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Archive for the ‘scene by bike’ Category

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.

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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.

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Today was another bike ride with good friends P&T. The goal was a 45 km round trip to Port Dover, starting partway along the Delhi Rail Trail. Here they are at the start with their nice gravel and touring bikes, along with our tandem.

Off we go.

The trail ends in Simcoe about two blocks from where you can access the Norfork Rail Trail that passes through Simcoe. The trail is marked as blocked between Davis and McCaul streets, but in actual fact, the only real blockage is construction on the bridge at Queensway East.

Up to you whether you want to take the marked detour, or to take as much of the trail as possible, and just work your way past the construction which is confined to the bridge on Queensway.

T has a flat, apparently his very first on the front with this bike.

At Port Dover.

Thanks to the gentleman in the Brant Bicycling Club T shirt that took this group photo.

Back along the Delhi Rail Trail towards our start point at Nixon Rd.

Afterwards, we had a pleasant dinner at the New Limburg Brewing Company which was just 500m off the trail on Nixon Road. They had a large patio set up in the back. The beers were very good, and they had a variety of Dutch bar snacks such as bitterballen and frikandel which we ordered because they sounded like fun. They also have a full menu but we were warned that since everything was made from scratch that some items could take a while. Pizzas, beef stew and grill shrimp were all good and arrived within half an hour.

After dinner, given that we were only about 7 km away from one of the three velodromes in Ontario, I dragged our friends up to take a look.

The Win-Del velodrome has definitely seen better days. It is in need of some serious weeding, for one.

I couldn’t resist so I borrowed T’s bike to have a go.

T having a go, and going considerably faster than I.

A nice way of capping off a great day of biking with good friends.

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There was an annular solar eclipse that was partially visible from Toronto at sunrise this morning. I decided to get up early to see if I could get a photo. Here I am headed down to the lake.

On the way, I passed a couple that was also headed to Humber Bay shores to do the same thing. Actually, the wife was going to do one better by swimming during the eclipse.

Set up at lookout point.

This was the view through the camera.

After some discussion with someone who was already there, I decided that since the sun was likely to come up just where the tree was, I decided to move to the point that is visible in the foreground.

Lots of people here.

Got some nice pre sunrise pictures.

However, as soon as the sun actually rose into view, I was not able to get a good photo since I couldn’t get the sun into the exposure range of my camera.

Ironically, the best photo I got was from my iPhone, where you can see the crescent shape of the sun in a lens flare internal reflection.

On the way back I was chatting with a CityTV cameraman, and he kindly lent me a pair of plastic eclipse glasses. This is what a photo looks like with the glasses in front of the lens.

Next time I’ll try to be better prepared. The next big one that will be visible locally will be in 2024.

and as per the comment below, I can hardly complain about a nice early morning bike ride in glorious weather.

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Black creek trail

On my last couple of rides that passed through Downsview park, I kept seeing some signage pointing to the Black Creek Trail. This past week I decided to ride up there to specifically check it out. Here is my route, starting from Runnymede and Annette. You can download it here.

The first part of the route is very similar to the ride that I did up to Downsview Park, going up the Humber River trail a little past Lawrence, and then cutting over on Church/Maple Leaf to cross the Black Creek expressway, and then up Jane to cross the 401. Jane is still one of the safer ways to cross the 401 since there isn’t a highway interchange.

Here I am approaching Langhorn Drive where there is signage telling me to turn left to get to the trail.

Trail entrance at the end of the street. There is a downhill section into the valley.

Once you are down in the valley, this section of the “trail” is actually a roadway through parkland.

Here is the crossing at Sheppard.

A little further north, the road ends in a parking lot, and you should take the path off to the left.

This becomes a MUP through groomed parkland.

Then finally you go into the woods and things are more interesting. This section between Sheppard and Finch where you are biking beside the creek was my favourite part of the ride.

Approaching Finch.

Normally you could cross Finch and the trail would continue a little off to the east. However, with the Finch LRT construction I ended up having to ride the sidewalk east to Sentinel, and then back on the other side.

Now you can see the trail that continues to the north.

The left branch of this fork leads to the Finch Hydro Corridor trail. I stayed to the right.

The trail ends at this point, which is a service entrance to Black Creek Pioneer Village.

I decided to ride back south through the York U campus, and down Sentinel to avoid the construction that I had passed on the way up. Just south of Finch, you turn right on Derrydown Road, and there is an entrance to the trail off to the right opposite Conamore Crescent. (note that is is a deviation from the route that I posted in ridewithgps).

Doesn’t look like much.

A steep section of gravel. However, it is very short.

Turn left after the bridge and you are headed south on the trail again.

Back south of Sheppard, make sure you turn left at this parking lot to continue on the trail.

This leads to the climb out of the valley that leads to Langholm Drive.

The other thing I decided to do on the way back was to take a little detour through Giovanni Caboto Park. Here is the unmarked entrance off Exbury Rd.

This was another pleasant surprise: a quiet ravine ride that was downhill all the way.

Crossing the 401 on Jane southbound was not as much fun. In retrospect what I would recommend is to use the Black Creek Trail northbound as yet another way to connect to the Finch Hydro Corridor. One can even imagine a short loop that would incorporate the Black Creek Trail, the Finch corridor, and a ride through Downsview Park.

Something like this 23 km loop. Note that it crosses Finch at Sentinel to avoid construction, and that it should be run counterclockwise so that you go down the steep trail off of Derrydown Road.

It is amazing to explore more of these ravines that run all the way through different neighbourhoods.

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Back in mid May, a fellow named Stephen posted a nice route on Facebook from downtown to Kleinburg that wended its way along the William Granger Greenway through both the Boyd Conservation Area and the Kortright Centre for Conservation.

