Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas to All

Here's hoping you are all well and get in lots of saddle time over the season!


- Wilson

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Bicycling through Grimsby & Beamer Falls

Nice views of Grimsby and Lake Ontario.
It's a multi-use path through the Beamer Falls Conservation Area but I still got a couple of stern looks from walkers.  Must mention that I also got a few hardy "good-afternoon's" as well.

The Pake really is so much nicer to ride with the Clarence bars.  Plus, I threw in a cheapie Velo-Orange saddle (on sale for $15 at a shop in Toronto but I can't find it on the VO website. ??) that is really comfortable.

So far, no snow.  Makes days like this all the nicer as far as I'm concerned.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Magnets - Things I Like

I have a pair of nice Sugoi insulated lobster gloves for winter riding.  Although they are losing some loft, and consequently not as warm as they once were, I will say that they have been indispensable these last three winters.
But what I have really come to appreciate about them are the magnets within each glove.
The magnets enable me to hang them from a heating vent at work, so that they dry very quickly.

Yes.  My office is a dump!
The magnets also allow me to remove them mid-ride and "stick" them to my top-bar while I take photos or do whatever it is I do. This way, I have full use of my arms and hands and am not dropping the gloves in the snow or wet.

Magnets in gloves - you are on the "nice" list.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Soma Clarence Bar

Since I really began bicycling again a few years ago, I have always "suffered" from tingling in my hands.  No matter how I adjusted the cockpit, time and distance always exposed this area of discomfort.
I do not have it completely solved, but I will suggest that the Clarence Bar, by SOMA Fabrications has significantly helped.

I got these online, on sale from a reputable US dealer. They arrived quickly and intact.
I have been using them now for two months and the bottom line is, I can recommend them.
Being a more upright bar, at first I was worried that they weren't "sexy."  A redonkulous notion on my part, but I'm pretty sure it counts for at least 10% of consideration for anything I purchase.

Perhaps a better shot to see the anodized red highlights of the Paké.

While they do put me in a more upright position, I have found that it is easily worth the decrease in hand pain, neck strain, and my back feels much better once I arrive at work.
I think there is still some adjusting to be done, and perhaps there is a new saddle in my future (there is! I will BLOG about it soon). But for now, I believe I have one part of the equation solved. I don't see the Clarence Bars being replaced anytime soon.

One caveat, or drawback, I used a grip shift mechanism. The shifter, brake and grip do not fit on the bar.  As a result I am trying a thumb shifter (from Chain Reaction Cycles in the UK). As well, it's really just a matter of time before I switch to the Sturmey-Archer S2 hub, which will negate the need for any shifter whatsoever.

I realize that by not posting as regularly I have risked losing some readership. The way I figure things, my BLOG is a bit of an escape and if I have not needed that escape in the lasts month that is likely a good thing.  Thanks for your patience everyone.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Car Blocking

I have been experiencing a phenomena that is new to me, but perhaps a reader has had this experience and can add to my understanding of it.
Three times in the last five months or so (so not that frequently) I have been blocked out at stop signs and red lights by cars and I think it is intentional.
This is how it happens (with high quality photo explanations below):
A. A car passes me.

In all the images we are moving toward the intersection at twelve o'clock. The silver Nintendo DS is the car and the blue poker chips represent my bicycle.

B. The same car arrives at a stop sign or red light just ahead of me.
C. Before I get an opportunity to come in along their right side, between them and the curb, they pull in very, very tight to the curb.

D. There is certainly no room to squeeze through.
E. In every case, the car was neither turning right nor left, but instead carried on straight through the intersection when appropriate.
F. When they do carry on, the very obviously pull away from the curb, and take a much more natural position within their lane.

So what is happening here?
Is the intent here antagonistic or altruistic?
I can imagine that the driver is attempting to spite me, the cyclist, in effect saying "I'm going to mess up your advantage by taking away your lane." But I have also imagined that the driver is thinking "I want the guy on the bicycle where I can see him, for his own safety."  Most accidents between cars and bicycles happen at intersections and by blocking me and keeping me behind him, he certainly eliminates a lot of right hook, and other negative, potential for me.
So have you experienced this same thing, reader friend?  To me, this is clearly intentional, so why do you think?


