Toronto Tidbits…

19 03 2013
NHL Hockey...

NHL Hockey…

Not a ton to report from Toronto. I’ve mostly been hanging at one or the other of my parents’ apartments. That means I had a rare opportunity to combine TV, cable and lots of time with not a lot to do. I have to report TV still sucks – so many channels and so little on. I mostly watched sports. I have a slight addiction to any sport that’s televised and is holding some sort of championship tournament. Tennis, curling, hockey – whatever…if it’s a best of the best tournament I can get into it….problem is I can’t easily get out of it! Luckily the only championships I could find was in figure skating and they didn’t get out of hand. I also watched a bunch of NHL games. It’s a novelty not to have to head to a pub to watch a game. Of course not being able to buy a pint of beer was a clear downside to the home viewing experience.

iPhone internet...

iPhone internet…

Sadly both my parents have crap internet connections and neither has WiFi…how can they live??? ;) Happily I was able to tether my laptop to my iPhone so I could work and surf the net during the trip. I haven’t used that feature much before, but it works great.

Jun...

Jun…

I did get out on my own Friday for a bit of a jaunt downtown. I met up with biker, blogger and all around nice guy – Jun Nogami for lunch at Sansotei Ramen. I’m not a ramen expert, but the meal was fresh and tasty. The place was bustling so they are clearly popular and worth a try if you are in downtown TO and have a hankering for ramen noodles.

A Rocking Lobster...

A Rocking Lobster…

Jun was riding a cool pink Rock Lobster. He’s an uber commuter and cargo biker. He was on his way to a human powered helicopter record attempt and invited me along. I was interested in checking it out, but I had to decide if I wanted to spend a few hours travelling around the city to see the helicopter or spend the time chilling in downtown.

Since it was my only day “off” on the trip I decided to roam the core on my own.

Bike crime scene...

Bike crime scene…

I headed over to The Urbane Cyclist LBS. It reminds me of a much bigger version of The Fairfield Bicycle Shop in Victoria. They both specialize in practical bikes for getting around with a nod towards the funky end of the bike spectrum. Quite a few years ago I bought my first folding bike [a Dahon Speed D7] at Urbane so we have a bit of history.

Water bottle cage budget bling...

Water bottle cage budget bling…

It was quite cold outside so I spent a lot of time just geeking out on bikes and chatting to the staff. I left with a cool metal bottle cage and a 2013 Ortlieb catalogue. Yes I am a bike nerd and I like my Ortlieb porn! ;)

Cool design...

Cool design…

I saw some cool architecture near Urbane and really enjoyed tromping along the busy streets with music pumping in my headphones. When I was young that was how I spent a lot of my free days and something I rarely do anymore. Having a soundtrack to your aimless wanderings is fun. My ears are probably happy I don’t use headphones a lot anymore.

Magazine porn...

Magazine porn…

I’m not a huge magazine reader, but when I am travelling having a few mags in my backpack makes the inevitable waits, planes, trains and buses more enjoyable. My iPhone is an older 3GS version with a limited battery so I can’t really expect it to entertain me on the move too much if I want it working for navigation and other mission critical tasks when I need it. There are a few magazines I really enjoy so I scored copies of: Bicycle Quarterly, Surfer’s Journal and Dirt Rag. I also grabbed a Mountain Bike Action and a Bike Magazine – neither of which are on my A List of sports journalism, but like a donut the occasional empty calorie is fun as long as you don’t go nuts! ;)

Surfer’s Journal and Stand Up Paddle Journal [sadly I had already read the current issue of SUP Journal] are truly excellent magazines with quality writing combined with stunning photos. You only get halfway through an issue before you start thinking about your next surfing trip. I’d love to find a mountain bike equivalent.

Jun made me a member of Tarik's Bike Club...thanks! ;)

Jun made me a member of Tarik’s Bike Club…thanks! ;)

With some reading material in hand I cruised the core stopping at a few gear stores to see the latest shiz and warming up. I’m well stocked on camping gear and clothing so I kept my wallet safely stashed in my pocket. I’ll save my gear fun tokens for travelling this year and wear out some gear.

I found myself in a nice pub for a couple hours to beat the cold and enjoy some draught beer in a comfy setting. Once again the iPhone and laptop came to my rescue as I was able to get some work done while relaxing for a bit.

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Jun and his daughters make these ribbons…

Eventually my free time ran out and I joined the throng for a Friday rush hour commute to the burbs where my dad lives for more family time.

