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!