A SingleTrack Narative

If you would have told me that I would be doing my first mountain bike ride of 2013 on May 1st, I would have punched you in the face.  Well, certainly figuratively and not literally, but I would have been incredulous enough to dismiss that notion to craziness and truculent hatred.  So, on May 1st, I summoned my trusty riding partners from the Redbike club, Shanny “Donkey” Koenig, Matt “Khan” Krahn, Kurt “Low and Loaded” Morrison and Adam “No Relation” Armstrong, to take our first venture out for a reconnaissance trail ride to see what the last 6 months of winter has done to the sweet Edmonton singletrack.

We started the ride with our favorite drop-in point behind Redbike along Saskatchewan Drive. Due to the inactive winter disc brakes, the ride started with a lovely cacophony of squealing disc brakes as we ran into a path of ice and snow at the bottom of the trail.  If the ride was a Jim Jarmusch movie, there would have been a cut away to a startled flock of birds flying away in unison as the howling discs echoed into the river valley.

After laughing about our screaming brakes, it took about five seconds to run into the first trail maintenance of the ride.  At the entry point of the singletrack, there was a suspicious log lying right across the trail as if it was placed there purposely.  Not to give anything away, but this was a theme for the rest of the ride.  Anyways, after we clumsily moved the described log, we started mountain biking by riding over a wonderfully built ladder bridge and continued on a familiar trail route.  While the trail was slightly snow covered and slick at parts, it was mostly dry and enjoyable to ride.  We were riding the Canada Cup route, which has been one of our favorite bits of singletrack, and it was surprisingly matted down and not the quagmire that I was expecting since we were just hit by two days of snow. At that point, the euphoria of trail riding hit me as it has been, in reality, 6 months since I’ve been mountain biking, and although winter fatbike trail riding has been a salve, my heart and soul lies with mountain biking on a warm sunny day.  We continued on the Canada Cup route, and it was in near perfect condition with just some fallen twigs and bark covering the hallowed dirt underneath.  We decided to drop low at the construction site of the new Walterdale bridge, which turned out to be our first poor decision of the night as the path climbing up to main path was bogged down with heavy mud.  It was climbable, but we emerged with the first caking of mud of the season.  With such a prodigious group of riders, we were moving briskly along, heading towards the Queen E trails which we found to be smooth and clear.  Probably due to the persistent and diligent Hardcore trail maintenance.  Heading to the riverboat dock, we ran into a few fallen trees that we couldn¹t move, and again, there was a log laid suspiciously across the end of the singletrack. Hmmmm.

To help clean the bikes and get some speed to the ride, we crossed north across the footbridge and headed to the south facing trails heading east. Due to the exposure to the sun, the trails were in mid-summer conditions so we played “Try to keep up with Matt” till we hit the east footbridge. We rode the double track to the golf course parking lot on the south side of the river as Andre¹s trail and Cadillac was still snow covered.  The upper trail heading to Ewok was also perfect and dry with only a few patches of light mud.

The most surprising part of our ride was that someone smoothed out the descent into Ewok and even put foot holds along the grade.  Then, they built a beautiful berm and gap jump that leads into the main part of Ewok.  At the end of the Ewok trails, there laid another log placed across the trailhead. More hmmm.

As we rode the singletrack in Queen E back to Rosso (formerly DaCapo Garneau), I had my first bail of the year, which usually coincides with my first ride of the year.  A testament to my cycling skills or my disregard to my physical well being. I plowed my front wheel into a wedge of roots and flipped over my handlebar and somehow got the nose of my saddle hooked into my shorts at the back. As I was lying in a prostrate position, I realized that I was stuck in this contorted state on the ground and needed the help of my fellow cyclists to untangle me.  After what seemed like ten minutes of laughing, Kurt unceremoniously detached my saddle from my shorts to free me from my upside down turtle-like position.

Continuing on to Kinsmen and on the climb up, we ran into fellow Redbike/planetfoods racer, Mike Vine, which meant that we were on our way to Rosso for pizza and beer.  The stars were aligned.  We ended our first ride the way we plan to end every other ride of the year, by enjoying food, drink and the fresh memories of cycling.

