The Shadow Cyclist

The Shadow Cyclist

Every Autumn in Edmonton, on All Hollows’ Eve
sinking low in the sky, the now wilting sun
rings a call of return, to the nocturnal rider
and a misshapen shadow, on the trails shall appear.

If the curs walked in Mill Creek, are cringing and wan,
then now he draws near, this netherworld cyclist.
The chill air that you move through, sighs from his mouldering mouth,
and silent he stalks you, just out of sight

To pedal hard is no help, he’ll race to draft close behind.
Spectral wheels freely spinning, no effort is spent.
Or when not behind, he’ll wait to waylay you,
’round the bend of the road, in every ravine.

The wil-o-wisp tail light, of this terrible wheelman,
leads you from trails that you’ve learned, into a baffling labyrinth,
of ways in the wood, doomed now to wander
Throughout endless years, a wraith in his thrall.

By TuckamoreDew, 2013
(with apologies to lovers of good alliterative verse)

Bikeworks North Update

As it’s been more than a year now since The Edmonton Bicycle Commuter’s Society opened a second location on Edmonton’s north side, I thought it overdue time for a quick update. Although EBC offers a variety of services, the two community, volunteers-run bike shops are at the heart of its mission to make cycling in Edmonton accessible to as many people as possible. I volunteer as a mechanic at the north location (conveniently located a few minute’s ride from my house).

This was a busy year for BWN. There were a lot of busy days with the shop crowded and volunteers bouncing back and forth pinball-like between the workstands, helping patrons. Lots, and lots of bikes were donated and many of these were quickly sold. In fact, we’ve been so busy that very little time has been available to tune up bikes or to strip parts off the junkers. The approaching seasonal winter slowdown will be a much appreciated chance to catch up on organizing to beat back the tide of bikes and parts.

I took this photo a few weeks ago. There are even more bike there now!

I took this photo a few weeks ago. There are even more bike there now!

 

Bikeworks North

Mostly the bikes in rougher shape are stored outside. Despite, the poor condition of these bikes there was an ongoing problem this with thieves cutting the fence. A project initiated to reinforce the fence with old wheels and frames was somewhat successful at reducing this issue.

The better bikes are stored indoors.

The better bikes are stored indoors.

So...many...bikes...

So…many…bikes…

Our greatly increased stock of used parts can be seen at the left side of this photo.

Our greatly increased stock of used parts can be seen at the left side of this photo.

A busy shop.

A busy shop.

Bikeworks North

New parts.

Mostly new parts.

Some of the nicer parts, both new and used, are kept in the glass cabinets.

Some of the nicer parts, both new and used, are kept in the glass cabinets.

We also produce a lot of scrap. We send a s much as possible for recycling. I think we're currently overdue to do this.

We also produce a lot of scrap. We send a s much as possible for recycling. I think we’re currently overdue to do this.

If you want to see what the shop looked like a year ago, check out my blog post from May, 2012.

In other news, the north shop will be the ONLY EBC shop running this winter. After at least decade at its current location, the south shop has to find a new home as the landlords have decided to not to renew EBC’s lease of the property. There’ll be a farewell party held at the shop on Oct. 25th and the shop will be closed at the end of the month. Also, prior to the move, there is a sale at the south shop on bikes and parts running until Oct.24th. Go score a deal, Edmontonians!

Hopefully, by spring we will have a new location up and running on the south side. Until, then come and visit us at the north shop!

A Tale of Two Mouldens

Moulden Ride

More of a short story really…

For the final installment of my Thanksgiving weekend cycling, I joined The Raving Bike Fiend on Monday for an easy cruise from Bikeworks North to Whyte Ave and back. We were both riding bikes made by Edmonton former frame builder Jim Moulden. Jim established Hardcore Bikes  back in 1989 and built frames up until 2003. The photo above shows both bikes returning home.

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Both the bikes are nicely fillet brazed. A little measuring with the calipers at the shop before the ride, showed that the main tubes of both bikes are the same diameters, resulting in one being a pretty lightweight mountain bike, and the other being a stiff, strong road bike. I’ll be posting about my bike in more detail soon.

The Fiend's Moulden. You can read more about it here.

The Fiend’s Moulden mountain bike. You can read more about it HERE.

My Moulden Road Bike.

My Moulden Road Bike: a bike made for going fast.

