Formosan Fat Tire Association - Mountain Biking in Taiwan  Let There Be Snow
Dennis Flood
Formosan Fat Tire Assocation - Riding and Shooting Asia
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A few years back, I decided to leave my hometown of Athens to go to University. I took the long standing advice to "Head West." I made it as far as Edmonton, Alberta. This city is famous for its chilly winters, its huge shopping mall and its preponderance of hockey championships in the 1980s. When heading west in Canada, Edmonton is one of the last stops in the flatlands before hitting the mountains. Much to my surprise, this relatively flat city holds an incredible amount of excellent singletrack in one of the world's largest urban park systems. The Edmonton River Valley is where I learned to ride. On a recent return to my second home, I hit the trails to try to regain some of my earlier perspectives on what it means to ride in the North.

Click to Enlarge The North Saskatchewan River

Over time, this river which carries melt-water from the Rocky Mountains to the Hudson Bay and eventually the ocean has carved a delightful path through the city of Edmonton. One can ride diagonally across the city without ever leaving the park system or trails. Not all of the trails are pristine single-track, and there is some dispute of trail use, but for the most part cyclists have plenty of good trails to ride. The unintimidating skyline of the city pops in and out of view throughout the course of any ride.

Click to Enlarge Michael - Trail Blazer

My good friend Michael was the only person I could actually convince to come trail riding with me. If you look closely around and through the shrubs, you'll see that he's riding a Giant. The NRS has made a great name for itself not just in Taiwan but around the world. He's been extremely satisfied with his in and out of the snow.

Click to Enlarge Can't See the Forest for the Trees?

This is rarely a problem when riding in the winter. Though the other seasons have their own beauty, the leaf-clearing winter brings navigation and visibility to unprecedented levels. Trails and riding options that you never knew were available now jump out as obvious. And, the packed snow makes the trail easy to spot. Slide off though and you're seeing yellow.

Click to Enlarge Who Brought the Water?

Never go on a ride without bringing water, right? Well educated fellas that we are ... we both forgot our water. As the River Valley is a very popular dog-walking area, there was a bit too much yellow snow around for our liking. Our oh so warm Canadian winter clothes (Michael's jersey is made by Vancouver-based Sugoi) had our bodies very confused. Below zero outside, near boiling inside. Never go on a ride without bringing water.

Click to Enlarge The Sun

Even with an average winter temperature well below zero, Edmonton is a great place to ride year-round. What it is missing in the heat department, it more than makes up for with open blue skies. -20 is never too cold when Mr. Sun is riding with you.