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.





Haze

6 08 2010

Air quality warnings are pretty rare in prairie cities. Where there aren’t hills to trap the pollution of daily city life and it all just disperses over the plains, it takes fairly specific meteorologic circumstances for enough to build up to cause a problem. This past week featured the first warnings I remember in ages, and today was the haziest day yet.

Hot, humid & so hazy you can't see the downtown skyline.

Rather than last week’s temperature inversion, today’s haze was blamed on forest fires, and Environment Canada says that it’s not bad enough to issue an advisory. I wonder how much my throat and eyes would hurt if it were warning-worthy. Alas, I can’t do any more than complain, and wish that the haze will subside so that I can see the stars and enjoy the northern lights (biggest solar storm in a decade and I can’t see ’em for the brown haze) during the last hot nights of summer, and ride home from work under a blue sky instead of a brownish glare.