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Bike Toronto. You'll be glad you did

May 1, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
Toronto has always made me feel at home, despite not having been born there. And I’ve lived there longer than anywhere else (much more than half of my life, roughly the same amount of time I’ve been part of the Herald-Star) so, I’m kind of from Toronto, except I didn’t go to high school there.

And that’s about the only time the whole “you’re not from here” thing surfaces. No, I don’t have those vital alumni experiences. (The Drummer and his sister remind me whenever they can that “your high school isn’t there anymore, Dad.” Except it is but it’s named something else. Kids, if you read this, insert insult here.)

Don’t tell me about Toronto being a place where “outsiders” aren’t welcomed. (Of course, if all my hometowners are snickering behind my back, hey, at least they never let on in public or in my face!)

Where I’m going is that I’m glad to be a part of Toronto in a special way that aids and abets my (everyone’s) need for daily exercise.

Tuesday evening was the first of this season’s regularly scheduled weekly group rides through the Gem City and beyond, on the trail put together by the Toronto Coalition for Revitalization, known electronically as TheGemCity.org. And the group must have ordered low humidity and warm, but not hot, temperatures.

On a beautiful Tuesday evening, about a dozen or so folks of all ages got together and rode from the bike corral downtown (the parking lot with the beautiful clock in it, right by PNC Bank, diagonal from where the new Dollar General is planned) down to the end of South River Avenue (behind TIMET), and then north, all the way to the Stratton Municipal Park if we so desired. (I will keep up with Rev. Mike Bongart all the way up there and back, someday.) My odometer said I rode a total of about 13-plus miles (I didn’t ride up the hill to the park. Hey, it’s the first ride of the season and the legs were doing a Jell-O impersonation by the edge of the Sammis power plant.)

The trail group has done an impressive job, getting the city and county behind the program, getting pavement markings, including directional “sharrows” (arrows with a bicyclist on them, perhaps so named to remind drivers to “share” the road), and organizing group rides. There also are red-and-white “T” markings every tenth of a mile. (And yes, the former outsider recognizes the significance of red and white to Toronto natives...Red Knights colors!)

This summer, from now until it starts getting dark too early, the rides will be on Tuesdays beginning at 6 p.m. Experienced riders can haul along in their own group. The less experienced, or more social riders can ride together. It’s a ride for eveyrone, in other words. So, no excuses, join us. It’s friendly stuff with exercise thrown in for good measure. And it gives people who haven’t been there, as well as people who live in the Gem City but go around only in their car, a chance to see the scenic and beautiful River Avenue, with grand homes and riverfront vistas, all pretty well maintained by caring homeowners and families who take pride in their home and community.

Yep. I’m from Toronto now, and proud of it.

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AND A CORRECTION: I hang my head as an aviation buff in shame today. Thanks to a set of eagle eyes, I am reminded that Doolittle's Raiders flew B-25 Mitchell's, which were big, not B-24 Liberators, which were huge and would never have fit on, let alone take off from, a WWII aircraft carrier deck. Please make a note of that. B-25s, not B-24s were flown by Doolittle's Raiders. The rest of my April 29 column stands, in awe of those pilots from the raid.

 
 

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