Saturday, October 13, 2007

Straddling the Ottawa River

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Last weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, I had my bike with me for a visit to Ottawa. I was eager to go for a ride through Gatineau Park, on the Quebec side of the Ottawa river.

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For anyone unfamiliar with this part of the world, Gatineau Park is a cyclist's paradise - long winding roads cutting through forest with the occasional rock face on the side. The hills are long but not too steep, and there are a few rewarding look-outs where you can take a break.

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About 500 metres after crossing the river into Quebec, I asked a cyclist who I was following for directions. I asked in English, which seemed to offend him, judging by the look he gave me. I could have been imagining it.

This weekend was a little less ideal since the park roads were packed with cars carrying people interested in seeing the fall leaf colours. It didn't matter. The weather was so good, especially for October, and it was kind of nice to see so many people walking around at the lookouts, looking for hiking trails, taking photographs.

The ride out of the park was faster than the ride in. I didn't realize how much I had been climbing. I decided I would head along the Quebec side of the Ottawa river towards Parliament. Ottawa and Gatineau are filled with impressive buildings. This is the Museum of Civilizations on the right, with the Parliament buildings across the river in the background.

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I always like to see if there are any protests or other events happening. Nothing this time. Just tourists, and kids rolling in the grass. I decided it was time for a coffee, so I headed towards Bridgehead cafe in the west end of Ottawa.

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I took the Ottawa River Parkway bikepath. (This is the path where I really started bike commuting back in my university years. It's in better shape than it was back then.) I happened across this scene of balanced rocks. It was an amazing sight. It reminded me of this Dodgeville story. One of the coolest things was how people seemed to really want to walk around the rocks and pose for photographs with them.

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The artist was hanging around the site to chat with people. He's been at it for many years, and even more seriously since 2001. I asked him what happens when the winter comes. He said, on the first stormy day of winter, pieces of ice get thrown by waves up onto the shore, knocking over the rocks.

I eventually left and found myself a coffee. It was a good day.

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Darren J 10/13/2007 11:37:00 PM

5 Comments:

I love the rocks. It's one of my favourite places to just go and hang out in Ottawa.

I would often stop there to just wander around wading through the water (not in October!), looks at the rocks, enjoy the sun.... The sunsets along there are amazing as well.

It's fun how it changes constantly too...things get knocked down and built up again...differently.
How are you liking the new bike?
The bike is working out really well. Riding it to work feels great. I still like the wider cross tires. Even on this long(ish) bike ride, I rarely felt slowed down by them. Gatineau Park has lots of hard core roadies. Some were faster than me, but not by much. And I love feeling comfortable hitting the grass or dirt trail.

The only thing I need is to install some fenders. I'm getting pretty dirty in this weather.
nice pictures
I saw a guy stacking rocks like this in SF once. Very cool in person.

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