On the ski hills, on the bike trails, and thru life in general

After a spectacular warm and dry September, the 2020 Coffeeneuring Challenge ushered in the type of fall weather that we are more used to in central Alberta. Cool, cloudy and with the promise of impending snow, makes the rides a little more challenging. But this is a challenge after all – not only finding 7 different coffee spots in 7 weeks, dealing with capricious weather gods and, of course, observing the social restrictions necessitated by the Covid virus. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a cold and snowy winter in this area. I’m just hoping that we can make it past the next 7 weeks before having to get the snow shovels out for good.

Coffeeneuring #1

A go-to ride for me all summer, whether with a group or on a solo ride. The route out to the army base north of Edmonton covers residential roads, country roads, multi-use trails, a wide-shouldered highway, and a couple of short, but punchy (7%), hills. Always a good workout.

Where: Edmonton Garrison, Namao, Alberta

When: Tuesday, October 13th, 2020

What: Small black coffee and chocolate chip muffin at the Edmonton Garrison Tim Horton’s

Distance: 56.1 km

Ride Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/57611960

Weather: A sunny 2°C to start, warming to an overcast 4°C at end

One Good Thing: A rarity in these parts – NO WIND TODAY!! What a treat!

Time out by the Sturgeon River at start of the ride.

The leafy trail, and bare trees, through the woods near the base. We are well into fall.

A socially distant, i.e. outside, coffee and muffin at the local Tim’s.

Coffeeneuring #2

With the forecast for tomorrow predicting our first snowstorm of the season, I took the opportunity to get my second coffeeneuring ride in while the ground was still dry and ice-free. Cool (-1°C) and windy (30, gusting to 39 kph), I decided that a road ride would be too uncomfortable so I used the hybrid to tour around some favourite trails in St. Albert.

Where: Lois Hole Provincial Park, St. Albert, Alberta

When: Thursday, October 15, 2020

What: A coffeeshop without walls coffee from my thermos on the viewing platform on Big Lake

Distance: 19.8 km

Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/57702946

Weather: -1°C to start, +1°C at finish, intermittent sun and windy!

One Good Thing: The new asphalt trail beside Ray Gibbon Drive.

Coffeeshop without walls, i.e. the viewing platform at Big Lake.

The new crushed rock trail in Lois Hole Park which dead ends…

… into this single track through to the Starling subdivision. I do like the single track though.

The new trail (not officially open yet) between Ray Gibbon Drive and the Enjoy Centre. Gotta love fresh asphalt!

Coffeeneuring #3

We got lucky last week and only received a glancing blow from the storm that hit the cities south and west of Edmonton. So no snow on the trails yet! Today was sub-zero cool again, with a wind, so I decided to stick to treed areas as much as possible. My route took me out to Big Lake again, with a diversion up the Braeside Ravine – a route that I had not yet taken this season. The ducks and geese are now bunching up on the partially frozen Sturgeon River, getting ready to abandon us for warmer climates.

Where: Braeside Ravine and Lois Hole Park, St. Albert, Alberta

When: Monday, October 19, 2020

What: Large Transcend (great local brand) coffee and cranberry muffin; La Crema Caffe, St. Albert

Distance: 18.8 km

Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/57900956

Weather: -7°C (19°F) to start, warming to -4°C (25°F) by the time I got home, and a windy 25 kph, gusting to 36.

One Good Thing: Appropriate clothing! Makes rides in cold weather much more pleasant.

The Sturgeon River is starting to ice up. Winter is coming.

The trail in the Braeside Ravine. Most of the leaves are off the bushes and trees so the sightlines are a lot better around corners!

Big Lake, where it flows into the Sturgeon River. Pretty early in the year for the bay to be totally frozen over.

A large Transcend coffee and cranberry muffin for me and a decorative Halloween gourd for everyone else.

Coffeeneuring #4

After a week of stupidly cold and snowy weather, I was finally able to get out for a shortish ride around town. I planned to just go visit a park a few kilometres away, and complete the visit with a thermos of coffee and a muffin, but it was so pleasant out that I decided to do a little exploring in a new development nearby.

Where: Lacombe Lake Park, St. Albert, Alberta

When: Monday, October 26, 2020

What: Coffee shop-without-walls thermos of coffee, chocolate chip muffin

Distance: 18.9 km

Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/58218181

Weather: +1°C, partly cloudy, light wind. Not bad at all!

