March of the Bikes

Reflecto-BikeMarch has started off with even more unseasonably warm "winter" weather. On Saturday it hit 10 degrees, and Sunday it went all the way up to 15! Of course, I took this opportunity to do some more cycling around the city.

Saturday's bike ride took me on a meandering route to Downtown and back, with a bunch of stops along the way. I spent some time checking out Roundhouse Park, OCAD, a bunch of back roads and laneways, in addition to stopping at MEC, Urbane, Hello Saigon, and Kensington Market. I took a whole bunch of pictures (of course) which can be seen over here.

Today (Sunday) was another great day, although a bit more overcast. After taking a walk over to the Goodwill for some thrift shopping (bought a cassette player and $5 Doc Martens!), I went for another bike ride. No camera this time, because I thought I was just going grocery shopping. I got sidetracked a little, and ended up riding down the Humber River to the lake. And for the first time since living in Toronto for almost a year, I finally explored Humber Bay Park and the butterfly gardens. It's pretty nice down there, and I'll have to go back in the spring and summer, especially since it's so close to home.

Earlier this month my bike activites were focused on the Toronto International Bicycle Show down at the Exhibition grounds. I was helping out with the ARC booth, in addition to checking out all the other stuff on display. As usual, I spent most of my time and found most of my enjoyment at the other community group booths. I wish there were more recumbents, cargo-bikes, practical vehicles, etc. at the show. I only took a few pictures, all of them at the ARC Booth.

Well, it looks like the weather is turning to rain and flurries for this week. So much for the early March spring weather tease. I'm also looking forward to getting my Streetmachine back on the road soon!

R.I.P. Pigeon Chick

Pigeon Chick This is the last bunch of pictures of the pigeon chick on my balcony. It seemed to be doing really well, but on the morning of March 2nd I discovered that the pigeon chick was dead. I'm guessing it had something to do with the cold weather.

Over the last few days I watched as the chick grew, became more active, and grew more feathers. It was also getting much more vocal, and I could often hear it chirping. It was fun watching it grow up for as long as it did, so I was kind of sad to find it dead that morning.

Click here to see the final pictures and a video clip of the little chick. R.I.P.
More pictures and stories about this pigeon chick can be found here.

Pigeon Chick

Pigeon ChickOn February 2nd, I discovered some pigeon eggs on my balcony. Well, after keeping an eye on the nest and watching the mother and father pigeons constantly sitting on the eggs for over 20 days, I finally got to see the chicks today.

As I sat eating breakfast infront of my computer (drinking a cocoa banana coffee tofu yogurt smoothie straight from the blender), I noticed that the parent pigeons had flown away. I hadn't seen the nest without a parent in it for well over a week now, so I jumped at the chance to look.

Sure enough, there was a pigeon chick in there. It must have been born at least a few days ago. Apparently it takes about 18 days for the eggs to hatch, and I first discovered the eggs 21 days ago... But the parents have been spending most of their time sitting on the eggs and the chicks to keep them warm.

One of the chicks didn't survive. There was real cold snap right around the time I figure they were born. I wonder if the parents purposely gave this one up to make it easier to keep the other one warm for survival?

It'll be neat watching this pigeon grow up over the next few weeks, but I'm looking forward to the day it leaves so that I can clean up my balcony again!

More pictures over here!

Bike Camputing

Vic camping at Lac PhilippeBike Camputing. Yes, I spelled that right. Bike Camping + Commuting = Camputing.

I'm already fantasizing about the summer and bike touring season. But since certain pesky things like work get in the way of constant bike touring and camping, I thought I might try to combine my regular daily life (riding to work in Mississauga) with my favourite summer hobby (bike touring and camping).

My plan is basically to live at a campground for a week, and commute to work from there in the mornings and return to sleep under the stars at night. I would also use the evenings to explore the campgrounds, go swimming, do some hiking, cooking by the fire, etc. I would also take advantage of the weekends before and after my week of camputing to tour to some other places, visit friends and family, etc. Plus, the campgrounds are usually less crowded and noisy during the week.

To make life easier, I would probably stash a week's worth of clothing and frozen lunches at work.

I already know of two campgrounds that are close enough to work so that the campute wouldn't be too far. One of them is closer to home, but the location isn't very appealing otherwise. That's the Indian Line Campground, which is bascially where Toronto, Mississauga, and Brampton come together at the corner of Finch Ave. and Highway 427. The ride to work from here would involve going around Pearson Airport, crossing at least two major highways, and generally riding through the ugliest parts of Mississauga. Not too appealing, although I'll have to keep that campground in mind as a potential launching point for other tours.

The better option would be to camp at Bronte Creek Provincial Park, on the border of Oakville and Burlington. This park seems more secluded, and I'm sure the ride to work would be more pleasant, even though I would still be riding on busy streets through Mississauga. The route to work from Bronte Creek is about 26km, which is about double my distance from home. Not too bad at all! Plus, Bronte Creek makes a better launching point for weekend rides north and west of Oakville, as well as for visiting my parents in Hamilton.

