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The Growling Beaver is a gravel ride in the Collingwood area that raises funds for Parkinson Canada. I rode in the inaugural event back in 2015, and although it was a very tough 100K, I really enjoyed myself. Now that I have a gravel bike, I thought it was high time that I rode once again.

Given that the forecast for today was rain about a week ago, we really lucked out on the weather. I heard several people remark that this was the best weather ever. The start and end was at Side Launch Brewing.

Six years ago, gravel bikes weren’t really a thing, and so there were a lot of people riding cross bikes. This time, it looked to be 90% gravel bikes.

Evan Siddall, one of the founders of the event, talks to us just before the 100K riders are sent off. The mascot is a new thing as well.

We were sent off in groups of 10 so as not to crowd the Georgian Bay trail that was the first 30K of the ride. Here goes the first group, nominally the fast people.

I joined one of the last groups to ride. Nevertheless, it was plenty fast for me. Thanks to all those who towed me along for the first 30K into a headwind.

First checkpoint at Meaford, just before the first big climb of the day.

These volunteers were putting supportive messages on bananas. There were more volunteers than back in 2015, and they were very well organized.

I took the opportunity to ask Evan for a selfie, and he remembered my name although I was just one rider six years ago. This absolutely blew my mind.

First climb mostly done. In retrospect, it was easy since it was on asphalt.

What a gorgeous day!

Near the start of the first major downhill on Old Mill Rd. In 2015, fresh gravel had been laid down three days before the event, and I had to take it really slow. Much better this year. This is at the 40K mark.

Lots of picture taking at this spot where the downhill switches from gravel to pavement and you get a spectacular view of the Beaver Valley.

Kimberley lunch stop. It was nice to have volunteers ringing cowbells to greet you. Lots of good food choices as well.

Just after this stop: my nemesis: Side Road 7B.

What it looks like on my Garmin.

Defeated once again. Although I was faster than in 2015, I still had to walk the middle section. What I’m finding is that with slick tires, I just can’t get enough traction on anything steeper than about 15% on gravel. At least I was not alone in walking my bike.

On the road to Duncan. Much better, and a tailwind as well.

The last checkpoint at Kolapore Corner.

Probably the best display of fall colours I saw all day.

I will note that the downhill gravel section starting around 90K in the Rob Roy management area was the scariest part of the ride in that the gravel was not packed down in parts, and I didn’t know what was ahead around the next corner. I had ride my brakes in this section. After that, the last 15K is paved, and much of it is downhill.

All done.

This time I managed to have moving average of 21.8 kph, and a total elapsed time of about 5 1/2 hours, which was much better than last time. The weather and the better road conditions had a lot to do with it, although the better bike certainly didn’t hurt. I felt a lot fresher after the ride than last time.

A hazy IPA really hit the spot.

Also some really good tacos from Mamacita Tacoria.

Evan makes a few announcements, thanking all of the volunteers. In addition he thanks the sponsors for their support. With this support, every dollar raised goes directly to the charity, which is terrific.

Just as I was about to leave, I meet Carol and Patrick from the Toronto Brompton Owners group. They weren’t on Bromptons today. Sorry Patrick, I only got a picture of Carol in line for tacos.

A great day of riding. If you ever want to be challenged by a 108K gravel ride while raising funds for a good cause, I highly recommend the Growling Beaver. It is very well run, and from the number of repeat riders that I met, many people share my opinion. I’ll certainly be back some day to take another try at Side Road 7B. If you are interested, the 100K route is here.

Finally, thanks to all those who pledged their support towards my fundraising goal.

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A busy bike Sunday

Starting bright and early with another ghost bike installation for the cyclist who died on Eglinton near Leslie on Sept 11. From the limited amount of public information available, he lost control of his bike near a construction zone and suffered fatal injuries after he fell. A driver was not involved. Here we are on Bloor at Dufferin.

There was not much clearance for Geoffrey on the bike lanes with bollards, particularly when maneuvering around CafeTO installations. He said he felt like Luke doing the trench run on the Death Star.

Up Bayview.

On Eglinton, figuring out where to put the bike.

Yes, that is the Eglinton LRT train in the background.

Geoffrey said this was the ideal kind of ghost bike; it had an aluminum frame to keep the weight down for hauling long distances. Here you can see the crack in the frame that turned it into garbage. Also the first ghost bike I can remember with disc brake wheels.

Geoffrey took this picture of me installing the sign.

Here you can see the roadway where the crash occurred. Presumably the cyclist lost control while speeding down the hill. I will note that this is a nasty part of Eglinton with construction narrowing the road to a single lane.

As always, sincere condolences to family and friends of the deceased. Also much thanks to Geoffrey for building the bike, and Joey for being our ride leader.

