Saturday, 12 July 2014

Biking to Work

I love biking to work and have been doing it consistently for 30 years now. I love that it is a practical way to fit in exercise so I treat it like a sport. I carry a change of clothes and wear proper cycling gear. I can go fast and get sweaty then clean up and feel fresh for the rest of the day. 

Over the years my routes have changed but the overall distance has remained steady at about 10 km which is perfect for me. My favourite route by far is my current one through the park. I have been enjoying it for 12 years now. It still amazes me that I have worked at the same place for so long and plan to stay until I retire. Prior to this, my longest term had been 4 years. 

Since I love my route so much I thought it might be fun to share some photos. I considered leaving early for work to take them then realized my mornings are rushed so leaving early was not likely to happen. 

Instead my husband joined me this morning to follow my route and take photos as directed. I dressed as usual including my backpack to make it look authentic, although it is later in the morning, so the lighting is different than it would be for my commute and the park is busier. I get up early all week but just couldn't manage it on a Saturday. 

I should mention my cycling backpack from Mountain Equipment Coop has been part of my commuting gear for about 20 years now. It has held up famously and I expect will last right through to retirement. It was well worth the investment.

Please join me while I bike to work. It really is a great route. My Rocky Mountain Blizzard is ready to roll.
Heading East on Riverside and the road is quiet. It must be Saturday. During the week, it can take up to 5 minutes to get across the road.
I like to ride the hill down to Thames Valley Golf Club. It is straight and fast which is fun first thing in the morning.
I love the footbridge from the golf course to Springbank Park. On windy days the bridge hums which is really cool.
I don't stop but always take time to appreciate the view in both directions.
My route takes me along the river which is perfect. 
In the mornings I take the shortcut and follow the path which pops out near Wonderland Road.
I follow the park roadway past the dog park which is a very popular spot. I always see people chatting with coffee cups in hand while their dogs play.
The dog park is right beside the sewage treatment plant. Often it's a wee bit smelly in this area but today was a good day.
I'm back on the path along the Terry Fox Parkway at Greenway Park. 
I'm always a bit careful approaching the Greg Curnoe tunnel because the contrast from light to dark makes it difficult to see.  
Every time I pass through this tunnel I think of our friend Greg Curnoe who is no longer with us.
My route takes me through a neighbourhood before heading back on the path and past the London Children's Museum which is just up ahead.
There is a huge community garden in the park. I am amazed that people are ambitious enough to maintain these gardens.
This is the footbridge at the Fork of the Thames that was rebuilt a few years ago.
I pass the HCMS Prevost naval building and memorial park on my right. 
This is my view to the left. Usually there is a huge fountain spraying water into the air but today it was turned off for some reason. Check out this link for a photo of the fountain in action.
This is the new and improved footbridge. It used to be split down the middle and both sides were relatively narrow with little room for passing. Now it is wide and safe to ride.
 I follow the path around to the left and back under the footbridge.
Last year this section of path was repaved and new curbs added. This spring for the first time there were no slippery mud patches from flooding.
The path takes me across the Horton Street bridge on the sidewalk before turning back to follow the river.
This section is a bit narrow and the sight lines are poor so I approach the underpass with caution until I am sure the way is clear. Safety first is my motto.
I ride past London Hydro and love the contrasting views of industry to the left with trees and river to the right.
I carry on and pass this dam with rushing water. There are often people fishing near here when I ride by at the end of the day.
I cross over Richmond Street where I usually have to wait for traffic to clear then carry on and pass under Wellington Street and across an abandoned parking lot.
This parking lot was abandoned a few years ago so weeds have taken over. In the years I've been riding to work I have seen snapping turtles nesting to the side of the path on three separate occasions. I saw one this year on June 2nd but didn't have a camera. You'll just have to trust me when I say it was huge. When it stopped in the middle of the path, I hesitated then rode past as fast as I could. I've heard snappers can be mean so wasn't taking any chances.
I usually ride diagonally on the path across the lot which pops me out further along South Street but the weeds have gotten so big that it is difficult to get through.
Now I go left and head out the old entrance to the lot.
I still end up on South Street and ride past the old South Street Hospital which is being demolished.
Up until a couple years ago, I used to walk at lunch and pick up a Timmie's coffee from the Hospital. Things have changed since then. I'm looking forward to following the progress planned for this area over the next few years. I'm sure it will look fabulous some day.
This demolition requires huge dirt diggers. 
At the same time the City is ripping up Nelson Street. I'm glad I ride a mountain bike.
At work, I'm able to lock my bike to a rack outside my office. I used to park inside but a couple years ago bike parking moved to a rack outside the employee entrance. When that entrance was blocked for construction this year, the rack was moved. I really hope it stays as I like the partial overhang and I really like keeping an eye on it.
Our plant has added a 2nd floor with cool looking shiny stacks on top. All our dryers are moving to this new space. It is a big project scheduled for completion in a couple months.
At the end of the day, I look forward to riding home. I pass Labatt's on Richmond Street where I sometimes smell the pungent, earthy aroma of hops which is rather pleasant.
I ride back across the Horton Street bridge.
I love riding in the shade by the river especially on hot days.
I cross over the footbridge and past the community garden then up the hill with the Children's Museum to the left.
I love how it looks like I'm riding into the light in the Greg Curnoe tunnel. I know I'm a little bit weird but I like it anyway.
I head back across the Terry Fox Parkway full of clover and soccer fields. You can see the sewage treatment tower in the distance.
On the way home I have more time so I take the scenic route along the river and pass by Saturn Park and the deck overlooking the river.
Again, I take the river route and pass by the Garden Cafe which is to my left then ride across the pretty stone bridge. I think of fairy tales and trolls when I see this bridge.
I'm back to my favourite footbridge and enjoying the view looking left then right.
If there are no golf carts blocking the way, I like to ride up the path by the Thames Valley Golf Course Club House and across the parking lot.
I gear down because it is a long climb to Riverside Drive.
My husband couldn't resist this macabre shot. A bunny was killed and I've been careful to avoid riding over it these past few weeks. It seems road painting crews are not as fussy.
Well I hope you've enjoyed Biking to Work with me. I think it will be fun to review these photos in the winter when I'm longing for summer riding.

In case you're wondering, I do ride in the winter. It requires cold weather gear which is cumbersome and I stick to the streets until the snow melts. I see cyclists riding in snow storms but I don't and I avoid riding on days when it might snow. 

Thank goodness it is July and it is hot. This is my favourite time of year for biking to work. How about you? Do you ever ride to work?

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