Archive for the ‘EBTC’ 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.

Silver Triangle Here I Come   1 comment

After our second spring snowfall had melted away enough to leave the street mostly dry, I got my touring bike out last Saturday (April 7th). It was a chilly afternoon ride, but the sun was out so can’t complain too much. I did my typical early season route which is from central Edmonton, along the bike path in Dawson Park then along Ada Boulevard to Rundle Park, a lap of the park and back. With a good 100psi in the tires I sure noticed that  the riding was a lot easier than the time I’d taken my mountain bike on this route a couple of weeks earlier.

My motivation for heading out on this day? Well, I had just registered to join the Silver Triangle tour. This Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club (EBTC) organized ride will be happening in mid-June in central BC ( the Canadian province of British Columbia). The riding starts in Silverton on Slocan Lake and we will ride over to Kaslo on Kootenay Lake, following it south to Nelson, up Highway 6 through Winlaw, back along the shore of Slocan Lake to Nakusp . I’ll also be looking forward to a visit to the Ainsworth Hot Springs along the way.

I have not ridden this area before but am told it is beautiful and traffic should be light. We will be covering about 100 Km per day with some mountainous terrain – hence the need to kick off some serious training. The challenge as always will be to push myself to get the cardio-vascular system and muscles in shape, without causing injury to a knee or something like that.

A key part of my training will be participating in the EBTC Target the Tour Classic training rides each Sunday. The intent of these rides is to train for the Tour de l’Alberta ride (and particularly the 185K distance). That ride will be my secondary personal goal for this season (well the first half anyway). As such this year is looking similar to 2010 for me. That year I started with the Golden Triangle in May and then did the 100K distance in the Tour in July.

2010 Golden Triangle Day 2 – Radium to Golden   1 comment

Day 2 of the ride started off good. After a soak in the Radium hot springs the previous evening and then a good night’s sleep I was ready to go. first of course we fueled up at a good communal breakfast. I think we were pulling out of the motel parking lot around 8:45. The weather was cool (single digits) but dry. Wearing long pants and a jacket over my long sleeve jersey, I was very comfortable.

The ride north from Radium to Golden is just a little over 100K and relatively flat(some climbs but no mountain passes). Highway 95  follows the valley between two mountain ranges providing  mountain scenery without the climbs. In the valley is the Columbia river which is broken up into many channels and picturesque  little lakes. The terrain beside the road is mainly rangeland and farmland. It was rural but not wild country one wouldn’t go very far before seeing a driveway leading to a house set back from the highway.

Between the 20-some riders with the EBTC and the 300 with the EVCC there were a lot of cyclist on the road this day but it was never crowded. Towards the end of the day I would ride many kilometers before catching or passing another cyclist.

The Columbia River Valley

The EBTC support van at a roadside rest stop

My touring bicycle

The day was peaceful, enjoyable and eventful (except for one story yet to come). I stopped many times to take photos along the way (which made it a little difficult to keep up with the group (I think I did slip to the back of the back). I was not helped by a knee pain that developed about mid day and got progressively worse. This is not a chronic injury nor could I trace it to any specific incident, so I just kept moving along and using photo stops to settle the knee down.

Black Bear

Along the route I would see a black bear down by the river. It was a fair distance (a few hundred meters) away and across the road, down a hill on the other side of dual railway tracks and across a hundred meters of marsh, so there was never any worry of an encounter.  I was also fortunate to see a young (but large) bird-of-prey (not sure what kind) in a nest – pretty cool! I stopped for awhile to watch as the mother left the nest, presumably on a hunting expedition while the baby remained in the nest squawking. It is interesting to note that his nest was not in a natural habitat but rather located at the top of a pole that had probably been set up to provide a nesting habitat.

Bird in a Nest

By late afternoon, I was pretty alone on the road – there were a few others but not many. My knee continued to hurt but I soldiered eventually  using my good leg for most of my power. Also late in the afternoon my crank developed an annoying creak. With my knee hurting I didn’t feel like stopping to check out the crank – another 20km or less and I’d be in Golden and then could assess the situation. Unfortunately as I was going up one hill I discovered that I couldn’t shift my front derailleur properly and when I looked down I discovered that my large chainwheel was wobbling. Still I figured i could carry on with just my smaller chainwheel – just a little farther to go. Then my chain fell off and I had to stop to fix it. At that point I looked more closely at my crank and chainwheels. I discovered that a bolt that holds the chainwheels  together was lose – no it was missing! Looking more closely I discovered I wasn’t missing just one of the bolts but two … three…four of the 5 bolts! How could that happen?!

