It all started with an off the collar comment...Let's do a century on New Years day...It would be fun. And from that the next step was the plan. Start at the west end, avoid taking the big hill since we will have riders on a fat bike for the first time, work our way to the Quarry and return. How hard can it be? So invite the riders!
Starting at 9am there was a group of 7. Five gravel bikes, & 2 fat bikes. Only 2 of us had done a ride of this distance before. We met at 199 St and 62 Ave. Started out just after 9am, headed down 199 St over the Cameron Heights overpass and onto the multiway. The temp was minus 8. I had gear on to ride from minus 8 to plus 3, that included insulated arm warmers, a merino wool long sleeve base layer, cycling jersey, thin rain coat, cycling coat, leg warmers, insulated running pants, thick hiking socks and winter cycling boots. Now you may ask why the heck would you wear a rain coat? Well the answer is simple... it retains your core heat the best and keeps you super warm once you start working. Another trick for cold weather riding is to wrap your feet in tin foil to stay warm. It blocks any wind and again traps the heat your body creates.
Off we go! Pace line til we get to the Henday overpass. Roads are great, no real snow or ice. Dropping into the Terwillegar trail. We followed this snow packed trail to the dog park, stopped quickly for a rest room stop and off towards the Zoo. Some of the riders did notice that shifting was slow to respond due to the cold. We all slowly managed to get to Hawrelak Park where everyone headed to the pavillion. It was awesome to see the cafe open and ready to serve hot coffee and great treats. We were about 17 km into a 100 km ride. Our new fat bike rider did amazing! She pushed super hard to keep pace with the gravel bikes but did find that without being clipped in, the ride might be too much for a first attempt. We had picked up an 8th rider at Terwillegar but 4 of the riders decided to head back to the start point knowing they would get in 30 km. Honestly, that was probably the smart move but what fun would smart be!
The remaining 4 riders kept riding. Winding through the beautiful, scenic Edmonton river valley. We mostly stayed on the multiway. It is a combination of paved and granular trail of course unnoticed due to the snow pack. At the 60 km mark we hit the northeast edge of the city and end of trail. Instead of following the same way back, the decision was made to take the high ground above the river valley on the way back and shave off the additional 20 km so we could finish before dark. One quick stop at the Mcdonalds on 137 ave and Vic trail for a bathroom and coffee stop and right back at it. After 7 3/4 hours we made it back to the start point.
The riders were obviously super hungry, tired and chilly after 103 km but all 4 finished. Congrats to Denis, Brian and Debbie. Looking back, I would make sure all riders brought a thermal cup full of hot coffee or tea to keep them warm. Other than that it is really about bringing the right gear for your ride. I would recommend riders pack a backpack with more hot pockets, warm drinks and additional layers to stay warm.
I personally can't wait to get back out there and trying this adventure again. Thanks to the tough riders and the Edmonton river valley for an amazing winter day!