Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Oakville Run

A week ago Saturday I decided that a good long ride on my new bike really was called for. Not knowing exactly were I was headed, I headed for the Beaches district of Toronto to take advantage of the unseasonably nice weather. From there it was only natural that I should head westbound along the lake shore, taking in the Harbourfront and Martin Goodman Trail at least as far as the Humber Bridges.

Most of this stretch of what I now know to be the Waterfront Trail is off road on well maintained and signed cycle paths. Signs will urge you be aware that winter maintenance just doesn't happen but with temperatures hitting a balmy 12C this becomes much less of a concern than might be normal for March. Typically these areas are havens for dog walkers, tourists, perambulists and the like making difficult the passage of any cyclists intent on anything above a mediocre crawl. However, as I seemed to be on the road at an hour unthinkable for your average Canadian or visiter then weaving amongst the joggers and occasional in-line skater was not at all taxing and for my prudence I was rewarded with quality views of the Redpath sugar refinery (complete with the odour of caramelised sulfer), the CN Tower, the Skydome*, the CNE, Ontario Place (a compelling 80s monstrosity) and not least of all The Humber Bridge, which is one of my favourite views in the city.

When I got to the bridge I was compelled to explore further along the Waterfront Trail towards Mississauga and so I followed the winding route it dipped in and out of residential and industrial areas, mostly hugging the lake through parks with the occasional stretch on Lakeshore Road. Much closer to Oakville you are even treated to the PetroCanada refinery which has that odd indutrial beauty that draws in aspiring photographers regardless of environmental leanings.

Finally you are dumped onto Lakeshore Road again, which actually leads from Toronto all the way to Niagara and due to being basically flat is a popular strip for club cyclists. The section leading into Oakville is undulating in a misleading fashion that confuses the uninitated as to whether you are going up or down and will leave you bemused as to what you think you are doing in that gear.

Before Spring kicks in there isn't much attraction in Oakville itself so I didn't tarry longer than a coffee and a sandwich and returned home the way I came via a maple syrup festival. Many city dwellers sneer with cynicism at this very country event but I find these little snippets of Canadiana beautiful in their simplicity and hope to enjoy many similar things on my journey.

*The Skydome is now officially called the Rogersdome after being bought by the massive Rogers Corporation. This is an affront to Toronto, language and just an affornt generally.

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