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  1. #1
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    Beginner XC in Calgary / K Country area?

    I live in Calgary. I have an almost 8 year old son who is learning to ride singletrack. My problem is a lack of trails suitable for him. In the city there are short bits and pieces of trails in Fish Creek park and the Bow River pathway (I'm in the SE) as well as Edworthy park that we've found. But I'd really like to take him on a real trail, that goes for more than a mile before you have to go back onto a gravel or paved path, and that doesn't require too much of a climb.

    I've read about a couple trails in Banff that sound suitable, but I'd like to avoid having to go that far and pay for the park pass since we currently don't have one. I've read about the Station Flats area trails and the beginner trails there sound like they are for beginner DHers; we don't have full-face helmets or armor.

    Even double-track would be better than nothing. We took him to the Elbow Loop and rode part of it as an out and back and that was fun. Does anybody have any other suggestions? I think I'm asking for the impossible.

    When I lived in Wisconsin my favorite trail system in the Kettle Moraine had several loops of varying lengths that offered something for all abilities and fitness levels. I so wish there was something like that within an hour of Calgary.

    Thanks for any ideas.

    Courtney

  2. #2
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    Canmore Nordic Centre has a bunch of XC trail loops that vary in technical challenge, it's a good way to see where his skills and interest might be, and provide options to switch it up at times. And because they are loops of various length you don't have to end up with a long walk back if he gets tuckered out. The trail map has elevation profiles so you can pick loops in advance knowing what they will be like. They have a bunch of proper single track, some wide gravel trails and some paved loops as well.

    http://www.trailsports.com/sites/def...mer_2010_0.pdf
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Beginner XC in Calgary / K Country area?-cnc2.jpg  

    Beginner XC in Calgary / K Country area?-cnc5.jpg  

    Beginner XC in Calgary / K Country area?-cnc9.jpg  

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  3. #3
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    Nordic Centre will probably be your best bet. There are lots of easy trails to explore on Nose Hill. There's a good system developing in the West Bragg area. They are easy from a technical perspective, but most have significant elevation. However, you can combine many of the new singletracks with the easier ski trails, although the ski trails have highly variable conditions (some are perpetually muddy or overgrown).

    Maps

  4. #4
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    Thanks! I keep forgetting about the Nordic Centre for some reason. I see they have a skills area too; he might enjoy that a lot.

    Courtney

  5. #5
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    Thanks for your reply. I like to xc ski and snow shoe the West Bragg trails and am ticked off about the logging that is planned for the area. That would be such a shame if it goes ahead as planned. I think the amount of climbing there would be too much for my son just yet, although I've never been on the newest trails.

    I have never ridden Nose Hill. Is there a particular access point you'd recommend?

    Courtney

  6. #6
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    Today's ride - Headwaters of the Elbow. Much too long of a drive to do more than once a season, but I love the scenic views.


  7. #7
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    Good call on Nose Hill. Nose Hill mountain bike trails, Calgary, Alberta | bikepirate: get the latest dirt on trails to ride

    Bike Pirate in general might be the resource you need to find trails
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  8. #8
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    The best single track in Calgary is at COP in the east trees, the large wooded area east of the ski jump.

    I was there the other day...





  9. #9
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    Bike Pirate? I didn't know of this site. Thanks!

    Courtney

  10. #10
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    Those pictures look nice, especially since it's so hard to find many trees in this area. But nothing good is ever free, is it? I just checked out the ticket prices.

    Courtney

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike View Post
    I have never ridden Nose Hill. Is there a particular access point you'd recommend?
    You can park at the top of the hill at Shaganappi Trail and Edgemont Blvd. The other trailheads will start you off with pretty much nowhere to go but up.

  12. #12
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    Definitely take advantage of the Canmore Nordic Centre. The trail system there is seemingly endless, with an incredible amount of variety. They guys at Trail Sports can give you some good recommendations for the trails that will best suit you.
    Screw the shuttle, I'm riding to the top. You're all worthless and weak!!!

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike View Post
    Those pictures look nice, especially since it's so hard to find many trees in this area. But nothing good is ever free, is it? I just checked out the ticket prices.

    Courtney
    I'm not sure where you are referring to, there is no cost to ride the east side of COP.

  14. #14
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    Like the Canmore Nordic Centre, no charge to ride or park.

    And they have a webcam so you can see what the weather's like (at least for when you leave Calgary, no guarantee it will still look like that in the hour it takes to get there).

    http://www.trailsports.com/webcam/
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike View Post
    I live in Calgary. I have an almost 8 year old son who is learning to ride singletrack. My problem is a lack of trails suitable for him. In the city there are short bits and pieces of trails in Fish Creek park and the Bow River pathway (I'm in the SE) as well as Edworthy park that we've found. But I'd really like to take him on a real trail, that goes for more than a mile before you have to go back onto a gravel or paved path, and that doesn't require too much of a climb.

