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Critical Lass Edmonton 2012 plans

Critical Lass Edmonton 2012 plans

You’ll remember that we decided last year that we will plan only two Critical Lass rides in Edmonton this year. (I know. We’d love to hold them monthly too, but with Angel unable to ride, and Deb travelling to Nova Scotia this summer, this will have to do.)

We’ve picked our dates! Mark July 8th and September 8th on your calendars.

As always, they’ll be social rides in street clothes on an easy route, with a stop for food and bevvies so we can get a good visit in.

Here’s our route for July’s ride:
Meet at Bike Bottleneck (corner of 109th Street beside High Level Diner) at 1:00pm
High Level Bridge and Downtown-area bike paths and residential roads
124th Street area with a stop for dessert at Duchess Bakeshoppe
coasting down Victoria Hill (whee!),
across Groat bridge, and up Saskatchewan Drive to return to U of A campus

See you then!

UPDATE: The forecast is sizzling! But we aren’t rescheduling. Instead, if we decide it’s too hot for a long ride, we can alter our plans on the fly (say, ice cream at Da Capo followed by wading at the Ledge and City Hall). Please leave a comment here or on the Facebook event page, or on Twitter (@ecoDomestica or #CLassYEG), to let me know if you’re coming.

Critical Lass Seattle!

Critical Lass Seattle!

Join us tomorrow for Seattle’s first Critical Lass ride! After seeing how much fun folks are having in Edmonton and Chicago, we knew we had to join the fun and do the same in Seattle! We’re meeting Sunday, May 13 (tomorrow!) at 2 pm at the Ballard Library.
What does “an easy, social ride” mean? It means a slow pace, lots of chatting and no one gets left behind. Street clothes, easy routes, and refreshments! 
This is also part of CycloFemme, a world wide celebration of women & cycling. There will be rides all over the world, which we think is awesome. Let’s ride!

UPDATE: The Critical Lass rides in Seattle are now happening monthly! Please visit the Seattle Critical Lass blog and facebook page for updates, summaries of past rides, and photos of participants!

Critical Lass 2012 plans & vintage fun

Critical Lass 2012 plans & vintage fun

First, some housekeeping: we have decided that next year we will plan only two Critical Lass rides, one in June and one in early September. Stay tuned for dates (we want to wait until the Bikeology schedule is out before we pick them to minimize potential conflicts).

It was a glorious fall day Saturday (if a bit windy), and my family needed the bike-hauling vehicle, so I rode instead. (I was running behind, and knew my battery was running low, so didn’t take any photos along the way.) En route I had a text from Judy saying she was the only one at our meeting spot, so we threw all our route plans out the window, met up at Belgravia Station, and rode over to the Old Strathcona Antique Mall for a browse, at her suggestion.

Which means this was my one-way trip: 15.8 km. Not too shabby.

A photo by Judy of the view from the second floor railing.
The Old Strathcona Antique Mall is in the former United Cycle building a couple of blocks south of Whyte Ave,
next door to United Cycle’s new location. As you can see, it is enormous.

We had a hot drink at the adorable in-house cafe-slash-ice-cream-parlour (their lattes are pretty good), and had a lovely long chat.

carved handles on the drawers of a massive oak wardrobe from France
an adorable Thonet-influenced chair with a caned seat

Plus we spent a couple of hours wandering the aisles and admiring the goods. We came away empty handed (for now, at least). Sometimes I’m all about the smalls, but the furniture was my favourite on this day.

Fab early 20th century Eastlake-style dresser
The next four photos are Judy’s. Thanks Judy!
gorgeous joints on the drawers

Edmonton has a scarcity of vintage fashion places, so we were really excited to see this room upstairs:

late 1960s burnout velvet paisley

Sweet! A staff member told us it’s brand-new, and is curated from the offerings of several sellers. (Hot tip for tweed riders: there’s a great wool plaid ladies’ cape and some awesome mens’ hats in there right now.)

