Thursday, June 5, 2014

Jumping back in

Time to jump back in to blogging!

Jumping into the blue wanters in Kilarney Provincial Park
So in looking over my postings, basically I didn't make a single post for a year. Why? Well lots of reasons, I really don't have a lot to say, no one reads this blog, and I'm too lazy. Also I really don't take enough pictures on trips, especially bike trips and so I have a cycling blog almost devoid of pictures of bikes.

Still it is time to make at least a monthy attempt to say something interesting.

Last year, in Febuary I lost my job, and sadly I am still gainfully unemployed. It has become pretty stressful with the reduced income having become an issue for us since my EI ran out in the begining of this year.  But last year also saw some really great memories for the family,  a big canoe trip, several bike trips including our week long adventure to Port Elgin.  Maybe its time to post about those trips.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Purses and panniers

We have become quite addicted to Detours bike bags , starting from my  first saddle post bag (upper right) bought several years ago.
The pretty brown and flowered handlebar bag was the second purchase, and after that the flood gates opened. One of our local bike shops started carrying the Detours line and last year saw me buying the various purses for my girls. This year it was a set of small panniers for my wife's daily commute as a Mothers Day gift, and lastly, the big black purse for me as a birthday gift. It is a great cavernous bag, sadly it looks like a purse when I carry it; still I love it for the front of my bike.

All of the handle bar bags use the older Go Designs attachment, and while the weight limit seems pretty low (5lbs), that is fine for the little purses. The larger ones my wife and I use as lunch bags when commuting or as big handlebar bag on the tandems really would benefit from a stronger mounting, but having every bag with the same type of mount is important with so many bikes to swap them onto.  

The one thing I was surprised to discover is that our local bike shop is selling really old stock.

Actually that's not a big surprise, the shop is a junkyard of old and used parts, a treasure trove if you are hunting for a replacement part. But buying old stock in bike bags can be an issue. I just purchased these beautiful panniers just a few weeks ago (Mothers Day present) and so far am very impressed by the clip. I was very skeptical of mounting bags without a lower hook to keep the bag from swaying, however once I put in the right sized adapters, the bags hold the rack perfectly. The packaging said that the mountings were robust but  if one broke we could contact Detours for replacements. However after visiting Detours site, it appears they no longer support that mounting systems.

We were considering getting some of  the Detours much larger fully waterproof bags for touring. And I am seriously considering getting a set of the large shopping style bags with the thick rubber bottoms and hide away back pack straps, but they also feature that older clip mount, so I am now very hesitant to proceed, as it seems Detours no longer support that mounting. At $75 for each bag, or more it is important to be able to get replacement parts, nothing is worse than having equipment fail and be beyond repair. We'll have to wait until we hear back from Detours if we can still get replacent clips for the bags before buying anything else I guess.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

cyclist killed, by drunk anti cyclist driver

So I came across this article today. A nice kindly elderly gentleman who over the past few years has been repeatedly complaining about cyclists at city hall meetings. His rants covered the usual complaints about how those damned cyclists ignore traffic laws. How they ignore traffic signs, slow traffic, and disobey traffic lights.

Ah yes those scofflaws, those hooligans in spandex.  Not getting satisfaction at public meetings in forcing cyclists off the road what happens. Well lets see, this kindly man, who in 1975 himself ignored the law and drove drunk. And then again this year he drove drunk the wrong way down a road and struck and killed a cyclist. Ah but of course, it was an accident, not like he is recklessly ignoring the law, not like his actions put everyone else’s lives at risk. Not like he has not already been convicted of doing this before. No the problem are those people sitting on 20lbs of metal slowly travelling the right way down the road, blocking traffic, and ignoring the road signs.

Did he, in a drunken rage decide to solve the problem of cyclists on the road himself? Maybe he figured "I'll give him a good scare". Hard to believe he was innocently travelling the wrong way on the road, in control of the car, and the cyclist who is travelling the right way in mid afternoon, somehow did not notice the SUV headed for him.