Anyway I got out my tools, tightened up the remaining bolt very securely, left my chain on the small inner chainring and hobbled on into Golden. I found the motel we were staying at, caught up with the group, cleaned up and had a great dinner.

In the evening I had a little time to wander around the town of Golden and take a few pictures. I love the fast and cold Kicking Horse River

Kicking Horse River in Golden B.C.

As I marked the end of Day 2 I was thinking ahead to the next day, wondering if my bike and my knee would be up to some serious mountain passes on the return to Castle Mountain Junction.

To see many more photos of the wonderful scenery from this day please visit my Facebook album. Also check out my blogs of Day 1 and Day 3 of this tour

Posted March 6, 2011 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Touring

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Tour de l’Alberta 2010   3 comments

Riding the local one-day Tour de l’Alberta event was the second of my goals for this year of getting back into cycling (the first goal was the Golden Triangle tour). This ride was on Sunday July 25 (coincidentally and somewhat unfortunately the last day of le Tour de France). Not coincidentally, this “tour de” has a French flavor to it as the route travels through of the Franco-Albertan communities north of Edmonton.This organized ride (not a race) offered cyclist a choice of 4 distances: 20 kilometers, 50K, 100K and 185K ( as well as a 5K Kid’s Mini Tour). Earlier in the year I was expecting to ride the 185 K distance but without having gotten in sufficient training I scaled back my goal to the 100K.

The 100K ride started in Morinville, Alberta at 8:30 AM (an hour and a half after the  start for the 185K group). The weather was just about perfect at the start: clear skies, no wind and a temperature of around 16C.  I don’t know how many riders chose this distance but out of the 1000 that would do one of the distances I would not be surprised if there were 500 bikes crowding into the starting area. It was good that they controlled the start by letting riders go off in groups of maybe 50, a few minutes apart. Even with that it was pretty crowded on the road for the first few kilometers.

one group of the 100K riders waiting to begin their ride

The first leg of the ride headed out west of Morinville along a quiet country road (a 2 lane secondary highway with paved shoulders)  towards the  first rest stop 22Km away.  It is a peaceful morning, with not much vehicular traffic  but I am  a little nervous riding along so many riders – especially of obviously varying levels of experience. Some cyclists were obviously accustomed to riding in a peleton,  others seemed at bit oblivious to other cyclists and road traffic. Nonetheless, no troubles were encountered or observed.

bicycle traffic on the first leg, not far out of Morinville

fence and fields along Highway 44

rest stop #1 in Alcomdale - a chance to refuel

All of the rest stops on this well organized were manned by a bunch of friendly volunteers. Each stop gave riders a chance to fill up their waterbottle with water or Gatorade and to eat from a wide variety of snacks: fruits, granola bars, muffins, trail mix, candies etc.. The rest stops were also a chance to use the washrooms but the lineups were long.

golden field and big blue sky

The second segment of the ride was a 23K trek from Alcomdale to Legal, where the  lunch stop was. We continued north for another 6.5K before turning east onto highway 651. Although the wind seemed barely noticeable when standing still. I notice a significant difference when making this turn. My eastbound cruising speed went up to about 23Kph from the 18 Kph on the northbound portion.

long straight flat roads

A mere 4 kilometers from Legal I suffered a flat rear tire. I stopped and replaced the tube with a spare I had luckily bought the day before. The change went smoothly, I found the shard of glass that caused the flat so I was able to prevent a recurrence in my new tube. I didn’t need assistance but it was sure nice to have offers of help from event support staff in vehicles and on motorbikes, and also to have many of the other riders going by ask if I was okay.

there were not many clouds in the sky but they contributed to the great scenery

Legal was the designated lunch stop so it had a bit more to offer than the typical rest stop. There was music a nice open air shelter and more substantial food including sandwiches. Also in keeping with the french culture of the community the food included tortiere, a traditional French Canadian meat pie. I was particularly drawn to some delicious maple fudge!

Lunch stop in Legal at the Citadel Park Gazebo

Legal was also the lunch stop for the 50Km ride group so there were a lot of people around. Even though I headed back out after the bulk of the riders, there was still considerable congestion on the road for a few kilometers until the 50K group turned off.  Again the eastbound route gave a slight tailwind and after the rest and being fueled by fudge I was flying down this stretch.

a decent paved shoulder for cycling along most of the route

This 3rd segment of the day to the Lily Lake rest stop was the shortest segment at just 13.6 K and was 3K less than that if you took the stop before a little 3K out and back segment (as I and most others did).