After, this photo session we headed down Whyte Ave and stopped at a coffee shop for some hot beverages. While we were sitting outside enjoying the fine autumn weather, another EBC volunteer pedaled up an joined us, giving me the oppourtunity to add a little bit more Canadian content to this blog post.

A gorgeous Marinoni, mostly equipped with Dura-Ace components.

A gorgeous Marinoni, mostly equipped with Dura-Ace components.

Thanksgiving 3-Speed Riding

My fellow Edmontonians know where this photo was taken.

My fellow Edmontonians know where this photo was taken.

I wasn’t quite as successful as an early riser on day 2 of my Thanksgiving cycling mission. The Saturday morning ride, followed by a solid afternoon of pedaling around town pulling my son in a trailer (as well as a heap o’ groceries in my front basket), had left me at day’s end as drained of energy as the Energizer bunny running on cheap, counterfeit  batteries. At night, I slept deeply and then through my alarm the next morning, resulting in a late start. My knees were  a little sore for the exertions of the previous day, which is  uncommon for me. I blame the long, slow climb up Cameron Ave with a full load of cargo.

For Sunday’s ride, I decided to dust off the tweed jacket, and take my 3-speed Raleigh 20 for a leisurely tour of the more Southern end of the river valley. I know that some  readers are now shaking their heads sadly at my choice of bicycle. Perhaps a 3-speed isn’t the best choice on a day when one has sore knees? I am happy to report that my knees felt fine and that I rode my bike with immense enjoyment (in accordance with rule #3 of The Society of 3 Speeds). I did, however, walk up a couple of hills.

As always, the R20 was a delight to ride, handling nimbly and moving faster than one would expect from its appearance.

A quick photo stop at the home of our province's inexplicable political dynasty.

A quick photo stop at the home of our province’s inexplicable political dynasty.

The Legislature grounds are looking fabulous.

The Legislature grounds are looking fabulous.

I headed across the mighty High Level bridge. This is one of my favourites of many straight lines of sight that my linear city offers.

I headed across the mighty High Level bridge. This is one of my favourites of many straight lines of sight that my linear city offers.

While cycling past the university I encountered a number of these unusually labeled stations. Although it would be nice to find out what they are referring to, I am hesitant to google the phrase "naked loner" .

While cycling past the university I encountered a number of these unusually labeled stations. Although it would be nice to find out what they are referring to, I am hesitant to google the phrase “naked loners” .

By this time, I had decided that my destination would be the Fort Edmonton Footbridge as I’d only been there once before and that was a couple of years ago.  I dipped down into the river valley and eventually found my self at one one Edmonton’s much discussed public artworks, the Talus Dome. Although the artists claim that it’s supposed to represent the accumulation of stone at the foot of a cliff, I think that any mechanically inclined cyclist will immediately recognize that it is actually a pile of giant ball bearings. I don’t mean that as a criticism and I’m keen to see the bike they could be installed in. I wonder if Park Tools could supply an appropriately sized SBC-1 on special order.

The Talus Dome. Note the R20 for scale.

The Talus Dome. Note the R20 for scale.

The dome offers an excellent opportunity for efficient narcissism: eight self portraits with one click of the shutter.

The dome offers an excellent opportunity for efficient narcissism: eight self portraits with one click of the shutter.

From the dome I headed onwards towards the Footbridge, taking the lovely gravel path down by the river. The R20 was perfectly at home riding the rough stuff.

Down by the river.

Down by the river. Wait…is that talus at the base of the cliff?

The Fort Edmonton Footbridge, Edmonton's first suspension bridge: a granidiose structure for the amount of traffic it likely gets.

The Fort Edmonton Footbridge, Edmonton’s first suspension bridge: a grandiose structure for the amount of traffic it likely gets.

A walker gives a sense of scale.

A walker gives a sense of scale.

The bridge is a pleasant place to sit quietly and watch the river flow past. The designers have thoughtfully provided excellent facilities for doing so.

The bridge is a pleasant place to sit quietly and watch the river flow past. The designers have thoughtfully provided excellent facilities for doing so.

Tea n' Tweed.

Tea n’ Tweed.

After the stop at the bridge, I headed for home. I wasn’t sure what time it was but I felt that I was likely running late so I did my best to pick up the pace. Where possible, I clicked the R20 into third gear and zipped right along. A lot of people feel that the stock gearing is too high, but I actually quite like the option of digging in and going fast.

