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Archive for the ‘scene by bike’ Category

On a brief trip to Hamilton, I had a chance to try out the bike share system, which was run by Social Bicycles.  Hamilton Bike Share has several different rate plans. As a very occasional user, I am on the $4 per hour plan. I started at the Hamilton GO terminal.

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They had recently added some more bikes and stations to the system, and the new bikes in white were an upgrade from the originals, going from three to eight speeds. Naturally I picked out the white one from this rack. I had the Sobi bike sharing app on my phone, but it appeared that I still had to punch in my user number and PIN manually.

Fun fact: there was a period of time when you could pay a fee to have a custom name put on a bike. Another fun fact: you can use their website or phone app to search for a particular bike by name.

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Riding north on James St. S, I pass the former James St. Baptist church which appeared in the Handmaid’s Tale while it was in the process of being demolished. Facadism, anyone?IMG_6101

Downtown Hamilton traffic is a bit more low key than in Toronto 😉

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One of the things I wanted to check out was the bi directional bike lanes along Cannon that were put in as a three year pilot in 2014. Cannon St. is a high speed arterial in the north end of the city, with one way traffic flowing west. One lane was converted over to a bi directional bike lane. One of the best features of this bike lane is that it cuts across a significant part of the city; it is 6.3 km long, which is about the distance from Keele to Church along Bloor St.

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Riding east (against the car traffic direction), there are bike traffic lights at each major intersection.

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There are also chevrons across major intersections.

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The bike lanes themselves are protected by combination of bollards and rubber bumpers.

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Here I am at my destination.

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Why did I come to this particular station?  It was to take this picture.

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Comparing the old and new models, one major difference is that the new basket is a bit smaller, but is made up of plate with small holes, rather than the old design of tubes. As noted in this detailed blog post, this allows smaller items to be carried in the basket.

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A “be seen” headlight is integrated into the front of each basket.

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The bike named “Mika” was looking a little worse for wear since the last time I saw it, which was two years ago, but it still looked functional. You can see the U shaped lock sticking out to the right.

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This pictures show the ends of the “U”

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When you unlock a bike, you stow the “U” in the handy carrier.

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Riding back to the GO station, I note the green boxes that show where bikes are supposed to wait before crossing both lanes of bike traffic as well as Cannon St. The placement of this one seems a bit odd, but all of them are place as far as possible away from car traffic.

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At the end of the trip, the phone app shows the charge. The LCD screen showed it as well, but the display reset before I could take a photo.

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By all accounts, Hamilton Bike Share has been a raging success. Reviewing press on the Cannon St. bike lanes, I see articles both in support, and somewhat more mixed.   They were put in in the first place with significant local support. In addition to significant increases in ridership, some data shows improved car traffic flow. I’ll be watching to see if they are made permanent.

 

 

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One of the highlights of spring in Toronto is the blooming of sakura, most famously in High Park. Signs over the past several weeks indicated that the bloom would be earlier than usual. Sure enough, various media outlets predicted peak bloom for this weekend past, and pointed out that the blossoms might not be as good next weekend because of rain in the forecast before then.

Whatever is the reason (perhaps a pent up demand due to the lack of sakura last year), but the crowds have been crazy this year.

Checking out High Park around 10 am this morning, I saw quite a few people for a Monday morning.
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Carrying on along Bloor, I see that the “Bloor on the Park” BIA has made more legible signs than last year.

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Swinging by Robarts, I see the smaller stand of sakura in fuller bloom than in High Park.

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Lucy wants to go for a bike ride.

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We decided to bike out to High Park after dinner to check out the sakura as a family. Crazy traffic for a Monday.

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It was pretty crowded, and getting too dark for decent pictures. If it was this crowded today, it must have been insane yesterday!

If you’re anywhere near downtown, you’d be better off checking out Robarts near the intersection of Huron and Harbord.. At High Park, the blooms weren’t nearly so full, and a lot of the lower branches of trees had a somewhat bedraggled appearance from people pulling them down to get a better picture.

 

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The pedestrian bridge across the rail lines at the west end of Wallace Ave has been an important link for the neighbourhoods that are being built up east of the tracks. The stairway on the east end of the bridge just reopened after intermittent closures over this past winter.

The reconfiguration of the stairway is necessary to allow a new roadway (Sousa Mendes St.) to link between Ruskin and Wallace Avenues. 

Here is a site map from the developer.

Nov 15: you can see some uprights for the new stairway.

Jan 14: the steel framing for the lowest section of stairs is in.

March 23: in the process of pouring concrete on a platform.

March 28: the first evening that the stairs are open.

