Thursday, December 10, 2009
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Last night I explored an interesting unopened road allowance about two concessions south of Richmond Road, just east of Franktown off Hwy 15. Back in the settlement days, Richmond Road was one of the most important routes through eastern Ontario, linking the town of Richmond with Perth. Both towns were important centres for local governance and the provisioning of the steady stream of lumbermen and miners who worked the northern bush camps.
OK, these aren't exactly epic adventures, but for someone like me who's just learning to ride through deep water on a motorcycle, building water crossing skills has been unavoidable this year. It's the wettest July on record in Ottawa. The good thing is the webbing that's now growing between my fingers and toes has helped to reduce the feeling of engine vibration.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Monday, July 13, 2009
Some sleuthing uncovers intriguing details about the old iron mines in the Wilbur/Lavant Station area along the abandoned K&P railway. Here's an excerpt from an Ontario government annual report dated 1884:
"Boyd Caldwell Mine -- The Boyd Caldwell Mine is at Wilbur Station, in the south western part of the township of Lavant, close to the Kingston and Pembroke road, and a siding is laid from the track to the mouth of the shaft. The machinery consists of a twenty horse-power boiler, a steam hoist, and other plant. The shaft has been sunk about 75 feet, and 6,000 tons of ore have been taken out, but the mine had been closed for some time previous to my visit. It is owned by Mr. Boyd Caldwell, of Lanark.
"Wilbur Mine -- This one is near the Boyd Caldwell mine, and is owned by the Wilbur Iron Mining and Manufacturing Company, the stock of which is controlled at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Its machinery consists of an air compressor for driving six drills, a double hoist, a fifty horse-power boiler and other plant. The quantity of ore shipped from it in 1882 was 8,000 tons; in 1883, 17,000 tons; and in 1884, 9,200 tons. the hamlet of Wilbur has a population of about 250 souls, nearly all of whom are miners."
Thursday, July 2, 2009
"Getting there involves riding the cable car to the top station and then a bit of riding / hike-a-bike... but from the point of the photo on there's an absolutely incredible singletrack descent that goes on and on and on. It's super-technical (but all rideable) and with quite a bit of exposure. One of the best trails in the
Alps, for sure."
West of Almonte is the hamlet of Tatlock, where there's massive marble quarry that's really worth a trip on a sunny day. The rock formation is gleaming hill of white crumbly rock that OMYA is gradually stripping away for use as filler in things like paint, plastics, and toothpaste. (See my other post for more information on the geology.)
Update Aug 25, 2014: The quarry has recently been closed to public access. According to the large sign barricading the road, some people didn't respect the fencing around the viewing area and trespassed into the quarry proper.
Update Nov 22, 2015: Closed again when I visited two weekends ago. Not sure if seasonal or permanent.
Many mountain bikers in the Ottawa area are surprised to learn that the Stony Swamp in Bells Corners offers some great trail riding. I only really discovered the area myself a couple of years ago, despite driving by it almost daily. Sure, you can see some trailheads from the road--but from that perspective it really doesn't look inspiring. Why bother bringing out the bike when the Kanata Lakes technical trail system is only a few minutes away?
Update (2014): Stoney Swamp fell victim to an extensive bush fire several years ago, To reach the fire, crews cut a number of roads into the heart of some of the best mountain biking trails in the swamp. The remaining trails are still pretty good--especially for beginners. But the hardest stuff is gone.
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
This was some of the best alpine singletrack I've ever ridden: perfectly buff trails, grip that only a tire salesman could dream of, stunning scenery, and brilliant flow.
Crossing the Continental Divide brought us to the real South Park and an epic ride that started at 10,000' and only went up.
One sweet ride for the self-propelled is the 30-odd km out-and-back "Rafters to Coliseum" route at Wilderness Tours in Beachburg, Ontario.
The abandoned Kingston & Pembroke ("K&P") railway line is a great jumping-off point for some interesting trail rides west of Ottawa, including the E Trail and its numbered tributaries. Following the K&P from Sharbot Lake to Calabogie, or all the way to Renfrew is a beautiful ride--especially in late summer. There are many lakes and endless forest, so even though the line is straight and you have to pay attention to your front wheel, it's a great introduction to backcountry riding in the area.
C'mon, isn't that just a challenge for you to explore? :-)
These are the remains of a log cabin on a backroad off a backroad off a backroad near the virtual ghost town of McLean, south-west of Sharbot Lake. The logs themselves are long since gone, but you can see their impressions in the poured cement that remains from where a farmer once probably tried to shore-up and weatherproof the structure.
There's endless discussion online about what tires work best for dual-sport. Of course, what works best for you depends on your bike, your riding skills and style, terrain--and, ultimately--budget.
The Arcol Road in Lanark County is just one route into an area densely filled will hundreds of kilometres of trail-riding opportunities. However, it's an area that now requires a trail pass ("Gold Pass", see thetrail.ca).
This is another stretch of the "E" trail in Lanark County, showing typical trail conditions in some areas. Although it may look a bit frightening if you're a roadie or new to dual-sport riding, it's actually quite rideable on bikes like a BMW 650GS with stock tires--if you take it slow. There's a bit of mud but it's not the sticky, sucking stuff that buries you up to your hubs (although there is that too).
Just to show I'm not totally a motorhead, here's my time-trial rig. Going fast under your own steam a few times a week is great therapy for my day job in a cubicle. It's also great conditioning for trail riding, when you need to be able to toss around a heavy KLR on rocky roads for hours on end.
One of my cycling buddies is Ken Harper, Executive Chef and proprietor of ChopChop Catering. Ken's a budding road rider out in the gorgeous banjo-picking country we call home. As an accomplished, thoughtful and well-travelled chef he never fails to impress with excellent food and astounding tales of world travel. I encourage you to give him a call if you're looking to impress a crowd with a special dinner.
The "E" trail in Eastern Ontario is one of the main backcountry routes through some spectacular scenery. Judging by all the signs that have appeared along the trail this spring, you now need a trail pass to access this route without risking a fine. Whatever; I got the pass ("Gold Pass", $149--see thetrail.ca or pick one up at Carson's in Perth) so now I ride guilt-free. :-)