Trying a New Route

So my friend and I had been bouncing this idea back and forth about how I should bike to her house for a visit and then we’d go check out this bakery in the vicinity.  Tricky thing is that she and her family live in Scarborough near Lake Ontario and I currently live in North York (no lakes but we got streams and rivers).  For those who aren’t familiar with the city of Toronto — North York and Scarborough are different parts of the city.

As I was mapping routes out, one of the first things I noticed was the lack of bike trails that could take me from North York into eastern Scarborough.  Everything in North York ran north-south.  This meant I had a choice to either ride along main avenues (big no-no for me) or find small residential streets and ride through those until I could make my way into the networks of trail paths in Scarborough.

Awesome multi-purpose trail path near Brimley in Scarborough.
Awesome multi-purpose trail path near Brimley in Scarborough.

I have to admit some trepidation on my part because despite having grown up and lived in Toronto — there are a lot of areas of the city I’m not familiar with.  Funny how that is isn’t it?  We sometimes know parts of other cities we travel to more than we know our own.

Anyhow, with some help from the popular RidewithGPS.com, I managed to create a route down to the Port Union area where the waterfront trail has been in development.  The waterfront trail in the downtown core and the Beach area really should be connected to this Port Union area but I’m guessing there’s a lot more work to be done and that’s a story for another time.

I managed to export this route and upload it to the new Garmin GPS that I had picked up.  This would serve as my guide to get to my friend’s place.  This was my test run.

Stopping for a break
Stopping for a break

I’ve been enjoying the new tires.  They are definitely making my ride a little easier and smoother.  According to the GPS, I manage to get to a speed of approximately 23 to 25km so far — sometimes faster if I’m going downhill but I have my doubts whether I’ll be able to go significantly faster on a consistent basis — not with the mountain bike frame and the relatively fatter tires.  My goal really here is just to manage energy more efficiently in the long-term when I’m going to tackle the Greenbelt Route.

Unfortunately as I make my way further south, I end up taking some wrong turns.  It is rather tricky trying to read the directions on the GPS and bike at the same time.  To top it off, the route that I had mapped out apparently took me on to a hiking trail and I found myself carrying the bike down some stairways.  Ah, the consequences of using Google Maps.  Still good enough.

Bridge over Bridge
Bridge over Bridge

The route took me further into a more elaborate network of paths which were amazing ride through.  Some were a part of a larger park, others were nice manicured gardens or extended backyards that led into a ravine area.  The diversity was amazing and I was grateful that such a network of multipurpose paths and trails were developed within the city.  To some extent, I wish the part of North York I lived in had more of these.  I followed these trails south until I hit the lake and it was a happy sight.  I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to drop by my friend’s place in time because I kept getting lost or taking a wrong turn.

After I stopped by my friend’s place (it was fun and her son was hilarious and inspiring) — I took the same route back home.  It was practically all uphill most of the way.  To make it even tougher, the wind was blowing at me the entire way back.  Good training opportunity for future reference, but quite the challenge.  Thank goodness it was a beautiful day and it wasn’t too hot or humid.

Made it to the lake and Port Union
Made it to the lake and Port Union
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Good Weather, More Distance

If there is one thing I’ve learned as I’ve been training for the 75km Ride for Heart — it has been that the weather is something you just have to contend with and that good weather will just mean you tackle more distance.

Don’t get me wrong — good weather doesn’t necessarily equate to more comfortable conditions. When it’s too warm or too breezy — it can actually slow me down or I end up getting sneezing fits from all the allergens in the air. Ah, spring time…

So this Victoria Day long weekend, we set forth on yet another training ride — this time while dealing with the insane amount of traffic on the Waterfront Trail in Toronto. It was as if all of Toronto decided to come outside. Particularly at the ferry over to Centre Island — good grief the line up was crazy. Granted, I can totally see why … it was sunny and warm all weekend. Not hot, just warm enough. I saw and smelled barbeque everywhere — ice cream trucks spaced out perfectly amongst the waterfront — ready for anyone’s frozen treat-craving to kick in.

We weren’t really sure how much distance we covered but upon calculating it this time around … it seems we unknowingly went over 50km. Can’t really be absolutely sure by how much but it is reassuring that we may actually have made it over 60km! My quads were feeling the pressure from the workout but they definitely could have gone for more, but since we thought we had made it over 50km — we figured it was good enough.

One more week of training before the big day arrives. Weird how it arrived so quickly.

A Weekend with my Bicycle

With some great weather over the weekend of April 16th, I finally had the chance to work on my bicycle AND do some training.

So I woke up on Saturday and then pulled out the bicycle multi-tool that I had crowdfunded on Kickstarter some years ago.  Until now, it had sorta sat in my drawer but I was happy that The Nutter from Full Windsor was completely helpful to me as I worked on adding a new pannier rack.  I managed to pick one up from a local Trek store near my work.  It just so happened that they had a sale on so the discount was a bonus.

The Nutter bike multi-tool was helpful because I really had no idea what tools I needed to work on my bike...
The Nutter bike multi-tool was helpful because I really had no idea what tools I needed to work on my bike…

As I was adding on the pannier rack to my bike (a 2010 Trek 3700), I found myself fiddling around with the tools and even almost removing the wheel by accident.  Oops.  So I took a step back and made sure I knew what I was doing.  I had initially thought that I’d have to remove the wheel in order to install the pannier rack.

What I soon realized was my bicycle frame had specific holes in place for specific upgrades or components.  I also realized that I eventually need to get a bicycle stand.  Relying on leaning the bicycle against the wall is eventually going to drive me nuts when I have to pump my tires and install components.

Successfully installed! The new pannier rack on my bike
Successfully installed! The new pannier rack on my bike

So that was Saturday.  Success!

On Sunday, a friend and I began preparing for our 75km Ride for Heart by opting to train on the Toronto Waterfront trail.  I’ve never biked on this trail before so it was a pretty cool experience.  We managed to tackle about 25km by riding around some areas off-route after realizing that the route we took would only cover approximately 24km.

Using the empty spot where fold-up seats are to park my bike.
Using the empty spot where fold-up seats are (to the right) to park my bike and not get everyone’s way. [Photo via BlogTO]
On another note, because I live in the suburb of North York — I had to take my bicycle on the subway to the downtown core.  Now, one of the things that subway trains still fail to tackle is the transportation of bicycles.  This is why bicycles aren’t allowed on the TTC subway trains at certain times.

Surprisingly, I found the perfect spot to park my bike while on the subway.  I didn’t get in people’s way — I merely took up a spot.  Of course, if someone were to come into the subway train who required that space for the wheel chair — I would immediately move out of the way.  Today, there were seats galore — everywhere.  I was just simply enjoying the subway experience when suddenly I heard a, “Hey buddy, move out of the way — I need to sit.” — to which I immediately apologized and got out of the way, moving my bicycle aside.

This is when I came to the realization that he had just gotten on the subway and there were seats available immediately left of the entrance as well as opposite of where he was standing.  I guess he really wanted to sit down in those fold-up seats.  Can’t please everyone!

Aside from that peculiar experience on public transit, bicycle training was a success this weekend and the goal is to aim to tackle 50km.  Let’s just hope the weather will work out for us again!