But it is also far too easy to read motive into his actions. David Hembrow on his blog, talks a lot about subjective safety, the feeling of safety created by having cycling both considered a normal part of traffic/life and by creating separate space for cyclists. This separate space also creates a real increase in safety making incidents like what the kindly old man did harder.

We all know drivers who share this driver’s attitude. Somehow the tiny guy on a little vehicle is the problem. That little guy only going 30kph, who enters the intersection on yellow and can't clear it before the lights change, that is the problem, its not me doing the same thing with a 2 ton vehicle.  It is beyond counting how many people have shared the same arguments with me, even told me how stupid I am to put myself at risk sharing the road with them. How they feel unsafe passing me on a 4 lane road. Somehow the thought to slow down while passing, or to change lanes is so alien they cannot imagine taking an extra few seconds to safely pass.

Hopefully he will be convicted of the vehicular manslaughter charge he faces. This was not an accident, he got drunk and drove then killed someone, Regardless of his views on cycling, regardless of the fact he killed a cyclist. He was given a second chance before, and this time his actions took a life.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Building towards and adventure

Our plan for some time has been to take a 3 month to year long big bike adventure with the kids.
We’ll be starting the ride by heading down to the Niagara area.  Then follow the water front trail in Ontario till we get to the Kingston Area. From there up to Ottawa, into Quebec, and eventually end up on the east coast of Canada. Then, depending on money and time, head south into the USA and maybe over seas. The plan is to take the trip either in 2015 or 2016.

This year however marks the beginning of preparations. We are starting with a lot more bike rides and little trips this summer, including a full 8 day ride at the end of summer.  Part of the prep is sourcing out some new equipment for the trips.  We are pretty well geared for any trip as we have been backpackers and bike trippers for a long time, but there are 3 items we are hoping to pick up by 2014 so we can really break it in before our trip.

  1.  A really good 4 man tent. From all the blogs I've read from families who have undertaken such trip,s it seems the 4 man tent is a big benefit. It is your house while you travel andit is important to have enough room to play inside on those days when rain convinces you its best to not ridethat day.

Right now we are looking at 2 tents, the Hilleberg Nallo 4 GT, and the Exped Gemini IV.  The Nallo is an exceptional tent, with a huge vestibule, sets up very quickly and can withstand any weather, but is pricey. The Gemini has an even bigger vestibule, but they need to change the inner tent to use pole clips rather than pole sleeves so that the tent will stay dry when setting it up in the rain. It is a tad heavy, (over 11 lbs vs 9 for the Nallo)  and taking  8+ minutes to set up. Because they use pole sleeves on the inner tent,  the inner tent will get drenched in a heavy rain unless they change to use pole clips. The price is good, but if it doesn’t keep us dry in the storm, they amazing vestibule isn’t worth it.

     2.  A new stove.
This really isn’t a need, we have 3 fantastic MSR stoves, 2 Whisperlites and 1 DragonFly. I started out with the MSR XGK back in the early 80’s and have been a huge fan ever since.  Marriage of 2 backpackers and a lucky find has resulted in having 3 really good stoves. But gear lust is unending and MSR has actually managed to make the Whisperlite even better with the Whisperlite Universal. A multifuel stove that uses White gas, kerosene, and butane. So we can have the benefits of a canister stove, while having the greater efficiency and lower environmental impact of a white gas stove.

   3.   And our last desire in a second Bike Friday.

 We have found a really great used one on ebay for $3,000 but we can’t swing the purchase right now with my being out of work and having some more pressing home repairs at the moment.

Our current set up is the Bike Friday XLQ tandem, and the Opus IV.
We love the Opus, but both of the girls really prefer the more traditional riding position on the Bike Friday. And the Fridays are designed  for shipping, which makes any trips that much easier. Toss the bikes in their own trailers, and you have 2 suitcases to check in at the airport or train/bus station, no muss no fuss. If we do travel with the Opus, unless we spend $1,200 to get SNS couplers put onto it, it is a bit of a packing nightmare, especially for air travel.