April 1: they certainly didn’t waste any time taking down the old stairs.

It was important to maintain this vital link for the neighbourhood. Eventually, there will be a pedestrian underpass in the area as well, which will also greatly facilitate the transfer between the UP Express and the Dundas West subway station. Until that happens, this bridge will have to do.

Update: here is a link to the city staff report on this project, and here is an excerpt:

Wallace Street Pedestrian Bridge One of the consequences of putting a new public street through the site, was the need to realign the eastern staircase of the Wallace Street Pedestrian Bridge as the stairs in their existing location are located right where Sousa Mendes Street joins with Wallace Avenue.

The Wallace Street Pedestrian Bridge was constructed in 1907 and is on the City of Toronto list of heritage properties. The bridge is constructed of steel, concrete and wood and it is organized in 3 distinct sections. A single set of stairs at the east and west ends rise in two tiers and the stairs are illuminated with decorative iron brackets. The bridge is a rare example of a vintage pedestrian bridge in Toronto and it is a visual landmark and an important feature in the neighbourhood. It is very well used, as it provides the only connection over the railway between Bloor and Dupont.

The applicant will be replacing the eastern staircase with a new staircase that will be located within the West Toronto Railpath, moving northward, then scissoring back to land at the end of Wallace Avenue. See Attachment 7 for drawings of the proposed stairs.

Given the prominence of the bridge and its high level of use, planning staff, the local Councillor, the applicant and members of the community met two times on-site to review the proposed stair location, the stair design and how the realignment of the stair would impact the gathering space on the Railpath at the end of Wallace Avenue. The bridge will remain open during the construction on the bridge and both Heritage staff and Engineering and Construction Services staff have signed off on the bridge alterations.

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Update 2: a few more pictures

 

The new view at the end of the bridge. Several people in the Junction Triangle Community Group on FB have mourned the ending of the former view, where the stairwell at this end of the bridge was basically invisible from mid span.

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The bike rails are handy. No better or worse than before.

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Panorama

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A view of the space where the old stairs were, from ground level.

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I’m biking along the Harbord St. bike lanes, and I’m running late for an appointment when I see a group cycle up behind me while I was stopped at Spadina. There were two cameramen, and I recognized MPP Jagmeet Singh, who has been attracting some attention, not only as a sharp dresser, but also as a potential leadership candidate for the NDP. At this point, I thanked him for showing up to a memorial ride for a recent Sikh immigrant, forgetting that it was actually MP Raj Grewal who was there (deepest apologies all around!). He responded that safety was an important issue, and when the light turned, we all crossed Harbord, and then I stopped to take this souvenir shot.

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At this point, the person who was riding behind Singh pulled over and introduced himself as Doug (and he might have even said Doug Ford, but my level of cognitive dissonance was so high that his last name didn’t register; although in retrospect I did recall his Chicago Bears jacket).

Jared Kolb chimed in on a facebook thread that this was part of filming for a new TVO series called “Political Blind Date”.  If I wasn’t in such a rush to get to work, I would have loved to have asked both of them some questions, but I ended up riding off and wishing them a safe ride.

You never know who you’ll meet riding a bike around town.

 

 

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I’ve been in Glasgow for a few days, and the bikeshare system has allowed me to explore a bit more of the city that I could have on foot.

First step: getting a bike. I noted that Tammy Thorne had reported some issues with the bikeshare system on the Dandyblog, so I prepared by loading the Nextbike app. Here is one of the bikeshare stations.

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If you have the app, you can scan the QR code on the bike and it will let you know if it is available for rental. This seemed to work better than manually keying in the number on the phone or the keyboard on the bike. The app responds by giving you the combination to the lock.

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and we’re off. Here is the bike on one of the pedestrian and bike bridges across the Clyde. It is a chunky bike with a Shimano 3 spd Nexus hub, but it strikes me as being less heavy than our bikeshare bikes in Toronto.

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There are some nice paths along the north side of the river. In some sections, there are separate paths for pedestrians and cyclists. Here it is multiuse.

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To get around some buildings, the path sometimes becomes a glorified sidewalk.

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Approaching the Transport Museum, which was designed by the late Zaha Hadid.

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The museum holds a sample of everything on wheels, plus some models of ships. I’m going to concentrate on the bikes.

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Unfortunately, many of the bikes were suspended on a round track that was hung from the ceiling.

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You could use a touchscreen display to get descriptions and pictures of each bike, but it wasn’t the same as being close up to them. I guess the advantage is that you can provide text in different languages, and that you could provide more text than on a static display, but it was a little disappointing none the less. Here are a Moulton and Raleigh 20 on the track.

