Tag Archives: montreal

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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Fog hat

We don’t see fog often in Montreal. Not like the UK where it is an almost daily occurrence! (I’m English, I can say that. You’re not, so you can’t!). So being a phenomenon that is rare, it makes for an interesting ride in to work. Figures suddenly appear in front of you where seconds before there was nothing. The tops of the trees are invisible to the eye and there is a mist that shrouds the surface of the lake. It is beautiful.

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It is also humid. Very humid in fact, and by the time I am at the half way point my back is soaking wet against the weight of my back pack and I can see that the hairs on my arms are matted as if it was raining on them. Except it’s not.

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The Mercier bridge cuts an especially dramatic image standing out of the mist. I wish we had more mornings like this one. Sublime.

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Here comes the rain again

Just like the Eurythmics song from the ’80s, the rain just keeps on coming, but I have no interest in singing about it.  I don’t especially enjoy riding in the rain.  I’m not worried that I am going to melt nor do I actually mind getting wet.  The main reason I don’t like riding in the rain is that it means I am going to have to clean the bike afterwards. Stupid, isn’t it? Safety?  Not so much a concern.  Getting sopping wet?  Bring it on!  Cleaning the bike, and in the interim riding a dirty bike?  What a bummer!

When I awoke this morning the roads were dry. “Excellent!” was the word that jumped to mind as I busied myself making the coffee and tea. “I’m not going to get wet after all. Those weather experts have got it wrong again!” As you can guess, the forecast was for light rain in the morning, and to awake to a completely dry road was a bit of a coup. It turns out that I celebrated a little prematurely.

No sooner had I finished making the coffee and preparing the breakfast than I noticed the all too familiar droplets of water landing in the pond outside. “What the f….?!”, I said to myself. I ran to the front of the house to check the road. I don’t quite know whether I was expecting it to be dry in the front if it was so obviously raining in the back, but it was the first thing I thought of doing. I appreciate that it does not say much for my intelligence, but there we go. Not totally surprising it was raining in the front as well. I sunk down despondantly into my seat and ate my McCann’s Rolled Oats in sullen silence. I was going to be getting a dirty bike this morning.

By the time I got on the road the rain had stopped but the damage was done. The tarmac was wet and within the first 500 metres I could see the droplets of water all over the frame. A wet bike still looks so sharp. Its when it dries that you notice and appreciate that rain is not all that clean, and you couple that with the spray that the tyres throw up and you’ve got yourself a very gritty piece of machinary. Still, by kilometre seven I was back on dry roads, and they remained that way for the remainder of the ride down to the Campus. Despite the vigourous headwind, tipping the scale at 41 kph gusts right into my face at times, I made fairly decent time to the office. I like to think that having a few enforced days off the bike (due to ridiculous amounts of rain) had brought fresh life into my legs. I also find that imagining the return journey with the wind squarely in one’s back is a motivating way to tolerate the harshness of an overly bullish headwind!

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The water levels are high this year thanks to all the rain.

The return ride home did not disappoint. Leaving Nun’s Island I felt the awesomeness of nothing. You know you’ve got a good tailwind when you don’t hear the wind in your ears. It’s a strangely silent ride. And you fly. Being on the fixie meant my cadence all the way home was up there but that did not matter one iota. I got home before the rain got me. Ha!

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