Friday, November 27, 2015

Ice-Up Shoreline Ramble

 For this year’s edition of the annual ice-up ride, I decided to explore a new (at least, to me)  section of the North Saskatchewan River valley, the area beneath the Henday bridge close to the neighbourhood of Cameron Heights. I’ve often cycled along the paved path under the bridge and noticed a patchwork of trails near the shore and through the woods. And with the river water so low lately, I’ve noticed that there’s enough dry shoreline that a person with, say, a fat bike could probably ride for quite a while right next to—and occasionally into—the water. So that’s what I did on a recent sunny Sunday morning just before the first big dump of snow.

Riding shoreline, I discovered, entails a very particular kind of rambling--super-slow, constantly navigating around big rocks and ice-blobs, stopping occasionally to carry the bike over big boulders or across little (frozen) streamlets emptying into the river. It’s more like a roll-and-stroll or hike-a-bike than an actual ride. I probably only went about a kilometer before turning back. But I loved it. The sun was shining, the ice was doing its lazy, mesmerizing dance, and I was completely alone. It felt like a different world down there, a secret one, a beautiful one, with its own surprising soundtrack.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Land of Second Chances

One of the big stories of the 2015 Tour de France was the emergence of African cycling—and I’m not talking about overall winner Chris Froome. For the first time, an African-based team, MTN Qubeka (South Africa) participated in the Tour. Five of the nine riders on MTN Qubeka were Africans (three from South Africa, two from Eritrea). One of their riders, Daniel Teklehaimanot, wore the Polka Dot jersey for a few days (first black African to wear any prize jersey at a grand tour), and the team finished an impressive fifth overall in the team classification.

When I picked up Tim Lewis’s The Land of Second Chances: The Impossible Rise of Rwanda’s Cycling Team (Velo, 2013) back in July, the timing was perfect. Lewis’s book about an African cycling story and the evolution of professional cycling in that continent suddenly seemed prophetic. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015


These are the tattered remains of my MEC Merino T1 wool boxers ($42). They look like they’ve been chewed on by moths for decades and chafed up by thousands of miles of activity. But, in reality, they are only a few months old. I bought them as part of an experiment in cycling attire. This past summer, I decided to give up conventional lycra cycling shorts in favor of wool boxers and regular shorts-shorts.