The 365 Cyclist

Cycling Year Round in Canada

Archive for the category “Winter Riding”

Bikes and Trains

This past weekend we were blessed with some mild January weather. I decided to experiment with taking my bike on the GO train. I have been wanting to do this for a while. Taking the train is a way for me to expand my bike riding perimeter.  I have visions of riding the GO train to distant destinations and then riding back or vice versa.

GO Train

GO Train

For a test run, I rode to Clarkson Station and put my bike on the GO train to Exhibition station.

When I went to purchase my ticket I asked how much extra it costs to take my bike. The response “Bikes are Free”. Then I asked if there is a special bike car. The response “Ride any car except the handicapped car”. I went to the platform and waited a few minutes.

The Bad Boy waiting on a train

The Bad Boy waiting on a train

Then I loaded my Bad Boy onto the train.

Bad Boy on GO train

Bad Boy on GO train

I forgot about my Garmin GPS until it started beeping as the train clicked off the kms. I looked down and the train was doing 92.9 km/hr. My Bad Boy and I were covering some distance seriously fast.

I arrived at Exhibition and rode across Lakeshore to the Waterfront Trail heading downtown.

Crossing Lakeshore

Crossing Lakeshore

I have ridden to the CN Tower from my house several times over the summer. It is an 80km trip and it takes several hours. Riding the GO train is great away to save some time and still get into the city for touring.

My first experience taking my bike on the GO train was great. I’ll be doing this again.

City at Night

Downtown Mississauga at Night

Downtown Mississauga at Night

I took a little bike ride to Square One shopping area tonight. That’s about a half hour ride each way from where I live.

It was a Wednesday night, early January, -2C at about 10PM. This was one of those very rare rides where I did not pass a single other cyclist. Imagine that. It was so pretty with snow covered trails and sparkly ice on the paths. I took this pic with my iPhone and it doesn’t do the scene justice. I took this from the middle of a soccer field just west of the City Hall.

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

1st Snow Ride 2012

The weather was unseasonably warm in November and December. We had a green Christmas. We have not had any snow in Mississauga (Toronto, Ontario) until this week.

I had a week off of work over Christmas but friends, family and errands took priority over bike riding. I still had my summer tires on the bike, until yesterday. It was cold, about -2C with a light dusting of snow. I started off on my regular tires but the bike slid on ice as I left the driveway. I didn’t want to start my first ride of 2012 with a spill so I went back to the garage and put on my Shwalbe studded snow tires.

There was a lot of ice on the trails. Riding on snow and ice is different than summer riding. I go slower and take it easy on corners. I wasn’t clipped in to the pedals … just in case. The studs did their job and I ended up having a good ride. I’ve got the layering, gloves and shoes all figured out. I was dressed perfect for the temperature.

Winter Mississauga Bike Path

Winter Mississauga Bike Path

I rode paved paths for half of the ride and then hit some dirt trails through the woods. Riding dirt trails in the winter is like riding on paved paths because the ground was frozen solid.

My Bad Boy on the trails.

It was a very different ride than just a few weeks ago when the trails were soft and muddy. I prefer the frozen snow trail riding over mud riding.

I’m looking forward to more snow rides over the next few months.

Happy New Year.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ride

I thought it would be fun to do a little ride to Niagara-on-the-Lake one evening. This week was ideal because I took Thursday off to celebrate American Thanksgiving. I decided to leave work a little early on Wednesday and head to Niagara-on-the-Lake knowing that I could sleep in the next morning.

I installed a seat post mount rack onto the Guru and filled a single pannier. I was ready for a nice ride.

Guru Equipped for Touring

As I left the driveway I heard a THUMP. Darn it, my pannier fell off the rack. Well it’s a big bump at the end of my driveway so I realized that I had better take it easy over the bumps. I re-attached the pannier and took off.

As I started down Glen Erin Blvd past St. Claire school I hear THUMP. Dag Nabbit … there is my pannier in the middle of the road again. Something’s not right.

Another kilometer … THUMP. Another 2 km … THUMP. My pannier is starting to get ragged from being tossed onto the road so much. I figure that there is no way I’ll make it to Niagara-on-the-Lake with my pannier in one piece.

I stopped and made a phone call to my bike shop (Van de Velo). I said “I’ve got a problem and I’m coming in.” I felt like an indy driver calling into the pit crew.

There were some problems with my rack attachment and pannier clips. Paul, the owner and chief mechanic, modified the clips and mounted a sturdier rack on the back.

