Don’t let that bike rust away, get it in gear. Fri. June 19 is the annual Bike to Work Day.
The day and week are full. You’ll hear about pit stops, group rides, demonstrations and even a barbeque at the Forks.
You know about Bike prep: you don’t need costly wheels but think ahead. If you don’t feel competent to handle your tires, brakes, and gears, try getting a tune-up at a bike shop. It’s a darn sight cheaper than fixing your car.
You know about body prep: don’t wait for a workday. Take a Sunday run to get a sense of the time your route takes, and how much it takes out of you.
You should think about route prep: the secret to a successful commute is finding a route you are comfortable with. Google will happily produce the shortest path for you but you may find yourself playing chicken with semi-trailers on major thoroughfares like Portage, Pembina or Kenaston.
If you design your own route, you will probably feel safer and actually enjoy the ride.
“It’s the journey, not the arrival,” said one veteran cyclist. “On the other hand, you want to arrive alive.”
Take a ride with us on one of many route options – this one is a time-tested 15 km journey from the deer-infested wilds of Charleswood to the heart of Downtown. You can slow down and “smell the roses” with surprisingly little automobile angst.
A Sample Commute: Charleswood to Downtown via the Granola Belt
Mile Zero: 7:25 am. In the woods – Darkest Charleswood between Grant and Wilkes Aves.
Grant & Chalfont: 1.25 km. Wheel onto the paved bike path on the south side of Grant to Canadian Mennonite University and then north beside the Tuxedo Golf Course. Occasional golf balls found beside the path are a fringe benefit.
Assiniboine Park, South Gate: 3.69 km. Blissfully empty in the early morning with dew shining on the grass. Roll north to the pavilion and hang a right. At this hour there are no boom-boxes to bother the animals in the zoo.
TransCanada Trail: 4.95 km. From the East Gate of Assiniboine Park on Wellington Crescent you access the beautiful winding riverbank path that is part of the Trans-Canada Trail.
It can get slippery after rains push out forest floor detritus onto the pathway so watch those curves in the woods.
Squirrels make occasional attempts to throw themselves under your wheels. A few pelicans are on the river in season.
CPR Assiniboine River Bridge, between Renfrew and Lindsay: 7.22 km. You can ride right across to Omand’s Creek Park on the attached pedestrian bridge. Watch for oncoming bike traffic – it’s a bit narrow. Nice view of the river and no shortage of “artwork” on the bridge’s ironwork.
Option: take the road more traveled and keep going on Wellington past Mansion Row before crossing the river at the Maryland Bridge.
Omand’s Creek Footbridge: 7.92 km. The little bridge crossing the creek is low, so if the river is at flood stage you make a detour loop north to Portage and back down Raglan Road. High and dry as of the first week of June.
The Granola Belt: cruise the length of Wolseley past Misericordia Hospital to Furby St. Hardly any traffic and you’ll appreciate that wonderful canopy of elms to shade you on hot days on the way home. You finally see some street life, more bikes and dog walkers are out.
Option: jog one block north to Westminster after Dominion Street. You run into a bit more vehicle traffic but get to make a great pit stop.
Tall Grass Prairie Bakery: 9.83 km. You can smell it a block away. The bakery opens at 7 am. Do yourself a favour and pick up something to take to work – you deserve it. You are burning calories, after all.
Maryland: 10.50 km. This is only your first traffic light since Roblin and Shaftesbury! Keep going east via Balmoral and Mostyn to the Granite Curling Club. On the other hand, (if needed) Misericordia Urgent Care is just around the corner.
Granite Curling Club: 11.25 km. Actually, you turn off at the small park on the west side of the Granite. The paved trail curves through the river bottom forest (water levels permitting) and under the Osborne Bridge to the start of the River Trail.
The River Trail: 11.87 km. The only gravel on the trip but you’re still cruising if it is at all dry. The rising sun shimmers on the water. Family troops of ducks do sail pasts. And you see a few of the same old faces fishing day after day.
Flood option: if the River Trail is underwater, take the Assiniboine Avenue bike lane to the Main Street crosswalk and the Forks.
The Forks: 12.98 km. If you’re going to Portage and Main or the Exchange keep right on rolling. Follow the River Trail north and loop under the Provencher Bridge. The view of St Boniface on this stretch is one of the few vistas in Flat City. If you’re still hungry, the Tall Grass Prairie outlet in the Forks opens at 7 a.m.
Waterfront Drive, Baseball Stadium: 14.05 km. You arrive at the House That Sam Built and you’re back on the street. If you want to lord it over the motor vehicles, take a few laps on the Bannatyne/Waterfront traffic circle. Hog an entire lane guilt free because they can’t do 360s any faster than you.
Main Street/The Exchange: 8:10 am (at moderate speed). 14.86 km. The finish line. Make sure you have a secure lock-up and breathe easy.
For armchair review, the following link offers City of Winnipeg cycling maps and even some 90 second ride videos offering a high-speed run-through of several trails.
All photos by Greg Petzold