This was an ideal day to explore the Ottawa environs par velo. It was bright and pleasantly cool, and the fall leaves are changing colour. Mostly, I explored the paths south of Centretown on the side of various watercourses: the Rideau Canal, Rideau River, etc. I found Carleton University by accident, and discovered a very nice 10km loop that begins and ends at my house: you head north through the Lebreton Flats to the Ottawa River, then take the riverside paths to the Rideau Canal locks beside Parliament. Ride up that hill (it is good that it is near the beginning of the route), then follow the path alongside the canal until you reach the point where it widens to a well-sized lake. At one end of that lake is a kind of grey floating pavilion, which is actually at the southern foot of Preston Street. Returning to the road system there, you can cycle through Little Italy and back to my flat in a few minutes.
All told, I went a bit more than 46km. The bulk of it was excellent, though my hill-climbing muscles definitely need some re-conditioning after more than two months of bikelessness. Another well-learned fact is that it is foolhardy to cycle along most of the major roads in Centretown. It’s just one red light after another, with irate drivers all around you furious that you seem to be delaying their arrival at the next stopping point by up to three seconds.
I think a bit more random wandering in in order, before I get a cycle map. As with the lake pavilion / Preston situation, it is quite satisfying to have two pieces of your mental map of a city click together on the basis of exploration, rather than the consulting of a pre-prepared guide.