Category Archives: trail

MTBing the Glen

My buddy O’Malley and I got up early Saturday morning, strapped our bikes onto the back of my family’s van and drove up to East Duffins Headwaters for a few solid hours of biking. This fairily well-kept secret of the GTA is a hiking and mountain biking park located in Glen Major forest. The park is owned by the Toronto Regional Conservation Authority (TRCA) and, although not fitted out with large berms, beams or MTB-specific structures, it is spectacular for its single track and quite a few good hills. Not to mention the *huge* length of its trails – there are enough winds, forks, and parallel paths that you wouldn’t have seen them all in one full day of riding. Its on Sideline 4, a few kilometers north of Concession Road 9.

Here a map of the place:

Lots of multi-use, and MTB-oriented, trails.
I fooled about with my phone and set it up so that GPS was on, and tracked the expedition:

View MTBing the Glen in a larger map –> There are some more routes on the page 2 of the map

What a great park – but shhhh! Don’t let the word spread about this well-hidden treasure just outside of Toronto.  

6 Months Later, Pt. 2

In the spirit of comparing how things have changed over the past half year, I thought I’d continue the theme, but this time, with a little trail construction.

June 16th:

And we’ve come a pretty long way since then, with the trail going out a good 300m more than before.

February 11th:

Yes. Quite the change, as the trail is now rounding the promontory made by the bluffs, and we can clearly see the beach of Bluffer’s Park, whereas we could only really see the tip before. The story is that the breakwater is to be connected up the the beachfront trail at Bluffer’s Park, so that it can form a single multi-use trail.

But what if we turn our gaze from westward to northward, and look at the bluffs? Why, we see this!

If you don’t see it already, there is a small dwelling leaning precariously off the bluff’s edge. Here’s a closeup:
Hello, Mrs. Van! Is Billy home?

This Meadowcliffe Drive building has actually been hanging off the bluff’s edge on  since early 2008 when a large chunk of bluff collapsed. This house once belonged to Billy Van,  the Toronto-born singer, actor and comedian. Huh.

You can see some better pictures of Billy Van’s house up-close here.

New 29er Monstercross from Surly

Quite a few years ago, Surly introduced the then-revolutionary Karate Monkey frameset (they claim it was one of the first commercially-produced 29er frames). Now, Surly has taken the concept behind their utility bike, the Troll, and bumped it up from 26in wheels to 29in:

The new Surly Ogre.  Credit: Surly Bikes
Surly says that their new frame has geometry similar to the Karate Monkey (which, by following their numbers, it does), but with all the function of the Troll. What does this mean? Well, it has:
– Front and rear Canti/Linear brake mounts
– Disk brake tabs
– Double dropout eyelets, both front and back (so you can mount fenders and racks all round!)
– Specifically design for fender clearance (yay!)
– Fits up to 29 x 2.5″ tires, more that one should ever reasonably need
– Full-housing cable mounts 
– Surly-compatible trailer mount
The bike seems well-equipped to be an all-rounder, off-road (or road) tourer, or nice singletrack companion. 
The only quibble I have with this frame is that there is no down tube cable stop, or place to bolt one on (as in the Origin 8 CX700). Be prepared to have to DIY a cable stop if you want to use drop bars. I like the offset seat tube, which will definitely aid in fender-izing your bike. 
So far, the bike frames aren’t yet in stock or in stores, so there isn’t much to go buy in terms of user reviews. Twentynineinches.com reports that the Ogre frame+fork combo will likely be offered at a sub $500 price, similar to the Karate Monkey ($475 MSRP). However, don’t forget the price on novelty! I suspect that the price will be slightly higher than the Karate Monkey, due to this model filling in a niche market (with the Salsa Fargo, Orgin8 CX700, Singular Peregrine and little else competing with it). 

Update: Trail Construction

I was wrong – the city is actually making pace with construction down by the bluffs. In fact, they currently have finished the path connecting to Gates Gully. I’m quite surprised at the speed with which they are progressing every day; after visiting the construction site a few times, they seem to mark progress with posts, which (by my measurements) average 4m of new road each day! At this rate, including all weekends and holidays, the 1.5 km segment remaining between Bluffers Park and Gates Gully should be finished in roughly one year from now.

I accessed the trail via the Guild Inn, just as the last of the dump trucks and Toronto and Region Conservation   authorities were packing it in for the day. That’s right – from what I can tell, this project seems to be planned from a “parks and rec” as well as “watersheds protection” angle, not so much for cyclo-commuting (insert sad emoticon of your choice here). But, I didn’t really expect that it would ever be for that reason – much more likely to prevent erosion of the bluffs as just a simple gravel trail.

