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Spring At Last: April and May in Edmonton

Spring At Last: April and May in Edmonton


Dom on his Norco ZX-80 at the end of March.

During April, I spent a lot of time supervising my 7- and 9-year-olds as they rode up and down our cul-de-sac getting used to their new-to-them bikes from local not-quite-little bike shop United Cycle (they had both outgrown their previous rides). Dom (above) has a Norco ZX-80 steel-frame mountain bike. It has 20-inch wheels, a hand brake, and a rear coaster brake. Audrey (below) has a Norco Groove with 24-inch wheels,  an 18-speed derailleur setup with twist shifters, and hand brakes. Both of them are now riding confidently enough that we can go for longer rides, and travel the mile to their school in about 10 minutes (depending on the timing of the lights where we cross the busy road).

Audrey on her Norco Groove in mid-May.
Audrey on her Norco Groove in mid-May.

On April 9th, I did a 30 minute ride by myself to explore the other end of the multi-use path along the top of Whitemud Creek Ravine in my neighborhood, on Trudy Phillips. Had to do a snowbank portage around a crane that was installing windows in a house under construction, and the path was mostly largely wet and sandy, but it was just above zero and the sun was shining. I found a feather on the path, watched some crows and a raven about twice their size, and found a new secret entrance to the big field under the power lines beside the Henday.

Trudy ('72 3-speed Phillips) on a dry patch of the MUP.
Trudy (’72 3-speed Phillips) on a dry part of the MUP.
Much of the path looked more like this, wet and gritty. Also, long down winter jackets = I would have baked on a less windy day or a longer ride. If I do take up winter riding I need a layering re-think.
Much of the path looked more like this, wet and gritty. Also, long down winter jackets = I would have baked on a less windy day or a longer ride. If I do take up winter riding I need a layering re-think.
Look what I found! We think it's a great horned owl feather, but we'll check with the experts at John Janzen Nature Centre later this week.
Look what I found! We think it’s a great horned owl feather, since there are a few that live in the ravine.

Multiple snow storms plus a newly-discovered allergy to snow mould that knocked me flat for two weeks meant that I missed much of the rest of April. But look what came in the mail while I was waiting for conditions to improve:

Oh! Look what I got in the mail! Don't be jealous, visit the Society of Three Speeds to get your membership. Three speeds is all you need!
Don’t be jealous, just visit the Society of Three Speeds website to get your membership. Three speeds is all you need!

By early May, the snow had melted, the snow mold had dried up, the paths had dried out (although they’re *still* covered in grit), and it was warm enough that the pussywillows were coming out and we could wear tank tops.

May 5th. Audrey riding ahead of me on the MUP.
May 5th. Audrey riding ahead of me on the MUP.

The Canada Goose sightings were also giving us hope that spring had finally arrived:

As you can see, this goose was really close to the MUP and not at all afraid of the humans whizzing past.
As you can see, this goose was really close to the MUP and not at all afraid of the humans whizzing past.

A week later it was 20C and glorious. I often joke that Edmonton gets only a week of spring, but this year it really was true.

Green grass and warm sunshine, and the rod-brake DL-1 out of hibernation. Aaaah.
Critical Lass at last!

Critical Lass at last!

Fifteen fabulous girls came out to ride yesterday despite 27C heat! First we met at Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ Bikeworks. A journalist from Metro Edmonton and a photographer for the Edmonton Journal met us there and took some photos while we did a lap through the back alley.

The front page of today’s Edmonton Journal. 

I would like to point out that Miss Sarah is riding without her customary helmet because she lent it, along with a bicycle, to a pregnant visitor from Vancouver so she could join the ride! Do follow the link to her blog, she has all kinds of beautiful photos documenting our outfits that were taken with a better camera and better eye than Angel or I possess. That’s me in the polkadot helmet right behind Sarah; Angel is in black helmet and blue skirt toward the back of the other line.

Then we headed off to Ritchie Park (with some water and koolaid from EBC for the players) to watch some of the Velo Polo match. There wasn’t much happening when we arrived.

Laura’s retro polka-dot blouse was super cute. Not to mention her bike (see previous post). 
I also love the floral print on Sarah’s strapless dress, and the fact that it has hidden pockets. Genius.
I love the dresses Marilyn and Leanne were wearing. Sarah is serving some of the koolaid we carried.

Soon a game was started. It looks so cool! I think I’d need a much nimbler bike for the quick stops and starts and a lot of practice to play.

