Thursday, April 24, 2014

Killing Time?

If your choice was to sit for hours in a dumpy automotive showroom or ride your bike down an interesting pathway, which would you choose?

While driving to this business in Calgary last week, I noticed a bicycle path just two blocks away.  So with some careful planning, and knowing I was going back there, I packed my 20" Raleigh. There was anticipation of a pleasant bike ride versus twiddling my thumbs in a showroom that had nowhere to sit.

On two occasions I've had my wife drop me off at the Calgary Airport and then ridden seventy five kilometers to my friend's house.  It is an extra day of riding I manage to get in before my friend and I begin our annual bikepacking trip.  So I knew about this particular path but what I didn't know was that this route would take me past Calgary's snow mountain, a cremation forest and their science park.

Snow Mountain
The cremation forest is still in its infancy and the trees planted there are only a few feet tall.  Nearby is Deerfoot Trail with its constant stream of noisy traffic and the only activity in the forest itself was a dog defecating beneath the trees.

That a boy!

It took some doing, but I found a way to ride a bike to SPARK, the science park right on the bike pathway.  There are no signs to direct a cyclist to this facility and I didn't have enough time to investigate whether they had installed bike racks or not.  Besides, I had to get back to the auto business so I guess you could say that I had no time to park at Spark.
Bike parking?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Kettle Valley Rewind

Is it possible to do the Kettle Valley Railway in reverse?  My cycling partner for the last nine years, Roy made the suggestion the other night.  Both of us have done a loop that includes Penticton, Osoyoos, Rock Creek, Beaverdell, Mc Cullogh and Chute Lake.  The whole trip is about 400 kilometers - remembering of course that we do have six days to do it.
The Kettle Valley Railway

His proposal is that we start in Rock Creek - one of our favourite places.  We're fond of that spot for a few good reasons - one of them being the kindness that was shown us the first time we camped there.  A large group of  cyclists supported by a van that carried all their gear was set up at the other end of the campground.  Roy, being the social animal that he is,  was keen to go over and visit.  Me?  We had just spent 6 1/2 hours climbing in the lowest gear (and peddling as hard as we could) just to reach the summit of a mountain west of town.  We had had another two hours in the saddle riding past dumps like Bridesville and negotiating a steep switchback into Rock Creek itself.

My nervy partner hit an easy 50 kilometers and hour going down that switchback while I paused to put on my cycling jacket.  Being exhausted, I didn't trust my judgement at high speeds so I zipped up the jacket just enough that it would act like a parachute and slow me down as I descended.  Luckily there was no traffic to complicate matters further.

Upon entering town, we stopped at the Petro Canada station which appeared to be the liveliest place in this tiny burg.  It wasn't until we were in the back of the grocery department looking for hooch that we came across the reason for all the traffic.  A wooden display rack held bags of freshly baked cheese buns.  And they were flying off the rack.  Being half starved after cycling all day, we didn't hesitate to jump into the fray and grab a couple of bags of those appealing baked baked goods before they disappeared as well.
Get your cheese buns!

We were outside only for seconds before we tore one of the bags apart and stuffed our faces with the delectable treats.  Sharp cheese taste mixed with a little green onion and a soft but chewy bun put us both in heaven.  Cheese bun heaven!

It was later, after we had eaten our supper (and all the buns), that the tour leader from the group of cyclists came over to our camp carrying a cooking pot the size of a garbage can.  Its insides were filled with a mixture of hot chili and rice which he offered to us.  Roy and I had burned 5,000 calories just climbing Anarchist Mountain so we were more than happy to eat the still warm chili and replace those missing calories.  The only condition was that we clean the pot when finished.  It was the least we could do.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

20 is Plenty

God Beams
It was one of my children that called the heavenly sunbeams that occasionally appear in the sky "God Beams" and it was those wonderful shafts of light that greeted me on my commute downtown this morning.

Our weather station said the outside temperature was zero.  Looking out the front door window, I could see a sciff of snow that resembled a dusting of icing sugar on a bundt cake.  I had decided to ride my new-to-me 20" Raleigh even though it doesn't have studded tires.  I was gambling that the new tires with their thick treads that I had bought from the Raving Bike Fiend would cut through any ice/snow.

The pannier rack on the Raleigh is too short to mount regular panniers on the rear so I "improvised" by putting an Axiom top mounted bag on the rack first.  A kind lady from the library had given me two small saddlebags which I cleverly mounted on top of the Axiom bag.
I'm so smart!
It wasn't easy to find the bike lanes that the city installed and painted last year.  The markings are so faint, I couldn't help but think that the city was being passive/aggressive in their approach.  "Okay - we want to look like we are encouraging cycling in our city but we sure as hell don't want to piss off the vocal and powerful auto lobby!"
That faint smear separates bikes and cars
It doesn't really matter all that much where the bike lanes are since in the winter the city dumps all the snow on them and just this morning what do I see but some sort of construction vehicles parked right in the bike lane.  God forbid that they should park on the grassy verge!