Friday, October 28, 2011

Stopping in for a quick fix

One of the neat things I have along my commute is a bicycle co-op.  It's the New Hope Bike Co-Op.  Right now its only $5 to join for a lifetime!  However, I challenged them on that yesterday.  In order to be sustainable and to not be taken advantage of I recommended that they come up with a better fee structure.  I told them that I would be very willing to pay a higher, annual rate in order to use their facility.  In fact, they are looking into other models.

The model I don't like are the ones that are "too" expensive!  They just sort of drive you back to your LBS anyhow.  So there must be a balance.  In the interim I think we are all benefitting from the $5 fee.  Whoot!

The shop was nice and empty when I came in! 
They have beautiful Park repair stands.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

New Toy for the Rebuild

Much more solid than I had expected!
First bike on it is my daughters rebuild - the Peugeot.

First thing I have to do is the headset which I messed up. 
This is kind of learn-as-I-go!

It's beginning to get a bit cold on the hands out in the garage but I am so excited about the stand that I'm sure I will overlook all that without flinching.
Next stop, the local bike co-op, for a few tips on the headset thing.
I also want to build the wheels myself.

Let me get used to the stand and I'll do a review of it.  Hard for me to know what to compare it to.  One of these times I'll show you my old set-up for bike repair - a home grown concept that will blow your mind!  But you must wait!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Road Obstacle

Nice day for a ride yesterday.  I keep waiting for a good shot of the autumn colours but alas this does not seem to be their year.  I've heard it said that the summer was not wet enough for good colours.
So I'm in the usual bike lane on the way to work yesterday, enjoying myself, paying attention but also taking in a nice part of the ride when I nearly hit this...

There's a heritage park on the other side of the street, and I will admit, I was looking that way.  My right pedal nearly clipped this sign, and that would have hurt some.
The thing that gets me is that the sign had not fallen, rather it had been placed this way.  It's just that, I think, its easier for pedestrians to get around something like this rather than a bicycle in the bike lane, so perhaps it should be totally on the sidewalk.
Oh well (and I can say "Oh well" because I am fine), disaster averted.
I would have moved the thing myself but I couldn't lift it (back issues).  Hope no one was hurt by it.
I did notice that it was still there on my way home from work but could not find any road work fellows to point it out to.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Car vs. Bicycle - what's the big deal

This is kind of old news but I hadn't heard it.  I guess the ad above really set off a lot of negative feedback such that GM basically apologized and pulled the ad. 
I get the ad, but it doesn't offend me.  Sell cars to people who want cars and do it however you want to as far as I am concerned.  I'm sure we could dig up an ad somewhere that a bicycle manufacturer is mocking a car to make a point and sell a few frames.
Let's all just relax.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ride for Refuge

Pretty nice day for a ride.  There were 90 km/hour gusts and sometimes it was pretty demoralizing, but it was a great tour through beautiful countryside that I was not familiar with.
Over 300 people were riding in this year's Ride for Refuge, and although you get a bit spread out there is still a strong sense of kinship. 

Looks quirky but it's solid!
Me getting ready to go.  It was 11c and they were calling for rain so I layered a bit.

Just some of the bikes at the start.

They had all kinds of support vehicles.  Helped me know that my daughter would be safe in these conditions (she had a great time too!)

A neat looking Schwinn I saw in the crowd.  50 km on this, in today's headwinds, might have been tough though.

A bunch of friends who were riding for the same cause as my team.  I never did catch them on the route!
I really should have taken some more shots along the way.  It was stunning.  However I was just too "lazy" to concede my momentum. 

In the end, lots of money raised for several good causes.  I got a t-shirt and a tremendous vegetarian chilli lunch. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ride for Refuge

On Saturday I the family and I return to an annual fundraising event called the Ride for Refuge.  I think it started in Canada, but in any case I know its in parts of the States now as well. 
For the last three years we've kept it to 10 kilometers because my daughter wanted to participate.  However, this year I am cutting loose from the pack!  My wife and daughter will do their 10k and I will continue and do either 25k or 50k.  Sort of depends on how I'm feeling that day - it's supposed to be pretty miserable. 
25k is just a little over my normal commute to work, so the actual distance doesn't present any real issues.  The possible issue is that this year they have chosen a new route, that on my first inspection, looks like a lot of semi-busy country road.  Frankly I know how to ride in city traffic but most cycling accidents happen outside of the city (so I am told - have no link to back this up but I think I read it somewhere) and I find that a bit intimidating.  Country roads are where the yahoo's speed and come close to you and think its funny.  Together with possible fog or sleet might make for less safe conditions than hoped for.
Pretty sure the 10k loop is well "insulated" with help so I don't fear for my family.
I've raised a few dollars and I'll get a t-shirt and a good hot lunch out of the deal.  I'm really looking forward to it.  The leaves should be out in good colour too.
I'll post some picks on Saturday.

Learning to take a better photo

I took this shot at the end of my street.  You're looking at the escarpment that I live below.
The escarpment is basically protected land so these fields should always be here no matter what kind of development goes on to the North of them.
The leaves hadn't really started to turn yet but they will soon.
A blurry shot of my bike, but a beautiful day nevertheless!
It's always a beautiful walk on the hillside - there is a path that stretches for hundreds of miles, but it's only walkable, much too difficult for any kind of off-road cycling.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Late summer weekend

Niagara-On-The-Lake is quite close by and certainly worth the trip everytime.  We try to get down there at least twice through the summer.  They have a really nice bikepath that runs the length of the Niagara River from the town to the Queenston Bridge.  It's a crowded bikepath to be sure, but we're never in a rush.
(I've blanked out the faces of my wife, daughter and in-laws because not sure if I have their consent to put them on here!)
The views are many and breathtaking.

A tallship heading toward Lake Ontario.
Once this year we got to the American side of the river.  What a gorgeous place that is.  It's a small town called Lewiston, in New York, of course.  Problem is the line ups at customs don't make that trip worth it more than maybe twice a year.

I'm so thankful that my family indulges me when I want to do a day of cycling with them.  But in the end we all benefit from being together, cycling through the touristy little town and all the surrounding vineyards.

It will be gorgeous with Fall colours in about two weeks.  I hope I can convince everyone to bundle up for a year-end trip.

Monday, October 03, 2011

How to live well without owning a car

Another book that I keep coming back to.  Not so much for the sheer information as for the inspiration.
Chris Balish has a good thing here.  Lots of good info for beginners to the mid-level non-car commuter.  I would suggest that he has a bias toward bicycling, but then so do I, so that's really not a criticism of mine.
I really like all those places he gets out the calculator and shows you how much $ you can save by not having a car.  I for one buy into his thesis.
However I am an offender.  I not only have one, but two cars.  Wasn't sure I wanted to admit that here (ever) but there it is.  Early last Winter/Spring I tracked the number of days I went to work via car vs. any other means (95% of the time that means by bicycle).  The evidence is undeniable, I have at least one car too many.  The problem is laziness.  I still have mornings where I resist my 20km bike commute because I just don't feel like it.  I've noticed that by the time Friday rolls around, on weeks that's I've biked to work, my body is talking to me loud and clear - it seems to be saying "enough already!"  Sometime the weekends are enough to recoup and sometimes not.  Sort of depends what I am doing that weekend.
So, this is a bit of a confession.  I love NOT using a car but I struggle with the benefits of having it as a convenience sometimes.  As the BLOG title says, I live between city and country and I am trying to do what I do by bike.
Back to Balish because he has some really good suggestions for a guy like me.  But just because I am convinced does not mean that the rest of my family is - not by a longshot.  I have a ways to go.
I DO love cycling, the outdoors, the time alone on my bike to think and to enjoy, the challenge (most times) and all the other benefits.  I can testify that as Fall creeps in that it is beautiful around here and I don't want to miss out on it because I am, as Sting sings, "packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes."

