Yesterday, Blue Toes and I ditched the dog with the dog-sitter, left the cat a full bowl of food and headed down to the Big Smoke, AKA Toronto. We met up with some friends and went to a great Cuban-fusion jazz CD release concert at Hugh's Room.
Our friends are both artists and live comfortably but not extravagantly. They don't own a vehicle and ride their bikes everywhere: to work, to shop, to be entertained. If they need to leave the city, they take the bus or rent a car (they are not skiers). Needless to say, we hillbillies drove our air-conditioned car to the club but Kit and James rode their bikes.
I lived in Toronto back in the 80s and even though I had a car, rode a bike everywhere at that time. There are (were?) some great MTB trails in the ravines and most of the time, you can get places faster on a bike than a car. As we drove the short distance to the club during inner-city rush hour, I was amazed at how many bikes were on the road, locked to poles and stashed on balconies: bikes are everywhere.
After a great dinner and fantastic concert, Kit suggested that she was a bit tired and would I mind riding her bike home. This seemed like the perfect way to unravel after three hours of driving and several more hours of sitting in an uncomfortable bar chair, so I agreed. James and I headed out, taking Bloor Street, one of Toronto's busiest streets, as most it was the most direct route. I should point out that I am riding a female artist's commuter bike. It has the "girl's bike" frame, a spring mounted seat and gears that don't like to change, since according to James, she prefers riding in one gear. Oh, yeah, and a milk crate mounted on the back for grocery storage. I can tell you, it felt pretty good when we blew by the hipsters on their techy fixies, riding department store commuter bikes. Although they did blow by us shortly after.
Riding at night in a big city requires a big adjustment when you are used to riding by yourself in the woods. There are cars everywhere threatening to open their doors, big trucks belching fumes, sewer grates, potholes, more cars, more bikes, stray cats, weird smells, random art installations and people jaywalking out of nowhere. It was a blast. I was really glad I wasn't on my own bike. I would have been tempted to ride a lot faster and farther. If you want a very different riding experience, try an urban night ride. But just make sure your spidey-sense is dialed up to "full" before you saddle up!
I have been having a hell of a lot of fun riding the trails out my back door this summer. It's not a "destination" mountain biking area like the TRs Matt has been putting up, and my bike's an old (but decent in its day a dozen yrs ago) suspension-less model, but there's miles of single-track and ATV trails that mostly seem to no longer see ATV traffic. I'd describe the terrain as fast and "flowy" - ups, downs and turns that are not overly technical, rocky, rooty or muddy. I received a few requests for more info on those trails, so I drew up a map (admittedly sketchy) of what I've been riding - PM me if you're local and interested in riding there, I'll share my map. Rumor is that SMBA may adopt these trails, which would be interesting.
As a footnote, the mountain biking reports Matt and SBR have been putting up this summer were part of the inspiration for writing up the mtb TR for my blog, linked above, so thanks go out to those guys.
Thanks Jeff, I am glad that my adventures have inspired you to get back into biking. You are fortunate to have such nice trails close to home. I too have trails close to home but they are a bit more, shall we say, rustic. Yesterday's ride seemed worthy of a full TR, so check out the full story at TFTH - Summer Edition.