Next up, something more positive: a ride to Tommy Thompson with ManDemCC, this time in collaboration with CycleTO. Chris is now on the board of CycleTO, and he reminds us that the organization does a lot of good work, and that this ride is part of their Big Bike Ride Fundraiser.

Chris in motion. He immediately dubbed our ride the “ManDem tandem”.

Regroup at the park entrance.

To the lighthouse!

Crossing the bridge

At the lighthouse.

photo by Joanie

That sky looks good in wide angle.

Chris and company were striking a pose while being shot from the back by a real photographer.

Yet another fun ride with Mandem CC, and I was happy to have my wife share in the experience.

Thanks all, ride safe, and get out there while the weather is still good.

Update: Hey Chris, thanks for posting this video and picture.

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A celebration of the life of Wayne Scott was organized today. This being about Wayne, of course there had to be a bike ride. Here is Kitty thanking us and telling us how much Wayne would have appreciated today.

Albert lets us know the route, and the stops that have some significance with respect to Wayne’s bike advocacy.

Here we go.

Regroup at the park entrance where we are joined by Hamish, Doug and Derek.

Along Bloor

Bloor and Spadina.

Arriving at the Darcy Allan Sheppard ghost bike which was just recently refurbished by Geoffrey Bercarich.

Joe is telling us about Wayne’s years long push to get justice for Darcy Allan Sheppard. Here he is pointing to the Park Plaza, which is where Michael Bryant drove his car immediately after the fatal impact.

He reads a statement from Darcy Allan’s father who attended many of the annual memorials.

Joe also told us that Wayne lived by three rules: he would never fly, he would never drive a car, and he would never marry. He broke that third promise towards the end of his life because that was what Kitty, his long time partner, would want.

I thought that Wayne would appreciate the irony in his trike being parked right in front of a Peleton shop.

People gathered around the ghost bike.

Next stop: City Hall.

Leah tells us about how Wayne took up the cause of October 9 (10-9 being the radio sign for “please repeat”) as Bike Messenger Appreciation Day a year after it was first promoted in Toronto by Sarah and Joe. He brought in sponsorship, and pushed the city to recognize the day as well. Leah is holding a copy of one of the proclamations.

Nick worked with Wayne for nine years at a bike messenger company, and told us a few funny stories of that time. He said that when Wayne started pushing for “food as fuel” legislation, most of his fellow messengers were incredulous.

Finally, Patrick told us about some of the multidimensional bicycle advocacy that Wayne did at City Hall over many years on everything from better bike infrastructure to vulnerable road user legislation. Wayne was known for giving very compelling deputations that were often off script. Here Pat is talking about how Wayne would make councillors uncomfortable by asking why something couldn’t be done.

Time to leave.

Final stop: in behind the federal court house where Albert talked about persistence. It took Wayne over 16 years to win the food as fuel federal tax deduction.

Along Richmond.

Through Trinity Bellwoods.

A brief stop at a bench to remember another bike courier.

Riding up Shaw St.

The rain descends while we are riding back on Bloor.

I made some poor clothing choices. Shorts and T shirt were not cutting it.

Shortly after this point, I elected not to continue with the group back to the picnic area at High Park. The riders in front of me, mostly ex-bike messengers, were made of sterner stuff. Sorry Wayne, I let you down today.

It was nice to see many of the usual suspects in person for the first time in a while.

I will also note that most of the ride today was on bike infrastructure that was only put in over the past five years, and that much of it was the result of continuous advocacy on the part of people like Wayne. It was an honour to have known him and even more of a pleasure to have worked along his side on various bike related causes over the years.

Update: Nick Kovats B&W photos:

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On today’s program: a short ride from the Bentway to a place on Eglinton West to get some Jamaican Patties.

Obviously I should have worn my ManDem CC shirt today.

Chris describes today’s ride.

Off we go, north on Strachan.

On Shaw, waiting for the light at College.

On Davenport.

Old Weston Road.

We arrive at TinNel’s.

Although I would really have liked to get a Pattie and to try a kola champagne, there was long, slow line since there were so many of us waiting. I took my leave at this point, but I enjoyed today’s ride vibe. Thanks all!

I see on social media that some of the riders went a little bit to the east to partake of Randy’s patties. Another place for me to try the next time I’m in the area. Apparently there is some disagreement about which place is better.

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Brompton announced that this year’s Brompton World Championships would involve a crowdsourced photo competition with several themes, rebranded as the “Brompton world challenge”. This was an excuse to put out the word for a group ride for local Brompton owners.

Here is the first in a series of group shots at our meeting spot (Nicol Macnicol Parkette)

Have to sneak in this photo of the very fancy saddle on Paul’s new e-Brompton.

Riding down the Beltline.

Yes, there was one big wheeled bike with us, but it was a state of the art Cervelo gravel bike, and Carol assured us that she also has a Brompton.