Fixing the Rack

It took a little while to figure everything out and swap the racks. I lost some daylight but at least the problem was fixed.

I headed down to the Lakeshore and was on my way.

Lake Ontario

It was pretty windy and the sound of waves crashing onto the beach was pretty nice. As I approached Burlington it was getting dusk.

Burlington at dusk

I was carrying about 20-25 pounds of gear (I’ll pack lighter next time). The weight was not much problem when I was moving but when I stopped the front wheel kept turning and the bike wanted to fall over. It was really annoying. I decided to head to Mountain Equipment Co-op and get a second pannier to balance the load. MEC wasn’t too far off my route but I ended up killing another hour getting there, shopping, installing the second pannier and redistributing my load. Now I was ready to go. The only problem was that I had killed the afternoon and only got about 40km … I had 80 km to go and it was dark.

This is the last picture I took because all of the rest turned out black.

Hamilton at Night

I had my Cygolites charged and a recharge pack as well. I knew I had about 4 hours of night riding. I’ve been practicing night riding and I am comfortable riding in the dark. But my night rides have only been 60-90 minutes so far.

My plan was to follow the Waterfront Trail the whole way to Niagara-on-the-Lake. When the sun went down the temperature dropped to near zero. I put on an extra base layer and as long as I was moving I was comfortable. When I stopped I got cold.

I stopped for a meal around 7:30 in Grimsby. I was going to lock my bike to a fence but as I approached the fence I did not see 6″ of standing water in the weeds until too late. I stepped in and both my feet were soaked. I was a little worried about wet feet, zero degrees and two hours to go.

My socks were wool. I had only bought them a few days earlier for winter riding. My feet remained wet but the wool held the heat and it was not a major problem.

I arrived at Niagara-on-the-Lake at 10:30pm. My Cygolites worked the whole way … over four hours of night riding and still going. I was really impressed by that. Those light are amazing.

I enjoyed riding at night. The wind died down and the traffic was almost non-existant after 8pm. I was rolling down country roads and along the lake enjoying the lights from Toronto and the stars above.

The ride was 120km and I was pedalling at an easy pace (16-20km). Rolling time 6:25. Total time, with all the stopping, 9:13. My worst case planned scenario was 10 hours so I wasn’t disappointed. I had some leg left but after working that morning for 6 hours and then riding for 9 hours I was just plain tired.

This was my longest distance ride; my longest solo ride; my longest night ride; and the ride with the most problems. It was also one of my best rides.

The next morning my legs still felt good and I started pedaling home around 10AM. I got to Welland and had to wait about 20 minutes for a ship to pass through the lock.

Ship at Welland

It was windy and 1 degree Celcius … I got very cold waiting. The headwind was strong and was wearing me down. My legs were feeling heavier and heavier. I started thinking about Turkey and Football. I decided to call my pit crew (Denise). She picked me up in St. Catherine and we rode home to enjoy the rest of Thanksgiving day together.

Niagara-on-the-Lake Ride 120km


Fatbike Winter Biking in Alaska

This looks like so much fun! I can’t wait for Winter!

Snow Ride to Bradley House Museum 32 km

Sun Feb 27, 2011 – Ange, Erick and Drew

With an overnight weather forecast of 1cm of precipitation and 3C we woke up to a winter surprise. It snowed 3-4 inches overnight and the snow was clinging to the branches of the trees creating a winter wonderland. It was -4C.

This would not deter the RRS Winter Warriors (Ange, Erick and Drew) as we decided to adventure out.

Snowy Wnter Morning - Rainbow Crescent

I decided that we would work our way down toward Lake Ontario via bike paths. I was thinking that their might be less snow closer to the lake. I was wrong.

Erick and Ange and Snowy Bike Paths

We followed paths down to the Clarkson Go Train station which was a good strategic stop to answer “Nature’s Call”. There was a lot of room left in the bike racks by the station. Winter riding has it’s advantages.

Clarkson Go Starion Bike Racks

We proceeded down Southdown Road then turned left onto Orr Road. There were Canada Geese wandering around Bradley Park.

Canada Geese in Bradley Park along Orr Road

There was evidence of an accident earlier that morning. Somebody driving along Orr Road must have been watching the Geese to their left as they lost control of their car. There were skid marks to the right which ended up in a fence.

