Thursday, May 29, 2014

Southern Routes

In the past, when I've hopped on my bike, I've headed toward the city, leaving my suburban neighbourhood for the heart of our nation's capital.

My previous 50-kilometre circuit took me from Barrhaven to Prince of Wales, heading north to Hogs Back, Vincent Massey Park, Billings Bridge. I would follow the Rideau River as it took me through Vanier, New Edinburgh, and Rockliffe Park.

I would head toward the Byward Market and cross into Québec by way of the Alexandra Bridge, and then come back to Ottawa over the Portage Bridge. I would follow the Ottawa River, to Lincoln Heights, before heading south, toward Woodroffe Avenue and back to my neighbourhood.

It was a good ride. A mostly safe ride, where I could spend at least 75 percent of my time on pathways, off the roads, or on designated bicycle lanes.

Over the weekend, with the National Capital Marathon, my route was blocked in a few places. Not wanting to find alternate pathways, I headed south. I had gone on some of the roads that lead out of the city a couple of times last year: once, with Lori, where we went to Manotick and back; another time, with my neighbour (an elite cyclist), further south, through the farm fields and county roads. On that ride, she pointed out the way to one of the closest villages, North Gower.

On Sunday, I left Barrhaven by Tartan Drive and got onto Cedarview Road, heading south to where it ends, at Barnsdale Road. Turning west, the road passes farm fields and ends at Moodie Drive, where I turned south. Vast fields and markers that guide planes to the airport. Traffic is light, which is good: there is no shoulder on which a bike can safely roll. Crumbling asphalt at the road's edge forces cyclist to be on the road.

Moodie Drive ends at Brophy Drive, and I turned west again. This road is better, with a little more shoulder. But there are more cars, and they travel fast, passing you at 80 kph or faster. But I'm not on that road for long. A left turn onto 4 Line Road, cars are far and few between, and a wide, paved shoulder is in great shape all the way to North Gower.

Twenty-five kilometres there.

My return trip took me on Roger Stevens Drive, to 1 Line Road, in Kars, and then north, on the worst road of the trek. Broken and bumpy, I had to cycle in the middle of the road for much of the six kilometers (give or take). I'll never ride on it again.

A right turn, on Brophy, and two kilometres, I hit Manotick. The extent of last year's ride with Lori. A left, onto Rideau Valley Drive, and crossing Prince of Wales Drive, I hit the only steep hill of the ride, on Jockvale Road. But I was feeling good and even in this stage of my ride, I powered up it and followed it back into my neighbourhood.

Fifty-two K.

I altered the route two days later, continuing a little further south in North Gower, and cutting west, on Church Street, to McCordick Road, which turns into Eagleson in Richmond. In this small village, I turn onto Old Richmond Road and follow the Jock River to Fallowfield Road, which then takes me back to my neighbourhood.

Just over 55K.

This weekend, I ride further south, to Merrickville, and back. It's about 55 kilometres, each way.

These southern routes are perfect for readying myself for the following weekend, when I do the ultimate southern ride: to Kingston, and back.

Wish me luck.

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