I can’t say I really like Toronto. I’m not a big city guy, but it is fun to visit for a change of pace. :)

Ortlieb 2013 goodness...

Ortlieb 2013 goodness…





Sharon’s first 2012 Commuter Flat…

22 10 2012

Sharon taking off her front wheel to fix a flat…

Sharon got her first flat of 2012 and first flat in well over 12 months. Not bad at all. She’s running Grand Bois Cypres 700 x 30mm tires. These are fast, supple and comfortable tires with no flat protection. The benefit is she gets the maximum benefit from her pedaling effort and a comfortable ride. So far the Grand Bois are getting less flats than her previous tires that had some designed in puncture protection.

Trouble with getting so few flats is Sharon doesn’t get much practice fixing them. So she tackled the repair in my office so I could provide some advice. She only used tools she carries with her on her bike to ensure field repairs would be possible.

Sharon fixing her own bike…

Sharon located the hole in her tube and used that information to narrow down the search for the culprit in her tire. We found some glass that had cut her tire. It didn’t quite go through the casing. We discussed the pros and cons of using this tire vs. replacing it. She had a spare Grand Bois sitting around just for such a circumstance. She decided that since it was a front tire she wouldn’t take any chances and she’d replace it. She kept the old tire and will use it as a rear tire if needed at some point with a patch on the inside. Likely this tire won’t ever see action again as we’ll buy a spare from the Fairfield Bicycle Shop.

Small cut across tread…

It sucks to lose an expensive tire that’s nearly new, but given how little maintenance Sharon’s Surly Cross Check takes to keep working well as her commuter rig this is no big deal.





Sharon Battles the Elements…

18 10 2012

Sharon in the Bike Cave…

When Sharon started commuting to work on a bicycle rainy weather meant she would drive and take a day off the bike. It rarely pours rain here in Victoria, but the winter months do feature some precipitation. A typical rainy day here can best be described as “moist”. It’s definitely wet, but not outrageously so.

When I built up Sharon’s bike I installed full fenders and long mudflaps. I just can’t imagine a utility bike without ‘em. That meant she wasn’t getting wet and dirty from road spray. Sharon has slowly built up a set of clothes to ride to work in. Featuring either synthetic materials or wool they deal with the dampness from a light drizzle and from sweat without issue.

Her latest bikey investment is a blue Gore Bike Wear jacket that’s waterproof & breathable. It has allowed her to comfortably ride in light rain and to survive the occasional heavier deluge she faces on her bike. The practical upshot of this evolution is that Sharon is riding to work in almost any weather now. If we get a few days of snow she’ll skip the bike and if the weather looks ridiculously rainy she’ll skip it, but that still leaves 95% of the days in a year that look bikey to her.

It’s been fun to watch her evolve from a non-rider to a casual social rider to a occasional commuter to a regular commuter and now to Uber Commuter status. :)





Surly Cross Check Dynohub Light…

9 10 2012

B&M IQ Cyo Plus & Shimano dynohub…

Sharon has developed into a kick ass bike commuter riding most days of the week year round here on Vancouver Island. She’s been frustrated with charging batteries non-stop for her winter commutes so I promised to install a dynobhub and headlight on her Surly Cross Check commuter rig as part of her birthday present.

Looks like a serious commuter machine now… ;)

This is the wheel and light from my 700c LHT that I recently sold. They didn’t see a ton of use so they’ll give Sharon many years of faithful service I am sure. She’s going to keep using her battery powered light to double her lumens for really dark rides, but at least now she doesn’t have to stress too much about the battery levels. If they run out she’ll have more than enough light to ride by just from the dynohub light.

IQ Cyo Plus mounted to right fork leg…

We are trying the IQ Cyo Plus R on the right fork leg for now. If Sharon doesn’t love that position we may try mounting it on top of the front wheel at the fork crown. The right fork leg provides and easy path for the wiring which is nice as well as the low angle of light illuminates debris on the road well. The “R” version of this light puts extra light close to the bike idea for slower speed urban commuting where avoiding potholes or broken glass is more important than shooting light as far from the bike as possible.

Shimano dynohub DH-3N80…

Kurt helped me tidy up the wiring at the connect end of the light which was appreciated. The Shimano dynohub is a good deal and the drag isn’t terrible so I assume Sharon will simply use this wheel and light 24/7/365. We’ll keep the old front wheel just in case though.