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Moving Photo Attempt

This is the first time I have tried taking a picture of myself moving.  It's not easy!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Extreme Fog

In my opinion, bicycling in heavy fog is a lot of fun.  It feels good on the face, and there's really no danger of being able to see far enough ahead.  It's not like traveling in a car, which is going fast enough that the fog becomes an issue of visibility.
Cool.  My paint job is apparently named "Bridge Overpass Green."

(I'm only on the sidewalk for the purposes of this photo.  Yes, that's a perfectly good bike lane to my left.)
However, it does become an issue when cars cannot detect you soon enough.  I had one close call on this ride and I'm pretty sure that the "guy" came up on me so fast that he had no idea I was there.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Couple More "Century" Pics

Transporting a gaggle of bicycles!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Century Misrepresentation

This year at the Ride for Refuge charity event I elected to do the 100km loop.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Alleycat in Hamilton?

A very unusual sighting in Hamilton.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Bern Brentwood

The tag it came with says it's a "Macon" but I'm pretty sure it's not.
Anyhow, I love this helmet and don't see much difference between the two.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Things I Like - Comfortable Handlebars

Handlebars are a contentious issue for me because I have never had a comfortable set.  I am not even certain how to find the right ones.

My daughter's SWOBO bars were intended for my PAKE but they never made it.
She loves them, so that ship has sailed.

Friday, September 28, 2012

This Town Needs an Improved Method of Communitcation

I don't know how to re-post from another BLOG but the link I am referring to is here.

Apparently the Bike SNOB was in town.  In fact, it turns out that I have missed him by about 4 hours.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Bicycle Observations in Myrtle Beach, SC.

Just back from a week of vacation on the beach.
As usual I was sensitive to bicycle culture.
I must say, it was difficult to come by.

Here's one thing I did find at "Wonderworks."

At their outside Catina you are welcome to blend your own drink by bicycle.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


The shadows seem to be getting longer, earlier.  It can only mean one thing.

"There's a shadow just behind me, shrouding every step I take."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I Love Bicycles

Lacing yet another wheel.
I've done 5 in one year. 
Maybe I'm getting good at this.

I wonder if I could make a little side $ doing this?

One day someone will say "Hey Dude, I've got a Chris King headset and a St. James wheel set."


Sunday, September 09, 2012

So that's where that went...

I recently changed to a new commuting backpack so I needed to transfer everything over from the old.
After I finished with the standard and necessary items here's what was left.

A bandana
A disc-golf towel
20 cents
A blank/unburned CD
A letter that was never sent
2 bungee cords
An empty glasses case
A bicycle lock key
A receipt for a magazine
Instructions for a Sony HandyCam

What I really need in a pack is...
An extra couple of dollars
A bus ticket
My pump (sometimes)
A spare tube (sometimes)
A tire repair kit
Occasionally a rain coat
The remainder of space is for work items, iPad, and the day's clothing.

What are the things you need on your commute?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

"Glory Days" will pass you by...

In April I did the 60km Paris-Ancaster Race.  It was the first of its kind for me, sort of a gravel-grind, and I loved it!
Just the other day I thought I'd do a search on it to see if anyone had anything posted because sometimes it just takes a long time to get things on the web.
Then I found a picture of me!
This is so great - I never get the chance for a shot like this because I'm always the one with a camera in my hand.  So, I'm pumped for this action shot!

It's early in the race because I did an endo at about 10km and destroyed my front brake, plus I am waaayyy too clean to be far in.
I know that look though. As early on as this may be...I was already exhausted!

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Enjoy the Beauty

Instead of feeling the need to catch up to the next cyclist all the time, I decided that perhaps I was missing something.

I went slower and took things in, without regret.
I should do this more often and get over my competitive nature.

Down by Lake Ontario.  I can't often come this way but today it worked out.

I cropped out the bird crap on the railing.  Makes a nicer picture, don't you think?

Monday, September 03, 2012

Ride for Refuge 2012

This will be my third Ride for Refuge and I am going to do their maximum mileage this year - 100km.  I know it's not necessarily a lot by many peoples standards but this is about my limit since I don't yet do club rides or even bother to get out nearly as much as I should, aside from commuting.

