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  • Leduc – Beaumont – Joseph Lake – Miquelon Lake Bike Loop

    Posted on September 21st, 2017 admin 1 comment

    Recently,   I did a little 118 km weekend loop to a couple of local lakes.  This was not as far as my earlier four-day loop.  This run had the following purposes

    1. Ride the new bike (first taken on the Thunder Lake supported tour) with all the mods
    2. Use the new 12L World Tour panniers from MEC as front panniers (with the ones I got with the bike on the back)
    3. Practice planning and writing out a route
    4. Provide a test run for a possible group ride next summer

    Bike Mods

    Nothing significant, really.  I took the Rocky Mountain hybrid  that a previous owner had converted for touring.  First, I transferred the pedals and toe clips from my urban bike -- really made a difference.  I hadn't realized that the pedals on the RM were a bit stiff (I'll fix them), but I had noticed my feet jumping off the pedals on bumps.   Second, I raised the seat by 1 cm.  Not a lot, but it made a difference.  Third, I tilted  the adjustable stem up as far as it would go; this also reduced the reach.  I think I'll want to raise the headset with a couple of spacers.  Fourth, I tilted the bars back a bit.   Where drop bars let you move up and down as you shift grip, these bars have me moving forward and back.  Not sure I like that, but on this trip the reduced reach was more comfortable than on the Thunder Lake trip.  Finally, I moved my wired bike computer over to this bike so I could track distances, speed, cadence etc.

    New Panniers

    I had got a set of panniers with the bike; they're an older MEC model, about 20L, waterproof and in good condition.  The previous owner had apparently used these as front panniers on a trip in Argentina.

    The MEC 20L panniers on the back.

    The MEC 20L panniers on the back.

    I shifted them to the back, where they fit just fine; the chainstays are long enough and the bags narrow enough that I don't kick them.  They're roomier than the bags I took on a four-day, three-night trip, and would probably be all I'd need.

    World Tour 12L 5038400-IND39

    MEC 12L World Tour pannier

    But the bike did come with front racks, so...  Mountain Equipment Coop had their World Tour 12L panniers on sale for $10 off, so I bought a couple as front panniers.  They are about the same color as the other ones, so look like a matched set.   The World Tour bags aren't waterproof, but they come with a rain cover that tucks into a handy inside pocket.

    They're not quite as easy to access as the others.  There's only one zip-up front pocket, suitable for something flat such as a guidebook or maybe a small flat first aid kit.  Otherwise, it's just one deep pocket with a couple of little ones inside.   That's okay -- with the others, all the pockets and dividers just mean I can't remember where I put anything!   It will take a few tours to decide what goes best where.

    Four panniers provides far more room than I needed for an overnight, so I set out with them mostly empty.

    Planning the Bike Tour

    I used Google Maps in the beta bike mode to plot the route, measure distances between points, check elevation, and select rest stops.  I knew the area, and had traveled to the various stops by car, though I hadn't followed the particular route that I worked out.   I laid the route out in legs, choosing distances based on my admittedly limited experience that I thought would work, and stopping at places that I knew would be good (availability of water, toilets, and picnic tables for example).

    Solid line - proposed route.  Dotted line - actual route

    Solid line - proposed route. Dotted line - actual route

    I sent my work to a few other riders in the Millet Cycling Meetup for comment.

     

    On the Road East to Miquelon Lake

    My friend and fellow rider Susan liked the plan and wanted to come.  She had a long drive to reach the starting point, and we set out about an hour late.   We didn't follow my planned route, electing to stay on pavement (I hadn't been able to tell from Google Maps even in satellite view whether a particular road was paved or gravel). The legs worked out okay, though we were a bit late to lunch at Joseph Lake. I had built in enough flexibility that we reached Miquelon Lake in good time at around 4:00 pm, in plenty of time to set up and have supper before a threatened rainstorm.