Rest Stop #3 at Lily Lake

Back on the road again, the first order of business was to head north for 1.5K before turning around and heading south towards  Bon Accord. This was a nice little ride offering a few different bits of scenery including some old buildings, some cattle  and even a small group of llamas.

old Orthodox church along Lily Lake Road

more wonderfully brilliant canola fields

As I rode along towards Rest Stop #4 in Bon Accord I was starting to feel fatigue and was glad I had not attempted the 185K distance. I was going to be okay for another 25K but could not have imagined being only half way through the longer distance.

The Bon Accord rest stop was at the local arena and offered the same re-fueling options. After 15 minutes or so, I was back on the road for the final leg of my 100K ride.

The 5th leg of the ride took us from Bon Accord back to the starting point in Morinville. Although it was just another 20.4K I must admit it seemed longer. there was a headwind and I was obviously getting tired. It also didn’t help that the crowd had really thinned out, so it really felt like a solo ride

scene along Highway 28, east of Bon Accord

The last few kilometers seemed particularly long and weird. To make up the 100Km distance I suppose, the route turned off the main road through Morinville and south along a long, lonely street through an as yet undeveloped residential subdivision. I saw absolutely no other riders and did wonder if I was on the right route. I never wondered too hard because the route was well marked throughout, with signs posted at every intersection. I did get back to the main road, then it was just a couple of blocks till I turned off and passed through the start/finish arch.

At the finish line I was give  a finishers’ medallion which I hadn’t expected it).  I must admit the cold and tasty “popsicle” at the finish was pretty darn good too! I had been on the road for about 6 hours – with rest stops, photo ops and the flat tire I probably had been in the saddle for about four and a half hours.

Tour de l'Alberta finisher's medal (on commemorative jersey)

It was at the finish line that I finally ran into someone I knew and discovered that there were a number of others that I knew who had ridden that day too. Funny that I hadn’t run into anyone on the road, but not too surprising given the number of people involved that day.

Once cooled down a bit I got back to the car, put the bike away, took off my helmet and changed out of my cycling shoes – then it was time to eat. The post race meal was very nice. It featured pasta, salad, garlic bread. An especially classy touch was that we ate of real plates and had real cutlery. After the long ride, sitting out there in the sun, eating this food was a wonderful conclusion to a great day

tables set up with the classy and delicious post-ride meal

Post script: I was a bit surprised at just how tired I felt by the evening after the ride. The general fatigue was worse than I’d felt in the couple of 100K days I had in the mountains in May, but similar to what I had felt after running marathons (although without the specific muscle stiffness). Next year I’ll probably be back – I’m especially eager to tackle the 185K distance (that would be a special accomplishment!)

Thanks for the EBTC for organizing this event and all of the volunteers that made it possible!

Posted July 31, 2010 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Touring, Cycling

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2010 Golden Triangle Day 1 – Castle Mountain Junction to Radium   5 comments

The day starts early, up by 7-ish. I’m excited,  I’ve waited for this day for sometime: a couple of months if you count from when I decided I would ride this year’s Golden Triangle (or 23 years if you count from the last time I cycled this route).

We have a group breakfast in the hostel dining room although at this point I don’t really feel a part of the group and I don’t think most of the other EBTC riders had any idea that I am even with them. A quick clean-up of dishes and then the bikes and equipment  are loaded up for the drive to the starting point: Castle Mountain Junction.  I was not exactly sure where to go so I try to follow the group van – but I eventually lose it in the traffic. I then direct my attention to keeping an eye out for the Radium turn-off, which I easily find and then turn into the Castle Mountain Junction hostel parking lot.

It is a beautiful sunny and warm morning (in the shelter of the parking lot) as I  get my bike out of the back of the car, attach the front wheel on and put-on my handlebar (camera) bag and rear rack bag (rain gear/clothing). I decide to start off the ride wearing  my short sleeve jersey – partly because it feels warm and partly because we will be cycling up hill from the start. I take notice of the altitude of 1437 meters about 800 m greater than I am used to at home

We head out up highway 93, across the Trans-Canada The ride starts uphill – nothing too serious just a matter of a lower (but certainly not my lowest) gear, a moderate cadence and patience. The sky is mostly clear and  blue and the mountains deliciously snow-capped

After a climb of about 7K we reach the first summit for the day and 4K later we cross the Continental Divide, the border between the provinces of Alberta and British Colombia. Through this stretch, the vehicular traffic is fairly light but there are many bikes on the road – primarily due to the 300 members of Calgary’s Elbow Valley Cycling Club that are running their own Golden Triangle ride simultaneously along the same route.

