Archive for the ‘Fort Edmonton Park’ Tag

Zen and Cycling in the Rain   2 comments

{EAV_BLOG_VER:ffcd3c903166c67d} – just an Empire Avenue verification tag

With summer-like temperatures comes other summer weather patterns like a build up of clouds in the afternoon and the rain – either a stormy downpour or a steady light rain.

Yesterday afternoon (Sunday May 22), after doing some gardening in the morning sun I prepared to head out for a ride.  By the time I got into my cycling gear, and got the tires pumped up, the sky in the west was getting quite dark. I knew there was a very significant chance of rain but the clouds didn’t look like the big thunderstorm type so I wasn’t going to chicken out and not do my ride.

Faced with riding west towards the dark clouds or east towards the remaining blue sky I chose to go west. I figured if it did get rainy and windy and I had to dash home, better to do it with a tail wind than to have a driving rain in my face. I took one of my favorite routes from downtown Edmonton to the Terwilligar area. The sun was still shining for the most part as I headed west. One of the highlight of this ride was seeing the flowering trees in full bloom there were stunning deep pink trees in Louise McKinney Park (on the switchbacking trail through the rose gardens [map]) and on the trail through Rossdale. I should have stopped for a photo of these trees but thought I would do so on the way back.

As I rode down River Road and south up Groat Road gradually the sky became overcast. It was still nice and warm with temperatures in the low 20’s so I felt very comfortable in shorts and a light short sleeve cycling jersey. I started to encounter a few rain drops as I made my way up behind Fort Edmonton Park. What a lovely stretch of trail that is, through a lovely grove of trees. It was fun to hear the old steam engine from the park chugging away just a short distance away through the trees.

As I made my way up Whitemud Drive to the top of the riverbank [map], the rain became steadier and I became quite wet. I was glad I was on my touring bike, complete with fenders to save me from getting a wet and dirty stripe up my back, but by this time I was resigned to the fact that I was going to be wet.

I find that once I accept this fact I really can enjoy riding in the rain. There is no use worrying about it – just relax

Keillor Road Bike Path in the Rain

There is something about the rain that seems to accentuate the senses and make life seem richer. First there are less people out in the rain so you are more alone with your self and able to concentrate on your senses. I find that my senses seem so much more acute too. Even though there is no bright sunshine to give high contrast, the colors of anything wet seems more intense. The greens of the trees seem so saturated and the wetness on the roads turn them into highly reflective surfaces. I particularly noticed this cycling back along the wet Keillor Road path. The relatively new pavement was so shiny and black and to add to the atmosphere there was a wonderful mist coming off it, as the heat the asphalt had absorbed when the sun was shining was now vaporizing the water.

The sense of smell also seems enhanced by the rain. The rain itself can have a very invigorating aroma but the humidity in the air also seems to carry the fragrance of the trees (which are already pretty strong and nice at this time of year).

Of course it is important not to get carried away by the wonderful sights and smells. The rain does bring hazards to the road (particularly slippery spots) and so caution is required. It is important to have a heightened focus on the road conditions and to slow down appropriately. Somehow though that focus, that being in the here and now, also turns out to be a pleasure and benefit of riding in the rain.

It can be a great experience – cycling in the rain. I don’t necessarily go seeking a wet ride but if rain happens just make the best of it!

[What are your thought on riding in the rain? Please leave a comment]

Posted May 23, 2011 by Randy Talbot in Cycling

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Downtown to Terwilligar (testing the trails)   Leave a comment

Today (2011 April 25) marked my longest right of the year. I ventured on one of my favorite routes, a 40K out and back from Downtown to Terwilligar. This was my first ride on most of these trails and roads this year so I’ll share what I encountered.

The bicycle paths on the northside of the river from Riverdale, through Rossdale and down River Road were great – dry and clean (except for a few wet patches in Rossdale, at the southeast corner.

The first hazard encountered was a lot of sand on the path connecting the River Road trail to the northeast end of Groat Bridge. this is a steep little section and sand is not welcome either going up or coming down. It’s not bad if you are the only one on this section but if  there is traffic, be prepared.

North Saskatchewan River looking east from Groat Bridge

The view from the bridge was quite dramatic as I crossed, with many chunks of ice floating downstream (on my return crossing the river was pretty much clear)

Once across the river and up the hill, I turned onto Emily Murphy Park Road to take the overpass over Groat Road. Very sandy! Sand would be a serious issue all of the way up Groat Road – on the road leading up to Hawrelak Park entrance and then on the sidewalk/path running on the west side of Groat Road.  Caution is in order when on the road and especially when changing lanes. The sidewalk is very sandy on the road side  put clear on the park side – again not an issue if  pedestrian/cycle traffic is light.

Sandy path between Hawrelak Park and Groat Road

The path from the traffic circle to the top of Keillor Road was pretty smooth cycling – clean and dry for the most part.

The Keillor Road hill was wet, and sandy. On is not going to want to cruise down like you would on dry summer pavement. Part of the bike path were still covered by snow and there was lots of run-off on the paths.

Snow, Sand and Water on Keillor Road Hill

Once down on the flat section beside the Whitemud Equine Center the road was pretty fast although there was snow on the road sides and there were wet sections. Back on the bike paths around the little bridge over the Whitemud Creek I again found a lot of sand – slow and cautious riding called for.

looking west down Keillor Road

Blocked Path at Quesnel Bridge

The next hazard was at the Quesnel Bridge construction site. The bike path is inconveniently blocked by construction trailers right where the trail intersects the road under the south end of the bridge. Cyclists must go off-road and ease their way down the square curb.

Once under the Quesnel I connect to the bike path running back behind Fort Edmonton Park. on the south bank of the river valley. I should know better than to expect a dry trail  on this side of the river before mid-May. True enough, this section was mostly wet and very sandy – that mix that drives me crazy with the crunching once it gets into my drive train. The good thing is that it was only water, there was no snow or ice that I had to cross along this path.

Beautiful but wet path to the south of Ft. Edmonton Park

From the end of this bike path I took the Whitemud Road – up the steep, gravelly hill. The hill was rough as usual but not overly muddy, so I didn’t really think about it.  I continued along Whitemud Road through the residential community.

Awkward Off-road Connection

There is one little off road connection that I usually take  between Riddell Street and Romaniuk Road  but today it was wet and muddy and I had to make a detour on to the nearest road. I continued for a few kilometers south of Rabbit Hill Road along  relatively dry but sandy residential roads before backtracking my route to get home.

Overall the ride was a success (my longest of the year, the weather was decent and my camera worked out well ) but I think I will not venture out on this same route again for a couple more weeks (hopefully by then  the paths will be dry and the sand will be swept up).

Fort Edmonton Footbridge over the North Saskatchewan River (viewed from Ramsey Crescent)