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Rideau Spotlight: Rent-A-Bike Ottawa

September 5, 2023

Those who are fortunate enough to find themselves in the Ottawa area, whether it be as a tourist or a citizen, are often struck by the abundance of historic landmarks and beautiful vistas that this city has to offer. Even folks who are born and raised in the Nation’s Capital know that there are always new, long-lasting memories to be made all year long. You can skate on the Canal and share a BeaverTail with friends and family in the winter, visit the local artisans and family-owned businesses in the ByWard Market during the summer and even cross the bridge into Gatineau and watch the falling leaves in Gatineau Park throughout autumn! 

Between the two of them, Harry Musson and Jill Messier have decades of experience providing Ottawa cyclists with long-lasting memories of adventuring throughout the Nation’s Capital. 

The Long & Persistent Pursuit of Cycling Excellence 

Tourists who pay Rent-A-Bike a visit will have the great privilege of meeting at least one of Harry Musson or Jill Messier, who are involved in servicing their lineup of bikes as well as accompanying their customers on tours throughout the area. It only takes a short conversation with either of them to not only be taken in by their helpful and friendly demeanour, but their extensive knowledge of anything and everything related to cycling. 

Harry’s love for the sport traces its roots back over 40 years ago, when he and a friend purchased Rent-A-Bike from its original owners in 1980. The business operated out of the Fairmont Château Laurier until 2004, when it moved to its current location sandwiched between two celebrated Canadian landmarks: the Senate of Canada Building and the Rideau Canal. In the years since his acquisition of Rent-A-Bike, Harry has accumulated a lifetime of experience in cycling both as an owner of Rent-A-Bike as well as in his performance riding career. He has ridden competitively in long-distance events in Kingston, Montreal and all around the Ottawa Valley. 

Jill has forged an exceptional cycling career for herself as well, having competed in the UCI’s “Elite” tier of competition since 2018. She notes that participating in the highest echelons of the sport requires intense levels of devotion and discipline while adhering to a strictly regimented lifestyle. “Training for a race season here in Ottawa requires a training start in December or early January and 8-12 hours of training a week for the year,” she asserts. “Proper nutrition, time management and sleep are important throughout to meet training goals and recover to improve performance.”  

Most importantly, the expertise that Harry and Jill have acquired in their performance cycling ventures thus far has given them the qualifications they need to deliver an unforgettable cycling experience to tourists visiting Ottawa. “Having competed in road racing, criteriums, time trials, cyclocross and a mountain bike race here and there,” Jill states, “I have a feel for many types of riding and what a rider might require or need to know when maintaining, renting or purchasing any of our bicycles.” 

A younger Harry works on a bicycle, one of many that he has serviced over the course of his cycling career. (Image: Rent-A-Bike Ottawa) 

Adventure Awaits in the Nation’s Capital   

With all that said, the range of Harry and Jill’s skills extend far beyond their cycling expertise. When embarking on a tour with Rent-A-Bike, tourists are certain to enjoy a fruitful and engaging cycling experience as they venture through any of the storied neighbourhoods scattered all throughout the city.  

From the mansions and embassies in Rockcliffe Park to the serene waters of Dow’s Lake Loop to the fastidiously cultivated foliage at the Dominion Arboretum, there’s no shortage of breathtaking routes to choose from. Harry and Jill are always prepared to educate guests about the rich history, both natural and man-made, that has made Ottawa what it is today. And if you’re looking to visit somewhere in particular, Rent-A-Bike offers custom tours for those looking to visit breweries, restaurants and just about anything else you might be interested in! 

“Ottawa/Gatineau offers wonderful opportunities for guided or self-guided tours using our recreational pathway system – no cars and roads to negotiate,” Harry says. “There are numerous points of interest that allow for pre-Confederation narratives about the First Nations, Samuel de Champlain, the coureurs des bois and the lumberjacks and mills of Victoria Island.” It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re still in the mood to learn more about Ottawa’s Original Downtown after your bike tour is over, the Bytown Museum is only a five-minute walk away! 

Rent-A-Bike staff have a wealth of knowledge about all of Ottawa’s famous landmarks, which will make your tour of the city all the more engaging and insightful. (Image: Rent-A-Bike Ottawa) 

A Good Craftsman Never Blames His Tools 

In addition to the sights provided by the city and the great company provided by Harry and Jill, visitors can expect their experience with Rent-A-Bike to be further complimented by the vast selection of top-of-the-line bicycles they have available for rent. The last thing adventurers need is for their bike to break down while cruising through the Central Experimental Farm. Rent-A-Bike has gone to great lengths to circumvent this issue as best they can by investing in the highest quality bikes from manufacturers like Giant and Liv.  

“Larger box stores carry brands with inferior construction, components and assembly,” they advise. “Our entry level Giant pathway models, that retail for $700, up to our carbon road bikes are designed, manufactured, assembled, prepared and maintained for rental to the highest standards in the industry.” And in the unlikely event that you do experience a breakdown on your tour, Rent-A-Bike’s employees are Shimano Certified Technicians who are prepared for any and all mechanical failures that might happen. You can even take your own bike into their shop to get it serviced if need be! 

Looking to bring small children with you? Not a problem – Rent-A-Bike offers bike trailers for parents that are hoping to have their kids tag along. Tandem bikes are available for couples that love to do everything together. And Trail-A-Bikes as well as E-bikes can be used by those who are worried about finding the trip a little too strenuous.  

Regardless of what your comfort level on a bike might be, Harry and Jill have the training and experience needed to take you on a cycling adventure across the Nation’s Capital that you won’t soon forget! With friendly customer service, incredible vistas to see and top-end bikes for rent, Rent-A-Bike is the place to be for anyone looking to go on one last adventure before taking shelter for the winter. Pay them a visit under the Rideau Street bridge and plan your tour of the city today! 

Rent-A-Bike staff are trained in repairing and servicing bicycles of all kinds so that your bike is always ready for its next outing. 

📍 2 Rideau Street (under the bridge, between the Rideau Canal and the Senate of Canada Building) 

Sunday to Saturday: 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. 

📞 (613) 241-4140 


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