Archive for the ‘Recreational Riding’ Category

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.

Target the Tour – a First Group Training Ride   1 comment

The Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club (EBTC) has for a long time hosted a big one-day group cycling event called the Tour de l’Alberta. The club also leads a series of weekly training rides to help riders build up the endurance needed to complete an event in the big tour. As the 180K event is on my tentative calendar I was out on Sunday morning (April22nd) for the first ride of the Target the Tour “Classic” group (Classic referring to the “century” distance i.e. 100 Miles).

Gathering at the Start

We met for a 9:30 start at the Country Boyz Tempo gas station/restaurant on the Yellowhead highway (16) about 10 K from Edmonton.  I was impressed to see about 50 riders out that morning. After a few words to the group from ride organizer Char World,  about the route and safety , the riders divided into a fast and a slow group (with tentative average speeds of 25 kph and 20 kph respectively for this week).

I was  a bit late in arriving so was scrambling to get ready. By the time I got the bike out of the car and put together, most riders were ready to hit the road. Then I had to run into the convenience store to pick up a Gatorade, as I had left my water bottle at home. I started off with the slower group and by the time I got ready to go I was at the tail end. This suited me just fine as I like to stop and take photos along the way and that is a lot easier to do if no one is following right behind me.

It was a cool morning (maybe 8C) but a lot better than the previous week when the scheduled first ride had to be cancelled due to the snow. I started off in my cool weather gear: tights, long-sleeve jersey under a Gortex shell, and full finger gloves. By half way through the 40K ride I would shed the jacket and gloves and be quite comfortable.

Part of the group on a small hill, on a quiet road

For someone that his live his life in Edmonton and done a lot of cycling I was embarrassed not to have ridden in the Ardrossan area east of Edmonton. It is a real gem of a cycling area with nice little roads – quiet traffic and good surfaces. They reminded me of the little country roads that I had so loved when touring in France and Scotland. Our regular Sunday training rides will be centered in this area so I am looking forward to coming back.

On the first third of the ride, the whole group stopped a couple of time to ensure that those at the back (where I was) were doing okay and that no one missed a critical turn-off.

At one point around half way, with a bit of a downhill (and perhaps a slight tailwind) I decided to pick up my pace considerably and work my way to the front end of the group. It did feel good to go from a pace of around 20kph to about 30 for awhile. I felt in pretty good shape (for this time of year and for a ride of only 35K). I would soon get a little more training than I had expected.

With about 4 Km to the finish, the group of about 5 that I was riding with missed a turn. Ironically we had stopped to check the map – well I say we but I didn’t pull out my map and when the rest set off down the road, I just followed (error noted, lesson learned!). After maybe half a kilometer someone caught up with me and informed me that we had missed the turn. There were 4 people ahead of me down the road so I took off after them (at a pretty brisk pace) to get them to turn around. I caught up with a couple of riders, delivered the news and then chased down the last two. We probably had gone 2 km by that time – then turned around, rode back, made the originally missed turn and rejoined the group. That little sprint was good training (so I told myself).

On the road - the last few K

From there is was a pretty easy and peaceful ride back to the starting point. As we went by Ardrossan itself (the schools, curling rink, shopping centre).  I saw that other (i.e. not our EBTC group) riders had apparently used that locale as a starting point for their rides in the area (confirming what a popular and suitable cycling area it is).

Back at the starting point I had a chance to chat with a few people whom I had not seen for some time, before loading my bike back into the car and driving back to the City. It was a great start, to the day and to the Target the Tour training rides. I am already looking forward to next Sunday.

For a description of another ride, with a different flavor, by a different group of riders – in the same area that Sunday morning, check out this post in the blog by Zdenko Kahlina.

A Day of Firsts   Leave a comment

I’ll be glad when I’ve done enough rides this year that each new one is not a big deal, but seeing as how I’m still counting them on the fingers of one hand…

The Hill at the west end of Rundle Park

Today (2012 April 11) was serious ride number 4 (or is it five?) Well for sure it;’s the third ride on my touring bike and those in the last 5 days. Today’s ride was about 30 Km and took about an hour and a half. Thirty K represents a 50% increment over my last two rides and that is a bit bigger than I would like (to ensure I don’t push myself too hard too fast). Well, I don’t think there will be another 50 % increase in my single ride training distance and this one did go smoothly.

I did my typical Dawson Park to Rundle route but added an extra 5K (each way) riding north  to Hermitage Park and back. This route provided me with five moderate climbs from the river valley floor to the top of the bank. Longer climbs would be good but I’ll settle for quantity (number of hills) over quality (length of climb) for now.

It was a day of a few firsts. First of the firsts: with a temperature of +16C this afternoon I was able to ride comfortably in cycling shorts (instead of long pants). I did still wear a long-sleeve jersey but didn’t need a jacket today. The second welcome first was the first sighting of green grass along the side of the path – a sure sign that real spring is approaching. The third first (already mentioned) was achieving a 30 K distance. Hopefully this  accomplishment will seem pretty trivial in a month, but for now I’ll take it as a milestone.

