I got out Saturday afternoon for about an hour's ride. Having not been on a bike since the course three weeks ago I wanted to take it easy, but there was something going on in the west end of our part of the neighbourhood around Churchill, and all of the exits from this area were a bit much for my first day out: the Lanark overpass over the transitway is closed, the Churchill exit is under construction and full of loose gravel, and Island Park is a pretty busy artery. So I just toodled around the neighbourhood a bit, and tried one run down Island Park, but after an hour or so I was tired of the same streets and a bit tense from having to relearn everything, so I called it quits for the day. It took me a little while to relax once I got home. I hadn't really felt like I exceeded any of my limits, but there was a lot of traffic out for some reason and that was my first time dealing with traffic, so even though there were no incidents I think it was just too much to process first time out.
Today went a lot better. I had a milestone forced on me: I had to get to a gas station! All of the nearby gas stations are on pretty major streets, so I had to leave this neighbourhood: I did a quick warmup ride around here and then headed down Island Park and Richmond to the Canadian Tire gas bar there. Island Park was pretty busy but I merged in fine; Richmond was stop and go, which took a bit of work but was manageable. I filled up and headed down Richmond, up McRae and back up to Scott, which becomes four-lane right past Island Park. I felt good, so I kept going east on Scott to Holland: first four-lane riding, first lane change, and then left across traffic into Tunney's Pasture.
Tunney's Pasture is a government office complex containing a dozen or so city blocks, and since it's a government office complex, it's completely deserted on weekends except for people learning to drive. It's got a great mix of one- and two-way streets, plus lots of parking lots to practice in, and a bit of traffic all aware of the number of learners. This picture gives you an idea of how much practice area Tunney's offers — picture that without all those cars. Once there, I spent a half hour in a parking lot working on slow-speed maneuvering and emergency stops, and things started to click again. From there I alternated parking-lot practice with cruising around the complex, and by the end things were feeling pretty good. At one point I'd taken a road that opens up onto Parkdale, and since part of the Ottawa River Parkway to the north is closed, Parkdale is the detour, so I got a bit of heavy traffic practice in as well, and pulled up at the corner of Scott and Parkdale beside another rider, and even then managed to pull away without making a fool of myself.
After another half hour of riding around at Tunney's I headed back to this neighbourhood to practice starting on an incline, since there's a stop sign at the top of a steep hill there. That's really the only time this weekend I made outright mistakes (stalled twice), and I managed to get away from the stop sign with a car waiting behind me, so even that's coming together. I thought about taking the Ottawa River Parkway back from Tunney's Pasture but decided that it was a bit quick and too busy for me on my second day out (it's signed 60, but everyone goes 80+), so that's my next milestone.
So far so good! I need to find more there-and-back rides from here to some other neighbourhood and back, to work on traffic more. This week's promising to be sunny and warm, so hopefully I'll get some good time in in the evenings. I need to get myself a mesh jacket, though — black cordura's proving to be a bit hot on the back!