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My year on bikes 2015

This has been a good year for biking, despite the fact that it didn’t get rolling until mid March, when I got the all clear to start riding again from my surgeon.  Here are my mileage totals:

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and here are some month by month highlights:

March: Back on the bike

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April: Adding a Bike Friday Haul a Day to the fleet.

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May:

ASME HPVC racing in Florida

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note that Sherry’s feet are not on the pedals in the above picture.

Bike to Work Day

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Books on Bloor

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June: a brutal month with three memorial rides in quick succession.

Memorial rides for Roger du Toit, Peter Kang, and Adam Excell

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A die in at City Hall

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July: a lot of road trips

Kingston

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Hamilton

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The left coast: Seattle G&O Cyclery

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Fairfield Cyclery (Victoria)

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August:

Calgary

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A tour of Ward 13 with Jacquelyn and Sarah, highlighting some bike infrastructure needs in Ward 13. Some improvements are slated for 2016.

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September:

Todd Reichert is the fastest man on earth.

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and many other world records set at WHPSC 2015.

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Also, I didn’t crash, going down Route 305

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(photo Bas de Meijer).

October: the Growling Beaver

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November: Memorial Ride for Hardeep Singh Pahra

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December:

A freakishly warm month.

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I’m closing out this year in Vancouver, where it has been clear and cold, but very pleasant riding weather.

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(photo: M. Nogami)

Their city council recently approved a significant expansion of their bike lane network, including bike lanes to be installed on the Granville bridge, and an upgrade to the lanes on the Cambie bridge, to join the very successful Burrard bridge bike lanes. Meanwhile in Toronto, it will be a closely watched issue to see if a proposed year long pilot for bike lanes along a 2.4 km stretch of Bloor St. will come to pass in 2016. Even as Vancouver pulls further and further ahead, at least the movement on bike infrastructure in Toronto is in the positive direction, with the extension of the Richmond / Adelaide bike lane pilot this year, the opening of Queen’s Quay, an announcement of priority snow clearance for selected downtown bike lanes, and steady progress on the eventual extension of the West Toronto Railpath.

Wishing everyone tailwinds and safe riding for 2016!

 

 

 

 

 

Tried and Liked for 2015

Over on the iBOB bicycle list, there is a year end tradition of listing things that were “tried and liked” in the preceding 12 months. Here is a brief list of mine.

Number one on the list (by a fairly wide margin) is my Bike Friday Haul a Day.
11037711_857798534302355_6915642335334762826_n(photo D. Guthrie)

I had been riding an Xtracycle longtail for a good number of years, and the Haul a Day has been a more than worthy replacement. I got the bike as a Kickstarter project, so it was quite a good deal. I’ve already blogged about the bike a fair amount.

Bottom line:

  • it’s much more rigid than an Xtracycle free radical
  • the 20″ rear wheel lowers the rear deck and makes it more stable under load (the Xtracycle edgerunner uses the same idea, which originated with Sam Whittingham)
  • must have accessories for the Haul a Day: the cargobike bars, the wideloader bars with wheel carriers, and the frame mounted front basket. Also some form of stoker bar if you are carrying kids.
  • the front basket lets me carry as much cargo as my Xtracycle (the rear end of the Haul a Day is shorter than the Xtracycle’s) and our dog Lucy loves it.

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  • I can’t recommend the standard bags for the Haul a Day. They are definition not for heavy duty usage, and when mine wear out, I’m going to go for a set from Carsick Designs.

The second thing is the Carrera Folding Helmet.

IMG_2311I thought the folding feature was a bit of a gimmick it lets me stash the helmet in a daypack easily.

The third item was my Swrve three season biking pants.

IMG_2469My default biking pants are my Outlier Slim Dungarees. However, I picked up the Swrves during a trip to Calgary. I had known about their knickers for a long time, but I had never tried a pair on. The downside of the pant was that they only came in even waist sizes, and my size is 31″. It turns out that the 30″ Swrves fit fine. They are a little warmer and slightly more water resistant than the Outliers (so they’ve been great during this unusually warm winter we’ve been having), they are sewn in the US, and they are cheaper than the Outliers. However, they do have some bikey details that keep them from passing as office wear. Interestingly enough, I see that Swrve has brought out a pair of pants called “black label” that are a little more appropriate for office wear.  I still swear by the Outliers, but I like the Swrves more than I thought I would.

The wheels of justice, Part 2

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photo credit Kasia Briegmann-Samson

Monday was the sentencing hearing for the driver who killed Tom Samson, and failed to remain at the scene. Tom’s wife and parents read out victim impact statements. Unfortunately, there was a standoff between the crown and defence in terms of the sentence.

as per Oliver Moore on Twitter:

Unlike the last hearing in August, this time there was some media coverage.

Apparently the defence lawyer made the point that if the driver had remained at the scene, he may not have even been charged, despite the fact that he killed someone with his van, and that he appears to have been at fault (although this latter issue has not been settled in court). This points out the need (again) for vulnerable road users legislation.

The cycling community needs to gather once again on January 12 for the sentencing.

No bike content to follow, so if that’s what you’re looking for, move along.

Mass Fidelity launched a indiegogo campaign that was funded in November 2014 and attracted quite a bit of attention since they raised $1.5M for what was basically a fancy Bluetooth speaker.

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I attended one of their demonstrations in Sept 2014, and I was impressed enough to order a pair. Watching the comments on the indiegogo site, people were getting pretty worked up about when they were going to get their units. They started shipping a couple of weeks ago, and I got an email saying that mine shipped yesterday. It arrived today, and so here are the unboxing photos.

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As you see from the above photo, it comes with a full complement of cords for various countries.

