Dusting off the Mountain Bike

I hope this to be the first of a barrage of posts written over the next few days recapping this summer’s cycling. I have a new computer (with a properly functioning keyboard!) that should make blogging less of a chore.

The first Edmonton reader who can correctly identify the location of this photo will win 1000 TuckamoreDew points that may be redeemed for pathetically small prizes.

The first Edmonton reader who can correctly identify the location of this photo will win 1000 TuckamoreDew points that may be redeemed for pathetically small prizes.

This past spring I was all fired up to ride the river valley trails on the mountain bike I built over the winter. The season started well, with a couple of good rides and the discovery off lots of nifty singletrack hiding off to the side of main trails I’ve been travelling for years. I’m pretty much completely lacking technical skills but I was having lots of fun, just the same. I vowed to ride the mountain bike at least once per week.

Then it all fell apart.

The main problem is that it was a very wet summer by Edmonton standards. For what seemed like months there were few periods where the weather was dry for several days in a row. The trails were mud pits and like a conscientious rider, I avoided riding them under those conditions to avoid chewing the heck out of the paths. The river was running high at one point and flooded some of the lower sections of trail. On the occasions that the trails might have dried out a bit, I was unable to get out for any rides. All in all it was pretty disappointing. ‘Course it could have been worse: I could have been laid up with a broken ankle. At least I got fair amount of road riding in.

Finally, as the summer neared its end, we were treated to an extended stretch of warm, dry weather. I’ve snatched the oppourtunity to get in one good weekend ride and a weekday commute by MTB. Here’s a quick photographic overview.

Pipedream and Cambodia trail (and beyond):

These trails are a blast to ride. The local mountain bike enthusiasts have been hard at work building and maintaining trails, complete with bridges where necessary. Awesome work, folks! Frankly, parts of these trails were beyond my riding ability and there was an amount of cowardly walking my bike down steep sections. Luckily, I encountered no other riders and was spared any embarrassment.

I heartily approve of the sentiments  expressed on the Pipedream sign shown below.

There was a fine example of crumbling infrastructure.

Below you can see a few examples of the excellent features the trail builders have created. Thanks again! The washed out bridge was just fine when I was through there this spring; that little creek must have been running pretty strong during all the rains.

Eventually, I found my way to Forest heights for a view of my beloved river valley, the single best feature of life in Edmonton.

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Click to enlarge. No, I really mean it: it looks much better that way.

I had a quick break for a drink of tea and then rode the trails below the heights, and then on towards home. An excellent morning of autumn trail riding.

Mountain Bike Commute:

Wednesday morning saw the arrival of a cold snap, with a daybreak temperature of only 5°C. Meaning I had to forgo my normal commuting attire of sandals, shorts and t-shirt for warmer clothes. Meaning I was a little grumpy.

However, once I was in the valley, sucking in the cool air and careening down the leaf-strewn single track I was reconciled to the changing of seasons. The just risen sun illuminated the looming mackerel sky. Beatific.

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I was running late for work and had to abandon the single track for paved trails part way through Mill Creek. That’s OK though, because on the way home at the end of the day I took my time and continued my trail explorations, discovering a few new turns that I will be revisiting.

I rode the low trail down by the river that had been flooded earlier in the summer. Signs of the flooding were apparent in the deeply cracked earth.

While I was riding the riverside trail I also saw a lot of signs of beaver activity, and was unsurprised to soon spot a beaver lodge. In my younger days I probably would climbed up on it and tried to rouse the sleeping animals inside. Years older, and now much more appreciative of sleeping myself, I left them in peace.

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From here I made my way home, pleasantly tired but with renewed resolve to squeeze in as much riding as possible before the inexorable arrival of winter. Which is much closer than any of us want to think about.

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6 thoughts on “Dusting off the Mountain Bike

  1. Glad you got back out on the MTB! those trails look really well built. We have some similar along the river here, but they’re not well used or maintained. Almost an identical toppled bridge too; it looked too scary to ride two years ago, now it’s just fallen down.

    I used to love riding the Mill Creek trails when I lived in Edmonton! Hope it keeps drying out and you get more fun before winter (which is fun itself anyway).

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  2. Since we’re not mtb cyclists, we didn’t see that crumbling infrastructure: we were in Edmonton this past weekend. Did rent bikes and biked around the river valleys. Fantastic weather that shows the city at its best.

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    • I’m not much of a mtb cyclist myself, but I do enjoy it when I do it.

      This is pretty much my favourite time of year for cycling in Edmonton. I hope you had a good time during your visit. Where did you rent the bikes?

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      • From River Valley Adventures along the riverfront. Below the foot of the Shaw Convention Centre.

        Golden memories of Edmonton, that’s for sure!

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  3. I just purchased a Norco Mountain Bike via a local bidding auction for 50$ and the ccm helmet thrown in. Although not an avid cyclist like yourself I spent twenty years living in Downtown Toronto and never had a car. Presently I own a rust bucket that cost me zero
    But squeaks more than I do by far.
    It’s icy as stink here still (Muskoka Ontario) but I’m excited about this new ride. (I hitch hike to my garden/landscape gigs- this will save me some in between travel times)
    I was looking to find out more on Norco and happen chanced upon your lovely blog. Via Kijiji and Norco.
    Happy spring…
    Safe ride.
    Shelagh

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