Thursday, April 20, 2017

Shadows






Thursday Morning 6:30am
-4°C (Windchill -7°C)
Mist



I met a shadow on the road today.

I couldn’t help but laugh and think, “Hey look - it’s a shadow of my former self!”

(I know, corny and cliched… but....)

A shadow of a former self that was in somewhat better shape.

A shadow of a former self that got up every damn morning at FIVE am to meet friends at six and ride for an hour and half.

A shadow of a former self that thought nothing of getting up on Sunday morning and riding 100 Km on a 54x22 fixed gear!?

A shadow of a former self that was damn near 20kg lighter!

(yes, Kilograms – we’re in CANADA… We use METRIC… get over it!)

(also, 20 Kg doesn’t sound nearly as bad as 40lbs)

A shadow of a former self that didn’t get passed by old people on TOWNIES?!

(In my defence, I was keeping pace with a ten year old who was riding a brand new bike… and they had electric assist motors!)

A shadow of a former self that wasn’t always so anxious and depressed ALL THE FUCKING TIME!?

Hello shadow, it’s good to see you again. It’s been too long. We should do this more often. 


Friday, March 31, 2017

Summer Tires

March always feels like a little game of "Chicken" with Mother Nature. Snow melts... and then there's a  blizzard... and then that melts... and then...? And with ever melt and stretch of warmer days I begin to wonder: Is it time to switch tires?



It is irritating listening to the constant clatter of spikes rolling over pavement or bricks. It is the sound of slowing down. It is the sound of expensive tires being worn down to nothing. Should I change them? Is this the last we've seen of the snow?



Ice starts breaking up on the river.



Shifting.



I mean there is going to be those weird piles of snow that last a bit longer.



And the occasional shaded pathway that remains treacherously icy after it seems like all the other snow is gone.



But when everything else is just wet...? Do I change them yet? Are we going to see more snow again? will I need to change them back again for another week...?



Buskers start showing up on Broadway... That's got to be a sure sign that spring is here?!



Amanda and Finnegan now have dedicated winter bikes (fat tire bikes) and The Girl doesn't ride in the winter - so the question for all of them is a bit different: Which bike do I ride today? Is there sufficient snow and ice remaining to warrant another soaking? (Fat tire bikes throw a LOT of water up on your backside when riding through puddles!)



Amanda and both the kids have been riding summer bikes for a couple weeks now, and I've been riding... other bikes (with smoother tires)... but I left the winter tires on the Yuba until yesterday morning - just in case. As I'm not hauling The Girl anymore I only really need to use a cargo bike once or twice a week (to get to violin lessons and groceries). But this last week has been so warm I just couldn't stand another day of metal studs clattering on pavement.



New Summer Tires.

I picked up some new Fat Franks at Bike Universe last fall during a big sale - they were 50% off! I thought it was time to treat myself to some new summer tires for the beast. I had been riding mis-matched tires. One of the original (black) Fat Franks that were on the bike had a sidewall failure some time ago. So I'd replaced them with some tires I'd had on my 1FG briefly - Arrow Racing Launch - before deciding they made it feel like driving a tank (compared to previous tires I'd used...). but after a summer or two of riding those - one of them had a sidewall failure and I put the remaining Fat Frank back on.

The new ones are cream coloured - as soon as I tried putting them on I started regretting having bought them - I'm too much of a slob to have light coloured tires. They were instantly covered in black stains - brake gunge spread from the dirty, dirty rims... I tried my best to clean them up, but as I said, I'm a slob - they'll probably always look dirty... So stupid. What was I thinking?! Gah!?

Then I got out and rode on them.

Putting one summer tires after riding on a pair of super knobby, studded tires all winter is like riding a whole new bike. So fun to ride. Coasting more than five metres before having to pedal again to keep going and remain upright. Using more than the lowest gear. I fell alive again. I actually LIKE going places again and want to get outside again.

I'm warming up to these new cream-coloured tires...



Sunday, March 26, 2017

Amanda Takes the Yuba

When we first bought the Yuba it was understood that it was to be a "shared" bike - one that both Amanda and I could make use of. Because I am largely in charge of food shopping and hauling kids to their various assorted activities (and am the only one with leg strength to haul the yuba around with kids on it!) I'm pretty much the only one that's made use of it... It's essentially became my go-to-get-around bike for the last EIGHT YEARS!? Amanda has very rarely made use of it. I don't think she's been on it for years.

This weekend, however, she was attending a restorative yoga class that required the participants to bring a LOT of props - blocks, pillows, bolsters, mats, etc... and she started wondering how she was going to get it all there! I then remineded her that we DID have cargo bike... which she HAD used in the past... and that since it has been melting I woudln't be needing it to haul kids anywhere that day as they can get themselves around just fine in this nice weather...



So she loaded it up...



...and off she rolled.

That's a whole lot of yoga props! Being mostly pillows, I think it was a fairly light load - y'know, compared to what I usually haul on it - just BULKY.

I wonder if I'm going to have to share the Big Fat Dummy...? I mean, it'll have MY NAME on it!




