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.

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Last Dance With Marjory

26 10 2011

In the week before I had the accident on Marjory, I had been riding her quite a bit, her fenders protecting me from the autumn rains and her upright riding position allowing me to enjoy all the fall color. And I’d taken a lot of pictures.

Time out by the tamaracks.

Rainy days don't get me down.

Wheee! Zooming down a hill!

Marjory, you were a damn fine bike.

I already miss this bike a lot. There is a silver lining, though. It appears that I’ll be able to fix her, I’ll just need to find a new (to her) fork and probably a front fender. So the hunt is on. This is a fairly common style & color of bike, and EBC actually scrapped a very similar frame days before my accident, so I know there’s potential for one showing up. If I find a similar frame in a different color, I may just transfer the wheels and other upgrades onto it. Either way, it’s a winter project now.

Some way, some how, Marjory will be reborn. Good bikes never die.

P.S. In case you’re wondering, I’m pretty much recovered from the crash, and am back to my usual level of crankiness (pun intended).





Jasper in the Off Season

22 11 2010

Last week, before the snow flew, my companion and I headed out to Jasper to try to cure an acute case of gottagetouttatownitis before winter settled in. Of course, we brought the bikes.

"I think we took a wrong turn. Let me see the map."

I was expecting to see mountain bikes everywhere, but was surprised to find the town site saturated with pretty cruisers wherever we went. I’ve never seen so many shiny cruisers back home in Edmonton! Some of the hotels even have private cruiser fleets for their guests.

Not only were there cruisers everywhere, nobody bothered locking them up.

It was lovely late fall weather, partly cloudy with the temperature just above freezing, except in the canyons.

Icicle springs in Maligne canyon.

Looks like the guerrilla knitters got to Jasper the bear, but hey, scarves are de rigueur.

Without the throngs of tourists that usually flood the main attractions and clog up the roads, exploring Jasper and the surrounding areas by bicycle was perfect.

Empty parking lot at Maligne canyon, for what is usually a bustling tourist trap.

Rolling down mountain roads.

We tried out some of the gravel trails as well, but found it was too muddy and bumpy to be pleasant on our high pressure slicks.

Bundled up for a cool fall day of biking.

Obligatory scenic photo of an elk's ass.

Bye bye Jasper! Sundown came too early to get enough of you.





Last Cruiser Days

25 10 2010

I’ve been riding Marjory this week, knowing that it won’t be long before I have to put her away for the winter. With that 4 letter word that starts with “S” in tomorrow’s forecast, it’s entirely possible that I’ve taken my last ride on her until spring. At least it was a good one.

Moon rises over Marjory.

Through the rolling ridges of Dawson Park (where the guerrilla art installation from last week is still up!), over the fresh tarmac in Riverdale into a breathtaking sunset over the river, followed by the caresses of cool air in Mill Creek Ravine.

I popped into a bustling EBC to say hi to a couple of folks, and was convinced to go on a dumpster raid for what was rumored to be a big score of bikey stuff.

As the sun set and the temperature rapidly dropped, under-dressed and patience running thin, we hit the motherload. Among a smorgasbord of accessories were several matching wicker baskets, each of them broken in a different way, so I grabbed two, making sure there was enough good parts between them to reassemble one working basket.

Squeeks tests out Marjory's new basket.

I put the basket on Marjory to try out (even though I’m not really a fan of baskets for day to day use) and took her out for one last ride. I don’t know why, but suddenly Marjory wasn’t so fast anymore. I didn’t realize how much I relied on seeing the front wheel in my peripheral vision for accurate steering, because it felt clumsy and awkward like the bike had sprouted a cow catcher. A friend who knows my riding style well predicted that I’d end up taking off the basket in no time, but I guess I’ll have to wait for spring to see how long it takes for me to get sick of it.





Tweed on the Block

29 09 2010

The tweed ride last weekend was a smashing good time. The only thing I could complain about was the spectacular fall weather was actually too hot for tweed, but that’s a stupid thing to complain about, so I won’t. (And, for all the ladies who haven’t got enough style riding in for the fall, there’s a Critical Lass ride this Saturday!)

Here’s some snapshots from the 3rd Edmonton Tweed Ride, Ink on a Block.

Darren and Nathaniel looking dapper.

Tweed riders take Whyte Ave.

Bernadette and the shiny red cruiser.

I rode Poplar and wore plaid. It was too hot for the jacket.

Sorry about the weird photo, Selene, I didn't get any better ones of your lovely outfit.

Micah rocks the blazer.

More super stylin' riders.

B. looks on from his favorite perch.

After the sun went down we rolled into the river valley. Unfortunately for my 60 year old coaster brake, we went one of the steepest ways down possible. By the time we got to the LRT bridge, you could fry tofu on my coaster hub.

Checking out the action below the LRT bridge.

Keely and a wineskin, caught on film.

Riding into the tweed hours of the night.

I would like to add that on our way out of the valley, even though it was really difficult, I made it up Connors hill on the old cruiser, without stopping or walking. I think there were folks on multi-speed bikes who couldn’t say that.

Kevin demonstrates the required panache to pull off tweed in style.

And then there was a soapstone bear...

We finished off at a small “Irish Pub” that wasn’t prepared for 30 thirsty woolen clad cyclists looking to take over the bar for the night. One of the regulars, who was standing outside when we arrived and asked what we were doing commented “Well, I guess you can’t ride around looking like that alone.” Thanks for the reminder that we’re still in Alberta, dude.