I didn't get much bike touring done last year, but I think my camputing idea will be a smashing success for me this summer. Has anyone else ever done this or thought of doing it? I know Jason has thought of it too.

Note: The photo up there is from a weekend camping ride from Ottawa to Lac Philippe two summers ago.

Toronto, Bikes, Jen...

Toronto Skyline at Sunset Today Jen left to go back to Vancouver after visiting me here in Toronto for a little over a week. We had a great time together while she was here, and it's too bad that she couldn't stay longer. It'll be a few months before we see each other again.

Last Saturday we took advantage of this NON-winter weather to go for a long bike ride around the city, and to run some errands downtown. We decided to stay off the beaten path (Bloor St.) so that we could check out some of the other neighbourhoods along the way. Sometimes slowing down and taking detours is much better than a fast direct ride! We had one small destination to stop at before running our errands downtown: we had to visit the big elephant on someone's front yard on Yarmouth St. Very cool....not your usual garden gnome lawn statue! We also hit the usual downtown spots (MEC and Urbane), and had dinner in Chinatown.

Last Sunday we met up with Jen's parents and drove out to Unionville to visit Jen's grandma. After the visit and a delicious lunch we were dropped off at Scarborough Town Centre to take the TTC back into the city. The rest of the day's adventures involved exploring the east end around the Coxwell/Pape/Gerrard/Danforth area and going for some tasty Indian food with other bike/HPV fanatics.

Tuesday was, of course, Valentine's Day. Jen and I stayed in to cook up a delicious dinner and dessert.

Friday night involved another trip downtown, this time by TTC. We walked around Yorkville for a while, then found some food and topped off the night out by going to a story tellers gathering at the UofT.

Saturday was Jen's last full day in Toronto. We spent most of the day out in Brampton visiting with Jen's family and celebrating her other grandmother's birthday. We also had a great time playing out in the snow with Jen's two year-old nephew Thomas. It was nice that Jen was able to spend a good chunk of time with her family during this short visit back in Ontario.

Click the above links for more pictures and details of these adventures.

Pigeon Eggs

Pigeon EggsPart of my usual morning routine is to chase the pigeons away from my balcony. Yes, it's futile, because they usually return in a minute or two. Ohwell. Anyway, over the last few days I noticed there were more pigeons than usual hanging around here, and they would return faster after I chased them away. Plus, there was almost always one sitting in the flower planter on the ground. Upon closer inspection this morning, I noticed two eggs in there. No wonder the pigeon was always in a rush to come back.

More pictures and commentary over here.

Bike Ride Along the Lakeshore

Road through Tommy Thompson ParkAnother great day to be out on my bike! After lounging around all morning, I dragged myself and my bike out for a ride to the lakeshore and out to Tommy Thompson Park. I mostly took it nice and slow, admiring the views along the way. I still can't believe this is "winter". Maybe I got too used to living in Ottawa. But I guess I can't complain, because I'm definitely enjoying these long bike rides at this time of year! Follow the link to my pictures to read and see more.

Cycling to Chinatown

Dragon Arches on SpadinaAlthough the weather has been unusually mild for January in Toronto, last Sunday finally brought some cold weather back. Cold weather, however, is a poor excuse to not go for a bike ride! Since I was planning on meeting up with a few people for dinner on Spadina St. in the evening anyway, I took the opportunity to ride my bike downtown and explore the Kensington Market area for a while too. So go ahead and click here for some more photos of my ride downtown and walk around Kensington and Spadina.

Toronto, January 2006

Bike Wheel MuralI haven't been taking very many photos yet this year, even though I've been riding my bike quite often! The weather has been unusually warm for January in Ontario, so the winter has sucked from that perspective. But then again, I've had some great days of riding my bike in above-freezing weather. Anyway, check out the recent pictures if you're interested. I'll have some more entertaining stuff to post in the near future!

Kensington Market Festival of Lights

Fire BreathersWednesday December 21st was the shortest day of the year. The winter solstice. Every year on this day, there is a Festival of Lights in Kensington Market in downtown Toronto to celebrate. Since this is my first winter living in Toronto, I had never been to the Festival of Lights yet, so Jen and I went down after work.
When we arrived at the corner of College and Augusta, we lit up the lanterns that we built the night before. Nothing fancy, really. Just jars and cans with red duct-tape handles! Not the prettiest or most functional lanterns, but at least we tried. ;-) Thousands of other people were there. We were surrounded by other people with lanterns, costumes, stilt walkers, drummers, etc. What a festive atmosphere!
To start the event off, there was a fire-breathing show set to the beat of samba drums. After the fire-breathers finished, we kept following the parade through Kensington Market as it zig-zagged through the narrow streets. Along the way we were treated to many art displays on the sidewalks and rooftops, musicians, singers, etc.
The parade ended in Bellevue Park, where the huge crowd crammed into the park for a bonfire. This part reminded me of the movie The Wicker Man. We didn't stick around too long here because it was so crowded and we couldn't really see much more anyway, so we went over to our favourite asian vegetarian restaurant for some dinner. What a great night out!
More pictures here.

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