Archive for the ‘Edmonton’ Tag

First Ride of 2016   3 comments

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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:

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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:

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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.

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

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

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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:

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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:

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Beside the trail, looking east towards Capilano Bridge

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Dry gravel path

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Looking across the river

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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.

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Kinnaird Ravine's icy/slushy trail

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

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Waiting for Spring 2016   1 comment

I haven’t had my bike out yet this year (it’s been 15 weeks since my last ride) but I feel the time is getting near. I did get out for a walk in Edmonton’s river valley yesterday, that gave me a good indication of what to expect on the cycling paths. I walked through Dawson Park and for the most part, the paths are very rideable.  There is a lot of sand and frequent wet spots (that shouldn’t be a problem as long as the temperature is above freezing and/or exposed to the sun). There are however a few hazards that mean a cyclist must not yet adopt the more carefree mindset of summer riding. Here is what I saw:

This path through Dawson Park is typical of the sun-exposed north side of the river valley,  – again, wet and sandy but quite passable

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There is however one habitually bad stretch of the path, 50+ meters north of Dawson Bridge, where it is wet/icy/slushy and extreme caution is required:

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The dogwood beside the path adding some color to an otherwise rather blaek late-winter landscape:

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Another low spot on the path through Dawson Park creates this pond across 90% of the path:

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While the path on the sunny north side of the river valley seem ready for fair weather cyclists (i.e. not those riding fat bikes or studded tires), the paths are the south bank of the valley, I will be avoiding for a least another month. This is a section of path, just west of Capilano bridge on the south side – pretty much coated in a few centimeters of ice:

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I am encouraged about getting an earlier start to this year’s cycling season. After a mild winter without much snow, we seem to be at least a couple of weeks ahead of recent years. I could ride today but at best I will try to locate all of cool weather clothing and do a quick check of the bike (air in tires, chain lubrication etc.)

Soon…

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Posted March 6, 2016 by Randy Talbot in Cycling

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Icy spot in Dawson Park

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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.

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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:

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

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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:

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

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

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The descending path into Dawson Park

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The undulating path through Dawson Park

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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.

Explorer in my Own City   1 comment

Like a Foreign Land

The excitement of exploration – even in my own city. I love to just explore, to take new paths and see what I can see. It is a particular bonus when I can discover a new cycling route, one that will become part of my regular routes by virtue of it’s good qualities: low traffic, smooth surface and interesting scenery. I felt like an explorer of times of old, looking for a new passage to the Orient. For the last couple of years I have hoped to discover  route from the west side of the Anthony Henday Drive bridge [map]. I’ve crossed the bridge and rode up into and around the Cameron Heights neighborhood, a number of times but never found  that elusive connector route. I always had to turn around, cross the bridge again and return my ride on the south side of the river.

I approached the bridge again this day and was taken by the construction of another,  new high voltage power line along the existing utility corridor. It wasn’t my goal but it did provide a surreal view (see photo above)

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Wooden Road

I’ll start this tale from when I reached the Terwilligar area since I have already described my route getting there a few times .  there is a bike opath that leads down to the Anthony Henday Drive over the North Saskatchewan River in southwest Edmonton. I have crossed this bridge a few times in years past, always hoping to find a route that goes somewhere but to no avail.  I’ve ridden the path until it dumps me out in a residential neighborhood, ridden around that neighborhood not finiding anywhere to go and then simply backtracking.

This day however I pulled out my iPhone and looked at my mapping application. I noticed what looked like a path that I’d not noticed before just a block away. I rode over there, discovered a little concrete sidewalk goinf away from the road and following that a short ways it connected to an old road that lead into a ravine!

An old road through a ravine

Downstream: The Tiny Creek

On the left of this picture you can see a wooden fence, Below that fence a culvert provides a path for the tiny stream under the road. At this point one could hop across the creek but what a difference looking upstream.

Looking upstream I saw the most marvelous beaver dam and not only a big dam but a huge pond with the beaver’s den  in the middle. I was even fortunate enough to see the beaver swimming around in the pond. What  a fantastic discovery! I wasn’t expecting to see something like that so close to the heavy construction, freeway and residential neighborhood that I had just passed through.

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Upstream: The beaver dam, pond and den (and the beaver swimming too).

After a good break to observe and photograph  this marvel, I continued on up the road to the top of the ravine on the other side. From here I rejoined residential neighborhoods and roads. Although I did not explore  and further I was very excited because from that point I think I will be able to find a route, back along the north side of the river to the pedestrian bridge by Ft. Edmonton Park. If I can do that I will have a very nice cycling loop – but I left that exploration for another day and just retraced my route for this day.

A Mid-May 70K Training Ride   3 comments

Happy Zen Cyclist

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“Are my tire pressures low?”

“I think my chain needs to be re-lubed”

“Weren’t my hubs supposed to be sealed and never need maintenance? They must be dragging ”

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Thoughts like those raced through my mind yesterday, two and a half hours into what would be nearly 4 hours in the saddle. I accomplished my longest ride of the season, covering 70 Kilometers.

