Archive for the ‘scene by bike’ Category

Flooding in Japan

Japan got hit by one of the largest typhoons in recent memory, and this picture really brought it home for me.

It is an image of a playground on the banks of the Arakawa River in Tokyo, in Adachi-Ku. A little sleuthing on Google brought up this image from 2013 of the same area. Note the public washroom building in both pictures.

The banks of the Arakawa serve much the same function as the ravine parks that run through Toronto, providing public open space and a chance to get a little distance away from the surrounding city. Last summer I biked in this area, and when I surmounted the levee that flanked the river, I didn’t think much of it.

Now I realize that major sections of Tokyo east of the centre are in fact below sea level, and it was only due to this levee that they were saved. Other parts of the greater Tokyo area were not as fortunate.

At any rate, hoping that all my friends and extended family in Japan are doing OK.

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This week I’ve had the opportunity to explore the Rum Runner’s Trail, which is a rail trail that goes from Halifax to Lunenberg. I’ve been using Tantallon as a base, and I’ve completed two rides thus far: out and back to Hubbards, and around the Aspotogan Peninsula.

Upper Tantallon to Hubbards

Train Station Bike and Bean is a converted train station that now houses a café and bike shop. They also rent bikes, and this is where I rented my whip for the week.

You can see the trail to the right of the picture. This section is called the St. Margaret’s Bay Trail. Out and back to Hubbards is about 50 km.

The trail is wide and well maintained, and is wooded on both sides for the most part.

You do get intermittent views of the ocean to the south, but for the most part, the best views are at some of the bridges that cross various creeks and streams.

At about the halfway point, there is a purpose built bridge that spans a highway exit, and you get some of the best views of St. Margaret’s Bay.

This section of the trail ends at HWY 3, where it continues as the Aspotogan Trail. There are a couple of sections nearer Hubbard’s where the trail was marked for repair. Some very coarse gravel was laid down. One hopes that this does not reflect the final state of repair.

Even though I can’t see the ocean from this spot, I am reminded of its presence 😉

Aspotogan Peninsula

The Asptogan Peninsula forms the western shore of St. Margaret’s Bay. I was told that it was popular with cyclists since it has relatively light traffic. This is in comparison to the road between Upper Tantallon and Peggy’s Cove, which is plenty scenic but has many blind corners, no shoulders to speak of, and plenty of car and tour bus traffic. One lap of the peninsula is about 50 km.

The Aspotogan Trail section of the Rum Runner’s Trail makes it possible to do a loop ride. I chose to do it in the counter clockwise direction. This is the trail entrance at Hubbards.

Pretty much wooded, but there are a few views of interior lakes on the way to the East River end.

Here is where the trail reaches the highway that goes south around the western shore of the peninsula. The trail itself continues westward, but I turned south here.

Nice to have this sign to remind motorists to keep a 1 m passing distance, but points off for the implication that all cyclists should wear safety vests.

Pleasant riding but not too many ocean views until you reach Upper Blandford.

The view from the Deck Convenience store in Blandford.

Bayswater is very scenic. There are washrooms at a small provincial park here if you have the need.

There is also a memorial site for Swissair Flight 111. I knew about the one near Peggy’s Cove, but apparently this site, the other, and the crash site form an almost equilateral triangle.

There are a few other pretty villages on the east side, (just as Northwest Cove) but I was too busy biking to take pictures. For the most part, the east coast of the peninsula has ocean views to the right, but you are on a bluff some height above the ocean. There are more rollers on this side as well.

In summary, the Aspotogan Peninsula is a nice detour from the rail trail if you want to see some ocean views on roads with very little traffic.

I’ve been told that other sections of the railtrail itself are also scenic, and I look forward to trying out the section towards Halifax as well as the part between Chester and Mahone Bay in the remainder of my time here.

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Good friend and riding partner Steve and I decided this summer that rather than doing STP for the third time, that we would do the other north/south ride run by Cascade Bike Club: Ride from Seattle to Vancouver plus Party (RSVP).

We were are leaving the house before dawn. Since it is one month later than STP, it was quite a bit darker than last year.

Here’s a crappy picture at the start. Not as elaborate set up as for STP since there are only 2500 riders on this one.

Heading north on the Burke-Gilman trail.

Dawn breaks over Lake Washington.

Approaching the first of three major climbs for Friday, the one that starts in Woodinville.

