Once I hit the Valour Avenue (195 Ave.) junction about 6 km into the ride, I headed East and skimmed along to 34 St., with another pair of chatting cyclists ahead of me for part of the way. They headed south down 66 St. but I kept going east. At 34 St., the old Zaychuk Road, I headed North. Although a country road, 34 St is paved, and the wind was still helpful, so I had a pleasant run. The melting snow exposed a collection of tossed and dumped garbage, a mangled red fox, blood-red Tim Horton’s coffee cups, blue beer cans, and other colourful trash, evidence of various ‘Canadian Values’ that don’t seem to make it to the list.
At the next intersection, at an abandoned church, I turned left. This is an unpaved road, and although wet, it was still mostly firm. I was cycling into the breeze now, so peddling was slower. I paused about halfway to 50 St. to drink some water and to take another bite from the granola bar. Ahead, I saw an unmarked roadway that leads north, lined with old battered willow trees. It must have been a driveway at some point in time, but the house is long gone.
I moved on. More garbage in the ditch, the beer cans seemingly regularly spaced, as if they were being chug-a-lugged as quickly as possible and then tossed out the car window while the vehicle was moving. An eight-foot-long piece of heavy metal pipe, a car fender, burst bags of wrinkled apples and grass clippings, line the roadway. But the breeze was fresh, and the branches of the leafless trees reached up into a clear blue sky, so it still felt good to be outside.
Now I’m cycling south, down 50 St. back towards 195 Ave. The road is paved but in poor shape. A bit more traffic here, some are large trucks, and the road edge is gravel-strewn and crumbling in parts. I wonder—as a car races past—how often cyclists have been hit by stones shot out from under tires. Perhaps I should consider some protective gear when gravel riding…
Heading west now, down 195 Ave, and the breeze is stiff and in my face. Two women zoom by in the other direction, keeping proper social distancing. They glance at me but don’t respond to the wave.
It’s a bit of a slog now. I stop at a turn off beside the military base for a last bite of the granola bar and a swig of water. Then back at it, barely managing 15 km/h against the wind. My side of the road is empty, so I cruise into the turning lane and I am back on 82St, heading south-south-west for a short distance.
The wind is from the west, so it’s hitting me at an angle, hitting my right cheek. As the street heads due south to cross the Anthony Henday freeway, the wind feels less forceful, hitting me athwartships, so I can maintain a better pace. The pedestrian/cycle path is busier than I am used to seeing on a weekday: couples, joggers, dog walkers, dog joggers, pram pushers… all escapees from Covid-19 isolation. I opt to stay on the road.
This run south is my fastest stretch, but today I am not on top of it. My back aches. On the last stretch on 149 Ave. I shift into a higher gear and do some standing-cycling through the neighbourhood, wobbly, but it feels good. Soon I’m home again, pushing the bike through the front door and into the basement.
Time to recuperate.