When the world shut down in March 2020, many individuals like Craig Oldfield found themselves out of work. Having suddenly lost his contract as a tour guide in the Canadian Rockies because of the pandemic, Oldfield found himself with spare time and an urge to go riding. That’s when he came up with Ridin’ Alberta, a business, Facebook blog and riding group.
“My mission for Ridin' Alberta is simple: to educate riders about and promote all the special places, routes and small businesses that we are fortunate to have in this province all while supporting, engaging and growing the riding community in Alberta,” Oldfield said. “Ridin’ Alberta has become a brand, a motto and a riding community.”
Craig Oldfield takes his 2007 Kawasaki Versys when he goes Ridin’ Alberta. — Photo courtesy Craig Oldfield
Oldfield started up the Ridin’ Alberta Facebook blog by asking other Albertan riders to nominate outstanding small businesses in Alberta. After looking over the submissions, Oldfield charted a course including noteworthy stops along the way.
“I thought if I was going to go for a ride around this province, I might as well try to help a few of the small businesses that were struggling to stay afloat along the way,” said Oldfield. “I also wanted to highlight the awesome variety of riding we have in this province that gets overlooked by many riders that choose to spend their time and money in B.C. or the States instead of right here at home.”
After founding Ridin’ Alberta, Craig Oldfield was invited to ride up north in support of two-wheeled tourism in northern Alberta. — Photo courtesy Craig Oldfield
Oldfield anticipated that Albertan riders would be sticking closer to home during the pandemic and he wanted to give them some solid trip info and options for the journey.
“Ridin' Alberta is now the second-largest riding group in Canada and the fastest-growing and largest riding group in Alberta,” said Oldfield. “I was blown away by the interest shown for this group. That led me to starting a full-blown company around this idea with my own apparel, merchandise, events and soon our own website where I will be promoting Albertan businesses and bringing the riding community, businesses, non-profits, events and anything else motorcycle-related together all in one place.”
“I was blown away by the interest shown for this group. That led me to starting a full-blown company around this idea with my own apparel, merchandise, events and soon our own website where I will be promoting Albertan businesses and bringing the riding community, businesses, non-profits, events and anything else motorcycle-related together all in one place.” — Craig Oldfield — Photo courtesy Craig Oldfield
In the end, Oldfield rode over 4,000 kilometres with his camera and GoPro, highlighting remarkable locations on his Ridin’ Alberta blog and making daily videos of his trip.
“I really can't wait to see where this will go next,” Oldfield said. “This is one big positive that came out of the pandemic and I am grateful for all the opportunities I have gained by taking this chance on my idea.”
Alberta’s hidden gems:
There’s a lot of exploring to be done in Alberta. Thanks to Oldfield’s exploits, you can check out the best of the best while dispatching the ordinary. These are Oldfield’s top recommendations for Ridin’ Alberta:
1. Moraine Lake: if you have not rode there you need to go there, it is a must see.
2. Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park: a beautiful campground and the river valley and hoodoos will blow your mind and you can see the sweetgrass hills in the distance.
3. Highway 40/Forestry Trunk Road: the entire length of this road stretches from Crowsnest Pass to Grande Prairie and every mile is chock full of beautiful scenery.
4. Victoria Trail: south of Smoky Lake, Victoria Trail follows the North Saskatchewan River. The section between highway 831 and 855 is a great stretch of winding gravel with stops that lead you back in time to before the first settlers.
- Dry Island Buffalo Jump Provincial Park
- Highway 520 between Highway 22 and Claresholm (gravel)
- The road up to Mt. Edith Cavell/glaciers near Jasper
- Gravel backroad from Smith to Slave Lake
Kerri's Cafe and Bakery in Westlock: best iced coffee in Alberta
Scotty's Burger Shack in Crooked Creek: simply awesome burgers