I grew up in the Ottawa Valley, and though I spent little time in the city , I had come to the conclusion that it was kind of lame.
I went away to Southern Ontario for university, and I fell in love with London - I loved its many parks, and particularly the paths that followed the river. I even developed an odd affection for Windsor, and I loved its bike paths too. Then life brought me back to Ottawa. Now living in the city, I finally got to experience it on two wheels, and it brought me to two important conclusions: First, that I will fall in love with any city that has good bike paths, and second, that Ottawa has the best bike paths of anywhere I've been so far.
I think something changes when you get to know a city by bike. You get to know it more intimately, as though you and the city share some important secret that those driving around in cars will never have the privilege of knowing. You can go places on bikes you can't go in a car. You see more of the city from the saddle of a bike. Most importantly, the best parts of the city are the parts with the bike paths - the canal, the riverbanks, the parks, and the beaches. Like looking through a person's profile pictures on Facebook, Ottawa only shows you its good side when you're touring the pathways.
Another bonus of biking the city - suddenly your commute changes from a daily annoyance, to a heart-warming daily reminder that life is pretty good. My commute from work looks a little something like this.
A tour through the farm (yes, Ottawa has a farm in the middle of the city)
Down a lushly treed, private lane.
Across a fully functional, 200 year old lock.
Along a canal that every winter is transformed into the world's largest skating rink.
Around a bay.
Through a park.
And past a busy, sun-filled beach.
This is one of the many reasons why I love Ottawa, and I get to experience it every day. :)