Autumn Critical Lass and Bridge Musings

14 10 2013

I’m sure I’ve said it before that fall is the best time of year in these parts, what better time for a ride?

While it’s true that there was snow on the ground by this date last year, this fall has been comparatively kind with many sunny days and minimal wind but still not too warm. On a late day Critical Lass ride we could bask in the golden glow of the last of the leaves and the setting sun.

Looking over the river valley, enjoying the last light.

Looking over the river valley, enjoying the last light.

Crossing the High Level Bridge was the highlight of this ride.

Crossing the High Level Bridge was the highlight of this ride.

The High Level Bridge is part of my regular stomping grounds, so I somewhat take for granted what a monumentally huge, vertigo inducing piece of century old engineering it is. On this ride, however, there was a young rider making her first trip over the bridge who reacted much the same as I did on my first time crossing the bridge outside of a car at approximately twice her age..

First bridge crossing.

First bridge crossing.

Which is to say, she got a little freaked out. Enough that riding down the hill to the LRT Bridge and up the killer switchbacks to the University was looking like a reasonable alternative for returning to the south side.

Another lass crosses the bridge.

Another lass crosses the bridge.

I remembered the time when I was a teenager that I was with a freind and we were walking downtown from Whyte Ave. When we got to the bridge, she expressed her fear, and me and the other folks we were with convinced her that she could cross. She ended up having a panic attack after we’d barely started over the span, and it took three of us to get her back up the hill and onto a northbound bus.

I was really glad our young companion wasn’t as freaked out as that. She and her mom ended up taking the train back across the river while the rest of us cycled back across the bridge in the crisp fall evening air.

For more on Critical Lass, check out Loop Frame Love.





Critical Lass – Northside!

5 08 2011

This is the blog post where I nearly fail at Critical Lass. The weather was hot and sunny after days of rain, the rides are now regularly scheduled on the fourth Sunday of the month, and this month our starting point was the Taste of Edmonton Festival, where dozens of local eateries offer up samplings of their fare outside, in Churchill Square.

Feeling late, I was really booking it on Poplar as I crossed The Bridge, so much so that I nearly blew right by Deb and Angel from Loop Frame Love. They were taking it pretty easy, and another lass caught up with us as we headed towards the square. I still wanted to stop at the bank as well as pick up a cold beverage before the ride, so I left the group so I could bike fast, “ride” the errands, and meet up in time to rendezvous with everyone.

Except it didn’t happen. I arrived to a Churchill Square filled with thousands of people, but I couldn’t find the Critical Lasses.

Look! I'm not that hard to miss! I'm tall and wearing a sparkly hat!

I pushed my bike through that crowd for more than an hour, munching on some Padmanadi and taking a break to splash in the City Hall fountain along the way. Even in such a large crowd, how difficult could it be to find a bunch of well-dressed ladies with vintage bikes and foldies? Were they enjoying a Taste of Edmonton? Had they already left? Did the volunteer anti-bike gestapo get them? (I once was tackled, that’s right – tackled, for riding my bike through an empty festival site on a rainy day, and on this day was told several times by festival volunteers that I couldn’t ride my bike anywhere near the square, even though I wasn’t riding it.)

Growing tired of the suffocating sea of domesticated humans, I rode to a little place I know where there’s always room to breathe.

Blue skies self-portrait.

I knew which restaurant we were scheduled to eat dinner at, so I chilled in the park for a while before setting off to 118th Ave for one last attempt to join the ride.

Back on Poplar, in search of more lasses. BTW, I made that skirt the night before and hemmed it right before leaving the house for the ride.

I was overheated and wondering if I should have just taken a nice shady ride through Mill Creek Ravine instead when I spotted the bike pile in front of Habesha on 118th. Everyone had just ordered when I walked in, so I was able to eat with everyone else, and for a hungry vegan, Ethiopian food is good, good eating.

The Lasses! Hooray!

After dinner and good conversation, we got back on the bikes to head  downtown, stopping by the legislature grounds for a photo shoot and a little splashy splashy in the fountains.

Sweet bikes and good comapny in the shady rose garden.

The fountains at the leg (pronounced “ledge”) grounds are one of those rare singular things that vastly improves the livability of central E-Ville. So many days, on my way to or from ye olde sweatshop, I stop to dabble my feet in the cooling waters (FTR city hall is colder) and find momentary relief from the summer heat. The fountains, it is claimed, were never designed for wading and swimming, and were built with materials that don’t react well with chlorine (which they started adding to the water after finally giving up on constantly trying to chase people out of them). So now they are now scheduled to be replaced next year, so it was nice to get a little extra splashy time at the end of the ride. (And, um, I was too busy getting my splash on to take a picture).

View from a rose garden.

All in all, it was another lovely day out. For the whole story of the ride that day, check out Deb’s post on Loop Frame Love. See you at the next Critical Lass Ride!





