Richmond

[ This is part two of a two-part trip to Munster and Richmond branches. ]

After a lovely stop at Munster branch, it was time to hit the road once again and head to my second stop: Richmond.

Munster and Richmond are only about 11 km apart, and it was a quick L-shaped ride to find Richmond at the end of Franktown Road.

Richmond branch was one of the first branches I’ve biked to that was open for more than picking up holds. While the parking lot was quiet, the lights were on and there were a couple of cars in the lot.

After a short lunch break, I picked up the tour again to ride along Old Richmond Road. The sun was out, but the temperature wasn’t hot. Fall was most certainly on the way to Eastern Ontario.

Before I knew it, I was back to the new roundabout at Old Richmond Road and West Hunt Club. From there, I cruised back into town following the same routing as my trip out: through Nepean, across Centrepointe and back along the Experimental Farm Pathway.

Twenty seven branches down, 6 to go.

Munster

[ This is part one of a two-part trip to Munster and Richmond branches. ]

With September around the corner, it was time to embrace a warm and sunny Saturday and strike another couple of libraries off the list. To Munster and Richmond!

I headed southwest from my home near the Central Experimental Farm, riding along the path network all the way to West Hunt Club Road.

West Hunt Club was under construction from Highway 416 westward. While this might have been an issue earlier in the summer, the work was mostly complete and I was able to cruise down the road along smooth pavement, taking advantage of a wide shoulder.

I like to think of Kanata as an ice cream cone shape, with the ice cream to the north and a tapered cone to the south. Today’s ride took me through the southernmost tip of the cone, though Bridlewood – Emerald Meadows and a new subdivision flanking Hope Side Road.

Once through the suburbs, I emerged in the countryside. I rode down Eagleson Road for a quick spell, then turned west on Flewellyn Road and enjoyed a low-traffic ride to Munster Road.

I rode into town along Munster Road, where I passed some friendly horses enjoying the sunshine. The library is just off the main road in the former St. Stephen’s Anglican Church, built in 1886.

Even though it was closed for COVID, this little branch charmed my socks off. The gothic revival style, custom signage to suit the church building, and a delightful little green space around back where I enjoyed a snack on the painted picnic table.

Twenty six branches down, 7 to go.

Vanier

Nothing says “Friday late afternoon” like a socially distanced visit with a fellow librarian and a library stop along the way! On today’s docket: a ride to Vanier and a visit with Felicity.

I headed out across the farm as usual, then turned onto Baseline Road to access the off-ramp to Vincent Massey Park. Once on the Rideau River Eastern Pathway, I cruised north all the way to Beechwood Avenue. Smooth sailing on a sunny afternoon.

There’s a bike lane running along Beechwood Avenue, and I enjoyed my ride along the storefronts to Jolliet Avenue. From there, I entered Vanier and followed the library signs to the branch, which is at the end of Pères-Blancs Avenue. When I first moved to Ottawa, some of my close friends lived in this neighbourhood, so I enjoyed a nostalgic tour around our old haunts.

The library itself is located in a heritage building near the Richelieu-Vanier Community Centre, Vanier Muséoparc and a sugar shack, which I’ve previously enjoyed visiting during the maple syrup harvest.

From the library, it was a quick ride over to Beechwood to spend some quality patio time with Felicity.

Twenty five branches down, 8 to go.

Constance Bay

[ This is part three of a three-part tour to Carp, Fitzroy Harbour and Constance Bay branches. ]

After a fairly restful sleep, and with visions of a tasty breakfast in Dunrobin, I woke at dawn and began packing up my little campsite. In the wise words of Supertramp, I really did enjoy my stay, but I must be moving on.

My route to Constance Bay took me from the main entrance to Fitzroy Provincial Park, down Canon Smith Drive and northeast on Galetta Side Road to Dunrobin Road. There was hardly any traffic just after 7am, and I zoomed along at a nice clip courtesy of the four levels of pedal assist.

Dunrobin Road was a little rougher in places. Some segments were freshly paved with more room to maneuver, in other places I had to take up more space on the road. Fortunately I was fairly hi-vis with the bright orange panniers and the ebike’s lights.

Constance Bay is just off Dunrobin Road, and is really two bays: Constance Bay to the east and Buckham’s Bay to the west. The Torbolton Forest is in the centre, and the library is in the centre of that, co-located with a community centre. There were several friendly joggers and dog walkers out early on Sunday morning, and we exchanged greetings as I made a loop around town.

I was, at this point, extremely ready for breakfast. Remember when I told you my friend Mary was my helper and motivator this weekend? She was also my trusty breakfast companion at the Heart and Soul Café in Dunrobin. In “small world” news, two members of my book club were also enjoying breakfast at the same time (Hi Rhondda and Robin!).

I was, shall we say, enthusiastic about the pedal assist feature after falling off the bike on Saturday. With no opportunity for a recharge overnight, the battery bit the dust as I was leaving Dunrobin. Luckily for me, the worst of the hills were behind me, Mary had my heavy gear, and I enjoyed a cushy ride downtown on what was effectively a big cruiser bike.

