Getting fat in the Edmonton River Valley

Here is a few pictures from a recent fat bike ride though the Edmonton river valley.  It was around -20 celsius in the afternoon, but being layer correctly made it possible to be out for almost 3 hours without getting cold.

The fat bike has been a real game changer for me during the winter.  I’m constantly amazed at what these bikes can do, although they aren’t without limitations.

More on the fat bike later.

IMG_20150111_152253 IMG_20150111_153220 IMG_20150111_153909


Goals for 2015

I spent much of 2014 working to improve my everyday lifestyle.  The main goals were to live closer to work, closer to city recreation areas, and closer to amenities.  This really all boils down to wanting to drive less.  With this completed, I’ll be returning my focus to pursuing outdoor interests.

With that out of the way, here is the list:

  • Summit two peaks.  I’ve got a few ideas, but they will be in the Rockies or Alps.
  • Complete 1 half marathon.  Looks like it will be Portland.
  • multi-week bike tour.  Switzerland to the Netherlands via the Rhine river.
  • One backpacking trip somewhere in Kananaskis.
  • An epic road ride on Hwy 40 when it’s closed in the spring/early summer.
  • Fast pack the Skyline trail in Jasper.
  • Possibly an ultra-marathon.  I’m thinking of trying the Blackfoot Ultra.

Now time to see how many can be checked off the list.  This winter i’ll be concentrating on increasing the intensity of my training via primary running, but also riding the fat bike.  In addition i’ll throw in a touch of xc skiing as well.

Mill Creek Single Track

2014 – Where did it go?

2014 was a very busy year for me and I decided to take a break from the blog for the year.  Some of the activities I was up to include the following.

  • Sold my house and bought a new one.
  • Built a fence and completed most landscaping
  • Rented out my basement suite
  • Ran a 1:43 in the Banff Marathon
  • Went back to New Brunswick and New England to visit family
  • Completed a bike tour from Boston to Acadia National Park
  • Completed a solo bike tour through the Icefields Parkway though the Canadian Rockies
  • A few hikes in the Rockies

Here are some pictures from the last year.

Kananaskis OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Grizzly in Kananaskis Ha Ling Peak Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

2013 Trips Reviewed

Around this time in 2012 I had created a to-do list of trips to complete during 2013.  Let’s review what happened and what didn’t happen throughout the year.

  • Cycling
    • A week-long bicycle tour somewhere in Quebec and/or New England with my father.  This didn’t happen due to logistical issues; we went hiking in the Rockies instead.
    • One or two bikepacking trips in Kananaskis, Alberta.  These will probably be 1 to 2 night trips.  Nope, we made a few trips to the area but spent the time hiking instead of cycling.
    • Lots of rural dirt road cycling through Alberta’s range and township roads around the Edmonton Area.  Yes!  I did many hundreds of km’s of ‘Range Road cycling’.
    • Some mounting biking in Utah around St. George in the spring.  Did this and it was awesome.
  • Hiking
    • At least one backpacking trip in the Canadian Rockies. These are a few on my list.  Ended up in the Tonqlin Valley.  Great trip.
      • Skyline trail in Jasper
      • Nigel Pass in Jasper
      • Egypt Lake in Banff
      • Iceline in Yoho
    • Some day hikes.  Mostly I’ll just pick and choose as I go, but I do want to do Wilcox Pass in Jasper.  I did not make it to Wilcox but did do many, many others.
    • Several day Hikes in south-west Utah.  I’ve never been in the desert or canyons so this will be a new experience for me.  Yup, here, here, and here.  I also did a few others that didn’t make it into the blog.
  • Canoeing  Nope, no canoeing this year.
    • Probably not a lot this year since I don’t own a Canoe and would like to concentrate on Cycling.  I do have some more long-term trips that I would like to complete like the Bowron circuit in Bowron Provincial Park and  a few nights out at Murtle Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park.

So what else did I manage to accomplish in 2013?

Enhancing my fitness level was a huge focus this year.  I took up running and managed to complete about 1000km’s of training throughout the year.  In December I ran the Seattle Half Marathon in ~1:46.  In addition to the running, I also managed to get out on my bike for about 2250km of cycling.  Some of that was commuting, much of it was just exploring back roads or small overnight bicycle tours which were not blogged.

The other noteworthy item was that I managed to do some scrambling in the mountains.  This really took my hiking to another level and challenged my fitness.  Four peaks were conquered, but only Turtle Mountain and Cirque Peak made it into the blog.  Heart Mountain and Mount Baldy are the other two.

Overall it was a very productive year, which I can only hope to match or exceed in 2014.  In the coming weeks I’ll likely end up creating another to-to for next year which may involve a bit of racing…  Lots of ideas need to be put on ‘paper’.


Tonquin Valley – Jasper, Alberta

Earlier this fall I had the chance to go on a two night trip into the Tonquin Valley, located in Japer National Park with some friends.  It turned out to be my favourite area of Jasper park that I’ve visited to date.

As it turns out we visited during the perfect time of year, the second weekend in September.  The area is usually plagued by mosquitoes much of the year but it seems some cold snaps must have killed them off already.  In addition to very few mosquitoes, we also saw very few people.  We saw less than 10 people over the three days.  One night we even had Surprise Point campground (usually very popular) all to ourselves.