Another first of sorts. Today was the first time this year I saw evidence of street cleaners cleaning off the winter sand from the roads. This was on Ada Boulevard and the cleaning seemed to miss the sand next to the curb so it is still necessary to ride a meter or two away from the curb to be safe.

A couple of notes about animals on this route: First watch out for the Canada Geese. There are lots of them, often on or beside the bike path around the lakes in Rundle and Hermitage Parks. I had no problems with them but did sound my bell before passing a couple of pairs that were on the path. They are big birds and if they were startled they could get defensive and who knows where that could lead. As it was they seemed surprisingly oblivious to me as I rode by. The second animals to watch for  are the dogs in Hermitage Park. The park included an off-leash dog area so there are lots of canines, of all sizes and shapes. I have never had any problems with the dogs here and fact I quite enjoy seeing them. A cyclist just has to recognize that the few kilometres here will be relatively slow as you must watch  what the dogs (and their sometimes oblivious owners) are going to do. If you want to cruise through this area like you might on other bike paths – don’t! Do everyone a favor and turn around  before getting to the off-leash area (about 1km north of the Beverly Bridge).

Foot Bridge between Rundle and Goldbar Parks

One Season Ends and Another Begins   Leave a comment

Yesterday (2012 March 18th) I got my bike (the Kuwahara mountain bike) out for the first time this year and as I noticed later, this day was also the last full day of winter here in Edmonton. For a first time out it wasn’t bad. I of course felt out out of shape after  not being on a bike for 4 months but It felt great to be out there anyway. Thinking back to my first rides of the last couple of years, the roads/trails were a lot drier this year thanks to the relatively light winter snowfall accumulation. The temperature this afternoon was about +3C and the skies were clear.

Rundle Park (Dry and Clear)

It has become traditional that my first ride each year takes me from central Edmonton, through Dawson Park, along Ada Boulevard and around Rundle Park (and then back). Being on the northside of the river and thereby getting good sun exposure, this route is usually the first to be clear of snow. This year’s conditions were pretty decent. Along the bike path through Dawson Park, I encountered some wet spots, a few puddles and sand but no snow or ice on the trail. Likewise once I got up to Ada Boulevard and traveled the roads on the top of the bank, I found them to be virtually ice free with just a bit of wetness. The sand was the only hazard, making the couple of meters of the road next to the curb a bit dangerous and best to be avoided. This however was not an issue on this lightly traveled residential road.

Puddles on the Rundle Park Trail (mid-March 2012)

Descending into Rundle Park I noticed that the fields were clear of snow and the paths pretty much dry. There was still ice on the skating pond (with “thin ice” hazard signs posted). In Rundle Park I cycle clockwise around the big loop. The path continued to be dry from the main building and the ACT Centre. Last year, just north of the ACT Centre I recalled a huge pond that stretched across the path, with snow in the filed on either side. This year, the same spot and again there was a big (but much smaller) puddle across the path but it was an easy matter to cycle up on the grass to get around it.

 

The only challenging part of the ride was the trail on the east side of the park beside the river. There were a few snowy stretches that made the riding difficult (particularly on my slick tires). A couple of times I had to put my foot down before I went down. Putting my foot down in the icy slush probably did contribute to my very cold feet – they were numb by the end of the ride! Otherwise I seemed quite adequately dressed for the weather – wearing long pants, a long sleeve wool jersey under a wind-proof jacket, full finger “winter” cycling gloves and a liner under my helmet.

Snowy Rundle Park Trail (beside the river)

Puddle Reflections (Rundle Park)

Rundle Park Bike Path

 

 

 

 

It was just a week-ago that I was out on my cross-country skis and now another cycling season has begun. I like how even with temperatures just above freezing, some snow and puddles on the path and sand on the road, the first ride of the year is so wonderful!

 

It Doesn’t Seem Right   8 comments

It doesn’t seem right; it is certainly unexpected – to be having such a good time on the bike in November (in Edmonton). Nonetheless, I was out on my mountain bike again today (2011 November 10) and came home – much later and happier than I expected.

I started out from central Edmonton around 2 in the afternoon, heading along the south side of the river trails (dirt ones as much as I could).

Downtown Edmonton (with the James MacDonald Bridge)

From high on the riverbank, there was a great view of the ice on the North Saskatchewan River

Ice on the North Saskatchewan River

From southwest of Queen Elizabeth Park, a great view of the reflection of the old Rossdale Power Plant building in the river:

Old Rossdale Power Plant Building

I headed under the Walterdale bridge then along a winding little single track  to the High Level Bridge. That was a fun little trail of a type (narrow, hilly and amongst the trees) that I don’t often ride.

Single Track River Valley Trail

I passed under the mighty  High Level Bridge:

The High Level amd Menzies LRT bridges

and then along through the wooded trails west of Kinsmen Park, up and down a hill and then along the riverside trail to Emily Murphy Park. There were  a few places along the trail where water running off  the riverbank has already frozen. This one did not freeze on the path but a couple of other places, the trail was covered in ice for a 5 meter stretch.

