Friday, January 29, 2016

McLaren Mudpuppies

The third-hole "green" at McLaren's challenging golf course. 
McLaren Regional Park, in southwestern Saskatchewan, about 100 km northeast of Medicine Hat, is my kind of place: quiet, mostly forgotten, a bit rough around the edges but recently loved and emanating some positive 1970s vibes. The day we pulled in there last June, near the end of our Rural Alberta Adventure (okay, so it wasn't purely Albertan), the place was empty, not a single other camper in sight (or on sites, for that matter). Right away, I had a good feeling about McLaren Lake.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Whitemud Creek Jaunt

Winter fat-biking in the city—even a city with a great river valley trail system like Edmonton’s—can sometimes feel, well, a little ho-hum. How many times can you ride the same small network of trails before it all starts to feel a little Groundhog Day-ish? Sure, there’s always the option to load the bikes on the car and head to the country roads and trails, but that requires time and planning; sometimes—most of the time, really—a semi-serious cyclist just wants to walk out to the garage, hop on a bike, and go.

Fortunately, a few weeks back, the Dusty Musette crew discovered a new urban option that’s got us excited: creek riding. The idea came to me while dropping my son off at the Snow Valley ski hill. As I drove over the bridge spanning the Whitemud Creek below the freeway, I noticed DIY cross-country ski tracks on the little frozen creek and thought to myself, hey, if it works for skiing, why wouldn’t it work for fat-biking? So Val, Penn, and I arranged an expedition up the Whitemud Creek one sunny afternoon, starting where the creek spills into the North Saskatchewan. We didn’t know how far we’d get or how many soakers we’d come home with, but we were keen to explore new territory in our backyards.

Saturday, January 9, 2016


Genuine discovery is possible in the nearby unknown.
                                              --Robert L. McCullough

Does being on a bicycle affect how one sees the landscape? That’s one of the big questions posed by Robert L. McCullough in his fascinating new book Old Wheelways: Traces of Bicycle History on the Land (MIT Press, 2015). McCullough, a landscape historian at the University of Vermont, looks at the influences of bicycles on the land and how the bicycle changed how people thought about landscape between about 1880 and 1910 in the northeastern United States. And his answer to that question above is yes, at least for some.