All-Absorbing-Real-Life-Concerns have kept me mostly away from the computer for the past few weeks, but never fear, the cycling kilometers have continued to slowly accumulate. Spring has more or less installed itself here in Edmonton. I’ve put the winter bike away, and I’ve been doing my best to start giving each of the bikes a bit of time on the road. The R20, the Kona Jake, the Moulden, the Norco fixie and Nishiki-san have all had their day in the sun.
My biggest cycling accomplishment so far this season was making it out to the mountains almost a month ago. My wife’s mother and her husband were taking our kids out for a bit of spring skiing in Jasper, and I tagged along with my bike. This turned out to be a pretty good way to start the non-winter riding season. Considering that it’s early in the season and the bike trails would probably still be snow covered, I chose the Jake to take with me as it’s my best all around bike – at home on pavement and gravel.
2008 Kona Jake
The trails were indeed mostly snow covered.
On the first day, I started off with a lazy spin around the town and then headed up towards Pyramid lake. The air was crisp but not cold and the sun was shining down from a ridiculously blue sky – a perfect spring cycling day. My immediate thought was that living in flat, flat Edmonton does not prepare a person for cycling uphill for 6km. Still, I managed to mostly avoid resorting to the granny gears and with only a moderate amount of wheezing I made it first up to Patricia lake and then Pyramid lake. The quiet, wooded mountain roads were a real treat, and the view was fantastic.
Patricia Lake – Pyramid Mountain: Patricia lake was the site of a WWII experiment to determine the feasibility of building giant island-like ice ships for use against U-Boats in the Atlantic. Unsurprisingly, it was found to be impractical, but the history of Project Habakkuk is an interesting one.
While stopping to take a picture I found a Toonie, freshly melted out of the snow.
During the trip there was no shortage of beautiful, quiet mountain roads. Automotive traffic was light and considerate towards cyclists, of which I was one of only a handful.
A shoulder almost as wide as a full lane.
I also headed down to the banks of the Athabasca river, to dip my hands in the bone-numbing glacial run-off.
Mandatory bridge photo.
The distinctive colour of the river, caused by glacial till, was particularly apparent from under the bridge.
Clear, cold and fast running river.
There were a lot of Elk loitering about just outside of town. In fact, the amount of droppings littering the grass beside the sidewalks showed that the Elk were comfortable with wandering around the town at night. My 5 year old son was impressed with all the poop.
There were several reassuring signs to be seen as I cycled around the mountain roads.
Staying with my vehicle, the Kona Jake, would likely not have helped protect me from a bear.
On the chance that anyone reading this blog has an interest in lichens (and there were a lot of them), I offer the following photos:
Without doubt, the highlight of the trip was my ride up to Maligne Canyon, a beautiful testament to the erosive power of even a small stream. I could have spent an entire day gazing at the smooth-flowing whorls of rock, and exposed slabs of strata but was under a time constraint to get back to the town for the drive back to Edmonton. If I’m back to Jasper again I will budget my time differently.
At this point, Maligne canyon is not particularly wide. . .
. . . but it’s an impressive fifty-one meters deep – a narrow slot cut in the rock.
A view of the same bridge from farther down the trail.
A different bridge. Here the canyon is narrower but a mere 10 meters deep.
Some walkers on the trail along the edge of the canyon giving a sense of scale.
I found this obviously well traveled route down to the floor of the canyon. If there were less people about I might have skulked down there, myself.
After reluctantly leaving the canyon, I hopped back on the bike and raced down the long descent back towards town, an exhilarating plummet down a winding, wooded mountain road. The effort of travelling up was well repaid here. Once back in town, I met up with the others, loaded the bike on the vehicle and settled in for the drive home.
Getting into the mountains was a fantastic way to inaugurate my recreational riding season I’ll have to try to do this again but next time on the trails and with a mountain bike.