Colleen Kirley wonders why this sign has been painted silver.
By Tammy Thorne
Photos by Jennifer Rong
dandyhorse was pretty darn excited when Nadir Olivet told us about the world's smallest velodrome coming to town.
The event starts at 2 pm and the main race for the grand prize ~ a custom-painted T1 Cervélo track bike frame ~ is scheduled to start at 7 pm. YNOT bags and some beauty trophies are also up for grabs.
The sprawling grounds will be littered with cyclists and fun lovers from far and wide. The winner from the Montreal event will be competing along with about 70 other riders. You can find more information here and on the Facebook event page.
In anticipation for the event, three top dandizettes and I went on an exploratory ride into the Don Valley to try and discover the best bike route to the Brick Works. Jennifer Rong (who took most of these photos), Colleen Kirley, Amanda Beattie and I headed into the wilds of the Don. Our only goal: avoid Bayview, if possible.
As we were all coming from different parts of town and as no one was actually east of the Don River, we decided the best, most central, meeting spot would be Bloor and Sherbourne.
Colleen and Jennifer check our preferred route from Sherbourne and Bloor through Rosedale into the Don Valley.
We took the advice of our pals and decided we wanted to try taking the minor multi-use trail (marked by a thin purple line on the bike map above) via the scenic Milkman’s Lane. Although unnamed on the bike map, this minor multi-use trail leads directly to the Evergreen Brick Works.
You can see it on the Evergreen Brick Works bike map here.
Anthony Westenberg, cyclist and director of Public Relations at Evergreen Brick Works told us, "The route I always take from the west is through Rosedale and then dipping into the ravine at Milkman's lane, right at the bottom of that, follow it through and then right at the next fork which takes you to the south west corner of the parking lot by the dog run. The top of Milkman’s is a bit bumpy from being washed out somewhat, but I took it with my cargo bike this morning with no troubles."
He added that when coming from the east, while Pottery Road is closed to cars, you can access the valley from there by bike and on foot from Broadview Avenue.
We decided to go straight up the Sherbourne bike lane to Elm Street and then in through Craigleigh Gardens Park.
We went a little too far on Elm. It may have been my fault. I was distracted by all the beautiful houses and may have possibly distracted the rest of the gang with my ridiculous joking. I told the girls to stay alert for potential lawyer/doctor/diplomat husbands, as I yelled out “hot girl bike parade coming through!"
So we then took some direction from a helpful and well-dressed neighbour.
He also suggested we go through the park.
So we turned back and went to Craigleigh Gardens.
At the top of Milkman's Lane. A popular route for dog walkers.
The friendly dandy stranger reappeared in his Volvo and gave us even more specific instructions about having to walk our bikes for a bit until we got to the intersection at the bottom of the lane and then we had to go right… or was it left… uphill anyway…
And so, we descended.
Heavy rains have left a long rut in the middle of Milkman's Lane and rocks and other debris scattered all over. While you could ride this route with fatter tires, we chose to walk.
Hard to image you're still in the city here. It was pretty.
At the bottom of the hill at the intersection there was a sign about trail repairs with an information box. Unfortunately, the information inside was not very helpful for our trip.
The Evergreen Brick Works signage had been painted over and was solid silver confusing us only further (as can be seen in the top photo).
Which way should we go? Did the friendly stranger tell us to go left or was it right?
An information box without directions and a ghostly silver sign.
We decided to go to the left, as it was more uphill and because we felt the Evergreen Brick Works sign must have been painted over for a reason.
Unsure if we were going the right way we just enjoyed the view along a tree-lined path.
As we were told, this route was taking us uphill. Yet, with a rocky path and each of us on bikes with skinny tires, there was still a lot of walking.
In fact, too much walking. We were all beginning to suspect we had gone the wrong way. As we walked our bikes uphill we emerged from the path at Mount Pleasant and Roxborough!
Realizing we were now further away from Evergreen Brick Works than we'd started, it was time for another map consultation.
