Archive for the ‘shop local’ Category

It is now more or less a given that you have to line up at any grocery store, or the LCBO, and I’ve had to wait anywhere from 10-40 minutes at various times this past week. A couple of days ago, I became aware of a website that tracks grocery store waiting times. I decided to check this out this afternoon. In my neighbourhood, it was indicating that the wait time at my local organic market was about 30 minutes (orange marker), but the no frills nearby was just 10 minutes (green marker).

Off I went by bike to check this out. Here is the line at No Frills on Pacific Ave.

Indicated wait time: 10 minutes. Actual wait time: 8 minutes.

After No Frills, I rode by to check the line at Sweet Potato, and 20-30 minutes seemed about right. I chose not to stop.

Before I set off on this shopping trip, I saw that the nearest Loblaws had a 75 minute wait. It could be that the wait times for the larger stores might be an overestimate since it uses phone data to generate the wait times, since I notice that the times for Loblaws seem to be high across the city.

At any rate, using this app has the potential of saving you time spent waiting in line, which is one of the more annoying aspects of life right now.

Keep safe everyone!

Read Full Post »

Bells on Bloor volunteers gathered today in Bloor West Village to get an update on the status of the Bloor bike lane westward extension. The mood was optimistic.

Afterwards, we set to work distributing the City of Toronto brochures about the impact of bike lanes to local businesses on Bloor between Jane and Dundas West. Here are Albert and Rob heading east.

I headed west towards Jane. Almost all of the businesses that I talked to were supportive. One of the stories that I heard was from someone who was hit from behind while biking along Shaw St. Her daughter was also hit at Queen and River, and in that case it was a hit and run. Obviously she was very supportive. The one exception was a businessman who talked to the BIA and was told that it was a done deal.  I tried to emphasize that cyclists are the ones that are the most likely to shop locally. I’m not sure that I convinced him.

At any rate, both during and after the canvassing, I did some shopping. Thanks to the Wine ShopCecil Ward & Sons, and Noodle Me.

crossposted to Bells on Bloor.

Read Full Post »

Bike Pirates is a long standing DIY community bike shop in the western part of downtown. Unfortunately, they have been driven out of Parkdale by rising rents, and are moving to their new location on Bloor St just west of Dundas. (1564 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6P 1A4)

This is what the old location looked like Tuesday night during the packing and reorganizing before the move.

Today was the day when they had two big rental trucks, and they put the word out for volunteers to help haul stuff. This is what the place looked like after two trucks had been loaded with stuff.

Loading up out front.

Out the back as well. I’m going to miss that mural.

Unloading at the new place.

Many hands make light work.

Keep on truckin’ Ainsley!

The new place is filling up fast. It is considerably smaller than the Parkdale location.

Many drawers made this cabinet really heavy.

Basement of the new place. Sorry that this photo is blurry, Tom.

By this point, people were noticing that I was taking pictures, rather than really helping.

Planning what to do next.

There is still plenty to be done, both at the new and the old locations. If you would like to help out, take a look at their facebook page for additional calls for volunteers.

Read Full Post »

15°C and sunny: every weekend day like this is precious at this time of year. An ideal time for a bike ride with the good folks from Urbane Cyclist.

The starting point is Wallace Espresso. Sam is taking the picture so she is missing.

Owen is our fearless leader. He tells us that this is a no drop ride and there is going to be a little rough stuff in the Don Valley.

Lots of interesting bikes in this group, with many tending towards the retrogrouch, so I fit right in.

Prospect Cemetery.

Cruising along the Beltline.

A pre ’93 Ivory Bridgestone XO-1! I used to have a red one of these (not the more famous orange ’93)

Riding the gravel trails just north of the Brickworks.

Instead of continuing onto the Brickworks, we turned left up a series of steep switchbacks. We were rewarded by the scenery from this viewpoint.

Headed north from here, off the main trail.

Down a gully to some old railway tracks.

We were advised to ride along a narrow dirt path beside the track, rather than on the track bed itself. In the narrow bits, I was having a fair bit of pedal strike on the railroad ties, which was a new thing for me.


The tracks are really overgrown on this stretch.

Down another short chute to some regular mountain bike trails.

