Friday, October 29, 2021

Graminia Crackseal


I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t notice them myself, even though I’ve cycled along that road dozens of times and like to think of myself as having an observant eye. It was actually my dentist pal Joe who pointed them out one day on a road ride: swooshy lines of black tar all along the road surface of Graminia Road, southwest of Edmonton. 

This is a favorite route for Edmonton roadies: newish, well-kept pavement, fairly wide shoulder, and not a lot of car traffic. Any given summer Sunday, you’ll see dozens of cyclists chuffing along Graminia. I wonder how many of them have noticed what I failed to--the work, nay, the masterpiece, of a true crackseal artiste.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Cowspiracy at Cooking Lake-Blackfoot

Central Alleyway Trail, heading east

 It took me a while, but I finally figured out that the best time to take your gravel bike out to Cooking Lake-Blackfoot (CLB) is October. This provincial recreation area east of Edmonton and directly south of Elk Island has long featured plenty of intriguing roads and trails that, theoretically, should be of great interest to gravel cyclists. In particular, the east-west-running Central Alleyway Trail (CAT), essentially a gravel road that occasionally devolves into a dirt two-track in places, is, I would argue, one of the most scenic rides in this part of Alberta.

The problem, as any cyclist who’s been there will tell you, is the damn cows. CLB is also a grazing reserve, which means that during the summer, cows pretty much have the run of the place. On a July day, for instance, you’ll encounter cows in the fields, along the edges of the CAT, and often right in the middle of the road. Generally, cows flee at the sight or sound of cyclists, so that’s not the problem. Nor are the copious amounts of cow shit on the road really a problem, except for the most feces-averse among us. (Gotta keep your water bottle spout covered out there.)