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Making a bike for my daughter

I saw an old Peugeot at a garage sale last weekend and it turned out that the frame (steel) was in really great shape.  I bought it with my daughter in mind.  She's at an age where I want to get her onto something a bit more "real" as opposed to the pseudo-mountain bikes that we've bought her at Canadian Tire since she was born.
She loved it as is, but it was/is not ride-able yet.  She thought the suicide brakes were awesome and I haven't had the heart to tell her yet that those will be going!
I purchased it for $7. Didn't even try to bargain them down (because the proceeds went to support a local church).  I have also stripped some things off of it.  That's the easy part.

The frame has very little rust and its not cracked anywhere.  I cleaned up the handlebars with a bit of steel wool and they look good as new (although some chroming actually rubbed off but its hard to tell).  I wish it had downtube shifters but alas, it does not.  The shifters were on the headset but that will change.
Although I advertise that I love to fix up bikes it's probably more truthful to say that I love to "tinker" because whether I am actually good at fixing anything is debatable.  Case in point, I took the headset apart to clean and regrease it and now I cannot get it back together because the bearings fell out.  I'm pretty sure it won't be hard to replace the bearings, but such a maneuver was a little ambitious I suppose.
My only goal is to have it done by Spring.  She won't need it before then.
I'm also trying to decide whether I want to powder coat it (she's asking for a dark pink, which I admit might look ok) or if I'll just leave it as you see it so that the classic Peugeot label will remain.  What do you think?
In the end, the only original parts will be the frame, fork, bars and maybe the pedals.  I will look into a three speed internal hub for her and maybe try my hand at building a wheel (now that would truly be over my head, but what fun to try!).
I'll post progress photos as they happen.  Wish me luck.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Power Grips

For about two years I was searching for a good pedal system.  I landed on the idea of going back to clips and straps and I was fairly happy with that.  However, winter presented a problem because my heavier shoe/boot just felt terribly awkward in there.

I was in a neat shop called Phat Moose Cycles when I first came across these.

The shop guy told me that they were very popular with local couriers.  Apparently "Power Grips" have been about for quite a while, but they were new to me.  For my purposes, they work on a lot of levels.

1. Not very expensive.  Really they are just straps and some hardware so you think they'd be dirt cheap - but they're not.  I have seen some sites where folks complain about the price and have taken to making their own versions out of leather belts and such.

2. I can wear normal footwear year round.  I do have a nice cross shoe that I use for commuting because my commute is somewhat long and the stiffness of the shoe helps with energy transfer (but that's for another time).  I can wear winter boots or I can wear a cleated shoe - any option will work.  This is particularly useful when I am just jumping on the bike to goto the corner store.

3. There's still a decent feeling of security in the pedal but it's easy to get your foot free if it needs to get out fast!

4. You can buy them in extra large lengths if you have bigger feet, or perhaps are using them for the aforementioned winter footwear.

5. I think they look kind of cool.

6. Made in America.

As for the cons,

1. Phat Moose didn't have the black ones available so I had to get these cream-coloured ones with a diamond print pattern.  They only come like this or the black.  Take the black if you have a choice!

2. You need to have the proper pedal.  Took me a while to find something I liked.

3. Figuring out how to install them took a while.  Their old website wasn't really helpful and neither were the package instructions, but I understand that both are now vastly improved.

4. The trick to them is a combination of stiffness and flexibility.  Because I accidentally continue to step on and crush the one on my right pedal, the stiffness has decreased and the flexibility increased.  Essentially that means it's breaking down a bit and that it tends to flop a bit when I am trying to get the right side in.  Ideally this wouldn't be happening.

In the final analysis I can say that I have used the same set for over 18 months now, including a full winter of commuting and they are otherwise (see #4 above) holding up very well.

Next time I am in Ottawa I will be looking for the black set.

All in all I recommend these to you if you want to wear street shoes or other normal walking footwear, like simplicity of design, want a device that lets you in and out easily, and like me, need something other than an open pedal.