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A USS recumbent dating from the 30’s.

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A display of trikes, with a Windcheetah in the foreground.

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A vintage tandem trike on the same display. The front person has the option of not pedaling, and just using the footrests.

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A view out the front of the building, with a huge wall of cars to the right. The same complaint applies to the cars: you can’t see them very well.

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From another angle.

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A special edition Raleigh chopper that was released for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee. It didn’t sell very well. Perhaps the really heavy mag wheels had something to do with it.

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A display of touring bikes. You could object to the fact that 2 out of five were not human powered, but one of the two motorbikes was used by Ewen McGregor, so I guess that’s OK.

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This is allegedly a model of the first working bike in the world. Made in Scotland, naturally.

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Finally, the thing that I really wanted to see was the replicas of Graeme Obree’s bikes.

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One had the original narrow bars meant to be under the rider’s chest, and the other featured the extended superman position. Both positions were banned by the UCI.

Here is a shot of the narrow bars, with my hand barely in front of them, to get a sense of just how narrow these are.

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Overall, I was underwhelmed by the Obree display as the replicas were rather crude, with no attempt to show the ultra narrow Q factor or the special cranks that the real bike had.

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Nevertheless, it was a fun visit, doubly so because I got there by bike. Here I am biking back as the weather turned rainy.

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These wayfinding signs were helpful, with timings given for both cyclists and pedestrians.

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It was often difficult to tell if a given sidewalk was part of a bike route. It was more clear where the pavement was a special colour, such as red which seemed to indicate multiuse.

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Elsewhere, blue signage was helpful.

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When you return a rental bike, you just pull up to a bike station, lock the bike and then indicate the return on the app. One thing is that if you are on a roaming data plan, it would be inadvisable to keep the app running for the whole time that you have the bike. If you turn off the app after you check the bike out, it is helpful to note the combination beforehand, especially if you plan to lock up the bike during your rental period. I got into the habit on taking a screen cap as soon as I rented a bike.

When you return the bike, relaunch the app and it will figure out where you are.

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Note that this screen is also providing you with the lock combination. Press return, and then you can select the actual location where you are doing the return. You will be rewarded by this screen.

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The app also lets you review your rentals to make sure all your returns were successful.

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On our second day in Glasgow, the weather was much better and it was great to see so many people out and about on the two main pedestrian streets downtown: Buchanan and Sauciehall.

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A cool non US model Cannondale with small wheels and a kid seat.

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This is Mitchell St, which runs parallel to Buchanan but one short block west. This street seemed to be used for loading into the backs of buildings that fronted on Buchanan.

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The pedestrianization of a good deal of downtown has transformed these streets into a big, outdoor shopping mall. There was definitely a huge amount of foot traffic, but I’m not sure that this would be the best model for revitalization. I would hope that the second floors and above of the buildings would be given over to offices and such so that employment as well as retail activity could anchor downtown.

More Glaswegians enjoying the sun. You might wonder about the slogan posted in many places: “People Make Glasgow”.  Well I must say that everyone we’ve met in Glasgow has been very friendly!

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Some flaggers in the Merchant City district, practicing for a street festival that starts tomorrow. This section of the city had pavers put down in 2011, and it gives this area a distinct character, along with all the old buildings with their impressive stonework.

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and here are two Dutch bikes belonging to the owners of a very cool jewelry shop, with one of them trying to get out of the picture.

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All in all, an enjoyable visit, but all too brief. I also went by a special bike shop, but I’ll write that up in a separate post.

 

 

 

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This past weekend, I rode Seattle to Portland (STP) with roughly 10,000 other cyclists; this was an annual ride organized by the Cascade Bicycle Club. According to their stats, most of the riders are from WA, only 248 are from out of country, roughly half are riding STP for the first time, and a fraction of the total ride the full 205 miles in one day. The rest of us do it in two days. I rode it with good friend Steve, as well as M and J.

Here we are about to leave for the start line at about 5:30 am. (thanks Peg for getting up to take the picture)

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All smiles at the start line.

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And we’re off. The person with the megaphone is yelling at mister 7274 for not wearing a helmet.

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Still riding with the much faster M&J near the start.

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We took a break at the Seward Park rest stop. Unfortunately just prior to this, Steve clashed wheels with another cyclist who braked suddenly and then someone ran into him. Fortunately, he escaped with just bruises on his wrist and thigh.

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On the way to the REI rest stop at mile 24, I am overtaken by this mysterious bike. I manage to catch up briefly and the rider verified that this was indeed a Ti folding bike. She was much faster so I didn’t get any more information.