    We both agreed that that part of the ride had been a good one.  With an earlier start, we would have had time to explore Beaumont and Joseph Lake a bit as planned, and maybe take a side loop into New Sarepta in passing, but neither of us felt deprived by missing them.

     Camping and Riding the Miquelon Lake Trails

    Campsite in the rain, Sunday morning

    Campsite after the rain, Sunday morning

    After we set up, we rode around the camp a bit,  and I had a shower.  We had a huge RV site, as Alberta provincial parks are not bicycle friendly.   We did look into the group site, and talked with the park attendant about how many cyclists and tents we would be allowed to have in one site; we'll have to talk to the parks people for more than two.  She said she'd had many cyclotourists come in this summer and all had been disappointed to have to pay for and occupy a huge RV site.

    It rained that evening, sending us under my little tarp to eat supper.  The rain in the night gave us a good sleep.  The next morning, Susan showered while I made breakfast.  Using freeze-dried food was a bit of a novelty for both of us; last night's supper was good but I don't think I put enough water into the hash browns!   I was also using a newly-acquired windscreen for my Trangia spirit stove.  Worked well, cut down boiling time and conserved fuel.

    Trangia spirit stove boiling water for hashbrowns.

    Trangia spirit stove boiling water for hashbrowns.

    After breakfast, the rain cleared up. We packed what gear we could and spread out the rest to dry, then headed off to enjoy the 20 km of backwoods trails in Miquelon Lake Provincial Park.  Some were a bit muddy after the rain but we had no trouble.  Susan hadn't ridden since our trip to Banff (I didn't write that one up) so walked up a few of the steeper hills.  Only got lost once when I followed a trail that wasn't on the map (but then, I'd lost the map, and Susan said I'd turned the wrong way at the first turn, so that's no surprise).

    Susan, holding a treasure she found in the woods along the trail.

    Susan, holding a treasure she found in the woods along the trail.

    Heading Back to Leduc

    We found our way back to camp, had a quick cold lunch, and finished packing our mostly-dry gear.    Despite the rain and taking a bit more time on the trails than planned, the quick lunch meant we were only about an half hour later than I'd estimated.

    All this time, a stiff and gusty wind had been blowing.  Hadn't bothered us in the woods.  But as soon as we left the park, we were in it.  Dead into it.   Turns out that four panniers creates quite a bit of drag!   A lot of sail area for a cross-wind, too, threatening to blow me into traffic or off the road.

    Also, the nice downhills we followed yesterday were now uphills going back.   They weren't much as hills go, gentle slopes that normally we'd have cruised up, gear and all.  But the combination of hills and headwinds was pretty wearing.  Susan, tough farm-woman that she is, just gritted her teeth and kept on pedalling,  while I found myself tiring and needing frequent breaks.   I was sure glad to see the end of the 28 km first leg and pull into Rollyview.  Thanks to the wind, we arrived two hours later than scheduled.

    I was pretty worn out. If there had been no other choice, I could have rested at Rollyview then finished the last 14 km to Leduc.  But I had nothing to prove, not even to myself, so I called my wife to come and pick us up.  Although Susan said she was good to carry on, I think she was glad enough of the lift.   We all went out for supper at McDonalds then went our separate ways.

    Evaluating the Tour Route

    If not for the wind and our late starts, the route would have been fine.  But clearly, tour planning has to take such things into consideration.  Start times need to be made clear, and adhered to insofar as possible, but perhaps alternate rest stops need to be in place for adverse conditions, and end times need to be flexible rather than tight deadlines.

     

     

     

    1 responses to “Leduc – Beaumont – Joseph Lake – Miquelon Lake Bike Loop” RSS icon

    • Ok sorry I was 15 min. late starting out Sat morning. I didn’t think there was any real rush to get to the campsite though and sit around after a long day of pedalling. Lol. And besides the stop at Tims for coffee and Pumpkin Spice muffins was worth it. :)


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