a bike repair stand here, provided by Caledon Hills Cycling, but it is a bit odd that it is placed about 10 km east of their shop. There is a bakery around the corner, but I did not visit it this time.

Here is the bridge that crosses HWY 10. The short approaches to the bridge span are the steepest climbs that I encountered. They also had the loosest gravel all day.

One of the trail signs indicated that there was a restroom in the vicinity, and in fact it is at the entrance to the Ken Whillans Resource Management Area, but it is closed for the season.

Just a little further, you reach the village of Inglewood, which is where the aforementioned cycling shop is. This was my turn around point for the day, almost exactly 30 km from Tottenham.

A visit to Terra Cotta will have to wait for another day.

The HWY 10 crossing on the way back.

Nice to see families out on the trail.

Passing back through Caledon East, where there are a variety of sports facilities adjacent to the trail.

Fall colours off in the distance.

Hwy 9 again.

And here we are at the beginning of the trail again.

The sun came out a bit towards the end of the ride. My wool Swobo knickers are ideal for shoulder season riding, and at this point they are also more than 25 years old. My Tamarack is about 20 years old. Note the bar end shifters.

The bar wrap is new since I swapped out my handlebars last Saturday for a set with much shorter reach. This was a result of finding myself very comfortable on the bike I rented in Halifax. The main difference between the two bikes in terms of fit was that the rental bike had much shorter reach handlebars. I am liking the new setup.

Here’s to packing in more riding before the cold weather descends.

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