Sunday, April 26, 2009


Springtime is so beautiful in Ottawa. It has one of the harshest winters in the world for an urban area. I am also from Vancouver Island, which has a much more moderate climate. Spring also means more bikes on the road, and I keep hearing about something called the cycling "season." Sometimes I grumble about not being able to find parking, but I get a thrill from seeing other bikes and feel far less alone in my commute. I have also gotten some shots of interesting local bikes.

Here in Ottawa, there really is a sense of the bike season. It's officially April-October as far as city facilities go. That's when buses have bike racks, paths are maintained (although the Rideau Canal path has snow removal, no other paths do) and locking racks are available on the street. I haven't seen many bike racks out yet, even though it is late April. I am not sure why they are taken in for winter: salt, danger of vandalism, clutter.

The roads are much less challenging than in winter, but it is still necessary to be aware. Novist cyclists may not be familiar with traffic laws (please rectify this!), drivers are not used to seeing cyclists and everyone wants to be on the road more for a nice, sunny drive. I have had a couple of near misses with drivers not realizing one-way streets are not two-way, thinking a two-way street was one-way, and not noticing a cyclist advance at an intersection. Hi tourists! Enjoy your visit to Ottawa!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cycling Wardrobe to Tone With

Ottawa weather is so bizarre. It was 15°C and sunny on Thursday before dropping to just above zero and stormy all weekend. I love the rain, but it was a bit of a shock. Cycled around Vanier for the annual maple sugar festival and to a drive in prayer grotto (?!). I don't mind the rain, and the sugar shack was serving hot maple related food and drinks. And now it is even colder and the rain hast turned to snow! Weird. It makes daily weather and traffic cam checks necessary, especially because my new-old cruiser is not outfitted for snow. Or the traffic generated by three days of Tamil demonstrations, although I soared by the riot cops and lines of cars attempting to get onto the freeway.

The usual amount of rain has necessitated a change in footwear while cycling, specificaly boots to keep my work clothes clear from splashbacks. Most of Ottawa's percipitation comes in the form of light, powdery snow that doesn't soak into your clothes. The typical winter temperatures also require something warm, so I wear snow boots that are apparently certified to -30°C. Luckily the temperature here usually doesn't go below -20°C in the winter, other than on terribly windy days. My rain cycling outfit of choice is a hooded jacket, long-sleeved shirt (depending on temperature), light knee-length and hooded coat, leggings, skirt and knee-high boots. I usually lose the legging and switch to heels when I get to work.

Right now my favourite flat boots are in need of resoling, so I have been wearing some with heels. Doesn't really affect my ride since I don't pedal with the heels. I can actually cycle better in heels than I can walk, which is why my pumps stay at the office. The one thing I do notice is that different muscles are sore at the end the of day. I normally feel it in my hamstrings, although my usually work-home route has long sinced been a challenge. Since I started cycling in these (low, wedge) heels, I feel the effects in my gluts. No science, just when I have noticed. Has this happened to anyone else?