After a brief safety meeting, we decided it was time to just blast down (or up, as it were) Roxborough into the direction we knew the valley was and take our chances, hoping that we'd be able to connect to a trail that would lead us back in the right direction, rather than walk our bikes back the way we came, as the gravel had been rough for much of the path (which we later learned was Park Drive Reservation.) We all agreed that a new route was in order.
At the end of Roxborough, we filled up our water bottles at a fountain and regrouped before we headed into another adorable park in yet another tony part of town. Nearby we spotted a set of cute stone stairs that appeared to take us into the valley. Or so we thought….
But, moments later we found out why this route wasn’t marked on our bike map.
THE STAIRS FROM HELL!
There were about 100 rickety wooden stairs here. Deciding we had come too far to turn back we carried our bikes down the stairs.
We all declared we would definitely "take the right way home" and "only use paved paths" after this.
Once at the bottom, Jennifer, now covered in burrs, I scouted ahead down a narrow dirt path and heard some running water. We had made it!
We went through a thick bush and the narrow dirt path emerged the wider, ride-able path. We were back on the trail. (EDs note: Our travellers have arrived on the Moore Park Ravine minor multi-use path. To the north this route connects to Moore Avenue as well as the Mount Pleasant Cemetery.)
But which way to go now?
Right. We were all pretty sure we needed to turn right here.
Low and behold, after only a few pedal strokes we were there!
And what greeted us as we arrived? A "cyclists please dismount" sign, after we had been walking our bikes for most of our wild ride. We all laughed as we walked our bikes down the hill into the beautiful Evergreen Brick Works!
It was time for a short break.
The Red Bull Mini Drome is also brought to you by Steam Whistle, Cervélo and dandyhorse.
Then back on the trail!
This time we were sure we would get it right.
Alas, with our new rule of taking only paved paths and seeing what appeared to be a loop back and a cyclist on Bayview, we thought we were again going the wrong way.
We asked a young family if we could get back downtown on the hard dirt path but they suggested we had to go along Bayview Avenue. (EDs note: Had our dandizettes continued on this path they would have reached Milkman's Lane and could have retraced their steps to Sherbourne and Bloor.)
So we doubled back to Evergreen Brick Works so we could cross at the lights.
Once across Bayview we rode for a bit on a nice smooth path with lush greenery. The path allows cyclists to bypass the unfriendly cloverleaf exit here and took us under the Prince Edward Viaduct. Smooth sailing, or so we thought, until we were plopped out unceremoniously onto Bayview. Amanda scouted ahead and then we all agreed to ride in single file on the shoulder against traffic.
We soon made it to a light crossing, where the wide shoulder ended.
We crossed, finding ourselves at Rosedale Valley Drive, and took the "major" multi-use path back up towards Bloor and Park.
Overall we would all agree: Do NOT go this way!
EDs note: The Don Trail along Bayview is still under construction. Once completed, jersey barriers will protect cyclists from rushing traffic on Bayview. The widened shoulder will become a bi-directional multi-use path connecting Rosedale Valley Drive to Pottery Road via Bayview.
While there are several ways to get into the Don Valley from the west, we recommend our original route down Milkman's Lane, though be sure to make a RIGHT at the bottom of the hill to reach Evergreen Brick Works.
This Saturday will be a beautiful day for biking and hiking!
There's going to be a crazy race too.
dandyhorse will be on hand and rooting for our photographic contributor, Christopher Kaiser, who will be competing in and shooting the event.
dandyhorse is the official local media sponsor of this event and our new Food Issue (as well as back issues and T-shirts) will be for sale at the dandy merch table.
See you there!
From the west: In Rosedale the entrace to Milkman's Lane is off of South Drive. You can access South Drive from Elm Ave.
From the east: Pottery Road is currently closed to cars and trucks but is accessible to both pedestrians and cyclists. Follow Pottery Road west to Bayview Avenue. At the intersection wait for the light and make a left turn, riding on the paved shoulder to the entrance to Evergreen Brick Works.
Do you have route suggestions to help people arrive safely at Evergreen Brick Works by bike or on foot? Share your tips in the comments below.