Saturday, August 30, 2008

the active transportation hurricane

To begin - anyone else think the guy leaving comments on this post is a little bit too angry about something?

During my life in Toronto, I took part in a few cycling events, and organized that petition, but never really got involved with cycling activism the way I thought I should. When I moved to Orillia, I wanted to get involved in city life and look into bike issues, and so I won a spot on a city committee that deals with trails in general (more commonly hiking / nature trails) and a small group of us from this committee have started promoting active transportation issues.

This is fun stuff. Orillia has had a strong recreational cycling culture for a while, but very little of a commuting cycling culture. Cycling infrastructure doesn't really exist here at all - there are next-to-no bike parking posts in this town, and no bike lanes which are useful for journeying to work/school etc (i.e. no bike lanes going through or across town).

So - we're trying to get something started here. On Sept. 10th we're running a bike/walk to work day, and a Bike Rally (think a critical mass ride, but one in a small town where you're forced to get a parade permit from the cops). We've also been handed responsibility for buying bike parking posts, and we're planning an active transportation report which will wake council up to the importance of shifting planning away from cars to public transit/bikes/walking.

It's kind of like being at the beginning of a revolution - active transportation makes so much sense as a solution to so many problems, that you wonder why governments aren't being as vocal as these guys are about replacing car trips with bike and walking trips.

As they mention over at Dandyhorse - Bicycles lie at the intersection of two of today’s fastest growing trends: personal physical health and urban sustainability.

About time - we never should have fallen for the automobile dependence con-job in the first place.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Orillia Team Tri wrap-up

On Sunday, my brother (in the middle), my partner Anna and I did the team relay at the Orillia triathlon. I biked, my brother ran, and Anna swam, and we came in 9th out of 21 teams.

As I mentioned below, on Saturday my Trek road bike, which I haven't ridden much this summer, was shifting terribly. The front derailleur was throwing the chain over the big ring onto the crank arm every time I tried shifting from the small to the big ring. A choice I considered for a while was shifting my road wheels onto my Jamis cross-bike. This ended however when I picked up the cross-bike right after picking up the Trek, and noticed the 6 pound difference between the two bikes. So, I said "screw it" and decided just to ride the whole race in the big chain ring.

This obviously isn't ideal, but it all turned out fine actually. I did a bunch of training rides on the race route prior to the race, and knew exactly how all the hills worked (and how all the downhills worked, i.e. where I had no business being below 50km/hr). So in the three spots on the route where it would have been nice to have the small ring, I just got out of the saddle and hammered the best I could, and in the end I did the 33km in 1:01:07 - coming in fifth out of the 21 cyclists in the team tri. My brother came in fifth out of the 21 runners, so we put on a pretty good show.

PS - Anna got called in as the swimmer only a week or two prior to the race, when my friend Duncan messed up his leg. Thanks for being brave and doing the swim for us Anna!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

damned derailleurs and farmers

So - regarding the below mentioned triathlon that I'm participating in tomorrow, I have a spot of bother. I haven't actually ridden the carbon Trek in ages, and ever since I bought it the bike has had front derailleur issues. I tried riding it around today and the derailleur kept throwing the chain over the big chain ring, no matter what I did with the limit screw.

I almost decided to put my road wheels onto my Jamis cross bike today, switching over the cassette, but in the process of lifting the Jamis and the Trek, with the Jamis weighing... I don't know... 6 pounds more than the Trek... I couldn't bring myself to do it. So screw it. I'm riding the Trek tomorrow and I'm not going to use the smaller chainring at all. I'll let you know how this goes.

Another dumb thing I did today - the day before a race - was ride 50 km (on the Jamis). I tried to go Friday afternoon (had the day off) but right when I was set to go, thunder started rumbling in the distance, with grey clouds filling the sky. So, fairly pissed (this has been a wet and crappy summer here in Ontario), I called off the ride, but was really anxious to go this morning.
Anyway - on Burnside Line - a quiet two lane 80 km / hour road that runs south into Orillia, I was cycling along with almost no traffic around me, when a pickup that was headed towards me veered over into my lane and more or less played chicken with me for 15 or 20 seconds, veering back when he was maybe 20 metres away from me.

And it wasn't even some stupid kid! It was about a 55 year old guy with white hair who looked like a normal guy that you'd run into at the farmer's market or something. Jackass. I sat up in the saddle and held my arms out in the "what the f*&K was that" pose, but it totally slipped my mind to get the guys license plate.

I can't wait for peak oil. You old guys and your pickup trucks... enjoy it while it lasts.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Orillia Triathlon & Tuco's bike collection

Although I can't claim to have ever been a "racer", from 2003 to 2005 I did lots of running races and several duathlons. Since moving to Orillia - where I walk most places and haven't been road riding much - I've completely fallen out of cycling shape. Not letting that deter me, I'm doing the cycling portion of a team tri this weekend - the annual Northern (Orillia) Triathlon.

Now, coincidentally, way before I moved to Orillia, I did the duathlon here twice, in 2003 and 2004, coming about middle of the pack in my age group both times, and doing the 33km bike portion in about 1:05 each time. Ironically, in 2003/04, when I was probably in the best shape I'll ever be in, I was riding the worst road bike I'll probably ever own. I mean, it was my first road bike and it did what entry level bikes are supposed to do (ie addict you to the sport) but it was a heavy chromo frame with low level Shimano Sora and whatever type of wheelset you get with a $500.00 bike.

I'll always wish that I had the Cervelo Soloist that I owned for a while in 2006/2007 when I was racing in 2003/2004, just to see what a difference the (much!) better bike would have made in my placings.
Anyway - here is what I'm hoping: that the new(ish) Trek (pictured above) and my local knowledge of the bike route, and the fact that the bike portion is all I have to do, will balance out my much better 2003/04 fitness level, and let me come close to the 1:05 mark again. Fingers and toes crossed.

So the last time I did a bike roundup, was in April 2007. In that picture we see my girlfriends' Giant and KHS, and my Kona Hahanna, Kona Dew Deluxe, Cervelo Soloist, and almost invisible, my Cannondale road bike.
In August 2008 we now have Anna's KHS, and a Specialized CrossTrail (bought to ride the rail trails here in Simcoe County). She still owns the Giant, but it is a terrible bike, more or less on permanent loan to a friend in Toronto.

My collection is almost completely different. The only two bikes which remain are the Kona Hahanna and the Cannondale, but both were reinvented and now live very happily as freewheel singlespeeds. I sold the Cervelo and I gave the Hahanna to my brother.

Added since April 2007 is my Jamis Nova cross bike, my Trek (which is actually a bit too big for me and I need to get a smaller stem when I have money again), and the Raleigh that my dad bought for $50.00 at a garage sale, and which I've had fun riding around town on a few times. The bike dangling badly from the wall is my brother's Norco mountain bike, which is falling apart, and which I'm planning to turn into a single-speed, but as mentioned I have no money so it'll have to wait for a while.
Additionally, I have the Fleetwing that Geoffrey gave me. I keep it in Bancroft though, to ride when I visit my parents.