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.

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12 thoughts on “Winter Update : November 2013

  1. As always, I am staggered and awed by your enthusiasm for snow riding and I am not at all surprised that a week of riding in poor conditions has left you jiggered. Even more staggering is the fact that the multi use trails were cleared promptly. How nice to live in a place with proper priorities.

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    • Most of the time the winter cycling is very rewarding. Last week, however, the conditions were as bad as I have ever seen them.

      The city does a great job of clearing the multi-use trails but we had a close call with losing that a couple of years ago. Back in 2011 the city was going to completely remove funding for active transportation from the budget for the following 3 years. That included snow clearing for the multi-use trails. The Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ Society organized a letter writing campaign that helped convince council to amend the proposed budget to include 20 million dollars for active transportation over the same period.

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  2. Somehow as soon as saw your header….it had to be that Emondton cyclist. ( I hear your new mayor and his wifey are cyclists too.) We’re still getting the frigid cold -20 degrees C with winds @60+ km./hr. tonight.

    My hands hurt without mitts for 3 min., when taking photos of cyclists in our new separated bike lane. I don’t cycle in such weather since I don’t have studded tires.

    So ride safe and enjoy Nature’s white fury. It’s nice in a stormy way, in a secluded area at night with some lights and buildings not far.

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    • We’ve had blowing powder all day, but the cold temps like the ones you’re seeing won’t arrive here for another couple of days. Studded tires are a real boon with ice but don’t much help with snow.

      The riding was really pleasant today. Fresh powder is a joy to pedal through.

      Congrats on the separated bike lane! We could use a few of those up here.

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  3. Whenever I think things are “cold” here*, I’ll remind myself of -24C in November in Edmonton.

    *We’re going to get the coldest weather of the season this week, with lows to reach 19F/-7C. That’s as low as it gets here. A chance of snow, too, but I’m not holding my breath.

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    • -7C feels pretty cold to me some days. But after a real cold snap it seems downright balmy. I seem to remember reading that you have a set of studded tires; I hope you get a chance to try them out. Cold weather without the benefit of a little bit of snow is a drag.

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  4. Hey, tuck, it’s dropped down to -31 degreesC tonight. So instead of biking, I went for a short walk tonight. I mean short ..less than 20 min. in the blowing snow. I was rewarded ..with sight of a large wild white snow rabbit that was huddled under an evergreen tree. Right at the corner of now quiet street corner. It was desperate to stay warm.

    Rabbit be on my blog by end of this wk.: a Christmas mascot/ wild dearie. It looked very cold with its ears completely drawn back.

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    • Yep, that’s cold! It is good to get out for a little while on those sort of nights though.

      Poor rabbit, I hope it found a place to stay out of the cold. When I was a child, my Dad (who’s a skilled woodsman), often commented that after a cold night there were always more rabbit tracks. Too cold to sit still, maybe?

      I spotted a rabbit today, too! On my way home from work I met up with one trying to hide in the middle of the MUP. Its black tipped ears gave it away, though. As I drew near it raced off throwing up a cloud of powder. That sort of thing always makes my day.

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