bike with fall colours


The temps hit 21°C in Toronto today. Broke out the shorts in celebration.IMG_2411

Compare to last year (Nov 17, 2014):

or the year before (Nov 29, 2013):icy

Of course it could be that cold by the end of this month. Fingers crossed for a mild winter.

Hoskins Update

Just an update from the post earlier this week: some of the bollards are in on the south side of Hoskins, and now the bike lane is buffered by parked cars. Of course, there’s always at least one person that didn’t get the message.

Further along, all cars are parked correctly, even in the absence of bollards.

Another section of parking between Tower Rd and Queen’s Park.

At the east end of the parking section, the width of the parking lane just gradually tapers to nothing, which is a bit odd. Perhaps this section is not finished yet?

All in all, nice to see another section of parking buffered bike lane, like the one on Simcoe.

I had been looking for a replacement helmet for a while since one of my older helmets was cracked in an incident last December. I’ve also had a helmet damaged by having it packed in a suitcase with a folding bike. The other motivation that I had was I was looking for a helmet that was lower profile so that I could fit more comfortably within the shell of a streamliner.

When I was in Calgary visiting Bikebike, I saw a Carrera folding helmet. I had known about these for a while, but I didn’t realize that they had been certified for sale in North America.
DSC06324 This particular one was dressed up with a bit of tartan. They had other ones with tweed, but I elected to get a plain black one.


What I didn’t realize at the time was that I got one of the Brooks editions, which accounts for the little patch of leather on the strap. I think this makes it a little heavier than the Carrera version, and it was also more expensive, although I got it on sale.


This sticker shows that it passed tech at Battle Mountain.

For road use, I’ve added a strip of Velcro to mount my helmet mirror. The mirror mounting angle isn’t ideal because of the design of the helmet, but it is workable.

Overall, I’ve been very pleased. First off, this has been the best fitting helmet that I’ve ever worn, although fit is of course very individual. For me, it provides a combination of snug fit and comfort that is difficult to describe. YMMV.

Secondly, although I initially dismissed the folding as a bit of a gimmick, in actual fact, it has made a difference as it is easy for me to stash the helmet in a backpack for road trips.

The number one question that I get about the helmet is how it can protect me if it has not sideways crush protection. The main function of a helmet is to protect against impact, and I would submit that if you needed the sideways crush protection of a helmet, any foam bike helmet is not going to make the difference in that situation.

I’ve leave it to you to decide if the helmet looks good. It has a bit of a retro feel to it, which was good for the Growling Beaver, but I would maintain that no bike helmet is going to make me look good (although that is probably just me.)

Downsides: one the aforementioned awkward mounting of a helmet mirror. The second downside is that you can’t put a visor on it.

One final note: since it provides very good ventilation, with the approach of colder and darker commutes, I’ve switched back this week to my trusty Torch T1. Here I am at the beginning of my ride home yesterday.
and this is how dark it is about half an hour later.

Bike Lanes on Hoskins Ave

The Harbord / Hoskins corridor is a heavily travelled bike route that connects the Wellesley bike lanes and points further east to Ossington Ave. The city decided several years back to upgrade the corridor, and they invested a significant amount of money, especially in improving signalling at the intersections of Hoskins and Wellesley with Queen’s Park Crescent, as well as building a protected bi directional lane across Queen’s Park. Harbord St. originally had bike lanes for part of its length. The new plan was to make these bike lanes continuous the whole length of Harbord.

At the final public consultation in March 2014, the final plan was shown to the public. Most of what was shown has now been installed, with the exception of the bike lanes on Hoskins, between St. George and Queen’s Park. As seen in this picture, this section has a bike lane on the north side, and a bike lane buffered by parked cars on the south side.

This section of roadway was actually striped for this configuration back in May. Here is a picture of the bike lane on the north side.

On the south side, these were the markings that were put down.
IMG_2035 Working out from the curb, there is a bike lane, a door buffer zone, and then what is supposed to be the lane where cars park. However, with no other indication of what is going on, of course cars parked next to the curb.

A little further along, you can see where the parking lane is supposed to taper down to nothing.

and then just short of Queen’s Park, the parking lane reappears for a short segment.
IMG_2040 Obviously, back in May, neither the cyclists or the people who parked cars had any idea of what the new markings were supposed to be. What further confused things was that the older bike lane markings were never erased properly.

Further work on this section was interrupted by the Pan Am and Parapan Am games in July – August. This is the state of the bike lanes post Pan Am.
DSC06463 Once again, cars parked next to the curb, and perhaps a forlorn diamond symbol indicating where the bike lane is supposed to be?

Finally today the city appeared to be taking action. Fresh lane markings were put down, clearly indicating that the bike lane is next to the curb.

