Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

Waiting for Spring 2016   1 comment

I haven’t had my bike out yet this year (it’s been 15 weeks since my last ride) but I feel the time is getting near. I did get out for a walk in Edmonton’s river valley yesterday, that gave me a good indication of what to expect on the cycling paths. I walked through Dawson Park and for the most part, the paths are very rideable.  There is a lot of sand and frequent wet spots (that shouldn’t be a problem as long as the temperature is above freezing and/or exposed to the sun). There are however a few hazards that mean a cyclist must not yet adopt the more carefree mindset of summer riding. Here is what I saw:

This path through Dawson Park is typical of the sun-exposed north side of the river valley,  – again, wet and sandy but quite passable

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There is however one habitually bad stretch of the path, 50+ meters north of Dawson Bridge, where it is wet/icy/slushy and extreme caution is required:

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The dogwood beside the path adding some color to an otherwise rather blaek late-winter landscape:

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Another low spot on the path through Dawson Park creates this pond across 90% of the path:

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While the path on the sunny north side of the river valley seem ready for fair weather cyclists (i.e. not those riding fat bikes or studded tires), the paths are the south bank of the valley, I will be avoiding for a least another month. This is a section of path, just west of Capilano bridge on the south side – pretty much coated in a few centimeters of ice:

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I am encouraged about getting an earlier start to this year’s cycling season. After a mild winter without much snow, we seem to be at least a couple of weeks ahead of recent years. I could ride today but at best I will try to locate all of cool weather clothing and do a quick check of the bike (air in tires, chain lubrication etc.)

Soon…

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Posted March 6, 2016 by Randy Talbot in Cycling

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November Cycling in Edmonton   1 comment

2015 has been another poor year for cycling for me but any November day that I can get out on the bike in Edmonton is a win. Today, November 14, was one of those days. Most years in Edmonton there will be snow on the ground by mid-November and although year-round cycling is becoming increasingly common in this city, it is usually reserved for riders with fat bikes and studded tires. However, “so far so good” this year – the paths were dry so I on my slicks needed only to dress appropriately for the 4C temperature and the experience was enjoyable.

This is what the Edmonton river valley looked like:

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Canada Geese sitting on the frozen surface of a pond in Rundle Park

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An unusual bit of green leaves on some trees at the east end of Rundle Park

It was nice to see a handful of other cyclists out enjoying the afternoon:

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The bare trees of a more typical mid-Autumn landscape in this part of the world

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The climb out of the valley at the west end of Rundle Park

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The descending path into Dawson Park

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The undulating path through Dawson Park

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My riding perspective

I may be pushing my luck in hoping that this wasn’t my last ride of the year but that’s what I’m hoping for.

Seeing the Light   2 comments

The spring has been late in arriving in this part of the world. Here it is the third week of April and I have yet to get my bike on the  road. I thought I was so close a month ago but then winter returned. Of course there are increasing numbers of winter-hearty cyclists who never stop riding just because of cold and snow – to them I tip my cycling cap.

I stopped in at the local MEC today and browsing through the cycling department sure got me thinking and exciting. I was looking at some new fenders for my touring bike and dreaming of some new wheels for my old road bike. However what really caught my eye was bike lights.

What I noticed probably wouldn’t be that big a deal for anyone that has been keeping up with the technology developments but I haven’t been in the market for a new bike light for maybe 20 years. The last light I  bought was state of the art (for the time) but what sticks out was the rechargeable  battery which was the size of a water bottle and intended to fit in a water bottle cage. The headlight itself was a massive incandescent thing (it still remains mounted on my mountain bike, although I haven’t used it for years). It was good and bright – but big!

So what I saw today was lovely compact units – thanks to improvements in light and battery technology. All of the units now use very energy efficient LED “bulbs”. This efficiency means that the batteries can be much smaller – yielding complete units that fit in the palm of your hand.

A great feature of a number of these compact lights was the ability to charge the battery via a USB connection. With hours of battery life and the ability to charge them up any time you are sitting at a computer for a few hours, this design seems ideal for a commuter or recreational rider. Other lights used non-rechargeable, but readily available AA batteries.