There wasn’t enough shade at the hockey rink where polo was being played, so before long we were off again. We rode on residential streets down to the bike path on Saskatchewan Drive, at the top of our city’s beautiful river valley.

Poplar fluff snowed down on us as we made our way to the bicycle bottleneck at the end of the High Level Bridge.

We crossed busy 109th Street on the crosswalk, then parked beside Transcend Coffee’s new Garneau location.

Mary Poppins parked in the inadequate racks out front.

Iced coffee was the order of the day. A few of the girls also popped into Da Capo for ice cream. I think next time I’m in the University area, I will too.

Then we hung out beside Garneau School’s playground and chatted and took photos.

Waiting for more adventures.
Coreen‘s CCM-built farm-abused Garry… just like Nicki’s, but handpainted green instead of red. 
She came to the ride on just 2 hours of sleep after working the repair-a-thon, and was super helpful in orienting our neophyte riders to riding on the road. 

I love how Marilyn’s Brompton sits to park. Good puppy.

Some people had to leave at this point, but a few of us took the residential streets of Old Strathcona…

…to our final destination, Fuss Cupcakes. Mmmm, cupcakes, gelato, and Italian sodas.

We spent time both outside and in. Our bikes were all nested and locked together. One guy walking by told us, “Gangs are illegal you know!” What, even when they’re as beautifully dressed as we were?

Speaking of beautifully dressed, I do regret that I didn’t get any better photos of my outfit or anyone else’s in my excitement (Luckily Miss Sarah did.). I wore these brand-new heels…

…and I can attest that it really is easier to ride in heels than walk in them! I also wore the Missy Skirt in eggplant from Nomads Hemp Wear, who are carried locally by both Bedouin Beats on 118th St and Lucid Lifestyle on Whyte Ave. Being a bellydancer, I also have several of their ingeniously seamed yoga-style pants and tanks, and the hemp-blend fabric that they use is super comfy and breathable for summertime wear. The ruffles on the skirt’s hem weighed it down so it didn’t flip up while I was riding at all. I’m a huge fan (in fact I’m wearing their capri pants as I write this). I was also wearing a teal cotton-jersey blouse from the Gap and a red-violet cotton-jersey cardigan, which was quickly swapped out for sunscreen. But not enough of it. Ouch.

Update: Coreen has more sweet photos of the ride up on her blog, Breaking Chains and Taking Lanes!

Are YOU Ready!?!?

Are YOU Ready!?!?

Daisy sure is, new saddle installed this afternoon and her basket is about to be installed (waiting for littlest to fall asleep!)

 Helmet, Bell, Cup Holder
 Freshly home for installation!
On the way home for installation

I thought some reminders would be helpful!

  1. Dress comfortable! It’s gonna be warm so you don’t want to sweat to death!
  2. Wear your helmet!
  3. Bring a lock!
  4. Water bottle!
  5. Be smart, be safe!!
  6. HAVE FUN!!!
{ ROUTE TIMING INFO: 1pm arrive at EBC (10047-80 Ave – remember it’s the back alley entrance!); 1:15 depart for Velo Polo at Ritchie Community League Rink, 98 St + 77 Ave, 1:30-2:00 cheer on the bike polo players & take some photos, 2ish depart for Da Capo / Transcend /SugarBowl via Saskatchewan Drive for a 2:30ish coffee break then carry on through the University-Belgravia area and back down to Fuss Cupcakes on Whyte for 3ish – edit by Deborah }

I am SOOO excited for this!! SO! Excited!!


She’s READY!!!



Welcome to the Official blog post for Critical Lass Spring 2010!

Are you Ladies (& Gents? Do we have Gents around?) excited? I certainly am!

We have final details regarding our upcoming style ride, so without further ado (drum roll please):

Date: Sunday, June 13, 2010
Time: 1:00pm gather time, depart at 1:15pm
Starting Point: Edmonton Bicycle Commuters (10047 – 80 Avenue)
Route to include:  End of Rail Park, Ritchie Community League Rink to cheer on the Polo Velo players, Saskatchewan Drive, University – Belgravia area, Cupcakes!
Dress: Date-worthy fashion; helmet (see prior blog post for more info)

We realize not everyone will be able to stay on the route for the entire duration of the ride, so feel free to join and leave as needed. Unfortunately being a Sunday many places are closed (Whimsical, Transcend & redbike) BUT we can still window shop! And there are a few places within the immediate area that are open, so while limited, we do have options for refreshments!

