Archive for the ‘Recreational Riding’ Category

First Ride of 2016   3 comments

image

March 27th is not the earliest date for my first ride of the year but this 2016 debut was probably the most enjoyable early season ride I’ve  ever had.
With sunshine and a temperature of 12C I was able to wear cycling shorts and was very comfortable.
Before I could hit the road I had to do a little prep. Fortunately, the mountain bike was in pretty good shape – the one thing attention needed was the chain. I was out of my usual dry wax based lube but found some of this:

image

It worked fine and I was soon able to head out on the road (without squeaks).
My ride took me from downtown via bike paths and Ada Boulevard to Rundle Park and then on to Hermitage Park. There was only one section of the bike path still covered with snow and ice but fortunately it was only about 30m and I was able to detour via the adjacent grassy field. The road and bike paths were as dry as I’ve ever seen them at the end of March in Edmonton. The sand/gravel was also not bad at all.
Here’s a bit of what I saw along the way:

image

image

From Rundle Park on the way back I crossed the bridge to Goldbar Park and followed the southside paths to the 50th Street Bridge where I crossed back to the north side.

image

Back on the north side I got off pavement and on to dirt trails.

image

These dirt were very dry (and actually a bit too hard for the tire pressure I had).

image

It was a great ride. I covered 25K which is more than I probably should have done for the first ride in over four months. My legs handled the easy pace but I was feeling it in the back of my neck from the now-unfamiliar hunched over riding position.

Almost There   Leave a comment

Today may be the day to break my winter cycling hibernation. I was out for a run yesterday and had a chance to assess some of the paved and dirt trails.  There are enough good ones to give it a go and with a high of 12C forecast for this afternoon the only thing standing in my way is getting the bike ready. This is what has held me off so far more than the road/trail conditions. I will need to clean and lube my chain which even with the ease of modern products tend to put me into procrastination mode.
Here is how trails through  Dawson Park looked yesterday:

image

image

Caution required on deteriorated path

And on the dirt trails east of Dawson Park to Capilano Bridge and on towards the 50th Street Bridge it looked like this:

image

Beside the trail, looking east towards Capilano Bridge

image

Dry gravel path

image

Looking across the river

image

While the sun-exposed north bank of the river valley is nicely dried, shaded areas such as Kinnaird Ravine, up from the east end of Dawson Park are ugly. I had trouble walking here a day earlier and wouldn’t chance it on two wheels.

image

Kinnaird Ravine's icy/slushy trail

Enjoy your ride – maybe I’ll see you on the trails and road.

image

Poor Kayaking but …   1 comment

Here it is November 22nd and I managed to sneak in another ride. Although we had a bit of snow one night this week it had mostly disappeared by this weekend. This Sunday afternoon the sun was out, the temperature around 4C and the paths were dry and clean. No problem for cycling through the river valley but with the North Saskatchewan River clogging up with ice, it would have been a poor day for kayaking (not that I do – not that I wouldn’t like to – but not at this time of year in any case! I digress.)

image

The Icy North Saskatchewan River in central Edmonton

The only problem with riding at this time of year is that by mid-afternoon when it is warmest, the sun is already on its way down in the southwest sky making it difficult to see.

image

3:15 pm in Edmonton’s Rundle Park

There were not a lot of cyclists out on this November afternoon, but I did see a few.

image

Dawson Park

While the paths were for the most part very dry and clean one does need to keep there eyes open  for the occasional ice patch.

image

Icy spot in Dawson Park

image

Contrasting the icy river with the nice clean bike path.

I post these images mainly for the benefit of anyone who is not familiar with Edmonton and thinking that surely no one could be cycling that far north in November. Sure this is turning out to be an exceptional month but it shows that cycling is possible and the river valley beautiful enough to make the effort worthwhile.

image

Me – to prove I really was out there on Nov 22nd 2015.

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:

image

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

image

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:

image

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

image

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

image

The descending path into Dawson Park

image

The undulating path through Dawson Park

image

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.

