Tag Archives: campus

Grippy

Now them’s some grippy tyres!  First ride out on the new tyres and I have to say I am very pleased.  They are seriously solid.  I am certain that I could ride right over shattered glass or a bed of nails and still keep going, such is the robustness of these Continental Contact 28C shoes.  It’s a good feeling to know that you’re not going to be getting a puncture (there we go, I’ve gone and jinxed it surely).

Some tyres them Continental Contacts.

Despite the sturdiness and confidence that the new tyres gave me, the ride to and from work was anything but normal and comforting.  Some days odd things happen, and some of those things are good, and some not so good.  I hate being honked at.  In fact, any kind of harassment from a car is both irritating and frankly unnecessary.  This is of course the cyclists point of view and therefore very one-sided.  I heard the horn, and the fact that it was 7.00 a.m. and there were not many cars around I immediately assumed that it was directed at me.  The fact, however, that I had just left the road and joined the bike path left me wondering whether perhaps I was being paranoid.  Perhaps I should calm down and realize that it’s not always about me.

But then there it was again, and this time it was accompanied by some shouting.  This time there was no doubt as to whom the shouting was directed at, because they were addressing me by name.  I didn’t stop to wonder how a complete stranger would actually know my name and use it against me, I just turned and got ready to give my best glare, the kind that even the most hardened veteran of war would shrivel under.  And there he was.  My friend John, driving on the Lakeshore, shouting my name out of the rolled down window of his car, his two children in the back waving at me on their way to school.  Bloody brilliant!

Andy's awesome shot of me riding to work.

My scowl quickly transformed into a smile and I waved back, all thoughts of animosity having evaporated as quickly as they built up.  I managed to keep up with them for a good few kilometres.  John had to obey all the stop signs, but being on the bike path I could continue freely, so it was only when he arrived at the turn off for the kid’s school that we parted ways.  Andy, his son, had been quite bust snapping a couple of pictures through the back window of me, and as you can see above, he captured the moment!

It's a crazy world out there and some people don't know when to calm down.

I didn’t have to wait all that long for the next drama to unfold.  Pedalling along, minding my own business as I always do, I heard some serious creaking coming up behind me.  We were crawling along with some traffic, stopping every 30 yards for s stop sign, and this bloke on a clunky looking hybrid with the driest chain I have ever had the misfortune to hear, decided that he was going to pull a Lemond and show me his metal.  I didn’t even have time to think “What a dork” to myself when he realized, too late, that the cars were all stopping in front, which was precisely why I was going to slowly, and after a lame last minute attempt to go round the left of the car he instead slammed right into it.  His rear wheel lifted off the ground as inertia took over, and he clumsily got one foot on the ground and narrowly avoided having his jewels removed by the seat as it came flying up.  The bloke driving the car jumped right out, a look of genuine concern on his face, and asked the by now adrenalin-filled idiot “Are you alright?“, to which the response was “Of course I am” as he mounted his trusty steed and pedalled away furiously.  Embarrassment and humiliation bring out the worst in us, and so I don’t hold it against the fellow, but a word of advice should he find himself reading this while nursing his ego: if the traffic is slowing down right in front of you, it is not the right time to speed up and show off.

That was about all the drama I could take for one trip.  The journey back did provide a little colour of its own though.  I was riding into a headwind.  That’s not the colour, that’s just to set the scene that I was going slowly, at least a little slower than usual, which is what allowed me, unfortunately, to see what I saw.

He didn’t look unusual from a distance.  Just a regular guy waiting for the bus, standing on the sidewalk.  As I approached I could see that he was a little shabby looking, but once again, I don’t hold that against anyone.  You don’t know what their story is and so you shouldn’t judge.  It was then, just as I was almost alongside the fellow, that I noticed his tackle hanging out for all the world to see.  Yup, there it was.  Just hanging there.  Judging from the puddle on the ground the gent had just finished urinating but had evidently decided that there was no rush to pack away the equipment.  Oh well.

On a brighter note, the UCI WordTour is in my neck of the woods.  Gilbert just pulled out a stunning victory on the streets of Québec City and I’ll be on Mont-Royal this Sunday to watch the 180 riders battle it out for 17 laps live!  You won’t want to miss this.

Ride safe.

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Hoo Haa!

A quick entry to gloat more than anything else.  Wait!  Before I get to the gloating the day did not start off especially well on the bike.  I pulled the Kona out of the shed and quite by chance happened to feel that the rear wheel felt a bit lose as it dragged across the brick.  I thought that I had not tightened up the rear nuts enough, but that wasn’t it.  The wheel has a certain amount of play left and right, and that was something new to me.

My first instinct was to get in touch with Andy who knows pretty much everything there is to know about working on a bike.  A quick look at my watch, however, confirmed that he would already be at work and so unable to assist.  “Alright!“, I said to myself, “I’m going to have to fix this one all by myself.

Let me just paint a little picture here.  I don’t have much in the way of tools.  In fact, just this past weekend I finally bought the right size wrench for the fixie so that I would not have to use an adjustable spanner that was stripping the rear nuts.  Realizing immediately that this new wrench of mine was not what I needed to solve this latest wobbliness, I headed down to the basement and rooted through my toolkit, if you can call it that, and produced the aforementioned adjustable spanner as well as a fat pair of pliers to jam the other side (should that be required).

