One of the things that I most enjoy about biking is the opportunity to explore. Traveling in the elements, under your own power, you get to see and experience things that are just not available to travelers insulated within metal, plastic and glass conveyances. Certainly trips that are far afield, such as my bike trip through Belgium and France early this summer, would be a prime example of discovery and adventure. But closer to home you can discover too – there are unfamiliar neighbourhoods, new developments, parks, and trails to explore. More prosaic perhaps, but there is still the delight of finding someplace new that you can share with others. Such was the case with today’s ride.
As expected, I took some flak from my biking group for cancelling the ride on Tuesday due to an ominous weather forecast. As reported earlier, the forecast was totally out to lunch and it was a great day for riding after all. Instead of having a group ride, we all ended up going out for rides on our own so it’s not like the day was a total loss. Today’s group ride was the make-up ride for Tuesday. It was a bit chilly and windy but 6 of us braved the conditions while I led them on trails that were new to all of them. We started in St. Albert but made our way to the newly repositioned 137th Ave in Edmonton. A 14-block portion of it, between 184th St and 170th St, is still not open for traffic but the multi-use trail beside it is. We continued on this trail all the way to 142nd St and then north up 142nd back into St. Albert. On the way, I pointed out that 170th St now also has a multi-use trail developed into St. Albert so there are a bunch of safe, new options to get from one city to the other. Although there are still many deficiencies in the trail infrastructure, this is a welcome development.
We stopped for coffee at the Starbucks in Servus Centre, the city-owned recreation facility in St. Albert, where I enjoyed a small coffee (I don’t speak Starbucksian, but the barista understood what I meant by small) and a large chocolate chip cookie.
It was a shorter ride today, only 29.5 km, but the group enjoyed riding on the new (to them) trails. Although some of them had driven those streets in the past, they were amazed at the amount of new development – upgraded and re-positioned roads, new buildings, separate trails – that had sprung up in the past year. We will be doing more exploring in that area next year as the upgrading continues.
It not being a Friday or Saturday, my official coffeeneuring days, I can’t count this as a coffeeneuring ride. With snow in the forecast for 3 of the next 5 days, my biking days are not over yet but I can see the end of the season from here. I only need 4 more official rides over the next 3 weekends. Here’s hoping!