I’ve been having a hard time unplugging this spring. The coronavirus-induced extended work from home situation hasn’t been kind to my brain or to my body. One thing that tends to lift my spirits is time outside, and I’ve been going for more and more bike rides to break out of my home-based routine. On one of those rides, as I meandered in the residential neighbourhood behind my local library branch, an idea emerged. This blog is the result.

It was a sunny Sunday afternoon in June, and I was keen to get started on my first official “Tour de Branch” ride. Why Bells Corners? Frankly, I was a little afraid to venture out beyond the greenbelt without a practice run, and Centennial Branch is a great “en route to Kanata” destination.

The ride started out well enough, from my home in Central Park along the Experimental Farm Pathway, which took a few twists and turns before spitting me out on busy Baseline Road at Woodroffe Ave. Baseline is a scary arterial road without many bike lanes, so I spent a few heart-pounding minutes riding along the edge of the road until a bike lane mercifully appeared at Greenbank Road. This continued for a stretch until Baseline ends just past the Queensway Carleton Hospital, when the lane disappears during the left-hand turn onto Robertson Road.

I rolled into Bells Corners along Robertson Road, which is a major commercial strip and not particularly bike-friendly. Many of the cyclists were up on the sidewalk. I do not blame them.

At Lynhar Road, I turned left and ventured into a residential neighbourhood. Families were outside enjoying the sunny weather, and I could smell BBQ. I felt much better riding along these streets and made it to Centennial Branch on Old Richmond Road in no time.

The branch itself was closed (it’s always closed on Sundays, but especially closed right now due to COVID-19). I was glad to spot a bike rack in the parking lot. I made a mental note to plan a return trip once things open up again.

From the library, I made a quick pit stop over to Dairy Queen on Robertson Road for a sundae break, as you do. Then it was back to the residential neighbourhood to learn about a second route option for returning home.

From Stinson Avenue, I rode to Bell High School (which has a greenhouse!) and then past the Bell Centennial Arena to meet up with Bruin Road and cross Highway 416. Note to self: Find out about Mr. Bell, Mr. Bell’s various corners, and how this area got so lucky with centennial projects in 1967.

I was delighted to find a newly resurfaced bike path running along this portion of Cedarview Road. Before long, I was on the pea gravel-covered pathway running along the perimeter of Bruce Pit.

At the end of the path, I rode briefly along McClellan Road before turning onto a hydro line pathway running through Trend-Arlington Park and Craig Henry. I eventually emerged on Merivale, another busy thoroughfare that I was not confident about. Fortunately, a bike path brought me to Colonnade Road, then along the Nepean Trail on Grant Carmen Drive behind the commercial strips. From there, I wiggled through a residential neighbourhood and made it home safely.

One branch down, 32 to go.