Thursday, August 12, 2010

Reverse engineered bike theft solutions

I just started giving this some thought, so this post will be mostly brainstorming.

My personal feeling is that storage lockers are not a viable option is a space like downtown Toronto. Space constraints, economic scale, suceptibility to vandalism and even general effectiveness (I saw a forum post where a plastic locker was torched open and an expensive bike stolen) are all working against this concept, and I do not think it has legs, especially if bike traffic increases.

So what? It is easy enough to bash an idea without contributing anything new to the conversation. How about approaching the problem from a different angle. Instead of trying to hide the bike away from plain sight but putting it in a location that is still painfully conspicuous both to theives and the general public, why don't we go about making the thieves' lives more difficult? Maybe the level of difficulty only has to go up a notch in a certain aspect in order to cease being worthwhile for the theif. How can we make their 'job' more difficult?

-Make them more conspicuous
-Increase need for larger/more powerful tools
-Decrease ease of escape
-Decrease access to bike parts with tooling (ability to strip parts)


-Build with as few moving parts as possible (ongoing maintenance concerns)
-Build with as much steel and concrete as possible
-Design to keep bikes orderly
-Design to be visually stimulating

I am going to go search google images now and make sure nobody is already building what I have in my head.

1st edit ALSO: Space efficient (at least as much as the locker, ideally far more so), and I just checked out the Toronto locker program and it requires a whole bunch of BS that basically makes it useless. (see for yourself)


pretty much all crap, having a hard time finding anything cool, send me links if you have them!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Mason

He had been in the shop a few days earlier, but I didn't deal with him. Instead it was Evan who had the pleasure of dealing with the older, heavy-set gentleman that came in with a wreck of a cheap 30 year-old road bike with a tacoed steel rear wheel.

He wanted to buy 20 spokes.

"You should really just buy a new wheel."

Nope. 20 spokes. He was gonna fix it. Evan's altruistic advice fell on deaf ears, and a few minutes later he had 20 spokes cut, but apparently the bike had other problems.

"The gears, can you fix the gears? I will give you money."

He wasn't joking. He was waving around his open wallet and I could see a hefty stack of 20s. However, Evan once again did the right thing as this job was obviously going to be a nightmare and his plate was already full. The gentleman paid and left uneventfully.

He walked to the back now, same beat up bike in tow, receipt in hand. I do not even think I should have to mention that his handlebars were flipped upside down, but I will state the obvious in the name of redundancy:

His handlebars were flipped upside down.

"I bought these spokes here. Can you straighten my wheel?"

I spun the wheel. It looked something like a wheel that Salvador Dali may have painted. Evidently he did not have a tool to remove the gear cluster, so there were several spokes that he was not able to lace into the correct holes on the hub. This was more than made up for by the entertaining way he had haphazardly laced the accessible locations to completely absurd junctures with the rim. I had to give him marks for trying, but there was no cost-effective way that I could ever get this wheel straight again. No, I wouldn't refund him the money for the spokes that Evan orinigally counselled him against buying (glad I was there to avert the sob-story refund attempt). But yes, he was finally buying a new wheel.

At some point during our interaction I noticed he was wearing a Mason's ring (ed. should that be capitalized?), and I could not help but think that I did not want this guy in any secret society capable of controlling the fate of mankind. But I also figured, after seeing his wallet the other day, that he was at least a man cabaple of paying his bill, so I installed his damn wheel. As I spun the old one around on the bike in the stand, I noticed an odd bulge in his tire. He assured me it was fine, and that the white fabric was a rim strip that he fabricated. I removed his tire, and chucked the strip on the ground, again impressed by this guy's completely blind, fruitless, but nonetheless courageous journey into the wild world of bicycle repair.

I got his wheel on, adjusted his virtually useless stamped-steel brake calipers the best that I could, and attempted to adjust the gears, but then noticed that his derailleur was a bent mess. It got 4 gears out of 5 when I was done with it, and I was really hoping would be good enough for the customer given the state of the rest of the bike.


He wanted me to fix his gears. He would give me money.

Since I didn't really have a ton to do that day, I told him to come back in a few hours and I would have it done. New derailleur, touch up the front wheel (that he did a 1/2 decent job respoking). rear wheel, inner tube and install. Told him just over a hundred bucks. Of course he wanted to pay now. I asked for a $100 deposit, and I saw him at the cash later with a $100 bill.

The work went relatively smooth. The old derailleur had been butchered and mounted at an impossible angle to the frame, and sometime during the carnage the dropout had been badly bent. This meant that mounting a new derailleur and wheel in proper fashion to this interface and having it work well (or even adequately) was an impossibility. I set about with a large hammer and set of channel-locks to remedy the situation the best that I could.

