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Fairfield Bicycle Shop

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Passing through Victoria, I took the opportunity to visit Fairfield Bicycle Shop, which I had heard of over the years via various discussion groups such as the iBOB list. I had the additional pleasure of chatting with John, who aside from working here, is involved with sustainable transportation in Victoria. Our discussion was prompted by the fact that I happened to be wearing a Minimum Grid T shirt. Here is John in front of the store.
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Packed with lots of things to look at, including a nice collection of vintage bikes hung from the ceiling.
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I hadn’t seen this particular branding on a bike.
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Look, they have cargobikes.
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Also this SOMA tradesman.
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Two Yuba’s, an Xtracycle Edgerunner, and just in front of the Edgerunner, one remaining Opus Rambler in white for anyone who is looking for a really great kids bike.
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John told me that he has recently sold a bike to someone up from Portland. It was one of these Cycles Toussaint 650b bikes. With the exchange rate, it was apparently cheaper to buy in it Canada rather than the US. Strange times that we are living in……
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At any rate, if you are generally interested in bicycles that are outside the range of carbon fiber go fast bikes, I highly recommend a visit.

During our annual trip out to the left coast, I had a chance to drop by G&O Family Cyclery in Seattle. This is a shop that specializes in cargobikes, and in particular in cargobikes for families. With my interest in kids and cargobikes, this made it a must see.

DSC05971 Where else are you going to find a bike shop with a heavily modded edgerunner, a metrofiets, and a bullitt parked out front?

Right away, you can see this is paradise for people interested in cargobikes. That’s co-owner Tyler at the desk.
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There was so much to look at, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Here is a Edgerunner with a Seattle produced front end modification that fits a large front platform, accommodated by a 20″ front wheel. Note also the Velo Orange fender that has been recontoured to fit the 20″ wheel.
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This is the new kickback on the latest version of the Edgerunner. It no longer occupies the mounts for the wideloaders. Apparently it also has an internal spring to keep the stand in the up position. I hope it works better than the old bungie cord system.
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A Bullitt with a very nice box with raincover.
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The Bosch powered electric Edgerunner. This was one of many bikes that I did not test ride as I would have difficulty having to buy another bike, and then to ship it back home from Seattle.
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Note the braze on mounts for the front basket. Hopefully Xtracycle will see fit to add these to all Edgerunners. The Yuba mundo and the Haul a Day have these types of mounts too.
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A mini cargo bike for kids.
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A beautiful 20″ road bike with Brooks saddle, for the kid who has to have the best in everything.
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Finally, this Faraday ebike, which I had not seen previously in the flesh.
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If you are in the Seattle area, and are considering the option of a cargo bike for family cycling, I can’t imagine a better place to go. They have a wide range of bikes (I didn’t even take pictures of the bakfiets type bikes), and it looked like they could build up any configuration of bike that would suit your needs.

Update: a nice interview with co-owner Davey Oil is here.

Hamilton Bike Share

We were in Hamilton this weekend to take in a little PanAm Soccer. It’s been years since I’ve been downtown, and one of the brand new things is a bike share system. Although I didn’t ride any of the bikes, it was interesting to take a brief look at their bike, in comparison to the Bikeshare Toronto machines.
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The main difference is that the racking system is very simple, and all the smart tech is carried on the bikes themselves. The bike is a basic aluminum framed city bike that is significantly lighter than the ex-Bixi bikes.
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Here is the tech that displays the status of each bike. The yellow loop is the bike lock that is opened when you rent a bike via a smartphone app.
DSC05881 The small loops to the left are a lock holster.

One quirk of the system is that each bike has a name. This one is named after one of my daughters.
DSC05879 According to the FAQ, if you signed up for a founding membership, you got to name a bike. Other bike names on the same rack were “Skeletor” and “Linus Blanket”.

The bikes also feature shaft drive, as well as a very sturdy front basket.
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You can read this early review of what it’s like to actually use this system.

The next time I’m in town for an extended visit, I’m going to have to check out all of the new bike infrastructure that has gone in all across town over the last five years. It’s surprising that these improvements have gone in despite the actions of a City Council that often seems more dysfunctional that our own here in Toronto. Thumbs up to the citizen advocates such as those that are behind Raise the Hammer for pushing a progressive agenda.

Update: a Toronto based article comparing the two cities bike share system, and liking Hamilton’s better.

Earlier this week we visited some old friends who live in a rural area, and we took the opportunity to ride along the Cataraqui Trail, a rail to trail conversion in eastern Ontario. Here we are at one of the entrances to the trail.
DSC05787 Lucy is all set to go aboard the Haul a Day.

Off we go.
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The trail is pleasantly shaded for much of this length.
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Sometimes Lucy likes sitting backwards to check to see if I’m doing OK during the ride. Or maybe she just wants a treat.
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Here we are at the turnaround point for the ride. A nice opportunity to take some shots of the bikes.
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Our friends have a nice collection of old (as opposed to vintage) bikes. Here is a lugged steel Bianchi mixte.
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One of the gems of their stable is this 26″ wheel kid road bike by True North Cycles.
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Apparently the original owner of the bike was an X-Files fan.
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For part of the ride back, I swapped bikes with Steve for old times sake. He and I bought a pair of these Windsors in Grade 13, and every once in a while we’d ride them up and down the escarpment to and from our school in downtown Hamilton. They are hecho in Mexico, lugged steel, and they originally had sewups, which were not the optimal choice for the city.
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He has wisely swapped the original wheels for clinchers with wider tires. The curved fork gives a really nice ride over the rough stuff. Plenty of fender clearance as well. Now you might market such a bike as a “gravel grinder”.