The thing about this Ride is the camaraderie.  My wife and daughter will join me in both cycling and raising funds for this cause.  They will do a 25km route but just the same, it's so wonderful to have them out with me.

When I read about people cycle-camping and spending the week on some of the trails that are around New York, New England or Pennsylvania I am so envious.  I guess the Ride is my little taste of a family cycling adventure.

Their logo means "Love, Sweat & Gears.
(also, my daughter says I don't smile enough on my BLOG shots!)

I've only done a couple of charity rides but I like them.  I have heard that some folks are critical of them, but I don't understand exactly why. 

Sunday, September 02, 2012

"Reveal the Path"

The new film from the producers of Ride the Divide is being screened in Hamilton.

September 26th at the Mountain Theatre on Concession.

It's a double-bill that opens with Ride the Divide at 6:30, followed by the new flik.

It will benefit a couple of causes, including my friend, JD's, efforts to finish the Tour in 2013.

I can get you tickets now.  We're hoping for a minimum of 100 people at this.  Spread the word!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Sometimes its not just about the bike...but usually it is.

My daughter and I ran in a 5km race last weekend.
It was sponsored by Domestique - a coffee bar that caters to cyclists and cycling (they were packed in there and going nuts when Ryder won the GIRO in the Spring).

This fellow was really nice, handing out good coffee and brought along a slick looking Linus to boot.

Linus' have such clean lines.

The Cafe is neat - it has cycling on the TV all the time (you don't see that everywhere), one of Steve Bauer's yellow jersey's from the tour, as well, Bauer and other pro's (past and present) often drop in.

I'll do a post on them sometime.

Friday, August 31, 2012

I Got "Chicked"

I consider myself to be a competitive commuter.  I think I invented the term, but certainly not the concept.

Part of the competition means that I don't like getting passed.  In fact, I tend to target the next rider I see and pass them (honestly, its just a goal and doesn't always factor into reality).

Nevertheless, when I passed a woman a couple of days ago I knew I was in for a fight.  She was clearly out for a "riding to lose weight" kind-of ride.  She was on a very busy (read: dangerous) road, wearing flip flops, no helmet, red as a beet and I could hear her breathing from 20 feet away.  I gave her a friendly wave...

In spite of it all, she had venom in her eyes when I passed.

About a mile later I was stopped behind 2 cars at a red.  As the light just began to turn she whizzed by me, missing me by about a foot.

I had already seen her go through one red light so I was in no mood to play her game.  Instead I slipped into her wake and leisurely drafted her for about two miles before she turned.

I think the drafting really annoyed her all the more.  I don't believe she knew what I was doing and was confused.  Maybe I was playing the game after all.

Update:  I passed her going in the other direction again this morning.  It was at a red light and she was on the other side of the intersection.  We clearly saw each other seeing each other, and I'm sure there was recognition.  Then she turned, pedalled and went through the red (!).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Commuter Pack

I have been searching for months, maybe years, for a suitable pack.
It needed to be ...
Easy to access.
Simple in design, yet pragmatic.

There have been very few competitors in this race.  The ones that looked good were typically $180 and up (which I would pay), and attainable only/primarily online (because of my location in Canada).  The latter is an issue because I would have to make the purchase with one major assumption: comfort.

I stumbled across the SealLine Urban Backpack. 

I am really impressed.

Mine is the small.  Apparently the larger version makes a shoulder check difficult.
It's bright (several colours to choose from), and has a couple of reflective strips.

There is some back cushioning and ventilation.  However, I have some serious sweat issues and I don't think any pack could be vented enough for me!

A basic strap system that is not cumbersome or cluttered.  There is a waist strap, which I also wanted so that load is stabilized.

Here are my three "unknowns" for the time being.  The material feels very stiff and solid but will it stay that way, and more importantly, will it resist ripping at the stitching under a full-load?

The snap or closing mechanism is unconvincing.  We'll have to see how this ultimately performs.

The rear zippered compartment doesn't appear too use-able.  I have put my wallet in there but anything bigger looks to threaten the glued seam.  I'll likely leave this compartment alone for the most.

Nothing fancy inside, but that's what I was after.

Decent capacity for a "small" bag.  I believe its 17 litres but it seems to hold a lot more than advertised.

This was the last one they had at Bushtukah and I did not get it right away.  I went home and researched it and checked the reviews.  Then I panicked because I found the pack to be very difficult to get - seems to be very little stock out there.

