do not use this one-Cycle Alberta Community Discussions

Included below are the following community discussions: check back often as we update and add to these discussions

How we rate our rides


Other links and resources we love!

Event links – Gran Fondo and other cycling events

Bike Physics

Road Cycling Fashion – coming soon

Efficiencies gained by riding in a group – coming soon

How to get started road cycling – coming soon

How we rate our rides

The rides are rated by level of difficulty. We created our own three ratings based on the following criteria.

Beginner – A beginner ride is one appropriate to those riders newer to road cycling. Beginner rides are usually less than 50 Km distance and have no steep uphill or down hill descents. They are occasionally on bike dedicated pathways and low volume traffic roads.

Intermediate – An intermediate rated ride is perfect for an experienced road cyclist. Distances are 50 – 100 Km with longer and sometimes steeper grades. Riders should be comfortable riding in the shoulder, single file and be familiar and comfortable with common road hazards such as shoulder rumble strips, various hard road surfaces such as chip seal and riding in windy conditions.

Expert – A ride rated as expert is for the cyclist seeking long distances and very steep grades, often greater then 8%. The same familiarity with road cycling as in the intermediate rides is recommended but at a more advanced level.

A chip seal road surface makes for a slower ride. Many country roads have this type of surface but the pay off is minimal motor vehicle traffic. Always check the weather forecast before heading out. A tornado touched down just south of this location minutes after cycling this road. Twp Rd 14 heading north to Carstairs, July 14, 2019.

Biker Barb Safety Comments

The following items are all common sense but please consider them each time you head out on a cycling adventure. We have deliberately avoided busy roadways but that means you must be very cognizant of bike etiquette since you are riding on routes where there are working ranches and farms.

  1. Do not wear headphones while cycling
  2. Wear a properly fitted helmet and sunglasses. Carry a clear pair of glasses to wear if it gets cloudy.
  3. Wear brightly coloured reflective clothing and bring some layers. Gloves are a must and so is sun protective clothing (ie. forearms) and sunscreen since you are very exposed to the elements.
  4. Consider attaching a rear blinking light for even better visibility
  5. Invest in a rear view mirror to eliminate dangerous shoulder checks
  6. Pull off to the side of a road or pathway when you stop to avoid becoming a hazard yourself
  7. Ride single file along roadways. As the lead rider, point out or yell out obstructions to those cyclists behind you. Be especially mindful of branches, potholes and cracks wide enough to grab skinny tires.
  8. Bring more fluids and food than you think you will need just in case…..
  9. Check the weather forecast! In the prairies and foothills leave early in the day to avoid winds and dangerous storms which blow up later in the afternoon
  10. Plan to cycle with at least one more person. Cycling by yourself is not as enjoyable anyway.
  11. Bring your fully charged cellphone, ID, bankcard (or some cash) and let your significant others know where you are going
  12. Bring a small pump (or pressurized cartridge) , spare tube (or patch kit) plus a multi tool which should have a tire lever (2 tire levers are more effective).
  13. If you crash, fully inspect your bike for misalignment before continuing to ride. If your helmet had impact with the pavement, use your cell phone and call a friend to come and pick you up.
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Other recommended cycling resources

Coach Powell cycling blog – 16 great Vancouver and area cycling routes using Ride with GPS. Most rides originate from the Kitsilano area.

Skier Roger – a great cross country ski resource covering current conditions.

Alberta Parks Road Closure Updates – Check here for Alberta Parks road closure dates like Highway 40 and Elbow Falls

Legacy Trail Information – Canmore to the Bow Valley Parkway on a dedicated bikeway

Parks Canada Visitor Information

Parking in Banff Townsite

Event Links – Gran Fondo and other cycling events

Tumbler Ridge Gran Fondo – this one is in my plans for July 2021 if it goes ahead.

Whistler Gran Fondo – did this one a few years ago…highly, highly recommended! The road is dedicated to cyclist all the way from Vancouver to Whistler. They even sweep the road before the event! A bit pricey but completely worth the money. I would recommend booking your Whistler accommodation now and signing up for the event once you know how your cycling season goes. If you are training for the event we recommend our Highwood Pass, Four Hills of Banff, Sundre to Bearberry, and Banff to Lake Louise rides as fantastic training options that will get you in tip top shape for this Fondo.

A Little Bike Physics

Drag Force on a Bike

Ever wonder why your cycling buddy can coast down those hills so much faster than you? It can be really quite puzzling since each bike has roughly the same parameters. Could it be due to the rider’s bike or weight….

Many people attribute the maximum downhill velocity of a rider to the weight of the individual which is not correct since all objects in a vacuum will fall at the same velocity. The atmospheric Drag forces have the most impact on the speed of the bike.

The Drag force on a biker is mainly due to the frictional force created as the biker moves through the atmosphere. Only about 3% of the drag forces experienced by a biker are caused by friction within the mechanism of the bike itself (ie bearings, gear, and chain friction). It is also important to remember that weight refers to the force experienced by an object due to gravity.

1. The biker is not peddling downhill.

2. The wind speed is zero.

Drag is dependent on the air density, velocity squared, the air’s viscosity and compressibility, the size and shape of the body and the bodies inclination to flow.
Please note that the dependence of the body shape and inclination, air viscosity, and compressibility is very complex. The drag coefficient (Cd) represents the effects of form drag, skin friction drag, wave drag and induced drag and would be determined experimentally in a wind tunnel . For the purposes of this calculation, the average Cd for a person on a bike is 0.63. 

Drag = (Cd * rho(air) * (velocity)**2)/2) * reference area
rho(air) = 0.63  kg/m**3 (ave)
reference area = 0.5 m**2 (ave)
V**2 = m**2/s**2
Drag force (F drag) = (0.63 *0.81*0.5*V**2)/2 = 0.13*V**2 kgm/s**2 = 0.13 * V**2 Newtons
Force downhill due to gravity (F dh) = mass (m)* acceleration due to gravity = m*9.81 *sine(slope of hill or grade)

Now calculate the bike velocity when F dh = F drag   Assume the grade is 8.4.
A. Use Mass =11.72 Kg therefore weight = m* a = 11.72 kg (9.81) = 115 N
     115 *sine (8.4) = 0.13 V**2
     V = 11.52 m/s = 11.52/.447 = 25.8 mph
B. Use Mass= 20.39 Kg therefore weight =m*a = 20.39*9.81 = 200 N
      200* sine(8.4) = 0.13V**2
      V = 15.19 m/s = 15.19/.447 = 34 mph

Conclusion:   Assuming all other factors are equal, an individual with a larger mass will achieve a higher speed (stall speed) before having to pedal to overcome the drag forces. Of course then their momentum (mv) will also be higher on the run out at the bottom of the slope.

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