One thing I noticed in comparing various units was the amount of light given off. Among the LED I saw 5 and 50 Lumen units. I have yet to test and compare these but I am guessing that the  5 Lumen units would probably be most suited when your main goal is to be seen – say when riding on urban routes with street lighting. The 50 Lumen brightness would seem to be what you need when riding dark paths and need not only to be seen but also to see the road ahead of you. Some of the AA battery powered lights offered over a 100 Lumen brightness.

I have no plans to do night riding in the near future but given the compactness and cost of these little units I will probably pick up a headlight and taillight to tuck into  my pack, “just in case”.

Posted April 19, 2014 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Commuting, Cycling

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In the Zone   1 comment

Another Sunday. another ride with the EBTC‘s Target the Tour Classic group.

Receiving Pre-ride Instructions

It was a beautiful day for a ride – a bit cool, but sunny and with no wind. I rode in cycling shorts with a jacket over my jersey for the first half of the ride and was  comfortable. Today’s route was 66 Kilometers, so the longest of these group training rides this year. The group was again a healthy size, of about 40 riders. I arrived a little bit late so ended up starting at the very back of the pack, again. The route started off south – a long 13K straight stretch.

On the Road

Along this stretch, I was stopped to take a few photos when another rider asked if I might have some some chain lube in my large read rack bag. Indeed I did! I prefer to have my chain lubed and ready to go before a ride but encountering rain along a ride  has sometimes necessitated re-lubing during the ride, so I do like to carry a small bottle of lubricant with me and I was happy to be able to help out.

A Hill (sans fool) in the Relatively Flat Central Alberta Landscape

I found I wasn’t stopping as often to take photos today. the landscape was still beautiful and each week has been a little different form the weeks before , but I fear I am getting a bit desensitized to the scenery as it becomes familiar from riding in the same area week after week. One thing that stood out for me today was the color of the water in the small lakes and ponds – very blue!

Prairie Pond

Through the first half of the ride I continued to  lag near the back of the pack and often could not see the next rider ahead of me for a long time.

Along Wye Road

This week’s route again featured a variety of roads, mostly quiet country road but also some secondary highways, 2 lanes with moderate traffic and wide or narrow shoulders. For the 5K approaching the 40K mark we were traveling south east on Wye Road towards north Cooking Lake. For some reason this stretch was uniquely swarming with little bugs. It was absolutely necessary not to be riding along breathing through an open mouth. Instead I found I had to breath though my closed teeth. I was also glad to be wearing glasses but had to keep my head up and glasses forward so as not to get bugs in the eyes. It was like watching a show of  traveling at warp speed through a starfield – quite amazing.

Fortunately these bugs were only an issue for a short distance. At 40K I stopped to take off my jacket and to down an energy bar before we headed north off of the highway and back onto the country quiet roads. A minor frustration occurred on this stretch as I had inadvertently turned off my heart rate/GPS monitor when I  took my jacket off and didn’t realize it until I was a further 3 and a half kilometers up the road. this then through off distance markers on the day’s route map.

Riding Beside Wetlands

It was somewhere around the 50K mark that I lost sight of the rider behind me and I never did catch up with anyone in front of me. I was riding solo and that was fine with me. the roads were good, our maps were good and I was feeling strong. I just kept plugging away at a good cadence and soon found myself “in the zone”.

The zone is a nice place to be – the riding is free and easy. I was proceeding north along Range Road 215 into the final 10K of the ride. Somehow, in this “zone”, I missed  a turn-off. I didn’t realize it until I saw the sign indicating that I was approaching Highway 16, The Yellowhead. I should have turned west 3K back. I could have backtracked but decided to brave the highway. It is a very busy 4-lane divided highway but does have wide shoulders, so I decided to take it for 5K.

Westbound on the Yellowhead

 

Again this highway was not part of the official route and I wouldn’t recommend it, but it wasn’t that bad. I was thankful for having a rear-view mirror as I probably spent half my time keeping an eye on the traffic coming up behind me. At the first opportunity I got off of the highway, which happened to coincide with the Ardrossan turn-off, where I was able to get back on the route for the last couple of kilometers.

But instead of the Yellowhead image, I choose to remember the peaceful rural roads from today:

Peaceful Rural Road

 

A Mid-May 70K Training Ride   3 comments

Happy Zen Cyclist

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“Are my tire pressures low?”