Eventually he returned and settled up his $8 balance. I specifically did not let him pay in full earlier expecting the unexpected, and luckily the hammer-time was not too involved. He settled-up, thanked me, and left me to the mob comprising an early-evening rush. It was not until a little while later that I finally got around to tidying up the floor. A small marking on the Mason's improvised rim strip caught my eye. As I focused on the lettering I was gripped by equal parts horror and amusement:

Actually, I was probably a little more amused.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Have you even seen the Godfather?

4pm and I was kitted out in spandex, ready for the commute-race home, when I saw him about to enter the shop. Looking not quite homeless, but a well-weathered 40-something, and drunk. Always drunk.

Luckily Brian took the bull by the horns, and asked the man what he needed. I didn't need to ask, I already knew he was trying to sell a bike. Drunk Guy usually comes in trying to sell bikes or parts, which is generally met with a negative response as he is a slightly sketchy even for a drunk guy. After Drunk Guy mumbled/slurred something inaudibly, and Brian politely asked him to repeat himself, he motioned outside to the cheap bike that he was trying to hock and ennunciated well enough that Brian got his drift.

Now, Brian is in a position at the shop that is probably best described as a whipping-boy/scape-goat hybrid, so it was not entirely surprising to me that, likely out of a sense of his own self-preservation, he showed Drunk Guy a lot of patience and courtesy in explaining that we don't usually buy bikes, but take them in as trades toward new product. This did not satisfy Drunk Guy, even though the same thing has probably been explained to him a dozen times in our store. And any outcome that did not involve currency that could be quickly converted into a few king-cans of Maximum Ice could not be considered satisfactory, so he made one final hail-mary attempt:

"Make me an offer I can't refuse..."

At this point I could not help but interject.

"How about this: You leave the store, and don't try to sell us any more bikes."

And with a little half-smile that would indicate either an understanding of the absurdity of his statement and my response, or maybe just a blood alcohol level twice the legal limit, he said "That's pretty good" and walked out the door.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Coulda been a contender

Today represented the best and worst of mountain bike racing for me. I was feeling good, started strong, and found myself both in the lead on the razor's edge of control after about 10-15 minutes of racing. Then while taking a particularly tight and rocky corner in a particularly aggressive fashion, I burped my tire but managed to keep the bike generally upright. However the hissing noise coming from the tire indicated something was wrong. I pulled off and a closer inspection revealed a tiny twig, maybe 1/16th" in diameter, had wedged itself into my tubeless seal and seemed bent on ruining my day.

"No worries, I will just calmly attempt to seal the breach by removing the wheel and spinning it horizontally, allowing the latex sealant to fill the gap which this stupid, tiny twig has created", I thought to myself as I was passed by several in my category, though to these passers by it probably sounded more like:


And when I was thinking: "Hmmm, it would seem that this sealant has dried out and completely lost all of its functionality. This likely happened halfway through last season. I will just get out my spare tube and install it. Oh hey! Would you look at that, my spare tube has a hole in it! Well isn't that just the pits?", what was coming out of my mouth was more in the vein of:

"Oh goddam it you stupid fucking piece of shit.........FUCK"

At this point my mood was terrible, my chance of any sort of decent result was slim, and I was being swarmed by mosquitos while debating whether or not to patch the tube or abandon when a heavenly entity riding a Misfit singlespeed approached and asked "Do you need anything?" and without even considering the UCI protocol on trailside assistance I frankly and grumpily exclaimed "29er tube" which miraculously yielded the result of said tube angel stopping for me and allowing me to dig his spare tube out of his Camelbak and get down to business. The rage-induced adrenaline segued nicely into a determined and panicked numbness and I ignored the dozens of mosquitos chomping on me and was back on the trail in a couple of minutes.

Elated, I started hammering. This lasted about 15 seconds. Soon I ran into the 1st of, oh, probably about 100 riders who had passed me while I was dealing with my tire. Not to toot my own horn, but I am faster than most of these riders (actually, to be honest, I'm faster than all of them. Now I'm tooting my horn). And having to crank a singlespeed up technical, bumpy climbs is generally hindered greatly by having riders going half of your velocity a few feet in front of you. This is especially true when they fall across the trail, and somehow construe said failure to remain upright as a signal that they may remount and start up again at their leisure without making any accomodation to let the faster rider directly behind them pass. So, this once again put a damper on my mood, especially when imagining the glorious flow that this course was currently offering my category leader, that I could have been enjoying were it not for devil-twig.

But as they say, when opportunity knocks, give him all the lemons life handed you and God will shut the door. Or something like that. I basically made it my mission to finish my race the fastest I could, flat tires and slow riders be damned. I was frustrated, flustered, and mentally drained but beneath all of that I was still pretty sure there was a decent bike racer so I put my head down and hammered. It became apparent a couple of times that I was riding beyond my ability to focus (i.e. almost flying off my bike often, actually flying off once), but in this particular situation I felt this level of recklessness was my "sweet spot". I mean, why bother even finishing if I wasn't going to give it 110%?

Eventually, I started picking off riders from my own category. There are usually about 20 (there were 16 today) and I was pretty sure almost all of them had passed me. But I started reeling them back in; being on singlespeed bikes they are generally pretty easy to identify. And I got to a point where I was pretty comfortable with where I was at in the standings. Toward the end of the race I passed DD who was also KO'd with a flat, which sucked for him but also gave me some idea that all of my energy expenditure wasn't for naught, as he should have been a podium threat. I managed to make it across the line in one piece, and was happy to hear the announcer call out my name in 4th place. He also gave me props as one of the "original singlespeeders", which is kinda funny as I have only been riding SS for about 5 years, and there are probably some crusty die-hards that would want to fight me over that kind of statement.

Though satisfied with the way I salvaged a disastrous situation (attributable solely to the kindness of others) I also cannot help wonder what could have been. Looking at the lap times I feel like I would have been in strong contention for 2nd, and maybe even in a battle for 1st, but going down the road of hypotheticals is generally a useless exercise. If I want a 'W' in this field I've got two more races in which to accomplish it.....wish me luck!

Note: I have probably logged 4000km on MTB race courses and as far as I can remember this was my 1st flat. As untimely as it was I can only hope to maintain the same frequency.

Note II: Tube angel was Andrew S. of Lapdogs racing.

Note III: Apologies to anybody whose delicate sensibilities were offended by my screaming on the race course or its transcription on this blog.

Sunday, June 6, 2010


Why is it that
Forbidden fruit
Turns wise men fools,
Discretion moot?

Though still unripe
And hanging high,
A fiend, I still
Can't help but try

And try, and try
Some more, I must
It's boom or bust

So facing bruise
And scar, and pain
All odds be damned!
I yet maintain

I know I'm beat
You mock me now
Still I engage
With furrowed brow

When far too late
I cede defeat
And feel the sting
In my retreat

Then even I'll
Condone pursuit
All manner of
Forbidden fruit

In my defense:
Last-ditch decree
That humans act

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The 5th Wall

A knight sits atop a majestic white horse. Behind him sits his wife, completely and utterly silent, wearing a large pair of dark sunglasses.

Knight: What a beautiful eve is upon us, my lady! Just look at the oppulence surrounding us, the magnificent beast that stands beneath us, ubiquitous evidence of the slow-moving bureaucracy that fills our coffers so handsomely.....could you imagine any atmosphere more conducive to softening thy loins, on this, the anniversary of our wedding?

Peasant: (yelling obnoxiously) Slag off, knight!

Knight: Excuse me?

Peasant: You heard me, you smug bastard. Slag off! You're acting sucks, you're boring me and your wifey.

Knight: Do you know who I am?

Peasant: Fuck, probably some fuckin' knight, or thane, duke, or some fuckin' classy thing like that.

Knight: Then why would you mock me so? You know I could have your head on a whim.

Peasant: Because you're in a play. 4th wall. You can't touch me.

Knight: If I recall correctly, you plebe, the 4th wall is merely a conceptual term defining the division between audience and stage, and I assure you it has no physical manifestation. (directs horse to rear and kick peasant, who is knocked to the ground) Besides, I never agreed to act in this play in the first place.

Peasant: Ahhhhh, fuckin' hell, Knight, what'd you go and do that for? What kinda actor are you can't handle a bit of heckling?

Knight: Are you drunk?

Peasant: Of course I'm bloody drunk, I'm a peasant at a play, and a shoddy play at that! And if you can violate the concept of the 4th wall, then so can I, watch...

(The peasant grabs the reins of the horse, and the knight struggles to get them back. The horse becomes confused and enraged and the peasant is stomped. Repeatedly. Until he is dead.)

Knight: Crimony! Why must this peasant have tested my will such, on this, the anniversary of our wedding, my lady? This latest happening is not at all conducive to the softening of loins.

Me: Well what the fuck did you do that for?

Knight: Who said that?

Me: I did, over here.

Knight: Well, who are you?

Me: I'm in the audience.

Knight: But the peasant was the only one in the audience.

Me: He was the only one in the audience of the first play. That was the root play of a meta-play. A play within a play.

Knight: What is God's name are you talking about you half-wit?

Me: Well, as we are none creatures living in a vacuum, forever will our conduct be perceived by others, and as such, we are actors in a play.

Knight: Such a metaphor I can abide.

Me: So, these others, they constitute the audience. But, sometimes an actor will "break the 4th wall", leave the stage, and descend into the audience to involve the crowd, in essence making the audience part of the play.

