Monday, May 30, 2011

We are currently experiencing technical....

The computer I usually use has blown up and the laptop from home is currently en route from Taiwan to home.  I'm too much of a Luddite to figure out how to blog using my CrackBerry or an IPOD.

There is so much I want to tell you faithful readers!

How I filmed a slug of my friends snaking their way off the High Level Bridge during "Critical Mass" on Friday night.

Or my friend Keith ( and how he has given me an English 3-speed to "Ride to the Symphony") on Wednesday night.  And how you can see this fine bike on his blog.

Plus doing a 65k. training ride with my Kettle Valley Railway compadre Perry the K. on Saturday.

  I never thought the day would come when I might replace "Furry Lewis" but I have found a Schwinn MOAB that fits the bill and through my friend Alex, have placed dibs on owning that mountain bike.

We will get through this rough technical period together and in the near future ride into a glorious sunset.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Unicycle MTB

That's not me

I scared the crap out of my cycling friend Roy the other day when we went mountain biking on the trails at Terwilligar Park.  I really should have given my friend a heads-up as he found it pretty "exciting".  I thought he would figure things out when I was busy in the basement taking the handlebar "horns"  off my bike as well as the rear pannier rack.  Strippin' that baby down.  While Roy watched, I really should have suggested that he get his Schwinn MOAB and do the same.

It wasn't that long ago that my daughter and I joined our first MS Mountain Tour training at Terwilligar and I found it pretty "Exciting" as well.  Jackie was riding her touring bike and found it almost impossible to navigate the roots and rough terrain.  Let alone doing it at speed.  Our instructor Al, was tearing up the trail and by default, I ended up being behind him and was very surprised at his speed.  No wonder experienced MTB'ers like Al find the MS Mountain Tour to be an entry - level experience.

It was on our way back to the parking lot that we happened across a mountain biker on a unicycle.  Part of me wanted to scoff at the very notion but part of me thought "Here's a new way to experience the outdoors!"  The fellow doing the MUni didn't quite make it up the short slope he was on and I saw no shame in him walking back down the trail.  I mean it's hard enough to unicycle let alone mountain bike with it and do so without the aid of gears.  So helmets off to this guy!

The unicycle itself appeared to have a handle sticking out of the front and now I realise it was simply the brake apparatus hanging off the seat post.  I imagine the next innovation will be either disc brakes or shocks for the one - wheeled bike.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The City Responds

Here's an email I sent the city the other day:
 I am a bicycle commuter and I would like to know why residential streets are being cleaned before some of the major roadways? For example I commute down 102 Avenue into downtown and I have seen street cleaning crews working on residential streets near 137Street, yet 102 Avenue has a thick layer of sand near the curb which causes me to ride further out into traffic which is dangerous for both me and the busy traffic on 102.

The city's response:
Thanks for your e-mail concern. We do have priorities we follow and major roadways are higher but there is other considerations that come into play as well such as safety of our personnel. We do not want our crews on major roads during peak traffic volumes which is typically during the day. The high volume or high speed roadways are done at night when volumes are lighter and safer and we can achieve greater productivity. Downtown also has more on the street parking during the day then during the night. Businesses also wouldn't appreciate their customers having no place to park if we swept it during the day. Most people work during the day so there cars are gone during the day meaning there are less parked cars in the way for residential sweeping. So residential street sweeping is a good fit during the day when the major roadways are experiencing high traffic volumes. By taking these considerations into account we are achieving a better and more effective job on nights and days.

Since you are a faithful reader of my blog, you'll know that I'm no expert on grammar (I don't do it good). But for me to find three obvious errors in one email leads me think that our fair city's administrators might want to schedule grammar lessons for their employees.

Where I work we have to fill out our work goals for the year which I think is just the company's way of getting more work out of us for the same pay.  I can only imagine a city employee's reaction to having to enroll in grammar lessons.  "Call the union!  I'm not doing this crap on my time!!"

The building in which I work is shared with the university and to reach our company vehicles it is necessary to amble down a long corridor that bisects a number of classrooms.  While English as a second language seems to be the main topic that is taught in these hallowed halls, I'm sure that accomodations  could be made to teach grammar to city staff.

