On Monday, August 17th, I headed on Ride #2 of my pledge to do 200 km in August, the distance from Toronto to Niagara Falls.
The morning was perfect, one of the most beautiful this summer. Cool, sunny, no blustering head winds. I headed down through Leaside into Sunnybrook Park through the Lyndhurst Hospital entrance.
I’m familiar with the rehab hospital because a friend spend several months there after a bad car accident. He’d travelled down to the USA to buy a vintage sports car, but on returning to Canada, he slid off the road. The problem: the rubber in the vintage tires had gone hard with age and lost all traction. Happily, he made a remarkable recovery.
The other reason, I’m familiar with Lyndhurst is because of the killer hill down into Sunnybrook. During my marathon training days, we used to run UP this hill. Fortunately today, I am biking DOWN.
Past the dog park and along a picture perfect creek . Few people out this Monday morning other than the usual runners, hikers and dog walkers.
A tricky aspect of Sunnybrook trails for cyclists is negotiating the narrow, heavily used pedestrian bridges. I’m less worried about COVID than I am about blunt force trauma, having nearly been crashed into numerous times by MAMILs (cyclist pejorative for obnoxious middle-aged men in lycra). Luckily I cross over the Don Valley pedestrian bridge with no incident before stopping at “The Teeth”.
Allegedly the artist created the concrete structures to be elephants that would blend with nature. Hence the trees growing out of them. But for Toronto runners “The Teeth” are a landmark for running routes. And, yes, I agree they really look like molars.
Today, I decide to head east into Taylor Creek Park, a trail with numerous dread pedestrian bridges over rocks and running water. My luck holds – few MAMILs crushing everyone in their path to score their Personal Best time! I take a breather to check out an impromptu memorial along the way.
The stones remind me of the lovely Jewish tradition of leaving a stone in the cemetery after visiting a loved one.
The main trail ends at Dawes Road. To get to Victoria Park, I cross yet another pedestrian bridge and bike through an underpass with some neat street art. After this the trail is mostly a gravelly track that gets muddy and floods after a rain. The climb up to Victoria Park is another heart thumper.
This is my Test Hill. If I can make it up all the way in my “Granny Gear” or the lowest possible on my hybrid, I’m fit enough for The Ride. But since, the Ride has gone virtual, I bike up the first half and walk up the rest.
Down the Victoria Park bike path across Danforth. This heavily trafficked road is a bit nerve-wracking, because my riding buddy once took a header over the handle bars after hitting a pothole beneath the underpass.
Over to the safety of Scarborough Road for a straight run down to the Beaches. I pass by Adam Beck school with its colorful murals. This is one of my favs.
Today the weather cools noticeably as I near the lake. It and the boardwalk are especially lovely today.
A strong headwind as I pedal toward the Distillery District and my usual reward at Balzac’s cafe. While munching down my muffin, I see thunderous clouds building in the west.
Change of plans, the route through to the Humber will have to wait until Ride #3 or #4. I charge north, taking the bike path along Sherbourne making for home.
This is a sad route; I call it the Economic Disparity Route. It passes by Moss Park arena and the neighboring homeless shelter. During COVID, many more homeless are wandering the streets often shouting, in distress, deluded in the middle of traffic. Cop cars and emergency vehicles every time this year when I’ve passed through – and that’s a lot.
Sherbourne crosses over into Rosedale, once of Toronto’s wealthiest enclaves. To my surprise I see people camped out in a parkette within a stone’s throw of multi-million dollar mansions.
Summerhill pedestrian bridge again requires careful negotiating. I usually walk my bike over to dodge schoolkids, nannies with babies, seniors and of course, the ubiquitous MAMILs. Some neat street art on the crumbling concrete walls bordering the steep hill of McPherson Drive.
From here it is short pleasant ride through Moore Park into Mt. Pleasant cemetery.
Keeping a watchful eye on the threatening weather, I finish off the distance via the Beltline and looping through Mt. Pleasant. There are enough hills and gradients to keep my heart pumping.
Almost done for Ride #2, I pause by one of the Mt. Pleasant icons, a memorial to two young men who died within months of each other. The plaque reads: Why has God picked all his beautiful flowers first. There is a love story here.