A very pleasant ride, and a fun visit to give our kids a taste of rural living. As a coda to our visit just before we drove off, Tim demonstrates the giraffe unicycle that he picked up a while ago in Toronto.
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Hauling the Haul a Day

We were preparing for a road trip, we knew it would involve a family bike ride, and we wanted to take Lucy along. Ergo we needed to find a solution for hauling the Haul a Day down the road. This picture from 2007 shows that we are no strangers to toting weird bikes on our car using either a roof rack or a hitch rack, but I wanted a simpler solution.
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A couple of weeks ago, I did try to mount the Haul a Day on our roof rack, but I had some difficulty with it due to a lack of upper body strength (from a broken collarbone), as well as the fact that our current ride had a higher roof than our old Subaru. After some following of a FB thread, I decided to go for another hitch mounted rack. I chose the Sport Rack Crest rack because they happened to be selling it at the place where I got a hitch put on our Mazda5. It seemed to get pretty good reviews, it looked like it would easily handle the HaD’s wheelbase, and it was less than half the price of the Thule equivalent.
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Here are all the pieces out of the box.
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Here you can see that it works with the Haul a Day.DSC05749

My biggest concern was whether the loop type wheel holders were going to hit the low slung derailleur (as opposed to a tray type wheel holder). Here you can see if the chain is in the smallest rear cog, there is plenty of clearance. Note also that the kickstand is sticking through the spokes of the wheel on the adjacent bike.
DSC05727 I did have to remove the Big Foot rests as well.

I was a bit concerned about the width of the bike mounted this way, so I decided to remove the fixed front basket. This way, both ends of the bike do not extend beyond the side mirrors of the vehicle.
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Having just returned from our road trip, I am happy to report that there were no issues with the bike rack.

When there are no bikes mounted, it can fold up like this:
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and when you take it off, it is a relatively small package for storage.
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In summary, I really like this new rack, it works very well for a Haul a Day and one other bike, and it is smaller and lighter than my old Sportsworks rack.

Dropped by the student shop on Friday to touch base with the HPVDT as they prepare for Battle Mountain. The Aerovelo folks are busy testing and tweaking last year’s bike eta so that it will reach its full potential. Notably, they will have a more reliable set of wheels. Todd Reichert will be the sole rider.

HPVDT is working on a separate entry for the WHPSC. They are building a copy of eta, using the same shell design, but with a revised internal structure. These are the molds for the shell, made available to the team by Aerovelo.
DSC05743 They are also changing up the fabrication methods so that they will have a heavier but lighter and cheaper bike. From the project timeline, it is apparent that they will also not have much time for testing before the event, but that is more or less their tradition at this point ;)

Updates:
HPVDT blog entry July 11
Aerovelo notes on wheel design.

Canada Day 2015

One local tradition is that our MP, Peggy Nash, hosts a Canada Day event at High Park where a number of people are sworn in as Canadian Citizens. As part of the event, there are always tables for various community groups. This morning, the Ward 13 and Ward 14 groups of Cycle Toronto were there to promote cycling, and to get some signatures for a campaign to get a pilot project for Bike Lanes on Bloor.
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The conversations with people were generally bimodal: either people cycled in the city and enjoyed it (although they thought it could be safer), or they immediately responded that it was way too dangerous to bike. Either way, all understood that Cycle Toronto is working towards better bicycle infrastructure across the entire city.

The Ward 14 group has a clever promotion where they get people to pose with a picture frame, and put out the pictures over social media. Here is Mary Jo taking a picture of a couple of experienced city cyclists.
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Here is the link to today’s rogue’s gallery (on FB).

My Haul a Day has become my go to bike for bike advocacy. At the very least, it is a great conversation starter.
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This is John. He has done a Kent Peterson, and has switched from biking to scootering. Further conversation revealed that he has more folding bikes than I do.
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At one point, there was a frisson of excitement as Thomas Mulcair dropped by to say hello, along with Peggy Nash. Peggy has been very supportive of cycling, and you can see her picture here and there in past blog posts.
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Here is the picture frame picture of the two of them, taken and posted by Rob Z of Ward 14.
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(Picture source).

Here are Thomas and Peggy with the families of a new Canadian Citizen.
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As he left, I couldn’t resist the urge to run up and get a picture. I told him that when he becomes the next Prime Minister, I wouldn’t be able to do such a thing. He was amused.
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I should note for my (very few) US readers that we have a parliamentary system of government where the leader of the party with the most seats becomes Prime Minister. Thomas Mulcair is the leader of the NDP, the most leftward of the three major parties. General dissatisfaction with the current Conservative government is so high that whoever can present a creditable alternative will win this October, but the issue has been that the political left has often been split between the NDP and the Liberal Party, with the NDP traditionally coming in a distant third. However, recent polls show that the NDP is at least running neck and neck with the other two parties, and this was reflected by the fact that there were news cameras following Tom Mulcair around. Note also the distinct lack of security around someone who in the US would be a leading presidential candidate.

At the end of my shift, I was biking home and noting the large number of families and groups biking to the park. We are still waiting on the sharrows that are supposed to go in on High Park Ave, exactly where this picture was taken.
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