OK, so it's the Canada Day long weekend and you can't leave the city due to work or family commitments.
But you do have part of a day to kill and you don't want to spend it drinking beer, sleeping on the couch or sauntering around your all-too-familiar 'hood.
If this person is you, here are three modest cycling loops in and around the city, all offering natural attractions of some sort. As an added bonus, each offers the opportunity to put a face on a new development.
I've put together itineraries for Charleswood, Transcona and Fort Garry:
1. You gotta have Harte
The trip: A 36-kilometre circuit from Assiniboine Forest to Beaudry Provincial Park and back, encompassing the Harte Trail in Charleswood, the Headingley Grand Trunk Trail, Roblin Boulevard and Grant Avenue.
Attractions: Canada Day festivities at Assiniboine Park, if you're into masses of humanity. The relative solitude of Assiniboine Forest and Beaudry Provincial Park are the real tent poles for the trip.
And while you have the chance: See what the vast triangle of land known as Ridgewood South looks like before residential development turns much of the agricultural land and some of the natural areas into a southern extension of Charleswood. The Harte Trail corridor itself will be preserved.
Directions: From at the main entrance to Assiniboine Forest on Grant Avenue, bike three kilometres south along the forest's paved and woodchip trails; the precise route south depends on whether or not you want to follow asphalt all the way. At the south end of the forest, you will meet up with the Harte Trail, which follows an old railway bed. Head west for 6.5 kilometres to the Perimeter Highway, carefully walk your bike over the highway and pedal the Headingley Grand Trunk Trail another 10 kilometres west until it terminates at the south end of Beaudry Park. Return to Winnipeg along Roblin Boulevard and Grant Avenue, switching to side streets if you prefer.
2. Soar with flamingoes
The trip: A 15-kilometre circuit around Transcona, utilizing the Transcona Trail and residential streets.
Attractions: The New Tall Grass Prairie Reserve east of Bradley Street, between Regent Avenue West and Ravelston Avenue West. The Transcona Bioreserve between the trail and Gunn Road.
And while you have the chance: Get a sense of the scale of Park City West, a mixed-use development planned for the former city public works yard that sits inside the triangle of land between Ravelston Avenue West, Plessis Road and the Transcona Trail.
Directions: Start at the Transcona Trailhead, scenically located between a Costco and a Tim Hortons franchise, at the equivalent of 1503 Regent Ave. West. Pedal six kilometres east to the Perimeter, passing by the tall-grass prairie reserve, the Park City West site and the bioreserve within the first few kilometres. Head south along the berm at the west side of the Perimeter -- there is no formal trail here, unfortunately -- for about 550 metres. You can use the back lane at Blairmore Gardens to return to the street network. Follow Alex Taylor Drive south to Kildare Avenue East and follow it west to Redonda Street. Head south, scooch through Victoria Jason Park to Coldstream Avenue and then take Ravelston Avenue back to the beginning. Any other combo of Transcona streets would also suffice.
3. Southwood comfort
The trip: A 24-kilometre jaunt through Fort Richmond, St. Vital, St. Germain and St. Norbert, hitting up no less than seven parks along the way.
Attractions: River Road Park, Henteleff Park, Normand Park, the Red River Floodway control structure at Duff Roblin Provincial Park, St. Norbert Provincial Heritage Park, St. Norbert Farmers' Market, Trappist Monastery Provincial Heritage Park, King's Park and the University of Manitoba's Fort Garry campus.
And while you have the chance: Wander through the closed-off but easily penetrable former Southwood Golf Course lands, which are slated for redevelopment by the U of M.
Directions: Start at Investors Group Field and enjoy the ample non-game-day parking. Pedal north through Southwood lands, either along University Crescent or right alongside the Red River; there is no formal trail there, but university students have carved out a footpath. Continue north to the Bishop Grandin Greenway, cross the Red River on the south span of the Fort Garry Bridge and meander south through River Road, riverside parks and where you must, St. Mary's Road. Cross the Perimeter and continue to Courchaine Road, where you'll cross back over the Red. Use Turnbull Drive and Pembina Highway to access the parks in St. Norbert before taking Cloutier Drive and Kilkenny Drive to King's Park. Follow King's Drive through the university back to the start.