Saturday, February 21, 2015

nothing more changeable than the weather

There's nothing more changeable than the weather. 
So true these last few weeks.
Monday started out cold -- really cold. Although I dressed for the stated -17 with wind chill of -23, I arrived at work with numb fingers and toes. By the afternoon it had warmed up to -5 and I was quite comfy on the ride back to the car. 

The rest of the week was much warmer, but that brings other problems, namely unpleasant riding conditions on the icy, snowy multi-use trails. On Thursday the trail was so bad after work that I took the steep uphill trail out of the ravine to Churchill Crescent in Glenora and rode on 102 Avenue and Stony Plain Road to the bridge leading to Crestwood. From there I tried to ride on the 100 Avenue multi-use trail, but that was so bad that after a few blocks I opted for the road. The roads have a lot of gravel and numerous large puddles, but it's better than ploughing through thick slush.

No matter what the riding conditions, however, I am always happy to be on my bike instead of in a car or on the bus.

On Wednesday as I was heading into MacKinnon Ravine, I spotted a guy standing beside his little SUV fastening a bike helmet. I was a bit slow on the uptake, but as I started downhill I realized that he must be doing the same thing as me -- parking and riding. I promised myself that the next time I saw him I would stop for a chat.
 Well, the next morning I saw his SUV parked in the same place, but he was apparently already on his way. And then as I was riding up the hill to Ezio Faraone Park, I saw a guy ahead of me walking his bike. I passed him and as I did so I thought the helmet looked familiar: I was pretty sure he was the Park-and-Ride guy. So when I reached the top, I waited for him and asked. 
Sure enough. He lives in Devon and has been parking-and-riding for the last 25 years! 
That made my day.

On Friday I had to go to HQ at 118 Avenue and 82 Street. I parked in Crestwood and rode the rest of the way. I think I can honestly say that the MacKinnon Ravine trail was the worst it's been in my four years of riding. Not only is there thick ice, but the ice is deeply rutted and pitted with tire and foot marks. I may be a coward, but I simply could not bring myself to try to ride and ended up walking my bike for a couple hundred meters. The River Valley section was also quite icy, but manageable, and some spots were even quite good. 

Then I came to Rossdale. The trail there was sheer ice. I rode for a awhile in fear and trepidation, but when I wiped out, I decided I'd rather risk my life on the downtown streets than down in the valley. Spotting a set of stairs, I crossed the road. I wasn't sure exactly where I'd be when I reached the top, but I told myself that anything had to be an improvement on the icy trails below.

It was not an easy climb to the top. There was a short flight of stairs, followed by a landing. Then a long flight of stairs, and another landing. 
When I reached this landing, I groaned inwardly, but the young woman who reached the top shortly afterward groaned audibly. I laughed and told her that I knew the feeling. 
The next flight of stairs was even longer than the one we had just finished and it looked incredibly steep. But I put my shoulder to the wheel, so to speak, and made it to the top without having a heart attack or even getting too out of breath.
From there I rode in the street to the LRT trail, which goes almost all the way to my destination.

For the ride back to the car, I didn't bother with the River Valley, but just rode on 103/104 Avenue and Stony Plain Road. It was not too bad; the roads are quite clear and traffic wasn't very heavy, so I made pretty good time. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

winter winding down?

Now that it's the middle of February, I think we can safely that winter is winding down.

It doesn't always seem that way; during the last two weeks we have had two snowfalls of more than 10 cm each. One was on Thursday the 5th, and there was ample warning, so I parked in Glenora and walked to work, down through the ravine and up Victoria Park hill. It was a beautiful start to the day -- not too cold and so pretty. 

It snowed all day, making the trek home an adventure. About halfway down Victoria Park hill, all of a sudden there were no more footprints. Mine were the first. And the snow was deep. I trudged along, feeling like I was never going to make it to the bottom. Down in the ravine, the situation was the same -- no other prints. Actually, there was one tire track -- yes, someone had ridden a bike down there, and not a fat bike either. Visibility was limited and I almost missed the point where I had to turn right and head uphill back to my car. This was one time I was very thankful not to have to go to work on Friday!

The next big snowfall was last Friday night. I looked at the weather forecast before going to bed and saw that we were due for 2-4 cm of snow. Woke up the next day to see about 10-15 cm. It was nice that it happened on the weekend; I didn't have to drive anywhere and didn't even ride my bike. I did go out walking, ploughing my way through the deep snow and sloshing through puddles and slush. Today is colder and again it's snowing, but I still maintain that winter is on its way out.