If you would have told me that I would be doing my first mountain bike rideof 2013 on May 1st, I would have punched you in the face.  Well, certainlyfiguratively and not literally, but I would have been incredulous enough todismiss that notion to craziness and truculent hatred.  So, on May 1st, Isummoned my trusty riding partners from the redbike club, Shanny ³Donkey²Koenig, Matt ³Khan² Krahn, Kurt ³Low and Loaded² Morrison and Adam ³NoRelation² Armstrong, to take our first venture out for a reconnaissancetrail ride to see what the last 6 months of winter has done to thesingletrack.

We started the ride with our favorite drop-in point behind redbike alongSaskatchewan Drive. Due to the inactive winter disc brakes, the ride startedwith a lovely cacophony of squealing disc brakes as we ran into a path ofice and snow at the bottom of the trail.  If the ride was a Jim Jarmuschmovie, there would have been a cut away to a startled flock of birds flyingaway in unison as the howling discs echoed into the rivervalley.

After laughing about our screaming brakes, it took about five seconds to runinto the first trail maintenance of the ride.  At the entry point of thesingletrack, there was a suspicious log lying right across the trail as ifit was placed there purposely.  Not to give anything away, but this was atheme for the rest of the ride.  Anyways, after we clumsily moved thedescribed log, we started mountain biking by riding over a wonderfully builtladder bridge and continued on a familiar trail route.  While the trail wasslightly snow covered and slick at parts, it was mostly dry and enjoyable toride.  We were riding the Canada Cup route, which has been one of ourfavorite bits of singletrack, and it was surprisingly matted down and notthe quagmire that I was expecting since we were just hit by two days ofsnow. At that point, the euphoria of trail riding hit me as it has been, inreality, 6 months since I¹ve been mountain biking, and although winterfatbike trail riding has been a salve, my heart and soul lies with mountainbiking on a warm sunny day.  We continued on the Canada Cup route, and itwas in near perfect condition with just some fallen twigs and bark coveringthe hallowed dirt underneath.  We decided to drop low at the constructionsite of the new Walterdale bridge, which turned out to be our first poordecision of the night as the path climbing up to main path was bogged downwith heavy mud.  It was climbable, but we emerged with the first caking ofmud of the season.  With such a prodigious group of riders, we were movingbriskly along, heading towards the Queen E trails which we found to besmooth and clear.  Probably due to the persistent and diligent Hardcoretrail maintenance.  Heading to the riverboat dock, we ran into a few fallentrees that we couldn¹t move, and again, there was a log laid suspiciouslyacross the end of the singletrack. Hmmmm.

To help clean the bikes and get some speed to the ride, we crossed northacross the footbridge and headed to the south facing trails heading east.Due to the exposure to the sun, the trails were in mid-summer conditions sowe played ³Try to keep up with Matt² till we hit the east footbridge. Werode the double track to the golf course parking lot on the south side ofthe river as Andre¹s trail and Cadillac was still snow covered.  The uppertrail heading to Ewok was also perfect and dry with only a few patches oflight mud.

The most surprising part of our ride was that someone smoothed out thedescent into Ewok and even put foot holds along the grade.  Then, they builta beautiful berm and gap jump that leads into the main part of Ewok.  At theend of the Ewok trails, there laid another log placed across the trailhead.More hmmm.

As we rode the singletrack in Queen E back to Rosso, I had my first bail ofthe year, which usually coincides with my first ride of the year.  Atestament to my cycling skills or my disregard to my physical well being. Iplowed my front wheel into a wedge of roots and flipped over my handlebarand somehow got the nose of my saddle hooked into my shorts at the back. AsI was lying in a prostrate position, I realized that I was stuck in thiscontorted state on the ground and needed the help of my fellow cyclists tountangle me.  After what seemed like ten minutes of laughing, Kurtunceremoniously detached my saddle from my shorts to free me from my upsidedown turtle-like position.

Continuing on to Kinsmen and on the climb up, we ran into fellowredbike/planetfoods racer, Mike Vine, which meant that we were on our way toRosso for pizza and beer.  The stars were aligned.  We ended our first ridethe way we plan to end every other ride of the year, by enjoying food, drinkand the fresh memories of cycling.

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