Knight: Ahh, yes, such a wonderful and charitable contribution to the masses, and enhancement of art most grand!

Me: Similarly, sometimes an audience member will heckle, or jeer, or even physically violate the 4th wall.

Knight: Yes, it is a shame, such wretched conduct was the undoing of this insuffrable mess of bones lying just off the stage.

Me: Off your stage. It is still on my stage.

Knight: Stop splitting hairs! Or I might undo you the same way.

Me: I highly doubt that. You will thank your lucky stars that the king finds a way to get you out of this mess. We all know that a good actor should be able to perform his part under even the greatest duress, without breaking character. You allowed yourself to succumb to an outside influence to which you should be impervious. Besides, we are actually separated by a 5th wall. I cannot touch you and you cannot touch me.

Knight: Lucky for you, knave, who would darest challenge the dramatic aptitude of such a noble gentleman.

Me: Lucky for you, too, Knight, because I know people who want to want to hurt you, and probably even kill you. But the 5th wall also shields me from the blood that would be spilled were that fantasy ever realized. And you sir, have real blood on your hands.

Knight: It's not on my hands, knave, it's on my horse's hooves.

Me: Now you're the one splitting hairs, Knight.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Race #2

Isn't it funny how fast a plan can go out the window? For instance, around the end of last season, I assumed I would be racing Elite right now, theoretically hob-nobbing with the cream of the crop and being faster than I've ever been.

Then I moved residences. And before I moved I didn't ride as much as I should have. Which probably stemmed from the lack of motivation caused by stressing myself out trying to accumulate uber-mileage in January.

So I did the smart thing, and re-adjusted my plan.

New plan: set sights way lower.

Cop-out? Perhaps. But I would rather cop-out of a lofty goal whose manifestation in real-life terms would probably mean a whole lot of compromise in my quality of life, than not cop-out of that goal and spend every waking hour dedicated to eking infintecimally small percentages of speed and fitness out of a body that is neither eager nor willing.

This is not to say I do not want to be faster. Well, actually now that I think about it, that is pretty much exactly what I am saying. Instead, I'd rather be a better bike rider and racer, than I would a physical specimen as the result of hundreds of hours of winter training. Because then I would have to dip into my un-necessary winter nap time to find hundreds of hours to mindlessly waste time on the internet.

And THAT would be unacceptable.

Furthermore, those hundreds of winter hours spent training are fleeting. They mean virtually nothing in perpetuity, as the human body is a fickle creature with a serious "what have you done for me lately" kinda mentality. Scan results from a decade ago and see how many people on top are in the same position now. Hell, you can even look at last year's results and see a lot of folks slipping, and a lot of them making big gains.

I do not want to fall into that category. I do not want to enter a sub-prime mortgage with my love of the sport, chasing a big dream on credit but ultimately ending up bankrupt when the reality of the usurious price I have to pay to achieve it kicks in.

This is why the singlespeed category exists.

It is where fast riders, if not the spring training camp types, go to avoid burning out while also hoping to not fade away. I would say it would be sandbagging if not for the high level of competition that the top riders in the category bring to the table. And at Albion Hills, despite a confidence-uninspiring off-season, I was hoping to rise to that reasonably high level.

After carefully studying and dissecting the results from Ocup #1 that I missed with a painful strain in my neck, I decided that I would be happy to finish top 4, and would ride a conservative pace to try to achieve that goal. Then the start gun went off and yet another plan went out the window. Steve Martin and Dave Dermont went off the front, and they were 2 of the 3 I was expecting to have in front of me. So, naturally, I took a look around, and instead of letting them go, I rode as hard as I could to catch a wheel. Then it was the 3 of us with a 20-30m gap on the rest of the field. After another few hundred meters, Steve started pulling away from Dave, who I was riding behind.

As I had already decided that a top-4 finish was a satisfactory result, it made total sense at this point to peel off around Dave, and sprint my ass off to catch Steve's wheel again. I wasn't wearing a heartrate monitor, so it would be impossible to tell whether or not I was actually riding conservatively until I cramped up on the side of the trail before finishing the race. So I used some empirical observations (laboured breathing? check. legs burning? check. haven't led Steve for even a moment and he doesn't seem to be having much trouble? check) to determine that even though I had thrown 66% of my game plan out the window, maybe, just maybe, vying for the win 15 mins into an hour+ race was probably not a good idea. So I let him go. At least there was no sign of third place...

....for about another 5 minutes. Davis Ross had my tail with a couple kms left on the 1st lap, but when I offered him the pass to chase Steve, he declined. We rode a majority of the 2nd lap together until he started to put some more time into me toward the end, but the gap was still manageable. Unfortunately for Davis, the gap quickly shrank and disappeared when he had a pedal unthread itself about 1.5km into the third and final lap. I am never thrilled about gaining a spot that way, but neither was I going to let such an opportunity go to waste, so I put my head down and hammered even harder.