The halls that are crowded with young students from other countries would now be filled to overflowing with older students wearing their plaid shirts and no - iron pants from Mark's Work Warehouse.  The ladies would be in stretch pants and sensible shoes.  The odd employee would still be sporting a florescent vest and the stubborn ones would continue to wear their steel - toed boots.

I would welcome their attendance in our shared hallways and maybe, just maybe as I walk to my vehicle I could ask one of them when exactly do they plan to clean up the sandbars on 102 Avenue?


Friday, May 13, 2011


"My name is Fred McDowell.  They call me Mississippi Fred McDowel.  But my home is in Rossville Tennennee.  But it don't make any different, it sound good to me...I do not play no rock 'n' roll y'all.  I jus' play jus' straight an' natchel blue...Now the only way you can rock Fred, you have to put him in a rocking chair..."

So begins one of the 70's classic blues albums (back when vinyl was king) recorded in Jackson Mississippi and later released on Capital Records.  My sister Hilary introduced me to the album and I remember being struck by one of the song titles - "MY JESUS IS ON THE MAINLINE".  My vinyl version is getting pretty worn and I've had trouble finding it on CD.

All of this leads me to an inspiration I had the other day while training for the MS Tour.  As faithful readers of my blog, you'll remember that my silver TREK is called Furry Lewis but I've never named my red road bike.  Until last Saturday.  I don't even remember the point at which the idea hit me.  Was it when we were headed uphill and into the wind ?  Or twice when we were sent in the wrong direction?  It is ususally when I'm slogging through a long section of a ride and my attention begins to wander that I have these flashes of inspiration.

It was Thomas Edison who said that "Ideas come from space" and it was on the MS Tour a couple of years ago that the eccentric notion of velcro-ing a digital voice recorder to my MEC hydration system occured to me.  I had been thinking for some time how I could record conversations and observations while riding since using a pen and notebook just wouldn't do.

Calling my road bike Mississippi 'Red is not only a little play on words but an apt name for a bike that I'm really getting to like and named after a bluesman that I've always enjoyed since my sister introduced me to his music.

Monday, May 9, 2011

On Your Marks, Get Set.....

Mississippi 'Red
 In a scene remeniscent of "Planes Trains and Automobiles", a van pulls up beside three of us still cranking away into the wind.  With the passenger window wound down, an older gal yells out the window "YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!!".  Moments later, she pulls to a stop and emerges from the vehicle in a bit of a panic to inform us that we have gone way too far past the 15km. check point and that we need to turn around.  My two riding companions groan in disgust and I try to put a positive spin on the situation by declaring that "Well, since this is a training ride - we've just gotten more training!". They don't buy it.

There is nothing that makes you shake your head more than a person who is so confidently wrong.  We had been pedalling uphill for quite some time and I was just beginning to wonder how far away this rest stop was when at the top of the next hill we see a cyclist all togged out in matching red shorts and jersey standing and signalling everyone to turn left.  It was four kilometers down that left turn that the van driver pulled us over.

Since I had been drafting the young lady ahead of me, I had tons of energy to turn around and head back the way we had so recently struggled to pedal.  The lady in the van had told us to ride to the last intersection before Highway 60 and turn left.  When I reached the turn I discovered that we needed to turn right not left!  Once again, someone had confidently given us the wrong directions.  In an effort to be gallant, I stood at that corner to make sure that all the cyclists behind me made the correct turn and when they had all passed and I made it to the check stop, I saw that I was the last one to arrive.

After using the facilities and putting some air in my front tire I discovered that the rest stop was now closed and the two marshalls who were "Sweeping" were patiently waiting for me to get my a** in gear.  One of the marshalls - Al, rode in front and the other marshall rode right behind me.  Al is strongly built and since we were heading into a south wind, I tucked in behind his rear wheel and enjoyed having the wind broken for me by his powerful body.

I expressed some consternation at being last and Al assured me that we would soon catch up to the slow riders and it wasn't long before we began shouting over the traffice noise "On Your Left!".  I couldn't help but wonder what these riders must have thought of us when they saw a marshall decked out all in red and right behind him was an older guy in last year's MS jersey and right on his rear wheel another marshall dressed entirely in red.  Was this some sort of honourary vanguard?   Who is the dude in the middle?  Does he have MS and that's why he has an escort?  There wasn't too much time to contemplate the slower cyclist's thoughts as all three of us in our miniature precession encouraged the slower riders with "Keep 'er going!  Almost there!  You can go it!" and other lame expressions.