Rural Riding at the End of May   1 comment

2013 May 26 – another Sunday morning, another Target the Tour training ride with the Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club, starting from a service station on the south side of the Yellowhead Highway, a little west of Ardrossan.

D80-2447 edit

This day’s route took us North of the highway for a while before returning to the more familiar roads south of Ardrossan. It was a pleasant day and nice to see the countryside greening up. Here are some photos from that day, without further commentary:

D80-2450 edit

D80-2460 edit

D80-2454 edit

D80-2472 BW edit

D80-2508 edit

A Late Start to 2013   1 comment

Here in Edmonton winter lasted as long as I ever remember. There was snow on the roads into April and although eager to get back on the bike it seemed as if we were defeated before ever beginning. There was not a long training period before the late-July Tour de l’Alberta which had been my usual early season goal.

Nonetheless I started the season joining  other EBTC members for the Target the Tour training rides starting out at Ardrossan every Sunday morning. May 19th was only my second Sunday ride  and although I didn’t have a lot of training accumulated  I was eager to make up for lost time. If I felt okay I would do the longer (up to 80K?) option

D80-2140 editAs is typical on these group rides I see a lot of the group early on and virtually no one the last couple of hours. However, the rural and farm scenery is always there to keep me company.

Cows on the HillReaching the half way, lunch spot at South Cooking Lake I felt good enough to tackle the long route (although something told me It might not be a good idea). I had one riding partner keen on doing the same things so we set off south along a nicely paved secondary road. At a certain point we would take a smaller road west for a few kilometers to join up with another road taking us North.

D80-2175 editWhen we reached the designated turn-off we looked – hard – twice! This road wasn’t paved at all – just gravel, and loose stuff at that. However considering it was just a couple of Ks it seemed like a better idea to continue than to backtrack. Well, a couple of kilometers of loose, rough and slippery gravel and we realized that there would be a lot more where that came from. At this point we admitted defeat and went back along the gravel road then back up the highway until we could find a paved east-west road.

Oh did I mention the mosquitoes?! They were horrendous along this stretch of gravel – especially bad when we stopped to consult the maps and assess our situation but even when we were on the bikes we weren’t moving fast enough to outrun a swarm of mosquitoes.

D80-2180 edit

D80-2194 edit

The rest of the ride back was uneventful but it was a bit of a grind at times with a headwind. Then, unfortunately with about 5K to go, I bonked! I completely ran out of fuel reserves and was reduced to crawling (figuratively) back to my car. It was a good day, a good workout but in retrospect, perhaps a little more than I had trained for.

Headwinds   Leave a comment

Ah … back on an EBTC Target the Tour training ride.

Pre-ride Instructions

For one reason or another I had missed the previous few Sunday morning rides. Although the weather forecast had looked a little iffy, with possible early morning and late afternoon showers, It was absolutely beautiful as we gathered at 0930 for a planned 100k ride in the countryside northeast of Edmonton, out to the town of Bruderheim. [map of region]

Although this ride would be my longest one of the year and I hadn’t been on the bike much in the last couple of weeks I was feeling good and confident. A group of 25 riders, set off this morning on a route that would take us north from the Yellowhead highway, through Fort Saskatchewan and then north east to the town of Bruderheim before returning on a slightly different route.

Crop Rows (a bit unusual as most crops in these parts are fields of canola or grains)

Canola Field and Rural Road

Straight and Flat

It was beautiful, uneventful morning – well except for my getting-all-to-common electronics challenges. First, my cycle computer which I had again thought I had fixed wasn’t picking up the signal from the front wheel so I has no speedometer or odometer. All i could use it for was as a timer. It told me how long I’d been on the road but as I had inadvertently stopped the timer at some point and lost approximately 7 minutes.  I have no options now for this device other than to try to replace the thin wires (soldering will be difficult), or to get a new unit.

Luckily I had my Garmin heart rate monitor with GPS as a back-up – except that 1 Km out it displayed a message that it could not receive signals from the satellites – this out in the middle of the flat prairie! After approximately 10K the function mysteriously returned but for the rest of the ride I didn’t now how far I’d gone or had to go. I was able to get my speed although looking at the watch and changing screens while riding was not very convenient.

