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Tweaking the Brompton, 2019

In a couple of days, I’ll be flying out to the left coast again in order to join the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver plus Party (RSVP), which is put on by the Cascade Bike Club. Last year, I did their Seattle to Portland (STP) ride, and this time, Steve and I decided to mix things up a bit and do their other large ride along the coast.

Got my bib number!

As per my previous STP, I’ll be using the Brompton, and so it was time to make sure it was ready.

First order of business: replacing the Ti rack with a half rack. The hope is that it will make the fold a bit more compact, given that I’ll never use the full size rack. I got a very inexpensive half rack from eBay.

It is aluminum, rather than titanium, but given the fact that it is basically a mounting point for two EZ wheels, and the fender, it doesn’t have to be very strong. Here is a comparison of the two racks. You can see that the half rack is much shorter.

I managed to switch racks without removing the rear wheel, which was a clear win. The only tricky bit was drilling a new hole in the fender without puncturing the tire.

You can see that the new rack is not nicely triangulated like the Ti rack. We’ll see how it holds up.

One other concern that I had was that the fender protrudes much farther to the rear than the rack, but it turns out that this isn’t an issue while folding the bike.

The other thing that I did was to replace one of my aftermarket EZ wheels with a new pair from NOV designs.

Also, hydration. For a while I had misplaced my Randi Jo Fab bartender bag, so I pulled out a monkii cage that I had bought a while ago. This version has a Brompton specific mount that fits well on the stem.

The bottle cage clips into the mount, and when you want a drink, you remove the bottle while it is still attached to the cage.

I used this for a couple of training rides, and while it worked well, I found that I preferred the older setup with the soft bag. Happily I found my bartender bag yesterday, and so that is what I’ll be using on RSVP. BTW if anyone wants the monkii cage for cheap, let me know.

I noticed that Sam had a similar beverage bag on his bike when we met at the DAS ghost bike refurbishment. His is made in Montréal by Atwater Atelier.

I’ll be flying into Vancouver with the Brompton in its usual hard case. I’ll be taking a bus down to Seattle, and so for that leg of the trip, I’ll use a soft case. My bag of choice is the one by Radical Designs. It has a shoulder strap that will be handy.

Here is the bag folded up.

The storage bag has saddle bag loops and is designed to be carried on the bike, although in actuality, it will be in my backpack which will be hauled to the midpoint (Bellingham) and to the finish in Vancouver).

So, Seattle to Vancouver, about 302 km, over two days with 1940 m of climbing. This on insufficient training. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Today, Geoffrey Bercarich organized a group ride built around refurbishing several ghost bikes, and replacing one that had been removed. The first to be worked on was just east of Avenue Rd on Bloor, the one dedicated to Darcy Allan Sheppard. Even before the nominal start time, Geoffrey and Wayne arrived early, because they were concerned about the possibility of rain.

Geoffrey repainting the ghost bike on the spot where Darcy died.

Wayne Scott hanging a sign for DAS 10, the tenth anniversary of Darcy’s death. There will be an event on August 31, time TBA.

People gather around the DAS ghost bike, while Geoffrey gets us organized.

Decorating the bike

We remember you, Darcy Allan Sheppard.

Next up: refurbishing the Dalia Chako ghost bike at Bloor and St. George. Geoffrey leads the way across Avenue Rd.

Arriving

Touching up the paint.

Now decorating.

Wayne Scott drops by to pay his respects.

We remember you, Dalia Chako.

Next up, replacing the ghost bike for Roger du Toit.

By this point, they are rolling up the sod from Open Streets TO.

The crash site.

Initially, the chain that we had was just a few inches short. However Doug (to the left) being the smart guy he is, pointed out that the pole is tapered, and that if we lift the bike, the chain might just fit.

Decorating the bike.

Adding a touch of refective paint.

This is the stop sign that Roger had requested be installed. It might have made a difference on the day that he was struck. The city installed the sign about a month after his death.

We remember you, Roger du Toit.

At this point, the group dispersed. However, I should add a few side notes.

Firstly, earlier that morning, Geoffrey had already repainted the bike at Avenue and Davenport for Adam Excell.

photo: GB

After the Roger duToit reinstallation, several of the group rode on to fix up the ghost bike on the MGT for Xavier Morgan.

photo: GB
photo: JJW
photo: JJW

Finally, a note of thanks to Angela who gave me this sticker that is now on my Haul a Day, which is the bike I usually take on memorial rides.

Thanks to Geoffrey for organizing today’s ride, and for taking the lead in fixing and replacing memorials.

We remember. We will not forget.

Today was the first Open Streets TO event of the year, and the Toronto Brompton Owners group used the occasion for a group ride. Here we are by Bloor and Spadina.

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Actually shortly before we took off, I had a chance to catch up with Angela, who is now also a Brompton owner. However, I was admiring her new helmet with lights, by Rock Bros.

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Here’s a rear view with the control panel. It has lights on the side and rear as well as the front. She said that it was both cheaper and lighter than the Lumos.

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If I didn’t already have two other helmets on the way via Kickstarter and Indiegogo, I’d be tempted.

She also had this sweet sticker that she had made in memory of her husband, Gary.

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Here we go down Yonge St. The pavement has gotten pretty bad.

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We stop to chat with Andy and Elise who are Bromptonless today, but had their new dog Teddy with them.

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Pier showing off a bit. He was blasting some disco music from a speaker at his hip that we figured out was released the year before he was born.

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Riding back up Yonge.

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Where should we go next?

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We decide to wrap up the ride at home base for Bromptons in Toronto: Curbside Cycle.

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BTW didn’t know that Curbside now rents Bromptons.

and here we are at Curbside with a few more members.

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Thanks to everyone who came out today, and thanks also to Heather who got us organized on Facebook.

I’m a big fan of wool jerseys, and I’ve amassed a collection of them over the years. I started out with some ancient Swobo jerseys (the ones actually made in SF), but most of my current wool jerseys are from Woolistic. However, I came across another company in New Zealand, Soigneur that makes classically styled wool jerseys. What caught my eye was that they also offered “semi custom jerseys” with lettering of your choice at a relative modest upcharge.

A brief email exchange with the proprietor, David, and I submitted an order for a semi-custom jersey. I was very appreciative of the fact that he agreed to provide me with a colour scheme that was not one of their standard ones, at no additional cost.

After about a five week wait, the jersey arrived today.

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First impression is that this is a very high quality jersey, at least equal to the Woolistic jerseys. The fabric seemed a little heavier than a woolistic jersey, and this was confirmed by a comparison of the weight of this size M jersey with my size L Woolistic jersey.

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The lettering is sewn right into the garment, as opposed to the chain stitching that is used by Woolistic. You can see that the weave of the Soigneur Merino is fractionally less dense than the Woolistic as well.

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You can tell a lot about the quality of an item of clothing by turning it  inside out. Here you can see that the seam binding on the Soigneur jersey is very neat, and even slightly better than the Woolistic. Also note the reversal of colour of the lettering.

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The fit is racer cut: rather slim fitting. I can’t give you a direct comparison with the woolistic jersey since all of my woolistic jerseys are size L. I prefer a slightly looser fit, and in retrospect I should have ordered a size L here as well.

It’s still a bit warm for wool right now, but I look forward to wearing this new jersey as fall approaches.

 

There is a rail trail from Brantford to Port Dover that I have always wanted to explore. Today I finally bit the bullet and drove down to Brantford. In truth, there is a rail trail from Dundas to Brantford as well, but given the constraints of time and my level of fitness, I thought that the 100 km round trip from Brantford to Port Dover would be perfect.

The question is where in Brantford to start. Using Google Maps, I found a place labeled as a trailhead, and so I decided to park at the Lions Arena which was a few blocks from the alleged trailhead. As it turns out, it was not the ideal starting point, as I will point out later in this post.

Here is the rather non descript trailhead at the end of Graham Avenue.

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After a short section of trail that paralleled Veterans Memorial Parkway (basically a sidewalk) I see the first sign that I’m on the right track.

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After a section of paved track through the outskirts of town, the trail turned to a well groomed gravel trail.

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Once I reach Burtch Rd, I realize that I’ve been on the LE&N trail,

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Photo below looking back to the north.

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and that at this point it is parallel and in close proximity to the TH&B trail, and so I switch over to the TH&B trail, which is paved. (photo looking south)

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At about 15 km, I see that the trail reverts to gravel. This is the point there I’m crossing into Norfolk County.

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This section of trail through Norfolk County changes names several times, which reflects the fact that the trail is maintained by local municipalities. This section just south of the county line is called the Waterford Heritage Trail.

The trail is still very well groomed. This is a typical section of about the worst you will see.

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As I approach the town of Waterford, there is a section of asphalt again.

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There have been many signs indicating the distance to the Waterford Black Bridge, which marks about the halfway point to Port Dover.

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Nice views of the Waterford Ponds from the bridge.

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South of Waterford, the name of the trail becomes the Norfolk Sunrise trail.

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The trail becomes paved again as you approach the town of Simcoe. There is a bit of a trick crossing Queensway East. You take the trail down to the right where there is an underpass. There is a Tim’s near this intersection if you are in need of refreshment.

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Once past the underpass, you take the trail up to the left.

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South of Simcoe, you come upon this intersection where you are directed to the left to go to Port Dover.

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When you cross this road, the trail now becomes the Lynn Valley Trail.

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The Lynn Valley Trail was especially well groomed gravel.

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Several wooden rail bridges along the way.

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At this point you have to go along a short section of Lynn Valley Rd.

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After 0.4 km, you can rejoin the trail off to the right.

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This port a john at Blueline Rd. provides a bit of relief just short of Port Dover. (or is that too much information).

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Here is where the Lynn Valley trail ends in Port Dover. No apparent services at this end.

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Nominal picture of Lake Erie.  Exactly 50 km logged so far.

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There is a large Tim’s in town, but feel it is always better to support the local businesses. I was happy with the ice cream at Willie’s although I don’t appear to happy in this photo.

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I’ve been advised to try the perch at the Erie Beach Hotel the next time.

Heading back, here is another shot of the Waterford Bridge (meaning that I’m about 75% done).

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Crossing into Brant county, we have blessed asphalt again.

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Mt Pleasant would have made a nice alternative starting point. It is only a few kilometres south of Brantford, and this community park was only about 100m from the trail, and it had a washroom and parking.

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At this point I elected to continue north on the TH&B trail, rather than the way I came.

This map explains the difference between the two routes into town.

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The red arrow shows where I started and I followed the green solid and dotted lines to the south, which was the LE&N trail. On the way back, I took the TH&B trail. Annoyingly, Google Maps does not show it as a continuous line out of town, but it actually continues south beyond the yellow arrow, and merges with the LE&N trail at Burtch Rd. I used the TH&B trail into town. It ends at Colbrone St W.

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Next time I’m going to park in the shopping centre with the Sobey’s which is just across the street from the end of the paved trail. This makes much more sense than how I started this morning.

A few more observations about the trail:

  • Over 90% of the trail is shaded from both the sun and wind. This means you don’t get a lot of views, but what you do see is mostly farmland.
  • I was impressed with the condition of the trail. It is totally doable on a road bike, although bikes with really skinny tires would not be ideal. There are only a few patches of loose gravel, and all of these were associated with where the trail crosses roads.
  • Once again, I would suggest parking at the shopping centre at the intersection of Veteran’s Memorial Parkway and Colborne St. which is near the northern end of the TH&B trail. It is paved all the way to the Norfolk County line, unlike the LN&E trail.
  • The entire trail is basically dead flat.

 

This past weekend I visited my parents who live on Hamilton mountain. For various reasons, the best plan was for me to take the GO train to Aldershot, and then to ride the rest of the way. The route that I chose was part of the HamBur loop. I rode a variation of this trail during Bike for Mike a couple of years ago.

Here’s my ride for the day.

The first part of the ride was down Waterdown Rd to North Shore Blvd, cutting through a cemetery, connecting on Spring Garden Rd, and then taking a trail up to York Blvd. This is the first tricky part of the trail, where you have to cross a high speed off ramp from the 403.

After you cross the high level bridge that you can see in the image above, you need to look to the left for the connection to the waterfront trail. This connection is circled on this map.

What is not clear on most mapping apps is that the connection involves 200 stairs. Here is a cyclist just having come up to York Blvd.

Here are the stairs.

The payoff is that instead of riding into town on busy York Blvd, you get to use the waterfront trail. The last time I came this way was at night, in the company of several hundred Hamilton Glowriders.

Crossing downtown is easy along Ferguson Street. You can take it south almost to the foot of the escarpment.

I did note on the way south that Cannon St. was being resurfaced, and as a result, the bi directional bike lanes were out of action.

Here is the start of the trail up the escarpment. It follows a section of the Bruce Trail, and is extremely gradual.

Here the trail crosses Wentworth St.

From this point forward the surface is rough asphalt and some gravel, but no worse than some roads in Toronto I could mention. The trail takes you fairly far to the east by the time you crest the escarpment.

You are on fully separated bike trails all the way to Stone Church Rd. Here is the bridge across the Lincoln Alexander Expressway.

Here the trail ends at Stone Church Rd.

Stone Church has a bike lane and is a good way to get across the mountain in the East West direction. There is signage here pointing to the Chippewa rail trail, but that is an adventure that has to wait for another day.

One side note about gear: my Brompton as a red Selle Anatomica saddle, and I noticed after my ride today that the colour is still bleeding a bit. Better stick to dark pants for long rides on this saddle.

If you are interested in the Ham Bur loop, the Bike for Mike people still have their version up on Ride with GPS.

Visiting Naked Bicycles

Given that I was on the left coast, I managed to clear a day to head on over to Vancouver Island to visit Naked Bicycles. More precisely, I went over to Quadra Island, which is an island off the coast of Vancouver Island. I wonder if Quadra residents consider Vancouver Islanders as mainlanders?

Starting from Vancouver, two ferry rides and a drive later, you encounter these signs deep in the woods at the end of a road.

Here is builder Sam Whittingham, of WHPSC and NAHBS fame.

He took over this workshop from his dad, who was a cabinet maker.

The space is 99% given over to bike production. Here are some of his NAHBS awards piled up near the ceiling.

Tucked away in a corner, some of his racing awards, including traces of the fact that he was the world’s fastest cyclist for over a decade.

Near the center of the room: his latest build, a steel framed bike for a larger rider.

A frame welding fixture, and Ti main triangle visible to the right.

Lots of interesting stuff hung from the rafters. Here is a Ti mountain bike with belt drive and Jones bars.

A full suspension art bike with wood rims and seatpost, back from the days when Sam says he was still showing off at NAHBS.

Back in a corner, I find the cargobike that Sam used to pioneer the concept of a 20″ rear wheeled longtail cargobike. This showbike is the basis for the Xtracycle Edgerunner, and all other longtails that have gone the small rear wheel route, including my Haul a Day.

A whole wall of Naked bikes.

Sam and I have a chat about bike fit. Tip: if you are going to visit him for a bike fitting, bring your regular saddle, shoes, shorts, etc.

If you have more time that I had, then you can also arrange to go for a ride. There were some nice looking MTB trails literally meters away from the front door of the shop.

It was great to see Sam again. I don’t think we had crossed paths in Battle Mountain since about 2011 or so.

My visit was a little shorter than intended due to a three hour delay for the ferry going over to Nanaimo. If I had even more time, I would have also tried to squeeze in a trip to Gabriola Island to visit Varna Innovations as well.

As a side note, here is a picture of me in line waiting for the ferry during that delay. Fortunately, I had saved an emergency Stroopwafel (served to me as snack on a recent United Airlines flight).

What made part of the long wait fun was that I noticed a couple of interesting looking bikes mounted off the back of a car a few vehicles ahead of me.

It turns out that the owner was an avid cyclist, Morgan, who reviews bicycles for Radavist. These fat tired tourers were evolved versions of the bikes he described here. Lots of details to geek out about, including Swift Industries bags, prototype welded construction Porcelain Rocket frame bags, and bottle holders from RandiJoFab.

Here is the under bag support for the Swift Industries saddle bag.

I didn’t know that Honjo made wide fenders.

It was a pleasure talking to both Morgan and Stephanie. They were enroute to cycling on Cortes Island, with kid in tow in a one wheeled trailer of Danny MacAskill fame. If you want to run into Morgan himself, he is often on the Friday morning rides for coffee in the Vancouver area.