As we rode by it struck me as funny that it could have been us watching the Geese and skidding into the fence. That gave us the idea to stage a comedic re-eanactment of Ange and I careening into the fence on our bikes. Erick caught it all on the digital camera.

Re-enactment of the dangers of not paying attention on slippery roads.

As we continued we passed a man feeding a deer carrots through the fence alongside the road.

Deer along Orr Road

The man said there were 27 deer living in the fenced area which is on land owned by the oil refinery. As we went further along we saw many more deer right along the roadside. They did not seem too concerned about us with the exception of our squeaking brakes.

Soon we arrived at the Bradley House Museum and I took a picture of the Log cabin at the entrance.

Log Cabin at Bradley House Museum, Port Credit

There is a “secret” path that leads from the Log Cabin to the Lake. Well, maybe it’s not secret, but it is discreet and although I’ve taken the path several times before I’ve never passed a cyclist on the path. I have passed a few walkers but this path is not as popular as the paths along the Credit River or Jack Darling Park.

The path first leads to Meadow Wood Park where there is a large outdoor rink. This morning nobody was on the rink. Erick decided to check it out as a possible destination to take his kids ice skating.

Erick investigates the Ice Rink at Meadow Wood Park

From here we continued along the secret path to Watersedge Park on the shore of Lake Ontario.

Watersedge Park. Port Credit

From this point we left the paths and took to the roads. We followed the Water Front Trail to Port Credit then headed North on Mississauga Road toward home.

We took a little detour down Doulton Drive off of Mississauga Road to look at some of the mansions. Ange was able to narrate a little history about several of the magnificent homes that we passed in that neighborhood.

Doulton Drive Detour

The road riding was a lot easier than peddling through the snow, however, the temperature was rising and the roads were wet. We got seriously wet and dirty on the way back.

Once we arrived home, we were able to give the bikes a good hose down to wash off the dirt and salt.

Our short snow ride turned into a 32 km tour de Port Credit. This was the longest ride that I’ve done in a while and my legs were tired by the end of the ride.

Riding through the Winter has me prepared and excited about the arrival of Spring. Until then, we’ll keep enjoying our snow rides.

Ride data here.

1st Ride of 2011 – Snow Ride 13km

January 9, 2011 – This was the first RRS ride for 2011. What a way to kick off the season. The weather was -10C (14F) with a lot of snow on the ground from the day before.

Drew, Erick, Steve

We planned on riding down to the Credit River. We left at 8AM and began to follow the trails from my house towards Erindale Park. The path that we started on had not been plowed. The snow was partially packed in places from people walking.

It was some very strenuous and difficult pedaling. This was the coldest that I have been riding yet. I added an extra layer thinking I would be chilly but the hard pedaling had me overheated in about 10 minutes. When we reached the end of the first trail section we came upon plowed path. Even though there was still snow and ice on the paved path it was dramatically easier to pedal.

We followed the plowed path to another unplowed trail heading to Sawmill Valley. Again it was beautiful through the woods but some seriously tough going. When we reached an underpass at Burnhamthorpe we had a quick meeting. Change of plans. There was no way I could go for an hour and a half through the heavy snow. Everybody agreed and we took to sidewalks, paved paths and roads for the rest of the ride.

Erick took the lead. We went down Collegeway to UTM and then West almost to Ridgeway. We returned down a section of the Burnhamthorpe Trail. We biked some paved walking paths from San Francesco’s on Unity Gate winding up back where we started.

You can see the Garmin data here.

Lake Mountsberg Snow Ride

Thursday Dec 30, 2010

Riders – Drew and Ange

Ange and I decided to do some trail riding at Lake Mountsberg. We had very little snow at home and assumed the trails at Lake Mountsberg would be pretty clear. We were wrong.

We parked near the visitor center. We were there at 8:30AM when they were supposed to open.

Lake Mountsberg Visitor Center

We were the first car in the parking lot.

The staff was a few minutes late opening up. We got the bikes ready and they gave us a map. There are about 16km of bike trails in the conservation area.

The trails were completely snow covered.

We decided to take the Lakeshore Lookout trail (Blue) first. The trails were nice, wide and well marked. We started off on trails that are used for the wagon and sleigh rides so they were hard packed and very ride-able. Then as we progressed further we found ourselves on trails that had only seen light foot traffic or cross country skiis. The bikes sank into the snow. It was some tough pedaling. We never slipped nor lost control which was amazing because we could not go very fast at all. There were a few steep parts that were very hard to maintain speed and traction so we ended up walking the bikes a little.

