Tag Archives: commute

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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Conservative estimate

I lay awake last night trying to work out how many kilometres I had done on the fixie.  It had seemed strange to me that I’d worn out the rear tyre, right through to the thread, but now that I’ve taken a moment to sit back and work out some basic calculations, I actually think that I was due a hole or two.

As my mate Bruce said to me last night, “You got your monies worth with those tyres”.  I think he is right.  Here’s how the math goes.

  • Started commuting to work on the Paddywagon in the second week of March
  • A conservative average of two return trips to the campus each week.  (Some weeks it has been three, even four, some it has been one, and I had a one week break in Connecticut)
  • A quick count of the calendar tells me that 28 weeks have passed
  • That’s a total of 56 round trips.
  • Drumroll please……….2,800 km
Not bad.  In fact, I have to agree with Bruce that that rear tyre did me proud.  The distance is one thing, but there are a couple of additional factors that make it all the most interesting.  One being that the fixed gear just takes more out of the rear wheel.  It’s a more aggressive ride and then there’s the occasional sliding, or skidding, that can happen when performing any kind of emergency stop.  The second major factor is the 30lb back pack I ride with.  As it is slung on my back it is right over the rear wheel adding a lot of additional stress on the rubber.  Every bump bounces that thing about and has surely caused more severe wear than if I was riding without it.  There’s also the fact that it pulls a lot more of my own natural body weight onto the rear wheel, so the usual 60/40 weight division (rear/front) is not respected.
All that to say, I have accepted that I needed new tyres.  Ride safe.

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28lbs

That’s what my back pack weighs on any given day that I commute to the office.  It may not sound like all that much, but when it’s strapped to your back and you have it there for the 25 km to work and then the 25 km back, you notice it.  Having said that, as the season wears on it becomes less and less an encumbrance and more part of me.

Bike and bag: inseparable on the commute.

As much as I do enjoy the ride into and back from work, when I get to go out on the Kona without the backpack, it is an awesome experience.  But I’ll save that for another entry.  Today was all about schlepping the back pack to and from Nun’s Island, and the way back featured an interestingly annoying head wind.  As I write this head wind has morphed into a mega thunderstorm, the likes of which only arrive a few times a year.  I was supposed to be heading out with Andy for a couple of hours, but we’ve shelved that plan and have opted instead for an evening of beer and pizza.  Well, come on, we had to come up with something.

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Nothing if not consistent

So I received something pretty darn exciting in the mail yesterday.  Yup!  My new Garmin Edge 800.  What a machine.  This thing can do laundry and cook you dinner, all while computing your rides to a ridiculous level of accuracy.  Now, while I am really looking forward to getting out there and testing it on a good long road ride, I did strap it onto the fixie this morning and record my commute, both the out journey and the return some eight hours later.

Well, hats off to me!  Check this out.

Two different rides, 8 hours apart. Almost identical.

I know.  You can’t believe it either can you?  Remarkable really, but let’s do a little analysis to understand what makes this even cooler.  (Oh, don’t hesitate to click on the image to view the full resolution and then click the back button once you’re done).

On the ride in (right hand column) I benefitted from a 15 km/h tailwind.  Nice easy ride, spinning the legs continuously and not exerting myself too much.  This is evidenced by the average HR of 148 and a relatively low caloric burn.  The landscape changed quite dramatically for the return trip.  For the 45 minutes prior to me leaving the campus, I stared out of the massive windows and watched the rain smash into them, the trees lean dramatically in the wind and even the birds being tossed about somewhat.  I knew it was going to be a rough one.

Fortunately the rain stopped by the time I got onto the bike, but there was still a headwind / head-cross wind for the full 25 km back, but I was determined to put in a good show.  Elevated HR as compared to the morning clearly demonstrates that I did have to put in substantially more effort, but here is the fun part: my average speed both on the way out and on the way back was almost identical-  30.3 km/h vs. 30.2 km/h.  Naturally a lot of the other stats were almost identical as well, with the time it took me to come home being only 6 seconds slower than going to work.  To do that, however, my average HR coming home was 87% of max, which coincidentally enough was my maximum HR from the morning.  My max in the afternoon was 94% of max.  I also burned 100 more calories as a result.  Extra pie for me tonight.

I think this is a lot more interesting to me than to most of you, but if you’re a bit of a dork when it comes to these types of stats then I am sure you’ll get a kick out of it.  So stay tuned for some analysis on a real road ride soon.  Got to get some climbing in to really see the HR go up!

Ride safe.

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Riding tall

I went out for some morning intervals in Parc Levesque, as I am want to do, and was horrified to see what had happened to the grounds of the park.  The City of Lachine has sold out.  Big time.  I arrived at the park around 6.30 a.m. having warmed up nicely on the 10 km journey outbound.  The 750 metre ‘entrance’ to the park is brilliant in the early morning as you have the sun directly behind you.

Riding tall into Parc Levesque

All seemed normal at this stage in the proceedings.  But as I neared the park gates I could sense that something was up.  I am not sure if it was the fifty ATVs that were parker neatly on a 45 degree angle that gave it away, or the glimpse of steel fence that seemed to surround the middle ‘island’ of the park, that tipped me off first, but this was going to be different.

Indeed, what I saw as I rode through the main entrance gates made me almost come right off the bike.  The beautiful central island of Parc Levesque had been totally cordoned off with industrial grade 8′ high steel fencing.  Inside the perimeter was a new landscape that included 18-wheeler trucks, tents of all shapes and sizes, and many more ATV-type vehicles on display stands.  The grass leading through the temporary gates in the new fence was missing, replaced instead with the worn through muddy tracks that hundreds of repeat visits with a heavy vehicle will produce.

Now if this was not bad enough, as I rode down the north side of the loop and stared with utter disbelief at the mayhem on the inside, my eyes were treated to yet more shocking discoveries.  A dirt track had been built through the arboretum and through the park, complete with mud hills, sharp corners and advertising hoardings and billboards.  Where was the lush green grass that was here only a few days ago?  Where was my park?

I don’t know how much money the City of Lachine sold out for, but I am hoping that part of the cost of this enterprise includes returning the park to its original state.  I would hate to think that once the ATV circus has left we are going to have to stare at this mud bath for the next several months.  Although I can’t imagine what it is going to take to return the lawn to its former lushness.

I can’t believe that I don’t have a picture of this madness to share with you all.  I was so stunned that I didn’t think to take one, but I’ll be heading back there probably tomorrow morning and so if the madness is still in town I’ll document it.

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