“I think my chain needs to be re-lubed”

“Weren’t my hubs supposed to be sealed and never need maintenance? They must be dragging ”

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Thoughts like those raced through my mind yesterday, two and a half hours into what would be nearly 4 hours in the saddle. I accomplished my longest ride of the season, covering 70 Kilometers.

River Road Cycling Path

Again, I was able to rack up this distance riding mostly on the trails through the river valley  in Edmonton. I may sometimes complain about the condition of the paths these days, but it sure is nice to have the pleasant scenery to cycle through and not to have to deal with motor vehicles.

Further along River Road

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It was a cool May morning as I set out – about 8C degrees. Even though it was sunny, I did wear a jacket over my jersey and left it on for 3/4 of the ride. I also found that my legs (in shorts) were cool and my toes got  a bit numb.

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I linked my 40K westbound route with my 30K eastern route to rack up the  distance today. I started along the northside paths to to Groat Road. The long, flat section along River Road is a good way to warm up.

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I hit my first climb out of the river valley at about 7K after crossing Groat Bridge and heading up Groat Road. My route would  give me a surprising amount of climbing – I ascended to the top of the river valley about 10 times. My GPS monitor indicated about 870 meters of elevation changes.

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Talus Dome Sculpture

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As the bike path  crosses under the Quesnel Bridge [map]. I see a fascinating but controversial public sculpture, the Talus Dome, at the south end of the bridge, on the east side. I very much like this one – maybe because it reminds me of ball bearings but the setting beside a freeway just doesn’t do it justice. Cyclists probably get a better view than do the motorists and I think it will look better once the landscaping at the base is complete.

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The ride proceeded uneventfully. I reached my turnaround point in Terwilligar at 20K and started by journey east which I would do along the south side of the river all the way to Rundle Park. This route involved 4 major climbs (i.e. to the top of the river bank) and a few smaller ones.

Edmonton River Valley Path

By the time I got back to the downtown area, I’d covered 40K, just over half of my goal, in a couple of hours without any real rests. I was starting to feel a bit tired, a bit slower and getting hungry. I usually like to pack along an energy bar for times like this but I didn’t have any at home today. I figured I could pick up a snack along the way, but the downside of my route is that it doesn’t pass by any convenience store. I was looking forward to getting to Rundle Park where I know they have a snack bar/ concession.

Reflections in a Rundle Park pond

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By the time I crossed into Rundle Park [map]. I’d covered over 50K and was certainly looking forward to a break. The park was looking particularly attractive. The lakes have been refilled with water and are in their reflective wonder.

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I made my way over to the pavilion but – the snack bar was closed!  I looked around hoping to at least find a vending machine but one was not obvious, so I continued on my ride. I had another 20K to go, so figured I’d just have to do it on my built in energy reserves (5 or 10 Kilos of which I wouldn’t mind burning off).

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It was around now that those voices got loud. I found my self looking down at my tires to see if they look flat and wondering about all of the other mechanical reasons that might account for my slowing pace. Not that I was really fooled; I may have been tiring but still could reason that my low energy levels and muscle fatigue were the most likely culprits.

I continued north from Rundle Park through Hermitage Park [map], amongst the dogs and up to the top of the riverbank at 20th Street, before heading back down on the 15K return trip.

Path Through Hermitage Park

I did find my pace fell off  noticeably  over the last half of the ride but I still felt pretty good. Having been on the bike for so long, my neck got a little sore but that certainly reminded me of one of the areas that I am training – It is NOT all about the legs!

I look back on that ride with pleasure, a sense of accomplishment. Now, in preparing for next month’s Silver Triangle, I just have to build up to cover a 50% greater distance in one day, then do it for three consecutive days and  oh, do it in mountainous terrain.

Posted May 18, 2012 by Randy Talbot in Cycling

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Target the Tour – Week 2   Leave a comment

Sunday, April 29th 2012 – the second of the weekly EBTC training rides targeting the Tour de l’Alberta ride in late July. This week’s distance was 45K (a 10K increment from last week). Unfortunately for me I only got in one ride on my own during the last week – a ride of 30K through the Edmonton river valley.