Stu from United Cycle
 Once back at the starting point, it was reassuring to have Stu Hutchins from United Cycle josh us over the sound system by asking us if we enjoyed the extra "Training Loop" and knowing we had successfully completed the training experience.

Al (the marshall) and Stu

Friday, May 6, 2011

The End Of the Story

You might be wondering whatever happened to the rest of the story about the Day Two of the MS Tour?  In my enthusiasm to tell you about my training session in the river valley last Sunday, I skipped filling you in on the rest of the story.

MS Tour Day Two (Part Two)

As I tore away from lunch (and some welcome shade), I spotted my new friend Anna coming toward me and as we passed each other like two ships in the night, I realized that this might be my only opportunity to give her my email address so she could send me the picture she took of me the day before and thereby pump up my already large ego.
By the time I had turned around, Anna was already lost in the throng surrounding the lunch stop.  When I finally did catch up, she was pleased that I had made the effort.  We exchanged war stories and contact information.  I figured I could return her favour by reaching Nisku first and taking a picture of her crossing the finishline.  I needn't have worried as her man Edwin, a skilled photog. was all over it.

Once again, I came across a group of  ladies who had been shadowing the tour all day.  They would drive a short distance, stop their car, disembark and stand at the roadside cheering cyclists as they passed this happy spot.  I was touched by their gesture and told them how awesome they were as I passed.  Their efforts made me feel special and it reminded me that we were all participating in something larger than ourselves.

The last big hill before the finish line was not nearly as bad as I remembered from last year, when I did my first tour.  The trick was to choose a low gear and a high cadence combination.  How long it takes to complete the hill is not a concern as this is a tour and not a race.  Plus it would be a shame to injure yourself at this stage - when you've almost completed the whole tour.

A typical salute
 I thought about all the different victory poses I could choose when crossing the finish line.  A military salute like the one I give to thoughtful drivers?  The Churchill V for victory?  A hockey style fist pump? Two arms up like in the Tour De France?  Instead I opted out for a big smile, especially when I saw my friend Haydn (who has MS) volunteering to cheer riders completing the tour and crossing the finish line.  The fact that there was a cheering section told me that I had made better time than other tours.  Two years ago when I crossed the finish line during the second day of the MS Hinton Mountain Tour, volunteers were taking down banners and disassembling the scaffolding that made a neat victory arch over the finish line.  I was glad to have a helmet on just in case a piece of the arch fell on my head as I passed underneath!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Flowers That Bloom In The Spring Tra - La

Being on the river valley trails for the first time in forever it seems, I found I was a bit cranky with all the citizens enjoying the sunshine.  The situation made me think of those people who live in resort towns and have the whole place to themselves until spring and summer arrive and their town in inundated with the great unwashed.  Their situation is a little different from how I found myself this afternoon - in that they accept the thronging hordes because this is how their earn their livelihood.  People buying ice cream cones and waffles and such.  Whereas for me, having ridden throughout the fall, winter and now spring and having the traveling routes pretty much all to myself, I need to adjust my thinking.  That woman with her five foot wide stroller, that group of six macho dude joggers, the family with the unleashed dogs; they all have a right to the trails don't they?  Sure they do.  On the other hand, the stroller-mother doesn't need to glower at me as I pass.  The jogger guy should have moved to the right so I could pass on the left.  My brakes allow me to stop on a dime so I didn't cut the dog in half.  What's the problem?  I knew I should have gotten up at my usual time of 5:30 and left on a ride.

Now that rant is off my chest I can mention some of the great stuff.
Like this cool treehouse

Or this brand new pedometer I found near a curb

Or the fact that I hit 138 bpm climbing a long steep hill

Or the firemen washing off their rescue boat ramp
In the odd chance that you're wondering - the title of this blog is from a Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera - The Mikado and is taken from a song that is poking fun at the Victorian judicial system.  The judge in the song is telling a lawyer that "The Flowers That Bloom In The Spring"  have nothing to do with the case.  Except for the word spring, this blog title has nothing to do with this blog.