The trail was churned-up from dump truck traffic

It was just above zero during the afternoon, enough to melt all the snow/ice and turn the gravel and dirt road at the base of the bluffs into a muddy mess. Not easy going on relatively thin tyres, but boy! was I impressed when I made it to the new construction point. Up until now, the “construction” that has been going on has consisted of merely stacking up piles of debris – I can now see why. They went at it all in one go: no waiting for fill to finish. It took less than a week to build 200m of new road/trail:

All new construction
I’m glad to see that this is making priority, after about 10 years of stagnation. This could mean a completed trail system to the beaches in ~5 years, which would complete the perfect route for commuting downtown.
I’ll leave you with some pictures to finish off:

Newly-built trail’s end

My bike loves mud…
Happy, for once
View from base of Gates Gully
View from end
Muddy, new road
Gates Gully creek in winter

Bulldozers and the Bluffs

Last post involved the path down at the base of the bluffs, and how it would make a great bike path (read the dedicated “Commuting, a Trail Proposal” page). However, construction efforts have been stupendously slow. Almost no actually progress has been made since two summers ago; dump trucks are only piling up the fill at the one end of the path.

The red circle is where the current construction is ongoing. 

Upon closer inspection of the site, a bulldozer and an excavator can be seen – these have served only to force the dumped loads into mounds. In the future (who knows how long), the rubble will be pushed into the water to construct the remaining section between Gates Gully and this path situated below the Guild Inn.

The red line indicates the path being built now – about 240 meters. This is less than 1/17 of the amount of the path needed to be newly constructed (including breakwater trails), and has taken a full year to get only the building materials collected. It’ll be another 20 years to get the thing finished! Oh, well. With some motivation, we may just be able to get city council to push the project up on their “To Do” list.

It may be interesting for you to know that the heavy equipment they use is not kept under lock-and-key at all; it is simply abandoned at the end of a working day:

The unlocked bulldozer
Is it considered “breaking in” when there was
no breaking involved?
My buddy, for relative size
Operating the control levers, but with
no great success.

Note the metal paneling over the windows and door: it
may be easily removed with only a wrench.

The ‘dozer was left completely accessible, minus the operating keys, but it still had enough hydraulic pressure to lift and lower the bucket, twice! While I don’t recommend it, one only needs a wrench, and they can get in and fully operate the excavator – the workers leave the keys inside, but slide on metal coverings over the door, and keep them in place with only a few bolts!

They are still around the end of the path, for anybody interested, as of Dec. 27th, and don’t look as if they are moving anytime soon. Just watch for the workers between 10 AM and 6 PM once the holidays are over. Cheers.

2010 In Review: Part 2

School may have come to a close for this year – but it will soon rear its ugly head (on the 3rd of January – ugh!). There are only…  4 days left as I am writing this

There are a few more highlights to go through on the 2010 review itinerary, this one being about cycling. What’s not to like about it? I personally am very fond of the sport, recreation and leisure offered by the activity. Well, so far, I’m still fairly novice – I’ve only logged a little over 5500 km in my life – but that’s not too bad a start.

This year’s cycling mileage is roughly 2000 km – almost half of my total. Why ‘roughly’? My cyclometer died half-way through the year, resetting its data, and I don’t ride with it all the time. Counting school commuting, I’m much closer to 2750 km.

A milestone in itself, at least, one to note and beat in the coming year – once I manage find my cyclometer again (*sigh*). Another milestone: first long-haul tour, from Toronto to Kingston. Over 380 km of road and light trail, with the exception near Cobourg, which was some tough trail for someone loaded for road touring. Great ride, scenic, and okay (actually, rather poor) weather. Covered in 3 days, it still came to a push at the end, when lost in Prince Edward County (a very hill county, with plenty-o-climbs to make up for the rest of the trip).

Lunch!
Lookout near Lake on the Mountain, Prince Edward County.

Milestone #3 – What I’ve learned from the experience: ALWAYS BRING SPARE TUBES! A tire patch kit won’t cut it if the valve-stem rips off. Try fixing that in the rain, in the middle of nowhere (well, I managed to, but you might not!).  Also, bring lots of water bottles if you know your fellow rider gets thirsty easily. And I mean a lot.


Enjoy the rest of the Holidays!