Archive for the ‘Target the Tour’ Tag

In the Zone   1 comment

Another Sunday. another ride with the EBTC‘s Target the Tour Classic group.

Receiving Pre-ride Instructions

It was a beautiful day for a ride – a bit cool, but sunny and with no wind. I rode in cycling shorts with a jacket over my jersey for the first half of the ride and was  comfortable. Today’s route was 66 Kilometers, so the longest of these group training rides this year. The group was again a healthy size, of about 40 riders. I arrived a little bit late so ended up starting at the very back of the pack, again. The route started off south – a long 13K straight stretch.

On the Road

Along this stretch, I was stopped to take a few photos when another rider asked if I might have some some chain lube in my large read rack bag. Indeed I did! I prefer to have my chain lubed and ready to go before a ride but encountering rain along a ride  has sometimes necessitated re-lubing during the ride, so I do like to carry a small bottle of lubricant with me and I was happy to be able to help out.

A Hill (sans fool) in the Relatively Flat Central Alberta Landscape

I found I wasn’t stopping as often to take photos today. the landscape was still beautiful and each week has been a little different form the weeks before , but I fear I am getting a bit desensitized to the scenery as it becomes familiar from riding in the same area week after week. One thing that stood out for me today was the color of the water in the small lakes and ponds – very blue!

Prairie Pond

Through the first half of the ride I continued to  lag near the back of the pack and often could not see the next rider ahead of me for a long time.

Along Wye Road

This week’s route again featured a variety of roads, mostly quiet country road but also some secondary highways, 2 lanes with moderate traffic and wide or narrow shoulders. For the 5K approaching the 40K mark we were traveling south east on Wye Road towards north Cooking Lake. For some reason this stretch was uniquely swarming with little bugs. It was absolutely necessary not to be riding along breathing through an open mouth. Instead I found I had to breath though my closed teeth. I was also glad to be wearing glasses but had to keep my head up and glasses forward so as not to get bugs in the eyes. It was like watching a show of  traveling at warp speed through a starfield – quite amazing.

Fortunately these bugs were only an issue for a short distance. At 40K I stopped to take off my jacket and to down an energy bar before we headed north off of the highway and back onto the country quiet roads. A minor frustration occurred on this stretch as I had inadvertently turned off my heart rate/GPS monitor when I  took my jacket off and didn’t realize it until I was a further 3 and a half kilometers up the road. this then through off distance markers on the day’s route map.

Riding Beside Wetlands

It was somewhere around the 50K mark that I lost sight of the rider behind me and I never did catch up with anyone in front of me. I was riding solo and that was fine with me. the roads were good, our maps were good and I was feeling strong. I just kept plugging away at a good cadence and soon found myself “in the zone”.

The zone is a nice place to be – the riding is free and easy. I was proceeding north along Range Road 215 into the final 10K of the ride. Somehow, in this “zone”, I missed  a turn-off. I didn’t realize it until I saw the sign indicating that I was approaching Highway 16, The Yellowhead. I should have turned west 3K back. I could have backtracked but decided to brave the highway. It is a very busy 4-lane divided highway but does have wide shoulders, so I decided to take it for 5K.

Westbound on the Yellowhead

 

Again this highway was not part of the official route and I wouldn’t recommend it, but it wasn’t that bad. I was thankful for having a rear-view mirror as I probably spent half my time keeping an eye on the traffic coming up behind me. At the first opportunity I got off of the highway, which happened to coincide with the Ardrossan turn-off, where I was able to get back on the route for the last couple of kilometers.

But instead of the Yellowhead image, I choose to remember the peaceful rural roads from today:

Peaceful Rural Road

 

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Antler Lake Training Ride   Leave a comment

Sunday, May 13th, the fourth Target the Tour training ride and what a beautiful day it was. As we gathered for  our 0930 start, the sun was shining, the temperature a very comfortable 15C, there was no wind to speak of and the landscape had greened-up significantly.

The distance of this week’s ride was 45K – not an increase in distance, so the goal of the week was to pick up the pace a notch or two. The group of maybe 30 or 40 riders listened to an informative and entertaining pre-ride talk on re-fuelling on the road and then we were off.  The group spread out fairly quickly once we got on the road. The route took us out southeast of our usual starting point at the Country Boyz Tempo on Highway 16, through Ardrossan and on towards Antler Lake.

