Wednesday, October 31, 2012

SATSIHWGBTRBF (Sturmey Archer Three Speed Internal Hub Workshop Given By The Raving Bike Fiend)

Just the name of this bicycle mechanic course is a mouthful. And the workshop was conducted by someone who calls himself the Raving Bike Fiend.  However, as volunteer mechanics, we are called upon to service three speed internal hubs and since Sturmey Archer is the largest manufacturer of internal hubs, it was important to attend a workshop dealing with this fine mechanical device.

The Raving Bike Fiend
We all met at BikeWorks North - the new north-side-of-the-river-community-bike-shop.  Being so new, the interior of the shop is immaculate.  You can literally eat off its clean counters (as I had to when a large chunk of the Hungarian cookie I was munching on fell onto the plywood counter).  BikeWorks South where I volunteer is a much older shop and every surface has a coating of grime from years of spilt oil, dabs of grease and a large dollops of dirt.

Brightly coloured BikeWorks North
Staring at my notes, I'm confused by my stenographic skills:
French bikes have metric threads
Wheel nuts are 26 TPI
Choose 1950's or 1948 SA
Use a short pin if it's a AW 20 Sport

The other mechanics see that I'm taking copious notes and are hopeful that I will post intelligent notes on this blog - saving them from having to remember the fine advice that Keith, the Raving Bike Fiend is dispensing.

My friends Tim, Jim, and Robert suggest that I can scan all my notes and make them available and I think that is a swell idea.  I now have a better idea of how to help patrons that come into the shop with three speed bikes needing repairs and I wish to help my mechanic friends.  I would if I knew how to scan.  Maybe I can attend a workshop called HTINTIHASTSYFCST (How To Interpret Notes Taken In Haste And Scan Them So Your Friends Can Study Them).

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Here a stud there a stud

For once I'm ahead of the curve when preparing for winter cycling.  And that means |I already have a winter bike and have studded tires for it.  I even have "BarMitts" ready that I wrote about earlier this year.

The setup
To stud the tires, I clamp a short piece of 2X4 into a vice which is mounted on a step stool.  This means that I don't have to bend very far to install a couple of hundred studs and since I screw them in backwards first, this means there are several hundred bends involved.
The view from the top
I screw the studs (5/8 inch sheetmetal screws) into the tire from the outside for a couple of reasons.  One - doing so creates a nice hole all the way through.  Two - the hole is placed at the correct angle.  Three - when I turn the tire inside out for the final installation, I can see the holes where the studs are supposed to go.
Too bad they couldn't be used this way

Now that I've taken the winter beast for a ride, I think the 5/8 inch studs are overkill and I'll either grind them down at "Bikeworks" or replace them with 1/2 inch screws.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Lancing Lance

As a cyclist and a former cancer patient, I wore a LiveStrong bracelet from the moment they became available.  Many times I would look at it on my wrist and feel inspired by Mister Armstrong's accomplishments.

For years now I have defended Lance and when people would ask me about his innocence or guilt, I would always defend him.  I was excited to have found a true athlete who had excelled without cheating or lying.  A true hero in my mind.

Yet I've come to the conclusion that Mr. Armstrong is just like so many of today's celebrity sports figures - a fraud.  While he continues to deny any wrongdoing - I don't look forward to the day when he finally admits that he blood doped after lying about it for so long.  Why can't you just admit it Lance and all of us  can move on?

Replacing one wristband for one bracelet

Here is the email I sent Lance Armstrong:

Being a fully recovered cancer patient and a committed cyclist, I am dismayed that you have not come clean about the blood doping which your teammates under oath have testified that you were a participant.

I was inspired for years by your accomplishments and have worn a LiveStrong bracelet since they became available.  I have defended you all that time but now I have taken off the yellow wristband and I have no intention of placing it back on my arm.

In fact, I've thrown it out.

You have disappointed me and other believers,
Adrian Pearce

Sunday, October 21, 2012

There's nothing daft about the Taft (Tunnel)

 While preparing to enter the tunnel, a cold breeze from the tunnel's mouth envelopes you and reminds you to put on a cycling jacket.  In my case, I put on three T-shirts I had purchased at Lookout Pass and then donned my cycling jacket and required headlight.  Since we always ride with a helmet, we didn't have to rent one - wearing a helmet that many people had already worn creeped me out a little.

A young forest ranger, David, was comfortably sitting under a pop-up tent ready to check to make sure that you had purchased a rail pass and had affixed the purple tag to your left brake cable.  He had helmets and powerful lights for rent as well.  He informed us that the outside temperature might be 85 but in the tunnel it was 40 degrees - not far from freezing.
Got your pass?  Got your helmet?  Got a light?

