Friday, September 19, 2014

Whistler Gran Fondo Report

This isn’t easy for me to admit but the Whistler Gran Fondo (WGF) may just be worth it after all.

A few months back, when I signed up for this event, I wrote here about how I had to hold my nose when clicking “Purchase” on the Gran Fondo registration website. The fee was a whopping  $270 for a one-day ride and that didn’t even include transportation back to Vancouver from Whistler. (That shuttle ride set me back another $85.) I was skeptical yet willing to give it a shot, mainly because of the rare chance to ride my bike along the stunning Sea-to-Sky Highway.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pavé Postscript

Alas, I wasn’t able to attend any of the final stages of the Tour of Alberta because I was in Vancouver riding the Whistler Gran Fondo (more on this another day) the exact weekend that the race passed through Edmonton. I did, however, watch some of it on television and read some of the press coverage of the race, and I’d like to follow up on my earlier post about the inclusion of dirt road and “Canadian Pavé” sections in Stage 4 in Strathcona County.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Canadian Pavé

Real European pavé

With the Tour of Alberta wending its way north in the coming days, I’m looking forward to stage 4 Saturday in Strathcona County. As I mentioned a few weeks back, this area just east of Edmonton features one of the most extensive and scenic networks of rural paved roads in Alberta, so it’s an obvious choice for a stage locale.

However, the Tour organizers have introduced a twist on this stage that, at least in theory, I really like: as the Tour website explains, parts of the stage (three sections for a total of 5 km) will take place on roads consisting of “dirt” and “Canadian Pave.” (Why it’s not “Albertan Pave,” I’m not sure.) This latter, of course, is a nod to the European tradition of racing on cobblestones or “pavé," as in the famous Paris-Roubaix race/mudbath. (Not sure what happened to the accent.)  

Friday, August 29, 2014

In Memoriam: The Long South Loop

The beloved Edmonton cycling route known as the Long South Loop (LSL), a 58 km-circuit which extended south of the city via 111 Street and 184 Street, connected along 41 Avenue SW, is kaput.

The official cause of death was a combination of urban sprawl, rampant development, greed, stupidity, and a general lack of resolve on the part of Edmonton’s civic politicians. The major roads of the southern half of the loop have been wrecked by massive construction projects and are no longer worth riding. The once-pristine farmland has been usurped by soulless developments with sinister, bucolic-sounding names like Chapelle, Keswick, and Kavanagh.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Tour of Alberta 2014 Preview

The second edition of the Tour of Alberta bike race runs September 2-7 and the race route includes some notable changes from last year, some of them intriguing and others perplexing. Here are one humble fan’s observations about this year’s route (which can be found on the Tour website): 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Victoria Trail Ride

View of the North Sask River from the Victoria Trail
72 km. 20 plaques. 7 dogs. 2 cars.

That’s the stat line from our ride along the Victoria Trail last Monday. But the real story of our glorious Victoria Trail excursion can’t be captured by the numbers alone.

For a few years now, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of riding the Victoria Trail. I don’t mean the drab arterial road in northeast Edmonton; rather, I’m talking about the remnants of a nineteenth-century settler trail that runs along the North Saskatchewan River south of Smoky Lake, Alberta (about 130 km north east of the capital). In the 1860s, the Victoria Trail made up part of the much longer Carlton Trail, used by Hudson’s Bay and Metis traders, which joined Fort Garry (Winnipeg) to Fort Edmonton.