Archive for the ‘Keillor Road’ 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!

 

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Summer Riding in Edmonton’s River Valley   Leave a comment

Yesterday I got out for a very pleasant ride – a ride in weather that was what I wait for all year – summer! The sky was mostly cloudy with a few sunshine breaks. The winds were minimal and temperatures around 20C. It great to be out on the wheels anytime but to be out shorts and a short sleeve jersey and be perfectly comfortable is what I live for.

It was a 40K ride in just under 2 hours on my Proctor touring bike – over one of my favorite routes. I ride out from central Edmonton on the north side, down River Road, across Groat Bridge and up Groat Road. From there it is along the top of the bank on Saskatchewan drive, down Keillor Road past the pastoral Whitemud equine centre. It is not uncommon along this “rural” section to encounter some bugs and I did – swallowed a bug or two and had a butterfly bounce off the bridge of my nose.

I crossed Whitemud creek and under the south end of  the Quesnell bridge (still a construction zone). Next there is the bike path through the delightfully wooded area on the south edge of Fort Edmonton Park followed by a good little climb up Whitemud Road. I continue along Whitemud Road  and onto Ramsay Crescent and past the point where a top of the bank home slid into the river valley a few years ago. A short off-road path takes me over to Rooney Crescent that I follow around  until I can cross Rabbit Hill Road. Rooney Crescent is a relatively quiet residential road but has has abundant hazards in the form of  many manhole covers that seem  to occur in offset pairs that stick up considerably above the road surface. To hit one of these, at moderate speed could dangerously launch a cyclist. There seemed to be some recent road work to level out some of these bumps but many hazards are still there so be cautious.

Once across Rabbit Hill Road, I follow the south bank of the river along Hefferman Drive and over to Hector Road where I find my 20K point. After a brief pause for an energy bar and a few gulps of water, I turned around and headed home for a 40K out and back.

The only “excitement” of the ride came on the way back, just after I had crossed over Groat Bridge and was connecting back on to the River Road bike path. I’d just turned onto the path and was moving slowly as I  briefly looked down to get my shoe on my pedal. At that moment I drifted into the fence railing on my right, scraping my right upper arm and taking a wood sliver. Fortunately I didn’t fall so I just continued on for the last few flat and fast kilometers.

Yes, “Summertime, and the riding is easy …”

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)