I was a little disappointed that we couldn’t go on a long bike trip this year. Thanks to a badly timed mechanical failure, we couldn’t bike to Montreal last week and I’m darned near out of vacation days thanks to a long trip to India in February and last week’s trip to NYC.
But if you know me, you know I’m not one to rest in dissatisfaction. I will either fix the problem or let go of it. In this case, on the weekend after returning from New York, I choose to do a little of both.
Despite heat warnings I get my bike out and head out the door on Saturday Morning with one destination in mind: Evergreen Brickworks. This space used to be a brick factory only a few years ago but after shutting down and sitting idle for a bit it was redeveloped in to a public space that showcases green design. There are a few businesses there including a bike shop and a cafe, gardens, a small museum as well as some event spaces. On Saturdays there is a really great farmer’s market that includes a section with some great food vendors. This is my first destination.
Since we last lived in this neighbourhood, there have been some big upgrades to bike infrastructure and one of those has made it possible for me to go all the way to the brickworks completely off-road after only a short ride down a quiet street to the path. The ride takes about 20 minutes and is quiet and beautiful. The path is shared with a lot of other cyclists of all ages as well as a few folks walking, running, and even roller blading. It’s extremely pleasant and comfortable – a total luxury to not have to worry about sharing the road with drivers.
There is tons of bike parking at the market and despite the heat it is bustling. I take a walk around the vendors considering buying some veggies or even some fresh fish but decide that I’ll be out riding for a while and having a fish in my pannier on a 35 degree day is a recipe for disaster.
But staying hydrated is important so I find a drink:
I find a shady spot and sit in a Muskoka Chair. The shade feels nice but the humidity is still around making the air feel still and thick. Two women sit across from me taking a selfie and speaking Mandarin. A few minutes later one of them comes to me and asks me if I’ll take their picture. Of course I will!
They leave and a mother, father, and 6 year old son come by. They appear to be heading for the cafe I bought the coffee from. The parents clearly want to get inside but the son is having none of it. He’s happy outside. Finally, in a fit of frustration he says to his mom: “I thought you were a nature woman but you’re not, you’re an indoors woman.” She still wins, though, and in to the air conditioned building they go.
I get up and wander some more. The coffee has made me a bit hungry so I find my way to a stand selling momos. This seller goes to a number of the different markets and their momos are amazing. My favourite part is the hot sauce. It’s extremely spicy but also seems to have a sort of dry heat that I can’t explain. It’s completely addictive. They also have delicious cabbage salad.
I take one more trip through the market and a sign catches my eye: “Kombucha on tap”. For those who don’t know, kombucha is a non-alcoholic drink made of fermented tea. Today they were offering a couple of flavours. The strawberry flavoured jasmine tea looked amazing.
What I love about kombucha is that as beverages go it is really great for me. It is fizzy and refreshing and yet it has very little sugar at all. Without sugar or alcohol it is very low in calories and yet it gives the feeling of drinking a delicious cold fizzy drink. This one was especially good.
Thoroughly hydrated, I go back to my bike. I know it’s hot now because when I sit down on the black seat it’s like sitting on the seat of a hot car. I can’t remember a day that was hot enough for that to be the case.
Today I pedal south on a recently-built bike lane. I’m not sure where it goes so I am looking forward to seeing where I end up. Eventually the lane ends and connects with another one going in to the Rosedale Valley Ravine. It heads back north – not quite in the direction of home but when I get to the end of it I’ll be closer to home than I am now so I follow it.
At the top of the hill I spend a little time lost in the neighbourhood I end up in. It’s filled with massive multi-million dollar houses. On the plus side it’s also mostly empty of traffic. I ride in what I later see on my GPS track, are circles until I find a way out. This takes me on a path that goes up a bridge over a railway.
There are still very few people out – other than 1-2 cyclists I see nobody outdoors since leaving the market. It’s unsurprising, though, given how hot it is.
Once I’m across the bridge I understand where I am and turn toward home. I stop briefly at a grocery store. Sage is home napping and it will be nice to surprise her with the delicious lemon curd cake I see in the store.
Once inside I can see how hot it is. The thing about riding a bike is it makes its own air conditioning. If you find the “sweet spot” of speed in which you aren’t putting too much energy out to move but are moving fast enough to create a breeze you can be quite happy riding for hours even on a hot day. But stop for more than a few minutes and the sweat will begin to pour off of you. Despite the house being well air conditioned, it is some time before I stop sweating. Still, this is my favourite time of year. I love riding on days like today and dream of them on those winter days when I feel it is too cold to enjoy being outdoors.