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The Big Toronto Bike Ride is an annual event to raise funds for Cycle Toronto. This year, there were four routes, with two downtown running last Saturday, and two in more outlying areas today. I chose to ride the Scarborough Loop to see parts of the city that were new to me. The route started and ended at Greenvale Park, close to the Guildwood GO station.

I chose to ride over from Kennedy station, which entailed a stretch along both Eglinton East and Kingston Rd. Riding along Eglinton is deeply unpleasant since it is a 6 lane wide arterial, although traffic was thankfully light today.

Having a lane dedicated to buses, taxis, HOV and bikes on weekdays doesn’t really count as bike infra.

Things get a bit better east of Brimley with the curb lane clearly marked for buses and bikes, although the lane is constantly interrupted by right turn lanes.

Here is the crowd gathered at Greenvale Park. Ironically, GO train service to Guildwood was cancelled this weekend, and this might have accounted for a couple of people being late.

Alison from CycleTO lets us know what is going to happen today. We will be riding as a group with Marshalls to keep us together.

George is our ride leader today. I don’t know if he was the one that scouted the route, but if so, thanks George, it was interesting.

A group picture before we set off. We had people from as far west as South Etobicoke, and as far east as Oshawa.

Ready, set,

go!

Almost immediately we descend on the Highland Creek Trail.

This woman had a pannier full of tunes for the entire ride.

We came upon these volunteers from UoT doing some tree planting.

Alison snapped this picture of me. It had warmed up so I had taken off my wool shirt and switched to today’s official T.

And we arrive at the lake.

Unfortunately, the bridge that crossing the creek as part of the waterfront trail is still closed.

We arrive at the nominal midpoint of the ride, where two volunteers from our sponsor Bike Law Canada had bananas and water at East Point Park.

Although we were climbing back up from the lake, the grade was so gradual, it was not noticeable. I’ll have to remember this the next time I’m biking up Gates Gully.

We took a bit of a detour behind the Guild Inn.

Group picture in the sculpture gardens. Just off to the left of this picture, a couple had just gotten engaged. Can’t imagine anything more romantic than to be descended upon by a bunch of sweaty cyclists just as you’ve gone down on one knee 😉

Taneisha from CycleTO and Adrian Currie, long time activist.

Approaching Guildwood Station.

Normally we would walk our bikes through the station, but today it was entirely empty.

Waiting for the light at Kingston Rd.

And we’re back.

Nice to see Peter Low, who was soliciting signatures to make the Yonge pilot bike lanes permanent.

Unfortunately at this point I had to ride off to another event. I hope that everyone had a great lunch. Thanks to the organizers, and sponsors (especially Bike Law Canada) and to my fellow riders for good company.

BM2022: epilogue

This business of transitioning back to the real world has been rather more taxing than anticipated. Not that I have anything to complain about since most of the rest of the team are on a three day drive back to Toronto. Nevertheless, it’s been interesting. Here I am being dropped off at Reno airport by Danny. All smiles at this point since the worst I thought I had to deal with was a six hour wait for my flight.

photo by Danny

Regrettably, my flight kept being pushed back due to a delay in inbound equipment. It become apparent that I would not catch my connection in SFO, and so I got on the horn with United to try to get onto a later redeye. Eventually it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to catch any redeye and that I would have to spend the night at SFO. I got booked onto the first flight out on Monday morning, and then I thought I was being clever by prebooking a room at an airport hotel. Getting off of the plane, I phoned the hotel, only to learn that the shuttle was not longer running (thanks La Quinta). At that point I went out to the curb to the taxi line, and was confronted by this:

But wait, isn’t this the land of rideshare apps? So I reluctantly opened Lyft and saw that the lowest fare was $170 which was about the hotel room rate, and this for a ride of less than a mile. An interesting case study in market dynamics, since the rise of Uber and Lyft probably killed off a lot of taxis…. So I ended up sleeping in the airport, something I haven’t done in a while. I occasionally woke up due to a slight ground tremor, but they all seemed to be heavy trucks going by, or perhaps the tram. Understand that I lived in the area during the Loma Prieta earthquake back in 1989.

