Archive for the ‘spring’ 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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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!

 

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!

 

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)

A New Tube and Back on the Road   Leave a comment

Two weeks ago when I last rode I developed a slow leak in my rear tire. Over the last couple of kilometers, the pressure fell and the riding got increasingly difficult – but I was able to ride home. The tire did go completely flat, so it had to be repaired before I could take the bike out on the road again. On Saturday, I gave the tire a thorough inspection looking for any obvious sign of a puncture – there was nothing obvious. There were a number of grains of sand stuck in little  grooves in the almost slick tires but those would have not caused a problem. Looking closer I found probably half a dozen tiny but sharp little dagger of sand that had penetrated the tire. I pulled these out but it didn’t seem like any of them were long enough to go all the way through to the tube – especially when I had a layer of Mr. Tuffy between the tire and tube.

a tiny puncture

Next I took the tube out of the tire, inflated it and gave a visual inspection – still nothing seen. I put a little more air in the tube and very carefully inspected it, listening for any hissing. That worked, I did not have to resort to putting the tube under water and looking for bubbles. the whole was very tiny (maybe 1 mm long) and virtually impossible to note without the tire being stretched.

I patched up the hole but decided to put in a brand new tube just to be safe. I didn’t want a repeat puncture so I tried to  analyze what caused this one. It”s possible, but I think unlikely, that one of those shards of sand embedded in the tire caused the puncture. My best guess (unlikely as it seems) is that a piece of sand worked its way in through the opening at the valve stem (Schraeder valve). In any case I was cleaning out the inside of the tire and the protection strip. I didn’t notice any sand, just rubber crumbs. In any case, the new tube was mounted, tire inflated and all seemed fine.

I lubed up the chain again and headed out onto the trails and road. Today’s ride was the same 20K loop (between Dawson and Rundle Parks) that I’ve done for my last couple of outings – but today was faster. It was sunny and 14 degrees Celsius so I was able to ride in shorts for the first time. It also helped that the paths and road were very dry. With my tires at rated pressure I felt like I was flying.

There were a few places where snowmelt run-off was flowing across the path (particularly just north of Dawson Bridge. For the most part though the paths were completely dry. The bike path through Dawson Park was also surprisingly clear of sand. I do think it must have been swept recently. the main road on this route, Ada Boulevard was also very dry. It however was still very sandy. The sand basically took out the south most lane of this road but with minimal traffic this was not an issue. Even Rundle Park, which had large sections of flooded paths 2 weeks ago, was now perfectly dry.

Bridge in Rundle Park on 2011 April 24

Thawed Pond in Rundle Park

This ride was also my first opportunity to test a new point and shoot camera that I have bought, specifically to have something small that I can take with me cycling. In a future blog I’ll write more about what I was looking for, what I got and what I think about it.

As you can see from the photos, the Edmonton landscape on this last Sunday in April, has not yet started to green-up. Nonetheless we are moving in the right direction and the cycling season is young.

What a Difference a Week Makes   Leave a comment

Today (Sunday April 10) I got out on my bike for the third time this year. I rode the same route as I had  a week earlier – but what a difference. While last week’s ride was slow, careful and deliberate, today I felt like I was really riding. I’d forgotten how well my mountain  bike move with the City Slicker tires. I was cruising along at 25 Kmph along some stretches and it felt good!

Dirty and Rusty Chain

Before I could hit the road I had to clean up my bike a bit. Last weekend’s ride had left it very sandy and this was especially  an issue on the drive train. I  knocked off as much dirt and sand as I could then applied some White Lightning lubrication to the  chain.

The route I took was along the bike paths and connecting roads from Dawson Park in central Edmonton to Rundle Park in the east end of the city.

The first difference notices was that the paths in general were much drier and almost completely free of snow and ice. Last week I found the most dangerous part of the trail being a very muddy section beside a construction site in Dawson Park. Today this section was a bit dirty but dry – no issue. Through Dawson Park and up the trail beside the Highlands Golf Course, the  path had a few wet spots – either puddles or sections where the run-off flowed across the path. There was also still a lot of sand on the path.

Once I got up to to Ada Boulevard I traveled  on the relatively quiet residential street. Again there was a lot of sand on the road but for the most part the the surface was dry and fast. The biggest thing to watch out for was the pedestrian traffic: runners, dog walkers and strollers. Overall, the few kilometers along the street were a pleasure. This is where I got up a good pace, a good rhythm and felt wonderful.

Reaching the turn-off down into Rundle Park the only obstacle encountered was water completely across the path about half way down. This was the first  (and probably the smallest) of a number of small  patches of water across the path in Rundle Park. It was just a matter of going slow. I wouldn’t want to have been cruising down the hill at a significant speed and hitting this patch of water. One of the neat parts of slowing down was seeing the pond amongst the trees beside the path – great reflections!

The trail down onto the flats of Rundle Park  was completely clear of snow. It was amazing how much snow had melted in just a week. I was most curious to see if the large patch of water across north of the ACT Centre had drained or dried up.

Rundle Park, 2011 April 10

Rundle Park 2011 April 3

Alas, although a lot of snow was gone, the path was still a low spot filled with water. At least this week it seemed like a reasonable alternative to go off-pavement and ride along the grass beside the path – but I didn’t. since it had worked fine last week  I just coasted slowly straight down the path.

There would be quite a bit of standing water on the Rundle park loop, both on the west side and  then again in numerous places along the river side path. So I just had to go very slow through these stretches and since there was no ice under the water this strategy worked. This  part of the ride was also slow because of a few stops to take photos of  some attractive scenery, such as reflections and snow like this:

The ride back to Dawson along the same route was very similar – fast back along Ada Boulevard. The only issue, downside to today’s ride came in the last kilometer or two. I notice that I wasn’t moving as smoothly as I had been earlier. I thought I detected something wrong with my rear wheel – perhaps the hub. I eventually noticed that my rear tire was very low. It didn’t go completely flat, I was able to ride home on it but my speed dropped to about half. A quick inspection did not reveal the problem – no obvious puncture or other cause. I will have to do a closer inspection of the tire later this week, once it is dry.

Overall, a good 20K ride. It was about 8 degrees and sunny this afternoon. I was tempted to ride in shorts but stuck with my long tights. I was glad I did  because my legs would been pretty cool after getting wet from the spray of riding through puddles. I rode with regular half-finger cycling gloves and  without a hat under my helmet and felt very comfortable. I’m looking forward to my next ride!

Goldbar Footbridge from the Path into Rundle Park

Posted April 10, 2011 by Randy Talbot in Cycling

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