[ 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 CafĂ© 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.