Cycling Around Our Nations Capital

August 2019

This post is a little late, o.k it is very late. As I was reflecting on last years cycling and planning this years cycling I came across this post and realized I hadn’t actually posted it.

This is about a wonderful week-end away we had in August 2019. I planned a mini-adventure a short week-end getaway with Ralf. I needed a cycling holiday, just Ralf and I . I had missed us going on a vacation together (I went with Shelley to the U.K. in June) and I knew if I didn’t plan a mini-cycle trip I would be planning a much longer trip maybe a six month tour, because that is what I do. A mini-break would satisfy my desire for a cycling trip.

Ralf had been working almost every Saturday throughout the summer for Brockville City Transit. He hadn’t taken a vacation from work after his cycling holiday was cancelled.

The Plan came to me while we were cycling together on one of our weekday rides. I asked him if he would like to go away for a mini-break. The choices were Ottawa, using points at a Best Western, Quebec cycling the Petit Nord Train using B&Bs or somewhere in New York State.

Ralf opted for Ottawa as we could also do some sight seeing and shopping. After our ride I booked the hotel and planned the week-end.

Ralf was working the afternoon shift so we headed up to Ottawa after Ralf’s shift at about 6:30 pm, it is only an hour north (90kms). We checked into the Best Western and grabbed a late dinner from the supermarket.

The City of Ottawa abounds with cycle paths, trails – on-road, off road, dedicated paths etc. They appear to be everywhere, they are everywhere. There are approximate 800 kms of trails in Ottawa, Gatineau and Outtaouis area – (Quebec across the river from Ottawa).

I had planned two rides, a 60 km ride, a tourist ride and a shopping day. After breakfast on the Sunday we headed out to Stittsville, supposedly a pretty little town worth the ride. Not so, much it was an average small town, sorry Stittsville. We took the direct route out on on-road cycle lanes and then took the Ottawa-Carlton trailway and the Ottawa River route back to downtown Ottawa.

On the way back along the Trail we picked up an Ottawa cycle map at one of the many information signs along the trail. Of course we had to stop for an ice-cream. We chatted to a couple of German cyclists. They love Canada and visit a different area every year for their summer vacation. They rent bikes and stay in one location where they can investigate the area. They really enjoyed visiting Ottawa and all the cycle paths they could follow.

We sat in the sun eating our ice-creams and chatting. It was a lovely way to end our day, but we still had a few kilometres to go before we finished our ride.

In 1986 John Felice Ceprano began creating balanced, natural rock sculptures at this site. The sculptures are made entirely by hand, using rocks found exclusively at this location. Every day, the sculptor returns to work, creating sculptures until the fall, when the project is dismantled for the winter. The National Capital Commission has provided support for the project since 2000.  I love this kind of art.

The Ottawa River route took us along the river and into the downtown area, where there was a buskers festival. We stopped lots of time along the way to take photos.

The voyageurs were the original “truckers” of Canada. They would travel along rivers with these large canoes loaded with pelts and provisions and sell them to the Hudson Bay Company.

Depicting the Voyageurs

The buskers festival along Banks Street was very busy and it was difficult to negotiate through the crowds with the bikes.

It was a lovely relaxing ride, there were a lot of people out on the cycle routes it was really good to see so many people on bikes and enjoying the sunshine.

We got back to the hotel at about 4:30 had a quick shower and changed and went for dinner at an East Side Marios.

Day Two

The ride planned for Monday was going to be a slower touristy ride. We followed the Environmental Farm pathway towards Hogs Back Falls, then along the Rideau Canal to Parliament Hill.

In the winter the Rideau Canal is transformed into one long skating rink (10 kms), with vendors selling hot drinks and food. We might come back in February.

Along the Trail from Hogs Back

We got a little misplaced as we made our way up the Rideau Canal locks and almost headed across the river into Quebec. We found the right road past the National Art Gallery and headed towards the Aviation Museum and the RCMP Musical Ride stables.

We passed the parliament building and stopped at the sculptures of the Famous Five. These women who had repeatedly requested that a woman be appointed to the Senate. Amazing to think that less than 100 years ago, women were not regarded as Persons in their own right.

Women are Persons

Amazing sculptures, I was amazed that I was able to get this picture as they were very popular with lots of people around taking photos.

We cycled past the National Art Museum. Not quite as keen on this piece of art. I would not go anywhere near it.

Maman (2)

Where have we seen this before? This monstrous piece of art was also installed outside the Guggenhim Museum in Bilbao. Called Maman, it is the last of six spiders cast by renowned Franco-American artist Louise Bourgeois as a tribute to her mother. It was created in 1999 and cast in 2003. Bourgeois was born in France in 1911 and has been working as an artist for nearly 70 years. She immigrated to the United States in 1938.

Once again it was a lovely path, there were not as many people heading east along this path. We stopped at the Museum for a while watching a Bi-Plane take off and land. The cost for taking a ride in the Bi-plane was only $60.00. I am not sure I am brave enough to do that, but Ralf was definitely interested. Once again we got chatting to a couple. They were an older couple who liked to ride out to the museum with a picnic – he rode a hybrid and she rode a three-wheeler. She said she could keep her balance on it and they could still get out together for a nice ride and a picnic.

We cycled back towards the Byward Market and had a great sandwich from a European Deli.

There are lots of little alleyways, boutique store, cafes, and interesting architecture.  This is a facing from the original tin house that stood in this location.

Tin House

Two lovely days touring the capital of Canada on bicycles.

Tuesday we toured the Byward Market Area on foot and the Rideau Shopping Centre. I bought a couple of things on sale at the Ice-breaker store (Merino wool), a lovely little merino wool skirt and a t.shirt. As we left the shopping centre it started to pour with rain. We headed undercover and had lunch at a little café in the Byward Market.


Then headed back to the car in the rain and to the Wild Birds Unlimited Store to treat ourselves to a new bird feeder.

A great end to a lovely mini-adventure.

More ice-cream

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4 Responses to Cycling Around Our Nations Capital

  1. Richard Tool says:

    Very interesting and great pictures.

    • Winter-Rides says:

      Hi Dick
      The photos are some of mine and some of Ralf’s.
      I noticed on Strava that you have been out and about on your bike. Stay safe and healthy.

  2. Janet Anspach-Rickey says:

    Hi Jacky,
    We just got back from a tour in Arizona. I posted it in CycleBlaze if you are interested! Promise of Fun and Sun! We are riding up here in the northwest and housesitting! Beautiful day today. Lots of people our walking and hiking keeping their social distance!
    Hope you two are okay! Janet

    • Winter-Rides says:

      I followed you while you were on your tour – was it an Adventure Cycling Tour or some other organized tour? Looked as if you had a great time. I liked the mix of cycling, hiking and visiting touristy places.
      Ralf and I are fine. I am still working (part-time). Ralf has been laid off from his part-time jobs (School bus and City Transit). He will be back working again once this is over. We are not sure if the kids will be back in school this term – possibly keeping them off until September. Take care and stay healthy Jacky

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