Railway Museum Ride

11 06 2012

A couple of weekends ago, a few friends and I set out for the the city’s rural outskirts to check out the Alberta Railway Museum on opening day of 2012. While it’s technically within city limits (it actually sits beside the line), it’s in a part of town known as the “rural northeast” that is mostly farmland, and is far enough away that we rode more than 50km that day, though that included some backtracking because we couldn’t figure out how to cross the newly constructed Anthony Henday freeway.

Finally, a sign that we’re on the right track! Groans from the back of the pack ensued when the next sign, around the corner, informed us that it was still another 5km to go.

I love taking Le Mercier out on the paved country roads.

Uber-cool companion is also too cool for gears.

The last stretch: a gravel road along the tracks.

Not pictured: the part of the sign that said “All unattended children will be given a cup of coffee and a puppy.”

There were lots of things to be stoked about at the museum, but none got me so stoked as the rail bike. It looks like Porta-bike with a few extra stays and the brace for the third wheel on the other track. The wheels looked like regular steel bicycle wheels with the rail wheel welded to the outside.

There are many different types of train cars in various states of restoration that you can tour that are also used as museum exhibits. Others, like the one in the background that are beyond repair, slowly decay on overgrown tracks.

Rockin’ the cycling shoes (don’t worry, no cleats) in the Northern Alberta Railways caboose. This caboose had side bay windows instead of the more common “bird’s nest” lookout points because of the twistiness of the track that went up to Fort McMurray. Caboose lookouts were used to spot fires caused by sparks from the wheels.

Boxcar hoppin’

First class, 1920’s style.

The 1940’s passenger car was once fitted with a bike rack at the front. Alas, only the sign remains.

Heading out. The train museum was lots of fun, interesting and affordable. It’s completely volunteer run, and there’s lots of cool old people who know lots about trains. One of the better kept secrets in E-VIlle, I’d say.

Single speed on the wide, flat prairie.

Not wanting to ride the huge detour on the Manning Freeway we took on the way there, we tried to find another spot to cross the Henday. I knew I saw an overpass around here somewhere. Why don’t any of the roads lead to one?

We decided to chance a dead end and were rewarded with a freshly constructed overpass, no cars, and an incredible view.

Woo-hoo! We’re across the Henday! Who cares if we have to navigate a closed dirt road.

Looking less promising still.

There was a lot of earth moving going on.

I could have sworn there was a road where this massive hole in the ground is now.

But I could see the light – bike paths were near.

And where the hole in the ground turned back into street, a bike path also awaited to whisk us back into the urban core.

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Arctic High

25 11 2011

One of the nicest things about northern prairie winters is that the sun still shines and brightens the short days, reflecting and sparkling off of brilliant snow. The catch? Those sunny days happen when the air is so cold that it can’t even hold enough humidity to condense a cloud, meaning that many of the coldest days are sunny ones.

Mid afternoon, -20C, sun is low, not a cloud in the sky.

The equipment needed for enjoying such a day is simple: warm clothing (with a sleeve big enough to keep my P&S camera warm) and studded tires to navigate the snow that’s been packed down solid and polished to ice.

The only 20" studded tires you'll ever see are DIY. Edit - apparently Schwalbe makes 20" studded tires, but DIY is the only way I've seen metal on a 20.

Sudden cold snaps in November also make for slow days at the bike shop, leaving time for Porta-Bike pampering. After taking these pictures, I overhauled its bottom bracket and coaster hub. The best part was finally finding the proper cotter pin for the left crank. In the picture below, you can see that the cranks are not aligned 180 degrees from each other, but I am proud to say that now, for the first time since I cobbled this bike together, the cranks are perfectly aligned. Additionally, the rubber plug I made last year for the bottom bracket hole seems to be working well, and the old grease was still pretty clean.

Polar Porta Bike - now pronounced with a preceding kazoo flourish.

At least this first wintery blast didn’t last long, and it’s made the last few days, with their average, near freezing temperatures, seem balmy in comparison.

Cold sun.

I’ve been helping out a lot of other people get into winter cycling lately, but I’ve also become increasingly disconnected with some of my fellow citizens. Cycling year round is  normal to me. Spending time outside, no matter what the weather, is normal to me. So I’m finding it difficult to understand how someone can live their life in a winter city and feel entitled to a 21 degree, climate enclosed shell 24-7, and balk and complain should they ever have to feel the wind for thirty seconds because of the absence of indoor parking. These are the same folks that tell me it’s impossible to ride my bike in the winter (or for transportation, period) despite the fact that I”m successfully doing it, and have been doing long enough that the incomprehension now runs both ways.





Summer, We Hardly Knew You

19 09 2010

With relatively early hard frost the last couple of nights, there’s no denying the slightly cheated feeling of the end of a lackluster summer. To put things in perspective, (or at least quantify the crappiness of the weather) the last spring snowfall was on May 30th, leaving E-ville with 98 frost free days in between. Hey summer, you better have a great encore, or I’m demanding a refund!

But I won’t stop riding, I’ll just wear more clothes. Fall has always been one of my favorite times of year, perhaps because of the need to get out and enjoy every fair, sunny day, because it could be the last.

Fall - changing leaves, pants, scarf & sweaters.

This was also my first pictures with the (probably stolen but whoever lost it hasn’t filed a police report) bike I recently found near my house. If you (or someone you know) is missing most of a Transend Ex, you should either contact me directly or put up a notice on Stolen Bikes in Edmonton (and do it soon, before I become more attached to this beauty, and name her or something). Even if you don’t have the serial number, a detailed description of its unique modifications (some of which I’ve already changed in case anyone was getting any ideas) should suffice. I’d love to keep this bike, I’ve already built a sweet new wheel for it, but I do want to exhaust all avenues to find its proper owner. I’ve spoken with a cop about this, who informed me that there wasn’t much else I could do, and that if I turned it over to the police, it would just end up being auctioned off as the serial number is not in the system. The cops only keep found bikes for thirty days. I’ve had this bike for more than half that amount of time already. How long do I keep searching for the person who lost it?





Work is What Happens In Between Bike Rides

3 05 2010

Hello spring!

A blue sky, a strong, warm wind, skin that hasn't seen the sun since 2009, bright stripey socks, red stubby riding gloves, bike shorts, a swift steed and a million dollar view. What else could a girl want?

Pausing at a bend in the path.

Sunshine after an April shower.

Goose over Walterdale.

Marjory in the pines (though I think they're actually spruce, but pines sounds better).

And at long last, a thoroughly soaking rain.