The other technology challenge encountered was that after I’d taken only 5 pictures, my camera indicated that the memory card was full. This was not a big problem but did mean that I had to take the time to manually delete a bunch of my oldest photos from memory to free up space.

Petro-chemical Plant

The ride north to Fort Saskatchewan was on the quiet rural roads. From there we took Highway 15, a busy 4-lane divided highway, but with very wide paved shoulders – not a bad stretch at all. This section of rural Alberta is noted for petro-chemical processing. Large industrial plants are frequently next to farmer’s green fields as a well as small pumping units in the fields.

During this part of the ride to the northeast I could notice the effect of the wind blowing from the southeast. The result was that my pace fell off noticeably, probably to something like 15kph. However, once we turned back north, I was flying – cruising along at more than 30.

Rural Road (to get back on course)

Gravel Road (to get back on course)

After another eastbound stretch on a rural road into the wind, I came to the intersection with a highway. By this time out group of riders was pretty stretched out and I was riding on my own with no one else in sight. So I quickly pulled out a map in my back pocket and noted that I needed to go north on this highway (830) so I turned left, and with the wind at my back I was again flying.

It turns out that I shouldn’t have turned! I had looked at the preliminary map that I also had in my pocket but we had already gone as as far north as we were going. I noticed my error when I stopped to check at the next intersection, a couple of kilometers down the road. I could have (probably should have) simply backtracked but decided that I would take the eastbound road at that intersection and then take the next south road to get back on course. Most of the roads in these parts are along a rectangular grid – very predictable!

The rural road which I took east was a bit rougher in places than the ones I had been riding on but not bad. when I came to the next crossroad I headed south. This road however was much rougher, a gravel/dirt road. I was glad I was riding my touring bike with its bit heavier/wider tires rather than ones only suited to paved roads. The road surface wasn’t as bad as the headwind I now encountered. My speed dropped to something like 13 Kph which made it seem like forever to cover this 3 Km stretch. It did however only take 15 minutes to get back and then shortly thereafter arrive in our designated rest stop in the town of Bruderheim [map].

Rest in Bruderheim

It was good to see others of our group there, but they had already been there for awhile and by the time I had a blueberry muffin and some Powerade, they already had a 10 or 15 minute headstart on the ride back.

When I did get back on the road it was due south, into the wind, for 3 kilometers. Although I had only stopped for 15 minutes it felt as if my body was starting to seize-up. Back on the road, I was noticing an uncomfortableness in my left knee. Since this knee had been an occasional problem in the past I was a little concerned.

After the 3K I turned right onto the major highway and was traveling in a westerly direction. Even though the wind was not fully at my back, enough of it was that I felt I was flying again. Indeed my speed had gone from the 10-15 Kph range to averaging in the 30’s. After a few kilometers it was a turn south and a long straight stretch in to that wind.

(Was it jut the fatigue of having already ridden 60 or 70K or was the wind really picking up as we headed into mid-afternoon? Anyway, it was a drag, a slow, head-down, solo ride that quite frankly wasn’t much fun. I did stop for a few photo breaks but not as many as I would have liked.

Prairie Field and Summer Sky

Prairie Rails

Eventually I did catch-up with Chas in his support truck and then with a couple of other riders. I stuck with them until we got to the end of the ride.  We were looking forward to a break from the long headwind stretch.

The Long Road into the Headwind

We were supposed to turn west onto a quiet road for a few kilometers  but when we got there we saw that the road had been very recently oiled, so we continued south to the Yellowhead and then rode that busy highway back to the Ardrossan turn-off.

It was around 3 PM when we got back – a little over 5 hours on the road. It had been a decent ride, especially nice on the first half. I had looked at this ride as a test of my fitness in evaluating if I’d be up to doing the 180K Tour de l’Alberta distance in four weeks. Having completed this ride, the thought of heading right back out and doing practically the same distance again, pretty much answered my question – I’ll be sticking to the 100K distance on July 22nd.