Critical Lass – Summer Solstice Edition

28 06 2011

On an unsettled summer evening, a group of classy lasses set out on their bicycles for a little fun, food, and camaraderie. There had already been some storms that afternoon, and I suspect that the threat of rain prevented more folks from coming out, but the small group turned out to be just right.

Waiting to cross a huge suburban thouroughfare.

For this ride, we started at Bicycle Bottleneck and headed south towards Whitemud crossing.

Selen and Deb on their classic steeds.

We checked out the new paths adjacent to the LRT, which were pretty nice, except where they suddenly ended and we had to detour through suburban streets.

Miss Sarah, looking poised and stylish as usual yet still completely prepared for the weather.

Because of the threat of rain, raincoats and trenchcoats were de rigeur.

Geneva's ensemble was jaw droppingly awesome, never mind that her bike and bag were scavanged.

I ended up coming to the ride straight from work, and decided that getting poutine (I was famished) was more important than going home to change bikes. Except for Marilyn on her Brompton, I was the only one riding a modern style bike, but I don’t think anyone was too bothered. I had been caught in a downpour earlier in the day, and was very glad to be riding the Transend with its disc brakes, mud flaps and chain guard.

This is what my hair looks like after being caught in the rain.

We rode to a south side Japanese restaurant, where we crammed into a private booth and loaded up on sushi and had a great session of girl talk. As I said before, the size of the group was just right for a good conversation that everyone could engage in. The food was quite good, except I didn’t explain to the waitress about my dietary restrictions and inadvertently ordered a veggie cone with a mayo bomb in it – sigh – it’s sometimes difficult to strike a balance between not being “that annoying vegan” and asserting my lifestyle choices. Geneva said it was also pretty tasty though.

Riding into the sunset. Though the clouds looked threatening all night, rain never materialized.

After supper, with full bellies, we split up and headed our separate ways, which included going to the LRT station for some, and taking a joyride down the hill in Mount Pleasant cemetery for others.

Selene rolling down Mount Pleasant.

Whenever I pass it and have a few minutes to spare, I always like to ride up to the top of Mount Pleasant and roll down the winding roads. It’s one of my favourite rides in the city – it’s quiet, the view is spectacular, and it’s one of the only non- river valley hills in town. And maybe it’s just me, but the extra degree of creepiness of it being a graveyard adds to the excitement. Anyway, it was the cherry on top of an absolutely lovely evening of hanging out with other fab cycling ladies. Hope to see y’all July 24th, if not sooner! ❤

Also, check out more Critical Lass pics on Girls and Bicycles and Loop Frame Love!





Critical Lass Goes Downtown

15 05 2011

Last weekend marked the fourth Critical Lass ride, where a group of lovely ladies on bicycles took to the streets downtown for a little riding, some refreshments, a little shopping and some Mother’s day merriment. We met in Churchill Square.

Group photo at City Hall. Huge apologies to Monie for cutting you out of the picture.

In the picture above, everyone is delightfully distracted by a skateboarding bulldog named Buttercup tearing up the square. We tried out each other’s bikes and chitchatted for for quite a while before setting off.

Last minute adjustments before riding away. Art Gallery in the background.

There was also a couple of lads that joined us on our ride. Baby Robert trailed along in a chariot (he was also at the first CL, in utero :-)), and uber-mechanic Keith rode his ’51 CCM converted fixed gear.

Front: Marilyn and Miss Sarah, behind them, Monie & Angel, behind them, Karen with Robert in the trailer and Deb and Judy bringing up the rear.

Miss Sable, looking ultra-hip on a red Dahon.

Getting together with other ladies who bike is always a fun time, and getting together with so many ladies who write bike blogs takes it to a whole other level. It was like half the people riding were taking pictures for their blogs, and as a result, we have pictures of each other taking pictures of each other. Check out Miss Sarah’s pics in Girls and Bicycles, Deborah’s collection on Loop Frame Love, and Keith’s pics on ravingbikefiend.

Red light means photo time! The downtown Pedways are one of my favorite E-town architectural features.

We biked down to 104th and checked out the shops and cafes (at least the ones that were open on Sunday), and then headed back to the south side over the High Level Bridge.

Deb from Loop Frame Love on her new (to her) Raleigh on the High Level Bridge.

It felt like every time I’d pull out my camera, the sun would disappear, but I finally did get a couple of sunny shots on the bridge.

Karen on her Linus with baby Robert on the High Level Bridge.

All in all it was a lovely day, and even though we did need our jackets and sweaters, the rain that was forecast never materialized, and by the end of the ride I still wanted more. The sun was a teaser for the rest of the week, which has been the warmest we’ve had so far this year, and I’ve spent all my extra time and energy since riding bikes, and breaking bikes (well, one), and fixing bikes (like, 40), which is why it took me a week to get this blog post up. Hello warm weather, it’s about time!