My first attempt to fix the looseness in the wheel resulted in the wheel losing almost all it’s “looseness”.  I had put everything back together and then lifted the rear off the ground and gave the wheel a good spin.  It stopped almost immediately.  Interesting.  So I took everything apart again and loosened a little what I had tightened up thinking all the while to myself that it did not make sense at all.  Still, it seemed to do the trick.  The wheel spun freely and there was no more lateral wobble.  On my way!

Now, finally onto my gloating moment: the ride home.  The afternoon ride is typically faster than the morning one regardless of the conditions.  I find that I am more aggressive on the way home, no doubt to discharge a day spent at my desk on conference call after conference call.  Nothing like a hard ride to rid you of any stress energy.  Today was no exception and I knew within the first 2 km that today was going to be a quick one.  And so it proved to be.

Record time for a commute on the fixie.

I felt great the whole way back and so did the Paddywagon.  Average speed 31.1 km/h is pretty good given the route that I have (very slow start leaving the Campus and Nun’s Island) and of course the fact that I only have the one gear.  I only wish that I had the cadence metre on the Kona because my legs must have been spinning in the 110 rpm range the whole way.  I was reminded, however, that on a fixie you’re never going to be able to motor like you can on a road bike.  I was bombing along the Lakeshore about 1.5 km from home and feeling pretty invincible, when all of a sudden this young bloke goes flying, (and I mean flying), by me on his time trial bike.  He’s all tucked in the aero position and he didn’t even have time to acknowledge me such was the speed at which he went by.

All of a sudden I felt slightly mediocre again.  Ah!  Who cares!  I was rocking today!

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Po-ffissss

Once more I was victim to the sound of air escaping from one of my tyres.  Well, I was not actually there to hear it, but when I got to the bike locker at work at around ten past five yesterday afternoon, the first thing I saw was the rear rim squarely on the ground.  Bugger!

I toyed with the idea of simply pumping the tyre and riding for as far as I could get, getting off, pumping again, then continuing, but really all I would be doing is delaying the inevitable.  So I knuckled down and set about changing the tube.

I had some company on and off as colleagues that I have never seen before came trooping through the garage to collect their bikes and head for home.  Most of them ignored me completely.  I suppose the sight of someone struggling with their rear wheel is an everyday occurrence that deserves no attention.  Silly me to think that asking if I needed help was simply a common courtesy.

There was one bloke who sparked up a conversation.  “Do yu ‘ave a spare toob?”  he asked with a very thick French accent.  I replied in French, thinking I was doing him a favour, that I had a tube, but thank you very much for asking.  He replied, once again in English, that he had had several punctures this season and so knew the frustration I was feeling upon discovering this at the end of a long work day.  The conversation continued in this vein, him speaking in very broken English and me replying in near perfect French, for about five minutes.  He then decided that he had to get home and left me to complete the task of squeezing the tube into the tyre and tim without ripping a new hole in it.

By five twenty I was on my way at last.  Annoyed at having to change the tube, but nonetheless quite pleased that with the practice I have been getting my time has come down considerably.  I did notice when tightening the wheel nuts that using an adjustable spanner vastly reduces the life span of said nuts by burring over the edges.  So, note to self, when I go to the hardware store pick up a real spanner the right size for the nut and also perhaps a couple of new nuts, you know, just in case.

Comparison of the out and return commute.

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Humidity

It was only a matter of time before the weather finally began to feel like the summer we know and love, and I think that this morning marked the beginning of the humidity. For those not familiar with Montreal summers, we typically get some pleasantly warm weather, low 30s centigrade is the norm for much of late June through to August, but we also get some extremely humid conditions. Much like in the winter there is a “wind-chill” factor that estimates the ‘feel-like’ temperature, in the summer we have the humidex which also provides an accurate estimate of what temperature it actually feels like outside.

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Almost tipping 30c with the humidex.

Despite the fact that this morning the true temperature was around 16c, I was sopping wet by the time I pulled up to the campus after an hour of riding into the wind.  There was a dampness in the air that resulted in seriously sticky arms that meant I was a firm favourite landing place for the many bug species that come out and hover frenetically near the water.  I don’t know how much protein I consume on the typical commute, but some days are definitely worse than others.  Today, and for the next few days, the high humidex will bring out all sorts of flying creatures that are usually no bigger than a centimetre of so, but have the velocity when consumed at high speed to cause a sharp thwack at the back of the throat.  This is then followed but some serious hacking as I try and dislodge the offending creature from my uvula onto which it has latched, seeing it as the last thing between theslim chance for life or a quick trip into the blackness that is my oesophagus.  I have given up trying to extracate the bugs from my throat as it is infinitely easier to accept that the path of least resistance is to help them down rather than up, and so a few glugs of water are applied, along with some energetic swallowing to help things along.  Hmm…..delicious!

The ride back proved to be even more sweat-inducing, and to add insult to injury the wind had changed direction and was right in my face, again!  Nothing could dampen my spirit, but the heat sure did dampen my shorts.  When I got home Marie had the most magnificent supper ready to hit the BBQ and I guzzled a can of sparkling water just fast enough to give you one of those rather uncomfortable moments when there is a huge buildup of gas stuck somewhere in the middle of your chest and it won’t go either up or down.

Tomorrow I do all it over again.  Ride safe.

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