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Workout of the Week: Bike Path Rollerski Routes
By: Craig Storey (2007/08/02)
Workout Type: Recovery
Exertion Level: Easy
Skier Level: Any
Technique: N/A
Season: Off-season
Terrain: Varied

Suggested Trails:



A few years back team member Eva Szabo enlightened readers, and myself, about her favourite summer workout; long bike path rollerskiing. As Eva revealed, the Ottawa area bike paths aren't just for dog walkers and baby strollers. After several outings this summer, I agree with Eva - bike path skiing is a good mid-week training option! The paths are mainly flat, which makes for good easy recovery workouts and can be a nice change to the hills in the park. Another bonus is that unlike the Gatineau Parkways you can use the paths anytime of the day, everyday of the week. You see it's not legal to rollerski or rollerblade in the Gatineau park unless the roads are closed which only happens Sundays until 11am and Tuesday/Thursday evening from 6pm until dusk. (More details here.)

The Ottawa-Gatineau bike path network covers almost the entire city, so no matter where you live you likely have good access to nice pavement. For students at either the University of Ottawa or Carleton Univerity, the bike paths run to your doorstep, which is fortunate if your stuck in residents without a car.

Like I mentioned earlier the bike paths (like the rest of the city) are mostly flat, but there are some good hills in and around the park you can make use of too. So without further ado, and with a little help from Google Maps, I'll reveal a few of our favourite routes so that you too may enjoy good bike path rollerskiing in the 30°C heat this week.

Tom's Loop [map]

Tom's Loop Tom's Loop starts at his doorstep in downtown Ottawa, heads over to the canal and makes its way down to the Ottawa river behind Parliament. From there it heads West and crosses the river on either the Portage or Eddy-Booth Bridge and heads West along Rue Laurier until the start of the bike path. It follows the path to the Southern tip of the Gatineau Park. The path winds its way to Gamelin Gate and then parallels the Gatineau Parkway over St Raymond and past the Asticou. At this point you climb a steep hill with guard rails which you may remember from the Keskinada!

You head past the Keskinada finish turnoff on your right. At this point you want to hit the breaks for the 120 degree right turn that takes you out into the field at 2km in the Keski. Here you head back towards the start of the Keski. Ideally you would turn left at the bottom of the twisty hill, but we prefer to let the skis run straight ( go ahead and stop in at Skinouk to grab some water) Then turn around and make the turn safely. Cross Cite des Jeunes and head straight into the bush. About 200m in be prepared to stop. This is the scariest hill on the loop! Walk it, it's not worth loosing your teeth on the bridge.

From here you wind you're way through the woods along Hwy 5. You will come to a few little ups and downs before confronted with the option to head to the lookout (right) or make a gradual left down a blind hill. Take a drink at the lookout above the beautiful new reservoir (or whatever that giant concrete monstrosity is), this prevents you from entering the big downhill without as much speed. Turn around and head down, checking your speed as much as possible for the upcoming switchback, which turns left. After that you're still heading downhill, probably with lots of speed. There's a gradual right with fences on both sides which looks ominous, but there's lots of extra pavement to make the turn and you can just head straight to the bottom of the reservoir to burn off the extra momentum. You actually want to turn left and go through the tunnel under Hwy 5.

From there on things flatten out as you head back along the Ottawa river through the city of Gatineau. You have the option of making a loop around Lac Leamy for a good view of the Casino to add another 4km. There's a water fountain in Jacques Cartier park should you need it. Head down the board walk under the Alexander Bridge, past the Museum of Civilization back to your bridge of choice and home.

This loop is just over 35km without the casino tour, which makes it 40km. It's well shaded and in the woods for 50% of it's length, so it's a nice afternoon option. Watch out for cyclist and other path users as parts of this route are quite popular.

Craig's Flat (Tour) Loop [map]

Craig's Loop This loop starts someplace along the canal, heads West along the canal to Dow's lake where it winds through the Arboretum past the Carleton campus and the locks. From there it follows the roads through the Experimental Farm rejoining the bike path after crossing Merivale at Caldwell.

The stretch between Clyde and Maitland is quite fun with twisty but safe downhills. These are good for striding up, doing legs only or double pole strength as well. After the little hills it flattens out, completely, and winds it's way to Woodroffe. After crossing Woodroffe in front of the Fire Station, follow the path to the Transitway.

Don't worry, you don't need change for the bus at this point, there's a great path that parallels the Transitway all the way to the Ottawa River. Once there you follow the river all the way to Parliament hill, go up past the locks under Wellington St. to the NAC. Ski through the back parking lot until the path re-joins the canal. From there it's a pretty obvious where to go, just follow the canal and your site seeing tour of Ottawa landmarks is over.

NRC TT Loop [map]

Craig's Loop As sad as it was at the time a few of us resorted to a rollerski time trial last January 11th, 2007. This after we had to cancel our second race of the season scheduled for that day. As you can see in these video clips of Brian and Tom, it was green grass and T-shirt weather.

The NRC campus is located in Gloucester at Montreal and Blair Rds. The OBC and the Ottawa In-line club alternate weeks for their criteriums so the campus is sports friendly and features good pavement. This 5km Time Trial Route starts in the middle, heads South up a short hill, turns around at bottom of a long gradual hill, climbs back up the hill and down past the start. From there it's a flat into a steeper downhill where you turn around in a parking lot, scramble back up the steep hill and head to the start. The loop has nice varied terrain, which you don't find often. The loop also parallels the famous Blair hill, which could be used for intervals in the early morning.


Watch out for a few of the downhills on these loops, scout everything before you go down it the first time. There's no shame in walking down the hills you don't feel comfortable on.

Also be aware of cyclist. dog walkers, mothers and baby strollers and other path users in general. They are usually afraid of people with poles, but when they don't know you're coming they can't move out of the way so give them some advanced warning before you pass. "Passing on your left" or "Excuse me" usually works nicely. If you are skiing as a group play nice and don't hog the entire path, allow bikes and faster moving traffic to pass.

Yes, the paths can get a bit boring in places. Try a few short sprints or drills, maybe some single arm poling (like classic but don't move your legs), some double poling or legs only to break up the long flat stretches. You might also try these rollerski agility drills.

You might also try commuting to work on rollerskis some days. Aylmer, Gatineau, Kanata and Orleans offer decent routes to downtown and what better way could there be to start the day?

Got a favourite bike path rollerski route? Send us the map and a description and we'll credit you as the explorer who discovered it here.

What are you waiting for? Sharpen your pole tips and head out for a rollerski!

More Workout Suggestions . . .
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