Archive for the ‘Ardrossan’ Tag

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.

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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.