Part 3/3: Today’s ride – The Bakery

Sometimes you just need an excuse to go for a ride.  This wasn’t going to be a long ride, or a hard ride, just a little tour of town as I head for Bunner’s Bakery.  Bunner’s is a gluten-free (and vegan) bakery located on Dundas St West in the Junction neighbourhood of Toronto.  I knew they had plenty of choice offerings, but I had just one thing in mind, their gluten-free cinnamon bun!

I arrived soon after they’d opened and the cinnamon buns were still warm.  Sweet, sticky and mouth watering just like they’d promised.  It did not disappoint.

Mmmmmm still warm 🙂

At just over $5 this certainly isn’t going to be a regular treat, but it’s nice to know that you can still indulge once and a while even while going gluten-free.

So there you go, another great excuse to go for a bike ride.

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Part 2/3: Today’s ride – The West Toronto Railpath

With my flat tire all pumped up I was on my way towards the Junction neighbourhood to check out Bunner’s Bakery, but first a little detour to check out the West Toronto Railpath.  Phase 1 of this project was completed a couple of years ago but I’d forgotten all about it.  A couple of weeks ago NOW magazine mentioned that the railpath had received a National Urban Design Award, so it was back on my radar.

The first phase is only 2km and runs from Cariboo Ave down to Dundas St West at Sterling Rd.  Once the next two phases are completed it will take riders, walkers and runners from the Junction as far as Liberty Village, that’s 6.5km of car-free riding.

If you want to check out a map of the path and read about its development then check out the railpath blog.  I took a few pics along the way and posted them below.

Here’s a great mural behind the Osler Fish Market.

The view from the foot bridge at Wallace Ave

The streets are all well marked. From here stairs take you down to Bloor St.

Lots of great graffiti along here

But here’s a sample of what is referred to as “art’ along the path, and there’s plenty of it:

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Okay, time for some carbo loading in part III.  🙂

Part 1/3: Today’s ride – The Flat

Well, I’ve ramped up my riding this year after a few slow seasons, unfortunately more miles = more flat tires 😦   I’ve had 8 flats so far and my latest was on today’s ride.

I may not be the fastest in the puncture repairs department but things really sped along for me a few years ago once I began to skip the wheel removal.  Yup, just leave your wheel on and pull out the punctured tube along the affected section.  This works really well when you can still hear the air hissing out (and when you have bolt on wheels like me and forgot your wrenches…).

So here I am at the corner of Dupont and Davenport, just 5km into my ride when I noticed my rear tire was a little soft as I’d rounded the corner.  It was 110psi just 10min ago, now it’s down to about 60 and I can hear the air hissing out even over the noise of the traffic.

So as you can see I don’t use the instant peel and patch variety.  I talc all of my tubes so I haven’t had the best of luck with the instant patches.  I use the kind that requires applying glue first.  They do take a bit longer, but they have been much more reliable for me. Total time around 6min including some picture taking…

Onto part II.

Toronto to Hamilton: My first century ride on a fixed gear

For the last few years I have cycled very little other than to get to work.  This year I have started ramping things up again.  I trained fairly regularly on a Wattbike over the winter (but that’s another story) and by spring I was ready for some longer rides again.  From Yonge/Eglinton I have been riding south to the lake and then west pretty much every time venturing a little further as my legs allowed.  At first my turnaround was the Humber river.  After a few weeks I’d venture as far as Port Credit where I’d stop for an espresso before the ride home.  Eventually my usual espresso ride would take me to Oakville (95-100km), a handful of times on my own and once a week with a friend from mid-June through most of July.  After 8-10 rides to Oakville my riding buddy and I decided to explore a little further.

Here our bikes wait patiently for us to finish our drinks and to keep riding:

So with no particular destination in mind we set off from Oakville to the west along the Lakeshore.  After a few kms we agreed that we might as well make it official and ride right into Burlington. So we followed Lakeshore to North Shore Blvd East and did a quick turn around at the Burlington Golf and Country Club figuring that we’d gone far enough for one day.  So that loop worked out to around 145km, and definitely the longest ride I’ve ever done on my fixed gear bike!

145km.  Phew!  But that was a week ago.  Time to move on.  I was working on extending our route while keeping it interesting so I decided a ride around Hamilton Harbour might be best.  It would add about 30km to the ride.  See my earlier post for that part of the route (https://eatpedalpaddle.wordpress.com/2012/07/29/google-told-me-to-jump-off-a-bridge/).  Unfortunately my riding buddy was away this weekend so I decided to go it alone.

I set off from Yonge/Eglinton around 645am, after launching the GPS app on my Blackberry and stuffing it into my jersey pocket.  I checked my phone as I rounded the base of Bayview and turned onto King St East and it had yet to acquire the satellite signal.  Ugh!  Oh well, I guess there’s about 10km that won’t be captured in my ride history.  Into my jersey pockets I also stuffed a patch kit, a small pump, a couple of water bottles and a couple of my home-made energy bars.  I also brought a camera but I placed it, my house keys, some cash and a few allen keys into my frame bag.

I stopped briefly at my usual spot in Oakville for a double-long espresso.  As I enjoyed it I sat and wondered why I would stop with 120km to go.  It might have made more sense to stop later on, maybe closer to the 1/2 way mark, oh well, a habitual stop I guess.  I stopped again at the Burlington Golf and Country Club on North Shore Blvd at 9:15am for a quick photo op about 70km in, but otherwise I didn’t check my watch all day, so I’m not entirely sure how long each leg of the journey took.

The ride around the bay was a great.  Well, most of it. Riding through Hamilton’s downtown and industrial sector is just a section to get through, but the rest of it is incredible!  North Shore Blvd is a beautiful road, quite smooth, with some small gently rolling hills and with very little traffic on a Saturday morning.  This leads you to County Road 2 (Plains Rd W) and finally to York Blvd, taking you right around the western side of the harbour, mostly along bike lanes.  Once through the downtown and industrial sector you get to the best part of the loop, the Waterfront trail.  If you know of a more bike friendly route please offer it in the comment section.  See the map link at the end of my post for all of the details of my ride.

Why oh why does this picture get rotated 90deg when viewed in full size?????

In this section of the Harbour loop you’ll cover about 10km along the lake on the Hamilton Beach Recreational trail.  The path is smooth and offers a great view of the lake.  There are also plenty of benches to soak it all in from should you need a break.  If you you need a nature break along here there is one washroom about 4km down the trail, almost as far as the Burlington Lift Bridge.  There is also a water fountain there so be sure to stop, this is your last chance to fill up for a while.  At this point it is tempting to just keep on riding, to get ‘er done, but stop, relax, savour the moment.  You’ve got about 70km to go, but this can wait another moment, you’ve earned a break.

You’re on the home stretch now, the Toronto skyline is calling you home and is but a muted spec in the distance.

So there’s my first century ride in about 12 years and my first century ride ever on my track bike.  The total distance worked out to about 170km, but my gps app only recorded 160km worth, making it an official century ride either way, 100 miles or 160km.

…but only averaged 28.6km/hr 😦

Ugh!  And my average was not even 30km/hr 😦  Oh well, I’ll blame that on the headwind that picked up on my way home, on stopping many times to enjoy the view and to take pictures.  Total trip time was, according to my stop watch, 6.5hrs.  Either way the century is a milestone to many a cyclist.  It was a milestone that I had reached at least 15 years ago, but probably haven’t repeated since.  So there it is, a little reminder to my legs and mind (and butt) of what it takes to cover that distance again.  If a 6.5hr ride doesn’t sound like fun to you then just ride faster, ride a bike with more than one gear, one that allows you to coast, go with a fast friend and take turns drafting or if this doesn’t sound like something that you would be interested in trying in its entirety then check out Go Transit schedules.  They offer service to Hamilton all the time and depending on which station you’re leaving from and the time of day you can usually bring your bike on board.  From the Hamilton Go station you can then tour the Harbour and transit home again, or ride back to TO from there.  You have plenty of options and hopefully one less excuse.

Here’s a link to the full map of the ride, which by the way could not be saved into google maps because Google keeps guessing which way you’d want to go which never makes any sense so you have to keep moving points along the route from Google guess to the actual route until you literally run out of points that you are able to enter….  So, I had to use the gmap-pedometer, which is far more user friendly:

http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=5584895

Have a safe ride!

Google told me to jump off a bridge!

I use Google maps before I go anywhere new.  When cycling to a new locale I’ll use it to measure out routes and look for cycling friendly bike lanes and paths.  Before my ride to Hamilton yesterday I was looking for an easy way around Hamilton Harbour.  There are a ton of bike paths around Hamilton and they are all marked in green when you’re viewing the map with Google’s beta cycling directions turned on.  When giving you directions between 2 points Google can however be a bit overzealous when it comes to getting you onto one of those bike routes, often adding a lot of distance to your ride to make it happen.  Well, this time it offered a great short-cut, or at least a short cut, to get from the Wolfe Island Bridge to the bike path below through the Botanical Gardens.  It only looks to be about an 80ft drop!

Yup, just ride right up over the curb, across the road and over the guard rail:

Well I skipped that section altogether, and rode Plains Rd W all the way into town, following a bike lane most of the way in, riding past Copps Coliseum, down Wilson and then more or less following the Around the Bay road race course.  Next time I’ll follow the race course more closely.  Their route takes Spring Garden Rd off of Plains Rd W to get down by the water.

Here’s the race map as posted on http://www.aroundthebayroadrace.com:

https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=114954809910133418529.00045a7921454be2ed2ca&ll=43.280955,-79.821167&spn=0.167959,0.215263&z=12

Gmaps is a great tool for route planning, but be sure to double check its suggestions.  Their routes could add more distance than would make sense for your travels or, like some of your coworkers, Google could tell you to “go jump off a bridge”.

Ride safe!

Brain buckets, bike shares and other lessons from the Ambassador of Urban Cycling

There was a great episode of The Current yesterday on CBC radio.  They spoke with Mikael Corville-Anderson, the ‘Ambassador of Urban Cycling’.  Check it out on the CBC Radio’s player on-line:

http://www.cbc.ca/player/Radio/The+Current/ID/2250831056/

They discussed the success of various bike share programs, the lack of European bike helmet laws (for all-ages), car culture, cycling infrastructure and many more topics of interest for the urban cyclist.

I have been wearing a bicycle helmet for 24 years now so I was initially rather surprised by Mikael’s view of helmet laws.  I have always believed that helmet laws would improve rider safety, but how do you encourage the growth of bike share programs, and cycling in general, if mandatory helmet laws are in place as an obstacle?  Are individuals to carry a helmet around at all times just in case the opportunity to rent a bike presents itself?

Here’s my favorite quote from the interview regarding infrastructure”…we don’t consult smokers when we’re implementing smoking laws, so why are we consulting drivers when we’re trying to redevelop our liveable cities?”.  Here we go, I can hear Rob Ford shouting about the “War on cars” again…

Enjoy the interview, and ride safe.

Wild Edibles: Mulberries – get ’em before they’re gone!

Picking Mulberries in Toronto

Oh what to do for my first post I wondered as I walked…  I had been putting it off for a while when I noticed the stained sidewalk beneath my feet, under a Mulberry tree.  Every June/July each Mulberry tree drops thousands of berries, and few take notice of nature’s gift but for the blue stain upon the sidewalk or the berries stuck beneath their shoes.

While there are nearly a dozen varieties worldwide, the trees of interest here for the forager are the Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) and the Black Mulberry (Morus nigra).  The Red Mulberry is indigenous to eastern North America and is an endangered species due to regular hybridization with the other Mulberry varieties imported from Asia (mostly black and white Mulberry).  You will find both the Red and Black Mulberry in Toronto, staining our streets and filling the bellies and baskets of the local forager.  The fruit from both trees, when ripe, looks very much like a blackberry, although slightly longer, and not quite as sweet. Eat them out of hand, make into jam, bake into pies and muffins etc. but as with any food being introduced do not consume unless you can positively identify the plant and collect/consume only the ripe berries.

Here’s what the MNR has to say about them: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/stdprodconsume/groups/lr/@mnr/@species/documents/document/stdprod_070903.pdf

I know of at least 6 trees in town that I have come across in my travels.  The addresses of others are posted on urbantoronto.ca if you are interested, but I cannot confirm their accuracy.  Here are a couple of trees to get you started with on your next bike ride:

1 – Don Trail: If you’re heading south along the path, say from Eglinton, past (under) Overlea Blvd, take the trail to the left towards the junction with the Lower Don Recreational Trail.  This trail briefly takes you north east as you pass under Don Mills Rd (for the 1st time) on a slated wooden foot bridge.  This Mulberry tree hangs over the path half way up the wooden bridge.  If you have continued up the bridge and over the train tracks then you have gone a bit too far….

2 – Royal York Rd – on the west side of Royal York Rd, north of Dundas St W and about 100m south of Lambeth Rd.  This tree hangs over the sidewalk and provides easy pickins’

Ride safe and happy foraging!