One Good Thing: Discovering new trails, and a promise of new trails, in a new subdivision currently under development. Finding new trails is always a good thing!

A pretty much frozen over Lacombe Lake.

My coffee and muffin on a memorial bench by the lake.

The deck was wet but the trails were dry and ice-free.

St. Albert Grain Elevator Park on the way to the lake. The elevators are unused for grain now and are open in the summer months as a museum.

The trail through the White Spruce Forest, a local park with the last stand of white spruce in the area.

Coffeeneuring #5

Took advantage of a nice sunny, though cool, day to check out a new coffee shop in an industrial park at the edge of town. It was a short ride so I figured that I should also see what some of the nearby roads and trails were like, ones that I hadn’t ridden on for at least a year. The coffee shop was great, the trails were better than I expected and I was even starting to sweat in the +4°C weather!

Where: Eats, on Carlton Drive, St. Albert, Alberta

When: Wednesday, October 28, 2020

What: A medium black coffee and a margarita doughnut (a doughnut with a salty lime icing. Never had one before but it was delicious.)

Distance: 10.9 km

Ride Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/58289255

Weather: A sunny and windless seasonable day! +1°C, quickly warming to +4°C

One Good Thing: Discovering a new (only a few months in business), and very good, coffee shop. Good coffee, friendly staff and good treats. Isn’t that the whole point of coffeeneuring?

My treat for the day – black coffee and a margarita doughnut. Delicious.

This trail across a field, a shortcut to get to Poundmaker Road from Campbell Industrial Park, is a lot smoother than it used to be. Nice to ride now.

Poundmaker Road, a dirt road on the edge of St. Albert. This is the best condition I’ve ever seen it in! Usually teeth-rattling washboard! Another pleasant surprise on this ride.

One of the entrances to the lower Riverlot 56 natural area, with a prominent No Bikes sign. Although it would be fun to be able to ride in there, I agree with the rule. I walk there in the summer and x-c ski there in the winter. The tranquility is nice without having to look over your shoulder all the time checking for bikers competing for a Strava segment.

Coffeeneuring #6

In keeping with the roller coaster weather we have been having, today was supposed to be a high of +20°C. In Edmonton. In November. That is record breaking territory and what better way to celebrate it than with a bike ride, especially a coffeeneuring ride 🙂 It didn’t get that high when I did my ride but any day above zero with little wind at this time of year is a bonus.

Where: Trails and roads, both paved and dirt, in Sturgeon County, Alberta

When: Monday, November 2, 2020

What: Coffeeshop-without-walls thermos coffee and granola bar

Distance: 17.3 km

Ride Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/58500676

Weather: Overcast, +8°C (46°F) to start, +10°C (50°F) at finish

One Good Thing: Are you kidding? Double digit +ve temps in November!

Coffee and granola bar on a bench by the Sturgeon River.

Bales still waiting to be picked up. They may still be there by spring.

The county is building a roundabout at a nasty intersection. Cutting concrete causes copious clouds of dust (couldn’t think of a synonym starting with “c”)

One of the dirt rural roads. Not bad riding though. especially with no traffic.

Coffeeneuring #7

Another glorious above-zero day to take advantage of! I hadn’t ridden the trails in the north end of our city for some time so I wanted to check out if there was anything new to see. There wasn’t, but the riding was still good and I even ran into some friends when I stopped for coffee. After coffee, I ventured down to Big Lake – possibly for the last time this biking season as they are calling for snow and sub-zero temps for this weekend.

Where: Italian Bakery’s Mercato, St. Albert, Alberta

When: Wednesday, November 4, 2020

What: Black coffee and cinnamon bun

Distance: 26.6 km

Ride Link: https://ridewithgps.com/trips/58580961

Weather: A lovely +7°C with negligible wind

One Good Thing: Being able to complete another coffeeneuring challenge without having to resort to parkas and longjohns!

All the new neighbourhoods have stormwater ponds as part of their infrastructure, generally encircled with multi-use trails. Makes for pleasant riding in the ‘hoods.

Part of my favourite trail system in the north end of St. Albert. Paved and leafy.

Nothing like a hot coffee to take the chill off and a cinnamon bun to give a quick energy burst.

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