    I've read about a couple trails in Banff that sound suitable, but I'd like to avoid having to go that far and pay for the park pass since we currently don't have one. I've read about the Station Flats area trails and the beginner trails there sound like they are for beginner DHers; we don't have full-face helmets or armor.

    Even double-track would be better than nothing. We took him to the Elbow Loop and rode part of it as an out and back and that was fun. Does anybody have any other suggestions? I think I'm asking for the impossible.

    When I lived in Wisconsin my favorite trail system in the Kettle Moraine had several loops of varying lengths that offered something for all abilities and fitness levels. I so wish there was something like that within an hour of Calgary.

    Thanks for any ideas.

    Courtney
    Station Flats and the Diamond T trail....

    Nose Hill, good two hour explorations.....

    West Bragg as tonnes of small trails.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saddle Up View Post
    I'm not sure where you are referring to, there is no cost to ride the east side of COP.
    Oh? I'm confused. I was looking at the COP website and they have these mtb ticket prices listed: Canada Olympic Park - Hill Tickets Summer

    Heyyyyy, is that just for the chairlift? And it is OK to ride the trails for free otherwise? Or when you say east of COP do you mean outside the boundaries of COP?

    Thanks,

    Courtney

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike View Post
    Oh? I'm confused. I was looking at the COP website and they have these mtb ticket prices listed: Canada Olympic Park - Hill Tickets Summer

    Heyyyyy, is that just for the chairlift? And it is OK to ride the trails for free otherwise? Or when you say east of COP do you mean outside the boundaries of COP?

    Thanks,

    Courtney
    Kinda of a grey area COP does not own the land...but they use it.....

    Basically you can just go ride it if you want.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott View Post
    Kinda of a grey area COP does not own the land...but they use it.....

    Basically you can just go ride it if you want.
    Very interesting, and good to know. Thanks!

    It looks like the Nordic Centre is in the works for us next weekend. Hopefully this awesome summer weather will last and we won't be riding in snow or sleet.

    Courtney

  19. #19
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    Hey Spike, don't forget about the Jumping Pound Creek loop, especially the part on the south side of the road might be fun for him. Also, check out GlenBow Ranch provincial park near Cochrane, might be something he would enjoy.

    I'm on call this weekend but if they leave me alone we'll take you guys on a tour of the Nordic Centre and also some single track near the area we rode last time. I'll just make sure not to return to the parking lot area before the ride is done this time!
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  20. #20
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    Hey, Skog! I've been thinking about Jumping Pound Creek, wondering about when he could ride it. Probably next year. I've never heard of that prov park before. I'll have to check it out.

    I'm hoping for the best this weekend with the on-call situation. And the weather.

    courtney

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike View Post
    Very interesting, and good to know. Thanks!

    It looks like the Nordic Centre is in the works for us next weekend. Hopefully this awesome summer weather will last and we won't be riding in snow or sleet.

    Courtney
    with long pants riding can easily go into Novemeber around here.....just depends on the big dump.

    well i ride all year but it does get a bit difficult sometimes...not really bigginer stuff...

    I saw a 5 year old doing fine on Ranger summit out of west bragg on the weekend.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike View Post
    Today's ride - Headwaters of the Elbow. Much too long of a drive to do more than once a season, but I love the scenic views.

    Heck man,

    I live in the Okanagan and make 2 or three trips a year to there, Canmore, Fernie, etc.

  23. #23
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    We vacation in the Okanagan (Osoyoos) every year. Love the lake. Anyway, I meant it's a long drive for a day trip. I remember the good old days of biking weekends or longer trips to go riding. Good times.

    Courtney

  24. #24
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    Jeff -

    I find keeping hands and feet warm are the challenge for me when it gets cold. And sometimes nose and face. I got flats so I could wear boots instead of having a frozen chunk of metal under the balls of my feet, that helps. I do not have any winter cycling gloves yet for my son. I will have to try the xc ski shops to see if they have anything small enough. His hands are too small for even regular winter gloves; the fingers and thumbs are always too long. mitts are fine for going to school and playing in the snow... Not so good for riding.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike View Post
    Jeff -

    I find keeping hands and feet warm are the challenge for me when it gets cold. And sometimes nose and face. I got flats so I could wear boots instead of having a frozen chunk of metal under the balls of my feet, that helps. I do not have any winter cycling gloves yet for my son. I will have to try the xc ski shops to see if they have anything small enough. His hands are too small for even regular winter gloves; the fingers and thumbs are always too long. mitts are fine for going to school and playing in the snow... Not so good for riding.
    Check out MEC Think big fat mitts...