The group stretches out on a quiet undulating road in rural Alberta

The roads were a mix of the very quiet country road with a few stretches along busier roads, with shoulders and moderate vehicular traffic. As was pointed out, the Tour de l’Alberta, for which this series of training rides is preparing us for, will be along highways so we must train to be comfortable riding in those conditions.

Heading east along the busier secondary Highway 530

Pulling a Trailer

As we rode along it was very nice to have had a number of people comment that they have seen my photos/blog of our earlier rides. That was certainly nice to hear. I wasn’t always able to chat with these people on the road but look forward to doing so later.

This day’s ride again to took me to roads I’d never traveled and places I’d not seen, even though so close to Edmonton. The turnaround point was Antler Lake [map}, a small prairie lake just southwest of Elk Island National Park. We cycled around the  community on the east side of the lake – I was surprised to see how many lakeside homes/properties there were.

Wide shoulders

Our route back took us for awhile along the  busier Highway 630 but fortunately there was a nice wide shoulder on which to ride and really not to much traffic. A gas station/convenience store along this stretch offered an opportunity to take a brief rest and re-fuel

We crossed railway tracks a couple of times and both times I had to wait as freight trains thundered by. I was certainly reminded how important rail  is for moving goods around this country. As it turned out, the second time we waited we needed have as our turn-off was the  still a little further down the highway.

Waiting for the train

 

Roadside/trackside Pond

Bird in the reeds

 

Being out in the country on a quiet morning gives one the opportunity to soak-in nature. I particularly enjoy riding past the many ponds, especially when they are alive with the croaking of heard (but unseen) frogs. Then there is the bird life: ducks, geese, red-winged blackbirds to name just a few that I saw on that morning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling Road

Horses among the trees

 

 

Not all  of the animal life was wild – there were lots of dogs, a couple of pigs and some horses seen along the ride.

 

 

Windmill

 

As we rode back north, and particularly west on Highway 530, I noticed a headwind (at a point where I hadn’t notice a tailwind on the way out). The wind was brisk enough that for short times went down onto my handlebar drops to reduce wind resistance a bit.

 

 

Finally we cycled up through Ardrossan and made the turn onto the service road paralleling the Yellowhead Highway. Even though it had not been a particularly long ride, it did feel  good to be in that homestretch and to see our starting /finishing point.

In the home stretch … another good ride!

Back in the parking lot it was the usual post ride ritual of shedding the helmet, gloves and cycling shoes and squeezing my bike into the back of my car. After that there were a few minutes to chat and meet a couple new faces, before driving home.

More photos from my cycling excursions (and many other things) can be found on my Flickr photostream.

Target the Tour – Week 2   Leave a comment

Sunday, April 29th 2012 – the second of the weekly EBTC training rides targeting the Tour de l’Alberta ride in late July. This week’s distance was 45K (a 10K increment from last week). Unfortunately for me I only got in one ride on my own during the last week – a ride of 30K through the Edmonton river valley.

We again gathered at the Country Boyz Gas Station/restaurant/etc. on Highway 16 near Ardrossan at 0930. There was a slightly smaller group than last week (maybe 35 to 40 riders vs. 50ish). The weather at the start was fine: sunny and blue skies with a temperature of maybe 8C. I dressed lighter than last week, wearing shorts instead of long pants, regular fingerless gloves instead of full finger gloves and a light, short sleeve jersey under my jacket instead of a heavy long sleeve wool one. I was quite comfortable dressed like that and shed my jacket at our half-way point rest stop.

Pre-ride Instructions

Starting Off

We hit the road at about 9:40 after ride leader, Charles World, gave some instructions, which included safety reminders and a suggestion to try pace line riding today. I’m not sure how much of that happened as I personally was more interested in laying back, out of the crowd so I could quickly stop and take a photo if something caught my eye. I started out at the back and riding my own pace (but never letting the group get out of sight) passed only a handful of people on the first half of the ride.

The group heads south on RR 224, a short distance from the start (note the clear blue sky)

Freight train from overpass

Prairie Pond (note the clouds building to the west)

 

 

Along the way on the quiet country roads we saw fields and ponds (some which were loud with croaking frogs) and passed over railway tracks.

 

The route today was pretty straight – mostly south along two country roads (Range Roads 224 and 223) to Cooking Lake, where we had out rest break.

 

The last couple of kilometers to Cooking Lake required  us to ride on the major Highway 14 but the paved shoulder was wide and clean, so the riding was fine .

