birchy's picture

How Was Your Ride Today? Week of Feburary 12, 2018

Hopefully i'm not breaking any rules by starting this thread.. not sure if the mods typically do it..

Yowza!!  I think I finally found my temperature cutoff for riding this AM..  at least with my current gear anyways!  Toes hurt so bad by the time I got to work (just a tad over 9km).  One unexpected symptom was that my breath froze the front of my balaclava to the point that I couldn't barely suck the air through it anymore!  lol  I was moving my jaws/lips/tongue in all kinds of weird angles tryign to create a little space to breath!  Anyways... i'll be looking around for proper winter cycling shoes and a mask with a 'breathing hole' of some sort if I'm going to bike in that level of cold again.

How was it for you folks?!




birchy's picture

Oh.. and my Alfine 8 IGH does

Oh.. and my Alfine 8 IGH does NOT like shifting when it's this cold.  I probably click my shifters 15-20 times on average before it actually shifts.  Anyone else with an Internal Gear Hub have this problem?  Maybe I just need to get it serviced and get some fresh gear lube/grease in there..

Cword's picture

I service my Alfine 8

In the spring (intentions, often it waits until fall) I open my alfine 8, wash it with solvent and then soak it in automatic transmission fluid.

I've never had shifting issues, other than mud jamming the external shift mechanism. Which BTW might be just the thing that needs a little love to improve your shiifting response.



Charlie's picture

maybe housing too

Mine is slow to shift too. I think part of it might be that I need new shifter cable and housing with lower friction.

Bud's picture

Felt extra cold today

Today felt a bit colder than -23C. I skip the balaclava and use my jacket collar as much as possible as I just end up overheating once I'm on the flat portion of my ride. Also to prevent the ice problem you described. Today that strategy was a mistake as I ended up with a nice red frostbite mark on my cheek.

Maybe try some show covers for the extra cold days. I've got shimano MW81 winter shoes which are usually ok to -15Cish, when required I'll add some insulated shoe covers and they are good to much colder. MEC branded ones can be had for much less then new shoes.

My coldest commute to date is -29C, and honestly today felt much colder.

912R's picture

It was -30*C on the

It was -30*C on the thermometer when I left the house this morning!

Bud's picture

It all makes sense now

I guess thats why I normally consult a few sources for the temperature on my route. Must have been half asleep getting ready.

A nice change this morning with 2C and a tail wind on the ride in!

RichieRich's picture

sphincter pucker

Like yourself I have the MW81 boots, bought 1/2 size too big on purpose - I put an extra-thin insole inside plus wear a thin second pair of socks AND keep my legs a bit warmer (leg warmers or extra tights) AND and then overbooties.  Worked for me on Monday but it was still damn cold.  My older Garmin 800 said I saw -34.5°C down near 14th Street.  Even if it's off a few percent that's still #$#$%%# nasty cold.  A new record for me anyways. 

I'll tend to overdress the legs, arms, hands and head.  Then use zip layers to modulate core temp.  In those cold temps it's balaclava over top of an ear band, then a XC ski buff pulled high up the cheeks and just under my nose.  I have proper riding glasses so really only my nose sticks out so the head is fine.

The ice today was scary.  I'm now barely over 10months since my femur break, but now riding just about every day from Home Road area into downtown.  Today was probably the scariest ride I've had since then... high anxiety.  WAY too much slick/glaze ice.  Still managed to stay upright thankfully, but I couldn't have farted if I wanted to.  Major sphincter pucker factor!!  With that mental imagary... I'll sign off...  heh heh heh..

themacneils's picture

Pucker-factor x2!

Glad to hear your still biking and continuing your recovery, and that you made it home safely!  I totally agree that conditions on the way home yesterday were some of the worst I've ever encountered riding in Calgary.  There is such a variety of different hazards happening, all at the same time: deep snow & tall frozen ridges of ice, mashed potatoes, frozen mashed potatoes, huge blocks of ice and smaller chunks of ice, ruts of all depths and angles, and then all dusted off with that little sprinkle of snow to make it extra slippery. 

