Monday, April 30, 2012

The Dream. Period.

Cycling home from work everyday, I see an old gaffer (maybe he's a best boy) sitting on a bench outside a 7/11 a few blocks from work.  Not that sitting on a bench is remarkable in of itself, but this gent always has a shopping cart (in England they are called trollies) full of gack.  I've seen old jackets, green garbage bags stuffed to overflowing with ?, a bashed up ghetto blaster, a dirty Teddy Bear and what really caught my attention - a bicycle.

It made me wonder why this dude doesn't use the bicycle on the top of the scavenged load?  Assuming the bike is operable, he might not know that the Bicycle Commuter's Society has programs to help inner city residents fix up their bikes.  Perhaps he's dragging it around the city for a friend who is unable to use it right now.  Could be he is waiting for someone to offer him money for it.

The situation might very well be what my friend Peter suggested " It's like me saving money.  I don't actually buy anything but just knowing I could is enough."  The old gaffer might very well be feeling that just to know that he can ride it is enough.  It's the dream.  Period.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Silly Hall?

On certain parts of my bicycle commute, I'm still having to ride on the sidewalk because of the amount of sand and pea gravel covering the shoulders of the road.  Being a year round cyclist, I'm in it for the long haul and want to ride as safely as possible - so riding way out in traffic to avoid riding in the "S**T" strikes me as being less than prudent.
The S**t

So I wrote an email to City Hall:  "As a bicycle commuter, I need to ask what logic the city uses in terms of what streets to sweep first of winter sand and gravel?  A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me how the street sweeping machines went up and down her residential street four times in one morning.  My own residential street was swept last week and yet the main commuter routes that I ride to get to work are still covered in last winter's debris.
I have confidence that you know best how to clean our streets so would you mind explaining to me why residential streets are being cleaned before arterial roads?"

In our neck of the woods, it can be mid May before the streets are completely cleared of winter traction material but I look forward to the day when I can safely ride on all the roads lining my commute-route and not have to swerve out of the way of pedestrians who have every right to be on the sidewalks.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunday Sunday So Good To Me

It was an unusual route that I began to plot out in my mind as I began my early Sunday morning training ride.  My rear shifter was acting up and that meant that my lower gears were not available and perhaps it would be best to choose a flatter route.  Besides, I had already decided the night before to go for distance/cadence and not so much for strength training on the hills that a river valley route would entail.

My plan was to do 30 klicks as fast as I could with my pedals turning at 100 RPM.  Without having attached the speedometer/cadence meter, choosing the lowest practical gear (given the rear derailleur troubles) seemed to be the best way to attempt 100RPM.  After the 30 km, it would be lunch at my favourite burger bar before beginning my volunteer shift as a mechanic at BikeWorks.

It must have been my day for windows as the next three shots will attest - the ginger kitty, the strange shape in the rooming house window and my favourite - the warm, inviting, glow emanating from a home in the tony Glenora neighbourhood.
Ginger Kitty
The rooming house
Warm Glenora glow
By noon, with 30 kilometers behind me and my bike securely locked to a concrete picnic table, the delectable aromas of my chosen burger wafting up into my nostrils gave me hope that the remaining 15 km. to home would be a cinch after my shift as a mechanic (and after I took care of that pesky rear derailleur).

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Training Schedule

Stew reads out the training schedule

As was mentioned in my last blog, Stew Hutchins of United Cycle handed out a training schedule in preparation for the MS Tour.  In years past, I've simply ridden as far and as often as I can to prepare for the tour in June.  Now with this piece of paper, I can follow a training regimen that will allow me to slack off one week before the tour.

Here's how it is going so far:
April 8 - 25 km. @ 20 km./hour  MISSED
April 15 - 30 km.@ 25 km./hour  SNOWING TOO HEAVILY TO TRAIN
April 17 - 50 km. @ unknown speed  COMPLETED

You'll notice that on April 17th (today) that my speed is unknown since I still can't find the magnet to attach to my front spoke so that I can monitor my speed.  I'll have to stop in at Mountain Equipment Co-op and see if I can find one there.

April 22 - 35 km. @ 20 km./hour

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Tour Begins

It is was with a lot of excitement that my daughter Jackie and I rode over the Quesnell Bridge for the first time in three years on our way to the Southside to United Cycle.  The MS Bike Tour kick-off party was to begin at six and we didn't want to miss one minute of it.  And it took us almost exactly one hour of riding (training?) to get there.