About a third of the way up the hill: DISASTER. The rear tire on the Brompton seemed OK the previous day, but riding to Steve’s from G&O, I noticed some out of roundness in the rear tire. This was also apparent riding to the start line, but I couldn’t see anything in the dark. However, it was clear now that the rear tire had worn clean through. Forget all the good things that I’ve said in the past about Greenspeed Scorchers.

Tried to boot the tire with a combination of some tire patches on the inside of the casing, plus a $5 bill.

At least Wilfrid Laurier got me the rest of the way up the hill, but then the tire was flat again. There was a bike shop at the corner, and Neil from Eastside Ski& Sport was very kind to let us camp out there for a while until we decided what to do, but of course he didn’t have a ETRO 349 tire.

We sent Peg to pick up a tire from a shop that will go unnamed. The person at the shop swore up and down that he was sending us a 349 tire, but when it arrived it was a 305, and we were back to square one. In the end, we drove back to Seattle, and I went out to G&O Family Cyclery again where they would have the tire for sure. They had plenty of take offs from owners of older model Bromptons who had swapped them for Schwalbe Marathons. Davey kindly let me use the kid zone to repair my bike.

I swapped out both Scorchers for good measure. To be fair, I got about 4000 km out of them, including STP on both a tikit and the Brompton.

Steve’s wife Peg sacrificed the rest of her day off to drive us up to Mt. Vernon where we could rejoin the ride. Ironically, there was a sudden rain squall while we were driving (that wasn’t in the forecast) and it ended just as we were dropped off. Thanks Peg!

Just out of Mt. Vernon, we pass by the I-5 bridge over the Skagit river that fell down some years ago.

A long flat ride towards some hills that we will eventually skirt to the west before getting to Bellingham.

Just past the turn for Chuckanut Rd, this bakery is highly recommended.

Approaching the hills now.

No really serious climbs on this part of the route: just a series of rollers.

Us getting in the way of some pretty, but hazy, scenery.

Another picture.

Hey, we’re in Bellingham.

One last hill before town had a series of signs talking up pink lemonade.

These lovely ladies have been serving at the top of “lemonade hill” for the past 22 years!

They also had a cowbell for first time RSVP riders. Of course no ride is complete without more cowbell.

Drat, once we reach town, there is still more climbing to do.

This fellow was not part of our ride but had left Redmond on his way to Vancouver, and then the islands.

One last turn before the luggage drop at the Days Inn.

After a shower and a change of clothes, some well earned beer at the Boundary Bay Brewery.

Leaving our accommodations bright and early the next morning.

Luggage drop off.

Very gradual climb out of town along Northwest Avenue.

Steve cruising along

Can you tell I’m riding a Brompton?

Approaching the Lynden rest stop.

Plenty of snacks were provided.

However, given the Dutch theme of the town, I was disappointed by the lack of Stroopwafels, and I had to make do with a cookie.

Heading north for the border along aptly named Double Ditch Rd.

We guessed that the line of trees that we were looking at for a while would be the border, and sure enough, we turn left just short of it.

Yes that is the border, and the road to the right is in BC. We were told by CBP that there were sensors and cameras for security.

Lining up to cross the border.

This is one of the more interesting ways that I’ve crossed into Canada. They set this up especially for RSVP.

Steve was admitted into Canada without having to answer too many questions.

We continue west along on the border, but this time in Canada.

We started seeing a lot of cyclists going the other way on Zero Avenue. It turns out that they were on the BC Ride to Conquer Cancer. Unfortunately we saw two riders in a pack go down, but by the time we got close, it seemed that everyone was on their feet and OK.

Heading north now on Otter Rd. These people look serious.

The one big climb for the second day up to the Langley area. I will say that in the middle the grade went up to 13% which was no fun on with my standard 6 Spd Brompton gearing.

Who says recumbents can’t climb?

North Otter Elementary rest stop.

I had a nice conversation with the owner of this bike. 650B, Ti, S&S couplers, etc. His partner had a lot of questions about my Brompton.

A bit of a break in Maple Ridge.

Preparing to cross the Fraser River on the Golden Ears Bridge.

We use a spiral ramp to ascend to the level of the bridge.

Approaching the bridge span proper, we hear our names being called out, and it’s Joel and friend Josh from Minneapolis. Joel had done STP at the same time as us in the past.

I actually found this crossing to be a little unnerving given the fact that the span was very high, and the bikeway rather narrow and right at the edge.

