Early mornings often find me astride an unyielding bicycle seat, despite the manufacturer’s claim to its ergonomic benefits. Discomfort aside, I climb on my bike and hold a wet finger to the wind to determine the path of least resistance. I’m spoiled for choice.
In the southwest corner of Winnipeg, Whyte Ridge might seem isolated and without connection to the kilometres of bicycle trails that now wend through our city. That’s not the case. You can cycle in most directions with minimal road-sharing.
A favourite route of mine is out my back door and across McGillivray Boulevard through the back gate of FortWhyte Alive. Traffic noise becomes dulled, giving way to the dawn chorus of birdsong. Mindful of the early-morning birdwatchers who dot the limestone trails, I ride north, dipping and curving through boreal forest and out onto open grassland. On any given day, sightings of deer, rabbits, woodchucks, bison and endless birds and waterfowl are common.
At Sterling Lyon Parkway the FortWhyte Alive trail — which is a part of the TransCanada Trail — connects to Thundering Bison Trail running west and east.
West leads to Shaftesbury Boulevard and onto the Harte or Preston trails. The Harte Trail, a converted rail bed through a mixed-growth woodland, heads to the west Perimeter
Highway, stopping short of the harried highway traffic.
The Preston Trail leads north through Canada’s largest urban forest and into Assiniboine Park with its own set of trails.
The options from here are too numerous for this column but can be found on the Cycle Winnipeg Trail Map found at bikewinnipeg.org
If the breezes blow from the north, I head south out of Whyte Ridge along Kenaston Boulevard on the newer paved/limestone trail heading toward Bishop Grandin Boulevard. A temporary detour around the Kenaston interchange is a bit of a nuisance but picking the trail back up at Waverley Street and Bishop Grandin allows me to ride paved pathways eastward to Lagimodiere Boulevard and beyond. Or I can veer off into St. Vital Park; or along the shaded river curves of River Road into Victoria Crescent.
Today I’m taking advantage of the summertime-Sunday Wellington Crescent closure to motorized traffic.
I’ll gladly share the road with runners, dog-walkers and babies in prams.
Most river-hugging routes in Winnipeg are similarly designated on Sundays and holiday Mondays.
En route, there’s a bakery with amazing croissants. I think I’ll have earned one.
Pat Kelly is a community correspondent for Whyte Ridge.