2023 - Our Rides in Words, Photos, Maps and Videos

The boys came over today and we did about a 20 mile tour around Palm Springs. Level 2, Espin Sport 1 and The Gravelster all performed like champs! We all took turns on the different bikes. Boy, after not riding Sport for awhile, I forgot how much the cadence sensor affects the pedaling. Then got a nice wake up call when I jumped on Gravelster with one gear! Stopped at the Heyday for Burgers and then finished the tour. Lovely day for a bike ride.
 

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The boys came over today and we did about a 20 mile tour around Palm Springs. Level 2, Espin Sport 1 and The Gravelster all performed like champs! We all took turns on the different bikes. Boy, after not riding Sport for awhile, I forgot how much the cadence sensor affects the pedaling. Then got a nice wake up call when I jumped on Gravelster with one gear! Stopped at the Heyday for Burgers and then finished the tour. Lovely day for a bike ride.
Excellent. It's been cold and raining here, so it's good to see folks out in good weather...somewhere.
 
That Southwark area is close to where our students stayed. It is (or was) quite vibrant, touristy, and still safe enough for the females to venture out alone, with excellent public transportation hubs. Good choice.
As a frequent traveller to London, I was quite surprised to find the Bankside area full of hotels. It is indeed a safe area. For a contrast, the area of Old Kent Road (which is also denoted as SE1!) and where I often used to stay felt not that safe! :)

My history interest has led me to read and watch more about the air Battle of Britain of 1940-1941. Before, I could not quite understand how so much space could be found in London to build hypermarkets in the Old Kent Road area! Guess what? Open big space can be found in British cities where German bombs fell during the Battle or Britain, and Old Kent Road had actually got its load of bombs during WWII... Or, wherever in an English city you can find a huge parking lot, that place was bombed (I could see it in Coventry, for instance).
 
With the recent trend of warm weather and lack of snow, the local trails have taken on an unusual patchy appearance this time of the year and the long-range forecast doesn’t appear to indicate that any severe change is forthcoming. It might have those dreaming of a white Christmas to keep on dreaming.


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Meanwhile, I was able to hit the trails yesterday with a sprightlier pace thanks to the hardpack and ice beneath the studded fat boys. It was also a rare opportunity to ride the singles at the local mtb park which is normally covered in snow and sees little use due during the winter season due to its slightly more technical nature.

Only one of two riders that I encountered yesterday during my entire ride. Weekends almost always draw people out which I tend to avoid as I love the solitude of having the trails to myself.

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I paused briefly to take in the view of the Red Deer river before moving further up the trail.

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A final mad scramble up this rutted single before departing the Heritage Park system.

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A frozen and solemn looking Piper Creek takes on a completely different appearance than it did over a month ago when all of the trees were coated in thick layers of white glistening snow.

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Beaver activity is abundantly prevalent here all year round. This large poplar hasn’t succumbed to the sharp incisors of these busy mammals yet but given time it too will soon meet its fate. It’s not too late for the other two neighboring trees with their surrounding protective wire mesh which so far has prevented a similar demise.

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Another stop along the river bank to soak in the mild temps before making my way towards the trails on the north side of the city.

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And yet another break to admire the chunks of surface ice as the action of the river current chugs along despite the obvious floe in its path.

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Arriving at the mtb park, I noticed a number of fat tire tracks leading me to believe that others had the same idea taking advantage of the semi-frozen ground conditions. Not ideal but totally rideable.

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The visible abrasions from bar ends on either side of these trees indicates how narrow the distance is between them which was slightly broader than the width of my 760 mm bar.

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With the lack of snow, sections of trails are clearly readable allowing for safer passage down descents. Having spiked tires does help significantly but added caution must still be exercised without knowing what lies beneath cover.

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Less snow cover means more exposed roots which could wear down one's stamina if riding a rigid bike. Thankfully, the Norco’s Manitou forks made the task of overcoming them less dramatic which resulted in a more compliant ride.

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As sunset approaches, I head back towards home base along the bare pathway and across the converted CP rail pedestrian bridge near the end of my ride. This has me thinking that it might be a good time to head to one of the mountain parks for a much-needed change of scenery.

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I finally caught a break in the weather and got my first December ride in, in the past 8 days we have had everything thrown at us! Strong winds, heavy rain, sleet, snow, ice, freezing fog and everything else that's not conducive to cycling! So I was over the moon when I saw the forecast today, although I had to choose my roads carefully as there was still some ice around on the untreated roads! When I set off just before midday there was a biting cold wind from the NE but thankfully it was only around 15mph, I decided to head NE to have the chilly wind at my back on my way home! I decided to chance some of the cycle paths and it paid off, no sign of any ice and they were mostly flat or uphill so pretty safe! I headed out to Broxburn and turned north towards Kingscavil, where I grabbed my first photos!