Waiting to cross HWY 7, just at the Pitt River crossing.

This bridge was not as high or long, and the bikeway was wider.

It’s pretty much city riding after the second bridge, but it helps when you are in a huge pack of riders.

Rest stop at Port Moody.

Now we have to skirt Burnaby Mountain before reaching Vancouver. We see a road that looks like it heads straight up the mountain, but we turn right before it.

Now a little over five miles on the Barnett Highway, but at least there is a very wide shoulder.

Who knew that there was a velodrome tucked away on this side of the mountain?

Hopefully this is the last climb. It was a long one, and the shoulder was a little narrow during the climb.

There was no sensor at this left turn, so we were waiting to cross with pedestrians, which was not ideal.

We take the Frances/Union bike route into town, which joins the Adanac bike lane. Although there is this Vancouver sign at theHWY 1 crossing to fool the tourists, we know that the city limit was actually a few blocks back.

The finish line.

A less fancy set up than at the end of STP, but there was a bike corral, and a finish gate that you didn’t ride through, but you could line up to take your instagram photo. We didn’t bother.

Here is the real momento. Note that it says “Vancouver BC”, since if you rode to Vancouver Washington, you’d be going the wrong direction.

Overall, I’d say that the scenery on this ride was better than STP, although there was more climbing to do. I imagine that the border crossing makes this ride less popular than STP.

I got lots of positive comments on the Brompton, and a few on my Palo Alto wool jersey as well. The weather was pretty much ideal.

Why 61%? Well with the disaster the first day, we ended up with only about 61% of the nominal total ride distance. Still, given that I was a little undertrained for the event, it was perfect. Thanks to Steve; always a pleasure to be riding with you. Once again huge thanks to Peg who saved the day by driving out to Woodinville after I sent her to get the wrong tire, and for making it possible for us to rejoin the ride at Mt. Vernon.

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There is a rail trail from Brantford to Port Dover that I have always wanted to explore. Today I finally bit the bullet and drove down to Brantford. In truth, there is a rail trail from Dundas to Brantford as well, but given the constraints of time and my level of fitness, I thought that the 100 km round trip from Brantford to Port Dover would be perfect.

The question is where in Brantford to start. Using Google Maps, I found a place labeled as a trailhead, and so I decided to park at the Lions Arena which was a few blocks from the alleged trailhead. As it turns out, it was not the ideal starting point, as I will point out later in this post.

Here is the rather non descript trailhead at the end of Graham Avenue.


After a short section of trail that paralleled Veterans Memorial Parkway (basically a sidewalk) I see the first sign that I’m on the right track.


After a section of paved track through the outskirts of town, the trail turned to a well groomed gravel trail.


Once I reach Burtch Rd, I realize that I’ve been on the LE&N trail,

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Photo below looking back to the north.


and that at this point it is parallel and in close proximity to the TH&B trail, and so I switch over to the TH&B trail, which is paved. (photo looking south)


At about 15 km, I see that the trail reverts to gravel. This is the point there I’m crossing into Norfolk County.



This section of trail through Norfolk County changes names several times, which reflects the fact that the trail is maintained by local municipalities. This section just south of the county line is called the Waterford Heritage Trail.

The trail is still very well groomed. This is a typical section of about the worst you will see.


As I approach the town of Waterford, there is a section of asphalt again.


There have been many signs indicating the distance to the Waterford Black Bridge, which marks about the halfway point to Port Dover.


Nice views of the Waterford Ponds from the bridge.


South of Waterford, the name of the trail becomes the Norfolk Sunrise trail.


The trail becomes paved again as you approach the town of Simcoe. There is a bit of a trick crossing Queensway East. You take the trail down to the right where there is an underpass. There is a Tim’s near this intersection if you are in need of refreshment.


Once past the underpass, you take the trail up to the left.


South of Simcoe, you come upon this intersection where you are directed to the left to go to Port Dover.



When you cross this road, the trail now becomes the Lynn Valley Trail.


The Lynn Valley Trail was especially well groomed gravel.


Several wooden rail bridges along the way.


At this point you have to go along a short section of Lynn Valley Rd.


After 0.4 km, you can rejoin the trail off to the right.


This port a john at Blueline Rd. provides a bit of relief just short of Port Dover. (or is that too much information).


Here is where the Lynn Valley trail ends in Port Dover. No apparent services at this end.