As someone also recovering from a major injury (achilles rupture this past May), I can say that I had my first two real stress tests yesterday in the form of crashes, about 2km from each other.  The first one I was accelerating up a very gentle ramp when my bike just went sideways and I landed very hard right down on my bad heel.  The second crash happened when I was  going at a decent clip trying to bash over a ridge of ice to get onto the path when I bailed and my momentum made me hop three times on my bad foot before landing on the ground.

Thankfully I didn't feel a thing on my tendon either time, and don't feel any today!!  But I took the train in today as I don't want to push my luck!

RichieRich's picture


OK so that was click bait.  I bailed on the morning commute Thursday... drove in early enough and watched EVERY cyclist on the MUP zipping merrily along.  Had a momentary pang of envy for sure.  But since it ended up being a 12 hour work day I was sure glad at the exhausting days end to drive home... besides I needed a days recovery to get ready for a busy weekend of snowshoeing, skate and classic skiing!!  woohooo!!

YYC-NYCGal's picture

Winter Bike Photo Booth

Was pleasently surprised to come upon Winter Bike Photo Booth last Wednesday as I rode home from work.  Love the Winter Bike Celebration.  Just wondering if anyone knows where the photos will be posted?  Thanks to everyone who organized and volunteered at this years event...goodness know Mother Nature made sure to remind us it was WINTER Bike Week. 

Crivak's picture

Photo Booth

In the past BikeBike posted a blog post with the photo booth. Doesn't look like they did this year. But maybe they will know where it is? 

edit; last years was done by the city and posted on flickr. Maybe there, and they just take longer to process them? 

912R's picture

Ice. Ice everywhere.....

After the warm temperautres yesterday, the melt started, so the ride in on Nose Creek MUP meant there were rivulets of ice across the path on a regular frequency.  Thankfully none of them were too dangerous, but the substation hill will be a funky adventure on the way home.

With the forecast, there's no more warm days coming to burn off that ice, so it will be around for a good while to come.  Will be itneresting once it gets covered in snow.

2wheeler's picture


Soo many little ice patches hidden under that 1mm of snow!  Frint wheels slipped out onc early, but the rest of the ride was uneventful.  At least I know where the worst one is hidding! 

912R's picture

That dusting of snow was

That dusting of snow was adding insult to injury.  My mental map of where the slippery spots was pretty good, so no literal injury this morning, but yeah I could do without that dusting of snow.

uphill-both-ways's picture

just a theory

I agree that there is plenty of ice on the pathways this year.  And I think there is a possible explanation for a lot of it.

Last winter and (so far) this winter, the quality of the snow clearing has been quite a bit lower than previous.  Maybe they have changed the equipment or speed of the cleaning equipment or maybe there has been some loss of knowledge as new operators are brought on-board.  But the quality is not the same.  

previously the pathway was completely cleared - all the way to the edge of the path.  Now it seems to be more common to leave a foot or more of the pathway edge uncleared - and this makes a perfect snow/ice dam to prevent draining of the path during the sloppy day.  Ergo:  flooding, freezing, ice patches that can cover the entire path.

In my little utopian world, I hope they will return to thorough and complete clearing with rotary broom equipment. 

912R's picture

I think it varies by

I think it varies by contractor and operator -  Ihave seen the section of MUP that I ride been plowed and then typically the next day, swept.  However your comment made me think that a couple of years ago I can recall them plowing the pathway, then plowing about a foot past the pathway on either side (into the grass).  I wonder if they caught hell from the City for it or something?  Or maybe it was just the particular operator.  But it did make a difference.

I rode in from the south today, as Fridays I have to go to Repsol after work - so I rode the pathway along the Elbow behind the Stampede and it was atrocious compared to my usual route.  Lumpy ice all over.  I'm amazed I stayed up.


Crivak's picture

Interesting week

Interesting week. 