BTW food here is more varied but quite expensive. These sandwiches fare poorly in comparison to the equivalent item from Port O Subs in Battle Mountain.

At any rate, the flight back was painless, and I am now sorting through ten days worth of work emails. The bike team is hiking in the Tetons on the way back to Toronto. I wish I had one tenth of their energy.


See you all next year.

Sept 22 update: the team is safely hope after their long drive.

BM2022: Wrap up

This year had several teams with high hopes of breaking world records. In the end, only one was broken, and it was in a junior category where there was no previous record. Looking back on this week of racing, some said that it was the worst in terms of weather for a while. It was certainly colder than average, but if I look at the number of wind legal runs, 2022 had 58, 2019 had 67, 2018 had 50 and 2017 also had 50. Given that an extra day of racing was added in 2019, this year was pretty much average, with 2019 being exceptionally good.

There were also fewer than the normal number of vehicle/rider combinations, and so teams were able to take full advantage of booking multiple slots in a session and scratching if the winds did not look good.

Here’s a few comments on each team, in the order in which they were called up on stage at the awards ceremony.

Atair (Annecy)

This team brought back their very fast bike, Altair 6, along with a world championship winner rider, Francois Pervis. He amazed everyone after his first run down the five mile on Monday morning, going a non wind legal 84.72 mph. Unfortunately he never got another clear run under good conditions, and on Friday evening he had a very scary crash resulting from a rear puncture just short of the 200 m mark at timing. Word is that he is recovering well, but the bike is a write-off. Rumour is that he may be back next year. This is a team that has proven that it has a solid shot at being the very first to reach 90 mph.

Policumbent (Torino)

Another powerhouse university based team from Europe. They came with three vehicles, aiming for records in men’s, women’s, and arm powered. Unfortunately all three bikes had teething problems all week.

Andrea Gallo is a very experienced rider who went almost 85 mph in the previous bike, Taurus. The new bike Phoenix was supposed to have 18% less drag. However there were some manufacturing problems, and it appeared that the bike was not fully sorted. Andrea finally went above 80 mph on his last run.

On the women’s side, there were two new riders, Martina and Matilde. Both were getting steadily faster as the week went on, but the bike was having problems, notably dragging on the rear wheel fairing for the last couple of days. Martina also had evil luck with wind, being the only non legal run in several sessions. Matilde went 74 mph on the last day, but the wind was just a fraction above the legal limit.

For arm powered, it quickly became apparent that the trike was not sorted. In fact it was finished just in time to be boxed up to be shipped to the US. Diego had problems steering the bike all week. It was all he could do to get the trike down the course, finally topping out at just over 40 mph.

We look forward to having them back next year. They always show up with a large team and beautifully built machines. With a bit more testing, both Taurus X and Phoenix should fly.

Borenstadt Racing

Peter and company were back with his DF with added aerodynamic refinements. His goal was to set a personal best in his DF, and he achieved that goal, going 55.74 mph, or 89.71 kph just shy of a goal of 90 kph. He did go 57.6 mph on Sunday, but that was with a tailwind that was about twice the legal limit.

Team Wahoo

Larry Lem was back with Wahoo, and a last minute rider: Adam Hari from Australia. Adam powered his way to 72.01 mph, trading in his 55 mph hat from a while back. Adam has built a new streamliner and will be back with it next year. He said that his bike should fit him better to let him have more power while sprinting.

Bill Thornton

Bill was back with his Milan SL. He was supported by Lina Hermann whose father rode in 2019, and Niklas Bostelmann who works for Milan velomobiles. His fastest was 60.29 mph, just short of his personal best. He was putting out more power than in previous years, and so he attributed his speed to the rougher road surface this year.

