Morning Commute.

I have never really considered myself a commuter until quite recently, which is silly considering that the word commute means simply (among other things, apparently) to travel.  The recent change occurred when my workplace moved and my daily commute to work jumped from 25 minutes to an hour.  What I once considered a leisurely pre-work bicycle ride has now become a sometimes daunting task, especially when it’s raining.

My current ride to work is a solid 60 minutes, but I can swing 50 minutes if I really boot it.  I am journeying from Ottawa’s Byward Market (aka, the centre of my little universe) to Hunt Club and Merivale (aka, the strange and faraway land of Nepean).  Since no one is crazy enough to cycle this route with me on a work day, and I’m not crazy enough to cycle this route on a non-work day, I thought this would be the best way to share the highlights with the one or two lucky people reading this blog.

I leave the market at 7:30-ish. Once I navigate my way out of the market, dodging taxis and grumpy drivers in morning traffic, I find myself on the part of my route that I most enjoy.  From Sussex to the Somerset pedestrian bridge I ride the path that runs alongside the canal.  If you look past the occasional floating beer bottle, the scenery is nice.

The Rideau Canal

I take Sommerset to Elgin, Elgin to Gladstone and Gladstone to Preston.  All of these streets have lots of traffic and no bike lanes, but cars are moving pretty slow and they tend to give cyclists lots of space. 

Preston Street is the home of Little Italy.  This street has a teensy little piece of my heart because I worked in this neighborhood for four years before the big move.  This used to be the end of my commute, but now it just marks the half way point.

Preston Street

 Once I breeze through Little Italy (fondly coined Little International due to the Thai, Japanese, Turkish and Korean restaurants that have recently popped up), I am almost ready to face The Hill.  Now, as any cyclist knows, not all hills are created equal.  Some hills are the ones where you can see the peak and have a nice sense of accomplishment as you free-fall down the other side.  This is not one of those hills. No, this is one of those hills where you barely notice the incline except for the fact that your legs are working twice as hard to cover half the ground.  You wonder: Are my gears sticking? Am I just REALLY tired? Have I suddenly aged 60 years?  No, you have just stumbled upon the crummiest of hills.  Here I usually tackle half the hill, then break for water before I tackle the other half.

Half Way Point
Half Way Rest Stop

 The hill ends at a round-about. Or a traffic circle.  Well, it is actually a round-about being constructed into a traffic circle traffic circle being constructed into a round-about.  In my puny, sun-baked mind, the two are practically the same.  This makes the project a really good use of 1.2 million dollars.

Traffic Circle
Tax Dollars

 Onward. Now I am on Prince of Wales for about 20 minutes or so.  The prince and I have become pretty intimate over the last couple of weeks.  I enjoy his wide, paved bicycle lanes, his general lack of hills and his many religiously themed houses along the way.  Most of all, I enjoy this guy:

Fig and Plum Plants 4 Sale

Obvious reasons aside, I enjoy this guy because he tells me that I am almost there.  Once I pass Baseline, Fisher, Colonnade and the fig guy, it means only a short stretch to go.

I leave the Prince and turn right at Huntclub.  I have, however, found a sneaky shortcut by taking a friend’s advice: cut through the RV lot!  This short cut is especially sneaky because it means I have to pass through a gate like this:
Power Sport
I don’t know what this means, so I bike through casually, willing myself to blend in and be every bit a power sport employee working at an rv store.  I haven’t been caught yet.
Once safely out of the rv lot I hang a right on Hunt Club and make my way up the bridge.  Traffic is much faster here, but the bike lane is wide enough to make you feel as safe as you can with cars rushing past at 80 clicks.  From the top of the bridge I can see work and the rest is nothing.
The best part is I get to do it all again, in reverse, at the end of the day.


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