    I can shift and change a tire with mitts....but I have been wearing them since I was 2.

    I have some cleated winter cycling boots....

    Check out Smith googles on their website they have snowmobile googles complete with a cheek and nose shield

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spike View Post
    I find keeping hands and feet warm are the challenge for me when it gets cold.
    For feet I'll usually swap to flats and wear some shoes with a set of merino wool socks inside and find that helps quite a bit. Some friends have picked up the cycling specific winter shoes (IIRC from MEC) and have told me that those also work quite well and allow them to stay clipped in year-round. Either way, a good set of merino socks will help quite a bit.

    As to hands, See if you can find a set of lobster mitts (not the brand, just the style). I was finding that with gloves my fingers would get a bit cold and with mitts it was difficult to work the controls. The lobster mitts offered a decent compromise between the two and kept the fingers a bit warmer while still offering better dexterity at the bar. Hopefully you'll be able to find a set somewhere that'll fit your little one.
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  27. #27
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    Cold weather biking is tough for me. I don't have the best circulation in my hands and feet. I enjoy xc skiing and have lobster type mitts for that, and lots of nice Smart Wool socks (love Smartwool brand). I can't see my son being gung-ho enough to want to bike when it's really cold, but at least I'll keep him going through the fall.

    I have some winter cleated cycling boots made by Lake. They're really good, but again, I can only wear them in moderately cold weather, not really cold. I also have neoprene booties to cover my shoes; they were kind of a hassle. And I have some Goretex socks that I've never actually worn. I bought those after one fall ride when we had to cross a stream unexpectedly, then we got lost for awhile, and then it started to snow on us... in the mountains, and the sun was going down. Thankfully I had some of those toe heater packs, but I suffered anyway. That was a long day. Skogan, remember the missed turn? You were there, and Mark.

    Goggles with a shield for nose and cheeks sounds like a smart invention. But, since I'm not so hard-core, I will probably just stay inside on those days.

    Courtney

  28. #28
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    I was just out at canmore for the first time on the weekend it was an amazing place to ride. It would be perfect for you and your son, the green trail is a lot of fun and the easier blue trails would be a great challange, even though it is in the mountains there doesn't have to be a ton of climbing.

    I also went for a ride at west brag on the weekend and I would suggest the loop to the north, going bragging rights to reconect and back on long distance. It is a little longer but I did see a younger girl out there with her mom and dad. Have fun out there.

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  29. #29
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    Hey, JRA. What a coincidence - my family and I were riding in Canmore this weekend too. I can't get over how awesome the weather was, and still is. I love it! We did some urban rides from the hotel - great pathways through the town. And we rode at the Nordic Centre. I got my son on the beginner singletrack, Get In + Get Out. That was challenging for him. He rode it but it made him nervous.

    Then while riding down a big hill on the Banff Trail, he washed out on the gravel and bit it hard. Little dude face-planted and we felt like bad parents. Sigh. He's OK, although later when I was washing the dirt off his scrapes in the bathroom he yelled so much I thought someone would come in to see what kind of abuse I was guilty of!

    Courtney

  30. #30
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    The most important part of crashing is knowing the appropriate cuss words to use. Be sure to teach him a few for next time

  31. #31
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    For an 8 year old these curses will be perfect

    From Hare to Heir -- Sam's Curses - YouTube
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  32. #32
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    Classic Yosemite Sam!

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    We also have a 7 yr old rider in our midst. And he also crashed on the Banff Trail a few weeks ago... but he was back up and at 'em in a few minutes and ready to show anyone within shouting distance his new war wounds.

    If your guy did OK on GIGO at the Nordic Centre, Terrace Trail in K-Country might be a good next step. It can be ridden as an out and back, as a loop with the paved (officially called "Bill Milne") trail or one way with a car shuttle. Might be a few walking sections for a 7 yr old, but overall, there is minimal elevation change to deal with and lots of swoopy fun curves and Terrace itself is 100% singletrack. About 8km ish as a one way, about 16km out and back or about 20 and change if looping on the paved path.It's very do-able if you're not in a rush, lots of places to take breaks and some nice views along the way.

    You can also put together some nice loops from the Ribbon Creek trailhead. There's not much in the way of singletrack, but good fun nonetheless.

  34. #34
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    Thanks, Bill. Good info.

    You're lucky your kiddo is so resilient. Ours wants everyone to know when he is hurt, but not because he wants to show off his wounds. He just wants sympathy!

    Courtney

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