I was hitting some heavy lap-traffic by this point but everybody was really good about letting me by. Some people who knew the deal told me that Steve was "just ahead" or "only 25 seconds", but with only a couple km left I had a feeling that this would be too much to overcome. I was right and in spite of my ludicrous cadence to finish the race off, I heard Chico announcing him as the SS winner about 30 seconds before I crossed the line.

So my plans changed, and I think both of them were for the better. I am not resigned to a full season racing SS but at this point it seems a good fit. It was a good battle with Steve and having this race under my belt it may be even more fierce if I choose to keep racing this category. I am convinced* that it would have been a dog-fight to the line with Davis had he not run into that bad luck. (*he probably would have beat me, I had to convince myself otherwise)

All in all a great, late, start to my O-cup season. I look forward to continuing to put the 'fun' back into FUNdamental racing strategy.


PS thanks again to my saintly parents for the ride and feed in shit weather.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Race #1

Homage to Ice, Mansfield, Apr 11

So much singletrack. Rode where I wanted to (with Matt F) for the majority of the race but started hurting ~1:40 into it. After that he and the other other Andrew put about 1min into me every 10 for the rest of the race. Survival mode was a relative success though, with a net loss of only one more position and no catastrophic failure involving zero-velocity.

Bar-width (27"): too wide
Stem Length (65mm): just right
Hose-clamp mounted seat tube bottle cage: probably coming soon

8th overall I believe, 9 mins behind a certain top elite rider who may-or-may-not have been giving 100%. I will just assume that he was giving the same amount of effort that Mike G was last year when he put 10mins into me at the Icebreaker. As long as I haven't seen a decrease in fitness.......

Friday, March 19, 2010

A few of my favourite things

Thursday was the fourth night in a row that I had taken the Don for my commute to interim-home (being Michelle's place before completing our move tomorrow). She has been extremely accomodating of my commute extension through the trails and the numerous detours I have taken this week, so I really wanted to get home around 7 like I said I would.

Of course, being a beautiful day, everybody was out. I ran into Ryan S and Ross M as soon as I hit the ridge so we rode together west along the flats where I heard Paul hollering at me from the jumps. Told him I would be back, and I was after a full lap heading back up the ridge and down the flats again. Stopped in to say hi, and found him along with Lee D and RC Brian. Soon enough Rico and Jeremy S pulled up and then even Jeff M! Unfortunately I couldn't stay to chat long as it was 6:45 and I needed to get from the jumps to Davenport and Dupont stat. After carefully weighing the speed:fun ratios of all possible options I rode through Sun Valley to Bayview and Nesbitt and boogied through Rosedale to Mt. Pleasant. Found my trusty fence hole and hopped on the CP r.o.w. (right of way) for some gravel slog.

I didn't get very far, just across the bridge westbound (for the record, there is another ballasted full track-width to play on here...I'm not THAT stupid, don't you be either) when I heard the sporadic metallic vibrational noises that emit from the rails as a train is approaching. As their frequency increased I did the smart thing and got way off track as the locomotives approached. They weren't hauling too fast, maybe 40km/h, so after about 10 cars passed me by, I did the less smart thing and got back on my bike and decided to pace it down the track.

The right of way here varies from singletrack (much of it gravel), to wide open gravel sections, to gravel doubletrack, and so forth. Lacking a computer, I would estimate my speed at 30km/h give or take most of the time, which was at first a losing proposition. I watched the moving art show of graffiti covered boxcars pass by slowly at shoulder height, alternating glances with the path in front of me. Soon the gravel firmed up and the train slowed a little and I was able to pace it precisely, which is quite a rush. Kinda like riding in a peloton with Godzilla. A couple was standing on the double track and was kind enough to notice me coming and give me a whole lot of space as I came through, hauling-ass on a big adrenaline rush.

I was coming up quick on the Davenport bridge, and was saddened to realize that I would soon have to say goodbye to my new riding buddy. I think I was going too fast for it, as the train was clearly bonking and coming to a stop, albeit slowly. Hopped back into the real world through the LCBO lot, right around 7, and could not have been more satisfied with my speed:fun ratio.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Baby steps

Maybe riding really hard in January, taking a vacation until halfway through Feb, and doing very little riding since getting back was not the greatest way to come blazing on to the podium this spring. But things had to be done, things like looking for apartments (and starting innumerable stupid arguments with Michelle over insignificant details about said search/application process/apartment), working the bike show (and mega hours in the week leading up to it), and finally moving, a task which I have completed, which means the task is really probably only 30% complete as Michelle has a lot more stuff than I do. I am not complaining, as most of her stuff falls into the 'useful' category (furniture, dishes, etc) as opposed to the hundreds of pounds of bike mags circa 1994-2001 that I shuttled from my place yesterday. But I mean, come on, those were the glory years, I couldn't possibly be expected to throw out 8 years worth of re-worded maintenance and fitness tips and highly biased reviews of out-dated bicycles........could I?

Luckily my patient and understanding ladyfriend has not made any such request, and in any case I am digressing. I believe I was slowly trying to build a case for my own lack of fitness, hence giving myself a pre-fabricated excuse in the event of a terrible finish at an early season event. Or potentially even a mid or late season event, because, you know, it's really all about base miles.

And even this "break glass in case of emergency" excuse making was all just a vessel in which to unveil my MASTERPLAN, involving now living 12km from my place of work instead of a moderately uphill 800m, which was really not much of a commute at all. Now I have multiple route options beyond cutting through the schoolyard or not to shave off about 5 seconds. Now I can ride trails to work, or I can get kitted up like it is race day, because it will be when I sleep in and have to hammer that 12km in 20 minutes (I will fail, and probably be 10mins late).

So last night I didn't actually sleep at the new place, but Michelle's instead. Dropped the rental van off in the morning with my Stigmata in tow then got in a decent 90min boot before work. After work I decided to check the main trails in the Don out on the CX bike (not terrible, but not great). Totalled about 50km on the bike, at a mostly moderate pace. That's almost like base miles, right?

5 days a week of this and I might resemble myself last November by late April.



Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dreams are easily forgotten

So, those who know me well (or even those who just know me on facebook) are probably aware that I recently did something quite out of the ordinary (for me) and boarded a plane to a small tropical island to ride my bike and relax for a couple of weeks. This was mentioned in passing in my previous blog post (which mostly centered around a broken six year old bicycle part). Maybe the optimists among you thought that a more detailed summary of this trip might be forthcoming. Such a summary has been delivered to the 7 or so people I actually maintain verbal contact with in real life. But I feel like attempting to condense a 13-day journey into even a couple of thousand words on my blog would be doing a disservice to the experience, to the country of Jamaica, and to myself.

To the experience, because there is simply no way I could expand or condense all of my impressions and experiences into anything resembling a manageable, readable blog post.

To the country, because even if I could expand or condense all of my impressions and experiences into a blog post, for chrissakes I am a foreigner who spent less than two weeks there, approximately half of that in a tourist bubble and the other half under the careful guidance of some very experienced and knowledgable ex-pats with decades of experience living and riding there. I hardly 'discovered' Jamaica, and would probably make a fool of myself acting like I did.

And to myself, because I would have to write the damn thing.

So I will try to boil the essence of the entire trip down to one small, but touching event; a sensory experience that brought me back to one of my earliest childhood memories. And of course this early childhood memory, almost completely obliterated from my consciousness (saved by this trigger on a beautiful day, hours into an incredible ride, detouring to an isolated, hidden beach) came from Sesame Street:

As we were slogging our bikes through some increasingly sandy terrain, my friend Marshall from Toronto (and experienced Jamaica-phile) noticed that we had some company; a grizzled looking Rasta carrying a sack and wielding a machete. Had this been a couple days earlier I may have been perturbed by such a sight, as I was the first time we encountered a machete wielding local in the forest. But now I was a weathered veteran of this nation and realized that people don't walk around with 18" blades in the jungle because they mean to intimidate or harm foreigners on guided mountain bike trips, they walk around with 18" blades because they are in the freaking jungle.

Marshall introduced me to Bongo as we made our way toward a dilapidated old hut-structure just off of the beach. Here he produced a coconut from his sack, lopped off the top, and I looked on enviously as Marshall took down the water. Luckily one or both of them must have noticed the look on my face (it may have also been the look of dehydration and exhaustion) and I was soon offered a coconut of my own. I graciously accepted and snapped a pic of Bongo as he was taking the top off of mine:

Insert whatever cliche you like here about things that taste amazing or refreshing or revitalizing ("tasted better than Doritos at a Crank the Shield aid station" might be a good one), but more incredible was that the whole experience immediately transported me back 24 years in time. I was able to remember being four years old and wanting, yearning for, needing to have that coconut, imagining how good the milk must taste, and wondering how the hell that little kid was able to husk it on a wooden stake, especially after my parents gave in and bought me a rock hard coconut from a Cdn. grocery, then wrestled with it using a hammer and punch to extract a pittance of liquid from its belly.

I thought I was enjoying a coconut in 1986.

I know I experienced a coconut in 2010.

And I hope as my life goes on, I continue to realize and experience childhood dreams I long ago forgot I had.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ode to my FC-M760

I knew a few days earlier that something wasn't right. I heard some creaking that sounded like a loose chainring bolt, but they were all tight. I ignored it blissfully; I was unwilling to let such a triviality interfere with the enjoyment of my cycling oriented vacation. But upon disassembly, it became clear that the cause of the noise was not entirely trivial. After recently bending it (see 'Don ride with Dave' videos) and then straightening it with a vice, the spider bit the bullet. I figured there was no point in bringing it home, so the crank was dumped unceremoniously in the Rooms hotel #1122 bathroom garbage can. Its current whereabouts are unknown, but I figure whatever Jamaican refuse sarcophagus it eventually finds its way into will still be a far more exotic burial than any local (or Michigan) dump could provide.

RIP Shimano Front Chainwheel M760
Many miles, many medals, many memories. FC-M770 has some big shoes to fill.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shakedown ride

Making sure the mtb wont explode before packing it up for Jamaica!


842 for January and that'll do it.

fri eve-sun morn

23 commmuting


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Jan 27

18km commuting, 60 virtual @ Watts up



Tuesday, January 26, 2010


22km in 24hrs


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sat Jan 23

Pretty big day! Rode up to Rick's place and he gave me a lift up to Ravenshoe. We met up there with Jamie Davies (of Crank the Shield solo SS fame, and now Evolution Cycles too) who led us on a ride through snow conditions that ran the gamut from perfectly packed to shin deep and unridable. The hiking wasn't excessive though and we were in the woods for probably 1.5hrs. Not sure if Jamie got an actual distance on his mostly decorative Powertap computer, but I'll give us 17km on the day for my mileage purposes. Also put the SD1200 into action so I didn't feel like a complete tool for carrying it (and its bulky Pelican case) in my jersey pocket. Think they turned out pretty well, considering that my photographic strategy mainly consists of "leave it on automatic".

Rick Ravenshoe Jan 23/10

Jamie Ravenshoe Jan 23/10

Rick asked me where I wanted to get dropped off, and I told him that back at his place was fine because I was still trying to pad my mileage, but he needed to do some shopping so I bolted at Kennedy/401. Since Scarborough Sunday drivers are not my favourite to deal with, I considered riding the rails back down a la Joyride mission, but decided to head to some hydro cut instead. Good choice as it allowed me to bypass 5km of big-box madness. On my way (train nerd alert) I also saw the rare sight of 2 westbound trains shadowing each other out of the Agincourt yard, unfortunately I only caught the tail end by the time I could get close enough and whip out my camera.


Hydro VP and Eglinton

Got home and rode up to Michelle's, which put me at about 50km on the day, fueled by only 2 packets of instant oatmeal and a half-bag of Cool Ranch. Upon arrival at her place I ate half a large pizza, drank a bunch of coke and went comatose for about an hour. I believe this is known as 'passive recovery'.

Another 10km back from her place this (sun) morning. Had big plans but a little measly bit of rain scared me.



1k looking less likely every day

Friday, January 22, 2010


35km commuting in the past 24hrs. If I keep that up I'll almost be on pace.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Watts up Wednesday

15km outdoor to and from, and a virtual 60 indoors.


11 days left, this is gonna be tight.

Oh and Tara finally gets a link.

crosstown and back

23 commuting


Monday, January 18, 2010

After dark.... rippin season. Well, to the extent that 23km/h can be considered rippin.


+11km commuting

505 total

still behind

Saturday, January 16, 2010

last 24 hours

More booting around and a very short, easy ride today considering the beautiful weather. But knowing when not to push it is just as important as pushing through it. Or something like that.


435 total

Friday, January 15, 2010

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


11km morning commuting

virtual 60km at Watts Up

371 total

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Mon: home>work>home>no frills>home

Tues: home>work>home>Don ride(via work)>home(via work)>video store>Michelle's

one map


300 total

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Balmy -4c

I had the notion of a big ride today in my head all week, putting a lot more faith in the long term weather forecast than I probably should have. Didn't have any crazy ambitions of riding to the middle of Markham this time though. The destination was Steeles and Dufferin at the Thornhill border, primarily on trails. Once again though, I fell just a little short, as I wanted to get home before the sun (and the meager heat it was providing) bid adieu over the western horizon. Hammered back on roads and the Belt Line and made the stop at Ka Ka Lucky for a four dollar feast.

Sigh, almost 4 hours in the saddle and only 55km to show for it. I am sure I cut the apexes off of some corners mapping it but even still, that might account for another km at most. Tempted to add an off-road multiplier to help me meet my mileage goal, but at the same time that would be counter-productive as the point of the goal in the first place is to get me to ride more. Gotta average 250km a week for the next 3, or about 35km a day. Then I get to reward myself with a little sunshine. So I guess til then I will obey the graffiti.


252 total

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Friday aft

Another 5 km. Not even bothering posting the map but every little bit counts!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Thursday AM- Fri AM


192 total

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Work>Home>Watts Up>Home

12km + 55km virtual (trainer) = 67.

Brings me to 170km give or take on the month. Gotta step it up slightly to hit a thou!

before 10am


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Last 36 hours commuting

otherwise been lazy. 16km

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Snowy Commuting

19km round trip about 1/2 hr each way.

Epic Fail

*Note about this blog: it is by my friend who looks like me and borrowed all of my gear and writes in the same style. However he does illegal things like trespassing that I would never dream of.

Somebody posted on Dropmachine recently asking everybody about their most epic rides of 2009. I thought about it and responded with my four corners ride. Then I thought about my mindstate going into it, and realized that it had been planned and mapped the night before, allowing me to wake up mentally prepared to tackle it.

Last night I was pondering all of this while mapping out my ultimate bluffs ride, which I realized steepness and ice would make a complete impossibility in current weather conditions. So I turned my attention to another pet project; a predominantly off-road route to Joyride 150. I had been thinking about hydro-cuts and maybe even frozen aqueduct type stuff but thick grass and snow just didn't seem that appealing. Then it dawned on me. I'll take the rail-trail!

First though I would have to get dressed. After much pondering it ended up being: 2 long sleeve base layers up top (one thin, one thick with a built-in ninja mask type collar) Cycle Solutions team wind-tex jacket, and below bib-tights, full leg warmers, 29er team bibs, tall thick-ass wool socks over cycling socks, and booties over Shimano mtb shoes with custom foam meat tray insulated insoles. Cycling toque with warm headband up top. Moderately useful Northwave face mask. In Chrome bag: lock, tools, helmet, thin-ish warm-ish gloves, Gore jacket, and a jersey. The jersey and helmet were for if I chose to ride at Joyride once I got there, which in hindsight was ludicrously ambitious.

It is also worth noting I had some pretty warm gloves on, and also handlebar booties that most people seem more amused than intrigued by at the shop. This was my first time really using them and they worked really well. I switched to my thinner gloves after about 10 minutes of riding, which is realistically what allowed me to take any pictures at all! (note I was riding into a stiff wind at about -10c)

I started my journey off-road on a rail line that has probably been abandoned for near a century. It runs under the hydro lines of Taylor Creek park and eventually traces the subway line out to warden and joins with a more recently abandoned line. I picked it up around Dawes road and followed it (with a small break) past Birchmount until it hooked into an active GO train line. From here I could follow the line up to within meters of Joyride.

As I started up the rail-trail, which has a lot more rails and ties and no trespassing signs than your average rail-trail, I did so with the knowledge that Go trains do not run on Sunday, and that there was still a slim chance that a CN freight train could still be shunting on the weekend. And even barring a full-on train coming through, I could still be accosted by CN police, or random hobos, or gun-toting gang members, or slip and crack my helmetless but toasty-warm head on the track. So, suffice it to say, I made goddam sure I had my wits about me for the entire journey, and anybody who had not already considered all of the aforementioned events as possibilities should probably not try riding an active line.

Well, I had carefully weighed all of the aforementioned events' probabilities and figured the extreme cold and long weekend would probably afford relatively safe passage. So I started heading north at Kennedy station. I had a pretty stiff headwind, and was continuously riding over bumpy gravel, so it was a bit of a slog. My face was frozen, my moderately useful face mask had been made wet by my breath and froze after 30 mins as expected, and I worked my way through the ninja mask collar in the same fashion. As I was approaching Steeles I felt the cold stiffening my jaw. But I carried on!

But only for about another 10 minutes. The snow and wind seemed to be picking up and my feet were protesting so I made my way back to a Timmies on Steeles for a coffee and bagel and artificially heated environment, and also got intimate with their hand dryer and the wall trying to warm up my collar.

The way back down was pretty uneventful, same route with a tailwind so much faster and easier. At this point I really did not care that I didn't make it to Joyride as I was quite enjoying retracing my steps with an inch of fresh snow on top of them, especially once I wasn't riding on gravel and railway ties anymore. My total saddle time ended up around 3 hours, which is none too quick for any ride under 50km, but I stood up against inclement conditions for the first time in 2010 and I hope to make that a habit. 1000km January? Who knows?


Turning over an old leaf on a regular basis

So I am far too lazy to write daily on this thing, so I figure the least I can do is post up any and all riding I do, even if it is just commuting or whatever. So that is the goal/plan for 2010, every time I pedal a bike it'll get posted up here.

Jan 1: NADA
Jan 2: 11km about 30mins (or an hour including stops to warm up/browse half-price outerwear/buy falafel)