Adventures in the East   Leave a comment

Today, Sunday April 3rd I continued my early season exploration of cycling conditions. Yesterday I had gone west from downtown along the north side bicycle paths. Today I made the journey east  – basically from Dawson Park to Rundle Park.

The first section of today’s ride was along the path through Dawson Park on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River. The path had been plowed through the winter and is relatively exposed to the spring sun so there was not “much” snow and ice. These was however lots of snow on the sides of the trail and sometimes those sides spilled over onto the path. There was also plenty of run-off water in places and lots of sand over the pavement.

For the most part the route was quite passable but there was one stretch of maybe 50 meters, beside the construction site that is worthy of note and caution.  The path just east of and beside the constructions site is very muddy – mud,  water, loose snow and ice. It was difficult to tell quite  what I was riding over – but by taking it slow and easy over this, I got through.

the path north of the west end of Highlands Golf Course

Coming out of the east end of Dawson Park, the path winds up past the west end  of the Highlands Golf course to reach Ada Boulevard. This section of the trail is sheltered by tree so it wasn’t surprising to discover the path partially  covered by snow. Cycle and pedestrian traffic was relatively light this Sunday afternoon so I encountered no issue with one lane being blocked.

Once I reached Ada Boulevard. I cycled along the street for a few kilometers. The road was pretty typical of streets at this time of year – mostly clear of snow in the middle but with about a meter or two of snow beside the south curb of the road. The roads had wet patches and plenty of sand

Snow and ice take up a lane on a street near Rundle Park

The descent into the west end of Rundle Park had worried me but was fine. There was one small section of water across the trail at the bend, but since the trail was clear and ahd been which was resurfaced last year the descent was safe.

Now Rundle Park was interesting. I did the loop clockwise around the park. Just as I entered the loop I encountered one little hazard. There was a small gap in the snowed-across trail. I took this gap and then realized that there was ice beneath the water – a bit of a slip but it was such a small section I was through it before I knew it.

Mind the Gap

Around the  bends of the little lakes I ran into a different kind of hazard – wild life!

Canada Geese at Rundle Park

There were a number of geese in this area but really they were not an issue at all. I continued on north past the ACT Centre where the path runs flat and straight between the sports fields. It sounds pretty safe but going around a bend this is what I saw:

A Lake on the Path

The path was completely flooded for maybe 20 or 30 metres, then there was a brief dry section and another big lake. I briefly considered my options for getting by this obstacle. I could have tried to cycle through the snow beside the “lake” or walked through the snow. In the end I decided to just ride, slowly  right through the water. It appeared that there was just water over the path, no ice and the depth was probably no more than 10 cm. It was a good decision.

Along the east side of Rundle Park I encountered a few more flooded sections but again, riding slowly through the centre of the path, worked.

Flooded Path Along East Side of Rundle Park

Once around the Rundle loop I retraced my path back along Ada Boulevard and through Dawson Park. The sand continued to build up in my drive train, which always make me feel cringe a bit, but again like yesterday the feeling of being out on two wheels in the sun left me feeling good. I cycled about 20K today with the temperature of only about 3C (still about 5 degrees below average).

My conclusions after these couple of early April rides. The riding is in the adventure category. It is not a time  for fast cyclng on skinny tires, not a time for multi-hour recreational rides. Hopefully those days will come within a few weeks as the trails and roads dry off and are sweeped of the grit. For now I recommend riding cautiously and sticking to quiet streets and bike paths that are fully exposed to the sun. By all means though, do ride and enjoy the adventuere!

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