Thursday, June 28, 2012

Lookin' Good

Derek and Lisa hit it just right

An organized bike ride like Sunday's SteamPunk ride involves not only decorating your bike, but also dressing up to fit the theme.
Keith's bike with an authentic telescope
We planned the route so that we could parade around our main downtown square - as an added bonus, there was an art festival happening in the square and many visitors thought we were actors hired to wander around!
Lookin' the part

The weather was perfect for cycling - not too hot and not too windy.  We were encouraged to boogie to the Clever Rabbit to get indoors before the threatening clouds approaching from the southwest poured their contents onto our ride.
Just made it inside
Ideas are already floating through our minds about next year's ride - maybe changing the route so that we can ride through our city's recreated, historical village and have a picnic on its scenic grounds.
Good golly Miss Molly!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dreams Can Come True

The sun is shining brightly and it is a beautiful summer day. Jackie and I are a few minutes late and as we approach Sanctuary, I see up ahead of us a crowd of people gathered outside on the patio.  I feel excited and I can see a guy in the group who has covered himself with the Stars and Stripes.  The red, white and blue stand out amongst the drab colours the others are wearing.  I wonder to myself "Why is there someone wearing an American flag?"

The sun is shining brightly and it is a beautiful summer day.  Jackie, my daughter and I are a few minutes late as we stopped at Planet Organic to buy some human fuel.  We ride further northeast toward Sanctuary and as we approach, I see a crowd of people gathered outside on the patio.  I am quite excited because I realise all these people are here for the "SteamPunk" ride and have already been into Sanctuary to buy stuff for their outfits.  Although I don't see a guy swathed in the Stars and Bars like in the above dream that I'd had earlier in the week.
Ready to rock

Even though we'd been planning this for some time(see "Steamin' Along"), I still found myself working feverishly last night trying to attach the lantern to the front of the bike, installing the recycled streamers and a host of other tasks.  Mounting the birdcage onto the rear carrier rack was a job in itself.  When I had planned to go as a Victorian era African explorer, I thought the birdcage would go along with that theme.  I gave up trying to complete the outfit even though my brother had sent me his pith helmet.  What to do with the birdcage?
You put a Stanley Cup into it and put it on the rear of your bike.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Building Steam

In preparation for this Sunday's "SteamPunk" bike ride, my daughter Jackie and I thought that the "Art Night" sponsored by Bikeology and held Bikeworks would be  great opportunity to make some bling for our bikes.

Funky is it not?
We had bandied around the idea of riding the tandem since it already has such a retro look to it but we decided that as organizers of the ride, we might want to concentrate on the ride itself and not have to worry about learning to ride a tandem at the same time.

BikeWorks itself was busy and we had to wend our way through the throngs to get to the recycle bins where we might find the "Gold" that would become bike bling.  Karly from Bikeology fashioned for herself a simple but attractive necklace from a sprocket, some beads and a shifter cable.
Karly's necklace

Jackie rummaged around in the discarded metal bin and came up with the idea of making a sort of "necklace" for her front handlebars and added wings made from chainrings to the back of her bike.
The green colour is reflected from the walls

Gear wings on the rear

Myself, I discovered a clever way to make recycled streamers from two old inner-tubes (which in my excitement I forgot to photograph).  An old handlebar connector that I found in the garbage quickly became the device I would use to hold an old railway lantern from the front of the bike (see photo).
What I hope the lantern will look like on the 1963 Triumph
We had a fun time at "Art Night" and just as importantly, we had a two hour bike ride where we could try out our new bike accessories to make sure they wouldn't be falling off during Sunday's ride.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

E As In Easy Bike

After a grueling ride on the second day of the MS Bike Tour, I was happy to open one of our national papers that had two articles on cycling in the Travel section.  It's always nice to see more validation of cycling as a means of transportation.

One article

On last week's MS Bike Tour, I saw only one electric assist bike and I assumed it was being ridden by someone with MS since there are quite a number of riders who have been diagnosed with the disease.

While my first reaction is to scoff at the very idea of power assistance on a bike, Margaret Wente, the author of the travel article describes her experience "As the weaker cyclists struggled gamely up the hills, we sailed effortlessly by.  By the second day, they were casting envious looks at our e-bikes."

The second article

In the second article, Wallace Immen leads off by describing the bike:" My ride was a rather ordinary - looking black bicycle, notable mostly for an electric motor barely bigger than a hamster cage in a box behind the seat.  He goes on: "While riding, I could choose either "pedal assistance" for a little help as I pumped, or I could twist the throttle for fully powered riding.  I eventually gave up any pretense of pedaling to enjoy the ease and speed of a bike that seemed to have plenty of stored power for a day of sightseeing."

My thoughts about the idea of a power- assisted bike are mixed.  Wanting to be a cycling purist, I'm against the idea of help to pedal.  On the other hand, when I'm 90 and still riding, the idea might have some merit.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit to you that the notion of power - assist struck me as a rather good idea when, on the second day of the MS Bike Tour, we had to ride all day into the energy sapping wind.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Swept Away

We woke up to leaden skies and by the time we had ridden our bikes to the start line to drop off our luggage, the skies had really opened up and the wind was blowing from the north.  Riders were already heading out - some having very creatively covered themselves in plastic garbage bags - others wearing decorative shower caps festooned with local hotel logos.

