BY DAMIAN COOPER
While I love to kayak and swim, some days my legs just yearn for a workout on my road bike. I’m one of those crazy people who likes hilly, long rides. And so here are a few reflections on my favourite meanderings. Our cottage, lovingly called The Snug, is at the end of Westwind Trail and so my starting point is the Carling Residents’ parking lot near Gilly’s.
My most frequent route is a rolling 45K that takes me along 559, East Carling Bay Rd, then onto Bayview Drive, past Carling Bay Marina, to a dead end at Rockliffe Drive. I head back via West Carling Bay Rd. While I really dislike 559, both parts of Carling Bay Rd. are nice, especially the 4 short, steep hills near the marina. On one ride last year, a coyote chased a deer across the road immediately in front of me!
Another favourite , though this one requires an extra large bowl of porridge before setting off, is to ride through Parry Sound, past the ramp onto the 400 south, onto McDougall Rd. Plenty of fairly long, steep grades on this baby! But watch out for the quarry trucks if it’s a weekday. The reward after the challenging climbs is coffee and a snack in the quaint little hamlet of Hurdsville, on the shores of lake Manitouwabing. Back on the bike, the choice is either to ride back the same way, or to follow the beautiful, quiet Hurdville Rd. heading north-west. The reason I sometimes avoid this route back is Hurdville Rd. joins Hwy 124 in Waubamik and the 8K or so back to Nobel Rd. can induce an anxiety attack!
A frequent and enjoyable 75K ride is to Parry Sound via Nobel Rd, through town and over the bridge, then, right onto Great North Rd. This becomes Emily St. and eventually Rose Point Rd., a rolling meander past all the local marinas that affords great views of the sound. The final climb is up to the former location of the Glen Burney Lodge but then a turnaround is necessary once the paved road ends. On the return leg, I like to reward myself with coffee and a cinnamon bun at Orr’s Meat and Deli!
Sadly, 2018 marked the last year of the Pedal for Parkinson’s fundraising ride. This potentially punishing event – if one chose to ride the maximum distance on all 3 days – was well-organized and supported by the most cheerful volunteers imaginable! Last year, I made the mistake of opting to ride the 130K route to the west end of Healy Lake Rd. with woefully insufficient raining miles under my belt. The last 20K were not pretty!
So get out there and enjoy what Carling Township has to offer serious roadies like me. But please do take very great care. Not all those folks driving huge camping rigs and towing boats to Killbear have respect for us.