Nominal picture of Lake Erie.  Exactly 50 km logged so far.

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There is a large Tim’s in town, but feel it is always better to support the local businesses. I was happy with the ice cream at Willie’s although I don’t appear to happy in this photo.


I’ve been advised to try the perch at the Erie Beach Hotel the next time.

Heading back, here is another shot of the Waterford Bridge (meaning that I’m about 75% done).


Crossing into Brant county, we have blessed asphalt again.


Mt Pleasant would have made a nice alternative starting point. It is only a few kilometres south of Brantford, and this community park was only about 100m from the trail, and it had a washroom and parking.


At this point I elected to continue north on the TH&B trail, rather than the way I came.

This map explains the difference between the two routes into town.


The red arrow shows where I started and I followed the green solid and dotted lines to the south, which was the LE&N trail. On the way back, I took the TH&B trail. Annoyingly, Google Maps does not show it as a continuous line out of town, but it actually continues south beyond the yellow arrow, and merges with the LE&N trail at Burtch Rd. I used the TH&B trail into town. It ends at Colbrone St W.


Next time I’m going to park in the shopping centre with the Sobey’s which is just across the street from the end of the paved trail. This makes much more sense than how I started this morning.

A few more observations about the trail:

  • Over 90% of the trail is shaded from both the sun and wind. This means you don’t get a lot of views, but what you do see is mostly farmland.
  • I was impressed with the condition of the trail. It is totally doable on a road bike, although bikes with really skinny tires would not be ideal. There are only a few patches of loose gravel, and all of these were associated with where the trail crosses roads.
  • Once again, I would suggest parking at the shopping centre at the intersection of Veteran’s Memorial Parkway and Colborne St. which is near the northern end of the TH&B trail. It is paved all the way to the Norfolk County line, unlike the LN&E trail.
  • The entire trail is basically dead flat.


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The park is peaceful on a Tuesday evening.

You can see that the trees are about 25% in bloom.

People clustered around the tree that was most in bloom.

Snuck a picture of this happy group of cyclists.

Lucy says: “can we go home now?”

Wednesday might be a little better, but it will rain on Thursday. Looks like peak bloom will be this weekend. The policeman at the park entrance said the park will be blocked to traffic until next Monday, which isn’t what was originally announced. In any case, this weekend is going to be crazy.

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The weather was glorious today, so Lucy and I decided to visit High Park, regardless of the fact that the sakura were not yet in bloom.

Car traffic blocked at the park entrance.

The long line up for the trolley.

Lots of people out and enjoying the weather.

Why is it that we can’t close the park to car traffic every summer Sunday?

Lucy does not look impressed.

Not too crowded yet.

The High Park Nature Centre folks used a cargo bike to haul their gear to this spot.

Lots of people taking close ups of buds not quite in bloom.

Never seen the Grenadier parking lot so empty on a weekend.

Multitudes still arriving as we left the park.

Peak bloom is predicted for later this week, but I’d keep an eye on the weather as well, since rain is in the forecast for overnight Monday and all day Thursday.

Robarts update: The city has been publicizing the other places where you can see sakura. The blooms at Robarts are coming along.

In fact, about 15% of the trees are in bloom.

So if you pick the right spot, you can pretend they are all in bloom.

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It’s that time of year when people start getting excited about the High Park Sakura. I usually monitor things by watching a stand of cherry trees along Shanly St on the way into work, as well as the sakura around the south side of Robarts Library. In both cases, the sakura in both spots usually bloom about a week earlier than in High Park.

However it’s been an unusual spring with lingering cold weather, and so things seem to be off their normal timing. The trees on Shanly appear to have been frost damaged as most of them look like they are going to go straight to leaf. Here are a few buds showing signs of blooming.

In a reversal from the usual timing, the sakura at Robarts are a little further along.

Unfortunately, the viewing at Robarts is not going to be as pretty as usual because of some construction fencing.

The big news about High Park is that cars will not be allowed into the park during sakura season. They have announced that the roads into the park will be blocked starting tomorrow, from 7 am on Saturday May 4.

Here you can see some of the preparation for the blockage.

At 6 pm on Friday, the park is pretty dead.

It looks like the sakura are at least four or five days away from blooming. I wouldn’t bother going this weekend.

Next weekend should be close to peak bloom. With the closure, and Mother’s Day as well, it’s going to be pretty crazy. As per usual, walking, biking or taking transit is the best way to get here.

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