My friend Roy and I have ridden through many tunnels on our annual bike-packing trips and negotiating our way through the Taft tunnel was a thrill we had never experienced in Canadian train tunnels.  Once you cycle well into the Taft tunnel, complete darkness surrounds you and and you lose your sense of space.  Here you are riding the very same bike in the very same way that you've ridden it for the past several days and suddenly you feel like you've never ridden before.  You can't distinguish up from down, left from right and if it wasn't for the sound of rushing water coursing through gutters on either side of the tunnel to guide you, you'd automatically crash.
Rentable headlights

A cyclist approaching from the opposite direction had two powerful lights on the handlebars and one on the helmet.  In my disoriented state, it appeared to me that a freight train was approaching me and my small patch of dimly lit tunnel.  My anxiety increased when two dorks flew past on my left - in between the oncoming freight train and myself.
There's light at the end of the tunnel
While most of the cyclists we saw in and around the tunnel had reached the entrance to the tunnel by driving the I90, my cycling friend Roy and I were secretly pleased to know that we had ridden 100 miles to reach this famed cycling experience and not just pulled off the freeway in a car.
The requisite pass

At the far end of the tunnel, the notion to turn around and ride the tunnel again was very strong and the only way we could resist the urge was to look further down the trail to view the spectacular trestles and mount our bikes in anticipation of riding atop these tall structures and have commanding views of the Bitterroot Mountains.  Mountains covered in a carpet of green trees.

Just up ahead was a sign telling riders to that if they found themselves at this sign in the late afternoon that they should turn around to make the last shuttle bus.  So it was with some satisfaction that further down the trail, Roy and I came across two exhausted riders - the same two dorks who recklessly blew past us in the tunnel.  They'd now miss the shuttle and have to pedal all the way uphill to the starting point.  Boo Hoo!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


One big change to bike - packing that we've instituted is having lunch while on the trail.  My cycling friend Roy was convinced of the intelligence of lunch on the trail when our mutual friend Richard declared "That's what normal people do!" a couple of years ago when we cycled to a restaurant in Tulammen for fish and chips (without the fish).

This guy has been having lunch as long as I can remember

On this particular trip, my wife had driven the three of us from Beaverdell  to Mile Zero of the KVR at Midway and the idea was for my daughter and I to cycle from there back to Beaverdell which would take all day.

Signing in at Mile Zero
It was fun to scan the rafters of the cycling shelter at Mile Zero and to find evidence of earlier KVR trips.
Rafter with my name/date and Perry's name/date

After a scenic ride along the clear flowing Kettle River, we found ourselves at Kettle River Provincial Park where picnic tables had been erected near the original railway bridge. While we prepared a hot lunch, a fly fisherman cast his line in the shadow of said bridge and an older European couple cycled up to our table to ask how old the bridge was and to ask about our camping trip.  The bridge was built in 1909 and I'm sure by European standards, that makes it a very new structure.  They seemed impressed that we were carrying all our gear and intended to cycle 50 - 60 kilometers of the trail today.

This was one of my first opportunities to try out my MSR Whisperlite stove (testing it at my firepit in the backyard at home doesn't count).  I was still trying to get the hang of not letting too much fuel fill the starter cup - the first time at home a huge orange and yellow flame erupted from the base of the stove and a cloud of soot blackened not only the stove but the pot full of water on top.  Thankfully there was nothing flamable within a 20 foot range of the inferno (except moi).
What the stove looks like before catching fire
This particular lunch not only gave us nourishment for cycling uphill to Beaverdell but also provided some entertainment as the older couple from Europe quickly backed away when the cigarette lighter I was playing with accidentally ignited a pool of white gas that had inadvertently dribbled onto the picnic table and created an awesome display of flames and smoke which were only extinguished using the clear waters of the Kettle River.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Whatcha Gunna Do?

Both my daughter Jackie and I finished mountain biking the MS Mountain Tour in record time (for us!).  This year we shaved two hours off of our first tour - not bad considering that we both had taken spills and that Jackie's bike had suffered some damage.  My own spill happened when descending a very steep gully and my front wheel hit a thick root causing my bike to come to a dead stop - except for the rear of my bike which went over my head causing me to end up on my back with the bike on top of me.  Luckily no harm no foul.

The big problem was how and where to get her bike fixed and still drive from Jasper to the Okanagan and be ready to cycle the Kettle Valley Railway the next day.  The mechanics from United Cycle worked on her bike enough to keep her on the trail but their repairs wouldn't be able to handle all the weight once she put all her camping gear onto her bike and began a multi-day bike-packing excursion.

Since we were staying at a cute log cabin in Jasper, it made sense to stop in town and see if the bike shop there could handle fixing her rear wheel.  They didn't have all the parts needed.  What to do?

Jasper Bike Shop

While we drove south along the Icefield Parkway, Jackie called ahead to a bike shop in Revelstoke....

Damaged bike being wheeled in at Revelstoke
Like I discovered last year when we camped in Midway, you can't judge towns and cities by what you see from the highway.  Strip malls, fast food joints and gas stations do not a community make.  Spin off the highway and you'll discover a lovely place that the residents are proud to call home.  Revelstoke is no different.

While Al, a downtown bike mechanic made a new wheel for Jackie, we spent a lovely two hours browsing through the old buildings and the flower - basket - lined streets.  Lunch was in a pub whose furniture was made from skis and snowboards and my wife bought me a poster sized satellite photo of Southern British California. 