Thursday, March 9, 2017

Cold Again



Well I knew that warm weather last week couldn't last.

Saturday evening the temperature started to plummet. Overnight snow started to fall. And there was a LOT of it. So much the kids actually played hooky from dance class and we stayed home and played games.

The next two days brought more snow and WIND! That wind drove the snow into some nasty drifts. It was awful. I don't have any pictures, because I mostly avoided going out, and when I did all energy was channeled into just trying to get around.

Thursday was better - snow was cleared or packed down.



The Boy - on the way to violin lessons.



The Girl - doing the same, but still riding on the back of the Yuba Mundo.

We're considering getting a Surly Big Fat Dummy. I hope The Girl is onto the 24" Specialized fat tire bike The Boy is currently riding by next year - I don't know if my knees can take another winter of hauling her up hills and bridges...



As it is, I make her get off and walk up this hill beside me...

Of course if I do get a Big Fat Dummy it will probably have better gear options than the Yuba...



Looks like we're in for a few more days of cold - they're forecasting a -38°C overnight tonight... but +6°C on Wednesday...

Last weekend got me really excited about getting out and riding for FUN again - not just to get around town from place to place. I really hope it does warm up again and STAYS warm... It hasn't been a preticularly long or brutally cold winter. But I have had enough.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

A Couple More Warm Days



It's been back and forth between melting and damned cold again here for the last bit. Friday and Saturday were warmer - and the occasional melts have cleared MOST of the roads of snow and ice - so the girl got out her bike and rode it for a couple errands on friday and to her dance classes (with Amanda on Saturday).

On Saturday, after running my weekly errands downtown, I did a bit of monkeying about with bicycles  to see if I could make Amanda's Soma Double Cross bike set up so that Finnegan could ride it. I did some swapping around of some stems and saddles and seat posts and through trial and error, we finally got it to the point were he could kind-of-sort-of-maybe ride it.



So we went out for a short ride out Spadina south.

While we were out we spotted a beaver.



It's there, if you look close.

It's supposed to snow again tomorrow and be cold again for the next week or so. So we probably won't be going riding again for a bit. With any luck he'll grow and inch before spring cycling season is truly upon us. If Finnegan can ride the Double Cross, The Girl will probably be able to ride his old Kona Jake 24 and we can all do some backroad adventuring this summer!

For myself, well... this kind of happened in January...



My friend Ryan sold me his old (2013) Salsa Fargo!

I had been thinking I might convert the Surly CrossCheck into something close to a light backroads touring machine in the spring, but with the purchase of the Fargo the CrossCheck has kind of become redundant (as I have serious doubts as to whether I'll ever RACE 'cross again).... it may be time to say good-bye...


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Transitions

Last Friday, Amanda, Finnegan and I headed out to Royal University Hospital for a clinic with the boy's Diabetes Team (paediatric endocrinologist, dietician, Diabetes nurse, etc.). It's been warm and melting again - after another wintery cold blast at the beginning of February.

These transitional periods are the worst. MOST of the roads and pathways are clear, but there are always low bits that water sits on, or bits on slopes that water drains across and freezes overnight. What bike to take - ones with studs (that will get worn down on the bare pavement) or something smoother (that will slip all over on the ice)?



Amanda decided to sick with her Moonlander  no studs, but big fat tires (this is her fourth winter on that bike!). Finnegan decided to forego his fat tire bike and pulled out his summer bike - easier riding and fenders for all the water! The downside of the fat tires in this weather is those big fat tires spray a LOT of water all over one's backside if you are lacking fenders...



Teh section of the Meewasin trail from the Broadway Bridge north to the intersection of 24th and Spadina was the WORST - especially this little slope pictured above. I couldn't even ride up it with my studs - but I made it to the top. The others were having a hard time of it - it was almost comical. Amanda would take a step and slide right back down - having no traction anywhere - tires... boots... nuthin! I had to go back down and help her out.

Normally I'd say I'm sure this won't last - we'll get another blast of winter before true spring. But later I went to pick up The Girl who had a sleep-over at my folks so she didn't have to get up so early and go to the hospital with us. Just as we were pulling up in front of our house I saw a butterfly flit by!



and the geese are back!







Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Break in the Weather

This past week we've had a bit of a cold snap - day time highs below -20°C. Windchills dipping into the -40°C zone...



I've been sick with a cold most of the week, and so didn't much go out in it... I have in the past, when it's been this cold. but not so much this week.

Then on Saturday it warmed up to the negative teens and windchill above -20°C. (today it is -5°C... later in the week it's going to be above zero!) Teh funny thing about when we have  acold snap and then it warms up to -20°C is suddenly EVERYBODY is out riding their bikes.

I couldn't even get my usual "Rock Star Parking Spot" in front of the Francis Morrison Library when I wandered downtown for my weekly errands



(well... SOME of the weekly errands - the Night Oven Bakery was closed for holidaze).



Seriously, I had to park waaaaaay over at the next post.

When I came out someone else had rode up and couldn't be bothered to park so far away and had left his bike right up against the front window - you know right by the sign that says "Do Not Lean Bikes Against Window"..