This past weekend, Kathy and I decided to try actually taking our bikes on a short tour. I’ve been commuting by bike off and on for years – pretty much every warm day this year and last – and have been wanting to do some longer rides. Since it was our first attempt, we went for a destination that wasn’t too ambitious – Gibbons, where we found a nice-looking B&B in our price range.
The weather forecast was looking decent – if a bit hot, so we set off Saturday morning with lots of water. Steph loaned us a cooler bag that attached to the top of my rack, and kept our supply ice-cold all day. The riding started well. We’d plotted a route made of almost entirely dedicated bike paths to the north-east edge of the city, and it was flat too. The wind from the north-west even pushed us a bit on the eastern stretches. The sprawling mass that is Edmonton seems to go on forever sometimes, so we were thankful when we got to Fort Road and into a API Call Errormore rural setting.
When I think of Fort road, I usually think of the grubby, busy part of town that heads up towards Fort Saskatchewan, but towards the north – after traffic has been diverted onto Manning Drive – it’s a really lovely ride with almost no traffic. Anyone in Edmonton looking for a short ride in the country might want to consider taking the LRT to Clareview and riding up Fort Rd from there. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the end of this peaceful part of our trip, the wind was picking up, and now blowing almost straight from the north. After crossing Manning Dr. once again, it seemed that we were riding straight into a storm, and were peddling as hard as we could while making little headway. Not the best introduction to bike touring. It did die down eventually, and we made it to our B&B in one peace, ready for a nap.
The trouble with bike touring is that every little chore becomes a bigger job. Going to find dinner – not provided by the B&B – required riding about 3 km to a nearby golf course. A short ride normally, but difficult to work up to doing when we were already beat. By the time we left, clouds had rolled in and looked threatening…we decided we’d better hurry. Not fast enough, a downpour started when we were about halfway there, so we arrived at dinner soaked and pretty much thoroughly done in. At least the food was good, and it did stop raining before we headed back.
We were happy to not have any grand plans of big rides on the Sunday, since it rained most of the day. After a fantastic breakfast, it was certainly the right day for staying in and reading. Being so thoroughly worn out the previous day, we also discussed the possibility of cheating on the ride home and only going as far as Clareview – we decided to wait and see what we felt like when we got to the city limits. We did have to take a ride to go get something to eat, so we were pleased in late afternoon when the rain let up. Rather than take the highway back to Gibbons, we decided to deal with the gravel and follow the back roads into town. The difficult ride was rewarded by API Call Errorgood scenery.
Monday was the perfect day for riding home. The air was cool, but not cold, and what wind there was came almost straight out of the east, a crosswind most of the way, giving us the occasional push. By the time we got back to the city, it felt like we’d barely gotten going, so we did the full ride home, about an hour faster than the ride out…and with far more energy left over at the end. Overall, a great and relaxing weekend trip.
Lessons for next time. First, always bring full rain gear. I bought Kathy a new raincoat for her birthday, but she doesn’t have any rainpants left, so we only had one pair between us when we got caught out. Second, wind is horrible. I guess we already knew that, and there’s not much to be done about the wind, but there it is. I hope that we’ll do something like this again sometime. We’d been bantering around about doing a bike trip in Ireland, and I think we’d both enjoy that…will have to see what our bike skills and finances can support.