For this year’s edition of the annual ice-up ride, I decided to explore a new (at least, to me) section of the North Saskatchewan River valley, the area beneath the Henday bridge close to the neighbourhood of Cameron Heights. I’ve often cycled along the paved path under the bridge and noticed a patchwork of trails near the shore and through the woods. And with the river water so low lately, I’ve noticed that there’s enough dry shoreline that a person with, say, a fat bike could probably ride for quite a while right next to—and occasionally into—the water. So that’s what I did on a recent sunny Sunday morning just before the first big dump of snow.
Riding shoreline, I discovered, entails a very particular kind of rambling--super-slow, constantly navigating around big rocks and ice-blobs, stopping occasionally to carry the bike over big boulders or across little (frozen) streamlets emptying into the river. It’s more like a roll-and-stroll or hike-a-bike than an actual ride. I probably only went about a kilometer before turning back. But I loved it. The sun was shining, the ice was doing its lazy, mesmerizing dance, and I was completely alone. It felt like a different world down there, a secret one, a beautiful one, with its own surprising soundtrack.