Archive for the ‘April’ Tag

A New Tube and Back on the Road   Leave a comment

Two weeks ago when I last rode I developed a slow leak in my rear tire. Over the last couple of kilometers, the pressure fell and the riding got increasingly difficult – but I was able to ride home. The tire did go completely flat, so it had to be repaired before I could take the bike out on the road again. On Saturday, I gave the tire a thorough inspection looking for any obvious sign of a puncture – there was nothing obvious. There were a number of grains of sand stuck in little  grooves in the almost slick tires but those would have not caused a problem. Looking closer I found probably half a dozen tiny but sharp little dagger of sand that had penetrated the tire. I pulled these out but it didn’t seem like any of them were long enough to go all the way through to the tube – especially when I had a layer of Mr. Tuffy between the tire and tube.

a tiny puncture

Next I took the tube out of the tire, inflated it and gave a visual inspection – still nothing seen. I put a little more air in the tube and very carefully inspected it, listening for any hissing. That worked, I did not have to resort to putting the tube under water and looking for bubbles. the whole was very tiny (maybe 1 mm long) and virtually impossible to note without the tire being stretched.

I patched up the hole but decided to put in a brand new tube just to be safe. I didn’t want a repeat puncture so I tried to  analyze what caused this one. It”s possible, but I think unlikely, that one of those shards of sand embedded in the tire caused the puncture. My best guess (unlikely as it seems) is that a piece of sand worked its way in through the opening at the valve stem (Schraeder valve). In any case I was cleaning out the inside of the tire and the protection strip. I didn’t notice any sand, just rubber crumbs. In any case, the new tube was mounted, tire inflated and all seemed fine.

I lubed up the chain again and headed out onto the trails and road. Today’s ride was the same 20K loop (between Dawson and Rundle Parks) that I’ve done for my last couple of outings – but today was faster. It was sunny and 14 degrees Celsius so I was able to ride in shorts for the first time. It also helped that the paths and road were very dry. With my tires at rated pressure I felt like I was flying.

There were a few places where snowmelt run-off was flowing across the path (particularly just north of Dawson Bridge. For the most part though the paths were completely dry. The bike path through Dawson Park was also surprisingly clear of sand. I do think it must have been swept recently. the main road on this route, Ada Boulevard was also very dry. It however was still very sandy. The sand basically took out the south most lane of this road but with minimal traffic this was not an issue. Even Rundle Park, which had large sections of flooded paths 2 weeks ago, was now perfectly dry.

Bridge in Rundle Park on 2011 April 24

Thawed Pond in Rundle Park

This ride was also my first opportunity to test a new point and shoot camera that I have bought, specifically to have something small that I can take with me cycling. In a future blog I’ll write more about what I was looking for, what I got and what I think about it.

As you can see from the photos, the Edmonton landscape on this last Sunday in April, has not yet started to green-up. Nonetheless we are moving in the right direction and the cycling season is young.

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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!