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First impressions:  it is very good for a Bluetooth speaker, and I’d say comparable to a decent set of bookshelf speakers. It does a good job of creating the illusion that the sound is not coming from a small box.

However, right now it is sitting about 20 feet away from the computer that is streaming the music, and that seems to be about the limits of its range. To be fair, there is not a direct line of sight from the computer to the speaker. The other thing is that when I move the speaker during streaming, the music clicks, pauses, and jumps around, and takes about a second or two to get back on track, which is a reminder of how much digital processing is going on in that little box.

I’ll do a detailed review when I get the second set  up, and I play around with the multiroom feature.  I’ll also be getting the subwoofer at some point, which should help with the low end punch.

It’s been unseasonably warm this December. Following on last month, I took advantage of a day with a forecast high of 12C to ride in with shorts again today.
today It actually hit a high of 14C, and although it was past sunset on the way home, it was still a balmy 11C.

It being brilliantly sunny this morning, I took some pix on the way in. Here is a serious cargo trailer riding up from under the West Toronto Railpath underpass. His left wheel needs a bit of camber adjustment.
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Just around the corner, I see that they’ve started putting in the curbs for the new section of Edwin Ave that will connect with Wallace once the Wallace Walk development is complete.
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This was the site of the former Glidden paint factory. It took a long time to get the ground cleaned up, and then this block was left vacant for a couple of years. At this point, it looks like most of the townhouses on the east side are nearly complete, but they’ve only started work on the west side, where a row of live/work spaces will go in and back out onto the Railpath.

Here is a view from the Wallace St. bridge, taken back in Oct 2014. oct4_14 At this point, the condos that face Wallace are occupied.

A little further on is another church to condo conversion.
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Compare the picture above to this one from October 2014. oct23_14

Headed east on Wallace, I approach a rail level crossing.
DSC07112 Metrolinx plans to elevate a section of this line to eliminate a rail crossing further north in order to enable more frequent service to Barrie. The initial renderings of the project showed a three storey tall wall that would visually cut this neighbourhood into two halves. More recent renderings show an elevated span that is more open, and there are media reports that this is a done deal, but there is still significant opposition in the neighbourhood.

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Certainly, no matter how you dress it up, an elevated railway would totally change the character of the area.
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At Dovercourt, a block north of Bloor, the former Postal Station E is being converted to TV studios for Master Chef Canada. The exterior cladding on the second storey is almost complete.
jun11 I thought it was a bit odd to have the splashes of orange, but it turns out that this is a project by an architectural firm called Superkül, and I guess they’ve decided this is the colour of the moment.

On the site of a former gas station on Harbord St., the same firm has designed a row of townhouses, and sure enough, the orange shows up here too.
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Here are a couple more photos showing how quickly this project was built.

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March 2015
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June 2015 jun17

It is interesting to see the rendering of Harbord St with lots of bikes in the marketing materials for this site. Note the target demographic: riders without helmets riding fixies on the wrong side of the street. Still at least one unit available!
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Great day for cycling. Lots of changes in the neighbourhoods. All in a day’s commute.

I had a flat going into work this morning, something that usually happens only a couple of times a year. Fortunately, I had a spare tube and pump. Unfortunately, one of my Soma steel core tire levers failed.
IMG_2523 In retrospect, I see that they got mixed reviews on Amazon.

However, by hook or by crook, I managed to finish changing the tire. I then rode over to the Bike Joint, where I got another spare tube, and some Park tire levers, which I hope will be better. Thanks Derek!
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Going over to the Soma website, I see that they have a new version of the tire lever, and the write up more or less acknowledges that their old levers were not strong enough. However, the cross section doesn’t convince me that they added extra material in the right place.
Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 9.30.12 PM We’ll see if the all plastic Park levers hold up better (especially in winter).

Update: according to a couple of places (including this site) the ones I should be getting are the Michelins, but they seem to be hard to find online.

It’s been about a year and a half since I first got a Torch T1 bike helmet with integrated front and rear lights from kickstarter. As you can tell from this prior review, I quite like it. As the days get shorter, people have been asking me about it on average of about once a week. Since that initial product release, Torch Apparel has brought out the new and improved T2. One big difference is that the T2 comes in a wider range of colours.

Torch T2 Colors from Torch Apparel on Vimeo.

However, the biggest difference with the updated version is that the battery life on high has been upped from 2 hours to six hours.

If you look at the two helmets, the T2 (white) is better finished than the T1 (red). This is especially noticeable around the helmet vents.
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If I do a weight comparison, then the T2 is actually a bit lighter than the T1:
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Although if I look back on my older black T1, that one was lighter still, so this is a bit of a mystery.
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One way that they trimmed weight was to make the adjustable rear head strap simpler.
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The T2 comes in one size only, but they supply pads for smaller head sizes. My measurement show that the opening of the T2 is about 1/8″ wider and longer than before, and it fits my head a little better. My baseball cap size is 7.5 so YMMV.
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One niggle I had with the T1 is that the plastic buckles that bring the straps together under the ears would slip out of adjustment easily. The new ones are a slightly different shape than the old ones, but they still have this issue.

Another nice feature of the T2 is that it has a battery life indicator: when you turn off the light, there is a red LED that flashes four times at full charge. At least I assume that this is what is going on, since the T1 doesn’t behave this way. It would be nice if this feature was documented somewhere.

Here is a video showing this flashing feature, along with a timelapse of the battery life. My T2 went 6 hours 50′, which is better than advertised. This lifetime would go down in cold weather.

In summary, the T2 is a nice update from the T1. For first time buyers, you’re getting the benefits of a 2nd generation product. If you are a T1 owner, you’ll have to judge for yourself whether the increase in battery life is worth buying another helmet.

Full disclosure: Torch was good enough to send me a T2 for review.

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