Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The "Mosquito-Less Trek"

The Adventure Cycling Association, in celebration of its fortieth anniversary is encouraging members to plan an overnight bike trip next June. Cyclist can either design their own trip or join an existing one.

There is a trip here in Edmonton called "The Mosquito-less Trek" that looks pretty easy to do. All the bike riding will be done on river valley trails and the camping aspect is in a public campground right in the valley.

Edmonton's river valley park is the largest urban park in Canada with one hundred and sixty kilometers of maintained trails. "The Mosquito-less Trek" proposes two days of cycling on those trails and two nights of camping - so to do that mileage in two consecutive days and so early in the season should be a nice workout.

Its not unusual for our neck of the woods to see snow every month of the year. Joining a bicycle camping trip in early June means we might have to slog through the white stuff. The question is: "Do we leave our studded tires on until June?

Being a city in the Canadian North means that Edmonton has its fair share of wildlife in the river valley. Bears have been spotted, as well as beavers and coyotes. I can remember climbing up a steep hill one morning on one of the trails and there squatting majestically and defiantly at the hill's crest was a large male coyote. The light on my handlebars glowed back at me from his eyes. The weak "bing bing bing" of my bell did nothing but elicit a yawn from the creature. My front wheel almost touched him before ambled off into the woods and down to the river.
Not a yawn
One spring the trails in sprawling Terwilligar Park were closed due to a bear sighting. The animals simply follow the North Saskatchewan River valley until they look up and think "Oh shit! I'm in the friggin' city already!"
How's it goin'?
All through the river valley is evidence of beaver activity. Small trees have been chewed down, streams are blocked by dams and all the larger trees have a wrapping of chicken wire around their bases. Apparently, beavers don't want to floss with wire while they eat.

 The organizer might be overly optimistic when they say this bike travel weekend is "Mosquito-less". June can be a very busy time for skitters in our area. The ground doesn't usually thaw until late May, yet the snow has mostly melted which means great pools of water dot the city and make excellent breeding grounds for the annoying insects. A friend of the family once told me how they sent a dragonfly back to Jolly Old England and claimed that this was the size of mosquitoes in Canada!
It is not like the trip is going to be in the backwoods after all. The cyclists will always have cell service and unless it snows, bears invade or a beaver chews down a tree onto your campsite while you are sleeping, all will be well. Just ask the organizer - me!