A few of weekends ago I was able to catch more fall colours with this lovely couple:
We met up at a cute mid-town cafe called Rachel’s Coffee House (thanks for the rec Rhonda!), so that Andrea could have another entry for her Coffeeneuring Challenge which she’s signed up for a 2nd year in a row. It was also a nice, quiet cafe where she could do some lab marking and I could drop by easily after checking out an exhibition space (I’m going to be showing some new paintings in February guys!).
After we indulged in the huge cookies and some warm drinks we biked up to Broadway, to take Broadway east to enter the Don Valley Trail through Serena Gundy Park.
It was such a beautiful ride!!
We noticed that despite the many trees with glorious colours there were still a lot of green trees as well. So there may still be time to take in the last of the fall colours yet!
When I lamented that I couldn’t join Denise‘s 60km Hydro Fields & Bungalows ride for the 2nd time, she was kind enough to offer a tag along spot for me on her test ride! We rode our road bikes out so Denise could memorize some of the tricky bits for the big group ride she was leading the next day.
I love exploring new areas by bike and Denise’s route took me along bike lanes that I never rode on and through the Gatineau Hydro Corridor trail and the eastern Waterfront Trail. Along the way we navigated through post-war suburban neighbourhoods and interesting bridges.
I really enjoyed riding through the Gatineau Hydro Corridor because the path is fairly new and the surface is smooth and pothole free. Also, wherever the path intersects with a street, there are nice bicycle traffic lights and cute tree shaped bicycle racks.
After riding through the Gatineau Hydro Corridor, we took a short break before heading south to ride along the eastern Waterfront Trail. While the sentiment for this portion of the trail is nice, it is quite disjointed and spits trail users out onto a major road (Kingston Road) with no infrastructure to safely take people onto the road and back onto the trail. So out of necessity we rode on the empty sidewalks.
However that is just a small inconvenience for the comfort of being able to ride through quiet residential neighbourhoods and green multi-use pathways.
After a short ride on the Queen St. East, we headed down to the Martin Goodman Trail to take us to Ed’s Real Scoop!
Thank you Denise, for letting me tag along! It was a beautiful day and a nice, relaxing and fun ride!
Below is Denise’s annotated map for her amazing ride. If you are up for a long and relaxing ride, I highly recommend it! (click to view on the Google Maps website)
Our family loves soup. My sisters and I grew up eating soup for breakfast. We regularly had miso soup, home made veggie soup or a can or Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup in the mornings. It was a comfy and hearty meal to eat before heading off for school. It wasn’t until I started working full-time and could never find soup ready at cafes and company cafeterias in the morning that I realized that people don’t normally have soup for breakfast!
So when I heard that Soupstock was happening when my parents were in town visiting from BC, it was an event that I definitely had to take them to!
Dad & Mum walking towards Woodbine Park.
The morning of Soupstock I rushed over to the closest BIXI station to rent a bike for my Dad (he’s a bit too short for any of Andre’s bikes and my bikes are too small for him – plus he didn’t feel comfortable riding a fixie). As I was riding, I quickly realized how heavy the BIXI bikes are and how the gears aren’t optimized very well. With the head wind the 2km ride back in third gear from the BIXI station was tough! Would my Dad be able to ride this tank across town?
When I got home, I adjusted the saddle to my grocery getter for my Mom and then started to put air into the tires of all the bikes. Things were going well, until I got to inflating the 2nd last tire. The tire was nicely inflated and when I went to take the nozzle from the pump off the valve, the needle inside the valve stem flew out and all the air from the tube flew out.
At first I thought I pulled the needle out with the nozzle from the pump. So when I saw a little silver thing deep inside the nozzle, I dug it up using needle nose pliers only to find that it was a tiny spring to keep the air from rushing back out when you pump.
THEN to top it all off, I dropped the damned thing and my parents and I ended up on our knees looking for a valve stem needle and the teeny tiny spring (which naturally is same colour as the concrete that it fell on) to no avail.
Deflated (har har), I rode the rented BIXI back to the station outside of Kensington Market and met my parents at the Bathurst streetcar stop.
I guess I used up all my bad luck with my bikes because our TTC ride to Soupstock was really smooth and with the exception of the Caplansky’s awful borscht, we loved all the soups we tried! We even got a tonne of rolls and breads from Brickstreet Bakery and a sweet raspberry mousse ‘soup’ from Leah’s.
