Otherwise known by our esteemed group of senior skiers cum road riders as “the base ride”. The base, in this instance, refers to the Edmonton Garrison, the largest army base in Western Canada and located between Namao and Edmonton. It’s only about 15 km as the bicycle rolls from St Albert but we take a somewhat convoluted and variable route to get there and generally squeeze a 50-km loop out of it. Being extremely civilized bikers, we also stop at the base Tim’s for refreshments. We do the ride about once every week or two with minor changes in routing depending on whether anyone wants to do a 2 km-long, and perilously busy, hill to get there. When we are preparing for the Tour de l’Alberta, almost everyone does the hill because it is great for training – not too steep (about 5% max) and with a couple of short terraces to give the legs and lungs a short break. Unfortunately, said hill is on a busy highway, complete with a narrow shoulder and lots of over-wide semis. Their updraft is sometimes a nice boost in aiding the climb but also a little nerve wracking in their intimacy. Today, the wind was from the east, i.e. right in our faces going uphill, so we chose the cowards way out and opted for a more protected and less hilly route.
The ride is a great combination of tranquil country roads, smooth meandering multi-use trails, suburban streets and, with the exception of the above noted Hwy 37, a not-too-busy main road with a wide shoulder. We usually crank it up here for the ride back, figuring that if we exhaust ourselves, at least we are close to our starting point and we can collapse unobtrusively in the privacy of our cars/homes.
We usually have from 3 to 12 of us on the ride but only 4 managed to show up today. Lots of excuses offered by those who didn’t show – sometimes life just gets in the way of having fun – but our group enjoyed a pretty well perfect riding day. Here is the route we took today.