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After a nice descent it was time to tackle the first big climb, at the top I had a view of the Forth Bridges a few miles away!

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I then turned west towards Beecraigs Country Park, the road here is pretty straight for a couple of miles and up until yesterday it would have been covered in snow! Heavy rain washed most of the snow away yesterday and made my ride possible today, even the hills were clear for the most part!

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At the end of the road I stopped for a snack before the big descent and grabbed another couple of photos, in the first one there is a plane coming out of Edinburgh Airport and I never even spotted it at the time!

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There is still some snow on the Ochil Hills and mountains in the distance!

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Another couple of photos looking towards the country park before I had a blast down the big descent!

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As soon as the descent ends its straight into a big climb up to the park, I stopped for this photo just before tackling the steepest part and a tractor with a load of hay bales passed! I bet he was glad I stopped where I did or he wouldn't have been able to pass me up the climb as the road is very narrow!

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When I reached the top of the climb I usually turn left and take the road down to Torphicen but its notorious for being icy so I opted for the safer road down into Linlithgow which is a very fast descent but I wasn't taking chances today and freewheeled all the way down! I stopped for these photos, looking back up the hill before continuing down the remainder of the descent into Linlithgow!

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From Linlithgow I headed SW for Westfield with the chilly wind finally right at my back, I passed over the canal and grabbed another couple of photos! To the east the canal was iced over but it was open water to the west!

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I continued SW from Westfield to Avonbridge and when I was passing through Avonbridge the flags were all limp, the wind had completely dropped! Just my luck when I was hoping to be pushed home by it... 😂 There was a bonus though, as I approached Limerigg the Black Loch was flat calm and I got some nice photos of the sunset!

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I was now nearing Caldercruix and grabbed my last photo of the long uphill straight, its way more fun coming the other way! ;)

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I arrived home a short time later with a very flithy bike but very glad I decided to get out, I just had enough time to give it a good wash before darkness fully descended! What a fantastic day that was, I'm hoping there will be more days like this in December but only time will tell...
 

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With the recent trend of warm weather and lack of snow, the local trails have taken on an unusual patchy appearance this time of the year and the long-range forecast doesn’t appear to indicate that any severe change is forthcoming. It might have those dreaming of a white Christmas to keep on dreaming....

That looks like such a fun bike! Guessing the beavers fell the big trees to harvest their beaver-sized branches?
 
It’s loads of fun especially when conditions are optimal. Smaller hoops, massive tires and a fully suspended front end makes the bike feel like there’s an endless amount of grip. I was a bit dubious at first but during the winter season it just trucks through everything. The larger tires might be a great option for those just starting out on the trails.

It appears that the city was a bit too late in wire wrapping that large poplar. I’m wondering if they will remove it before the beavers get to it and end up felling it over the pathway.
 
Frost, and Studded Tyres

'Are you riding? Changing to studded tyres? It has been freezing for the last night!' -- Jacek messaged me in the morning. For the last days, my brother was enjoying snow rides in the Kampinos National Park on his Trance E+ with 2.6" Johnny Watts 365 tyres but was ready to swap for the second wheelset with Ice Spiker Pro for city rides on badly cleared bike paths.

Replacing tyres is the activity I hate and am afraid of. This time, I had tears in my eyes but was as desperate as I swapped Pathfinder Pro 2Bliss for Schwalbe Winter Plus (35-622) on Vado SL surprisingly quickly! Now, I felt confident.

Went for my standard 15 km grocery shopping late in the afternoon at -3 C and sunshine. Most of bike paths turned out to be properly cleared; wherever they were not cleared, I was switching to the road. There is a notable 100 m long walkway near to the shopping mall that was covered with smooth snow and ice, and I was not worried there at all.

As I left the shopping centre, the temperature dropped to -7°C (ouch!) and easterly wind contributed with the chill factor. This time, I wore proper winter cycling trousers (made of something like Gore-Tex or Softshell), and three finger winter "turtle" gloves in addition to my usual Winter Armour. As it was already dark, I pedalled slowly but surely home. It was the lowest temperature in which my Helly Hansen jacket still worked! (It will be a skiing jacket next).

Quite satisfied with the ride; I need to ride more, because my condition will deteriorate from sitting in the apartment!


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The 14.9 km/h average ride speed may seem ridiculously low but you ride differently during the heavy winter! (Wahoo was 3 deg C off, as always...)