We again gathered at the Country Boyz Gas Station/restaurant/etc. on Highway 16 near Ardrossan at 0930. There was a slightly smaller group than last week (maybe 35 to 40 riders vs. 50ish). The weather at the start was fine: sunny and blue skies with a temperature of maybe 8C. I dressed lighter than last week, wearing shorts instead of long pants, regular fingerless gloves instead of full finger gloves and a light, short sleeve jersey under my jacket instead of a heavy long sleeve wool one. I was quite comfortable dressed like that and shed my jacket at our half-way point rest stop.

Pre-ride Instructions

Starting Off

We hit the road at about 9:40 after ride leader, Charles World, gave some instructions, which included safety reminders and a suggestion to try pace line riding today. I’m not sure how much of that happened as I personally was more interested in laying back, out of the crowd so I could quickly stop and take a photo if something caught my eye. I started out at the back and riding my own pace (but never letting the group get out of sight) passed only a handful of people on the first half of the ride.

The group heads south on RR 224, a short distance from the start (note the clear blue sky)

Freight train from overpass

Prairie Pond (note the clouds building to the west)

 

 

Along the way on the quiet country roads we saw fields and ponds (some which were loud with croaking frogs) and passed over railway tracks.

 

The route today was pretty straight – mostly south along two country roads (Range Roads 224 and 223) to Cooking Lake, where we had out rest break.

 

The last couple of kilometers to Cooking Lake required  us to ride on the major Highway 14 but the paved shoulder was wide and clean, so the riding was fine .

 

We had a nice break, of 15 to 50 minutes at the Cooking Lake rest stop with its restaurant ( the Firehall Diner Pizza and Grill) and convenience store. As got off of our bikes and walked around, we noticed that the clouds, which had been in the far distant west, were now getting thicker overhead.

Resting at Cooking Lake

The return trip was pretty much straight north along one road, Highway 824. There were still some sunny breaks as we headed back on the road but soon the sky became mostly cloudy with a bit of light rain, and a noticeable wind from the northwest. I found these conditions less inspiring for taking photos so instead I just got into a good rhythm and pushed my way “home” at a decent pace. I averaged 23.5 kph on the return trip vs. 21.6 on the way out – I thought the difference would be greater but I guess the wind ate up a lot of my energy. Hmmmm, a pace line would have been just the thing under those conditions.

A Serene Country Scene (just north of Cooking Lake)

Click here to go to my post on the previous week’s ride.

Half Way There? – Not Quite :-(   Leave a comment

It has been 8 weeks today since my last ride. I am still fondly remembering that trail ride through Edmonton’s river valley and starting to wonder when I might next get out on two wheels. It is probably going to be another 10 weeks before the streets and paved trails are passable and another 4 weeks after that before I want to tackle the dirt trails. So what to do till then?

One option is of course to just damn the torpedoes and keep on riding. I was thinking again this year of getting a studded tire or two for my mountain bike and continuing to ride the trails. I certainly see other people around town doing that and I do have admiration for them. With the winter that we’ve had in Edmonton so far, the temperature certainly wouldn’t have been an issue for riding but there is a lot of ice on the paths and I am not a fan of ice.

The second option  (and again one I seem to think about every winter) is to get an indoor trainer and ride in my basement. I spent a lot of time last year comparing the various trainers but I never did figure out what would be the best choice for me and missed out on picking one up last spring  at an end of season clearance price. I worry a little bit about the boredom of riding indoors but if I can mix it up with a little outdoor activity I could probably get my legs and lungs in decent shape to hit the roads in April.

My third option is cross training – turning to other activities (running, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing) and this is probably what I will do. I’ve started off the year with some regular outdoor running (including a run in shorts on January 4th to take advantage of a very unseasonable temperature of +11). The river valley trails have been plowed which despite best intentions means they are icy. Careful attention to where one steps is required. I find this really detracts from the meditative effect of running that I so enjoy on dry trails but nonetheless it is great to be out in the fresh air (and frequently the winter sunshine). I am looking forward to a return to more average winter conditions and especially to more snow to cover the icy ground, so that I can get out my skis and snowshoes.

So what are other Edmonton cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts doing to keep active through this winter?