The MS Tour organizers along with United Cycle had arranged four seminars to teach participants everything they need to know to prepare for the tour.  Plus registrants were able to make purchases at a significant discount - another good reason to attend.
A fine demonstration of mechanical preparation

The first seminar was on bike maintenance and it held particular interest for Jackie and I since we are both volunteer bike mechanics.  I didn't catch the fellow's name and judging by the tattered condition of his overalls - he looked very experienced.  And I know I've seen him on the tour busily repairing road weary bikes.  Jackie was nodding her head at most of what the mechanic discussed and I knew that she was fully understanding his instructions.  I wondered if the newbies in the crowd were as intimidated by it all as I was the first time I attended the mechanical seminar.
The store manager lays out how to dress and what to wear on your feet
It was gratifying to see Jackie understand the value of "Clipping In" after the store manager explained that by clipping bike shoes to the pedals, an increase of five to seven percent efficiency would be achieved and over a one hundred kilometer ride, that is a significant increase.  She bought shoes and half and half pedals.

Iconic rider Stew Hutchins plots out a training schedule
The last seminar of the evening was conducted by Stew Hutchins - a veteran of 20 MS Tours and an awesome instructor during the training rides.  Stew described how to train and stressed that the tour itself is no walk in the park and that the person who showed up and made the Tour their first ride of the year was in for a very short and painful ride indeed.  You'll notice in the photo that several people are holding a white sheet of paper - a training schedule that if followed actually allows for a week of tapering off a week before the Tour.  Now that's my kind of training!

In another blog, I'll go into more detail about the schedule that Stew has prepared.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

My Sentence Is Commuted

The other day, working at BikeWorks South (there is now a north location), I was asked if I could give any tips about commuting.  When you bicycle commute year - round, you tend to take for granted somethings that might otherwise give you pause for thought - that you are riding a fair distance every day, riding in traffic and obeying all the rules of the road (well - as many as are possible).  Riding in darkness to and from work.

There are the practical matters to deal with each day.  Unloading your panniers as soon as you get home, loading the very same panniers before you go to bed.  Checking the weather forecast for 6 o'clock the next morning to see what you'll need to wear or not wear.  Oiling the chain, keeping the tires inflated to their proper pressure and cleaning off your rims/discs.

If it is going to be below freezing overnight, I take my front and rear lights off and bring them into the house so the batteries stay warm.  Once a week, I wash the grime off the pannier covers and the panniers themselves.  With all the snow melt, the bike and its accessories get filthy quickly.

And there is all the obvious stuff like making sure you've packed the bike tool, patch kit, tire levers and the pump/compressed air pump.  It would be so easy to jump into a vehicle and drive to work.  But then I would have to do aerobics at lunch and in the evening after supper to compensate for not bicycle commuting,  That would be a sentence for me.
Here's  an interesting link that pertains to commuting:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Post Apocolypse Dream

I'm outside and maybe it is springtime.  Everything is brown, there's lots of mud and puddles everywhere.  Although it is warm enough for me to be wearing a T-shirt and my mechanic's overalls.  And the setting is very industrial with rusted machinery everywhere.  At one point, I have to go get either a bike tool or a bike part at another location and when I get there, everyone is packing up and putting stuff away.  A certain type of storm is approaching.  Called a skip something - or - other.  I look to the left and I can see a huge boiling black cloud coming toward us.  I leave to go warn all the other people.

As I leave, I have to duck past a brown rabbit that is waiting on a tower of boxes for its owner to take it to safety.  I ride the tandem by myself and am surprised that it can be ridden with only one cyclist.  As I approach a fence, I brake and dismount near a group of men who ask me who had built the elegant wooden structure to my right.  I tell them that the bike co-op has 900 hundred members and maybe only 100 are volunteers and of that 100, I can't say how many were involved in the construction of the buildings.  They are very impressed with the numbers.  Then I wake up.

Last night/this morning, I was filming and event called "Crimes of Adventure" at Bohemia.  It was a photo exhibit of an abandoned industrial site.  A mixture of Polaroid photos and digital prints.  The setting of my dream was in a similar landscape and cycling figures prominently (working on a bike, looking for bike tools, riding the tandem).  A lot of people at the event were familiar to me as they are members of the Bicycle Commuter's Society.  In fact, one of them rode up on her bike just as I drove up in my TV van.  And next to my parking spot were a number of bikes locked to a nearby parking meter.