For more information: The discussion post on Critical Lass has TONNES of other suggestions and ideas.

For contact info (if you might be late, wanting to meet up with us at a later point, etc) send a DM to myself (@angelzilla) or Deborah (@ecoDomestica) on twitter, or leave a way in which we can send cell numbers so we can all coordinate!

Update: we have buttons for participants, made by @mspixieriot – Thanks Eri! Thanks also to the fabulous Miss Sarah for providing the photo from her blog for adaptation! That’s her fabulous heel on the pedal of her fabulous Pashley in the photo.

Planning Critical Lass: a Slow Style Ride

Planning Critical Lass: a Slow Style Ride

(Photo credit: LIFE magazine. These ladies are riding in 1950s France.)

The LFL ladies first started talking among ourselves about having a slow ride or style ride back in mid-January. We thought that rather than posting the event as a fait-accompli, it might be helpful both to us and to others organizing similar rides for us to talk about the nitty-gritty of the planning (below and in comments) – but first let us talk about the rationale.

We love the idea of bicycle fashion as advocacy, and we thought a ride in fashionable clothes would be a neat way to promote cycling as an approachable, fun, everyday activity. Since June is Bike Month in Edmonton and the weather will be pleasant enough to wear pretty clothes without needing extra layers, it seemed like the best time to do it for the first time.

Of course, a style ride is also about dressing up at least a little – but we mean ‘dressing up’ in the dateworthy-outfit sense, not the costume sense. Our aim is girly fun and everyday fashion – although dapper dans are also welcome to come along. Skirts and dresses and adorable capri pants are suggested; so are bike baskets and helmets decorated with flowers and ribbons and pretty stickers. Please wear a helmet, but leave the spandex at home (not that we have anything against spandex, but it’s not how we roll.). If you need some ideas, check out Riding Pretty’s recent post about fashion for summertime tweed rides and the Flikr Bike Wardrobe ReMix Pool for inspiration, then translate to your day-to-day wardrobe.

For more about the Slow Ride Movement, see this awesomely slow blog, and this series of posts on Riding Pretty. We think we’d like Critical Lass to be a new quarterly style ride, with the theme being the seasons – and we kind of hope that some of the people we meet through it will be interested in forming an informal social bicycle riding club (that is, a semi-regular thing more like the San Diego 3-Speed Rambling Society or the Petaluma Slow Ride or Chicago’s Slow Ride Society‘s rides).

Now to the planning details:

So far our group of organizers and participants include the Loop-Frame Love blogging collective (Angel @angelzilla, Deborah @ecoDomestica, and Nicki @justNICKI), and our Edmonton Twitter friends and cyclists Marilyn (@tricotmiss), Sarah of Girls And Bicycles (@misssarahchan) and Fiona of Girl Can Bike (@terraskye). If you’d like to join in, RSVP below! We’ve chatted via Twitter and email about our ideas, then last night Angel and I met with Alexa and Victoria from the Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society to talk about some details:

Liability: Alexa and Victoria pointed out that the possibility of being sued has kept EBC from widely promoting some of their events in the past. EBC are looking into insurance for future events through an agency that provides that service for not-for-profit organizations, but for now they strongly advised that we keep it small and informal. That’s fine with us since it will also help with the social, community-building aspects of the ride.

Promotion will therefore be essentially word-of-mouth, through our blogs and twitter.

– The Route: on level roads and paths without much traffic (to make it easy for new cyclists, and allow us to chat while we ride), starting at a convenient central gathering place – in our case, EBC’s Bikeworks, where someone will give us some tips on riding as a group, and how this is different from a faster ride on main streets like Critical Mass, before we go. This location also allows people to meet for brunch nearby beforehand if they wish. Sarah also pointed out that too many stops or too long a route can be discouraging, so we’re going to keep it to a couple of hours. We also need to make sure bicycle parking won’t be ridiculously difficult at our chosen stops. 
Right now we’re thinking Bikeworks to End-of-Rail-Park for photos, then in leisurely fashion through the residential area around the University, and ending at a little shopping area near the University that includes a LBS and several cafes. We’d like to have a loose schedule and route map so participants know in advance what the route is and where we’ll be (or almost be) at any given time. 
Let’s chat in the comments about the exact route to take and any other advice and ideas you might have. We’re looking forward to this conversation!