 

We had a nice break, of 15 to 50 minutes at the Cooking Lake rest stop with its restaurant ( the Firehall Diner Pizza and Grill) and convenience store. As got off of our bikes and walked around, we noticed that the clouds, which had been in the far distant west, were now getting thicker overhead.

Resting at Cooking Lake

The return trip was pretty much straight north along one road, Highway 824. There were still some sunny breaks as we headed back on the road but soon the sky became mostly cloudy with a bit of light rain, and a noticeable wind from the northwest. I found these conditions less inspiring for taking photos so instead I just got into a good rhythm and pushed my way “home” at a decent pace. I averaged 23.5 kph on the return trip vs. 21.6 on the way out – I thought the difference would be greater but I guess the wind ate up a lot of my energy. Hmmmm, a pace line would have been just the thing under those conditions.

A Serene Country Scene (just north of Cooking Lake)

Click here to go to my post on the previous week’s ride.

Target the Tour – a First Group Training Ride   1 comment

The Edmonton Bicycle and Touring Club (EBTC) has for a long time hosted a big one-day group cycling event called the Tour de l’Alberta. The club also leads a series of weekly training rides to help riders build up the endurance needed to complete an event in the big tour. As the 180K event is on my tentative calendar I was out on Sunday morning (April22nd) for the first ride of the Target the Tour “Classic” group (Classic referring to the “century” distance i.e. 100 Miles).

Gathering at the Start

We met for a 9:30 start at the Country Boyz Tempo gas station/restaurant on the Yellowhead highway (16) about 10 K from Edmonton.  I was impressed to see about 50 riders out that morning. After a few words to the group from ride organizer Char World,  about the route and safety , the riders divided into a fast and a slow group (with tentative average speeds of 25 kph and 20 kph respectively for this week).

I was  a bit late in arriving so was scrambling to get ready. By the time I got the bike out of the car and put together, most riders were ready to hit the road. Then I had to run into the convenience store to pick up a Gatorade, as I had left my water bottle at home. I started off with the slower group and by the time I got ready to go I was at the tail end. This suited me just fine as I like to stop and take photos along the way and that is a lot easier to do if no one is following right behind me.

It was a cool morning (maybe 8C) but a lot better than the previous week when the scheduled first ride had to be cancelled due to the snow. I started off in my cool weather gear: tights, long-sleeve jersey under a Gortex shell, and full finger gloves. By half way through the 40K ride I would shed the jacket and gloves and be quite comfortable.

Part of the group on a small hill, on a quiet road

For someone that his live his life in Edmonton and done a lot of cycling I was embarrassed not to have ridden in the Ardrossan area east of Edmonton. It is a real gem of a cycling area with nice little roads – quiet traffic and good surfaces. They reminded me of the little country roads that I had so loved when touring in France and Scotland. Our regular Sunday training rides will be centered in this area so I am looking forward to coming back.

On the first third of the ride, the whole group stopped a couple of time to ensure that those at the back (where I was) were doing okay and that no one missed a critical turn-off.

At one point around half way, with a bit of a downhill (and perhaps a slight tailwind) I decided to pick up my pace considerably and work my way to the front end of the group. It did feel good to go from a pace of around 20kph to about 30 for awhile. I felt in pretty good shape (for this time of year and for a ride of only 35K). I would soon get a little more training than I had expected.

With about 4 Km to the finish, the group of about 5 that I was riding with missed a turn. Ironically we had stopped to check the map – well I say we but I didn’t pull out my map and when the rest set off down the road, I just followed (error noted, lesson learned!). After maybe half a kilometer someone caught up with me and informed me that we had missed the turn. There were 4 people ahead of me down the road so I took off after them (at a pretty brisk pace) to get them to turn around. I caught up with a couple of riders, delivered the news and then chased down the last two. We probably had gone 2 km by that time – then turned around, rode back, made the originally missed turn and rejoined the group. That little sprint was good training (so I told myself).

On the road - the last few K

From there is was a pretty easy and peaceful ride back to the starting point. As we went by Ardrossan itself (the schools, curling rink, shopping centre).  I saw that other (i.e. not our EBTC group) riders had apparently used that locale as a starting point for their rides in the area (confirming what a popular and suitable cycling area it is).

Back at the starting point I had a chance to chat with a few people whom I had not seen for some time, before loading my bike back into the car and driving back to the City. It was a great start, to the day and to the Target the Tour training rides. I am already looking forward to next Sunday.

For a description of another ride, with a different flavor, by a different group of riders – in the same area that Sunday morning, check out this post in the blog by Zdenko Kahlina.