This time, the city has put up a row of barrels during construction to keep cars from parking by the curb, and I’m told that there will be a row of bollards installed to keep cars from parking by the curb.
There was still some confusion this morning with bikes riding on both sides of the row of barrels. The bollards will be placed in the buffer zone that is meant to keep bikes from being doored by the passenger side door of parked cars.

In the meantime, I bet those barrels would look festive topped off by pumpkins, something like this:

Update: here are some pictures after the bollards went in.

I spent the last week at a meeting in San Jose. Since my hotel was about two miles from the convention centre, it was handy to have my trusty Tikit on hand.

Taking advantage of the free air on offer at any gas station (ignoring the bit about “automotive purposes”).

Here is a bike lane along First St. that looks like a converted parking lane.

This one on Third St. is much wider, since it used to be a full traffic lane.

A little further from downtown, the same lane is still in the process of being fully marked up. Here, there will be some green markings put in to warn cars making a right turn.

Here is a green marked lane along W. San Fernando.
IMG_2275 I’ll note two things: firstly, the bike map of San Jose has not been updated for a long time (the online version dates from 2005). Secondly, Google Maps seems to have no awareness of good bike routes around here.

The bike share system looks to be the same set up as in Toronto.

Here are the rates.
I find this graphic much more clear than the one in TO.
Screen Shot 2015-10-25 at 10.14.25 PM

Cars don’t rust here. However, they are not immune to Bondo.

On my last full day here, I took the opportunity to explore further up the Peninsula. Here are some cyclists boarding the bike car on Caltrain.

Wayfinding signs at the Mountain View station.

A bike signal symbol painted in the middle of a traffic lane to show where to stop to trigger a light change. The placement of these symbols was inconsistent. I also saw may of them in the bike lane itself.

Heading to Palo Alto.

Bike lanes were a hodgepodge in Palo Alto. Here is one of the few bike buttons that I saw.

Do you recognize this Silicon Valley landmark?

On this same street, the bike lanes were strange. I assume in order to accommodate on street parking for residents, one side has a bike lane that has no parking allowed during the day.

The other side has a bike lane that is barely wide enough to accommodate a parked car and a door zone.

Palo Alto bikes has been here forever. It has gone upmarket, and is less interesting as a result. When I was a student, they were affiliated with Avocet products that had just launched, and they carried their own line of lugged steel frames. They also carried a lot of Ritchey stuff.

I also rode out to the Bicycle Outfitters in Los Altos, a shop I remembered with much fondness.
IMG_2331 From the contents of the shop, I guess that the market for bike touring is much less than before. However, they did have this nice trio of Ritchey breakaway bikes.

I rode past a charter school just as this swanky school bus pulled out.
IMG_2332 I didn’t like the logo that said “the best new way for kids to get around”.

An example of poor routing by Google Maps, as well as a lack of signage. Here, the bike lane on Grant just ends as I approach El Camino. I should have turned left on Phyllis, which had a bike lane, but I only realized this after the fact.

One thing I did like about Castro St. in downtown Mountain View is that they narrowed the street and widened the sidewalks. There is parking on both sides, but the restaurants have the option of paying a fee and converting the parking in front to a patio or other uses.

One final pair of pictures of this unique, heavily laden rig owned by a local homeless person.

If that three cylinder engine on the back was ever fired up, I bet it would be terrifying.

The Growling Beaver

Saturday was the inaugural running of a charity ride called the Growling Beaver. As was mentioned in the last post, I planned to do the 100K. I figured that even with my limited amount of training, that 100K was doable, although I was a bit concerned about the 1000m of climbing. Most of it seemed to be in two climbs up the escarpment, so I figured that I could suffer through them.

Arriving at the start, I see a fancy building for the Side Launch Brewery, with a lot of expensive looking hardware decorating the lawn.

Some nice Mariposas by the front door.

Still more Mariposas inside, with Dede Barry selling some merchandise.

Lots of nice details on these bikes. This looks like a modern rendition of a drillium brake lever.

Panorama of the interior, with the 100K riders waiting to start.

Dede Barry tells us the rules of the road. She warns us that there are several sections of fresh gravel that were described in an email that went out a few days ago. Unfortunately, these sections were laid down and graded just a few days before the event.

We get split up into six groups so that we don’t swarm the first section of the ride which is along the Georgian Trail, a multi use trail. This is the lead group about to take off a few minutes after 9 am.
DSC06752 I seeded myself in the slowest group, which was nominally a 20 kph average. With rest stops, this group was scheduled to finish a little past 3:30 pm. There were about six people in our group, including a retired couple from interior BC, and a guy riding a hybrid, the only other bike that I saw with fenders.