Monday didn't seem as cold to me as it appeared to be to others here. But I had on my 600 down coat, ski helmet with goggles and facemask, and some boots rated down to -30 with additional heatpacks on my socks. Very cozy. If anyone is curious the facemask was nothing special; its actually a collection of my summer stuff from Salt Armor. When it's cold I just double it over so it's two layers. Merino and ski buffs work similarly. The heatpacks just some of those disposable hand warmers. They do very well in a boot. If you have trouble getting them to stick then I'd recommend wearing a thin sock, putting in the heat pack so it's over your toe, then putting another sock layer on over top to keep it in place (if you're uncomfortable with them against bare skin that is). A pack from MEC is like 15 dollars and will easily last the whole winter season.


Now. Snow clearing. Holy moly. 

Whoever does the area at Shouldice and down towards Memorial -- I love them. I saw them out twice this week doing touchups in the jeep and the bobcat. Amazing job. Bare pavement. Only a few bits with melt ice. 

And... Whoever does the area at Bowmont and down the 52nd Street NW cycle track -- I hate them. They're terrible. They should feel bad. I hope they trip over a ladybug and badly scrape their knees. Etc etc etc. They should still keep doing an abysmal job over not doing it at all, of course, but they should feel great shame at their mediocrity. 

My observations are this.  It seems the jeep and bobcat that do Shouldice attempt to clear down to bare pavement, and then push the snow a few inches off the asphalt for melting purposes. Then it gets a very light dusting of pickled gravel. Not even sure if it's pickled actually.   The bobcat that does Bowmont on the other hand does not try to go to bare pavement. It seems to try to leave a small layer of compacted snow and then dusts a hellish amount of pickled gravel into the 5cm or so that remains. From a pedestrian standpoint this makes some sense, especially since Bowmont and 52nd are on steep hills with constant melt runoff and shade that makes it difficult to tackle. By leaving some snow on top there's at least some compacted snow to use for traction and not just huge slabs of ice. UNFORTUNATELY what happens is that as the pickling does its job, and as the snow partially melts, it turns into ungodly bumps from heel-toe walking. And then as it melts and compacts further it turns into a skating rink. With mashed potato slush. On a hill! Thanks!! /s

The 52nd street cycle track has never been worse the past 5 years. After the extra two feet of snow fell I rode down it so that I could avoid home road. Honestly it probably would have been better riding if whatever plough went down it hadn't bothered. All they managed to do was churn it over into about 20 centimeters of pure mashed potato brown sugar slush. Then on the +10 degree chinook they didn't even come back to retouch it (Shouldice had been retouched twice at this point). So that 20 centimeters of MASH was compacted into ice ridges, ice rocks and pure hell. Cars driving down the hill sent spray flying everywhere, including the cycle track, which also then refroze. Big fat F- to whatever contractor is in job of this section. The day after I said screw it and stayed to the left on the road. Some lady got grumpy and yelled "GET IN THE BIKE LANE." She seemed taken aback that I laughed at her like she was a colossal idiot. Like I give a crap about your 30 seconds. Get on Home Road and take a right like a normal person instead of cutting through this quiet residential street for a "short cut." Learn how to drive proper maybe. Told her she was welcome to come back with a shovel but not sure she fully understood since it really did seem like her pride and ego was shattered by how boisterous and sincere my laugh had been. 

On a side note Home Road was also not ploughed.  The big 2 feet of snow looks like it was pushed half out of the cycle lanes okay-ish. But then the extra dusting that came about was left, and the melt runoff from the +10 degrees turned it into a new curb. 

Central and Shouldice maintenance dudes: A. B- ish maybe if we consider their first pass. 
Bowmont and NW maintenance dudes: D-. Come back when you realize bikes don't give off heat like motor vehicles to fix your mediocre work. 

2wheeler's picture

snow clearing

I hope you're telling the City about this.  I honestly think some of the contractors don't really understand what a good job is when it comes to clearing pathways/cycletracks.  I've been riding around the Stampede Grounds and the quality of clearing on different sections is hugely variable.  I doubt the city gives these contractors much direction, and the equipment is probably run by new people each season.  

