Archive for the ‘snow’ Tag

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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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!

 

Half Way There? – Not Quite :-(   Leave a comment

It has been 8 weeks today since my last ride. I am still fondly remembering that trail ride through Edmonton’s river valley and starting to wonder when I might next get out on two wheels. It is probably going to be another 10 weeks before the streets and paved trails are passable and another 4 weeks after that before I want to tackle the dirt trails. So what to do till then?

One option is of course to just damn the torpedoes and keep on riding. I was thinking again this year of getting a studded tire or two for my mountain bike and continuing to ride the trails. I certainly see other people around town doing that and I do have admiration for them. With the winter that we’ve had in Edmonton so far, the temperature certainly wouldn’t have been an issue for riding but there is a lot of ice on the paths and I am not a fan of ice.

The second option  (and again one I seem to think about every winter) is to get an indoor trainer and ride in my basement. I spent a lot of time last year comparing the various trainers but I never did figure out what would be the best choice for me and missed out on picking one up last spring  at an end of season clearance price. I worry a little bit about the boredom of riding indoors but if I can mix it up with a little outdoor activity I could probably get my legs and lungs in decent shape to hit the roads in April.

My third option is cross training – turning to other activities (running, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing) and this is probably what I will do. I’ve started off the year with some regular outdoor running (including a run in shorts on January 4th to take advantage of a very unseasonable temperature of +11). The river valley trails have been plowed which despite best intentions means they are icy. Careful attention to where one steps is required. I find this really detracts from the meditative effect of running that I so enjoy on dry trails but nonetheless it is great to be out in the fresh air (and frequently the winter sunshine). I am looking forward to a return to more average winter conditions and especially to more snow to cover the icy ground, so that I can get out my skis and snowshoes.

So what are other Edmonton cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts doing to keep active through this winter?

First Winter Run   Leave a comment

I went out for my first winter run for the season. It is hard to believe that it it nearly 4 weeks already since I last had the bike out on the trails of Edmonton’s river valley. On the one hand it feels as if that ride were just days ago – on the other hand it seems like a distant memory.

Today’s run was decent weather wise – a degree or two above freezing, and overcast as I set out shortly after noon. There was a bit of a breeze and even some blowing snow near the end of the run but it was refreshing. I certainly don’t mind winter running as long as I am dressed appropriately – not too lightly or heavily. The one thing I hate about winter running and it certainly came into play today is the ice! Ice takes the fun out of running for me. Instead of gliding around on autopilot in a meditative state it seems as If my full attention must be directed at the act of running, picking out a safe spot for each footfall and being prepared to correct when I do accidentally or unavoidably hit a slippery spot.

With a bit of a warming trend in recent days, the snow surface had melted down and refroze. I found both the snow/ice covered paved trails and the dirt trails equally treacherous. Some sections of the trail  (Downtown Edmonton between the Grierson-Cloverdale footbridge and Walterdale Bridge) weren’t too bad (for example, the wooden bridge deck itself) but it seemed anywhere there was even a bit of a slope, there was also an icy trail – a most unwelcome combination.

Nonetheless, I did make it safely around my loop (approximately 8K) and didn’t feel to bad. I even started thinking about getting serious about the running this winter with the goal of a marathon in 2012 (but no decisions yet).

Also making today run enjoyable was the music that accompanied me. I was listening to the recently released Kate Bush album, “50 Words for Snow” . It was soothing and seemed very appropriate for a cool, grey day with a light snow falling.

 

Posted December 6, 2011 by Randy Talbot in cross training

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Adventures in the East   Leave a comment

Today, Sunday April 3rd I continued my early season exploration of cycling conditions. Yesterday I had gone west from downtown along the north side bicycle paths. Today I made the journey east  – basically from Dawson Park to Rundle Park.

The first section of today’s ride was along the path through Dawson Park on the north bank of the North Saskatchewan River. The path had been plowed through the winter and is relatively exposed to the spring sun so there was not “much” snow and ice. These was however lots of snow on the sides of the trail and sometimes those sides spilled over onto the path. There was also plenty of run-off water in places and lots of sand over the pavement.

For the most part the route was quite passable but there was one stretch of maybe 50 meters, beside the construction site that is worthy of note and caution.  The path just east of and beside the constructions site is very muddy – mud,  water, loose snow and ice. It was difficult to tell quite  what I was riding over – but by taking it slow and easy over this, I got through.

the path north of the west end of Highlands Golf Course

Coming out of the east end of Dawson Park, the path winds up past the west end  of the Highlands Golf course to reach Ada Boulevard. This section of the trail is sheltered by tree so it wasn’t surprising to discover the path partially  covered by snow. Cycle and pedestrian traffic was relatively light this Sunday afternoon so I encountered no issue with one lane being blocked.

Once I reached Ada Boulevard. I cycled along the street for a few kilometers. The road was pretty typical of streets at this time of year – mostly clear of snow in the middle but with about a meter or two of snow beside the south curb of the road. The roads had wet patches and plenty of sand

Snow and ice take up a lane on a street near Rundle Park

The descent into the west end of Rundle Park had worried me but was fine. There was one small section of water across the trail at the bend, but since the trail was clear and ahd been which was resurfaced last year the descent was safe.

