Sakura 2016 update

As some other websites have noted, it’s not going to be a good year for the sakura in High Park. The unusually cold spring weather seems to have steered a lot of buds to go straight to leaves rather than blossoms. Here is a tree at the top of the hill, photo taken on Thursday. At that point in time, I couldn’t see a single bloom on any of the trees, although most of them were still at the budding stage. If you go this weekend, at most you’re going to see only a few sparse blooms.


As a preview, I generally follow some cherry trees on Shanly St. that usually bloom about 10 days before High Park. Only a few blooms and mostly leaves.


Compare this with 2014:


There are more sakura at Robarts Library. The southernmost trees have the best display.


The double row is just starting to bloom, although further on, many of the trees are showing mostly leaves.

Again, compare with 2014.


The best hope is that by next weekend, some of the trees in High Park will be in bloom, but the display won’t be nearly as good as what we’ve had in the past few years.

About a month ago, I had a new front rack put on the Tamarack to lower the mounting position of my handlebar bag. I found that the handling was affected by the regular mounting position, to the point that I didn’t find if very easy to ride no hands.

Of course I don’t have any good pictures of the handlebar bag in the old position but these two will give you an idea. It is a small Arkel bag. You can see from one of these pictures (taken during the Growling Beaver) that the top of the bag is quite a bit above the brake hoods.

After Hoopdriver installed the VO Pass Hunter rack, of course it took me another couple of weeks to get around to figuring out how to mount the bag sans decaleur.

First step: remove the existing mount hardware.


Next, reinforce the bottom of the bag with some coroplast.

Mark positions for holes with a Sharpie (sliver Sharpies rule!)


Use zipties to secure bag. The initial thought was to pass the zipties through the treaded mounts, but they were a little too wide.


Front and side views of the bag. It has been lowered by about 2/3 of the height of the bag itself.

One small niggle is that the top flap has some slight interference with my shifter cables, but this hasn’t been a problem in practice.


Proof that I can stuff a jacket and other things into the bag and still ride no hands  (although you can’t really tell from the picture that it was taken on the move).


Today was beautiful at the lakefront.


The Sunnyside bike park is still not officially open for the season.


We hope that city council will vote for bike lanes on this short section of Ellis underneath the Gardiner. This would tie into other improvements to the intersections that we hope are also coming in the next year or so.


Oh, and by the way, today marks the end of 30daysofbiking.


April is over

30 days of biking done

warmer weather comes


The bike team is still busy building Cyclone. With exams ending yesterday, hopefully more people will show up more regularly to help out. The shell has been done for a while, and this time, I see many more of the components done.

One wheel done, several more almost finished. On this year’s bike, the front and back wheels are interchangeable.


The shell has been done for a while, but here is the door and windshield assembly.


Thomas working on his commuting bike.


The headtube is mounted in the transmission assembly. You can see that the fork is done as well.


This is what happens when I tell the guys to “look busy”.


Regardless of how it looks, they will be busy to get wheels on the ground before they leave. They are still ahead of last year, when the mainframe still wasn’t done with two weeks to go.


It is getting close to sakura season in High Park. As you enter the park from Bloor St, you will see this familiar sign.


The trees by the soccer fields often bloom a little early. You can see here that they still have a ways to go.


Similarly, the trees near the top of the hill leading through the main grove still have at least a week to go.


The “Bloor by the Park” BIA just east of the park is trying to take advantage of the anticipated crowds. However, their signs made a very unfortunate choice of font: Cheppy Blossoms, anyone?


Just as a preview of what we might see in a week, here are the sakura by Robarts Library that just started to bloom yesterday.


With the up and down variation in temperatures that we have been having, some of the buds are going directly to leaves. It is still way too early how this will affect the eventual show.


You can compare these last pictures to some from two years ago.


It’s been a little over a year since the Haul a Day arrived. In that time, I have used it for about 350 rides, a total of about 2000 km. Moreover, since it is easy to hang flags and signs on it, it has become my go to bike for advocacy.


photo: K. Nogami

It is a fairly early model, since I bought it as part of Bike Friday’s Kickstarter campaign. Since that time, I’ve seen a more recent model. One of the things I noticed about the newer model was that the kickstand had a built in stop. I was told that Bike Friday could provide a retrofit version. It arrived last week as a warranty item (i.e. free of charge). Stellar customer service.


Getting ready to install it, I took the opportunity to clean up the bike a bit. One of the dirtiest areas areas was around the bottom bracket. This is partially because of the fact that the rear fender doesn’t extend downwards very far since it would otherwise interfere with the kickstand.


Time to improvise. I was inspired by this sight at the grocery store.  Is it a sign of obsession when I buy a detergent because the bottle is colour matched with my frame?


Kickstand dismounted.


Here is the bottle cut up and mounted.



Now the kickstand stop, which will replace the rubber stop that I was using.


All done.


The new stop holds the kickstand further away from the foot rails which makes it easier to deploy. It’s all good.  Looking forward to many more happy miles (kilometers) on the Haul a Day.

update: note that you have to be a little careful on where you ziptie one of the lower flaps to the chainstay so that it doesn’t interfere with the bungie that keeps the kickstand flipped up.


This past weekend I got a new dynamo headlight and taillight installed on my regular commuter bike.

However, it being past the equinox, I hadn’t had the chance to ride the bike in the dark yet. The headlight is a Busch and Müller Lumotec Eyc N Plus. It is much brighter than my previous headlamp (a Shimano Nexus), and as you can see from this bad picture, the beam pattern has a sharp horizontal cutoff. It is rated at 50 lux. (the picture is bad because I’m taking it while braking so I don’t hit the garage door).


Here is a short video, showing both the headlight, and the taillight. Note that there is about a half beat delay between when I hit the brakes and the brake light goes on.

One remaining quirk: the headlight has an on/off switch, but pushing it doesn’t seem to make any difference.

It was a gloriously, sunny weekend, the first warm one of the year. It seemed like everyone was out and about.

On Saturday, Councillor Doucette hosted a Community Environment day down at the Lakefront. Ward13 had a table there to publicize the good work that Cycle Toronto has been doing, not just in our Ward, but all across the city.

the gang copy

(photo: Janet Joy Wilson)

Having been at a similar event in Ward 20 two weeks ago, I was struck by the difference in mode share. Ward 20:


Ward 13:

DSC08084 copy

Of course this isn’t a totally fair comparison since the Ward13 event was held just off Lakeshore Blvd, but still it was striking to see many bikers and pedestrians in the downtown neighbourhood. We can do better in Ward13!

Safer intersections on Lakeshore and the Queensway would help a lot. Word is that some improvements to the Ellis/Lakeshore intersection (for example, a northbound cyclist’s crossing on the east side) are slated for installation in 2016. The city is also looking at putting a bike lane on the short section of Ellis between Lakeshore and the Queensway, as well as removing the right turn lane for cars on the northwest corner, but these changes have to be approved by community council, so these further improvments will probably take at least another year. (remember that it took over four years just to get sharrows on High Park Ave!)

Lucy is always up for a ride down to the lake.


Next up: some spring cleaning.


In truth, it was a bit more than just cleaning since I had dropped off my pink commuter bike at Hoopdriver last week to get new lights installed, and I got to pick it up on Saturday. Here is Martin working on my very dirty bike.


All Simcoe bikes have this motto on their toptube.


Here is the new light, mounted below the rack. The mount looks much more solid than the last one I tried.


Here is the taillight. You can see the LED’s glowing because of the standlight feature.


This particular light also senses when the bike is slowing down, and turns on or raises the intensity of the area light under braking. I saw this on another bike, and I can’t wait to check this out. Of course, I’m not going to be able to see it while riding.

After getting the bike home, it was time to do some cleaning. Removal of grime exposed many scratches on the frame; beausage or wabi sabi, take your pick. (although I’ll have to keep an eye on the sabi part of that descriptor).


These scrapes are a bit odd since they’re on the chainstay but on the opposite side of the chain!


In the background, you can see the new chain. The old one had stretched about half a link after about 7000 km.  Only had time to clean the one bike. The others will have to wait until next weekend.



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