I retraced my steps back through Kanata, passing houses and golf clubs and the empty business park, then took an alternate routing back along Carling Avenue, turning onto the Trans Canada Trail at Andrew Haydon Park. I then joined the Sir John A Macdonald Parkway at Mud Lake. The parkway was open for cyclists, and I ventured downtown without a care in the world.

I completed my tour in just shy of 24 hours, including a night of camping nearly exactly in the middle. While I do think I could have finished the tour on my regular bike, the ebike actually made the experience enjoyable, and I felt better knowing that I could use the pedal assist if necessary. All in all, would recommend! Special thanks to Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals for their excellent service and Mary for her encouragement and support.

Twenty four branches down, 9 to go.

Fitzroy Harbour

[ This is part one of a three-part tour to Carp, Fitzroy Harbour and Constance Bay branches. ]

After completing my usual routine at the Carp branch and cycling back out past the barbed-wire Diefenbunker fence, I proceeded north on Carp Road toward my final destination for the day: Fitzroy Harbour and the provincial park next door.

This is quite a pleasant drive, riding along some gentle country hills with a few twists and turns along the way. From the bike it was a little dodgier, with an unpaved shoulder and fast cars.

Midway to Fitzroy Harbour, somewhere between the Thomas A. Dolan Parkway and Kinburn Side Road, I veered off onto the gravel and skidded onto the pavement, suffering my first-ever road rash (not pictured, probably a good thing). Traffic was non-existent, and I was able to brush myself off and apply a makeshift dressing to the bigger gashes on my left shin. Thank you, little first aid kit! I was more-or-less OK, the bike seemed fine, and I tentatively set off again with a bit more attention to the edge of the road.

The Fitzroy Harbour branch is co-located with the community centre and was very quiet, although I did see some residents using the wi-fi in the parking lot. Fitzroy Harbour is a charming community, and I spent some time riding around before heading to the park.

It was just a short ride to Fitzroy Provincial Park, which I entered from a pathway in the town rather than the main entrance. I was able to check in easily enough and set up my campsite with ample time to kick up my feet and relax before nightfall. The ebike was fabulous for hauling firewood and kindling (two separate trips to the Park Store) and my portable hammock was a major addition this time around. I finished one ebook from OPL, started another, and had a very enjoyable evening.

Twenty three branches down, 10 to go.

Carp

[ This is part one of a three-part tour to Carp, Fitzroy Harbour and Constance Bay branches. ]

When this project started back in June, I was curious but apprehensive about the Carp-Fitzroy Harbour-Constance Bay loop. Pros: Camping! Carp! Cons: Hills! I fretted and fretted, worried that I’d bitten off more than I could chew by proposing to haul all of my gear up and down the rolling hills of West Carleton. Then I met Barb and Kevin.

Barb and Kevin are e-bike enthusiasts. The gears started to turn in my head. Could I make this trip more bearable using the magic power of “E”?

Once I’d determined that 1. my blog, my rules, and 2. yes, I really did want to try this, I made a 24 hour reservation at Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals on Sparks Street. They have a fleet of bikes, both e- and not, for rent and we were able to find a good one for my needs.

Once the bike piece was in place, I then turned my mind to the logistics of getting downtown to the rental place. This fretting was out loud to my friend Mary, who graciously offered to be my driver and motivator this weekend. It takes a village, as they say.

I cruised out of town on the SJAM parkway, tentatively futzing with the bike’s various levels of “assist”. I was full of energy, and had enough steam to keep it on “off” and “eco” for most of the ride to Carp, hoping to save the battery for later in the tour.

I emerged from the trail network in a very quiet Kanata business park (COVID + Saturday will do that, I suppose). The occasional car passed by, ruining the ghost town illusion.

I proceeded through Kanata, enjoying paved pathways and quiet roads. Once in the country again, the roads were more hit-or-miss, but generally fairly quiet, with the occasional cyclist passing by. I rolled into town on Donald B. Munro Drive, passing the Ridge Rock Brewery, and then gleefully rode up the Carp Road hill on “turbo” mode. Good call to go with this electric bicycle, I’d say.

I stopped for a late lunch at the Alice’s Village Café walk-up window, then sat down and ate on their back gazebo. As I saw later on Twitter, it turns out I wasn’t the only cyclist enjoying a day in Carp.

One of my go-to places to bring out-of-town guests is the Diefenbunker Museum (what can I say, my guests are usually history buffs who enjoy a good meal at Alice’s). The four-storey Cold War era bunker, built in Carp between 1959-1961, was operational until 1994 and designed to keep 535 key government and military personnel safe for 30 days in the event of a nuclear attack. The museum opened in 1997.

The library is located in a former Canadian Forces building near the entrance to the bunker. I’m not sure if the big windows were later additions, but together with the well-kept gardens it all looked quite charming. Carp branch is another with a sculpture of two people sitting on a bench enjoying a book (I’ll really need to make a special gallery of those).

Twenty two branches down, 11 to go.