Team 77

Russell Bridge and friends were back with a homebuilt streamliner and their team name stated their goal of setting a new British record. Russell fell short, reaching 73.79 mph, making him the second fastest Briton, ahead of such luminaries such as Rob English and Jason Queally. Not bad for a self described outfit of northern monkeys who did their aero design by tracing out outlines of some of the faster bikes. Russell also preferred to run in colder conditions more like his home turf of Manchester. Wishing his family a nice balance of their holiday down the California coast. Make sure not to miss Point Lobos, just south of Carmel.

London South Bank University

This very determined team was back with Marlow, a bike with the same aero shape as Soup Dragon, but with totally different internals. It was still a single speed with a stabilizer that allowed the rider, Noah, to take off even at what I imagine would be a very low cadence. They improved steadily during the week, with Noah reaching 65.64 mph. Rumour is that they will be back with a totally new design next year.

University of Toronto

This team had high hopes of improving the tandem record that they set back in 2019. However, there were a number of problems with the drive train, with one run with just Bill pedalling in the rear position, and another with just Calvin in the front. Unfortunately in their first run down the five mile with both riders under power, TITAN crashed just after the timing traps. Fortunately, due to the strength of both the internal frame and the outer shell, the riders were OK. The kevlar/carbon other sheath even saved enough of the paint job that one side could be prettied up in time for the group picture on Saturday.

They also bought Cyclone, a bike pulled from the same mold set as Vortex. It was rideable but not fully refined. Lincoln Macdonald managed to earn a 60 mph hat. Bill Kong qualified late in the week and pushed it to over 60 mph as well.

Team Teardrop

Last, but certainly not least, Robert and Linda Barnett brought their great niece Alyssa Miller to complete with both Teardrop, a streamlined trike, and an ICE trike altered to have both arm and leg power. Alyssa set a new world record of 21.22 mph in the under 12 women’s multitrack category. She tried another run with the ICE trike but was not able to go faster. It should also be mentioned that Alyssa is a gear head who partnered with Robert to build the trike. She was cited by the police for driving without a license, but Officer Aten was informed that she had fled the jurisdiction, so there will be a warrant issued for her arrest (if they can catch her).


Wither next year? We anticipate that there will be several other new bikes coming, such as Adam Hari’s bike, Primal from George and Carole Leone, and Hans and Ellen’s new bike. Perhaps Monash Human Power and other universities might make an appearance. There is also a rumour that Arthur Aden’s daughter might be riding, which would be terrific for the local community.

In the meantime, it’s time for me and others to transition back to our regular routines. After catching up on some sleep, I’ll look forward to seeing my tribe back in Battle Mountain next September.

Thanks for reading along!

BM2022: Awards Ceremony

The traditional awards ceremony was somewhat truncated since it was not combined with a banquet. We started with the thank you for the volunteers.

Here are all the riders for this year.

Hats to be given out. Some of them look like they’ve been in storage for a long time.

First up: Lincoln at 60 mph.

Noah at 65 mph.

Martina.

Three riders join the 70 mph. Here is Russell.

Adam. He whipped off his 55 mph hat and threw it onto the stage. That’s where Al is looking.

Matilde. She did 74.07 in the last heat, but it was not wind legal. (wind = 330 fpm)

Francois. Of course he did a non wind legal 84.7 mph earlier in the week but had to settle for a 75 hat. Rumour is that he may be back next year.

Next, Arthur Aten makes a surprise appearance to give out tickets for various misdeeds.

Speeding over 70 mph.

Failure to maintain lane, and hitting a pedestrian.

Speeding through the traps.

Failure to maintain lane.

Next: the collegiate category, based on the maximum percentage of a world record. Third place: U of Toronto.

Second place: Annecy University Institute of Technology.

First place: Politecnico di Torino.

1st place armpower: Diego Colombari

The top three in multitrack: 1st: Bill Thornton, 2nd: Peter Borenstadt, 3rd: Diego Colombari

1st place: men’s multi rider: Calvin Moes and Bill Kong co-pilots.

