Saturday, December 31, 2011

Final Pedal BLOG of 2011 - I Promise!

I guess I am not doing as high of an end of equipment upgrades here just yet but I do have one more pedal update.
I went to Phat Moose Cycles today (in Ottawa).  It's a really great shop.  Anyhow it was there I first got my Power Straps pedal system that i have enjoyed for these two years.  A few weeks ago I bent the hardware on that system and was intending to replace them but Phat Moose doesn't have them anymore.  Instead they recommended what the courires are using these days, as pictured below.
A chap in Montreal makes the strap.  Although there is clearly a logo etched into the leather I do not see a company name. Apologies for that.  I also required a suitable pedal for the right fit and decided it was time to try a mountain bike pedal.  I think I will enjoy the stability, versatility for a variety of footwear (that is to say, winter boots) and the larger platform.  So now I have a new system.  When I get back home I'll try them out for my Tuesday commute.
Sorry - don't know why this is cut off.  But it does show the pedal with the strap installed and without.

I am looking forward to arriving at work with warm toes.  Here's hoping.

Admittedly I had intended to pick up a Cross Check frame while here.  However, they only had a 58 and that's too close to call.  I am more likley a 60.  Then, they very nearly sold me on the Salsa Caserole ... very nearly indeed.  I shall have some thinking to do about this.  In either case, I left the store without a new frame.  Don't know if I feel good about having saved my money for another day or if I feel bad about a missed opportunity (the frames were all on sale).

Once again, I apologize for another "pedal post."  Not very exciting stuff.  I promise better for 2012!

Happy New Year to all!  And Happy cycling!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Great video

Can't recall on whose BLOG I first saw this. 
It's a great video.  I've never heard of their cause but they are almost inspiring me to give to it.


Commuting Challenge

I really enjoy being on a bicycle but for me, more than any other format right now, it boils down to commuting.
No raindrops under the trees.
I was made mindful of this once again today on a very wet ride home from work.  My helmet really is insufficient.  It cannot keep rain off of my glasses and as a result I have limited vision.  That's one investment I'll need to consider sooner than later. 

A lot of my clothing is also insufficient.  I need more wool.  Wool doesn't hold a smell, at least not very much.

If you had smel-o-vision you'd know what I'm talking about.
I have some of those slick undergarments that are good for layering and wicking but terrible for odor.
I don't have any shots of my pants or footgear but it needs work as well.  Technically I don't actually have rain pants, they're more like wind pants I use in the rain (which does nothing).

I do have a full-on balaclava but today was an in-between day.  The balaclava would have been way too hot, but using nothing was way too cold.

Eating a sandwich with no feeling in my face.  Fun but difficult.
I don't typically daydream about my kit.  Usually its more about the machine with me.  But I need to be a bit more realistic.  So now I have a few Christmas dollars and I know I want my steel frame, my Alfine IGH and my Brooks B17 saddle, all costly items, but should I instead be getting more wool, new helmet, bar mits, rain pants, gaters and a new backpack that can handle the wet?  Sigh.

Additional note - as I re-read this I recognize how entitled it makes me sound, which is sort of contrary to the season and my own general philosophy.  So for the record, I do like quality items but I usually spread the purchases out over a long period and only when I have duly saved enough above and beyond what my family requires.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dirty Day

A friend came to join me on my ride home today.  We decided on a rather convoluted route that turned out to be a lot of fun.
First stop was for fuel.

I realize that almost all the photos of me have me wearing that orange overjacket but I'll tell you what, that thing is an indispensable part of my winter wardrobe.  And a bit of a confession on that subject too...there are more days than I like to admit that I don't cycle to work because it takes me 15 minutes to just get dressed for the ride.  There's an unfortunate irony in that I believe.  Too lazy to suit up for a 15 mile ride that I'd otherwise be pleased to make.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Top 9 Bike-Related Things of 2011*

*in my personal experience.

9. Winter commuting.  I had not done this until last winter, beginning in 2010, but I have not only experienced that it is possible but also fun.

8. My first cyclocross event.  I wasn't entered in it and I did not race in it, but I went to it.  It was a blast.  Since I did not have a cowbell I shouted until I was hoarse. The chap my daughter and I decided to cheer for one and that made us all the more thrilled as we seemed to be his only supporter.  I am wondering if I will try entering a cross race sometime in 2012.

7. The Blessing of the Bikes.  A local event that promises to be annual.  About 100 people and their bikes rallied at a local park where a community pastor blessed our bicycles.

6. Wool.  I had read about its magical properties but wasn't a believer until I dove in.  I now have so much merino that I don't think I need a clothes dryer anymore.  I can't get over it's wicking ability.  And still, more wool is on my list this Christmas!

5. Lance is still"innocent." I badly want him to be vindicated however that's looking less and less likely.

4. Reading "Eat, Sleep, Ride" by Paul Howard.  His adventures completing the Tour Divide.  5 stars, hard to put down, highly recommend.

