Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Bicycle Commuting on Manitoulin Island

On the East Bluff viewing the West Bluff
Gore Bay, Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada

My husband and I have been living on Manitoulin Island for twelve years now.  For us, creating a life here with a rather limited income necessitated quite a number of lifestyle changes and a dedication to minimizing expenditures.  We have no regrets!  We happily made a shift in what "wealth" means and feel incredibly rich to dwell in a very humble home with its million dollar views.

A million dollar view at Ravenseyrie on top of the bluff

A million dollar view at Ravenseyrie at beach level

One of the ways that we have done well at saving money is shortly after I opened my studio and art gallery we purchased a bicycle for me to commute to work upon.

Biria Easy Boarding e-bike above the clouds overlooking the
bay on a gorgeous day for bicycle commuting on Manitoulin Island.

An exceptional view of your author's commute

MapQuest detailing of your author's commute

We live up on the East Bluff and my gallery is down on the waterfront, near the marina in the village of Gore Bay, an 11 kilometre trip one way with some appreciable hills.  This, coupled with my not at all being a "super-fit athlete in spandex" had us choose an early model Biria Easy Boarding bicycle (3 speed with coast brakes) from JV Bikes in Vancouver (via their online store).  This particular model had been wonderfully outfitted with an electric motor in the front wheel.  We call the bicycle, The Black Mare.

 "The Black Mare"

The Black Mare is an "electric assist" bicycle which means that it does require pedalling (it is not like a motorized scooter) and I do feel my muscles straining in a good way when going into the wind and up the hills even with the assistance of my wonderful electric motor.   Nevertheless, this "e-bike" makes it possible for me to make the commute in around 35 minutes and arrive at my destination without being a wilted, sweaty mess.  I love the combination of physical exertion and ease of use!  

I ride "The Black Mare" to work most every day, unless the weather is particularly inclement.  I am exposed to rarified air and exhilarating scenes.  I don't stop and take photos often as I typically am wanting to get to work earlier than later, but sometimes the scenes are so compelling I absolutely have to pull over and get out my iPad to capture the headiness of the experience.

Bicycle commuting prior to spring break up.  A view of
the bay from the East Bluff Lookout.
A view of my destination - the Harbour Centre -
from the East Bluff Lookout on an early spring bicycle commute.
My commute along Scotland Road is filled with fragrances and sounds as well as delightful sights.  Wood duff, Spring Peepers, sun-touched bog water, Bobolink chortlings, Apple blossom perfume, the dashing of shy deer, magnified-vibratory-prehistoric-croakings of the Sandhill Cranes, the tang of the inland ocean and the ever present Ravens, to name just a few!

Often the Ravens vocalize as they pass over me "flying" on "The Black Mare"

Here are two video clips rom this past summer.  It is so incredibly heady to see the storms off in the distance and to hope that I make it home before those rain clouds pummel the bluff!  These are short clips, but may take a minute or so to load.  Once loaded click to view it full screen if you can - it is the best way to feel like you are standing beside me looking at these wonderful scenes!

Sometimes, others have done the photographing of my commuting experience.

Just round the curve at McDougall's Point
photo by "Sharon"

Bicycle commuting on Manitoulin Island,
photo by "Sharon"
So long for now!
photo by "Sharon"

Leaving for work, photo by Kevin Droski

Out the drive on a frosty morn,
photo by Kevin Droski

See you later!
photo by Kevin Droski

Sometimes the spectacular scenes I experience while on my commute inspire me to capture them in watercolours as well as with the camera.  This particular scene made for a nice large painting which I also used for one of my fine art notecards.

Scotland Road at McDougall's point
Scotland Road - Almost Home
Original Watercolour by Lynne Gerard
Fine art greeting card, from the original watercolour
by Lynne Gerard
I wrote a wee poem especially inspired by this particular scene from my commute home on "The Black Mare".  It reads:

Fear finds no place to linger when
your heart is devoted to Love and Beauty.

Look for a road that inspires you,
then boldly follow it.

Back of fine art greeting card by Lynne Gerard
Along the route, there are two sponsored observation sites frequented by tourists and favoured by photographers.  One is the Hindman Trail Lookout and the other is the Harold Noble Lookout site.  Last year the Town of Gore Bay and Randy Noble created the Noble Nature Trail which is a fabulous hike route that provides lovely views from the top of the bluff down to the bottom.  Kevin and I walked it earlier this autumn and were wonderfully impressed with the all of it.

Noble Nature Trail
Gore Bay

Spectacular view on the Noble Nature Trail
Gore Bay
One of several resting spots on the Noble Nature Trail
Gore Bay

Good signage on the Noble Nature Trail
Gore Bay

Looking northwest from the Noble Nature Trail
Gore Bay

Looking at Gore Bay from the Noble Nature Trail

   Once down at the destination, the fabulous Gore Bay Harbour Centre, my creative work day begins.
The Gore Bay Harbour Centre

My studio and gallery are on the backside of the building, facing the water.

The Gore Bay Harbour Centre, lakeside

Most days, some of my feathered friends are on hand to greet me.

Lynne Gerard arriving to work on "The Black Mare"
photo by Helen Siksek

Stevie, the Crow

Travis, the Gull

Travis and Stevie and the wonderful view of the bay and the North Channel

Gorgeous light outlining the East Bluff from the vantage
point of my studio balcony

And now it is just about quittin' time here at work.  There have been flurries on and off.  I have to layer up my woollens and get myself heading on back up the bluff.  I have a special island farmer who will be waiting for me.  The gate will be open and after I pedal on though, he will take "The Black Mare" and put her in her "stable".  If the weather isn't too nasty tomorrow, I will make the commute again!

Update, autumn 2018
Have been able to acquire a wonderfully weatherproof outfit for bicycling in the rain!  The Rainwrap skirt and Bronte jacket are designed by the mother/daughter duo known as Georgia in Dublin, are assembled in Poland and marketed in fine shops in Europe.  I purchased the Rainwrap direct from Georgia in Dublin and was able to buy the Bronte jacket on sale from Cyclechic.  This weatherproof ensemble (which they call "The Full Bronte") has managed to keep me dry even when cycling in pouring rain and gale winds with no maddening flapping of fabric like my former rain poncho.  I have been wearing the Rainwrap even on dry days because in the chill autumn air, the fabric of the wrap skirt keeps my legs warmer than when riding in my regular skirts alone.  And the outfit is SO irresistibly stylish, it makes you actually look forward to riding your bicycle in the rain!   

The "Full Bronte" rain ensemble from Georgia in Dublin

Rainwrap and Bronte jacket by Georgia in Dublin on
rainy day at the Ravenseyrie Sorraia Mustang Preserve
Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada

Your author, well insulated from an
autumn downpour in rain gear from
Georgia in Dublin

Off to work she goes!