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The Big Loop is an 83 km route put together by TBN that goes up the Humber River trail from Etienne Brule, across the top paralleling the Finch Hydro corridor, and then down past Don Mills and into the Don River trail system.

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It was scheduled for late July, but it was cancelled by rain. I elected to load the route to my GPS to do it on my own, but noticing that today’s regularly scheduled Saturday morning ride went up to Humber College, I decided to ride along with them, and then split off at the appropriate point. Here is the crowd gathered for the ride. Chris is in the centre making announcements.

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Looking back at riders crossing the Humber, all walking their bikes like good citizens.

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After a brief stop at James Gardens, we have to take our first detour on Edenbridge out of the park because of continuing construction on the trail near Scarlett Rd.

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Further north, we take the usual route through a few blocks of Weston to traverse a gap in the trail. We have to stay alert on the bit where we go through a parking garage.

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There is a sign indicating construction on the trail past Albion Rd. The sign said that construction was due to be complete July 31, but on the other hand, the sign was still there so we elect to take the detour.

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Definitely appreciated safety in numbers along Albion.

IMG_9406The sections of the Humber River tail past Albion are very peaceful and scenic.

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At some point approaching Humber College, I had expected to turn off from the main group, but Chris informed me that due to the detour, we had bypassed the turn. I went with the main group to Humber to make a brief stop, and then I headed east to try to hook up with my original route. The difficultly was that I had erased the maps on my GPS, so it was not easy to navigate to the route. I decided to bike east along Finch until somewhere in the vicinity of York University. It was not as bad as I had feared due to relatively light traffic. There was even this pseudo bike lane in places.

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However, after the 400 overpass I was only too glad to get on the Finch hydro corridor trail (FHCT), at York Gate Blvd.

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It also turns out to have been a good move not to take the original route here as Adam had pointed out that the Rogers Cup was happening at York this weekend.

After a very short distance, I was not pleased to see no crossing at Jane St.

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So OK, I have to go a little south to cross.

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Past Sentinel Rd, I was happy to see this large area of community gardens, which made up for the fact that the trail was diverted to what was essentially a sidewalk for this stretch.

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A seeming dead end at Keele St, with no signage.

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If I had the cue sheet, I would have known to look to the right to see that the trail continues a little further south. The building on the right margin of this photo is the new Finch West subway station.

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This map shows that you have to make a few twists and turns to stay on the trail, which eventually straightens out, paralleling the York U. busway on the north side.

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This picture shows the trail and busway crossing tracks.

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The line of high buildings in the distance is Yonge St., but coming upon Dufferin St, I realize that they are still some distance off.

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Past G Ross Lord Park, the route takes me along Drewry Ave that becomes Cummer Ave, which was peaceful and uneventful, although the Ride with GPS route urged me to turn left at Bayview, which was not necessary.

At the end of the section on Cummer, the route turns south and then hooks up with the FHCT again. This downhill section that zigzags to the junction with the Don River trail was the most fun part of the whole ride.

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Going down the Don River trail was uneventful until it seems to end at the intersection of Leslie and Sheppard. Here you have to cross the intersection to the south east corner to find the continuation.

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This is what the trail entrance looks like.

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The trail ends again at Duncan Mill Rd, and here I met a group of lost seeming cyclists. There was a sign pointing to the right that said that the Don River trail was 2.4 km away, but again, not enough signage. It turns out that the 2.4 km involves a couple of turns on city streets before you end up back on the trail.

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The trail ends again, just short of York Mills, and the route map shows this.

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There was a bike lane westbound on this short section of York Mills, but there was too much traffic to take a picture. Cross the street at the light at Scarsdale, effectively making a left turn, and then look for a doubling back of the trail under the bridge.

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The trail then turns south and goes along a disused rail corridor. It is a straighter, more peaceful version of the West Toronto Railpath.

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Signalized crossing at Eglinton. It almost felt like I was in Vancouver for a moment. (except for the exceedingly long response time to a button push)

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The other thing I liked about this section was that at intersections with other trails, there was this round about like feature, with embedded sections of train track as a decorative element.

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Sadly, as with most bike infrastructure in TO, this cannot last, and the trail ends abruptly, and you have to make a sharp right turn on a short section of gravel that then leads to this narrow section that leads to Leslie St.

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The short section of Leslie leading to Willett Creek park was the scariest part of the whole ride, no thanks to the many drivers that whizzed by less than a meter from my handlebars. Bastards.

From Willett Creek, the Don Trail is probably more familiar to many of you so I didn’t take many pictures. Here are the elephants.

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And the stop with the gargoyles just north of Bloor, where I’ve never bothered to stop before. It was good to be riding the Tamarack. Much as people rave about Bromptons, I do find it easier to ride longer distances on a standard bike.

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Thanks to TBN for organizing the first part of my ride, and for plotting out this nice route.

Note: for those not in TBN that want more information about the route, it is available here, at least for the moment.

 

 

My Tikit has found a new owner. I posted it for sale on the Bike Friday Yak list, and I got a quick response from someone who was very interested. We worked out a deal to meet up in Buffalo. Here is the Tikit. It looks like it is trying to escape, but I was putting it together for a demo ride.

 

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One  last ride.

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This bit of the Buffalo lakefront is very nice.

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According to my records, I logged 129 rides on the bike, for a total of about 1600 km. This was also the ride that I used for STP in 2016.

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I was very happy that the buyer, Marti, was already a Tikit owner, so she was familiar with all the quirks of the design. Here she is with her other Tikit that also has a belt drive and a NuVinci hub as well. Sounds like my bike has found a happy home.

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The bike friday Haul a Day comes with an integral centre stand that is quite sturdy.

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However, last week I suddenly noticed that one of the legs had dropped off. How it happened without me hearing it is beyond me, but I improvised a quick replacement, using 5/8″ threaded rod, which was the only thing available at the local hardware of the appropriate diameter.

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By the way, the M6 allen screws that secure the legs have special heads that have a reduced diameter, so it was not easy to find replacements. I ended up reducing the diameter of regular socket head screws with a belt sander. Bike Friday should up the price of each bike by $20 and use all stainless hardware.

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After looking for a more suitable replacement, I found 12″ long SS tubing on Amazon. Here’s a picture of the tubing, along with the one remaining kickstand foot.

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After a few minutes with a tubing bender:

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and here is the final product.

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Note that the 0.065″ wall tubing I ordered was definitely overkill. I would have been better of with the 0.049″ wall tubing instead. It would have certainly been easier to bend.

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One of my favourite things to do is to have a family bike ride to Toronto Island. It’s been a couple of years since we’ve done this, and we took advantage of the fact that the California branch of the family was in town to do this again. The first logistical problem that we faced was to get eight peoples’ worth of bikes downtown with one car. Here is what five bikes looks like with the six who will ride them. (you can’t see the Brompton that is tucked away in the van, and two will ride the tandem)

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(In addition, two of us rode down to the lake.)

And off we go to the ferry terminal.

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Just a reminder that at busy times, you should buy your ferry tickets online. Here we were in the left hand express lane, which we cleared in less than five minutes.

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Biking towards Centre Island from Hanlan’s Point.

DSC02995Well at least I’m all smiles.

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Compare this picture:

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to this one taken three years ago, the last time the daughters were on the island.

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The skyline from Algonquin Island.

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Over the bridge to Centreville.

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Our fleet parked at Centreville.

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On a crowded ferry at the end of a busy day.

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Three of us rode home through downtown. It was interesting to hear their perspective on the bike infrastructure. They were quite impressed, saying that it was much better than San Francisco. Of course, I led them through the very best of what we have downtown including sections of the Simcoe, Richmond and Bloor bike lanes.

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I hope everyone gets a chance to ride this long August weekend!

Spurcycle Bell

I’ve been wanting a Spurcycle bell for a while, given that it is a high quality product that is made in North America by a small company. Although I’d been burned by fancy looking bells before, I had seen and heard this bell on other people’s bikes.

Recently I dropped by Curbside Cycle and saw that they had them in stock. The perfect accessory for my Brompton, whose bell integrated into the brakelever/shifter combination is quiet enough to be useless, at least in the rough and tumble of Toronto traffic.

Here is the bell mounted on the Brompton.

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Here is a video comparing the two bells.

There is some kind of fancy sound level processing on the iPhone that seems to muffle the initial “ding” of the spurcycle, so it is difficult to fully appreciate how much louder it is.

The only thing remaining is to see how well it does in the rain, but for the moment, I’m very happy with it.

Update: Here is a review that compares the Spurcycle bell (good) and the Knog Oi (looks nice).

Update #2: It works just fine in the rain!

Burke 20 Ti folding bike

Two years ago, I caught a brief glimpse of a Ti folding bike on STP.

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This was the Burke 20 by Seattle Cycles. I finally got a chance to see it up close and personal at Montlake Bicycle Shop.

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This particular build is their lowest end spec, and retails for $5500 US.

They very kindly let me take it down and to test the fold. What was very handy was that they were also a Brompton dealer. Here are the two bikes side by side.

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You can see that the Burke is considerably less compact when folded, but to be fair, part of this has do with the larger wheel size.

There are elements of the fold that are similar to the Brompton, such as the hook on the front fork that goes over a member of the rear triangle, and the fact that the lowered seat tube keeps the frame in the folded position.

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Here are some more close ups of the bike when unfolded.

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Frame welded in the US by Lynskey.

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Nice touches such as the front bag mount, and fender mounting points as well.

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My impression is that it is a beautifully made bike, in particular the welds on the frame, but I found the folding process to be quite fiddly, and the clamps themselves were particularly hard to deal with. The website claims that you can fold it in 15 seconds, so perhaps with practice……

Going for a very short test ride, I found the frame and stem to be very stiff, comparable to the Brompton, and the gearing and braking to be as good as on a regular bike.

For my needs, I’d say it would not be as practical as the Brompton for city use, given the nature of the fold. For traveling with a higher performance bike in a suitcase, there are certainly less expensive options out there, and the price point gets perilously close to what a regular road bike with S&S couplers would be.

Nevertheless, it is an interesting option for those in want of the ultimate folding bike.

One of the things that I noticed during my brief stay in Seattle was a number of colourful dockless bike share bikes scattered all around the University district, particularly around entrance points to the Burke Gilman trail. There are currently three companies that have provided 10,000 bikes as part of a pilot program. Several articles about these bikes appeared in the Monday edition of the Seattle times.

This article compares the three bike share systems, and the reliability of the bikes. Several things of note:

  • each bike was ridden an average of 0.86 times a day.
  • about 68% of the bikes were rideable.
  • The Limebike system has introduced e-bikes, which have their own issues.
  • brake cable cutting by vandals has been an issue.

SDOT is considering expanding the program to 20,000 bikes and making it permanent, while at the same time imposing higher fees on the vendors to fund things like more bike parking.

At the same time, the city parks board is also considering amendments to allow the e-bikes to be on trails such as the Burke Gilman. In practice, I already saw several of the Lime e-bikes parking or abandoned on the trail.

What do the bikes look like? Here is one of the Ofo bikes.

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Apparently they weigh 42 lbs and have solid rubber tires.

Here is one of the Limebike e-bikes.

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This article in WIRED discusses some of the issues that have arisen as part of this pilot, as well as some of the controversies about dockless bike share in general. It will be interesting to see how this all settles out.

Personally, I think that the system that I saw in Tokyo was a happy medium between docked and dockless. The bikes are still dropped off at stations, but the stations are wifi hotspots so that you can park the bike within a certain range, rather than counting on having an open slot in a docking station. In particular, I can’t get my head around how the Lime e-bikes are going to be recharged if they can be left anywhere in the city.

For the moment, dockless bikeshare appears to be dead in Toronto as I see fewer and fewer of their orange bikes around the U of T campus where they were first deployed.

On a side note, they have ghost bikes in Seattle as well; this one is at 16th Ave and 65th St.

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