As an alternative to riding a lunchtime loop out from downtown to somewhere and then back again, today I took advantage of the fact that you can carry your bike on the C-Train with you at any time except during peak periods. So I did just that, and got off by Sunridge Mall to run a quick errand. I then rode back downtown.
From Sunridge Mall or Peter Lougheed Hospital, head east on 27th Ave NE. It's 4 lanes, but there is little traffic mid-day, so you should have the right lane to yourself. (You pass a Second Cup and a Chapters, not to mention a Future Shop, so you might want to stop and exercise your consumerism). Cross Barlow Trail and head south on 21 St NE (passing by Byblos Bakery) until you hook up with the 25 Ave Northeast Regional bikepath (beside a large Buddhist temple). Head west on this until you reach the baseball fields overlooking Deerfoot Trail.
Here you head south on a brand-new 3m-wide regional pathway (thanks to Parks & Rec) which skirts the edge of the Crossroads community, on green-space above Deerfoot Trail. You get a good view of downtown from this vantage point. The trail then turns east, beside an abandoned Sprung instant building that looks like it might have housed a church at one time. There's a pedestrian walkway over 16th Ave just west of 19th St, but it has no ramp for bicycles, so give it a miss and cross at the light instead.
South of 16 Ave, 19 St is marked as a bike route, and the street is plenty wide enough for cars to pass you while you in turn pass parked cars. South of the Mayland Heights community, the road passes through an industrial / office area, but this is quiet at mid-day. Just before reaching Memorial Drive, turn left and enter Fire Park, following the buses around to the LRT station drop-off. Now the fun begins.
Cross under Memorial Drive in the LRT access tunnel and pop out on the hillside above the Max Bell arena. You could descend to the left on a paved trail, then head west along the irrigation canal, but better yet, turn right and ride the single-track trail along the hill-top next to a retaining wall. It eventually drops down to a pedestrian bridge over Deerfoot Trail. This bridge has a couple of right-angle turns in it, and it's clear that it was cobbled together from some surplus sections the City had lying around. It's butt-ugly, but functional, as it's welcome to be able to cross the Deerfoot here.
On the south side of the bridge, head west on the bike path or the gravel road until you cross the railway tracks beside Nose Creek. At this point it would be wonderful to turn south and cross the Bow River on a pedestrian bridge cantilevered off the train trestle (CP Rail, are you listening?). For now, cross Nose Creek and follow the bike path south to the Bow, and then along it to the Zoo bridge. Cross over to St. Patrick's island and traverse Centenary Park, crossing the main channel of the Bow River on another pedestrian bridge.
On the south side, head west and pass groups of homeless people - a good opportunity to practice your compassion and tolerance. Continue on into downtown. My route was exactly 15 km and took me about 35 minutes, with a stop along the way, so it's a good distance for a lunchtime outing. Coincidentally, it also took 35 minutes for me to travel from the door of my office to the door of the Peter Lougheed Hospital by LRT, and I wasn't hurrying to downtown on my bike. So even over a 15 km distance, commuting by bike is as fast as C-Train.
Can you think of other trip starting points you could reach via LRT and then ride back from in a lunch hour?