Frozen "Waterfall"

From Emily Murphy I continued on along the flat, wide trail  north of the Mayfair golf club to Hawrelak Park. There was a bit of rain coming down as I rode this stretch but I was glad it wasn’t snow – not that it was cold enough on this unseasonably warm afternoon

At the south end of  the park:

Trail Though the Trees

As I stopped to take that last photo I was approached by a photographer from the Edmonton Sun newspaper who had apparently captured me riding a nd wanting to get my name. He was also interested in my little rearview mirror and took photos of that too. I may end up being in the paper.

From Hawrelak Park I continued along the dirt trail on the east side of the river all of the way up to Keillor Road. The trail has a few good hills.

Downhill Trail

and a lot of gently rolling paths

Undulating Trail

This trail may be my favorite in the city. It winds through lovely stands of evergreens and birch – looked great and smelled wonderful

Pond on the Riverbank

I stopped frequently to take photos and even parked the bike a few times  for that purpose.

Bike in the Woods

I retraced my path on the way home but saw some different things – like the ice starting to form on the lake in Hawrelak Park

Lake at Hawrelak Park

Trail north of Hawrelak

Along the trail. I stopped to take the photo above but then was entertained for a few minutes by little chickadees flitting about me and landing on the branches just beyond my reach.

Chickadee

As I had been moving so slow, it was getting late (approaching 4 pm) and at this time of year dusk was not far off so I was trying to make up time which meant crusiing along the flat wide trails.

Fast Tracks

Back on the trail between Emily Murphy and Kinsmen.I again encountered the ice across the path and had to sloe down – in fact for one of the patches I chose to just walk across the ice.

Ice on the Path

In the end I had rode 23K and felt absolutely great – far exceeding my expectations for a ride in November,

Trails in November   Leave a comment

Happy November Cyclist

I figure anytime I can be out on my bike in November that is pretty good and today, November 7th I did just that. It was a lovely afternoon – sunny with a temperature of around 5C. Fortunately there has been no snow yet this year so the trails were dry.

I did about 15km, on my mountain bike taking the paved trail through Dawson Park, then the dirt trail beside the river to the 50th Street footbridge. On the way back I took the trail up and down the Kinnaird Ravine and then the paths on the north slope of Dawson Park.

Although it was not a long ride by any means, I ended up being out for a couple of hours as I was stopping so often to take pictures. I will just let those pictures tell the story of my afternoon:

Trail beside river, east of Dawson Park

50th Street Bridge with ice on the North Saskatchewan River

Trail beside Highlands Golf Course

Kinnaird Ravine Trail (east end)

Kinnaird Ravine Trail

Top (west end) of Kinnaird Ravine Trail

Trail on North Bank of Dawson Park (east end)

River Valley from Upper Dawson Trail

Pedal's View of the Trail

Trail through the Trees

Fallen Trees Across the Path

All in all, a very enjoyable afternoon ride and hopefully not my last one for November or 2011.

Summer Riding in Edmonton’s River Valley   Leave a comment

Yesterday I got out for a very pleasant ride – a ride in weather that was what I wait for all year – summer! The sky was mostly cloudy with a few sunshine breaks. The winds were minimal and temperatures around 20C. It great to be out on the wheels anytime but to be out shorts and a short sleeve jersey and be perfectly comfortable is what I live for.

It was a 40K ride in just under 2 hours on my Proctor touring bike – over one of my favorite routes. I ride out from central Edmonton on the north side, down River Road, across Groat Bridge and up Groat Road. From there it is along the top of the bank on Saskatchewan drive, down Keillor Road past the pastoral Whitemud equine centre. It is not uncommon along this “rural” section to encounter some bugs and I did – swallowed a bug or two and had a butterfly bounce off the bridge of my nose.

I crossed Whitemud creek and under the south end of  the Quesnell bridge (still a construction zone). Next there is the bike path through the delightfully wooded area on the south edge of Fort Edmonton Park followed by a good little climb up Whitemud Road. I continue along Whitemud Road  and onto Ramsay Crescent and past the point where a top of the bank home slid into the river valley a few years ago. A short off-road path takes me over to Rooney Crescent that I follow around  until I can cross Rabbit Hill Road. Rooney Crescent is a relatively quiet residential road but has has abundant hazards in the form of  many manhole covers that seem  to occur in offset pairs that stick up considerably above the road surface. To hit one of these, at moderate speed could dangerously launch a cyclist. There seemed to be some recent road work to level out some of these bumps but many hazards are still there so be cautious.

Once across Rabbit Hill Road, I follow the south bank of the river along Hefferman Drive and over to Hector Road where I find my 20K point. After a brief pause for an energy bar and a few gulps of water, I turned around and headed home for a 40K out and back.

The only “excitement” of the ride came on the way back, just after I had crossed over Groat Bridge and was connecting back on to the River Road bike path. I’d just turned onto the path and was moving slowly as I  briefly looked down to get my shoe on my pedal. At that moment I drifted into the fence railing on my right, scraping my right upper arm and taking a wood sliver. Fortunately I didn’t fall so I just continued on for the last few flat and fast kilometers.

Yes, “Summertime, and the riding is easy …”