3. The Blog-o-sphere.  I began to read some great BLOGS (see my list) and that engaged me enough that I thought I might have something to offer as well.  Maybe I do and maybe I don't but regardless, I have really enjoyed all you out there who take the time to write and photograph about the things you see, the rides you take and the bicycles that get you there.  Hats off to you.

2. Joining a bike co-op. Technically this could fit under 2010 but I didn't really engage that environment until the winter of 2011.  I have learned a lot from them.

1. Building my daughter's bicycle.  It's chronicled in here somewhere so I don't need to go over it all.  But in a sentence I can say that having rebuilt from the wheels up only makes me want to do it again and again.  Absolute thrill.  I just got a price on a Cross Check on sale, so as long as a 58 isn't too small for me I hope to be starting my own build soon.  Although I admit I am also leaning very close to the Pake C'Mute as well.  Decisions decisions.

That's my top 9.  What's missing is an epic ride.  Still two weeks left in the year so maybe I'll be adding a tenth!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Equipment Fail

My Power Grips failed me today.  Wasn't expecting that.
They require torque when your foot slips in and today when I was dismounting they torqued in the wrong direction and the metal clip bent. 
I had another 15km or so without my left foot secured.  I have to say, I am simply not used to that and my foot just would not stay on the pedal.
This is how Power grips are supposed to look (my undamaged right pedal).  Note my index finger on the unbent clip.

Below, is the bent clip.  I've already attempted to straighten it out but it doesn't look 'good as new.'  We'll see how it performs tomorrow.

I want to get the black set of Power Grips anyhow and I get them in Ottawa, and I am heading there for a few days after Christmas.  Phat Moose here I come.  Oh and they sell Surly too - so I'll be drooling over that.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

City Business, City Views

As the title might indicate I was deeper into the city than usual today and thought I'd keep my eyes peeled for interesting sights.  I saw several worthy of a quip but was struck by the brick wall below and the vandalized poster.

Not sure what creates this effect, or if its even intentional, but its beautiful in its way.

The poster is about 3' by 4' and I think it was placed there to portray diversity in the community.  The only thing I can gather about the graffiti is that it's rhetorical.  Otherwise I don't know what the intent here was.

BTW I see some new tires in my near future.  The Small Block 8's are showing some wear.  That's ok though, it'll give me the chance to bump up from 32's to who knows what.  I want to get something in the 40 range.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Lake view

Came home by the Lake (Ontario).
Went down to a couple of 'look-outs' I'd never even really noticed before.
Kind of grey, but actually pretty nice out.  Toronto is straight across from here.

Another approach to the lake I thought looked like a good disc-golf hole.  A game I also enjoy.
I've noticed lately that my ride is getting rougher and I don't know how to attribute that.  Perhaps the roads are degrading, my age, my level of fitness, my speed, my tire pressure...?  It does make things a bit less pleasant.  I have an aluminum frame (good against corrosion in these parts when winter riding) but I want to get a steel one soon (Cross Check) and see if it actually makes any difference.  I continually read that it would, but we'll see.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Saturday, December 03, 2011


Into Toronto for some Christmas shopping and a play.
Stopped at a Bixi bike rack for a shot.  Bixi is the service Toronto has chosen for their bike share.  I hear that its actually going well.  There is a small movement to get a bike share in my city but we're way to small, it would be almost exclusively in and for the student ghetto and we need other cycling infrastructure before we go to such a thing.

Friday, December 02, 2011

My Dilema

My friends are really pressuring me to join them on the Tour Divide next June.  I've pretty much resolved that I can get enough time from work and family for at least half - but who knows.
I've never done much MTB and in order to do the Tour I'd need to make an investment.  The issue is that there are two other bikes I'd prefer to get before I invest in an MTB that I might not use that much.

Me with my thinking glasses on. Surely this is helping.
So I've been looking into whether it is possible to do the Tour with either a Crosscheck (with tires at the max width - 44 I think), or a Pugsley.  Neither have front end suspension and I am afraid of destroying my wrists unless I get suspension.  I don't think the Pugsley needs suspension but is it the right bike for the job?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hidden trap

I don't usually come home through this large, central park but some after-work business had me cutting through.  A really nice diversion for a bit.
I came across a flat paved section that led into a well-trimmed grassy area.  As I approached the lawn I spied a leaf-covered path, and I thought to myself "Urban single track!" Just as I left the pavement for the path I found myself down on the turf!  Those leaves were innocently covering a very large hole that I hit like a wall because it was so deep.
It hurt, I can tell you that.
After I pulled myself together I took a couple of pics.  Doesn't this path look perfectly inviting and pleasant to you?
Looking back...

The beauty of this park marred only by the specter of a death-pit lurking beneath these leaves.