So if we can these items and some new riding clothes for the girls (but that’s a yearly purchase anyhow) and we’ll be set for the trip. Time to do a little financing, and house clearing. So over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting  a bunch of stuff on Kijiji, starting with my little yellow trike.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mayor Ford and Parking Bikes

Rob Ford is an Idiot and apparently incapable of some simple math. They are currently looking at replacing 24 parking spots for cars with 380 parking spots for bicycles.

Mayor Ford screams how doing so will cause the city to loose $70,000 dollars in revenue from these spots by replacing them with parking for bikes…. gravy train gravy train gravy train. Hear that Ford Nation, Rob has rung his bell, time to salivate.

Assuming those spots are used 50 days a year and 5 days a week, that revinue is generated for the City at a rate of just under $12/car /day. So drivers are likely paying at least $20/day, lets be generous and say they pay $30/day, providing the parking authority $10,800 in profit for these 24 spots.

But what about those bikes parking on the gravy train, taking up those automotive parking spots? Those 24 parking spots will now service up to 380 bikes. Hmmm without even doing math, it would seem charging $3  per day would result in the same revenue, but lets state the assumptions and do the math.

1. People will only ride in on average 150 days rather then 250 days they drive.
                (that’s just riding April to November)

2. Only 200 bikes will get parked per day during this peak period.

3. the parking authority is making a profit seperate from the city. Not sure if that is true, I was too lazy to look up the parking rates. But if that is not the case, it just increases how much money the city of Toronto stands to make off these locations by switching to bike parking.

I did the math, and the result is less then $2.50/cyclist per day to generate the same $70,000 for the city. And if the city of Toronto charges the cyclist $3 per day for this parking, the parking authority now makes $20,000 in addition to that $70,000 for the City. Maybe they could toss a little more to the city.

Now $3/day for secure parking of a bike seems like a reasonable rate. You have to expect more riders during summer, and maybe all of those 380 spots will fill up. Plus it is reasonable to expect that you will still get riders using this location from December – March, and even if it is only 1 cyclist, this still represents a greater profit for everyone over cars parking in those 24 spots.

Oh yea,  those 200 people on bikes, they are not in cars, thus making MORE parking available for other people, look you just freed up at a minimum 100 parking spots!

So you give up 1% of the parking spots available, service several hundred more people, make more money, and reduce parking congestion for those still driving. How does that gravy train work anyhow?

Rob Ford, wipe the gravy off your chin; you’re an idiot.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

With the weather warming up, its time to break out our new purchases from this years bike show. I've replaced 15 year old tights, however unfortuantely these ones do not have any padding, so I'll also be looking for the padded underwear to go with it for fall.

We've slowly been replacing a lot of our older clothes with wool, a ton of socks and some nice icebreaker shirts. We have followed that up with ice breaker long johns for all of us, some sweaters and a fwe other items. Our love affair with the new wool attire spilled over into bike gear,  hats, jerseys, arm warmers, and even shorts, all in wonderful wool.

Not everything from icebreaker has worked out, the heavier sweaters are a bit of a bust, and a very expensive bust, but enough has been great that we went nuts at the bike show.
So ice breaker, as well as Luna, and Rafla wool bike clothes got scooped up.

A few new rides, some spinning, and some other workouts have given us preliminary opinions of the wool vs cotton, spandex and other artificial fabrics. so starting next week I"m going to review all of our new active clothes, starting with socks.

Yes its icebreaker vs smartwool vs, what ever the hell else we have in the drawer.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

When Dad’s in pain, the others train: redux

Well this year, I am again off the bike due to a wrist injury. Thankfully it is a lot earlier in the year, and is only a bad sprain from work. Initially it was thought I had fractured my wrist, but thankfully it’s only a sprain. After two sessions of physio I am at again able to hold the handlebars, although I’m not putting it to the test, and have just been using a trainer. I’m starting to be able to do push ups again, however only using handles. And the other bonus is that I am currently out of work so I have the time to dedicate to the physio, nothing like being let go a few days after an injury, and of course now that I am out of work, I’ve found a really good price on a new tandem……just need to find a way to justify 4G when I don’t have an income.