Women: 1st place: Matilde Vitillo, 2nd place: Martina Stirano

Men: 1st place: Andrea Gallo, 2nd place: Francois Pervis, 3rd place: Russell Bridge.

Congratulations to all the riders and volunteers, and we hope to see you next year.

Also deepest thanks to Al and Alice for running this whole circus, especially after a three year hiatus.

BM2022: Saturday PM race photos

Hey, I arrive at catch over an hour before the first road closure and there is no one here.

Waiting on the first road closure.

Russell coming in at catch.

Noah flying the Union Jack.

Noah.

Russell.

Andrea.

Matilde.

Policumbent.

Peter.

Once again, the results of the final heat of the year. All riders seemed relieved to get their last runs done.

A very fast ride back to the Civic Centre for the awards ceremony, courtesy of Dave Larrington.

BM2022: Saturday PM results

Just a brief summary. Winds were very high in the first heat, and so Martina was the only one to run. In the second heat, there was some shuffling of the order and unfortunately Noah was put ahead of Bill. Noah had planned a slow run trailing a Union Jack behind his bike, and Bill went faster than anticipated. As a result, Bill passed the LSBU chase car in the traps, and Noah sometime after the traps, whereupon he went off the road.

In the third heat, Andrea finally got a wind legal 80 mph run, and Bill Thornton and Peter went a little slower than their fastest of the week.

Here are the results.

Blog post about the awards to follow sometime tomorrow.

This morning, Arnold and Danny and Marieke took over timing so I was free to wander elsewhere. Here are Arnold and Danny at the timing table.

Arnold demonstrates his juggling skills while waiting for the first road closure.

I got a very fast ride up to 5 mile start with Dave Larrington.

Battle Mountain Mike is applying a different kind of sweep.

Here is Russell in 77 getting ready to start.

The other three bikes in the heat getting staged.

Noah.

Lincoln getting ready.

Taurus X launch.

Cyclone launch.

The view from the chase car. I was told that Lincoln started slow, but this was really slow.

By the team we decided to try an in course catch, he had toppled over.

At catch, the two UK teams took advantage of a gap in the action during road closure to take a few group pictures.

Bill coming into catch.

Russell and Noah discussing bike handling.

Catching Andrea.

Catching Matilde.

Lincoln.

Bill Thornton. He said that he was happy that he got close to his personal best this week, but that he was putting out a lot more power than 3 years ago. Perhaps the rougher road surface was a factor.

Policumbent

U of T takes a break.

At the racers’ meeting, it was a relief to see Francois.

Francois recording the video of his own crash.

Now time for the group photos. U of T was busy working on the relatively unscratched side of TITAN.

Now putting the fairing together.

The big group.

Russell.

Now the “racers only” shot.

U of T.

Policumbent riders.

The Barnetts were leaving soon so that Alyssa got her trophy today. World record holder in the arm powered division in the under 12 category.

Three trikes.

Here is the start order for tonight.

Update: here are the full results for this morning.

BM2022: Friday PM results

There was quite a bit of anticipation for the first run of the evening with Francois, but unfortunately he had a rear tire puncture and lost control of the bike just before 200M, went off the road and rolled several times. The hatch (which used a combination of tape and magnets to be secure) flew off and we could clearly see the rider during at least one roll of the bike. He was assessed on the spot by Julia (a nurse), but out of an abundance of caution, he was sent for further examination at the local hospital. Here’s hoping that he will be OK. Here is the French team in the aftermath of the crash.

Next was Martina who went 67.64 mph, but unfortunately continued her bad luck with wind.

Lincoln had to scratch because the team forgot the seat for cyclone in the civic centre. Then Peter went by, clocking his fastest time ever in the DF at 55.74 mph (89.71 kph), just short of his goal of 90 kph. Still, it seems that Father Time is treating him very well.

Heat 2: Andrea went puttering by at 52.60 mph. Apparently he heard something rubbing and backed off.