On the way home I took this photo of the markings for an about-to-be-painted bike lane on 76th Ave:

Here’s Eliza at Smith Crossing, in the valley where 23rd Avenue crosses Whitemud Ravine. There’s a great walking path through the ravine that’s part of the Waskahegan Trail and includes McTaggart Sanctuary, and a decade ago we frequently saw deer grazing in this spot. They’re gone now that there are oversized mansions rimming the ravine. Sigh.

I was also able to get a nice magic-hour shot on 23rd Ave, looking back at Smith Crossing:

And a shot of the setting sun in a neighborhood park:

Such a glorious day!

October Critical Lass announcement

October Critical Lass announcement

What: an inclusive social ride for female cyclists in stylish clothes, on a route suitable for novice riders, to promote cycling as an approachable, fun, everyday activity

When & Where: 
Our next Critical Lass ride will be the afternoon of Saturday October 15th. We’ll meet at 1:45pm, depart 2pm, and end 3:30pm; and we’ll start & end at Bike Bottleneck (at the racks at the corner of 109 Street and 88 Ave, beside the High Level Diner). Afterward those of us who can stay to hang out will grab a table at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the area.

Route: this is still under discussion. (We’re guessing our original leaf-viewing idea won’t be happening, since the leaves have already all turned.) Here are the ideas we’re considering:

1. north across High Level Bridge and around the Ledge grounds (although we already have been through that area twice this year)
2. east on Saskatchewan Drive to Mill Creek Ravine (likely too hilly for some of us)
3. down the new 106th Street bike lane to Pleasantview Cemetery, then back
4. through Belgravia and south past the U of A Farm, then back up via 115th Street and the LRT MUP

Please leave a comment to vote on these ideas or suggest another route. For those of you on Facebook, here’s the event listing – we’re also discussing the route ideas on the wall.

Critical Lass 7: New Southern Bike Lanes

Critical Lass 7: New Southern Bike Lanes

In summary, the new bike lanes are pretty sweet…
and we’re really excited that they connect up all the bits of
previously-disconnected bike infrastructure on the south side of Edmonton…
but you’d like to see some photos, right?

We first attempted this ride on the last Sunday of August,

but too few people were able to make it, so we rescheduled for yesterday.

Laura and Angel
We waited for about 25 minutes at Century Park,

L-R: Laura, Angel, Emma

then we were off.

There were shiny shoes


and fabulous lace tutus.

Karen and Robert

We crossed the LRT tracks,

admired a cool tandem while we waited for the lights,


and started counterclockwise around the loop,
opting for the road instead of the under-the-power-lines multi-user path for the first bit,

and stopping only so our littlest attendee could be given more crackers.

The section of the route south of 23rd Ave has just been repaved to fix the potholes, 
and is still awaiting paint.

The city has put these awesome signs up all along the loop.
Millwoods’ sharrows could use signage like this, too.

Several sections, like this one, could potentially put you in the door zone of parked cars, so stay alert!

The area has a couple of big parks with playgrounds in them, several schools, 
and a mix of single-family housing and apartment-style condominiums 
(in addition to the big transit-oriented complex at Century Park),

and a fire station! Sadly, the brave uniformed guys had other things to do than flirt with us.

Our route circumnavigated the area of strip-mall shopping and grocery stores, 
but we did see evidence of it. 

It was cool to still see all the ghost marks in place that precede application of reflective paint.

The bike lane turns the corner at a three-way stop at the southern end of 106th Street, so, so did we.

We had to veer around a curb repair. We were really glad for the barriers.

Then we took the multi-user path beside 34th Ave back to 111th Street,

By this time the wind had really picked up and we wondered where the sun had gone.

So we were glad to wrap things up (for those of us who could stay)
with brunch and fancy coffees at Bistecca.

There was Italian Eggs Benedict,

and Southern French Toast,

with a side of cutie pie

Robert’s always a charmer.

and lots of great conversation.

