Friday, December 28, 2012

Even Though I Have Posted A Year - End Blog...

For the cyclist, Christmas is always a great time to receive bike related gifts and this year was no exception.  A friend from work gave my a bicycle bell whose inscription I really enjoyed:

Dring! Dring!

My son Chris and his lady Erin gave me a bike repair manual that had an appropriate bumper sticker tucked into its pages:

Above my desk at home I have a small collection of metal badges mounted with magnets onto an earthy brown, 1970's fridge door and I get a kick out of adding cycling themed badges to the collection:

A funky belt buckle gives me joy whenever I see it on the fridge door (I like it too much to wreck it by wearing it):

  We had a Secret Santa gift exchange at work and I was given a cute wooden picture frame with several hand drawn  bicycles painstakingly sketched onto individual frames.  I was touched by how much effort my friend expended to give me such a thoughtful gift:
Not exactly as shown
As a cyclist, I can look forward to using the MEC gift card my daughter and cycling buddy Jackie gave me - perhaps a picture of the cycling shoes I'll buy there will appear some time in 2013...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Another Great Year of Cycling

Snobby riders in the park
Early in the year I had the pleasure of being in London with a few days to myself and since I try to ride a bike in whichever city I find myself, I rented one in Hyde Park and pretty much had that historic place to myself.

North of the river pub
I've burned a few brain cells since the first group ride of the year took place, but if I'm not mistaken, it was somewhere around St. Patrick's Day.  Brett, the Raving Bike Fiend, Coreen Wholesomefun and I did some pub hopping on both sides of the river that neatly cuts a diagonal from southwest to northeast in our city.

Jerusalem loungers
A few months later, I managed to convince a small group of young Jerusalem residents that by lending me one of their bikes, they could earn some easy schekels while I had a quick ride around the park where I found them lounging around.

The wet MS Bike Tour
The MS Tour in June: the first day of the tour was nice and sunny, but the second day saw 1,500  out of 2,000 plus riders being bussed to the finish line because of a severe thunderstorm warning.
Critical Mass
June is Bike Month is our neck of the woods - so there are any number of cycling events to participate in - seminars, bike-in movies, bicycle commuter breakfasts and free bike repair stations set up in prime cycle commuter locations.  The Bike Month Critical Mass ride is the biggest one of the year.

SteamPunk Ride
Bike Month also offered our city's first SteamPunk Ride which was a huge success - fine weather for most of the ride and an opportunity to saunter around a festival in the downtown core (the above picture is Keith sauntering around).
A "Relaxed" couple

 My cycling partner Roy and I did the "Route of the Coeur D'Alenes" and the "Route of the Hyawatha" in northern Idaho - a cycling trip the Adventure Cycling Association calls "Relaxed".

September saw the second MS Tour - the Hinton Mountain Tour where the MOAB needed an overdue overhaul.  At the last check stop with only 15 kilometers left to negotiate, the mechanic from United Cycle installed the proper gears for mountain biking and a new chain.  (Making the last 15 k. a breeze and the next trip a lot easier).
Jackie signing in at Mile Zero

My second bikepacking adventure was on familiar ground - the Kettle Valley Railway in south central British Columbia - with my daughter Jackie riding with me and my wife Janet driving the Flaggin' Wagon (the support vehicle which can give you and your bike a ride if your energy flags).
Snowy bike lanes
It was just my imagination but it seemed that we had just gotten home from the hot Okanagan area when it began to snow and the temperature plunged down to limb - numbing minus numbers and it was necessary to put on extra layers to be able to commute comfortably.
One of the many sights

The last group ride of the year was the night-time Jingle Ride which saw a collection of winter cyclists scooting around both sides of the North Saskatchewan River to absorb the sights and sounds of our city's Christmas displays.  We ended the ride while having the Legislature ice rink all to ourselves and enjoying some fortified hot chocolate in the heated shack.

All in all another great year of cycling!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Idaho Relaxed?

The postman delivered one of my favourite items yesterday.  Not an Xmas parcel (although those are fun to open), not a cheque from the government (a rare occurance), but the 2013 Adventure Cycling Tour catalogue.  Each glossy page augmented with inspiring photos from previous tours.  Cycling on beach at sunset.  Riding next to a Great Lake.

