Travel

Bike maps need a grain of salt. How to find the entrance to the Taylor Creek path? It's easy from the east end, where it starts just north of Victoria Park subway. But the western end is tangled up in the various ravines mixed up with the 4-lane monster Bayview "avenue' and the Don Valley expressway, snaking through, trying to straighten out Nature. Another false start. Last time I was with Ryan and he was impatient with my bungling, so we ended up at the tacky waterfront. It's an industrial wasteland now, and soon will be glistening high rises and manicured greenery. Yuck.

I had to do something risky and interesting, having chickened out of last week’s planned 90km trip into the traffic wastelands from Innisfil to Toronto. Right move, foot now fixed itself with some massage, bandaid splint, lots of ice, and lots of doing nothing. Time to prove my mettle. Supposed to be rain, but didn’t feel like it and I prefer cloud, so after defending Iraqi-Iranian friendship for Presstv, i packed my oranges, cheese, dope, cell phone with map stored so i could use offline, and offline i went by metro to the sticks. 

Up at 8am and went out to catch cosmos heads as they burst, as they hang over the border onto the sidewalk. It’s nice to say good-bye to my floral friends, especially the catalpas. 

Oshawa is the last stop on the GO train east from Toronto, 60km -- in theory. I’m sure there are many ace sportsmen who zip back and forth (terrifying walkers), but I’ve never met anyone who tried to do it. Undaunted, I packed my lunch, gathered my pump etc, and aimed for the 8:13 train.

With the new bike craze, there are bike lanes popping up where you least expect them. University Ave, Toronto’s stately boulevard of banks, the US consulate, the Ontario legislature (in that order of importance) now has a spiffy bright designated lane, and a trip down past spooky silent skyscrapers on an early Saturday morning was now a delight. Leisurely pedaling among the monolithsI felt like I owned this concrete paradise, not TD et al.

 

Hamilton is a biker’s paradise. Even the inevitable ribbons of death (Hwys 403 and 407) slicing through it haven’t killed it. It is disparaged as Hammertown/ Steeltown for its attack of rust-beltitis in the era of ‘free trade’ (not). It’s kind of dreary, compared to Toronto or even its twin Burlington, which Maclean’s dubbed Canada’s shiniest new urban paradise (maybe true if you are a car addict), but that is in fact its cachet.

 

Its heyday was a century ago (but then that’s true of all colonial Canada), and it is not a high tech hub, but it has the Niagara Escarpment and its stagnating economy means no massive high rise condomania. Its working class ethos is served by its NDP MPPs and MP, and the affordable Chedoke Civic Golf Course smack in the centre of the city.

 

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html