I want a wrist tattoo like Laura’s.
We were so glad Judy caught up with us.

We emerged from brunch to rain and wind,

but it didn’t stop us from admiring all our sweet sweet rides, 
before we fled to the warmth of the LRT or our vehicles.

PS: Since our tentative date of Oct 9th is Thanksgiving weekend, we need your help rescheduling the next Critical Lass ride: please participate in our Doodle poll to see when works for the most people! We’ll announce the date and create a Facebook event page within the week.

Critical Lass August plans

Critical Lass August plans

When: Sunday, August 28th, meet at 1 pm, depart at 1:30 pm 

What: an inclusive social ride for female cyclists in stylish clothes, on a route suitable for novice riders, to promote cycling as an approachable, fun, everyday activity – on a family-friendly route this time!* 

Where: meeting at Century Park LRT station

Route: this time we’ll head a block or so north from the LRT station, then counterclockwise around the Saddleback Road -19 Ave – 105 Street – 29 Ave loop (on the new on-street bike lanes). We’ll stop at the Royal Pizza to pick up some food, and carry it with us to the playground at (location TBA, there are several decent-sized ones to choose from, and we want to check closer to our date to make sure the construction is complete on the section where we’ll stop) Steinhauer Elementary School (see below), where the kids can play while we picnic! (So, yeah, you may wish to pack some food and drinks too.). Afterward we’ll finish the loop and head back to the station, where you can either choose the LRT or the bike path to head home.

Aug 16th update: I’ve just checked the progress of the lane-painting on this *brand spanking new* bike route, which should be complete by month’s end. This is going to be a great connector for a bunch of bike infrastructure in the southern suburbs, so it’s really exciting to have this chance to check it out! The western half is still mostly awaiting paint, but has signs up (including “call 311 for more information” signs), and the eastern half is all painted – including paint from the 3-way stop on 29 Ave up 106th Street to eventually connect with the rest of the network! So, we’re going to use the playground at Ermineskin Community League / Steinhauer Elementary School on 106th as our stop for eating (it’s a bit bigger and shadier than the one at Keheewin School, and it has picnic tables). You’ll notice that I’ve replaced the original map above with an edited screencap from the Google version of the City of Edmonton Bike Map, so now you can see how our route ties in with the existing network (green lines). The solid yellow is the part where the paint was complete tonight; the dotted yellow is where (I think) is left to be painted; and I’ve marked in our landmarks for the ride in red.

*As for the family friendliness of this route: it is on the long side for little ones (at about 8km), and it is an on-street path, so if your kids (like mine) don’t yet ride fairly straight or stop reliably, then they may be safest in a trailer or cargo bike, or on a bike seat or trail-a-bike.

27 Aug update: the forecast is 24 degrees Celsius and sunny, so hats and sunscreen weather! Also, as I’ve noted on the Facebook event page and in comments, it turns out the Saddleback Road location of Royal Pizza doesn’t open until 4:30 – there are other places to grab something before we set off, and a couple of 7-11s en route, but our best bet will be to treat this as a potluck picnic. See you tomorrow!

28 Aug update: since almost nobody was able to come, we are postponing this ride. Stay tuned for details.

9 Sept update: NEW DATE AND TIME for those of you not following the FB event page where this discussion has been ongoing! We’ll go on Sunday, Sept 11th, and since we’re in the middle of a heat wave, meet 9:30am, head out 9:45am, ride the loop counterclockwise, then head to the Century Park location of Brewsters for brunch afterward.
Critical Lass 6: North To Alberta Avenue

Critical Lass 6: North To Alberta Avenue

We had a gorgeous sunny summer day for our Critical Lass ride yesterday. Angel and I met at Bicycle Bottleneck and rode to our our meeting place. Along the way we rode briefly with Coreen, who took a different route so she could go to the bank, and met a new friend (hi Anon!). We took the bike path north to 103rd Avenue, then took that to Churchill Square, and found our meeting place in front of the Winspear: 

Our new friend, who has asked that we not use her name. She’s the coolest, and so her is fab mid-70s Twenty.

As you can see, the Square was packed for Taste of Edmonton! Poor Coreen wasn’t sure where we were meeting, and wasn’t able to find us in the crowd. We hope nobody else had the same trouble. =(

We all coveted Marilyn’s fantastic skirt from H&M.

We waited an extra 35 minutes to make sure nobody else was coming, then started on our route:

down 102 (Harbin) Avenue through South Chinatown,

along Jasper Avenue, where we admired the river valley views at the top of Dawson Park (which you need to enter from the bottom of the valley, so we’ll explore it another day),

then along the multiuse-trail that runs parallel to the LRT line,

to the end of Alberta Avenue closest to Coliseum LRT Station, which is the most recent section to have infrastructure upgrades. The site of the old Cromdale Hotel (above) gives a good idea what much of the street looked like a decade ago, when it was best known for its drug-fuelled crime rate. We walked a couple of blocks on the brand-new sidewalks, crowded with people walking in the opposite direction toward Capital Ex, and watched pickup trucks and SUVs whizz past, then decided our best course was to ride on quiet, residential 119th Ave, using the church and community league park as our landmarks to come out onto the sidewalks on 118th. In retrospect maybe we should have taken photos of the parks, too – they both had playgrounds full of families, nice green spaces, and at one of them there was a fenced space with a community garden and dogs playing off-leash. So cool.

Most of the shops along 118th have this sign in their window, for the community-based campaign to reclaim their neighborhood. (Oh look, this is also a self-portrait.)

Our first stop was Handy Bakery, famous for their pastries…

… and their display case didn’t disappoint. They had a steady stream of clients coming in to pick up orders.

The Portuguese custard tarts? So. so. good.

They also have half the shop devoted to hard-to-find groceries and spices.

I wonder if the traffic on 118th is always this busy, or if it gets busier during big events like Capital Ex at Northlands?

We unlocked our little bike pile from one of the brand-new racks that line the street, then headed back via 119th to our destination, where Coreen caught up with us:

It smelled amazing inside, thanks to the shisha smoke from hookahs, and meals like this:

Ethiopian food! So tasty, and extremely filling. The injera (flatbread) that you eat with tastes a bit like sourdough. Nom!

Afterward we rode south on the residential streets marked on the map in the last post, past the Mustard Seed and Hope Mission, and along 106th Avenue parallel to where the railroad tracks used to divide these neighborhoods from downtown. We made one little alteration to our planned route, cutting through Grant MacEwan College and down the future Capital Boulevard:

Yeah, the Ledge grounds. After all, it was hot and sunny. How could we resist the chance to go wading?

But first we went into the rose garden for a group photo (which will be in Coreen’s post) and admired a bumblebee who was playing in the blossoms. There are more photos from the rose garden in Coreen’s ride report!
(Thanks for the sweet photo Coreen!)

I love this photo of Coreen. She sewed her floaty wrap skirt herself.
So refreshing, and such a great way to finish the ride! Afterward we headed our separate ways, with most of us heading over the High Level Bridge to Bicycle Bottleneck.
Thanks to everyone who came out! Those of you who missed it – we’ll see you August 28th!

27 July Update: I’ve been reflecting on the changes on Alberta Avenue. It’s definitely way less scary to spend a sunny afternoon there than it was in 1994 when I first visited, on a mission with my roommate to find stuff for our student apartment at the world’s sketchiest used furniture shops. I remember lots of boarded-up storefronts and pawn shops then, and not a lot of pedestrian traffic. Now we’re seeing families in playgrounds, lots of restaurants, lots of people out walking. There’s a farmer’s market, gallery space, and a number of festivals held on Alberta Avenue now. I expect, now that the infrastructure upgrades are complete, in the next couple of years we’ll see it become an incubator of cool local retail and arts space, in the same way that 124th Street and Whyte Ave have been in the past.
I also commented above that the working-class neighborhoods we rode through were divided until fairly recently from downtown by railyards; Marilyn notes in her blog post that the arena project proposed for the redevelopment of that land could make that division permanent. Go read!

PS: This post is part of our series for the LGRAB 2011 Summer Games! It could qualify in several categories – this was a new part of town and took in new-to-us bike paths – but we’ll just call it a group ride. Let the games begin!
Critical Lass July plans

Critical Lass July plans

Reminder: Sunday July 24th will be the next Edmonton Critical Lass ride!

So you can check out A Taste of Edmonton before the ride, if you like, we’ll meet at 1:30pm in front of the Winspear Centre and depart at 2pm. We’ll ride via 95th Street (and Chinatown and Little Italy) to Alberta Avenue, so we can see for ourselves its’ revitalization from a neighborhood that a decade ago was best known for pawn shops and drug-related crime problems, now that the infrastructure changes from the Streetscape Improvements program and storefront facade renovations are mostly completed. We’ll likely make stops at The Carrot, Bedouin Beats, and Handy Bakery, and have our supper at Habesha (Ethiopian, and we hear they’re vegetarian and vegan friendly!).

Originally, our plan was to ride all the way to Northlands, grab a group photo with Gretsky, then take our bikes on the LRT – but since Capital Ex is on, we expect Coliseum Station to be a bit too crowded for bikes. So, now we think we’ll loop back to downtown before going our separate ways.

Any feedback on the route, ladies?

20 July UPDATED PROPOSED ROUTE: So. After discussion with Angel, I did a screencap of the bike map then highlighted our new route idea:

We’ll be starting about where the blue oval marked 3 is (that’s the AGA), taking the on-road bike path on 102 Ave (that’s Harbin Road, just north of Canada Place, which stands where the original Chinatown was established 100 years ago) through Chinatown South to Jasper Ave, and take that along the upper edge of Dawson Park (it’s not clear whether we can actually enter the park from the top – if we can we can stop and take photos here) to where it turns north and becomes 82nd Street. Where 82nd crosses the LRT tracks at 113th Ave, we can get on the MUP (red) then take the on-street path (green) north on 81st Street (past another wee park) to 118th Ave. This brings us out close enough to Northlands to hear the ruckus and smell the mini-donuts from Capital Ex, close to the eastern end of the section of Alberta Ave that’s had infrastructure upgrades. Then we’ll ride west on 118th, check out some places, and stop for supper. Afterward we’ll take 96th Street south and pick up the on-street path (green) that skirts north of downtown to head to 109th Street, then south via the MUP (red) and across the High Level Bridge to Bicycle Bottleneck. When they reopen for the day I’ll call Habesha and ask them about the timing – whether they want a group to show up for the 4pm coffee ritual, or want us to make reservations for later, will determine whether we move our start time a bit later. Our reservation is for 4pm at Habesha. Sound OK?

Critical Lass 5: South To Whitemud Crossing

Critical Lass 5: South To Whitemud Crossing

Our fifth Critical Lass ride was the first on an evening that was threatening rain, after a few solid days of unusually wet and miserable weather, so our group was small but mighty. 
We met at the Bicycle Bottleneck, and lingered there chatting for awhile while some of us finished our chai, lattes, and poutine. 
Spoke cards installed and ready to roll!
Talking about the spoke cards Deb made. 
(They’re 2 colour photocopies, sandwiched inside 4mil hot-lamination pouches.)

(No matter how carefully you trim and lay them out, they shift in the laminator – argh!
Next time we’ll do double-sided printing on cardstock. Lesson learnt.) 

We’re so happy that Selene was able to join us during her brief visit!
Lots of stylish raincoats and cardigans.
Plastic capes in case of a downpour stashed in baskets and messenger-style bags.
Selene’s sweet Raleigh mixte – swoooon.
Monie’s Apollo with awesome cork-looking grips!

Geneva’s made-in-Japan Apollo was rescued after several months’ abandonment in a back alley…
… and it has intact Fred Deeley Cycles decals.
Can you believe that Marilyn’s fab shoes are second-hand?

When we got rolling, we skirted the U of A campus
and headed south on the multi-user path beside the LRT on 114th Street.

panda self portrait

Stopping to decide which restaurant to head to and call ahead for a reservation
after picking up Miss Sarah en route.
(Click the link to see her photo essay on the ride!)

The official bike path takes a detour into Lendrum that’s a bit difficult to follow.
Where the bike path rejoined our route, we were split between street and path for the first block.
We also missed the official (unmarked!) spot where the multiuser path
crosses busy 111th Street just south of Southgate LRT station,
so we ended up single file on the sidewalk for a few blocks until we could cross at 40th Avenue.
By this time the sky was clearing and trench coats were feeling rather warm.
It’s so hard to get an unposed photo of Miss Sarah without her camera in front of her face.
Duggan is a pretty typical 1970s residential neighborhood –
large lots, mature trees, lots of bungalows and split-levels.
Traffic was light on 40th Avenue and 106th Street so we felt really comfortable taking the lane.
Monie does mock outrage pretty well, no?
This sign was next to the bike racks we used at Whitemud Crossing.
Our destination. So good we forgot to take photos of the delicious food.
Having a smaller group for the ride meant we had a tatami room
and could indulge in serious girl talk.
Heading north on 106th Street before we all headed our separate ways.
Isn’t Geneva’s belt-bag the coolest dumpster dive find ever?

After parting ways to our various end points (some took to LRT for speedy home time, others returned to the Bottleneck), myself and Deb rode over to the multi-use path beside 91 street and down to my place in Mill Woods. Google maps says we did just under 20km total that evening. It felt great!
Deb with her ’72 Phillips, just before we swapped bikes on the way back to Mill Woods.
Photo without flash.
With flash! WOW! That’s a ten dollar Cactus Creek safety sash from MEC. (Note to self: MUST BUY!)

Luckily, it never did rain – not even a drop!
Thanks to everyone who came out for a delightful evening.
Your camaraderie would have made it fun even if the heavens had opened!

Reminder: here are the upcoming ride dates:

Update: Coreen’s ride report is up!
June Critical Lass!

June Critical Lass!

It’s been a busy few weeks, so although we’ve tweeted about the date for the next Critical Lass we have been remiss in posting! Here are the details:

When: Monday, June 20th, meet at 6:00 pm, depart at 6:30 pm (weekday evening chosen to not coincide with major Bikeology Festival events during Bike Month)

What: an inclusive social ride for women and trans cyclists in stylish clothes, on a route suitable for novice riders, to promote cycling as an approachable, fun, everyday activity

Where: meeting at the Bicycle Bottleneck (that’s the intersection of Saskatchewan Drive, 109th Street, and 88 Avenue) on the sidewalk near High Level Diner

Route: this time we’ll meander through the neighborhoods around the University of Alberta, south on the multi-user path along the LRT line, and east on 40th Avenue to the Whitemud Crossing area (which will soon be easily reachable via the soon-to-be-installed 106th Street sharrows). Yokozuna Japanese Restaurant and Thai Valley Grill are among our choices for food afterward.

Update: yes, we know showers are currently in the forecast. We’ll ride rain or shine.

We’ll be making spoke cards using this cheeky 1940s postcard from my collection for attendees,
since our lovely friend Eri is too busy to make pins.

Upcoming rides (tentatively all scheduled on the 4th Sunday):

  • July 24th – Alberta Avenue (because We Believe In 118!) and The Carrot and Pho King
  • August 28th – suburban summertime ride – Millwoods bicycle infrastructure and a family picnic in Jackie Parker Park
  • September 25th – autumn colour ride along the top edge of the river valley