River Road Cycling Path

Again, I was able to rack up this distance riding mostly on the trails through the river valley  in Edmonton. I may sometimes complain about the condition of the paths these days, but it sure is nice to have the pleasant scenery to cycle through and not to have to deal with motor vehicles.

Further along River Road

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It was a cool May morning as I set out – about 8C degrees. Even though it was sunny, I did wear a jacket over my jersey and left it on for 3/4 of the ride. I also found that my legs (in shorts) were cool and my toes got  a bit numb.

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I linked my 40K westbound route with my 30K eastern route to rack up the  distance today. I started along the northside paths to to Groat Road. The long, flat section along River Road is a good way to warm up.

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I hit my first climb out of the river valley at about 7K after crossing Groat Bridge and heading up Groat Road. My route would  give me a surprising amount of climbing – I ascended to the top of the river valley about 10 times. My GPS monitor indicated about 870 meters of elevation changes.

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Talus Dome Sculpture

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As the bike path  crosses under the Quesnel Bridge [map]. I see a fascinating but controversial public sculpture, the Talus Dome, at the south end of the bridge, on the east side. I very much like this one – maybe because it reminds me of ball bearings but the setting beside a freeway just doesn’t do it justice. Cyclists probably get a better view than do the motorists and I think it will look better once the landscaping at the base is complete.

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The ride proceeded uneventfully. I reached my turnaround point in Terwilligar at 20K and started by journey east which I would do along the south side of the river all the way to Rundle Park. This route involved 4 major climbs (i.e. to the top of the river bank) and a few smaller ones.

Edmonton River Valley Path

By the time I got back to the downtown area, I’d covered 40K, just over half of my goal, in a couple of hours without any real rests. I was starting to feel a bit tired, a bit slower and getting hungry. I usually like to pack along an energy bar for times like this but I didn’t have any at home today. I figured I could pick up a snack along the way, but the downside of my route is that it doesn’t pass by any convenience store. I was looking forward to getting to Rundle Park where I know they have a snack bar/ concession.

Reflections in a Rundle Park pond

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By the time I crossed into Rundle Park [map]. I’d covered over 50K and was certainly looking forward to a break. The park was looking particularly attractive. The lakes have been refilled with water and are in their reflective wonder.

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I made my way over to the pavilion but – the snack bar was closed!  I looked around hoping to at least find a vending machine but one was not obvious, so I continued on my ride. I had another 20K to go, so figured I’d just have to do it on my built in energy reserves (5 or 10 Kilos of which I wouldn’t mind burning off).

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It was around now that those voices got loud. I found my self looking down at my tires to see if they look flat and wondering about all of the other mechanical reasons that might account for my slowing pace. Not that I was really fooled; I may have been tiring but still could reason that my low energy levels and muscle fatigue were the most likely culprits.

I continued north from Rundle Park through Hermitage Park [map], amongst the dogs and up to the top of the riverbank at 20th Street, before heading back down on the 15K return trip.

Path Through Hermitage Park

I did find my pace fell off  noticeably  over the last half of the ride but I still felt pretty good. Having been on the bike for so long, my neck got a little sore but that certainly reminded me of one of the areas that I am training – It is NOT all about the legs!

I look back on that ride with pleasure, a sense of accomplishment. Now, in preparing for next month’s Silver Triangle, I just have to build up to cover a 50% greater distance in one day, then do it for three consecutive days and  oh, do it in mountainous terrain.

Posted May 18, 2012 by Randy Talbot in Cycling

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Green Day 2012   Leave a comment

Yesterday (May 7th, 2012) was another first (for this year anyway). It’s what I like to call “green day”  – the day on which the Edmonton river valley suddenly turns very green as the trees burst out in leaf and the day when my spirit takes a noticeable jump!

The Greening of the Trees (Rundle Park)

I was out on the bike and I had a good ride – my longest of the season, covering a distance of 60K in just over 3 hours, (without a major rest break). The sun was shining so I broke out the sunscreen for the first time this year. The temperature was up to 20 so I was quite comfortable in shorts and a light short sleeve jersey (that’s the way I like to ride). Also at that temperature and distance I paid attention to my hydration. I’m not sure if I did drink enough but I did make a point of having a swallow or two of water every 5 kilometers.

To get the 60K distance along the Edmonton river valley bike trails, I basically (although not exactly) combined my 20K east loop with my 40K west out-and-back route. I started out east, through Dawson Park, along Ada Boulevard on the top of the north river bank to Rundle Park [map]. After a  loop around Rundle,  I crossed over to Gold Bar on the south side of the river.

The North Saskatchewan River (high and ice-free) – looking west from near Rundle/Gold Bar parks

It was my first time this year on much of the south side trails [map] since they tend to be shaded and the snow and still be on the trails long after the exposed north side trails are clear and dry. There was however absolutely no snow or even wet paths, yesterday.