You have been afraid you would crash on the bike for the whole ride and nothing wrong happens. Now, you stop your ebike safely, have dismounted it properly and then you fall on the ice, off-bike :D
 
Meanwhile, I was able to hit the trails yesterday with a sprightlier pace thanks to the hardpack and ice beneath the studded fat boys.
My work manager in Norway (we have been like a family for many years; I made him interested in e-bikes) told me by phone on Tuesday: 'Why don't you buy yourself a fat e-bike just for the winter?' to which I replied: 'We get no decent fat e-bikes in Europe, it is Canada" :D
 
@Prairie Dog really enjoyed your Japan pics and vids as i am bike less ..under Dr orders :(:(
@RabH the same to you
all you guys are keeping me sane hate been off my bike but Dr knows best .. have had couple of dizzy spells and one blackout so off to hospital this sun 2-30 for a Gastroscopy cam down the throat and also a cam up the back passage Colonoscopy :(:(:(
Sorry to hear that buddy, wishing you all the best with your hospital visit! I'm also having an endoscopy and colonoscopy on December 22nd, been diagnosed with Colitis but I have been keeping well and my latest blood results were really good so hoping all will be fine! Of all the symptoms of Colitis I only have one so I'm very lucky...
 
@Prairie Dog really enjoyed your Japan pics and vids as i am bike less ..under Dr orders :(:(
@RabH the same to you
all you guys are keeping me sane hate been off my bike but Dr knows best .. have had couple of dizzy spells and one blackout so off to hospital this sun 2-30 for a Gastroscopy cam down the throat and also a cam up the back passage Colonoscopy :(:(:(
Very sorry to hear that TL. Those procedures don’t sound very pleasant at all and hope that they won’t keep you off your bike for too long. Please keep us posted. Chin up.
I'm also having an endoscopy and colonoscopy on December 22nd, been diagnosed with Colitis but I have been keeping well and my latest blood results were really good so hoping all will be fine! Of all the symptoms of Colitis I only have one so I'm very lucky...
Same goes for you RH. All the best.
 
@theloafer and @RabH , best of luck in your medical adventures.

Colonoscopy is pretty benign once you get to the clinic. The prep at home beforehand is the disagreeable part, but it's survivable. And colonoscopy beats exploratory surgery all day long.

Last month, got a notice that I was overdue for a screening colonoscopy. So I called to schedule. The rep was clearly bracing for an angry response when she said that they were booked out to May, 2024. Sigh of relief when I thanked her for their help in putting it off another 6 months.
 
@Prairie Dog really enjoyed your Japan pics and vids as i am bike less ..under Dr orders :(:(
@RabH the same to you
all you guys are keeping me sane hate been off my bike but Dr knows best .. have had couple of dizzy spells and one blackout so off to hospital this sun 2-30 for a Gastroscopy cam down the throat and also a cam up the back passage Colonoscopy :(:(:(
Been there, done that, got the T-shirt for the double whammy. Best of luck mate!
 
Lovely rides in here, haven't been able to get in the mood for this sub, my poor mother lost her long term partner and best friend in the same week, so been arranging funerals etc and taking her out rather than riding.
Anyway, she's bouncing back and I'm getting the mood back.
Now storm Erin is battering us, blown the cover off the beetle and wheelie bins all over the place.
Done some much needed work on the bike and I'll go down to see the coastal damage.
When it stops raining!!!

Keep riding dudes
 
Lovely rides in here, haven't been able to get in the mood for this sub, my poor mother lost her long term partner and best friend in the same week, so been arranging funerals etc and taking her out rather than riding.
Sorry to hear about your loss...

When it stops raining!!!
When it stops snowing! I'm rusting in my apartment...
 
Just back from about a month on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Usually on my travels I like to see the countryside from a bicycle preferably an electric one but I soon realized this was not going to be one of those opportunities. If the 100 euros per day rental was a bit too stiff for me the high density of tourists on this island took me back with little room to ride the narrow, steep streets in what would feel safe to me. We have a high density tourist area in our part of the province called Banff National Park and I would call Madeira a Banff on steroids when considering the island's courting of tourists including a large port with a constant stream of large cruise ships coming in and out. OK so I am a little grumpy not getting my bike rides in but we did have a great time on jeep, "tuk-tuk" and hiking tours. In the picture of the jeep going downhill those are walking stones in the middle of the road so one had to keep a close eye20231115_063255.jpgIMG_9584.jpg20231126_201926.jpg20231127_110023.jpg20231127_122230.jpg20231205_062928.jpg
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out for pedestrians especially coming around narrow corners. And all those delicious sea food dinners with maybe a glass or two of inexpensive but great Portugal wines. Included is a picture of my trusty knee scooter that helps me whip around airports and such and was the closest I got to a bike ride. And a new to me concept was the restaurant cooking one's choice of meat on "hot rocks" right at your table. That picture was celebrating my 70th which I am still trying to wrap my head around how that happened much too quickly for my liking. Oh well, best keep pedalling and travelling over the next decade while one can . . .
 
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