The first 30K or so was a quick ride down the Georgian Trail. Dead flat with a tailwind, and a touch of fall colours.

At the first checkpoint in Meaford, it was still windy and cold, and I didn’t see a lot of people ditching their riding jackets at the clothing drop. The first big climb of the day was up Grey Road 7.

Looking back at Georgian Bay after the climb. Feeling pretty good at this point.

First descent on Old Mail Road. Unfortunately, with all the gravel, I had to take this section slowly, braking strongly all the way. Not the ideal way to give up all the elevation gained earlier.

Nice views, though.

Someone went to the trouble of decorating this bridge over the Beaver River. Very pretty country.


The lunch stop was in Kimberley, at about the 64K mark. More than half way done with only one major climb. How bad could it be? The sun came out, and I put the riding jacket in the handlebar bag.

The food and drink was very good at the Kimberley General Store. Much better than what I expected. Hot apple cider and coffee, gourmet thin crust pizza, and lots of baked sweet treats.

Nice alternatives to Gatorade as well.

I had left my group at the first checkpoint and was riding alone for the most part. Some of them pulled into lunch around the time I left. I thought I was ready for the big climb. Here it is: Side Road 7B. The escarpment looms in the background.

It’s steeper than it looks in this picture, and gets still steeper after the road bends to the left.
With the condition of the dirt/gravel road and my level of fitness, I ended up having to walk about the middle 1K of the climb. I wasn’t the only one having to walk this section.

Even after the climb was done, there was a long slog on gravel straight into a strong headwind with no tree cover.
You can see some faster riders in the distance leaving me behind. They passed me a couple of times because they kept taking wrong turns. There was at least one mislabeled road on the map that caused some confusion in this section of the ride.

The Reid’s Hill descent was another place where a combination of gravel and washboarding made the descent slow and treacherous. Note the dead water bottle.

When I finally reached Pretty River Road, it was huge relief to know that I was done with gravel, and it felt like I flew the rest of the way to the finish.

Here you can see my elevation and HRM data. I note that there are some spikes where I was descending which I can attribute to either some kind of sensor noise due to vibration, or the intermittent fear of imminent death ;)
Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 5.00.55 PM

Pulling into the brewery at the end, I felt quite a sense of accomplishment. I finished in just under 7 hours, with about a little under six hours of riding time. The GPS registered an average speed of 18.9 kph. This was much tougher than I expected due mainly to the road conditions, but also the wind. As it turns out, I only saw about two or three riders come in behind me, including two from my original group, and my understanding is that everyone slower than that was sagged in. Missed being Lanterne Rouge by perhaps two places. I talked to a couple of people that said this was the roughest 100K that they had done. 

It was also a treat to have a brief chat with Mike Barry and Mike Barry Sr, and I appreciated the way that they described the directions to their shop in terms of being able to smell the Peek Freans factory.

Overall, it was a great experience. The event was very well organized, and the rider support was great (especially the lunch, and the enthusiasm of all the volunteers). I was happy to learn that they ended up raising about 200K which was double their original target. I want to thank my sponsors for supporting me in the ride. I was very proud to be in the top 10% of all fund raisers.

Things that the organizers could have done a bit better:

  • It wasn’t obvious to me ahead of time what the colour coding on the ride with GPS maps meant. It turns out that red is pavement, and brown is gravel (and purple is the Georgian Trail)
  • The section of road just before 70 km on the 100 km route was not SR10D. It was 3rd line, which turned into SR10D after a right turn. This was an error in the cue sheets.
  • Perhaps there was some indication that there would be no portapotty at the Kolapore checkpoint, but I didn’t see it.
  • I was told that the next time, they will try to work with the local governments to make sure that no fresh gravel would be laid down just before the event.

Lessons learned for me:

  • It was smart to have done some mileage on the Tamarack beforehand to help avoid any mechanical issues during the ride. I was glad that I switched to relatively wide tires, although a little more tread might have been even better for the uphill sections.
  • The battery on my Garmin Edge 25 was about spent after seven hours. Perhaps having the route following feature on decreased the battery iife.
  • I could have been fitter; I would have enjoyed the riding a bit more.
  • Deliberately eating a bit every hour helped me avoid bonking. I had a combination of Kind granola bars, and Stinger energy gels, both of which I pretested for being kind to my stomach.
  • Although I was concerned about the extra weight of the handlebar bag, it was nice to have the cue sheet and map visible at all times, and it was great to be able to grab snacks and my camera while on the move.

Congratulations to the organizers. I hope that the event was successful enough for it to continue. What I really liked about the ride was that it was very small. If I do it again, I’ll train more so that I can ride with a few more riders rather than being at the very back of the pack.

Update: as per the comment below, next year’s date is Oct 1, 2016!


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