On my second ride down the Humber this year, I invited Patti to come along. I mapped the ride from the Toronto Public Library on Humberwood Boulevard down to the lake and found it to be 50km return. We weren’t sure if we could go that far this early in the season but decided to give it a try.
It was a cold and windy day, about four degrees Celsius as we set off, but with the promise of a twelve degree high. It was bright and sunny.
Once we got down into the valley, the winds weren’t too bad in most places.
We were riding from the Humber College area as I had on my first ride of the Humber Valley last fall. About 9 km into the ride the path is joined by the route that comes south from the Steeles and Kipling area, the place I started on my second ride of the Humber a few weeks ago.
On my ride a few weeks ago I emerged from the valley at Fairglen Crescent, which comes off of Weston Road just south of the 401, had a tea at McDonalds and headed back to the car. This time we carried on south.
The path along the Humber from the Humberwood Boulevard is part of the Pan Am Path. The route will eventually follow the Humber Valley trail down to the lake, across the waterfront, up the Lower Don Valley, across Scarborough on the Gatineau hydro corridor and down Highland Creek to Lake Ontario’s Waterfront Trail, all off-road. Most of the trail already exists. A few connections to link the separate parts of the trail, but not all, are being completed in time for the Pan Am Games in July 2015. Once complete it will be 85 km one way.
Until last year, once one exited the trail at Fairglen Crescent and turned south on Weston Road, it was almost a kilometre until you could get off the road and back onto the trail. Last year, this staircase shown below, with bike rail, as demonstrated by Patti, was completed and reduced the travel on roads at this point to about 350 metres. It is at the corner of Weston Road and St. Phillips Road. It is still far from ideal: Weston Road is very busy, signage is poor, the staircase is hard to spot and the bike rail is not easy to use. Since I was riding my road bike, which weighs only about ten kilograms, I decided to carry, rather than roll my bike. Patti used the rail. The stairs are metal with the surface covered in 2 centimetre diametre holes. We both felt like our bike shoes were either going to slip off the surface, landing us on our behinds or clip into the holes, pitching us forward! Had I been on my much heavier hybrid, I would have used the rail. Next time I think I would just ride a little further down Weston Road and ride down the ramp between two apartment buildings, rather than use the stairs. On our return we pushed our bikes up the ramp (it’s quite steep and we were tired) and rode up Weston Road rather than using the stair rail. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of that ramp. It is also easy to miss. It is just south of 2202 Weston Road.
Further down the trail are two long pedestrian bridges under a large railway trestle. In the first picture you can see that it is a quite clever, well-thought-out design. Over the river, the bridge is wider than is needed for the path. On each side, a step up from the path, takes you to a deck with benches for enjoying the view. Cyclists are asked to walk their bikes here. It is rather narrow and bumpy.
When we got to the Old Mill just north of Bloor, we had already done almost 25 km and we were still well north of the lake. We were also getting hungry so we rode out of the valley and along Bloor Street to the Henry VIII Ale House where we had a nice lunch and live entertainment.
After lunch we decided to head back. The trail was quite busy from Bloor to Weston Road with pedestrians, cyclists and skaters, but clearer north of the 401. Next time I think I will ride my hybrid bike, as it is not really possible to take advantage of the faster ride afforded by my road bike on a trail with many other users, and my neck and shoulders were tired at the end of the day. I am sure if it had been later in the season or warmer it would have been even busier. Next time I hope to make it to the lake and one day I hope to travel the whole 85 km length of the Pan Am Path, although, perhaps I will wait until the remaining 8km or so of road connections have been replaced with off-road path. I would definitely recommend riding the portions of the trail that I have explored so far.