I’m glad I was with a group of three other people as I’ve never ever seen so many signs of bears anywhere.  Not surprisingly on the second day we saw a grizzly bear eating some greens along the side of Outpost Lake.  He saw us and watched us for a while and then shortly after lost interested and resumed eating.  As he was eating, he kept continuing in our direction.  Luckily we were in front of the Wates-Gibson Memorial Hut, so we had somewhere safe to retreat to if necessary.  Since we needed to head back to our campsite, we decided to leave while we still knew where the bear was, as not to accidentally encounter it.  All was well and we headed back to Surprise Point campsite.

Grizzly Bear on the shore of Outpost Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta


That would not be our last animal encounter of the day.  While sitting on the shore of Amethyst Lake, we spotted some rare Woodland Caribou.

Male Woodland Caribou at Tonquin Valley, Jasper National Park


It was really a wonderful trip and turned out to be my only backpacking trip of the year.  Here are some photos of the trip.

Lake O’Hara

During the second week in September, I was lucky enough to stay a night at the Lake O’Hara campground in Yoho National Park.  It is one of the more popular area’s (maybe the most popular) in the Canadian Rockies, and for good reason.  Each and every hike in the area is spectacular.

Due to the popularity of the area, access is restricted.  As such, you have a few options to get there.

  1. Book a campsite at the Lake O’Hara campground.  You will need to do this exactly three months ahead of when you wish to arrive.  You should call and reserve within a few minutes of the reservation line opening for the day.  You’ll be shuttled into the campground via a park operated bus.
  2. Book a shuttle ride in on the shuttle bus.  As with camping, you will want to be very quick to reserve this.
  3. You can walk in and take the bus out.  The walk in is around 11km up a dirt road.  There is a fee to ride the bus out.  I believe the fee is $10.
  4. Reserve a spot at the Lake O’Hara lodge.  This is too expensive for me, so I don’t know much about it.
  5. Stay at the Alpine Club of Canada hut.

Be sure to read through the parks guide on the area for complete details.

It’s an amazing area which you certainly will not regret visiting.  The only downside I can see is that it’s a busy area which you can expect to share with a lot of people.  A solitary wilderness experience, this is not.

Here are some pictures to give you an idea of the sights.

On-One Pompetamine Commuter – a few months later…

The most popular posts on this blog continue to be those of my On-One Pompetamine build. The project started out with the goal of building a cheap commuter/errand runner bike that I wouldn’t worry too much about being beaten up, or worse, stolen. Another requirement was that it should not require much maintenance.

At first though this would be a cheap single speed beater. I live in a very flat city and don’t really need gears for getting around. As I started to source parts this changed a bit. I saw a good deal on an Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub and the built quality and price went up from there. Needless to say this bike isn’t high end, but it certainly is not a beater either.

The Pompetamine after a few months of commuting.
The Pompetamine after a few months of commuting.

I’m happy to say that after a few months of commuting to work and lots of biking around the city, I couldn’t be happier with how this bike turned out. A bit of a surprise, its one of my favorite bikes to ride. Why that is, is not immediately apparent to me, but I think it’s partly due to the Alfine hub. I didn’t anticipate it, but the ability to shift while stopped or not peddling is huge when trying to cycle though the city. That ability is taken for granted now, and I find traditional bicycle drivetrains a bit annoying in the city compared to the Alfine. Another plus for the hub is that it’s almost silent in operation, nice.

One of the other things that has turned out to be rather pleasant are the tires. I ended up going with 28mm wide Clement Strada LLG. They are nice fast tires but they also have a bit of ‘give’. No punctures to date, knock on wood. With the Mavic A319 rims, 28mm is the smallest tires that will fit due to the rim width. This tire is about as small as I would go anyways.

Not everything about the Pompetamine frame is perfect although you might expect that for $130CAD. The paint is very thin. Lots of paint will be removed when you lock this bike to a bike rack or lean the frame up against almost any hard surface. Another downside is that the effective top tube length is on the small side. This is most likely since it was probably designed for use with drop bars.

The frame scratches very easily.
The frame scratches very easily.
Tubus Fly rack + Abus Bordo lock
Tubus Fly rack + Abus Bordo lock

The only other non-frame related downside to this build is the rear cog sizing that I picked. It is geared too high. Instead of an 18 tooth cog, I should have went with 20 tooth. This will be changing shortly and look forward to slightly lower gearing.

Since the original build, I’ve added a Tubus Fly rear rack. This rack is very minimal and thats why I like it. Extremely light weight but robust enough to carry a change of clothes and a laptop. Additionally to the rear rack, I’ve added an Abus Bordo
lock. Attached to the frame, its never forgotten and always easily accessible. The Bordo, combined with a locking from skewer makes locking the bike up quick and painless. Next up is a locking seat collar.

The only change I will be making to this bike is the addition of a dyno hub built up as a new wheel. The wheel will be shared with the Surly Ogre. More on that later.

That’s all I can really think to report on at the moment. If anything comes up in the future i’ll post an update. If your on the fence I would recommend trying it out. After all, if it doesn’t work out your only out a minimal amount of cash.