The rest of the morning ride is very peaceful with no major climbs. I find myself stopping every few minutes to  take photographs. One fairly long section had obviously been hit by a forest fire in the not-too-distant past and had the skeletal remains of a forest to give an eerie beauty to the landscape

Our group lunch stop was at Vermillion River Crossing at about 40K, I am the second last in our group to arrive but I keep telling myself that it is not a race and I want to take advantage of the journey to take lots of photos (at least some of which will be references for paintings). The after-lunch section is relatively flat. The weather is coolish with a bit of drizzle and a few flakes of snow. This turns out to be a very solitary section of the route in which I see very few other riders. I do pass a couple of deer but do not stop for too many photos.

Randy mid-afternoon on the road to Radium

At about 75K we start the big climb, the second  and last for the day. It is about an 11K climb up from the Kootenay River. We have our last rest stop of the day at a viewpoint 8K up. The far side of the valley is in thin, low clouds showing yet another kind of beauty to the mountain landscape

view from viewpoint overlooking the Kootenay Valley

Another 3K uphill after the rest until we begin the big descent into Radium.  It is a long downhill. It may have been hard work pedaling uphill  but with the traffic and narrow lanes is not at all relaxing going down – riding one’s brakes with full concentration is required.

After a short ride through town we reach the Bavaria Motel, check in to our rooms, relax a bit in the sun and have a wonderful spaghetti dinner in the Gazebo. That evening a ten of us pile into the van for a short drive up to the Radium Hotsprings where we enjoyed a relaxing soak for an hour or so. I must have been pretty tired and relaxed because once back at the motel I fell asleep quickly.

To see more photos from this first day of the 2010 Golden Triangle click here.

Posted July 22, 2010 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Touring

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2010 Golden Triangle – Day 0   Leave a comment

Day 0 (Friday May21st) – The day finally arrives to get this journey underway. This is the day for final packing and getting to Banff to begin a long weekend bicycle tour – the Golden Triangle: Banff – Radium – Golden – Banff.

I loaded up my gear into my panniers, removed the front wheel of my touring bike and maneuvered it through the trunk into the back of my Toyota .  As planned, I hit the road just after noon and drove south in the  rain for an hour and a half until I reached Red Deer. After a quick lunch break at the A&W, I continued my drive towards Calgary. At the north edge of  the city I took the new highway 201  which skirts around northwest Calgary avoiding the delays of the old route through the centre of town. By the time I got through Calgary the skies were mostly blue and sunny. Highway 1 took me through to Banff where I arrived around 5:30.  I found the hostel, got my key and settled in.

HI Banff Alpine Centre Hostel

I spent some time that evening walking in the vicinity of the hostel taking photos with my iPhone & Nikon D80. It was a rather chilly evening (around freezing?) so I broke out my toque and was glad to have a down vest with me.

Randy in Banff pre-Golden Triangle

Randy in Banff near the hostel taking photos

After walking around fro an hour I headed back to my room and amused myself by creatively  processing some of the iPhone photos I had taken.

tree near Banff HI hostel (after creative processing with Photoshop Mobile)

Later in the evening, 9:30ish many of the others in our cycling group arrived at the hostel, although at this point I still didn’t know most of them.

Hoping that it wouldn’t be too cold or wet in the morning, I called it a night.

Posted July 12, 2010 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Touring

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Going for Gold – Week 1   Leave a comment

There are a few “golden triangles” in the world but for a cyclist in this part of Canada it can mean only one thing. The Golden Triangle is a cycling loop starting at the Castle Mountain junction in Banff National Park and connecting to the towns Radium and Golden in the province of British Columbia. Those three points make the triangle with a little more than 100 Km between each – ideal for a three day cycling tour.

Google map of the Golden Triangle

After my first ride of the year – 20K on March 29, I headed out for another ride on the 31st, just to confirm that the good feelings of my initial outing was not a fluke. It wasn’t – despite winds and a couple of brief snow storms I did 30K and felt good.  I got home and followed up by joining the Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club (EBTC). My intent was to do a lot more cycling in 2010 and use the club for inspiration and support.

The next day, April Fools’ Day I went a step further by committing to the EBTC’s Golden Triangle Tour, which occurs on the May long weekend (22nd to 24th) – just 7 weeks away. This wasn’t a long time to get my cycling legs back into shape but I was optimistic that I could do it. My initial goal was to get in 1000 Km of training before the trip.

Later that day I headed out west along the bike paths through Edmonton’s river valley – west on River Road, around Hawrelak Park, up Groat Road, down Keillor Road to Ft. Edmonton Park, then back with a side trip up and down McKinnon Ravine. There was still snow lining the sides of Keillor Road but overall the roads were dry.

I finished off that first week with a 30K ride on the 2nd. That gave me a solid 120K for the first week, all on my Kuwahara mountain bike -a good start.

Posted May 4, 2010 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Touring

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