I made a small error in deciding to explore a few new trails on the way back and was confronted with a no bicycle sign. Not wanting to backtrack, I found a trail that wasn’t marked and went onward. This lead to a large field that was absolutely swarming with people and dogs. There were more no cycling signs here so I detoured onto a large trail with no prohibiting signage.  Unfortunately, there more swarms of dog walkers here so I got off and walked my bike. The dirty looks I was getting from some of the people made me think that I was still in no bike territory, so I gave my chirpiest “good-morning” greeting to everyone I met. Many of of them replied in a guarded, terse manner. Hey folks, I’m walking my bike AND I’m wearing a snappy jacket: surely that counts for something. As I left the trail upon reaching the Hawrelak Park bridge I glanced back over my shoulder and saw, yep, another no cycling sign.

While I was riding through Hawrelak a passing cyclist asked me what model of bike I was riding. It turns out that he, too, had an R20 that  he was thinking of fixing up. I took the oppourtunity to praise the little bike and to defend the three speed hub as a practical bit of equipment (Rules #1 and #2 of the SOTS).However,  I am embarrassed to admit that even when directly asked if I was a member of a cycling club, and even though I was wearing an SOTS button and riding a bike with an SOTS sticker, I STILL forgot to mention the Society of Three Speeds. I hope that there aren’t  some sort of demerits awarded for such a lapse. I’ll do better next time.

Frosty Morning Ride

Frosty Morning Riding

It’s Thanksgiving weekend here in Canada, and with Winter lurking about waiting to drag me into an alley to rough me up, I plan on getting a lot of riding done in the next few days. This morning I managed to get myself up in the wee hours of the morning, before sunrise, and headed out on the road for my first purely recreational bike ride of autumn. The temperature outside was -2 °C, the coldest morning of riding for me so far this season. Still, there was a beautiful, heavy frost on the ground and early morning tranquility was a balm to my cycling soul.

I headed up a 82nd street, over the Yellowhead, and then Eastward to Kennedale Ravine. I haven’t been down this ravine since last year, so this was an overdue visit.

The sun was just about to rise as I reached the entrance to the ravine,

The sun was just about to rise as I reached the entrance to the ravine.

Thanksgiving

I found a bit of singletrack to ride, which was fun while it lasted. It was only a short section, though, and it quickly lead me back to the gravel trail. I spent the next bit of the ride futilely looking for more side trails. I felt like there were paths just out of sight that I was missing, but given the narrowness of the ravine at that point maybe there aren’t.

I took a lot of photos of the frosty plants around me. A few actually turned out. Click to enlarge.

I sped down the ravine, until it widened out and I was at one of the ponds in Hermitage park. The wildlife was stirring in the light of the rising sun.

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There were lots of ducks.

I startled a muskrat at the edge of one of the ponds. I’m sure it enjoys swimming in frigid, mist covered water more than I would.

Making tracks.

Making tracks.

Frost angel.

Frost angel.

After Hermitage, I rode toward Rundle and pondered the merits of heading across the river to the Science Park. I was pondering so  hard that I came around a corner a bit too fast and was surprised to find staircase leading down. I started  clutching the levers in a panic stop, but in an uncharacteristic impulse, I let them go and rode down the stairs. Another first for Tuckamoredew, and it actually wasn’t that hard to do as they had a low rise and long tread.

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After this, I was feeling like a some more singletrack, so I did head over to the Science Park. I explored the low trails between the park and the river, following one down to the riverbank. Sorry, no photos; you’ll just have to take my word that these are great paths. I headed up to the Pipedream / Cambodia trails. This time I took the Cambodia trail, which turns out to have a LOT of tree roots. Some of this I traversed OK, some of it…not so much. There was again an unseemly amount of walking my bike.

I will explore you next time Bedbug.

I will explore you next time, Bedbug.

Upon reaching Goldbar, I headed up into the cross country ski trails, a series of paths that I think of as the Clinton Trail for reasons that may be explained in a future post. The sun was warming things up quite nicely at this point, and a gentle shower of leaves were falling. Idyllic autumn riding.

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The final part of my trip was along the North side of the river to Kinnaird Ravine and then upwards toward home. Near the top of the ravine I met one of the Bikeworks North volunteers that I haven’t crossed paths with in a while who was walking her dogs. We chatted a bit about the the plenitude of good trails to ride in the river valley.

After this it was back to street level, and home again.