Crivak's picture


311 tickets but with slightly less words and hyperbole :D 

My only regret is that I decided not to send the 311 tickets after the snowfall and after the bad plough job on Monday, to ask them to touch it up during the chinook. I wanted to see if they'd "do it themselves" this time since Memorial demonstrably was being done/retouched. On the plus side I feel like I know exactly where one contractors section ends now...

Crivak's picture

To bring a bit of visualization

To bring a bit of visualization to my hyperbolic rant above... 

Here are the two clearing philosophies, between the NW pathway clearing and the more central pathway clearing. Both are passable, one is just far more enjoyable and melts a bit better. Silly winter.

East Bowmont (this flat section is obviously no problem; I've no idea how they could address the slopes easily though):





In addition, a careful tip toe down 52nd street after the plough took another pass earlier in the week (along with compaction from use and a bit of freeze-thaw). Not as bad as it was at least.

RichieRich's picture

interesting indeed

So how do you REALLY feel Crivak?  I'm sure there's more inside you that needs to come out!   

Actually I do thank you for the rant and the details.  Makes me more settled with my decision this year to drive to bottom Home Road and bike into downtown from there, instead of riding all the way from home.  A big snow year definitely has an impact to quality of clearing and impact from The Big Melts we experience all too often.  I'm afraid we'll end up with too many freeze thaw cycles and the MUPs will be best suited for an Olympic short-track speed skate race.  Except we'll allow right-turns.  :)

Crivak's picture


..No... No that was about all that was inside me... I'd been restraining that all week. Haha. 

Since the temperature varied so wildly this week it's no surprise at least one part of the route would be a mess, so I'm not too worried. It's not so bad as to be a speed skate race yet down Bowmont - it is passable - but given the option I'd say the Park and Bike solution is definitely the best. It's hard to tackle and maintain a hill/cliff, I understand. Just wish they'd do a better job at least on 52nd!

bclark's picture


For those of you experiencing issues with snow and ice control, definitely file 311 tickets and, if the problem is not resolved, file them again...and again...and again.

Parks committs to clearing pathways within 24 hours after the cessation of snow for approved pathways ( Approved pathways can be found via and clicking on the snow and ice control tab.

Roads snow and ice control for bike lanes is outlined at and has not changed, to my knowledge. 

Roads Priority 1 (Cycle Tracks Downtown): "90 per cent clear of snow and ice by the end of the first 24hours after the snow has stopped"

Roads Piority 2 (Bike Lanes): "cleared of snow and ice to a safe travel width within 48 hours after the snow has stopped."

What is a "safe travel width"? The 2008 Bicycle Policy and Needs Report states that cyclists require no less than 1.0m lateral operating space, defined as "essential operating width".

I read this to mean that, if the entire length of a bike lane is not cleared so as to provide at least 1.0m of space to ride, then the City has not accomplished their objective and we are well within our rights to ask them go back and redo it until it is satisfactory.

umgray's picture

south glenmore pathway

My hands have just stoped trembling from the lack of clearing this morning and the washboard pathway! Called 311 and registered my complaint. Hopefuly done for commute home. 


ICE_Trike_1's picture

S Glenmore MUP cobblestones

I too was really dissapointed Tuesday morning to find that the S Glenmore MUP had not yet been cleared 48 hours after Saturday's snow. I submitted a 311 request Tuesday morning and recieved a phone call that afternoon updating me that the pathway had been cleared. I was really looking forward to a smoother ride home. What I found was a really poor job of clearing the snow - a few places cleared down to pavement but the vast majority still left with thick, hard, washboard snow. I'll file another 311 request...

912R's picture

If it's anything like Nose

If it's anything like Nose Creek MUP - they opted to brush it instead of plow it, which removed most fo the snow, but not the footprints - so it's a bumpy, lump mess.  They should have plowed and then swept it.  At least it's not greasy like it was Tuesday morning, but they really dropped the ball and missed when they shoul dhave been out plowing.  From everyone I've talked to, it seems to be universal on all the pathways.