Today I got to head out for the first strictly recreational ride I've done this year. While I do ride through the winter, it's not exactly what you'd call 'fun' most of the time. Enjoyable, yeah, I suppose it can be: that cold air on your face and the way the bike can just swoosh over a thin layer of new snow. But generally, even though I do kind of like the winter rides, I don't go out of my way to go anywhere just for the ride. And, a lot of the recreational routes are buried under snow in the winter, meaning that your winter rides are sort of grimly purposeful at times, clotted with cars and traffic lights.
But then comes the first day of spring, and a nice, bright, above-zero one at that. So I had to go for a quick ride.
Mer Bleue Bog. It's basically a massive wetland in the middle of the city, sandwiched in between Anderson Road, the Navan Road, and the Trans-Canada Highway. From my place in the South End it's a fairly short ride down Walkley Road, past the 417, and then into sudden, startling bucolic rural farmland on Russell Road. I can basically decide I want to do this ride on a whim and not need to, say, get an earlier start or pack food and water.
The first bit of it is a bit hairy, down Walkley Road and across a set of off-ramps to the 417 that scare the pants off me. But once past those, you're suddenly on a tame rural road. There are farm houses and barns, pleasant-faced Appaloosas looking over white fences and highway signs warning drivers to watch out for turtles.
You turn on Ridge Road fairly soon after the Walkley/Russell corner, and then that winds along until eventually it's a gravel road (watch out for the erosion dimples, which can be pretty large.) There are a few parking lots along the length of Ridge Road, and trails that lead (purportedly) to the bog, but I found, when I tried using one of them, that they're usually about a half-foot under water in the summer. (That was a long, tiring, fun, but very muddy off-roading experience.) I don't know what they're like in the early spring: I'm guessing they're under a few inches of corn snow and mud.
Ridge Road takes you to the bog, where there's a couple of picnic tables, some "interpretive signage" about the bog, an environmental art installation (new since the last time I was there), and a boardwalk that takes you for about a kilometer through the bog.
So I locked Mike up in the parking lot, walked along the boardwalk, bumped unexpectedly into some friends, walked back with them, and then got the bike unlocked and headed back to the city.
Short, but quite satisfying, for the first 'just for fun' ride of the year. Happy vernal equinox, everyone.