Suffice it to say that I was able to finally make the purchase.  I've only been using it for two weeks, so this does not portend to be a review.  I'm just saying that I believe I've found something that works well for me.


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lovely Riding Today

I pass this park every day heading to and from the office.  It's in memory of the war of 1812. Beautiful spot.
Amazing how a place where there was once such violence can now be so pristine.

That's my new pack in the picture.  Pretty excited about it so I'll share soon.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Easy Riding

This is when construction benefits me.

The city is repairing the sidewalk.  As a consequence there is about two miles of pylons right where I would usually ride.  HOWEVER, cars don't want to or cannot fit in this lane with the pylons so I get the whole thing to myself!  It'll be glorious while it lasts.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Great Time Away

Although neither a "cycling" vacation, nor an "observation by bicycle" I feel compelled to post an awesome retreat that my family and I enjoyed.  Interior canoe tripping through the Kawartha Highlands.

The pic below is wife and daughter warming up at the first campsite.

My daughter and I at the end of a portage.  As I recall not a particularly long one, but it was nonetheless time for lunch. (oh, I should mention that this is my nod toward bicycling...I am wearing a wool jersey with a bike-print on it).

Can you guess the food item?  You would not have guessed pancakes I presume!  My daughter liked to call them 'scramcakes.'  They tasted just fine with real Canadian maple syrup!

Not a lot of folks I know can tolerate powdered milk, but I kind of like it.  Apparently so does my little girl.

Almost finished our 4 day trip.  I think we are more tired than we are letting on here.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Quick Evening Ride

I'm up here and they're down there ...

End of the line at Lake Ontario.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Things I Like: Kenda Tires

I can only afford to experiment with so many things, but I seem to have landed on Kenda's "Small Block 8" tires, and, yes, I would recommend them.
I have been running 32's but recently stepped up to 35's.  I have not had the 35's in the winter yet, so I can't speak directly to any difference the width will make handling in that climate.
The SB 8's do hum along on the asphalt for a month or so, and I'm sure the friction makes you a bit slower.  But after about 90 days the tread breaks in, yet not down, allowing for a noticeably quieter ride.

I find that if I ride on the soft-gravel shoulder of the highway the tires perform even better.  I actually believe I go faster on here than the asphalt. 

After 16 months of commuting I competed in a 60km race through mud and they still performed marvelously.

Whatever kind of rubber compound Kenda is using works well in the Canadian climate - that is, winter.  There is almost no lateral slippage on either snow or gravel - these tires want to go forward. These tires handle better through snow and ice than anything I have found so far, and I expect that the 35's will do even better.

I prefer a folding bead (ever try to change a wire bead tire in the winter?) and that was a draw for me. 

They come in around $50 each in Canada, so not cheap.  If you can get them in the States they are about half that price.  But as I have said, they are hardy and will last.  My 32's lived for just over two years of good, routine punishment.

Keep them at the recommended pressure.

They are made in Taiwan.

Thursday, August 02, 2012


Went to a mall the other day and saw this.

It's not especially helpful, that is, any different from a row of bike racks anywhere else.  And it is placed  equidistant from two entrances to the mall itself, meaning, not close to any actual doors.

However it does convey a pleasant message.

Thanks for the effort, Mapleview Mall.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Pake build is in a temporary state of ride-ability

My trusted aluminum Diamondback was being cannibalized for the last three weeks to help me finally make one ride-able bicycle.  All that time I have been without any bicycle at all and its been killing me!
Although not in its final form (I am still building the wheels at one heck of a lazy pace) I have finally christened the new Pake.

The last piece was the single crank - but I finished assembly at my folks cottage last weekend and took it on a quick 20km gravel grind to check the geometry.

What a huge difference between steel and aluminum.  I will have more to say on this in a later post. 

There's more work to be done but I like what I have so far.  One interesting note is that I am using a 6-speed twist shifter with a 7-speed hub on a 9 speed derailleur.  The range falls to the lowest denominator - that is - right now I have 6 speeds.  They are a bit on the high side but that will be remedied.

My portable shop.  I used my car's bike carrier for a stand and it worked really well!

Dirty Kanza 2013, here I come!