Archive for the ‘Bicycling life’ Category

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.

Read Full Post »

Today was the fourth year in a row that I volunteered as a ride ambassador at the Ride for Heart. This time, good friend Tim came along. Note: since Tim is also a bit of a bike shutter bug, some of the pictures to follow were taken by him (especially the ones of my riding).

First repair of the day: an adjustment on a fellow volunteer’s bike.

Big thumbs up at the start gate.

Approaching the first on the road repair of the day: these kids reluctantly received some help with a jammed chain.

photo: T. Potter

Tire underinflation: by far the most common thing we saw all morning.

Rear brake cabling problem.

More inflating of tires. You’ll notice that Tim is going all the work.

This couple had a jammed chain. Their bike was borrowed from a neighbour, a beautiful Claude Butler tandem that was older that they were.

They got a flat further along the ride, but towards the end of the ride, we saw them all smiles, with a new rear tire.

Glad to get this traffic update…….

At the York Mills turn around.

Back down the hill, and under the Prince Edward Viaduct.

Leading up to the last climb of the day.

Raising seats for two girls that were struggling a bit on the climb.

Biking by the undeveloped lands by the mouth of the Don. At this point we’ve decided to remove our ambassador shirts so that we can show off our wool jerseys.

Thanks to Jeff at Palo Alto bikes for exemplary customer service: he took the trouble to accept a phone order for this special PA Bikes wool jersey. Not only that, but he sent it by USPS rather than UPS as per my preference. I get to stir up a few memories of my grad school days when I wear it.

photo: T. Potter

Never get tired of seeing this skyline from this vantage point.

These two bike dads were smart enough to have a bail out option.

The final stretch along the Gardiner to the S. Kingsway exit.

Overall, no flat tires this time, but lots of pumping up tires and seat adjustments. There seemed to be fewer mechanicals this year. At one point, five of us white shirted volunteers converged on a single cyclist to see if they needed help.

Thanks to for TBN for giving us the opportunity to help out. Thanks also to Tim for good company, and doing 90% of the work this year.

Read Full Post »

Yesterday I logged the 2000th ride on my regular commuter, and so I thought it would be an opportune time to update a post from 2011 that described the four bikes that I use most regularly.

First up: my Rock Lobster Alfie, which is still my regular commuter. I’ve logged just over 2000 rides and about 14,600 km on it.

Rock Lobster Alfie

Since 2001, I’ve added a front rack and dynamo lighting.

My most recent tweak is the high viz Ortlieb pannier. I’ve been quite happy with it, and it is my first totally waterproof pannier as well.

The second most used bike is my long tail cargo bike: a Bike Friday Haul a Day. This replaces the Xtracycle that I had for quite a while.

Haul a Day with Xtracycle

I got the Haul a Day back in 2015, and since then I’ve tweaked it quite a bit. The most recent mod was adding dynamo lighting.

For my winter beater, I finally retired the Novara and got a Louis Garneau Cityzen Sub Zero, a model that came with studded tires, and they only sold it for a year.

Louis Garneau Sub Zero

Most important mods: 1) a KMC S10 stainless steel chain, 2) dynamo lightning, and 3) better than original studded tires (Schwalbe Winter Marathons)

The fourth regular rider is a folding bike. I replaced the PBW with a Tikit, and then after much thinking about it, I replaced my Tikit with a Brompton.

I’ve been very happy with it.

So, in summary, since 2011, I’ve kept the same four types of bikes, but I have replaced three out of the original four. The more things change, the more they stay the same…..

Read Full Post »

It was the first really nice Saturday of the year. So of course time for a family bike ride. As a special treat, I dragged the Daisy Mayhem out of the depths of the garage.

Proof that the wife and I are tandem compatible.

After a quick spin of High Park, we were feeling guilty so we circled back to pick up Lucy.

It was a spectacular day. Hope that you managed to get out and about.

Read Full Post »

1st shorts ride, 2019

For the record, it was +6°C this morning, so after this unusually long winter, I rode in with shorts.

Hoping that spring will actually spring soon.

Read Full Post »

The groundhog lied

Well it’s been almost two weeks since Groundhog Day, and it looks like there’s going to be a lot more winter than predicted. This past two weeks have been particularly interesting, with various predictions of horrible weather that have not always been on the mark. Yesterday, TDSB closed all their schools and yet it was a pretty peaceful ride in. Certainly less traffic than usual.

I have to admit I’m getting a little soft, and I’m wearing the balaclava a lot more this winter than in the past. The googles were on account of the high winds.

Yesterday’s prediction of freezing rain in the evening never really materialized, and it was a sloppy, slushy ride home.

As you can see, the city was a bit behind on plowing, and since the curb lane on Bloor was impassable, I took the lane. With the strong tailwind, it was no problem keeping up with traffic.

This morning, all the stuff from last night was frozen on the bike.

It was snowy going in.

A lot of slush carried into the building. Our poor custodian….

I’m going to try to see if I can beat last year’s record of 120 consecutive days of cycling. Doing well so far:

Here’s hoping that we don’t get too much more snow this winter.

Read Full Post »

So today was the start of what is supposed to be the most significant snow fall of the season thus far. On the plus side, there was a nice tailwind, and the temperatures were much warmer than this morning.

Here the Bloor bike lane has not been plowed recently, but it was still pleasant riding on the comparatively untracked snow.


On the eastbound sections with bollards, I was thankful for the separation from traffic. The windrow makes one long for a permanent concrete barrier.


Please forgive the runny nose picture.


Past the end of the bike lane at Shaw, I mixed it up with traffic as most of the curb lane was impassable. Fortunately, traffic was very slow, and there was no problem keeping up. On the downside, I was stuck in traffic like everyone else.


Most of the unplowed side streets were impassable, with the many tire tracks making traction highly variable.

According to Strava, it took me over an hour and a quarter for me to get home, which was the longest ever.

screen shot 2019-01-28 at 8.24.50 pm

Still it was fun, and the car drivers were comparatively courteous tonight. We were all in the same boat, just trying to get home safe and sound. My favourite bit was passing an e-assist fat bike on Bloor.


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »