The Unblogged Rides of 2013 – Part 2

Continuing on from my last post, here are a few few more notable cycling events that I didn’t get around to blogging this year.

CANADA DAY RIDE TO THE ALBERTA RAILWAY MUSEUM:

Alberta Railway Museum

On July 1st, I joined up with a group ride organized by Evillerider out to the Alberta Railway Museum in the northern rural edge of the city. The museum has a fantastic collection of engines, cars, railway equipment and artifacts with the main emphasis being on the he Canadian National Railways (CNR), Northern Alberta Railways (NAR) and industrial and short line railways. The museum is run by a fantastic group of volunteers who give their time and expertise to preserve, maintain, restore and interpret the collection. They do a incredible job. Since I’d never managed to make it to the museum while it was opened, I was glad to head out on this ride.

It was a scorching hot day for a ride, but being a round trip of only about 50km it was possible to set a fairly relaxed pace and still have time to enjoy the exhibits.

That's a Bike Friday tandem!

That’s a Bike Friday tandem!

Once there, we took a ride on the train car pulled by a diesel engine. Apparently we they had planned on running the steam locomotive but it was out of commission. Drat! Afterwards we wandered through the labyrinth of cars, engines and caboose. It was a bit like strolling through a series of ovens, as the sun had had plenty of time to warm them up. I think I drank more water walking in the exhibits than I did during the cycling.

The exhibits were fascinating, and I’d originally planned an extensive blog post about it. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately, depending on how you feel about trains) I’m not really feeling up to it now, and you’ll have to make do with a paltry few photos. I’ve put up a few more on Flickr that you can check out if you’re so inclined.

One equipment shed had this nifty rail-bike.

One equipment shed had this nifty rail-bike.

It seems to be a sort of standard folding bike that was modified for railwork. If you look closely you can see the kickstand plate that is obviously not necessary for the bike in this application.

It seems to be a sort of standard folding bike that was modified for railwork. If you look closely you can see the kickstand plate that is obviously not necessary for the bike in this application.

Click on the gallery below to read the minimally informative captions.

BIRTHDAY RIDING:

I booked the day of my birthday off from work and spent an excellent day of riding the Iron Horse through the river valley trails. I was joined on the ride by fellow Bikeworks volunteer Robert C., who suggested we ride down to Terwillegar Park. Shockingly, I had never been there before (hey, it’s way in the south end and I’m kinda lazy). The trails were a blast and I was pleased to get in one last trail ride before the late autumn snows arrived.

After the ride I had a snack, shower and then got myself all tweeded up for the Bikeworks South Farewell Party. Robert and I were playing a few tunes for the occasion, so I swung by his place to meet him. I rode my bike with the Wald Giant Delivery basket so I could schlep the amp to the shop. It was a bit awkward, and I may have been slightly fatigued from the riding earlier in the day, but I made it there without breaking anything.

The music went as well as can be expected from me playing music, and afterwards I mingled, quaffed a few beer and participated in the silly bike races we had out in the alley. Farewell to the old Bikeworks South. In addition to my gallery below, you can check out  this video of the racing.

The Unblogged Rides of 2013 – Part 1

There were a few noteworthy rides this year that for one reason or another I never did get around to writing about. In typical TuckamoreDew fashion I am going to try to sneak in under the looming New Year’s deadline with a few last minute posts. This first one was never blogged because of an untimely computer failure…and also because of my general laziness since then.

BURTONSVILLE ISLAND NATURAL AREA CAMPING TRIP

Back in the middle of the summer I went on a 3-day group bike camping trip organized by Chris C. of EBC. I was really excited to be doing this as my inclination to try bike touring has been growing with each passing year, but I hadn’t been able to make it happen. Several years ago, I bought my ’83 Nishiki Continental touring bike for that very purpose. One obstacle, of course, is that I have young children and my vacation time is always spent on family outings rather than heading of by myself into the wild blue yonder. When the prospect of taking part in this trip came up, I reflected that in the 12 years since my daughter was born I haven’t taken a single trip by myself, and I reasoned that I could easily justify to myself a few days away from home.

I mostly already had all the gear I needed for the trip and felt pretty comfortable with the camping part of the trip given the amount of time I spent backpacking in the hills I grew up beside. I was perhaps a little unsure about the cycling part, however. I’ve cycled longish distances before, and I’ve hauled loads on my bike too many times to count, but I’d never done both at the same time before. And just because of the way things worked out this was going to be my first long ride of the year.

On the day of the ride, there were nine of us assembled at Chris’ house ready for the 100 km trip out of the city to the camping area. Getting out of the city was something of a chore, but in relatively short order we were on highway 627 and headed West. There could be no route confusion as we’d be travelling in a perfectly straight line over mostly flat terrain for about 60 km before the first turn.

There were a few rest and refueling stops.

There were a few rest and refueling stops. A dog came to investigate us here, and was putting on a diligent watchdog act at first, but quickly became friendly when it saw that we had food.

Burtonsville Island Trip

Elevating the legs for a while felt mighty nice. There are some very pleasant ditches by the side of the road, it turns out.

We stopped to refill our water bottles at this hand pump at a community center. The water was a bit sulfurous, but much appreciated.

We stopped to refill our water bottles from this hand pump at a community center. The water was a bit sulfurous, but much appreciated.

Nishiki-san performed excellently during the entire trip. Not bad for a 30 year old bike. It was great to finally use the bike for it's intended purpose. Not ba

Nishiki-san performed excellently during the entire trip. Not bad for a 30 year old bike. It was great to finally use the bike for it’s intended purpose.

