There’s something both peaceful and satisfying about hopping on your bike and peddling around the community, enjoying the fresh air, nature and exercise.

Ottawa bills itself as the cyclist’s city and there certainly has been an effort to create an interlinking network of bike paths that make it possible to safely travel from one end of the city to another.

Former national team rider Kris Westwood, who has ridden his bike in countries around the world, is impressed with how good the cycling is here and the range of riding experiences available, whether you’re a recreational rider or serious racer.

The Ottawa area offers more than 800 kilometres of cycling options and at least 170 km of recreational pathways to enjoy.

Heading west

One of the most popular sections to experience has to be along the Ottawa River starting below Parliament Hill and heading west out to Andrew Haydon Park. The quiet, the scenery, the nature and the places of interest along the way are hard to beat. Take a break at a beach, check out the War Museum or rock sculptures in the river or maybe visit the Mill Street Brew Pub.

Heading east

Another option is to head along the Ottawa River by the Rockcliffe Parkway out toward Orléans and come back via a path right along the river that takes in fantastic views.

Heading south

Of course, there’s always the route along the Rideau Canal south from downtown to Hog’s Back and back, perhaps with a patio stop in between.

North of the river

And there are peaceful pathways on the Quebec side that fan out to the marina in Aylmer or loop through Gatineau Park. Gatineau Park is a draw as well for mountain bike fans with plenty of trails to try.

In the neighbourhood

If a shorter ride around the neighbourhood is more your style, start at Brewer Park, head through the Carleton University campus to the canal, loop down around Hog’s Back Falls, through Vincent Massey Park and along the Rideau River to Bank Street. From there, you can make your way down Cameron Avenue, which has a bicycle lane, back to Brewer Park.

If you’d like to make your own route but aren’t sure what’s available, the city has a detailed cycling map you can download.

 Wherever you decide to go, the key is to enjoy the route, the scenery and the company, assuming you’re not cycling alone