A decent amount of snow finally fell today, signalling the end of the cycling season for me this year, at least assuming we don’t get a big Chinook that melts all the snow again. Having not cycled to work since 2008, I found that the Calgary cycling scene has changed a bit since then.
For one, the pathways are a lot busier now than they used to be.
Previously, I was cycling to downtown, which was busy already in 2008. I can only imagine it’s even less the relaxing ride along the river, with all the idjits who think they are Lance Armstrong whizzing by you without a care for anyone else. Fortunately, my ride takes me south away from downtown now, along the irrigation canal, through Ogden, over Glenmore and the river to Heritage Meadows, then scoot over to Blackfoot and south through the construction east of Blackfoot to Blackfoot Point, where I work. About an hour of travel, slightly less on the way in as I’m going more downhill. I’m going counter to the main traffic flow coming into downtown, so I get a good sense of the traffic, at least along the main drag river pathway that I join at Ogden. There is a constant flow of cyclists coming by, if you are a bit slower or faster you’ll find you’ll have to pass or be passed regularly on your ride.
The irrigation canal part is still quite empty – blissful riding for me!
There have been some pathway improvements, in particular, Millican Road going into Ogden now has a nice path along the side of the road for you to climb the hill on, or zoom down. Some assholes still insist on going down on the road the wrong way – to shave off that 5 seconds in their oh so important commute times. Stick to the path or the right side of the road, assholes! The new Glenmore Trail bridge with the pedestrian/cyclist lane is so nice – wide enough, and a nice ramp on the west side to get down to the river and under Glenmore Trail.
Part of my ride takes me through a construction zone, just north of my work. There is a local road through there that was paved initially as part of the sales phase. While I appreciate the pavement, it has been dug up all over the place as part of the construction. I hope as a sales tactic it was worth it, because it just gets turned into a bunch of gravel filled holes before the real paving happens. Part of that paving has included putting sidewalks up along one side. I think I’m going to stick to the road, considering they can’t even figure out how to go over a utility access hatch with their sidewalk.
Technology has it’s good and bad points in cycling like anything else. LED lights have allowed way smaller lights that last forever even on a set of AA batteries. (Why use 3 though? Always a left over battery!) So I bought myself a new LED light as my main light, all of $10, have yet to kill the battery on it. Rear read flashy LED had new batteries put in from when I was kick-scooting to work at Golder (I take alternate commuting to new creative heights). However, now that power is less of an issue it has allowed for SUPER BRIGHT LIGHTS THAT SHINE THE WHOLE PATH LIKE ITS DAY! Meanwhile, I’m blinded like it’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Then there are the people on the other end of the spectrum who have no lights, no reflectors dark clothes. I don’t care if you have a death wish, I just don’t want to be the one that hits you on the pathways.
I do enjoy seeing wildlife along the pathways. I’ve seen deer, skunk, fox, herrons, eagles, and many geese and ducks. On the more unusual end of the scale, when the irrigation canal was drained for the season, it revealed what seemed like a suspiciously neat pile of garbage in the middle of one of the remaining water filled areas. A few days later, I notice that muskrats are swimming around it – it’s a nest! Be interesting to see if they overwinter and survive the rising water again.
The strangest thing I have seen this year was a lion. Yes, it was a stuffed toy lion, but it was big. It certainly triggered a WTF from me, as I’m riding along in my usual ‘scanning for hazards mode’: pothole, tree, jogger, dog, pothole, lion, barrier – WTF, lion?! The picture is as it was sitting, no one around, no indication of why it might be there. Was he abandoned by a kid? Did someone throw him out and just leave him sitting there? I’ll never know, but that lion was there for several days before he disappeared, never to be seen again.
We will see what next year brings – hoping I can get out fairly early and not loose all the conditioning I have painfully built up over the season. It’s all good – the views you get are the gain from the pain!