Now in the Don River trail system. People have figured out that they should smile when I wave my phone vaguely in their direction.

Back on the mean streets of our fair city.

The end of the first segment of the ride at Muddy York Brewing. There are worse things in life than having a beer at noon on a Sunday.

I was not able to join the group for the second half of the ride which was to the Leslie St. spit. (in fact where I was last weekend) I was glad to enjoy the new routes that we were shown this morning, and happy that I was able to keep up with all these young folk.

Thanks to Owen for organizing this ride. Nice to put some names to some of the faces that I’ve seen at Urbane.

Update: here is Ben’s video of the ride.

Read Full Post »

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.


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.


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


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

Screen Shot 2019-08-10 at 5.54.41 PM

Photo below looking back to the north.


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)


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



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.


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


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


Nice views of the Waterford Ponds from the bridge.


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


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.


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


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



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


The Lynn Valley Trail was especially well groomed gravel.


Several wooden rail bridges along the way.


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


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


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


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


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

IMG_2309 (1)

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.


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).


Crossing into Brant county, we have blessed asphalt again.


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.


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.


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.


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.

Update: I have some notes on the rail trail between Ancaster and Brantford here.

Read Full Post »

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 »

Four years ago, I spent some weeks in Calgary and in addition to exploring all of the great bike infrastructure in town, one of the highlights was visiting bikebike, a store that promotes family biking, and cargo bikes in particular. We were passing through Calgary again this past weekend, so I had just a few minutes to check out their new location in the Inglewood neighbourhood.

lots of e-assisted cargo bike goodness out front

The new store is smaller than the old location. They had an extensive selection of e-bikes; in fact more than half of their inventory on the floor were e-bikes.

Still they had some very nice regular bikes, like this VO Polyvalent frame hanging on the wall.

There was also this Breezer Doppler team, a 650b tired bike that looked like the way that I would set up something for gravel riding. Owner Sean said that this had become one of his personal favourites.

I regretting only having a very short time to look over all of the stuff that they had in the shop. I was told that the e-bikes are selling well, and that it has been good for their business to specialize in this segment of the market. If you are in the area, and are looking for an e-bike, a cargobike, a Brompton, or someone to set up your dream touring bike, this is the place to go.

Read Full Post »

Henderson’s Brewing launches a different beer every month, and for the past several years, they have had a bike themed beer each June. This time, they turned it into a fundraiser for Cycle Toronto, in collaboration with Mike Layton and Olivia Chow. The centerpiece of the event was an auction for Jack Layton’s bike, with all proceeds going to Cycle Toronto.

At the main entrance, it is clear that this is a bike themed event.

The place is packed with many of the usual suspects from the local bike community. That’s Jack’s bike hanging from the ceiling.

The Toronto Unicycle Club was also in attendance.

Steve, head of Henderson’s, gets us started.

The brewmaster describes Post and Ring as a cloudy, easy drinking IPA, with 6% ABV in honour of Jack’s Ward 6.

Jared now introduces Mike and Olivia who are going to run the auction.

Mike talks about some recent bylaws to make it easier for craft brewers to succeed in Toronto.

Olivia tells us about how Jack was offered a car and driver when he was elected to Ottawa, but he much preferred riding this bike to work, parking it right in front of Parliament.

Now some fast and furious bidding.

This fellow is on the phone with his Swiss bankers before submitting his bid.

and then the winning bid of $1800!

Mike thanks everyone.

Steve tells us to enjoy the rest of the evening. He also notes that the winner cannot collect his bike right now as getting it down from the ceiling would entail someone getting up on a ladder, and everyone present had at that point already downed a decent about of beer.

In the meantime, Darren from Bedford Unicycles was giving rides on the penny farthing.

Steve being coached.

and he’s off!

It is really interesting to ride one of these. The steering is a little squirrelly as there is no trail, and also there is quite a bit of torque steer while pedaling.

There was also some Raptor themed uni riding.

Post & Ring comes in these small cans. Highly recommended.

Read Full Post »

It’s been a while since I wrote about foot retention, and way back then I guess I liked Powergrips.  Since 90% of my cycling is for commuting, errands, and shopping, you could argue that I’d be best off with just flat pedals. However, in practice, three out of the four bikes that I ride the most use half clips. They are ideal for the city since they are easy to get in and out of, and they provide a little bit of support for correct foot placement on the pedals.

A little while ago, I found a pair of steel half clips in my bow of assorted parts, and I put them on the Brompton.


However, I was finding that they were a little hard to get into, and also they were scuffing up a new pair of Blundstones that I got around the same time. So off I went to my favourite LBS: Hoopdriver Bicycles. Martin always has a good stock of higher end accessories for the kind of bikes that I ride (i.e. not carbon fibre wonder bikes). I scored a pair of MKS deep half clips with leather wrapping. I’ll review the Crane bell when I get around to it.



Here is a side by side comparison of the old and new half clips. You can see that the deep version fits quite a bit thicker shoe. The standard ones seem best suited to cycling shoes, or similarly low profile shoes.


A bottom view.


If you’re considering a pair of these for a city bike, make sure you get the “Deep” version. You can also get it without the leather.

A much cheaper alternative is the plastic half clip, which you can see has a similar profile. They should be available at any non-racer type bike shop.IMG_9721

The plastic ones break in the long run, but in practice, I only have to replace them every two years or so. However, since the new ones were going on the Brompton, I figured there was no harm in having something a little fancier and shiny.

Here is the new half clip mounted on the Brompton.


Here is an action shot showing how happy my dressy shoes are not being scuffed up.


BTW the pedals I’m using on the Brompton and several other bikes are removable, and have the MKS EZ Superior system. This way it is EZ to swap pedals around. If you are going to go this route, make sure you are getting the Superior pedals, and not the regular EZ ones (that have little yellow plastic retention clips that are really EZ to lose).


Counterclockwise from top left: a clipless pedal that I used on the Brompton for STP, platform pedals with half clips, the flat Lambda pedals that are raved about by retrogrouchs that shun foot retention, and a sure sign of autumn. Switching from the Lambda’s to the platform pedals shaved a little weight off the Brompton; not something I really care about, but every little bit counts when you are suitcasing the bike and keeping the total package under 50 pounds.





Read Full Post »

Since it was such a sunny afternoon, I though that I’d head a little ways north to check out the new location of Junction Craft Brewing. They had their grand opening this weekend.

A quick look at Google Maps shows that a nice cluster of craft breweries has sprung up north of St. Clair in the the Stockyards area, with three breweries having opened up in the past year on Symes Rd. At the same time, it looks like the old location for Junction Craft is being taken over by People’s Pint, and High Park Brewery has also announced a forthcoming brewpub in the area.

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 5.16.31 PM

Headed up Runnymede, just north of St. Clair, this is a former asian grocery that is going to be the location of High Park Brewery.


Wanting to avoid biking along St. Clair, I worked my way north to Terry Rd. I was hoping that I didn’t have to bike all the way down the big hill that leads to Alliance Ave, but it but it seem that I ended up at least halfway down by turning onto Terry. Headed east, you can see a wide sidewalk on the north side that appears to be a multiuse trail just by the hydro corridor.


At the end, you intersect Symes Rd. and you can see the short climb up to the right.


Junction Craft Brewing is at the top of the hill in a beautifully restored historical building that used to be a trash incinerator. It was opened in 1934 by R.C. Harris.


Here is the Symes Rd facade, with Art Deco detailing.


A couple of interior shots.


A closer look at the bar.


I think that the street map was a feature at their old location.  You can see the bottle shop to the left.


First beer of the day. Note the “destructor” coaster. Only a half pint as it was the middle of the afternoon. A very nice amber ale.


Sadly, the only bike rack in front is a wheel bender.


Next stop, Shacklands Brewing, which is just next door.



My host Dave was very friendly, and advised me on the best bike routes to his destination. This was a much smaller place with a homey feel to it.


Second beer of the afternoon.


There was another brewery in the same building: Rainhard Brewing, but alas I was running out of time.  Will have to return. You can see some pictures here.

These buildings are all clustered in a former industrial area, sandwiched between the Stockyards Mall and a car storage parking lot. Fortunately, there is a cut though so that you can get to the St.Clair/Symes Rd intersection easily on foot or by bike.


I’ll have to come up here again in the spring. Perhaps we can organize a group ride / brewery tour.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »