Archive for the ‘hydration’ Tag

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!