The riding was mostly smooth except for a 14 km section that was being resurfaced. This part was pretty horrible. The asphalt had been roughened and covered with a thin layer of tar in preparation for resurfacing. We doggedly cycled along the bumpy, tacky surface, our tires encrusted with a delightful shake ‘n bake coating of pebbly tar and asphalt. Every so often some of the debris would fly off my tires and race along the inside of my metal fenders with a shrieking noise. We were pleased when we were finally back on the smooth road.

We turned south of the highway and onto Range Road 44 for what I think was the best riding of the trip. There was a climb at the beginning, but then it was mostly a long, swooping descent along a quiet rural road into the soft evening light. The pavement eventually changed to gravel, but it was well-packed and easy riding. At the very end, we were in for a bit of the rough stuff as we had to pedal along a rutted, grassy path to the water’s edge.

Once at the water we locked up the bikes in a big pile and made the crossing to the island by hiking across a beaver dam.

Once at the water we locked up the bikes in a big pile and made the crossing to the island by hiking across a beaver dam.

As you will have figured out by our method of reaching the island, the Burtonsville Natural Area has minimal amenities. There are very roughly marked trails, and a couple of very basic areas set aside for camping. We spent the first while stumbling through the woods trying to find one of the paths. Dragging my heavy panniers through the brush was the toughest part of the day, and months later my arms are likely still a couple of centimeters longer than they used to be. We finally found a path leading to a campsite and were setting up the tents at nightfall, and cooking supper in the dark. Chris had things well organized and soon had an awesome  meal was ready. He kept everyone well fed during the entire trip. I had packed my own food as well, and ended up gorged. I played my travel guitar for a bit by the campfire and a ukulele was strummed as well. I slept well that night.

Burtonsville Island Trip

The campsite.

Burtonsville Island Trip

We spent most of the next day wandering around the island looking for the second and allegedly better campsite. Except for Derek, that is, who hiked back to the bike pile to attempt a repair to this rear derailleur that had malfunctioned during the last bit of the ride the previous day.

Despite a lot of bushwacking we never did find the other campsite.

Despite a lot of bushwacking we never did find the other campsite…

...but it was pretty nice anyway.

…but it was pretty nice way to spend a day, anyway.

Burtonsville Island Trip

Burtonsville Island Trip

We camped another night and headed back the next morning. Hauling our gear back to the bike pile was a lot easier now that we knew where the paths were.

Riding the rough stuff back to the road.

Riding the rough stuff back to the road.

Burtonsville Island Trip

Right at the start of the day, the first long hill on the way home.

Right at the start of the day, the first long hill on the way home.

Burtonsville Island Trip

The first rest stop before heading out on the highway.

The first rest stop before heading out on the highway.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the bikes used on this trip. Our selection definitely leaned towards the vintage, with only two of the nine being new bikes. There were three Nishiki touring bikes (my Continental and two Internationals), a Sekine, a Peugeot, a Kuwahara, and an old Cannondale mountain bike. The two new ones were a Surly LHT and a MEC National. Not shown in the gallery below are the LHT and the Cannondale, as the riders of those bikes headed back before the rest of us.

Back on the highway.

Back on the highway.

The ride back was fairly easy: a reduced weight of food was helpful. The road resurfacing had come along nicely during the days we were camping and we were treated to a long stretch of beautiful, new pavement – a great improvement. Getting back into the city felt a bit weird after all the highway riding. We headed back to Chris’ house (after a short stop to pick up a few beer) and flopped down on his driveway, fairly beat. Being a consummate host, he started showering us with food and drink where we were, with no need for us to even get up. A great ending to a great trip.

The driveway party.

The driveway party.

Winter Update : November 2013

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Idyllic winter riding.

This year November was a wintry month: from the early snowfall at the beginning of the month, to the subsequent sheets of ice, to the later heavy snowfalls. The river valley was blanketed with a heavy layer of beautiful, sparkling powder and there was some truly wonderful winter bike commuting. For a brief, but glorious time my trips to and from work coincided with stunning sunrises and sunsets. I was late for work two mornings in a row to due gawking at the sunrise. There was also a cold snap that lasted nearly a week with morning commuting temperatures as low as -24°C. That felt a bit unfair so early in the winter. I have lodged a formal complaint with the authorities.

The cold snap did allow the snow on the roads to be packed down into a hard surface resulting in easy cycling. Unfortunately, the following week the temperature was near or above the freezing point most days, causing all that lovely hardpack to loosen up into a deep morass of brownish, oatmeal-like snow. It stubbornly refused to repack, resulting in a weary week of paddle-wheeling my way to work. That kind of riding is actually pretty fun in small doses. A full week’s worth, on the other hand…not so much.

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The city crews had their hands full with the snow clearing. In one week alone we had more snow come down than we usually average for the entire month. Main roads were cleared only to be promptly buried again. The side roads mostly had to wait. Of course, a lot of my commute is on side roads. On the bright side, the multi-use trails were very promptly and consistently cleared.

I was very happy to see this notice on Thursday night. It refers to snow-clearing rather than something more sinister.

I was very happy to see this notice on Thursday night. It refers to snow-clearing rather than something more sinister.

My neighbourhood streets have now been well cleared of snow, just in time for the major snowstorm expected to hit tonight. Wheeeee!

The winter conditions wore me down a bit in November, and I spent very little time reading blogs and almost none writing them. In December I hope to be a bit more active. Also, as a new feature, there will be a series of guest blogs by Edmonton winter cycling vetran and EBC stalwart, Robert Clinton.