Now Rundle Park was interesting. I did the loop clockwise around the park. Just as I entered the loop I encountered one little hazard. There was a small gap in the snowed-across trail. I took this gap and then realized that there was ice beneath the water – a bit of a slip but it was such a small section I was through it before I knew it.

Mind the Gap

Around the  bends of the little lakes I ran into a different kind of hazard – wild life!

Canada Geese at Rundle Park

There were a number of geese in this area but really they were not an issue at all. I continued on north past the ACT Centre where the path runs flat and straight between the sports fields. It sounds pretty safe but going around a bend this is what I saw:

A Lake on the Path

The path was completely flooded for maybe 20 or 30 metres, then there was a brief dry section and another big lake. I briefly considered my options for getting by this obstacle. I could have tried to cycle through the snow beside the “lake” or walked through the snow. In the end I decided to just ride, slowly  right through the water. It appeared that there was just water over the path, no ice and the depth was probably no more than 10 cm. It was a good decision.

Along the east side of Rundle Park I encountered a few more flooded sections but again, riding slowly through the centre of the path, worked.

Flooded Path Along East Side of Rundle Park

Once around the Rundle loop I retraced my path back along Ada Boulevard and through Dawson Park. The sand continued to build up in my drive train, which always make me feel cringe a bit, but again like yesterday the feeling of being out on two wheels in the sun left me feeling good. I cycled about 20K today with the temperature of only about 3C (still about 5 degrees below average).

My conclusions after these couple of early April rides. The riding is in the adventure category. It is not a time  for fast cyclng on skinny tires, not a time for multi-hour recreational rides. Hopefully those days will come within a few weeks as the trails and roads dry off and are sweeped of the grit. For now I recommend riding cautiously and sticking to quiet streets and bike paths that are fully exposed to the sun. By all means though, do ride and enjoy the adventuere!

My Season Starts!   Leave a comment

Just a week ago, the first weekend of spring 2011, I was out cross-country skiing here in Edmonton’s river valley. The snow was great, the temperatures winter-like and the prospects of getting out on the bike anytime soon seemed remote. However what a difference a week can make, especially a few days when the sun shines and the temperatures rises  to seasonal highs of around +8. Don’t get me wrong, there is still lots of snow on the ground and I’m sure the skiing would still have been great today but something inside me changed this week and it had to be two wheels not two “boards”.

Happy cyclist (me) on the Edmonton trails

I kept my expectations moderate for today. I would have been happy to just get in a 15 minute ride. As it turns out I was out for at least an hour and covered 16K – with many stops to take photos. I stuck to the paved paths on the north side of Edmonton’s river valley trail system from Riverdale to the base of McKinnon Ravine. It was mostly sunny so I was surprised to learn that the temperature at the time was only +3C. I guess I was properly dressed wearing a couple of layers plus a Gortex jacket. I had a head cover under my helmet and was wearing full-finger winter cycling gloves. The only part which was a little cool by the end was my feet as I was wearing  just a single pair of socks inside my regular cycling shoes (the same as I would wear in summer).

gloves for the "just above freezing" temperatures

I knew it would be messy so I rode my “mountain” bike. Last year I had replaced my knobby tires with some relatively smooth road tires so I was a little concerned that I might have trouble on the trails, especially if I encountered patches of snow. It turns out my tires were fine. There were a few patches of snow and ice but I was able to get by these obstacles without incident.

My machine for messy first day conditions

The key to riding the trails today (and I expect it will be for a couple of weeks at least) is to take it easy. It is more an exercise in technical riding than technically riding for exercise. It is more brain and fine motor skills than a strong cardio-vascular endeavor. This is just as well for me, at this point of the season.

So what was it like on the trails? Pretty much like I expected – the first two descriptors that apply are wet and sandy!

My tire, wet and sandy trail, water and ice on the edge

There were only a couple of stretches where there were puddles right across the trail. Most of the time there was a clear path although not necessarily both lanes. Most of the trails I was on today had been plowed during the winter and I rode the trails on the north side of the river which have been exposed to the sun, leading to rapid melting of what snow had been left on the trail. There were a couple of sheltered areas where there was slushy snow across most of the trail. The greatest hazard I noted was ice on the sloping trail under the Low Level Bridge (the north side of the west end of the bridge).

Debris and puddle on trail south or Rossdale Power Plant

Water in one lane, snow on the other - trail northwest of Groat Bridge

 

Snowiest trail section - a couple turns south of Low Level Bridge

Icy trail section looking west to start of McKinnon Ravine

Overall the trails were better than shown on these four last photos and they can change quickly. In fact looking the other direction  from that last icy section is this nice clear stretch of trail:

A mostly clear, dry bike trail (note the frozen North Saskatchewan River on the right)

Although the trails were not ideal there was not much traffic on the trails which made it easy to move from side to side to choose a safe path. I did encounter few cyclists and a number of walkers and runner. I found myself going very slowly around the others so as not to spray them with water or sand.

I knew it was going to be dirty and I could feel the grit in my drive train throughout the ride. This is what my bottom bracket area looked like after 16K out there:

Yes, there is some cleaning and probably some re-lubing to do which isn’t particularly fun, but overall it was sure wonderful being  out cycling again. It is comforting to know that things (weather and trail conditions)  can only get better for the next 4 or 5 months.

 

 

 

Posted April 2, 2011 by Randy Talbot in Cycling, Uncategorized

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