Nice clean compact lighting setup…

Since we are into October Sharon will be using this light everyday until April so it will get a good test. I know she’s excited to be freed from tyranny of the battery ;)





Buddy Flaps – Sharon’s Cross Check…

28 08 2012

Front Buddy Flap…

I bought Sharon a set of Buddy Flap mud flaps for her Surly Cross Check more than a year ago and just managed to get my lazy butt in gear to install them.

The complete set…

They are long thick vinyl flaps with reflective stickers applied. I’ve used them on both my LHT’s and been happy with them. I like the fact they come down nearly to the ground at the front for complete splash protection. I also like the custom graphics. The flaps themselves are quite durable, but the reflective sticker can be damaged. I suspect the nice folks at Buddy Flaps would send you a new sticker set to fix any damaged ones, but I haven’t asked them yet.

Rear Buddy Flap…

You can get all sorts of graphic options on your Buddy Flaps including custom images/text. The package comes complete with all the hardware you need to mount them. You just drill some holes in your fenders and bolt them on.

The old mudflaps…

Her old mud flaps worked fine, which, is part of the reason it took me so long to get the new flaps installed. However, the new flaps do look a lot nicer.

A happy bike commuter…

I’m still of the opinion that given the reasonable cost a set of Buddy Flaps is a great upgrade for any fendered bike. This customized touch makes us smile every time we climb aboard.





Great Dark North!

24 08 2012

Thank God for bike lights…

In theory it’s still summer here in Canada, but it’s been getting dark enough at the end of our evening mountain bike rides in the forest that I’ve started mounting up a bike light. After investing in some powerful bike lights last year I’m not particularly fussed by the fact winter is on it’s way. Our lightly used mountain bike trails are essentially deserted in the dark winter nights which start around 430pm when November rolls around. I like being alone in the woods so that’s awesome as far as I’m concerned.

Although it has been known to rain a bit on Vancouver Island during the cold part of the year it is quite sporadic so it’s not hard to get out for a couple trail rides a week without getting wet from above. The trails themselves drain well and don’t hold much water. So riding conditions are pretty nice most of the time. Traction is the challenge with slick rocks and roots aplenty. That’s why my mountain bikes tend towards fat grippy rubber. I’ll probably ride my Pugsley and Scandal more often than I do in the summer. They don’t have rear suspension and are equipped with IGHs which means I won’t need to do much maintenance on them and won’t be trashing my expensive FS bike as much.

I was surprised by how little my MTB riding clothing changed between seasons. In summer I wear shorts, t-shirt and elbow/knee pads. In winter I only change the t-shirt to a long sleeve shirt. The forest is always several degrees warmer than the parking lot temperature and riding keeps the core warm. Every time I convince myself I really need warmer clothing I end up stopping after the first climb to stash it in my hydration pack. So I try and just accept I’ll be chilly for the first 5 mins of the ride and save myself the hassle of stopping.

Even urban riding gets better in the winter here. We don’t get snow and the rain infrequent enough we can ride most of the times we want to. The big influx of summer riders has died off leaving only 25% of the year’s peak bicycle traffic on the roads and bike paths. Sadly a lot of those fair weather cyclists ride like idiots so life gets a lot less “exciting” when getting around on our bikes once winter sets in. Of course we have powerful bike lights which take care of the short days and long nights. Both of us are sick of the battery charging routine which always seems to leave us in the dark once every week or two. I’ll be installing a dynohub + light on Sharon’s Cross Check in September and will also put one on my Long Haul Trucker. That way we’ll each have a reliable all weather day or night rig to ride.

So although I can’t say I am excited by the first hints that winter is on its way to Vancouver Island I don’t dread the dark and damp part of the year. Being a cyclist here means a 365 day a year riding season on the road and in the dirt without resorting to studded tires and parkas. That’s pretty awesome!





Bike to Work Week…

18 06 2012

Victoria Bike to Work Week T-shirt…

Victoria’s Bike to Work Week took place in May. Sharon is our household bike commuter and she participated fully. I on the other hand have an across the yard commute I do on foot. I must say I miss my old bike commuting days and look forward to resuming that fun transportation habit one day when I have an office to go to again.

Scott and I at our bike to coffee get together…

Neither Scott nor I have a bike commute yet we wanted to support Bike to Work Week in some small way we decided to ride to a coffee shop downtown.

Scott at work…

Scott is a work-a-holic and is very popular with bike geeks around the world. So needless to say he brought a computer to our rendezvous so he could stay in touch with his biznatch!

Might as well get some stuff done…

Since I was downtown I took care of an errand or two on my Bike Friday Tikit cargo bike…:-)

Sharon our uber bike commuter…