Monday, July 23, 2018

Athabasca and Back


In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a sucker for gravel adventures on obscure historical trails. There’s something about the combination of dust and plaques that I just can’t resist. Our discovery, a few years ago, of the Victoria Trail northeast of Edmonton has been such a hit, that it now features in the annual Dusty 100.

For a while now, I’ve been wondering about the potential of another historical trail just sitting there on my map of Alberta: the Athabasca Landing Trail (ALT). This 100-mile trail links the town of Athabasca, on the Athabasca River, with Fort Saskatchewan, on the North Saskatchewan River. It was a major overland route for fur traders from the mid-1860s until the beginning of the railroad in that area in the 1910s. 

Friday, July 6, 2018

The Flyover


It’s hard to explain why I get such a thrill riding my bike on the Belgravia Road transit flyover. But I do. Every time.

The flyover connects the transit station at the University of Alberta’s South Campus with the westbound lane of Fox Drive, which then links to the Whitemud Freeway. It’s a one-way, one-lane, elevated bridge that curves around two corners before merging with Fox Drive. Because it was built on the side of a hill, where stability is an issue, the bridge actually sits on another, perpendicular trellis bridge.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

East Elk 50/50



I’m a believer in the 50/50 ride—that is, 50% gravel and 50% pavement. As every gravel rider knows, exploring dirt roads is terrific fun but also hard work. Hours of bumping along washboard, searching for a line in the beach sand can take their toll. So why not mix in some pavement stretches on your gravel route and give yourself a bit of a break? Especially when that strategy allows you to experience the best of both worlds.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Dusty IV Wrap


Gravel riding doesn’t get much better than what the Dusty 100 had to offer on Sunday out on the back roads of Smoky Lake county. The weather was perfect (21 degrees and sunny, with a tailwind for the home stretch), the gravel roads were in excellent shape (recent rains made for hard-packed lines on about 90% of the route), and the company was first rate (a corps of shiny, happy cyclists reveling in quiet roads and lovely scenery).

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dusty Details


For those who haven't been to the Dusty 100 before, the meeting/starting point is the small parking lot beside the monument with three flags, about one km east of the Metis Crossing campground. (Where, incidentally, there's a music festival happening this weekend.) There's plenty of parking by the flags, a picnic table, and a rustic outhouse but no water, so bring your own water. (Only water refill on the route is at 60 km.)

Bugle call is 9 am.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Dusty 100 Preview

The big day is next Sunday, June 3, at Metis Crossing. All are welcome. This year's event features . . .

MORE RIDERS!



MORE PLAQUES!


                                   
                                                             A SURPRISE BAG!



Saturday, April 28, 2018

Lezyne Love


Its shape is phallic. Its name is Sapphic. And it always gets my tires hard.

I pay tribute today to my Lezyne Tech Drive HP aluminum mini hand pump.

I bought my Lezyne about five years ago. At the time, I thought it was expensive, as far as hand pumps go. But it’s been worth every penny, and over the years it’s become something more than just a tool to me. I carry it with me on every ride, tucked snugly in my back pocket or stuffed into my gas-tank bag. I rarely have to use it, but I know that when the time comes, it will work. Mostly, though, I just like having it around.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Woodbend Postcard

Photo credit: Strava Jeff.

The fields may still be covered with snow and the air cold as crud, but the roads, they are clear. It’s April, even if it doesn’t look or feel like it. That means it’s time to bust out the road bikes with Strava Jeff and head out of town, away from the snow-and-ice-and-crap-cluttered shoulders of city streets and onto clear country pavement just west of Edmonton.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Sugar Ride



I’ve got to be pretty much the perfect reader for Yvonne Blomer’s literary travel memoir Sugar Ride: Cycling from Hanoi to Kuala Lumpur (Palimpsest, 2017). Not only am I a touring cyclist and type-one diabetic like Blomer; I’m also an English professor who’s fond of poetry and literary travel writing. No wonder no less than five different friends offered me copies of the book. And no wonder I like it so much.