Friday, 17 June 2011

108 Kilometres and 5 Pounds Later (Ottawa River Pathways Hybrid Epic Ride)

Well it has actually been a few years since I have done an Epic (Over 100 kilometre) Hybrid Ride and I have been wanting to find out just how long a ride encompassing both the western and eastern Ottawa River pathways would be, having rode both separately.

Click on Map to Enlarge

One of the things keeping me from doing this sooner was the lack of proper connectiveness between the two sections, which I have written about previously.
East and West: Two Solitudes - The Problems With The Ottawa River Pathway

The Ottawa River Pathway Two Solitudes: PostScript
Starting in Bridlewood I took the Trans-Canada Trail through the Greenbelt joining the Ottawa River pathway at the Andy Haydon water park. The western pathway route is an enjoyable ride along the Ottawa River on paved pathways with the opportunity for pit stops to eat and drink at Britannia and Westboro beaches.

The connection to the eastern section was not as bad as I expected. After the killer hill up the cliff by the locks you just take Murray Street to Sussex Drive and continue to the Rockcliffe Parkway and onto the eastern pathways. So I was fine, but anyone who is intimidated by riding on major heavy traffic roadways could be intimidated and even a bit frightened, and our pathway system should not force cyclists into those situations.

Once I reached the Rockcliffe Parkway I was back onto paved pathways leading to the pathways along the river.

Click on Map to Enlarge

For the ride east I took the paved upper pathway along the Rockcliffe Parkway that goes past the Aviation Museum and then rejoins the path along the River.

Once you hit Orleans you follow the streets a bit past the Résidence Saint-Louis following the bike route signs and then take the Petrie Island Pathway that ends at Trim Road, but you can continue down Trim Road to the island. Most of the Petrie Island pathway is brand new pavement except for the last portion that is gravel. The pathway goes past a number of what appear to be mountain bike trails crossing over it, that I have yet to check out.

On the way back I kept to the pathway closest to the river, which is primarily a hard-packed gravel surface. Both pathways are enjoyable and scenic.

Casual cyclists should be aware that after you leave the river pathway, the path along the Rockcliffe parkway goes along a cliff and narrows for a portion and that can be a bit concerning but really is no great problem.

Getting from Sussex Drive back to the western pathway was another matter. I should have done better advance planning for the trip back and I ended up darting across the road where St. Patrick joins Murray Street during a break in traffic to get back to the path down the cliff. A better route would have been to continue along Sussex Drive to the other side of Murray Street and then walk the bike along the sidewalk to the path down the cliff.

Click on Map to Enlarge

The biggest concern of the ride was the heat and probably a sign that I picked the wrong day for an Epic Ride. I have done long rides (60-70 km) on hot days and I have done over 100 km rides before but combing both was probably a bad idea and after the 90 km mark I was starting to feel the effects of heat exhaustion, but I managed to make it home without collapsing.

One of the problems of the pathway system (besides the lack of washroom facilities, particularly in the early and late season) is the shortage of drinking water facilities. There are very few water fountains on the route and the few that are there require you to almost swallow the fixture to get a drink, making it impossible to use them to refill a water bottle.

I was able to buy water from a vending machine at the Rockcliffe Yacht Club though. The multitude of Private Property and Members Only signs kept me from even thinking about asking them to refill my water bottle with tap water, I felt fortunate that they let me use their vending machine.

But all being said it was a great experience and I would do it again on a cooler day.

Overall stats:

Total Distance: 108 km
Time Moving: 5 Hrs, 40 Min
Average Speed 19 km/hr
Maximum Speed 36.3 km/hr

Weight Lost During Trip: 5 pounds (but I regained about 3 pounds by next morning after rehydrating, etc.)

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