I didn't have any means of measuring it, but the hole went upto my elbow!
After the photos, I dug out the leaves and exposed it for all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Almost done the rebuild

Adjusting the gears on the Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed was actually kind of tricky because the frame didn't accept the cable sheathing.  Nevertheless, with a bit of tinkering I got things going.  I'll tape the handlebars, add a bell and a rack and that's it!
Here's a cost breakdown.
Peugeot bicycle - $7 (its the frame I was after but I also used the bottom bracket, cranks, rear rim, entire front wheel and the stem)
New tires - $15 (didn't get the fat ones yet)
New tubes - $5
Sturmey-Archer hub - $90
Spokes - $10
New bearings - free
Bell - $9.00 (struck me as expensive but it supports the LBS)

Since I had everything else in parts, didn't go with the new powder coat, and did the work myself the grand total of a fantastic bicycle for my daughter is $136.  You'd get a lot less bike for that around these parts so I think I did pretty well.

Pics of the final product next.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Early Morning Ride

Long story short.  My good friend told me he was needing a goal - something to look forward to.  He had concluded that he would complete the hike to Base Camp (as in, Mt. Everest).  He's really trying to get me to join him for this.  It's not exactly on my bucket-list, but I'd consider it.

Nevertheless I suggest the Tour the Divide as something else he might want to consider.  "What's that?" he says.  "Wellsir, its a ride along the Continental Divide from Banff, Canada to the Mexico border," says I.
He seems intrigued but not having ridden a bicycle in at least  15 years I'm not certain I have him sold.

Shift to the next day.  My phone rings.

JD (my friend):  I'm just calling to tell you what you've started.

Wilson: ??

JD: I bought a bike.

Wilson: Awesome!

JD: I also told my two uncles about this thing and they're both in.

Wilson: (gulp).

So now I'm not sure if I am committed or not.  I'm not a mountain biker per-se (although I'd love to get a Pugsley!).
In any case he felt we needed to begin training right away, so the next morning we went on a 50k to the next town.
JD and his uncle.  The trailhead is just across the street.

At this point my light was working, but not for long!

JD trying to get his head around his first bike ride in 15 years.

My light had long-since konked out.  Sunrise about 20 minutes later was beautiful.

Almost home.  
The trail was decent.  I had not been on it before.  Did not meet anyone on the way out but passed several people walking dogs on the way back.

Apparently JD and his uncle are off on about a 30k ride tomorrow.  I had to pass because of other commitments.  We've a lot of training ahead of us if we are actually working toward the Divide.  100k a day is within my capability but I'm not so sure if you throw in the equivalent of scaling Everest 11 times.  I will obviously let you know how this develops.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hiking the Bruce Trail

Got in a nice family hike last weekend.  We are fortunate to live right beside some of the best hiking trails for hundreds of miles about.  The Bruce Trail is hundreds of miles long but we managed to tick off about 2 miles of it.  Ha!  It's not that it was so difficult going that we only got in the two or so miles, but rather because my wife and daughter were continually looking for ways to scale the slope to the top.  It's extremely steep and one is not meant to go "up" but rather side-to-side, if you will.
Hallelujah about to head up the slope
Nevertheless my wife and daughter, undaunted by clear rock fall debris and extremely loose aggregate finally made it to the top.  I admit they found a safe-ish place to do that and I followed because they wanted to explore some farmers field (read: private property) at the top.

It's a lot steeper than it looks!

Neither my wife nor Hallelujah could get past this shelf, in fact they could barely get down. 

One of the first rules of climbing, "don't go up if you can't get down."

This tree was a rest stop from the steepness of the grade.

Mom and daughter coming down the escarpment the easy way.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nice sunset

Sun just setting over the escarpment and catching the tower in Battlefield Park.  This is an 1812 historical site.  They do re-enactments and such here.
I've seen the last of any kind of sunshine on my commute home for this year.
Stay safe out there in the dark everyone.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I built my first wheel!

I am pretty excited, let me tell you.
Last night I got the spokes and nipples for the wheel build and I figured it would make a fun weekend project.  Well, I pretty much couldn't help myself so I laced the wheel last night, and then trued it up the rest of the way today.

Here's the wheel...
Other than that the Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub is quite heavy and made things awkward, the whole build was actually not that difficult.  I expected to get a lot more frustrated.

At first I kind of messed up the lacing.  So I sat and stared at the pattern for about 20 minutes until the answer just came to me.  Like the guy in "A Beautiful Mind" it was like I suddenly saw the pattern.  I had the series slightly out of order.  Thankfully the fix was easy and didn't require me to disassemble the whole thing.

I originally wanted to use brass nipples but the LBS doesn't have any to spare right now, so I used stainless.  For my daughter's purposes I am pretty confident this will do just fine.  Perhaps one day she will rebuild her rebuild and switch them out.

The lads at my bike co-op loaned me a Park wheel true stand.  They're always a big help.  Cheers to them.

I must say that this is quite addictive.  I am certain that I will need to engage a new build as soon as this one is done.  Maybe I'll just volunteer more hours at the co-op.

Anyhow, won't be long now before I have the finished product.