Archive for the ‘Ottawa’ Category

Riding through the tulips

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

For the first few weeks of May every year, Ottawa is in bloom. This year is the 60th anniversary for the annual Tulip Festival. From the Tulip Festival Website:

The tulip was a gift in perpetuity to the Canadian people for providing a safe harbor to the Dutch Royal Family during the Second World War. The festival’s mandate is to preserve this heritage and celebrate the tulip as a symbol of international friendship by engaging local organizers, volunteers, artists, performers, tourists and festival-goers in what has become an annual ritual of spring and one of Canada’s best loved and well-known cultural events.

On Monday, I had an opportunity to ride through some of the spectacular tulip fields. Unfortunately, the warm spring has meant that most of the tulips are already finished and the festival still has two more weekends.

Here are some pictures:
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Note that this blog post was prepared completely on my iPad – mostly it is an experiment to see how much I can do on the iPad.

Early Summer

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Seems that this year (or at least this week) we completely skipped over spring and launched directly from winter to summer. As I write this it is already 15 degrees and today’s high is expected to reach the high 20s. For those that are unfamiliar with Ottawa, our normal temperatures at this time of year are usually around or below 0. We should be skiing, not biking, but alas, the snow is gone (although there is still some ice on the river). Next week, with highs of about 10 is going to feel cold, but in reality it is still unseasonably warm.

Here are a few pictures of our first days out riding this year.

March 7 – see all the snow (notice the mountain bike handle bars):

March 18 – so warm I’m wearing a T-shirt. You can’t really see it in this picture, but I’ve pulled out my road bike.

March 19 – And finally, I brought out the bent! Notice the ice on the river. According to my bike computer, the temperature dropped a full 7 degrees near the river because of the wind blowing over the ice!

An Outrageous Weekend

Monday, August 1st, 2011

We had an Outrageous weekend – that is, we spent two days and one night enjoying Big Rideau Lake on our friends boat, Outrageous. It is a 32 foot Carver cabin cruiser – as they so aptly but it a “floating cottage”.

Life aboard is pretty relaxing – with a routine of swim, eat, chat, nap, and repeat at least twice per day. To shake things up a bit, we took the skiff out for an ice cream at Murphy’s Point Provincial Park on Sunday afternoon ($2 for a giant scoop), and went for a row around the harbour on Monday morning.

Thank-you John and Claire – it was delightful to visit you on your floating cottage. What a wonderful way to spend a weekend :)

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Our morning view.

Scott reading the paper
Scott reading the paper.

Claire out for a row
Claire out for a row.

A bike tour around Ottawa

Saturday, July 16th, 2011

Since I haven’t had much opportunity to get out on overnight tours this year, I decided I’d do a photoblog of a cycle tour along the pathways in Ottawa. I’d also like to put out a challenge to all my cycle touring friends out there – if you aren’t blogging and aren’t touring, then how about showing the world what your regular ride looks link? If you take up this challenge, please post a link in the comments.

When I decided to do this – and have some fun with it – I found myself slowing down and really appreciating the beauty in the ride. We are so vary lucky to have great urban bike routes that include to much nature. It is a rather lovely ride. Hope you enjoy the tour!

The first three photos are from the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, between the Champlain (Island Park) bridge and Alymer.

Gatineau Bike Path

Gatineau Bike Path

Gatineau Bike Path

And here is a picture of the same rapids, from the Ottawa side of the bike path.
The rapids, from the Ottawa side

An now my photos get a little more creative. Starting with a bridge across the Pinecrest creek.

A bridge across the path - Pinecrest creek

When I started to look for photo opportunities, I realized just how big the trees were on this part of the path.

Big tree, little bike

The initial view of the Ottawa River (I live about 5 km from the River).

First view of the Ottawa River

Rather than biking, some people enjoy the swimming at Westboro beach.

Westboro beach - one of the many public beaches on the Ottawa River

Each year, the NCC hires an artist who builds these statues in the river. The water is really high this year, so there aren’t as many as in years previous. I actually stopped and talked to the artist one year, and posted about it here.

Artwork on the Ottawa River

A brief stop on Bate Island on the over the Champlain bridge to Quebec.

Kayak lessons anyone? Bate Island (in Ontario, between Ottawa and Gatineau).

And Bate Island as seen from the bike path on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River just east of the Champlain bridge.

Bate Island as seen from the bike path on the Quebec side.

The parliament buildings from what I think is one of the prettiest stretches of the Ottawa River pathway (Quebec side).

Ottawa Parliament buildings

And the National Art Gallery.

The art gallery

The paths follows along behind the museum of Civilization, providing another great photo opportunity.

The gallery as seen from the Museum of Civilization lawn.

Crossing back on the Alexandria bridge into Ottawa provides a great view of the Rideau Canal locks.

Crossing back to Ottawa

And a fun close-up shot of one of the locks with a bit of the Chateau Laurier in the mirror background.

A close-up of one of the locks.

A close-up the Rideau Canal above the locks.
A close-up of one of the locks.

Some folks choose to explore the Rideau Canal by kayak.
Some folks exploring the canal via kayak.

Unfortunately, I ran out of time and needed to get home. So I conclude this journey with a photo of the sunset from Britannia beach.

Sunset at Britannia Beach

What do you think? Will you take up the challenge and show the world pictures of your regular bike ride? I, for one, would love to see it.

A winter S24O

Friday, December 24th, 2010

It is cold in Ottawa during the winter time. We aren’t so adventurous as our friends Friedel and Andrew who cycle and camp out on snow days. Instead, we trade in our bikes for cross-country skis.  We often head to Gatineau Park, since it’s nearby, and has hundreds of kilometres of ski trails.

This year we decided to try out yurt camping – Becky booked us an overnight in the Taylor Lake Yurt up in Gatineau Park. Getting there required a 6 km ski involving a few rolling hills.  Not much distance, but we were carrying extra food, clothing and overnight gear, which added to the challenge.

Having never stayed in a yurt, we didn’t really know what to expect. When we arrived, what we discovered was luxury camping, although perhaps we shouldn’t really call it camping. Our yurt had a wood stove for heating – with a nice glass window so we could see how the coals were burning in the middle of the night, a propane stovetop for cooking, pots and pans, bunk beds, a fridge, and a picnic table. To top it off, there was a sky light in the centre of the ceiling, so we could see the stars at night and the trees above us during the day.

We enjoyed the ski up to the yurt, and upon arrival, quickly dropped off our heavy gear and went out for a bit more of a ski in the remaining few minutes of daylight.  By the time we got back to the yurt, we were happy to have our headlamps!

It took us much longer than we had hoped to get the fire going. At first, it just wouldn’t seem to stay lit. We were shivering and wondering what we were doing wrong. Fortunately, they had some directions on the wood storage box which explained that we should be using pencil sized kindling.  Our previous kindling was too big and we didn’t have enough of it. Scott went back outside to chop some smaller kindling, and with smaller kindling in hand, it only took Becky one additional match to get the firing going.  Clearly our Scout/Guide skills are a bit rusty!

While the yurt was warming up, our stomachs started growling so we enjoyed some baguette and brie while our dinner was cooking. It took about 90 minutes for the yurt to get warm – longer than Becky expected. We often go for a ski up to the cabins in Gatineau park, but there always seems to have been someone there before us to start the fire and warm the cabin – we have never entered a cold cabin!

Unfortunately, the struggle with the fire meant that Becky spent much of the night nervous about the fire going out. She was glad for the glass on the wood stove that allowed her to see how the fire was burning each time she awoke in the night. She got up several times to throw a log on the fire, ensuring that it didn’t go out in the night. The beds were quite comfortable, and Scott slept solidly all night.

In the morning, we took advantage of the sunny skies, and went for a short ski without our overnight gear. Unfortunately, Becky seem to be having some issues. She fell early on, then again whilst descending a hill. Eventually, she gave Scott her light backpack. She was not feeling quite right, so we headed back to the yurt. Once inside, Becky took off her ski boots to discover she had a US Quarter under her insole. No wonder her balance was off! It must have fallen from the shelf in the front hall and rested nicely under her heel for the ski up – once it got dislodged it moved to below her toes. Then it totally threw off her balance – at least that is the excuse she is using!

We stayed in the yurt right up to the last minute. A half hour before checkout time, the safety patrol arrived by snowmobile to ensure everyone was OK. It was quite funny to watch as the driver took off his helmet and exchanged it for a Santa hat. He came in to check that we were OK, then proceeded on his rounds. We suspect they do a survey of all cabins and yurts before the cleaning crew arrive. If we were unable to get out on our own, the patrol could have given us a ride on their snowmobile (or the sled they were towing).

It was a spectacular day for a ski home – sunny, blue skies and fast snow.  A wonderful early Christmas present!

Our first S24O

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

What the heck is an S24O you ask? It’s a short overnight bike tour (S240 stands for Sub 24-hour Overnight) for those of us who can’t get away for anything longer. Since you are not gone for long, you don’t need to bring too much stuff and you need less time to prepare. Once your bike is kitted out, you can easily do an S24O on a weekend and still have time for the Sunday afternoon BBQ with friends. Russ Roca describes it well in his blog post here.

For our first S24O, we decided to go south to Manotick and the Rideau Canal, about 65 km each way. Preparation took longer than it should because all our all our gear was spread about the basement and the kitchen. Becky took advantage of having a kitchen and did all the prep work for dinner and breakfast – what a change from expedition cycling!

We finally managed to get our gear all packed up and were ready to go by 2:30 pm. We looked into the sky to see some pretty scary clouds and questioned our sanity. It was all very reminiscent of our first day touring, leaving late in the afternoon with thunderclouds in the sky. Fortunately, the clouds seem to be moving out of our away. Each time we approached one, it moved before we got too close, making for a beautiful ride on traffic free back roads.

On our route out we followed a bike route from the Eastern Ontario Recreation Map. We highly recommend this map for anyone riding from Kingston or Cornwall to Ottawa as it shows many different rural routes where you can enjoy the countryside with very little traffic. We didn’t use the map for the route home, and we regretted it.  The recommended route was much quieter and more relaxing.

Following along the canal, we took advantage of a policy that allows those arriving on bicycles to camp at the lock stations for minimal cost. We stopped and enjoyed dinner at the Burritt’s Rapids lock station, then continued on to Lower Nicholsons where we camped for the night, all for the princely sum of $4.90 per person.

We arrived an hour and a half before sunset, but as the sun was sinking the mosquitoes came out. Anyone working at the locks might not realize just how bad the mosquitoes can be, as the lock staff had all left before they came out to feast.  We quickly set up the tent and crawled in.  Once it got dark, the fireflies provided us with a show, lighting up in the field and trees in front of our tent. It was so nice to be camping out under the stars again!

Morning came early, as Scott had to be home by 1 pm for a meeting. Becky crawled out of the tent shortly after 6 a.m. and immediately became breakfast for the mosquitoes. The remnants of  mosquito coil we had bought in Malaysia, which did us well all last summer, seemed to have lost it’s potency. The mosquitoes were not all affected by it. Fortunately, Becky packed some DEET, so we were able to eat breakfast without getting too annoyed. By the time we packed up, all the mosquitoes had gone away – melted in the morning sun.

Our trip home turned out to be a physical challenge. Normally, 65 km would not have been a problem; however, that day Mother Nature decided to give us a 20km/hr headwind. We pushed ourselves and barely made it home in time. In the end Scott got to his meeting a little late, since a shower and a big lunch were necessary first.

Overall, it was a great trip and we’ll definitely do it again!

Getting ready for breakfast at the picnic table at Lower Nicholson Locks.
Our tent – home sweet home!
Scott approaching a nest (top of pole) complete with baby birds.
66 km to Nicholsons Lock, 65 km home.

MS Charity Bike Ride

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

This year, we have decided to do the Ottawa Multiple Sclerosis Charity bike ride. The version we are doing is an overnight ride (80 km each way) from Ottawa to Kempville. We’ve done a couple of different short one-day ride events, but this will be our first overnight charity ride. We’ll be sure to let you know how it goes with a post or two about the ride.

Becky has an aunt with MS, and we both know people with the disease, so this is a cause close to our hearts. In addition to funding research, the MS Society of Canada provides support and services to help those living with this disease, their families and caregivers.

In order to participate, we both must raise a minimum of $250. We would greatly appreciate it if you could help with a donation.  Any amount helps. You can donate online by clicking our fundraising links below. An electronic tax receipt for your donation will be sent to you by e-mail.

If you are not comfortable donating online, get in touch with us, and we can arrange a donation by cash or cheque.

It doesn’t really matter if I was right

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

I had a little incident yesterday on my ride home from work, and upon reflection, it doesn’t matter that I was right. I just need to be more careful.

Most of my ride home involves side streets and bike paths, but there is a little stretch where I need to ride on a busy street. The more recently developed part of the street has a bike lane, but once you cross over to the older part you lose both the bike lane and the paved shoulder. Fortunately, I only need to ride about 300 meters on that stretch before I turn left onto a  side road.

So, I watch my mirror closely, waiting for a gap in the traffic both oncoming and from behind. I see my opportunity, as a car passes me, the next car has just made a right turn onto the street (about 250 meters back). I signal my left turn, then quickly pop into the left portion of the lane ready to make my left turn. I’m only in the lane for about 20 meters. There is no oncoming traffic, so I won’t be in the lane very long. I hear behind me screeching wheels and the car honks his horn. He never really got that close to me, and there was plenty of room on the right for him to pass me if he was approaching too quickly, but the whole thing rattle me (actually it didn’t rattle me, and I’m concerned that I should have been scared rather than angry). I’m guessing that he turned right and accelerated without seeing me, such that when he did see me he had to slow down quickly.

Either way, I realized that it doesn’t really matter if I was right. If he didn’t see me until the last minute and wasn’t able to slow down in time, I would have been in a very bad state. I can do everything correctly, but the driver will always “win” if an accident does occur.  Grumpy as that may make me feel, I will definitely be more careful making that left turn in the future.

Yay, I did it!

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

It’s been a mild winter in Ottawa this year. We barely have any snow on the ground, and yet the cross country ski conditions have been amazing.  I’ve been out skiing more this year than ever – and I’m skiing longer distances more comfortably than ever before.

Last Sunday was a huge accomplishment for me – I skate skied up to Pink Lake in Gatineau park, a 6 km trip one way with 100-meters elevation gain.

When I reached the top of the hill huffing and puffing, I was rewarded with an amazing view. This picture is my proof that I did it!

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What do touring cyclists do in the Canadian winter?

Monday, January 25th, 2010

We’ve always said, you can’t truly enjoy Ottawa in the winter if you don’t get outdoors. After skipping winter last year, we were happy to get back on our skis and check out the conditions in Gatineau park. So far, it hasn’t been a great year for snow, but the cross-country skiing has been pretty fabulous. A year of cycle touring has done wonders for our endurance too!

On weekends, we ski out to one of the many cabins for a nice dinner by the wood stove. Our favourite cabin looks out onto the Ottawa valley from above. Often we will sit at the window at night and trace out the river by following the winding darkness between the lights of the farmsteads.  The flickering orange light of the fire shines through the glass door of the wood stove, and we sit and watch the dancing shadows as we warm our toes and our dinner.

Skiing in the moonlit quiet is a magical experience, but daytime skiing is wonderful too – and it permits photographs.

Scott skiing in Gatineau park on a bright sunny day

Scott climbing a hill in Gatineau Park on a bright sunny day.