His route took a faster route home along Islington. I decided to modify the route slightly so that once you crossed the 407, you joined the Humber River trail on the return leg. My version starts from Runnymede and Annette and is about 67 km round trip.

Islington is a good choice to cross the 407 since it is just a bridge with no interchange. If you pick a day and time when the traffic is not too bad, Islington is OK for biking.

Once you reach Langstaff, there is a MUP on the east side that you can use to the park entrance.

Here’s the entrance to Boyd Conservation Area.

I was not excited to see the entrance fee. However, if you bike in, it is free!

Pavement gives way to gravel.

Winding through the woods.

The trail has ups and downs, with some of the steeper sections being paved (one presumes to avoid erosion). After one of the steeper gravel climbs, you are rewarded with this view. It being a weekend, the trail was pretty busy.

More scenery. This is actually the Humber River Trail at this point.

Exiting the trail at the north end, I see signage that the trail is closed at Major Mac. The fencing was down and plenty of people were walking through, but I do not know if that was just because this was a weekend.

Looking 180° from the previous photo, you can see that we are back in civilization with the fight for parking.

At the park entrance. At this point, you are about a five minute bike ride from downtown Kleinburg.

Coming south out of Kleinburg, there is a MUP along Islington.

The route jogs one block over to Clarence St which has much less traffic.

This lasts until Woodbridge at which point you have to bike along Islington again to cross the 407.

Lots of wildflowers along the Humber River Trail.

My route takes a bit of a detour on the northbound leg in order to bridge the gap in the Humber River Trail. However, when I returned south, I went along Weston Rd. The city really needs to close this gap as you can see that many people use the sidewalk along this section.

Thanks to Stephen for posting the original version of the route. It was nice way to get up to Kleinberg, with some gravel riding thrown in for good measure. There were a few sections where there was loose gravel due to trail maintenance, but I saw plenty of people on hybrid bikes on the trail. Road bikes with skinny tires would struggle a bit.

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Joey Schwartz posted a nice 68 km route on Facebook last week, and I decided to try it out today.

Looking at the map, what I particularly liked about it was that it covered a lot of the same ground as the big loop, but it avoided the north west corner where you end up having to cross the 400 Hwy at either Finch or Steeles. I modified the route a bit, making the start point Runnymede and Bloor, and going north on Scarlett Rd to bypass both Etienne Brule Park (which is currently closed) and the busiest parts of the Humber River Trail.

Just where Scarlett Rd crosses the Humber, I see that some of the concrete barriers were moved. To add insult to injury, this is exactly the point there the city should have put a curb cut to make the connection to the off road multiuser trail easier. This bike dad had to spend some time hauling the trailer over the curb.

The route also crosses the 401 at Jane, which is one of the safer ways to do it. The route also avoids the busy on ramps, but you do have to go a short distance on Jane to cross under the highway.

Riding through Downsview Park for the first time was a treat. There was a brand new pavilion at the south west corner of the park.

I guess federal money gives you really nice and wide multiuse trails. Also several artificial hills were an interesting feature. It will be interesting to see how this will all look in ten years or so.

The aviation theme is evident in this piece of artwork.

Great day to be going east on the Finch corridor, with the wind at my back.

Riding back through the Don trails was uneventful. The lower part of Bayview was blocked off for Active TO. I chose to exit the valley at River St, which is one of the easiest climbs.

When I was biking south on Bayview, a cyclist going the other way shouted out “nice bag”. I can only assume that it was another local owner of the Route Werks bag.

66 km makes the longest ride of the year for me so far. A nice way to kick off the month of May.

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Since one of the categories for errandonee 2021 was “history lesson”, I thought that I would visit some of the ghost bikes in the area.

Here is the ghost bike for Jonas Mitchell (June 2018) on Lakeshore at Colborne Lodge. It has been nicely maintained.

It should be noted that Nigel Gough (Sept 2010) was also killed at the same intersection.

Xavier Morgan’s ghost bike (May 2017) is on Lakeshore near the top of the hill at the Canadian Legion.

The fence along this section was installed because of his death.

Alex Amaro (Dec 2020) was killed on Dufferin, just by the south end of Dufferin Mall.

Florist Lisa Duncan of Fuscia Designs was responsible for the cascade of flowers that were recently added to this memorial.

Just a stone’s throw away is the reflexology path in Dufferin Grove that is a memorial to Jenna Morrison (Nov 2011)

Nice to see people having biked there and enjoying it.

Inus’ ghost bike (Sept 2020) is on Dundas St W just south of Kensington Market.

Carla Warrilow was struck down (October 2013) on Spadina just south of Dundas.

Dalia Chako was killed (June 2018) at the intersection of St. George and Bloor. There is sewer work and road reconstruction being done here. When it is finished, this will be the first fully protected intersection in the city.

Adam Excell died at Avenue Rd and Davenport (June 2015).

Tom Samson was hit from behind on Davenport and Lansdowne (Nov 2012). Good to see the flowers being replaced periodically.

Galen Kuellmer died on Dupont at Dundas in May 2004. His ghost bike is long gone, but the mural incorporates an image from one of his photos. His image lies just underneath the West Toronto Railpath.

Eleven dear departed souls who will not be forgotten.

A map of the ghost bike locations in Toronto is here, although it has not been updated since 2018.


Yesterday was day 3, and I rode up to Clairville Reservoir, which is about as far to the northwest as I could go while not crossing into another region, as per the current provincial lockdown guidelines.

I had a nice chat with these fine gentlemen. Note the Mariposa wool jersey, and the spectacular matching bike.

I log this ride as “self care”. Four more errands to go.

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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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