by Pamela Steele
The final throes of this Almonte winter are just about to break upon us, and that gets me thinking about spring and my best friends, PinkBike and FatBike. These little treasures are the joy of my existence. I ride them as soon as my body can handle the chill and as late in the season as the snow’s absence will allow me. I am by no means a “cyclist.” They are more serious/fast/athletic than I am. I cycle for the fun and joy of it. It’ll keep me excited about living in Mississippi Mills long into my old age.
Having broken my wrist last year, I’ve been on the trainer in my rubble-walled basement, trying to work my endurance back to an hour. It takes me an hour to ride to Pakenham for an ice cream, curd cheese or just a sun and water soak at the falls. It takes an hour and a bit for a good tour of the backroads by Carleton Place, the loopy hill-after-hill of the 4th concession! I ride to the Mill of Kintail for a restorative rest in the trees, and to Blakeney for a dip in the river and to see the giant open-mouthed fish amongst the rocks in the falls, trying to catch their mini-me lunches.
My favourite ride is to visit my mom in Carleton Place via Concession 8; I stop by the cemetery and bring greetings to the unnamed baby buried there, and then hit Dairy Queen on my bike home, to support my impending fatigue. I love early mornings when I can bike to Baker Bob’s for a croissant, and tie up my bike with my tatty red ribbon – I feel safe here and so do my bikes.
I am so appreciative of the wide, paved sides of Martin Street North. I love that I can speed along knowing I am secure in my lane and welcome to be there by the community planners. In fact, biking this area is one of the reasons I moved here! Thank goodness for Bill the Bike Boy from the Almonte Bicycle Works; he’s been so supportive and is really good at keeping secret the birthday bike purchases that my husband and I occasionally indulge in.
I have riding plans for this year too – the backside of Mount Pakenham is calling me, as is the Dominion Springs Road – I must see and feel this famous old creek that called people from Ottawa in the late 1800s to come out by train to “take its waters”. I’m hoping someday soon, that the west side of Mississippi Mills gets some wide edges too, so I can bike-explore more of that wonderful museum in Middleville and find out just where those roads go to, and who will offer me water and a chat.
Cycling is the most intimate way for me to see all of this gorgeous land and the heritage we have here. So I welcome this changing weather. Come sun – warm up my backroads, the heavenly new Rail Trail, and whatever’s left of the pavement on the roads. I’m ready for a bike ride!