Thursday, November 20, 2014

Top Ten Annoying Things About Riding in Edmonton.


#10.  Large groups of trail walkers: Normally found on a Sunday. This I find reaching for things to bitch about as I do 'get' those families out walking in the river valley with their dog's as it is quite the awesome place to go. I just wish they would have the sense that other people are out riding bikes. We are one of those families out on a weekend afternoon although my kids must think I am Hitler as I make sure everybody is on the right side of the trail, once a puppy or daughter or Heaven forbid wife drifts to the other side, all hell breaks loose and I turn into a guard at a Nazi prison camp yelling obscenities at them until they get back to the 'safe' side. I wouldn't dare help ruin a fellow mountain bikers ride.

I have come across clueless groups of people and at times it can be pretty bad as these people seem to annex the whole trail to themselves, and give confused and angry stares as you try to push on through. It always seems like it's the Mothers in the group who are the angriest and yell at me after I kick their kid out of the way. Come on ladies, lighten up would you!

#9.  Having to explain to countless people that you ride your bike in the Winter. It is always the same questions answered;
* "No, I'm not crazy, you ski don't you?"
* "I use studded tires"
* "You can buy them studded at the bike shop"
* "Yes, it gets cold but being alone riding a mountain bike in the valley in the Winter is quite incredible, after a few cold moments you warm up and it's awesome"
* "The bike handles the snow and ice quite well, as I said. Studded tires"
* "The trails get packed down by other bikes"
* " Yes, lots of people ride their bikes in the Winter, no we are not crazy."
* "Studded tires... Yes, you can buy them at good bike shops"

Now with switching to one of those "fat bikes" I am preparing myself for the onslaught of new questions from people. It's gonna be tough but I will get through this.

#8. The Middle of March to Mid April. This would be a good time if any to take a break from riding. With the snow melt occurring the valley is usually an incredibly shitty place to be. The melting snow muck will attack your drivetrain like an angry ex girlfriend/ boyfriend attacking you after they made you choose between them or the bikes. You will get incredibly wet if not properly prepared and the underlying unseen ice will throw you off the bike and into a pool of frigid dirty water. A very bad time of year to leave your fenders at home.

That time of the year, although incredibly messy can be quite glorious as that special feeling is in the air and you know there is going to be some good singletrack to be had.

#7 Noise cancelling head-phoned joggers/ hikers/ dog walkers on doubletrack, paved trails running or walking while taking up space right in the middle. For the most part, they get quite startled as I pass by them in that douchy way I do after letting them know I'm coming and seeing no reaction as they are deaf to the world. If you are in the valley, be a bit smarter and stay to the right of the trail whilst out there. You are essentially deaf so keep a keen eye on your surroundings and stay to the right of the trail to let people pass. Lot's of people stay in the middle of the trail clueless and unencumbered and I feel a slight urge to knock them down like those youngsters in big groups.

#6. The short trails: This at one time annoyed me but as I grew to love riding in Edmonton more and more it is not really that bad. You ride a trail, take a paved or multi use to another and link it all up on any given ride. yet still, it would be pretty great to get out and ride one constant stream of uninterrupted singletrack. That can be had in Terwillegar park (see # 3 on the top five trails.) This isn't that big of an issue anymore as in the last 5 years an incredible amount of trails have been added making the trip from trail to trail all that much shorter. Yet I feel a bit of momentum is sucked out after every exit onto the paved trails. I have a dream one day all of Edmonton will be linked up.

#5. Summertime Foliage. Summer is pretty great. Not going to disrespect Summer here but riding in the midst of her bountiful foliage enriched season can get a bit dangerous. In Edmonton's blind corner infused trail systems there have been collisions had by myself and I am sure anyone who ever rode in the river valley for a length of time. There are areas in Edmonton I avoid in the Summer for that reason.

Fort Saskatchewan can be really bad with blind corners but it is too good to avoid. I will take the chance of a head on collision just to experience that incredible singletrack.  I have come across some post collision madness in Fort Saskatchewan which included crying girls, lot's of blood, and a tacoed rim. It was pretty nasty. 

The madness of the Edmonton leaves can overgrow trails at times as well, leaving you guess where the trail is. A bit annoying and expect to get soaked while out on a ride in the rain.

#4. Explaining to people why you ride bikes: An all to common thing to do especially for someone like me who is heavily indentured in the trades in the oil patch. If I only had a dollar for every time someone asked me why I spend thousands of dollars on a bike when I can get something with an engine. I alway's calmly answer the question in the best way I can and look at them with a sad remorse in their blatant stupidity. The 'get an engine' remark has been heard countless times. Mountain bikes are a completely different thing to you, the hillbilly Albertan. This is not a quad that you push a throttle and it takes you up a hill while you spit tobacco juice all over yourself. Simply put. You power this yourself up a hill and continue from there, yes you sweat and at times suffer but it is really quite amazing. You will never understand so please. Shut up and go back to your Duck Dynasty marathon.

#3. Noise cancelling head-phoned joggers/ hikers/ dog walkers on Singletrack: In short, these people suck. Much worse than the ones out on the wider paths. Completely oblivious to their surroundings, they have no idea what's coming up behind them while they run dreaming of one day being on the cover of Outside magazine.

On singletrack, it is rare to come across this person as I like to believe most people know better, but I have been behind people on singletrack who have no idea you are right behind them. It usually ends with them getting the shit scared out of themselves as I pass by, and they always react like you 'wronged' them.

#2. The Rain: I love the rain and have had some of my best rides while out alone in a wet valley, but enough is enough, after a few weeks of non-stop rain in the evening, teasing you with sunlight during the day, knowing all too well the trails are having no chance of drying. Edmonton trails do not handle the heavy rain well and the grease that comes on the singletrack can be quite nasty and ubiquitously finds its way in every crevice on your bike.

The grease ladened trails are quite un-rideable yet there is always that group of jackasses that ride them trying to live out a Mountain Dew, or Monster Energy drink advertisement and end up leaving giant ruts which you fumble over once it finally dries.

#1 Riding in Traffic. As a seasoned mountain biker I try not to venture out of the valley too much but curiosity does get to me and I have to pop out of the valley just to see what's going on. Edmonton can be pretty great to ride in if you are in the right areas.

Edmonton can also be incredibly shitty. The shitty parts are when you get caught on a busy bike unfriendly street with an inch of space between you and all the angry bicycle hating vehicles. Prepare to get sworn at, swerved at (sometimes by ETS buses, it has happened to me) have drinks tossed at you, have jacked up pick-up's rev their engines to envelope you in black smoke... I could probably go on, these are all things I have experienced.

Looking back at it now I wonder why I ever leave the comfort of my river valley. The mean streets of Edmonton can be a terrible place to get caught on your bike if you are not careful.