Trying to get a group shot on the bridge over Yonge, which didn’t turn out to be such a good idea.

However, this view of the Yonge bike lanes made me very happy.

Since the regular exit from Mt. Pleasant Cemetery at Moore Ave was closed, we entered at Heath Ave, which is something I’ve never done. A bit of a steep gravel incline after this bridge.

Into the brickworks for a snack break.

A few of us chose to ride up to the viewpoint on the ridge overlooking the brickworks. We will have to do this again when the fall colours are out.

photo: Carol

Lunch break.

Paul shows us his battery pack.

Seventeen Bromptons, all in a row. We’ve decided that the official term is a “fold” of Bromptons.

Our photographer had a nifty tripod that I’m going to have to look into.

Off we go again.

Taking over lower Bayview.

I think Pier is saying that I’m blocking his shot.

Final destination was Corktown Commons.

Thanks to Heather and Pier for organizing today’s ride. You can read about their Brompton related adventures at Bromptoning.com. Nice to see so many people!

As people post pictures and videos, I’ll link to them as updates.

The Bromptoning report.

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Last night was Toronto Bike Rave 2021. Just a few pictures taken on the fly to give you a taste of the evening.

The crowd gathers at Ramsden Park on Yonge St. The meet up time was 7:30 but I figured if I got there by 8 it would be fine, and I was correct.

Syncing up the music track.

Getting set to go.

and we’re off.

Headed to Rosedale Valley Rd.

Gerry is herding bikes at the junction with Bayview.

Another regroup at the foot of River St.

Up River St.

Natalie had bubbles going full blast.

Dundas St. E.

Our leader “Mr. Anonymous”.

Our first stop at Greenwood Park.

Dancing, and some serious hula hoop skills.

And we are off again.

Queen St. E.

Alley way.

Headed west on Lakeshore.

Taking over Villers St. This was a highlight: just peaceful riding along with my fellow cyclists.

Next stop: Aiken Place Park under the Sturgeon Moon.

At this point I took my leave. I see from their twitter feed that they continued west to the Canoe, Garrison Crossing and the CNE.

Thanks to all for a fun evening.

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There’s a group of cyclists that gathers early every Friday morning (7-9 AM, rain or shine) in various spots in the Vancouver area to chat, talk bikes, and brew coffee. I’ve been following their Instagram account for a while, and I finally managed to make one of their meet ups.

I’m headed down the hill from UBC. Looks like a bit of wildfire haze to accompany a day where the high is going to be 33°C.

This week they picked a nice spot off False Creek: Habitat Island.

Stoves and coffee makers of various vintages very much in evidence.

Great to touch base with Morgan whom I met a couple of years ago in line for the ferry on my way to visit Sam Whittingham.

Morgan to the left, not Morgan to the right. Height difference greatly exaggerated by wide angle lens.

Morgan writes for the Radavist, and if you want to see some lovely pictures of drool worthy bikes, visit his instagram feed.

Lots of very interesting bikes. Here is a brand new Riese and Muller Packster cargo bike with a sturdy recycled plastic tub.

I like this vintage Stumpjumper citified with fenders and basket. Note the Blue Lug sticker.

That is a wide range cassette.

A nice variety of bags on this bike.

Nice to chat with such a friendly group while being able to check out all the bike geekery at the same time. If you are interested in joining in, their meet ups are announced on their instagram.

Postscript: I was told about a social bike ride that starts from Kissing Crows Cyclery every Sunday at 9 am. Regrettably, I didn’t follow their instagram feed so I didn’t get the notice that the ride was cancelled this weekend. Looks like a pretty interesting shop.

At any rate, it was a nice ride out there to and from UBC. Here is Nat Bailey Stadium.

A Sprinter Van and a Subaru van (Japanese import)

I am in my happy place biking back through Pacific Spirit Park.

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My evening began with a critical mass ride that started in High Park. There were two very different themes that were being protested. The first was the recent ticketing of cyclists in High Park for exceeding the posted 20 kph speed limit, and for not stopping at stop signs. The second was the very heavy handed eviction of homeless from encampments in several parks. The link between the two themes was the over reliance on police force to solve problems, one relatively minor, and the other a serious and continuing issue of the homeless in the city.

A crowd gathered at the north entrance to High Park. I talked to several cyclists who had been ticketed. One of the speed traps was set up at the bottom of the hill on the west side of the loop, and cyclists were then stopped at the top of the hill. At the same time, cars going at least as fast were apparently not being ticketed.

It was sheer joy to circle the park surrounded by my fellow cyclists.

It was noted that just coasting down the hill it was easy to exceed 30 kph. Not that anyone present did such an outrageous thing.

After two and a half laps, a group split off to ride towards 14 Division. Here we are at the High Park Blvd entrance to the park.

Riding through Roncy.

