[I’ve had this post on the backburner for too long. The experience is dated, but puts closure on a previous post.]
Taking a bicycle to Jack’s memorial just felt like a righteous thing to do. On August 27th I’ll remember where I was and what I did, be it nostalgic or muscle memory (sore wrists, neck and butt). It was good to reflect on someone more esteemed in death than in life, on a life dedicated to public service, on someone who fought for cyclist rights among a host of other important issues. It was good. To smell the exhaust of how much work is left in creating bicycle friendly towns and cities was good as it helped my body, mind and soul feel the meaning of Jack’s parting letter.
I biked with Janice Lee who was a great cycling buddy. I enjoyed hearing her experiences of meeting Jack. However, we mostly biked in silence, basking in the sun baked rural roads and then mesmerized by the kilometers suburbia’s big box stores before dodging traffic in Toronto’s downtown core.
The trip took a longer than anticipated, arriving for the end of the service. I caught the service in full upon returning home. I appreciated being able to watch it in silence but missed the emotion of the crowds. Our trip from Waterloo to Toronto took a few detours from the original plan, taking Fischer-Hallman to Roseville Rd to Blair Road to Concession to Safari Rd, then South just after Highway 6 to Waterdown and across Dundas to Toronto. I’ll use bikely’s route recommendation for Hwy 7 in the future (great site).
Departure from City Cafe Bakery
We left from City Cafe Bakery a little after 8am. Love that spot. The self-service payment just leaves the customer feeling trusted and valued. I leave my biggest tips at this place!
We used Fischer-Hallman to exit Kitchener-Waterloo. It was great advice as it has a painted bike-lane all the way out of town and then has a paved shoulder until it ends at Roseville Road.
Ride for Lance
It was weird seeing all the cars and SUVs parked along Roseville Road right near the Werner Homestead. I asked a police officer and he said Lance Armstrong had just arrived. It was the Ride For Lance, which explained the SUV limo that just arrived.
Near Death Experience x2
The hill coming into Cambridge was amazing. A beautiful tree-lined street with Victorian homes on a hill without any stops. Unfortunately the rest of my Cambridge experience wasn’t so nice.
At Main and Dundas I almost got brushed off the road twice. The first brush off really shocked me as I thought the driver did it on purpose. I was waiting beside an older red pickup truck during a red light and when it turned green I pulled a bit in front of the pickup truck while clipping into my peddles. I remember missing and having to look down to flip my peddle to clip in. It was at this point that Jancie yelled from behind and I realized that the front of the truck had narrowly missed me. At this point I was expecting contact but was in a really awkward position looking down trying to clip in. The contact didn’t come, but I felt the exhaust pipe roar right by my leg, it didn’t miss by much. I was incensed as I felt the driver was purposefully trying to get as close as possible. There was no way he didn’t see me as we were at the light together. There was also no catching this guy as he accelerated and turned left on Franklin. He could have given more room. The only point in his favour was that I probably veered into his path a bit as I had to look down to clip into the pedals.
Then about 100 feet later a smaller Corolla came close as well. I figure the driver of the Corolla was looking behind him trying to change lanes to get into the left turn lane for Franklin and didn’t see me. I was able catch up to the Corolla driver as he was stuck in the turning lane and reminded him to share the road. “Hey Buddy, share the road with cyclists!”. I got the one fingered salute for my troubles.
However, I was still shaking from my earlier near miss with the pickup truck. I don’t think I had ever been purposefully targeted by a vehicle on the road before. It took me at least 20 minutes of peddling for my adrenaline to simmer down. It was a close call.
African Lion Safari
From here we headed south east, straying from our route and found ourselves enjoying the rural roads as we made our way towards Highway 6. As I passed the African Lion Safari, I wondered how many animals had ever escaped the African Lion Safari. The fence along the road seemed a bit rusty :)
Crossing Highway 6 was a shock. After all the rural roads, it felt like trying to cross the 401. Four lanes of high-speed traffic. I don’t think anyone was going 80km/hr. We went south on Highway 6 for about 100 metres before heading west again, preferring the scenic rural roads. We stopped for lunch at the Timmies in Waterdown, it seemed a good halfway point.
Endless Suburbia – Dundas Street Highway 2
We elected to enter Toronto via Dundas street as it was direct and at first had few stops. Like Highway 6, it’s a 4 lane highway, but on the weekend it wasn’t anywhere near capacity and cars gave us plenty of room. Between Waterdown and the Gardner we saw at most 2 cyclists, it was not a bicycle friendly environment. It’s rural Ontario being eaten by suburbia and big box malls, the encroachment through Burlington, Oakville and Mississauga seemed endless. This stretch reminded me just how oil dependent we are. It made me very thankful for the smallness of Waterloo Region and our relative light traffic. Compared to these commuter communities, we have amazing bicycle infrastructure. During this stretch the cyclist vanished entirely.
Before crossing the 427 we headed south to the Queensway for a ride into Toronto. We didn’t start to see another bicycle until we started to see bike infrastructure. Bike lanes turned up on the Queensway after crossing the 427. It was this stretch that had me thinking ‘Build it and they will Come’. It just seemed amazing how the cyclists appeared once there was cycling infrastructure. I’m sure there are a lot more factors involved. After passing High Park and the Queensway splits into Queen and King, it now felt like there were more cyclists than drivers (an overstatement for sure but at least we had company on the road now).
At one point a fashionably dressed woman with her young child in front of her was cycling in front of me. A street car was waiting in front of us and the gap between it and the parked car seemed too narrow. This woman cycled through the gap without a care in the world. I figured if there was room for her comfort bike, I should be able to squeeze by on my road bike. No sweat, although I certainly had a grip on my handle bars. That’s my favourite memory of the trip. I loved the variety of people on all different kinds of bikes. I can’t wait to cycle on Queen Street again.
Jack Layton’s Funeral
As I said before we arrived towards the end of Jack Layton’s funeral. It was enough to witness the size and emotion of the crowds. There were lots of bikes and lots of orange. Here’s a few pictures.
And if you it made this far the only damage I suffered was a tire rip which I didn’t notice until my next road ride. I think I even remember the culprit pothole on the Queensway. I was fortunate the tire held up for the rest of the trip as the tube eventually failed ….