So I didn’t get to bike ride with my parents but we still really enjoyed ourselves at Soupstock and they got to see another area of Toronto that they had never been to previously.
If Soupstock happens again next year I will definitely be attending again.
Last year when I went to check out the Red Bull Mini Drome, I was intrigued and fascinated. So much so that I signed up as a competitor in the event this year!
As the days got closer, I started to get a feeling of nervousness and dread. What the hell did I sign myself up for? It turns out that Malena, who entered the event with me, decided not to watch any videos from last year just so she wouldn’t scare herself and back out of competing.
Luckily, the event organizers held a practice session the night before the main event. It was a good thing we both went! It soon became apparent that without any BMX or trick riding experience even getting up on the ramp, let alone completing a full lap, becomes a huge challenge.
Competitors waiting for a chance to practice on the Mini Drome
Malena’s first attempt at climbing the Mini Drome ramp
The video below is from the practice session. The boy at the beginning is a BMX kid but it was his first time riding the Mini Drome and he masters it perfectly! The second rider is Toronto local Justin Soares, who came 3rd this year. Then it’s Malena and I.
My last fall in the Mini Drome was actually pretty bad and I gashed up my elbow and my handlebars got twisted to the side in the headset. The EMS guy had to come disinfect my wounds and bandage me up.
The funny thing is, all those falls in the drome didn’t hurt my bike at all. My bike actually became unridable when a fellow newbie competitor popped out of the Mini Drome, flew sideways 20 feet across the hall and landed on the fork of my bike.
This meant I would have to use my other bike, which wouldn’t be a big deal if this wasn’t my first time riding and if the other bike didn’t have a bigger chain ring.
Riding home that night was quite literally a drag, with the wobbly front wheel catching on my fenders every. single. rotation.
But the biggest thing on my mind was, would I be able to even get up on the ramp with a bigger chain ring?
A rider from the first heat
I was able to keep my nervousness at bay the morning of the event because I organized the last Cupcake Ride of the 2012 season and had an amazing time riding from Bloor West Village across town to the Brickworks with the ladies.
And luckily for me, the event was slightly behind schedule and I was able to give Malena a hug and watch her successfully complete her practice runs and 10 laps!!! What a thrill! After seeing her fall, the crowd totally got behind her when she got into the groove of riding:
After Malena’s heat there was a quick break and my heat was up. I was so that nervous no matter how much water I drank, my mouth was still parched! This was more nerve wracking than a piano exam or racing a car on the track. And it was mostly because I was completely unprepared.
Me waiting nervously….
My pathetic attempt:
Now watching the video I realize that the only reason I was able to partially get up on my last attempt was because the ref gave me a push – how embarrassing! I can also see how my angles were all wrong as well.
Right after the race I was so angry at the guy who smashed into my bike blaming him for my failure and for not being able to use the bike that I practiced with. I even gave him a push when I saw him (where he was actually really contrite and offered to pay for the repairs). I was so mad.
But it’s not his fault at all.
I just don’t have the skills.
Mini Drome aftermath
Next year (if there is a next year) I don’t want a pity applause at the end of my run. To ensure that doesn’t happen again, I have to go practice and get used to seeing more bruises on my legs and shoulders.
And while everyone (competitors, spectators, refs) was super nice, next time I hope I don’t hear a single, “Good for you. That was a nice TRY.”
I’m determined to be able to ride this thing!!
Malena and I with the Ladies’ Champ, Sunny D!
No tears next time, unless it’s because I wipe out badly.
These are photos from a bike ride last year when my friends Bianca (in the middle) and Dom (at the back) came to stay with us. I realized I never shared these photos last year and the recent drop in temperatures made me think of our fun ride.
Bianca and Dom are pretty regular cyclists in London, England so it was interesting to hear their opinions on cycling in Toronto.
A few months ago I shared a project that Denise was organizing called Rush Hour Service. Unfortunately due to major TTC bureaucracy hurdles she had to give up on that project, but she’s come up with an even cooler one!
You can participate in Art of the Danforth by drawing your own bike lane line along the Danforth using liquid chalk bags that Denise has created. All you have to do is affix the liquid chalk bags to the bottle cage of your bike and ride!
You can pick up a bag and create your own lines on your own at 692 Coxwell, 10am-7pm, 7 days a week.
Or if you’d prefer to do this with other people, you can join one of 3 group rides Denise has organized on: Sunday, May 27, June 3, and June 10. Start time is 1pm.
I will be joining the June 3 ride – wanna join me?