We each have a spot or two where we ride that we consider magical. These are the kind of places where we feel at peace, where we feel free on the bike. Riding is not only sport and transportation but also experiencing new places, about sharing the experience and better discovering oneself.
Pary Bell is a Team Mariposa cyclocross racer and lives in Toronto, Canada. He rides regularly on the trails and roads around the city on his Mariposa All-Road bike. Here is one of his favourite places to ride in the city:
Gates Gully and the Doris McCarthy Trail: By Pary Bell
Part I: The descent
Exiting a very busy Kingston Road at Bellamy Road, you quickly transition from the pavement to a gravel path that plunges down towards the water. When I first started riding here to train for the B.C. Bike Race over ten years ago, it was a washed out and very rough broken trail that was perfect for mountain bikes. It has since been completely re-surfaced with some lovely gravel and is a thrilling descent on a gravel bike.
The gravel makes such a great crunching sound as you coast further and further down “Gates Gully” feeling the temperature drop a few degrees as you pass through the thermal layers approaching the lake.
Part II: Passages – the sculpture
Once you reach the bottom, you are greeted by an amazing steel sculpture at the foot of the trail created by Marlene Hilton Moore in 2001. To me it looks like the rib bones of a giant Great Lakes’ fish or the ribs of a giant canoe. It always delivers an emotional impact to me when I encounter it at the bottom of the trail. It is elegant and stoic as it faces the wind and the elements on the shore below the sandy hillside bluffs. For me it symbolizes the act of exploring and was such a gift to find the first time I ventured down this unknown path.
Part III: The Gravel along the Waterfront
Turning the bike eastward and rolling onto the gravel is where I really start to feel a transition of spirit. The sound of traffic is replaced by the rolling waves hitting the beaches, the buzzing of the cicadas, and the sounds of the birds in the trees. My mind calms as I begin to let go of the hustle and bustle of the city and give into the bike and to the rhythm of my effort. Each twist and turn on the gravel path reveals a different beautiful view of the lake or the sandy bluffs above the trail.
It is a place I turn to quite often and I am still surprised that I rarely encounter other people here. When I do come across the occasional person walking their dog or a fellow rider, there is a look that is exchanged between us that simply says “i know… amazing, isn’t it?”
Part IV: The climb out
After a few kilometers, the gravel path transitions into what was once an old paved access road from the Guildwood Inn giving you a short, steep climb into a quiet Scarborough neighborhood. Sometimes I keep going eastward on my adventure and other times I choose to turn around so I can experience this little sanctuary for a little longer before heading back to city life.