Although you're not supposed to, we decided to draft the cyclist ahead of us since we were riding into a tremendously strong 25 km/hr. wind that was pelting our cheeks with stinging rain.  When suddenly she pulled over, we felt obliged to see if she needed help and we discovered that she had a rear flat.  "Lucky for you, we are both bike mechanics!" I shouted to her as we pulled off the route.  While I took the replacement tube from its packaging, Jackie found a metal sliver in the tire itself which was the cause of the flat.  Once we got our draftee and ourselves on the way, we came across another 11 bikes pulled over with flats - thankfully the marshalls were helping all of them.
The cyclists on the left are giving up and waiting for a bus

One klick from lunch  and after five hours of saddle time, I happened to glance in my rearview mirror to discover three SAG wagons, yellow roofbars flashing, bearing down on me.  Over a loudspeaker I heard "You over there in the yellow jacket, please pull over.  You are going no further!". Once settled in the SAG wagon, it was explained to me that the organizers were planning to close the route because of a severe weather warning.
A bus full of sweepings

After a quick lunch of hearty roasted red pepper soup and a conference with Jackie who had been waiting 45 minutes for me, we helped load 300 bikes into two tractor trailers and then it was into the SAG bus.  Not far down the road everyone on the bus cheered when a passenger looking out the window exclaimed "Hey it's unicycle guy!"
Wind fatigue sets in

 I did the math and figured that I had done the whole second day.  Here's how I figure it:  last year it took me five hours to do the whole second day route.  This year, riding into a 25km/hr. wind, it took me five hours to get to the halfway point at lunch.  So if there was some way to measure the energy expended, I think I would have burned more than last year which means I would have more than made it to the finish line.  So riding in a SAG wagon made for 60...
Near unicycle guy
Using the above logic, at the finish line, I picked up a carnation emblem to stick on my helmet to join the six others already pasted there.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Get A Room!"

The first day of a bike tour has a lot of excited people and everyone is eager to go.  Personally, I find the first 10 km. to be the hardest of the day.  But once I'm warmed up, the cranks turn easily and I can more closely observe my fellow cyclists.
The riders are gathering

On one tour, a lady passed me before the first rest stop and said hello on her way by.  When, because of the helmet and sunglasses, I didn't recognize her, she said "Remember me?  I'm the nurse that helped you with your recent surgery and you lent me the Lance Armstrong cycling book!"
Or the marshall who wanted to know my age and seemed disappointed that I was only 56 years of age - he must have thought I looked much older.  A couple of tours ago, we played leapfrog with a dude who when he would pass us yet again, would say "On Your Lay-eft!".

Just before the first rest stop (which we skipped), I decided to take my left hand off the handlebars and reach up to the sky to relieve numbness in my hand the way I'd seen my cycling friend Roy do on many occasions. My daughter Jackie and I were riding side by side (a no no) and it was at that point that she decided to raise her right hand.  I looked out of the corner of my eye and wondered if for some reason she wanted a high five?  Our small fingers interlocked and just at that point, an older dude with ginger hair and a monstrous gut passed us and shouted "Get A Room!".

Last minute tune-up
Everyone was excited to see two fellows riding unicycles and after talking with one, I discovered that he was riding a 36" wheel.  I don't know much about unicycles so I figured that a 36" wheel must put just that much more rubber on the road which could possibly offer more control.  One can only imagine how fit those unicyclists had to be to attempt such a demanding feat.

Many miles down the road, Jackie and I were still laughing about Mr. Ginger's comment when our hands had touched and I could imagine his surprise if we had told him then that in fact we did have a room - booked way back in January.  The fact that we are a father/daughter team might then have dawned on him if he had looked a little more closely and noticed the family resemblance.
A cool and windy start

Friday, June 8, 2012

MS Tour Prep

Handing in my $1,000.00 in donations and having the volunteers at the MS Society's office ring the bell signifying such a momentous event made me laugh with joy and it also riminded me how grateful I am to all those of you who have made a donation on my behalf.  ThankYou!

Of course there are still practical matters to deal with before the tour begins on Saturday.  Minor things like finally deciding which bike to ride.  After work, I'm going to take the Proctor Townsend home through the river valley and see how the gear package handles the long and steep climb up the McKinnon Ravine.  Road bikes as a rule don't climb very well and the tour has one long climb each day.
The Proctor Townsend

"Furry Lewis"  has a great gear package and the bike itself provides a very comfortable ride.  And it wouldn't be hard to put slicks on him and lots of air pressure to reduce the rolling resistance.  Aside from the gears, I want to take the PT because of its skinny tires and drop down handlebars in case of having to ride into the wind.
"Furry Lewis"

The latest weather forecast is for rain, so I think I'll take "Furry" since he has a pannier rack and I'll be wanting to sling a pannier full of rain gear onto the back of the bike.  So now it's a matter of swapping out the pedals off of the PT, oiling the chain, putting slicks onto Furry and then adding my participant number to the bike. I think I'm ready!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It's Bike Month!

Every June, our fine city declares the whole month "Bike Month" and for cyclists, there are a host of events planned to educate and entertain bikists of every stripe.
The sign says it all

This past Sunday I was invited to give a seminar on "Bikepacking" - what the organizers at Bikeology refer to as a "Salon".  My understanding is that a salon is where a number of like individuals meet to discuss a subject close to their hearts.`
A good number showed up

A good number of enthusiasts showed up at CREDO cafe (including my daughter who will be making her first trip this fall) and most of them wanted practical information on bicycle camping and we discussed what type of bike to use, what to wear and what to eat and mostly what to expect.  The kind and friendly people you'll meet and animals you're bound to come across.
One of our camps

As faithful readers of this blog, you'll be familiar with the stories I related (how I brought a beach towel on the first trip and wore pajamas to bed).  And being an ex-salesman, I had to include a pitch for the SteamPunk ride that we've planned and as an ambassador for the Adventure Cycling Association, I handed out magazines, bike decals ("I ride therefore I transam) and catalogues of their group bike tours.