So what did I do after the trip to Ireland? I could say that I travelled to the far reaches of the North American continent but that would be a slight exaggeration, all I did was go stay at Mrs. BB's place in Gatineau. Now for those of you from foreign climes, a small geography lesson. Our nation's capital is Ottawa which sits on the Ottawa river, across said river, is the city of Gatineau which is on the Rivière des Outaouais which is the name the francophones call it. So not only do they have two names for the same river but the two cities, which are for all intents and purposes just one metropolitan region, reside in two different provinces. This has all kinds of interesting consequences, for example, let's say Johnny Canuck works for the feds in the ministry of doodads in Ottawa and his department is moved to their new building in Gatineau. He has moved one kilometre from where he was but he now works in a different province, which means the payroll deductions for income taxes, social security, Medicare are different from his province of residence, which makes filing his income tax return an even bigger hassle. Only in Canada.
What did I do in the month of August besides trying to figure out the name of the river, well I pedalled all around Gatineau. For a rather small city, Gatineau has world class bike trails. The city has hundreds of kilometres of trails. Not bike trails like here in Montreal where you have to share the road with cars. No, real two way paved bikeways that are more than 80% through forest, meadows and wetlands. On the island of Montreal, all the land along the river was sold off to developers long ago. In Gatineau/Ottawa all the land along the Ottawa/Outaouais river and the Gatineau River was made into a park and the bikeway follows the parks. On the island of Montreal, the municipalities can't even get their acts together and hook up all the different bike paths. In Ottawa/Gatineau all the bike paths are one network and it is easy to get to where you want to be. Here in Montreal, if we want to cross the St. Lawrence river by bike, you have to ride all the way to the "Estacade" (a small bridge/pillared structure used to break up the ice) to be able to cross safely, There are three bridges and one tunnel and none of them are bike friendly. In Ottawa/Gatineau all the bridges have dedicated bike paths, not sharing the road with the cars, not riding on the pedestrian sidewalk, but reserved lanes for bikes and to top it off they connect the Gatineau bikeways with the Ottawa bikeways... fantastic. Finally to put the cherry on the sundae, on Sunday mornings all the roads in the Parc de la Gatineau and the Ottawa River Parkway are open only to bikes... The mayor of Montreal is always going on about how green we are, and how we need to get rid of cars in town. He should go see in Gatineau how it should be done, people regularly go to work by bike, there are always plenty of bike racks to park your bike and they are often under CCT surveillance, and more importantly you can get from A to B without getting killed.
So what did I do there... you guessed it, I explored all those marvellous bikeways. I ended up doing 50 km a day and in the three weeks I was there. I did about 600 km in all, I was in bike heaven. So here are some photos that illustrate what the paths look like.
As you can see there is plenty of wild life, in fact the last day (when I left my camera at home) I saw a deer in a clearing. We watched each other for at least five minutes before I kept on riding.
Fallen tree on the Gatineau River