Bike Path looking west towards Riverside Hill

To be honest the other reason that I have not ridden the south side trails, is to avoid one particular hill – the killer slope on the east side of the Riverside Golf Course.  The fears were unfounded though, I geared down and grinded my way up with little trouble.

A good section of the downhill path

Coming back down from the top of the bank at the south end of Forest Heights Park I became aware of how a number of sections of our prized cycling path network is in poor shape. This downhill section in particular, reminded me that extra caution is required as the condition of the paved surface is no longer a match for the speed which one can easily reach.

II continued to follow the bike paths on the south side of the river, beside  the Cloverdale community, under the Low Level and James MacDonald bridges, through Queen Elizabeth Park and on to Kinsmen Park. At the west end of Kinsmen, the path turns south, up the river bank (which turned out to be more of a climb than I remembered). The path at the top of the bank follows Saskatchewan Drive along the north edge of the University of Alberta main campus. Then it was down Emily Murphy Park Road, over towards the Hawrelak Park entrance and right back up again on the sidewalk beside Groat Road. The next kilometer or so, of path  is flat following the top of the bank to the old Keillor Road. A nice downhill section here with a few switchbacks leads to a nice path that is straight and in great shape – wonderful for riding out the downhill onto the long flat stretch beside the Whitemud Equine Centre.

Where the Whitemud meets the North Saskatchewan

Shortly thereafter a small bridge crosses the Whitemud Creek ear to where it empties into the North Saskatchewan River. I am often seduced into a brief stop on the bridge and perhaps a picture (or two) before carrying on, under the Quesnel Bridge, then along the east/south side of the parking lot at the John Janzen Nature Centre and Fort Edmonton Park [map]. The bike path then skirts along the south end of Fort Edmonton Park with some gentle hills and some glimpses into the historic park. I quite like the trees along this section of the route and therefore often stop to take photos here too.

The nice, paved trail ends suddenly at a corner of Whitemud Road. To go right takes one down to a pedestrian cycle bridge across the river but here I go left  [map]. This section of road is definitely the worst of my entire route. It is steep so be sure to gear down before you start the climb. The road is also in very poor condition with broken pavement and a lot of sand and gravel (especially scary coming back down). Near the top of the road (where it technically is called 58th Avenue) I turn right along a walkway between some houses that puts me back on Whitemud Road. The next part of my route (in fact until I turn around and retrace by path) is on relatively quiet residential roads. I continue south on Whitemud Road turning right (west) when the road itself becomes 43 Avenue [map].

This section of Whitemud Road becomes Ramsay Crescent which offers a great view west over the river and beyond. This view is offered from the place where 2 or three homes slid down the river bank a number of years ago. Where Ramsay Crescent bends away from the river, I veer right and take a path that continues along the top of the river bank [map]. This path is paved for a ways and then it becomes shale and dirt. I take it for a few hundred meters, until I can get back onto a residential street, Romaniuk Road. This street turns into Rooney Crescent which I follow until turning right onto Roy Street, then right again onto Roy Gate.

Roy Gate takes me to Rabbit Hill Road, which I cross, then follow along Heffernan Drive [map] until it intersect Heath Road, where I turn right. I continue south on Heath Road for a few blocks, past where it passes through a utility corridor (with bike paths east and west). I turn right onto Hector Road and follow it until I reach my turnaround point (a point which gives me a 20K ride home). As I usually do, I pause at this point, munch on an energy bar and have a few swigs of water before heading back north and east.

I didn’t retrace my steps exactly this day (or it would have given me an 80K ride rather than the goal 60K). However I did go back on the same route just described all of the way to Hawrelak Park. The nice thing about my return route is that there is only one significant climb – at the east end Keillor Road (back up to Saskatchewan Drive [map]. This was the one that I so enjoyed the ride on the way down, now it’s payback time! It’s not actually that bad. Having ridden it often enough I know the pace that I need to maintain and I can even usually make it up comfortably without using my lowest gear.

The start of the Keillor Road climb

From the top of this climb, it is back along Saskatchewan Drive, down Groat Road (again the “sidewalk” on the west side of the road). Here is where my return route differs from the outgoing one. I follow the road north out of Hawrelak Park, over Groat Road  and then cross the Groat Bridge on the east side sidewalk. At the north end of the bridge I take a quick right on the path and connect with the cycle path along the south side of River Valley Road [map]. This long, straight, flat path takes me east to the traffic lights at 105 St. I then follow the path beside the river as it skirts around the Rossdale community, then on  past the convention centre, through Louise McKinney Park and past the Cloverdale footbridge and finally  into the Riverdale community (where I finish my ride) [map].

It was a good ride, a long one I had to make up for missing the Target the Tour training ride the day before. As good as I felt during the ride, I was certainly wiped out later. I have a ways to go with my training  in order to do be able to ride 3 consecutive 100K days or to be able to cover 180K in a single day – but so far so good, no injuries and incremental progress.

With the local trees leafing-out, the world turning green it really feels like the cycling season has begun in earnest. See you on the trails!

 

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!