Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Popular stopping points for Ottawa cyclists

Yesterday afternoon I rode my bike along the Ottawa River Pathway * (a 30km section of the Trans-Canada Trail), having arranged to meet my husband coming home from work on his own bike. His half-way point is near Mud Lake in the Britannia Bay area; I actually met him at Britannia Beach.
Located on the Ottawa River at Britannia Bay, the beach is great for swimming, picnics or just watching the sailboats go by on a beautiful summer day.
The city of Ottawa has a few more such recreational beaches. At three of them you can rent volley ball nets for $15 / hour and lifeguards monitor the bathing areas. We also passed the smaller beach without nets, at the Kitchissippi Lookout further downstream, where many commuting cyclists had laid their bikes on the sand and were sitting there taking a rest.

Britannia Beach: volleyball nets

Picnic at the old trolley bus station, June 2010
Britannia Beach feels like the seaside, with its yachts off the sandy shore, swimmers, pier and sun umbrellas. In the park are multiple barbecues and picnic tables. In the early 20th century this used to be a destination for day trips or cottage holidays for people from the city and was the terminus for a trolley bus ride (the line opened in 1900). The station roof is still there, now turned into a shelter for picnic tables. I had a stylish picnic here once with the ladies of the CFUW-Ottawa's Diplomatic Hospitality group. Yesterday a family was making use of it.

This year's rock sculptures
Closer to the city at the Remic Rapids are the numerous stone sculptures created (and photographed) anew each summer by the Canadian-Italian John Felice Ceprano and other "rock artists." They too are worth stopping for. It's best to stop there on your ride upriver because there's a gradual uphill most of the way in that direction; more opportunities for free-wheeling when you turn around and come back. Bring a camera!

Where we stopped on the way back was at the Mill Street Brew Pub near Victoria Island, Ottawa's oldest surviving mill, to have supper, with beer of course. It was packed with cyclists, to judge by the number of bikes stacked in the racks outside. The back of the restaurant overlooks a former log-chute channelling some of the water from the Chaudière Falls.

* The Ottawa River Pathway, intended for walkers, strollers and wheelchairs as well as bikes and rollerblades, is well maintained and signposted. It doesn't cross many roads, with underpasses under the main ones, but take notice of the stop signs at the minor roads and driveways. The major hazard is a sudden encounter with Canada geese wandering across the pathway. In summer time rush hour periods the trail is heavily used by cyclists commuting home from work, some of whom speed along at well over the 20kph speed limit, but they seem used to dodging the slower traffic and usually ring their bells if approaching fast from behind you. Informative plaques are posted at intervals along the trail if you have time to stop and read them.

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