It is tempting to want to do every tour in the book and when I got to thinking along those lines, I realized that in fact I've already done one.  What the catalogue calls "Idaho Relaxed".  This past summer with my intrepid cycling partner Roy.  The guide lists it as an easy ride and the picture used to illustrate the tour is one taken on a section of highway that replaces the trail.
The route follows the highway       Photo: Chris Lipinsky

That very part of the trip was difficult in that the temperature soared uncomfortably high which led Roy to cover his head with a soaking wet towel which he placed Arab style under his helmet.  A technique I was to copy a month later when my daughter Jackie and I attempted Anarchist Mountain.
The Arab Bugman

 Compared to other bikepacking trips that we have taken, the Idaho Relaxed was easier given that a lot of the 320 mile route was paved.  We cycled the old railway bed for as long as we could and the St. Joe River that followed the trail offered inviting vistas and always the opportunity for a dip in its deep and fast moving waters.
The old trail and St.Joe River

The trip was so relaxed that there was time for a little trail tomfoolery:

Somehow a banana ended up in my Spandex shorts - and Yes!  I'm happy to see you!
(Perhaps I'd gotten too relaxed!).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ride Sally Ride

For everyone, this is a busy season and because it is so hectic, I've decided to downsize the decorating of my bike for the Jingle Ride tomorrow night.  Not that it took much time last year to wrap white paper around the frame and a thin strip of ribbon to make the bike into diamond - framed candy cane.

I say thank God there are Dollar Stores everywhere and when I popped into my local one, it took being side-swiped by a rabid shopper for me to find the Christmas section.  She had a cart full of tinsel, bells, plastic baubles and assorted green and red decorations.  Being Canadian, we both said "Sorry!" and then she directed me to the numerous isles of Xmas tat that only a Dollar Store can provide.

Being Canada the word ornament has to be spelled in French
Wanting my decorating to be rather understated, I chose two thin felt stockings that could be personalized.  The idea being that I could hang them from each handlebar and label one "JINGLE" and the other "RIDE".  When the impracticality of that idea dawned on me, I chucked the stockings onto a shelf of leaking cans of cat food and reached instead for a bag of plastic snowflakes that I could pin to my handlebar mitts.

Rum storage containers
Since I'll have two panniers (mostly filled with rum - laced hot chocolate), I figured that a simple ornament on each saddlebag would suffice.  The ones I chose have dangly bells and when combined with the bearbells on my pedals, should make enough racket that they will clear my way when I slide into whichever holiday display my friends happen to be admiring.  After all, I will be taking up the rear so I can secretly sneak the odd swill of that fortified hot chocolate!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Three Men On A Bike Book

Apparently one man loses a testicle.  Three men, three seats, three handlebars, three sets of pedals and 5 testicles.

The Goodies

The bike came from a British television show called "The Goodies" and there were numerous variations of the bike which they called a trandem. The show involves a lot of falling off the trandem which the British audience found hilarious.  A good video with lots of falling off a bike that you might find amusing is this one set in New York City.

If you've ever ridden a tandem, then you know that the second rider (called the stoker) has a limited view of the road, so I can only imagine the narrow view that the third person gets.  The third person - called Bram (stoker)?  Coker?  Rear Admiral?

I recently came across this quote: "As a stoker I pedal, contribute to worthwhile conversations and (when advised) provide hand signals . If you're not abusive and ask nicely, I'll advise you of traffic or tell you what gear you're in. And if you overlook the occasional misdirection, I'll even agree to help navigate. But please don't presume that I can somehow choose a line through a corner, assertively weave though traffic, se lect the proper gear or stop the bike at a signal. Face facts--I can't steer or see the road in front of the front tire. In short, it isn't my job to "drive the bike" and I therefore refuse to take responsibility."
Goofy stuff

As the second person on the back (whose title is unknown), you can only imagine that person's quote: "As an untitled person, I contribute by adding weight to the rear wheel which provides traction, I can if asked nicely, scratch the stoker's back, I can screw my body around and try to reach something in one of the rear panniers, but don't even consider expecting me to do much of anything except add weight."

Most people have seen the BIG BIKE with 20 or 30 yelling and shouting cyclists ringing bells and blowing horns and attempting to raise awareness for whatever cause they are promoting.  I've never ridden one myself and I can only imagine the captain having to deal with a gaggle of stokers claiming "It's not my responsibility to....".
"Hey Captain!  Is that a cellphone you're using?  Don't you know we have a distracted driving law?"