I even got to do one of my favourite things.  Having an afternoon nap on the back seat of the car - lulled to sleep by the sounds emanating from the nearby rail yard.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


As we cycled downhill on this the second day of the MS Mountain Tour, we had already passed two groups of riders and volunteers gathered around  prone figures on the ground.  Last year marshalls had been placed in this particular area to get riders to slow down at this spot.  What happens is this:  riders are tired from yesterday's all day climb and after the brutal ascent to the Nordic Center this morning, a lot of riders become careless when given the opportunity to "give 'er" on this first stage of the downhill portion of the Tour.

It is disconcerting to come across an accident.  The figure on the ground with a number of caregivers surrounding that person.  Their bike with it's wheels bent out of shape and an ambulance waiting down the trail for the injured soul to be carried out of the woods.  Three years ago my daughter Jackie and I happened upon such a grouping and we found out later that the rider had suffered a broken cheekbone, a dislocated shoulder and a broken jaw.

So crapped myself when I rounded a corner and a woman's voice shouted "Rider Down!!".  There was only one rider ahead of me - Jackie.  The spill was hidden from me in a deep dip in the trail and I immediately threw my bike down and ran the rest of the way to the site.  When I reached the accident, I had to scout around through the thick waist high grass that covered the gully.  Finally, I spotted Jackie on her back, feet clipped into her pedals and the bike on top of her.  A male rider was brushing aside the grass and Jackie was busy telling everyone that it looked worse than it really was.  That she was okay.

And thankfully she was okay.  Her bike wasn't.  The rear wheel had three broken spokes and after some fussing with the wheel, we determined that she could probably make it to the next checkstop where the mechanics at United Cycle could help her.

Merko the United Cycle mechanic
A quick repair was fashioned at the United Cycle tent and with a slightly wobbly rear wheel, Jackie was able to finish the tour in record time and without any bodily injury.  That's what really matters.  A bike can be fixed more easily than a human body.

Next:  How are we going to fix the bike before cycling the Kettle Valley Railway?

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Inclementally Inclined

Even though I was unprepared to cycle home from work the other day, it took only one look outside at the crappy weather to make me decide to pedal home.  I like crummy weather for a number of reasons: makes me feel manly, the fair weather weenies are off the streets and I'll feel like I earned that glass of red wine that I'm bound to consume upon my arrival.
Being unprepared meant that instead of Spandex cycling shorts, I would be wearing my cotton Carhartt shorts, a cotton t-shirt and my yellow cycling jacket that no longer repells water.  My booties were still at home so that guaranteed that my feet would get wet and having no rear fender assured a muddy stripe down my back.

Since I was organized enough to wear clear sunglasses, the stinging rain lashing my face offered no hardship and my vision was sharp.  Sharp enough to spot the huge lake that had developed on the side of the road.  The strong headwind prevented me from steering quickly enough to avoid the tsunami wave that engulfed my whole body when a delivery truck swooshed into that body of water.  Luckily, I was riding on the bike path that followed the road and didn't have to worry about veering into traffic.

When you're halfway home, it's a quandry deciding to continue on or to turn back and seek another form of transportation.  My ankles were numb,  I couldn't feel my hands and my legs had turned a pasty white colour.  The thought of a hot shower followed by that glass of Okanagan red is what got me the rest of the way home and I was glad when I got there that no one was home to witness my blueish, naked body hurtling through the house heading for the shower.  (After pouring a glass of red).  So much for cycling in bad weather

Monday, October 1, 2012

Everything And The Kitchen Sink

Our recent bike-packing/adventure cycling trip was the first time I had done a bicycle camping outing with the luxury of having a support vehicle which would meet us every night at a designated campground.

What this meant was that I could bring way more stuff - important stuff we might need on the trail.  Packed in the trunk were 4 disposable lighters (fires can be hard to start), bottles of fuel for the two different stoves I brought along, newspaper for kindling and buried deep in the trunk, a pair of rubber boots (so my feet didn't have to touch gross shower floors?).

Having access to the vehicle every night meant that when it was bed time, I could scrounge through the assorted bags, boxes and crates for sleepwear.  Like a toque, a neck tube, gloves, two pairs of socks, cycling pants with jeans underneath (I had forgotten track pants).

It got so jam packed in the car that my wife Janet declared "Don't buy anything else - there is nowhere to put it!".  Fine.  Until we stopped at a garage sale in Oliver on our one day off and Janet bought a carton of fresh-picked walnuts, Jackie found an MSR Hubba Hubba tent for 15 bucks.  I bought 2 small books and a VHS of Dante's Peak (my cycling friend Roy and I had just cycled through Enaville, Kellogg and Wallace, Idaho where the movie was filmed).

It is hard to say if I'll have the convenience of a supported bike tour in the near future - I've always imagined that when I'm in my nineties and still cycling for weeks at a time, that's when I'd have a supported bike trip.

It was nice to wash the dishes after every meal in the roasting pan that Janet had packed so that we had everything including the kitchen sink.