[ This is part one of a two part trip to Cumberland and Orléans branches. ]

Despite all forecasts to the contrary, I awoke to a rain-free Sunday morning and figured, as you do, why not Orléans? Jane had wisely recommended that I try this ride on a Sunday morning when the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway would be closed for the NOKIA Sunday Bikedays, and I was eager to try it out.

I took my usual route downtown through the farm, then onto the Trillium Pathway to Somerset Street, then Bronson Avenue to Laurier Avenue. I stopped for a brief look at the new Queensway bridge installed over the Trillium Line earlier this month.

While I normally work on the downtown campus of the University of Ottawa, close to all of these landmarks, it’s been months since I’ve been back to see them in person. (Pandemics, man.) From the train station, I turned left onto Sussex Drive to ride along the Byward Market.

I rode past the National Gallery, said hello to Maman, and continued north toward the Ottawa River. Shortly after the gallery, Sussex Drive turns eastward, and I continued my ride past Old City Hall on Green Island.

I rode past 24 Sussex Drive, technically home to Canada’s Prime Minister, though I understand that Justin and family are in fact living across the street at Rideau Hall these days due to the house’s bad state of disrepair (unfortunately, renovations are, shall we say, a politically-sensitive issue). Beyond Rideau Hall, the bike path turns into the forested Spruce Hill park for a spell before re-emerging along the Ottawa River.

I joined the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum, then cruised along with lots of space to maintain separation between cyclists, rollerbladers and runners. Midway through the Greenbelt, the Parkway intersects with a bike path leading farther east. I enjoyed this greenery very much.

I audibly exclaimed my joy at passing the “Bienvenue à Orléans” sign, then proceeded through a residential neighbourhood, then onto another pathway leading to Tenth Line Road. I crossed the highway, audibly swore my way up the big hill, and quickly found Cumberland Branch at the summit.

I took a few moments to walk around the branch, desperately wishing I could go for a swim in the Ray Friel Recreation Centre pool next door. It took me about two hours to get to Cumberland, so I was also hungry and ready for lunch. Fortunately, the good people of Orléans had just the thing.

After eating lunch on a rock behind the strip mall, I sourced myself a Gatorade in the Metro and set out for Orléans branch.

Sixteen branches down, 17 to go.