Spring in Canada

Ordinarily by this time of year, it’s safe to put away the snow shovels and winter bike. However I woke up this morning to this.


For 30daysofbiking, Kent Peterson is posting a #baiku every day.


Snowy spring day dawns
8 to 10 centimetres
Still we are riding


At any rate, the ride in was not too bad, although side streets like this (Shanly) hadn’t been salted, and if they remain this way, they will be ice rinks tonight.


More well travelled streets like Shaw had been cleared and were fine.


It was hard to tell if there had been any attempt to clear the bike lanes on Harbord. If you look carefully, it looks like there was a shovel width’s worth of path cleared sometime during the snow storm, but I don’t know if the city has a narrow vehicle that can clear a path about a meter wide without showing any outboard tire tracks. At any rate it was heartening to see more and more bike tracks as I approached downtown.


Ride safe, everyone!

Update: what a difference a single day (with some sun) makes. Roads are clear, and bike lanes heavily salted.

Shanly Ave

Shaw St.

Hoopdriver Bicycles

Hoopdriver Bicycles is one of the most distinctive bike shops in the city. They sell a variety of city and road bikes, but with an emphasis on more classic designs based on steel frames. They have also carved out a niche in providing bike builds and accessories for the randonneuring enthusiast.  This past winter, they moved to a new location in Ward 13. My wallet is going to be taking a hit until I get used to the fact that this shop is only a five minute bike ride from my house.


They are located at 668 Annette St., just west of Windermere. Ironically, they are right beside the former location of Windergarden, which was the shop that lead the local opposition to the Annette St. bike lanes years ago.

With spring approaching, I wanted to have a front rack installed on the Tamarack, with the hope that mounting a handlebar bag lower would improve the handling. Here I just finished towing the bike to the shop.


When you enter the shop, the first impression is of an overwhelming number of goodies that catch the eye.


Period art and steel frames from Soma, Surly, etc hanging from the ceiling.


Of course, lots of Brooks saddles.


Lots of nice detail on many of the bikes, like this colour matched handlebar tape weave on this Velo Orange Campeur bike.


They carry bikes from Marinoni, Bianchi, Pashley, Surly and Simcoe, as well as build ups from frames from Surly, Soma, and Velo Orange. The emphasis is on bikes for city riding, touring and longer distance riding, with an almost exclusive focus on steel framed bikes.  However, Martin did make an exception for this sweet Al framed, belt drive kid’s bike.


Also when I went to pick up my bike, I did see this titanium Marinoni with a carbon fork and brifters in the back. Heresy!


Many bike shops carry Brooks saddles, but this shop has more hard to find items and specialized accessories such as  Velo Orange racks, all the latest dynamo lighting from B&M and others, plastic and metal fenders from many vendors, and even Compass Pass tires.

Here is the VO Pass Hunter rack installed on my bike. (the second time I’ve had Hoopdriver mount a front rack on one of my bikes).



If you are in the market for a distinctive city or road bike, Martin and company will take good care of you.



Spring has finally sprung

It finally felt like spring this weekend. Lucy was the only one of the family up for a bike ride to High Park on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon.


With such nice weather, the park was jammed with traffic. You’d think the sakura were out.


Conditions were ideal on the dog trails. Not muddy or dusty for once.


No waiting for parking or fighting traffic on the way home either.


Do the sharrows in the door zone on High Park provide protection for cyclists?  I’m thinking not so much.


Any day is made better with a bike ride.  Happy spring, everyone!

Easter at the bike shop

Dropped by the HPVDT to see if anything was going on. Sure enough, these students must live here.


Evan shows off the fork for Cyclone.


A picture of it being laid up a couple of weeks ago.


Working on the doors for Cyclone, this year’s ASME East entry.


They hope to have wheels on the ground in two weeks, but it is a very busy time for everyone, with only two weeks of classes before exams.

I’ve been wearing a bright yellow Gore Brand cycling jacket over the past few seasons, and I’ve been very happy with it. It replaced another bright yellow jacket since I’ve always been partial to high visibility clothing. However, sometime late last fall, someone rode by me on College St with a ridiculously reflective jacket; I yelled out “nice jacket” and the rider yelled back “reflect 360”.  A little searching on the internet turned up the Proviz line of bike jackets, and according to reviews, it seemed that the Reflect 360+ was even a bit better. Unfortunately, they sold out prior to Xmas, but I did manage to get one about a month ago for a late Xmas present.

Under normal lighting, it looks like a grey jacket with small shiny black dots all over it.


However, it is very retroreflective: i.e. when you shine a light directly at it, it will reflect back in the same direction. Here is a side by side comparison with a regular bike jacket, with a bike headlight shining on it and held close to the camera position.  If I did a flash picture, the effect is even more pronounced, but it is perhaps a little exaggerated.

(photos: K. Nogami)

You can see that the entire jacket looks as bright as the small pieces of reflective trim on the yellow jacket.

You can also see an interesting optical effect when the jacket is partially wet. (warning: Physics). The droplets look bright in this picture since the water drops redirect light more isotropically than the dry, retrofreflective areas.


Here is the front of the jacket. You can see two small chest pockets (with water resistant zippers) and pitzips as well.


Here is the jacket turned inside out. It is fully lined with mesh and there is one internal pocket.


Looking at the back of the jacket, there is a vent across the upper back, and a zippered pocket on the tail, approximately where typical bike jersey pockets are.

A closeup of the pit zips. I wish they had bidirectional opening, and perhaps some zipper pulls as well.


The detailing at the cuffs.


How do I like it?  Well I get lots of comments about it when I’m riding at night, and I can even imagine that drivers give me a bit more space on the road. The only downsides that I see are that it is a bit bulkier than my Gore Tex jacket (being fully lined) and it might not be quite as breathable.  Also, water or wet snow doesn’t brush off as easily as a regular waterproof/breathable jacket.


Nevertheless, since I am a big believer in conspicuity, I’m very happy. We’ll see how it holds up, and how hot it will be on those warm, rainy riders when I’ve forgotten my raincape.

and now our secret mission from a few weeks ago can be revealed: being an extra in a music video by the Jessica Stuart Few for the song “How to ride a bicycle”. A call went out in mid February for any cyclist who wanted to be an extra in a music video. Given that she was looking for “weird bikes” and “animal friends”, I figured that this was something that Lucy and I had to do. Also the call for “all sorts of outfits” which meant that I showed up in my Riddler jersey for good measure.


It turned out to be a sunny, unseasonably warm day. Here we are, headed to the Beach.


Fellow extras milling around Beaches and Cream.


We are introduced to Jessica, and are told how things are going to happen.


Lining up behind the camera car for the first shot.


and we’re off.


Going around the block and through alleyways.


Riding with the star of the show.


Staging for another shot.


We are assigned to Group B.  Lucy is being quite patient.


Time for another little break.


Some musical entertainment while we wait.


Now, riding into the sun, back towards the starting point.


Some more milling about.


Obligatory selfie with the star. Lucy is very blasé about the whole thing.


Here is the result: a fun video for a beautiful song that is now stuck in my head. (I like to ride, I like to ride, I like to ride my bicycle…)

Thanks to Jessica and the crew for a fun afternoon.

The group is currently touring Australia, but they will be back in town for a concert on April 27 at Castro’s Lounge.

Impac Rain Cape

Given the weather forecast for the upcoming week, it is an opportune time to talk about rain gear again.

Screen Shot 2016-03-13 at 1.27.56 PM

As I’ve written before, my preferred setup is now a raincape, along with a rain jacket if the weather is cold. I’ve been very happy with my fancy Cleverhood raincape. It does a pretty good job of keeping the lower half of my body and legs dry without the steambath effect that rain pants can have. However, since the particular model I have is made from a heavy and bulky fabric, I started thinking about a lighter alternative that was a bit better made than my original Chinese model. After a little internet searching, I was directed to the Bike Doctor in Vancouver, and last Xmas break I went over to check what they had. (A great family and commuting oriented shop BTW).

DSC07250 It turns out that they had two models of capes from Impac, a yellow one, and a thinner tartan model.

Although I’m a big believer in being visible, I opted for the tartan (with reflective trim) since it packed much smaller.


Here it is rolled up small. For a size reference, the platform of the scale is 6″ square.


For a size reference, the platform of the scale is 6″ square.

Turning it inside out, you can see that there are elastic handstraps at the corners of the front side, and ties on the back to tie around your waist. You can also see that the front is cut wider than the back.

It’s also interesting to compare it with the Cleverhood, which you can see is much wider, but with velcro tabs to reduce any billowing.


Here is what it looks like on the bike.


You can see that there is quite a bit less side coverage than with the Cleverhood.


Nevertheless, during the past month, whenever it has been mixed rain and snow, it has kept my legs dry.  What I’d say is that if it is pouring rain to begin with, I’d go with the Cleverhood, but if there is a possibility of rain later in the day, it’s great to be able to stash the Impac cape in my bag just in case. The front of the Impac cape is not quite wide enough to keep my arms totally dry, but that’s part of the compromise for getting something very small and light.

As it turns out, I also have a third cape inbound from a Kickstarter campaign (the Boncho), and it is due at the end of April. What I really hope is that by investing in three capes, it won’t rain at all for the rest of the year.



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