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A little sleuthing turned up the name: the Burke 20, which does not appear to be on sale according to the website. No information on pricing either, but it would be an interesting thing to compare to the Helix (another Ti folding bike that has yet to see the light of day).

Unfortunately, before the REI rest stop I also lost track of Steve and when I tried to use Glympse to track him, the app gave me the impression that he was ahead of me. This turned out to be wrong, and we didn’t get back together until the overnight stop Saturday evening. For the record, Glympse didn’t seem to work very well during the whole ride, even in Portland.

The REI rest stop was a mob scene. I learned later that experienced riders avoid this stop by riding on, or by stopping at a Starbuck just before this point.

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For the Washington State portion of the ride, all turns were indicated by pink road markings, although most of the time you just followed the line of cyclists ahead of you.

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People working hard about 2/3rd’s of the way up “the Hill” which turned out to be not too much trouble.

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Two Team Joy riders being greeted at the top of the hill.

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Lunch stop was at Spanaway. With 10,000 cyclists, expect to line up for everything. This is the line for one of the banks of portapotties.

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The food line was similarly long: about 15 minutes each.

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Lunch the first day:

IMG_3566 I could have also grabbed an assortment of cookies or granola bars. People who are severely allergic to peanuts should note that one of the two choices for sandwiches on both days was PB&J.

The only thing for which there wasn’t a line was filling up your water bottles. I ended up having to spend about an hour here. I would have been better off finding lunch and a bathroom elsewhere. There was a Home Depot just a few blocks away, along with some other stores.

Shortly after lunch we entered Joint Base Lewis–McChord, which restricted traffic to military personnel.

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It was actual wonderful riding, with next to no car traffic. I did see the occasional sign that warned of things like: “live artillery fire over roadway”.

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Just past the base and on the road to Yelm, we see the first sign for Centralia.

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About 14 miles of the stretch between Yelm and Centralia was along a very peaceful multi-use trail. I was enjoying this enough that I only took this one lousy picture.

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This gives you a slightly better idea of what it was like.

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The trail ended at Tenino where there was another mobbed rest stop which I bypassed.

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Some local people were situated just a little further along, and were selling bottles of water at a county park with bathrooms. Much better!

The end of the first day at Centralia College.

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Overall, my strategy of eating either a pack of energy chews or a Kind bar every hour on the hour kept me from bonking, but my legs really started running out of gas for the last 20 miles or so. When I got to Centralia, just past this gate I lay down on some grass, and I didn’t get up for about thirty minutes. I was convinced that I wasn’t going to be able to do the second day, but after about an hour, I was up and about looking for my luggage, and figuring out where my riding friends were.

Here are the number of bikes in the guarded bike corral that had kickstands, my Tikit among them

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and here are the bikes that didn’t have a kickstand

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including these two Bromptons.

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I saw about ten or so Brommies either at Centralia, or at the very end of the ride, but I never saw any on the road. Kudos to my fellow 16″ wheel riders!

A few notes about staying at Centralia:

  • food options were varied enough, with a few vegetarian or gluten free options. There are also grocery stores in town.
  • we stayed in the gym, but the great majority of people camped. I guess they knew it was not going to rain.
  • if you stay in the gym, bear in mind that the men’s bathrooms on either side are different. One has more bathroom stalls, and the other has more shower stalls.
  • unaccountably, if you wanted to get coffee with the paid breakfast, that was a separate line outside the cafeteria.
  • they are smart enough to start serving breakfast at 4 am. We left Centralia around 6:30, and I got the sense that most had left by then.

Just south of Centralia, we get a small section of bike path just along I-5. However, the rest of the day was on roads.

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Just after the first climb of the day is the small village of Napavine where apparently this woman gives out free banana bread every year. Regrettably I was not able to sample it as it had walnuts.

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Rolling hills and nice country riding.

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Another mobbed mini stop at Winlock which Steve and I bypassed. I guess we missed the world’s largest egg.

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Miracles of miracles, we meet M&J who did stop at Winlock to check out the egg.

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Lunch at Lexington was much more efficient. There was almost no line for food.

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Lunch the second day included a garbanzo bean and potato salad with pesto.

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A little past the lunch stop was the Lewis & Clark bridge where we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon. Here we are turning left towards the bridge.

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We were directed onto an offramp to wait the canonical 15 minutes before we were allowed to cross as a solid mass of cyclists.

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And off we go.

Welcome to Oregon.

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Riders were warned not to use the shoulder because of expansion joints. Sure enough these were covered by large metal plates, and on the fast ride down off the bridge, about 20 feet passed one of these plates I saw many water bottles by the side of the road.

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Curving onto HWY 30.

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A look back at the bridge.

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The next 40 miles was on HWY 30, which was the least pleasant part of the whole ride. In some sections there were two lanes of traffic in either direction but there was usually light enough traffic that the curb lane was left empty. Signs indicated to drivers that there would be cyclists on the road this particular weekend.

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Road narrows to one line in each direction in the town of Rainier.

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Other sections had a relatively narrow shoulder, and things would get a little dangerous if there was car traffic along with cyclists insisting on passing, as many of the pacelines would do.

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There were also some sections of rumble strips on the approach to St. Helens.

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One bright spot along this road: we meet up with M&J again just as we stop to take selfies at the city limits sign. Thanks to blue Colnago guy for taking this picture.

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One final bridge towards downtown.

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and here I am crossing the bridge, trying to look happy for the photographer.

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Not surprising to see good bike infrastructure in downtown Portland.

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Just before the finish, we see one of the bikeshare stations that are still in the process of being installed. Branded by Nike by the looks of them.

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Here I follow Steve down the finish chute.

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Another picture of Bromptons that did the ride. I was told that some of them belonged to one day riders.

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Overall, it was a very well organized ride. All of the volunteers were wonderful, and my fellow riders very friendly. I enjoyed myself, although I was somewhat undertrained for the event, and I was seriously wiped out after the first day. My GPS stats showed that I spend about a total of about 10 hours on the first day, and 10.5 hours on the second, with an average riding speed of about 20 kph, which was about what I expected.

I did get of comments on my Tikit. Aside from the usual jokes about having to pedal harder, most people gave me a big thumbs up. I did see three other Fridays on the route (no other Tikits) as well as a Family Tandem and even a triple. However, nothing tops the dad of the year with the kidback tandem and trail-a-bike with a trailer behind that!

Interestingly enough, I also got a lot of nice compliments on my wool jersey.

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I would certainly consider doing it again. The weather conditions were near ideal: overcast most of the time, and not hot (max of about 75°F). If it had rained or been very hot, it would have been much more difficult. My only regret was that I didn’t have any time to explore the cycling mecca that is Portland. Maybe next time.

A big thanks to my riding buddy Steve for inspiring me to do the ride, and to Peg for logistical support i.e. hosting before and the ride back to Seattle.

 

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I’ve been doing a bit of training this week in Vancouver, during the final lead up to STP, and as usual I’ve seen many interesting things. Here are just a few of them:

I like this Sharpie edit of this bike button. I’ve seen it more than one place around town.

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At UBC you can practice putting bikes on bus racks.

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One of my first rides was back and forth to the north shore. Here is the multiuse path approaching the Lion’s Gate bridge.

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My first time across the Lion’s Gate bridge. It gave me the heebie jeebies, whereas both the Burrard and the 2nd Narrows bridges did not. I think it is because it is easy to see through the fence to the side while riding.

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I wimped out and did not climb any further up than just past HWY 1, along Skilift Rd.


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I can see the UBC campus, where my ride started.

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Going back south across the Burrard St. bridge, you can see that due to construction, lanes have been blocked off. Note that there is more road width devoted to just pedestrians and southbound cyclists than the single lane for car traffic in this direction. Safe to say that this would never happen in TO.

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Another ride took my around town and then back to Granville Market. Here I am working my way around False Creek.

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Sign vandalism.

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Preparation for the bike share system in Vancouver.

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I have never heard of a Fiori kidback tandem. From this website, it seems very reasonably priced.

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I can’t identify this nice bike, but from the seatstay, it looks like a DeKerf?

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A Karate Monkey based e-bike.

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Note that with the extensive bike route network here, it is easy to plot out a reasonably flat 38 km loop that is totally on signed, marked bike routes. Only a portion is on segregated bike lanes, but most of the route is on lightly travelled roads that have been traffic calmed.

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Here, I’m being rewarded with a stroopwafel after my first lap.

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I like this decoration at the intersection of the Ridgeway bikeway and Main St.

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Here at the end of my last longish training ride, which was three laps of the 38 km loop.

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Here are the things that I’m been riding with in my seat bag.IMG_3454

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  • A) spare tube
  • B) zip ties and tools including allen wrenches, presta adapter, multitool, patch kit, tire levers, scissors/plier tool, and 3Wrencho.
  • C) a regular seat bag to carry all the tools.
  • D) a light cable lock
  • E) Brooks seat cover*
  • F) rain cape*
  • G) vest

*if I carry these, it won’t rain, will it?

All this fits with room to spare. Less than four days to go….

 

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