After a half an hour we covered just under 4km to arrive at one of two lookout points. On this tower the lower stairs were torn down so we could not go up into the tower.

We turned around and took another loop back along the lake to the second lookout. The second tower had stairs so we went up inside to check out the view.

We could make out some ice fishermen in the distance.

As we made our way back we came across “Christmas Town”.

There were several buildings decorated in Christmas themes. Prior to Christmas you can take a horse drawn sleigh ride or wagon ride into Christmas town. Since Christmas had passed it was now deserted. This would be a neat destination to bring the kids next year

We had ridden for about an hour at this point and we decided to check out the Pioneer Creek Trail (Orange). Personally I liked this trail the better of the two. It was narrower, fairly flat and initially it wound closely through the shrubs and trees. Later it opened up somewhat. There were several side loops and we explored one. The only tracks on that trail were deer tracks. We rode these trails for another 45 minutes and ended up back at the Welcome Center. We did not pass a single person on any trail the entire time. We had the place to ourselves.

Back at the visitor center there were activities happening. We overheard the cashier tell a customer that one of the 11:00 Bird of Prey shows was already sold out. That was at 10:30. We didn’t see very many cars in the parking lot and we were wondering how many people the shows accommodate.

The temperature was -3c but the pedaling was so strenuous that we were both very warm. In fact too warm at times. This was the most snow I’ve ridden in so far. It was a nice ride. I felt very adventuresome having done it.

This was a nice ride to end the year. Goodbye 2010.

Here is the data.

Port Credit Waterfront Trail East

Dec 19, 2010 – We decided to be adventurous and head to Port Credit in -5C and light snow. We parked in the community lot near the Pump House Grille.

Riders – Ange, Erick, Drew

We were on the Lakefront Trail in 2 minutes from the parking area. I had a little uncertainty about the weather and the temperature. -5C is the coldest I’ve ridden in so far and it was snowing. I wasn’t sure if we would have to endure a harsh wind off the lake. It turns out there was little to no wind and it was very quiet and serene. Winter had definitely arrived. The water was icing over.

The paths were covered with light snow but very passable. We would slow a little on corners because you could notice ice patches just under the snow. The light snow improved the traction and we never slid.

We followed the Trail to Lakefront Promenade Park and did some exploring.

This is Etobicoke Creek as it reaches Lake Ontario.

As we crossed the bridge over Etobicoke Creek two formations of Canada Geese flew over us.

The Waterfront Trail was better than I had expected in this section. It was scenic, peaceful and enjoyable.

The trail along the lake was really nice. A couple of area looked like a winter scene on a postcard.

We continued exploring and followed paths out to a point at Samuel Smith Park. It reminded us of riding out on the Leslie Street Spit in the Toronto harbor only this was a mini version.

We continued along through Cliff Lumsdon Park to Prince of Wales Park. There is an outdoor hockey rink there.

As we passed by the rink a puck shot across the bike path just in front of Ange. It’s not too often you have to dodge hockey pucks on bike rides.

At this point the Waterfront Trail follows Lakeshore Boulevard to Humber Bay West. I estimate it would have been about 2km further. Instead of riding along the road that connects to the paths at Humber Bay we decided to turn around and head back.

Ange had heard about a Park in this area that had path skating similar to the Park skating in Brampton. We asked a woman walking her dog if she knew where the park was. She gave directions to Ange and we decided to check it out.

We found it in Samuel Smith Park. When we went through the park the first time we took paths along the shoreline. The skating area was on the North side of the Park. They were playing Christmas music and several people were skating. It was a small loop but it looked like it would be fun and perfect for kids.

After watching the skaters for a minute or two we headed back. We retraced our way back to Port Credit.

This was a great ride. I had expected this section of the Waterfront trail to be predominately road riding through industrial parks and screened from the lake. It was the complete opposite. It might be one of the most scenic sections of the Waterfront Trail I’ve ridden so far. Since it passes through many parks and along several yacht clubs I imagine it would be a great ride in the summer although it will probably be much busier. I’ll be riding this route again and it may become a favorite.

Here are the maps of the Waterfront Trail from Port Credit to Humber Bay

Map – Waterfront Trail – Port Credit

Map – Waterfront Trail – Long Branch

Map – Waterfront Trail – Humber Bay

Ride started here.

This was the route we rode.

This is the link to the ride data.


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