In front of 14 Division on Dovercourt. Clapping, bell riding, and shouts of “shame”, and then a minute of silence to recognize the police brutality that accompanied the eviction of the homeless.

Thanks to David for organizing the event, and to everyone who rode with us.

I then wanted to check out Bike Party Toronto. The meeting place was Christie Pits. These gentlemen seemed oblivious to all the activity around them: many bikes with fancy decorations and lights, and several people in costume.

Syncing up the soundtrack. Oddly, the first track was the theme song from “the Price is Right”

Here we go.

This fellow had a tricked out Tern GSD with big speakers front and rear.

Circling Christie Pits.

Now on Bloor.

Not only did Natalie have one of the most decorated bikes, but she was also running a bubble machine when she was stopped.

U of T.

It’s getting darker now.

We pause at Trinity Bellwoods, and I take the opportunity to leave at this point.

I will say that the Bike Party was well organized, and it turned out to feel very much like a Critical Mass ride, with people helping to cork intersections, and occasional regroups to keep everyone together. Also since we had music and lights with us, bystanders were really happy to see us, in particular all of the people on the CafeTO patios. We were all out having a great evening out.

If you are interested in joining another Bike Party, check out the Toronto Cruisers page, or the Bike Parties Facebook page.

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I started having an issue with my cargo bike where the chain would come off of the chainring when I pushed hard on the pedals. This was especially inconvenient when I would be doing something like a Toronto Bike Brigade delivery,

or hauling a 7 foot Ikea bookcase.

One thought that I had was that the chainring was getting pretty shark toothed. Time to replace the chainring. When you don’t have a pin wrench, you improvise.

Digging through my toolbox, I was pleased to find my old crank remover.

Interestingly enough, the wear on the chainring was most severe at 90° out of phase with the crank arms, i.e. pulling on the chain with the cranks in the horizontal position.

Here is where things went wrong. I had the took to prevent the chainring bolt nuts from turning

but much as I tried, I could not get 3 of the five chainring bolts undone. This is what multiple winters of salt does to a crankset.

Plan B: I happened to have a spare Alfine crankset with integral BB. Perfect since I noticed that my current BB had a bit of play.

Not having all the right tools to deal with the BB, I had master mechanic Geoffrey do the BB replacement and crankset installation.

Very nice.

As a bonus, this particular crankset has a double sided chain guard.

I can’t really complain. Today was ride #1200 on the Haul a Day, with over 12K km, so it was high time that I gave it a little TLC.

Also nice to spend some time with Geoffrey while not on a ghost bike ride.

Keep on trucking’ folks.

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Today was my first group ride with TBN since the beginning of the pandemic. The official starting point was downtown, but there was a pickup point at Queensway and Windermere. Here is the first group to arrive at the pickup point. That’s ride leader Danny on the right.

A few minutes later, most of the rest of the group arrives. We are all still getting used to chatting face to face. Note that we are all at least the required 2m apart.

and we’re off, headed to Oakville today.

Along Atwater.

Threading through a road closure just off of Mississauga Rd.

We’ve arrived at the lunch stop. A lot of cyclists had the same idea.

I elected not to stop, and to ride on. The route went to the mouth of Sixteen Mile Creek before doubling back along Lakeshore. Thanks to the anonymous person who took this photo for me on the pier.

On the way back, all of the Lakeshore Parks were crowded but it was nice to see so many families out enjoying themselves.

It was great to see familiar faces, along with meeting many new TBN members for the first time. However, it’s going to take some time for me to get used to being in a group of people again.

This evening, Lucy and I decided to join ManDem CC for another one of their Sunday night rides. Unfortunately, the city has decided that for the rest of July, the Lakeshore West closure for ActiveTO will be truncated at British Columbia Dr, meaning that it is closed basically only the length of the CNE grounds.

Lucy does not approve.

Waiting for the crowd to gather at the starting point, the Bentway.

Chris tells us that we will leave in five minutes.

Off we go.

Turning left on Lakeshore.

At a certain point, the ride broke up into several groups that were taking different routes. The one that I followed decided to continue on Lakeshore for a while which was not ideal from a safety standpoint.

Then we transitioned to Queens Quay which was very crowded.

Lucy and I started falling behind, partially because the drivetrain on the Haul a Day has issues and I can only use the lowest three gears. Here we are trailing some riders on Bayview.

Hey, we made it to the Evergreen Brickworks!

Loads of people arriving.

A great way to spend a Sunday riding with two very different groups of cyclists.

The Toronto Bicycling Network has recreational rides at all levels. Today was a Tourist ride, which is the second fastest type, with a moving average speed of 24-32 kph. For the duration of the pandemic, you must register in advance for any of the rides. TBN also has a route library which is a good resource for Toronto area cyclists.

ManDem CC has no formal structure. They announce their weekend rides on Instagram. Follow them if you want to be in the loop.

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