Then Adam Hari went by at 48.18 mph. He was followed by Bill Kong who unshipped his chain at 2.5 miles and coasted thru the traps at 42.19 mph.

Finally Bill Thornton went 60.29 mph, just short of his all time personal best.

Last heat: Andrea came through the traps slowly again at 42.43 mph. This time he thought he heard a puncture and backed way off.

He was followed by Matilde who went a wind legal 70.52 mph, earning a 70 mph hat.

Then Noah went 65.64 mph, earning the corresponding hat.

Finally Lincoln was given another chance to ride, and he went 61.14 mph.

At the post race meeting, Robert Barnett handed out prizes for the sprint races. Bill Kong was fastest person of the day.

Many people were gathered around Altair6 to see the damage.

A sobering reminder of what can happen on any given run.

Here are the full results.

BM2022: Friday AM results

We decided to push the starting times back by an hour since the forecast was for low winds until about noon, and that would give riders a little warmer weather to run in. There were some notes about fog as well, and sure enough, driving to the course we saw a wall of fog.

Once we were on the course itself, the fog was not a problem, and as the day warmed up, the fog lifted.

The other big news was that Francois was not running. The team felt that the time was better spent practicing launches.

First heat: Russell goes a little slower than before. Later on he told us at timing that he prefers to run in the cold and the delay in starting may have hurt him.

Second: Matilde sets fast time of the week for Taurus X at a wind legal 67.18 mph.

Next was Noah, going 60.74 mph, a little slower than yesterday.

Next heat: Lincoln goes 56.36 mph, but there is still no front wheel fairing on the bike.

Peter with a wind legal 53.96 mph.

Next heat: Andrea goes 75.84 mph. This is the only picture of the morning where the panning worked out.

Adam went 69.55 mph, slower than yesterday. Closing out the heat was Martina who went 68.44, but has you can see from the picture, the wind was not legal (and it was a headwind).

The last heat was from 2.5 miles, and Bill Kong qualified in Cyclone at 57.29 mph. He noted some drivetrain issues that needed to be addressed before he could put full power to the pedals. Finally, we had Diego in Cerberus, going a wind legal 40.88 mph.

He was weaving pretty hard both leading up to and in the traps as well. He went off the road at catch, clipping Al’s leg in the process. We’ve set up one last 2.5 mile session tomorrow AM to give him another shot at further improvement.

Here are some nice photos of the UofT team at start, courtesy of Arnold.

Here are the full results for the morning.

Here are the start orders for tonight and tomorrow morning.

We shall see if the French decision not to run this morning pays off.

BM2022: Thursday PM results

Thursday afternoon, there was the usual bustle of people working on their bikes. Here, Toronto is working preparing the cyclone shell to accept a front wheel fairing.

Adam is wet sanding in the rain in order to pick up that 2 mph that he needs to be the fastest Australian.

As we headed out to the course, we knew that the forecast did not look promising in terms of wind. In fact the winds were three to four times legal when we got out there, and it didn’t look like it would die anytime soon. Not surprisingly, many people elected to scratch, and in the end it was decided that there would be only one heat of four bikes, with that heat starting as late as possible. The team 77 folks hanging out at timing got a live demonstration of the fact that the wind often dies just around sunset. The start of the heat was pushed back to 6:40 PM.

Anticipation ran high since the first two bikes were Francois and Andrea. We then heard about two failed launches on the radio. Altair 6 fell over at launch and had the evil luck of the camera mast detaching. Phoenix was also dumped and then there was a problem with vision due to fogging of the camera window.

First bike down the course was Matilde, running 65.72, but not with legal wind.

Second was Lincoln who went 55 mph, an improvement possibly due to the switch to blue Michelin tires. Winds were legal so he upgraded his hat to 55 mph.

Hoping for better weather tomorrow. The forecast is for low wind in the morning, but quite cold at 7 AM, and so the decision was made to push the first heat to 8:15. Hoping that this adjustment helps the riders.

Here are the complete results: