The Finger Lakes Cycling Club does a few group trips each year, but the sign ups are usually fast and far in advance. I figured the best way to make this happen is just sign up and hope it all fits the scheduling that comes later, and this trip worked in just fine.
About 30 Ithacans packed into 10 or so cars to carpool up to Ottawa’s Jail Hostel. It was a great location, very close to the Byward Market with cafes and restaurants, street entertainment, the big marathons of the weekend, and still very close to Ottawa’s great cycling infrastructure. I arrived on Friday night, and a growing group of people converged in the bar area to gaze at the maps and find some routes to explore on for the weekend.
We met at 7:30am to head out for breakfast at Zak’s diner, and then everyone met up at 9:30am for a ride along “the big loop” around Ottawa (see the route on RideWithGPS here). It was 45.5km (28.3 miles) almost all on cycling paths. There are to large canals with paths along each side, about 6ft wide with a stripe down the center. We crossed on some narrow walkways on the canal locks and eventually ended up at a restaurant. Half the group stopped for lunch, while the other half continued on the route. Rumor has it that we both followed a similar route, just at different times. We crossed through the “experimental farm” and made it to the Ottawa River before getting back into the city.
As Gatineau Park is closed to cars until 11am, we started out at 8am to get an early start heading up the big hill. It’s about 15 miles, mostly uphill, climbing about 1300ft. Not too bad by Ithaca standards, but still a long time going up. As we got closer to the top though, the rain was getting harder. A few of us had good raingear and fenders (Harold with the new SKS Longboard fenders), but others were on slick tires without clearance for fenders and were getting cold and wet. The original plan was to head east to Old Chelsea for an ice cream stop, but I think everyone decided to bail on that plan and just head home. Total distance for the ride was 35.3 miles. Link to the route here.
Although several people had smartphones, apparently the weather apps still need help, because after a rainy morning, the clouds parted and the weather was great. In the afternoon, Kathy and I went for another shorter ride for about 13.5 miles. Still nearly all on cycling paths, we headed out to Rockcliffe, looped around the airport, and came back by the river which was a dirt path. We meandered through some neighborhoods, and saw more embassies. Link to the route here.
Half the group left for Ithaca, but several of us stayed longer to get in one last day of good weather in Ottawa. Kathy and I set out on our own, along a path north of the Ottawa River. We found the trail that the group meant to take to get to Gatinaeu Park that we missed on Saturday, which was much better than the busy road nearby. We went west for a ways, crossed south on the Island Park Drive bridge across Bate Island. We took the same path back east to the hostel along the south end of the river. This ride was 11.9 miles, and you can see the route here.
It was a great weekend, and I’d love to come back to Ottawa again for some more rides, probably aiming to go longer days venturing out past where the bike paths reach. Thanks to Andrejs and everyone else involved with putting this trip together!