Chas and I have been out …

I have been training inside a lot this year but Chas and I have been able to accumulate over 1,000 km on the road in preparation for the upcoming Pacific Populaire.

Chas was well prepared for winter riding. First, I put wider profile tires (28 mm) on an old set of Shimano training wheels. The wheel hubs and rims are worn but more than adequate for winter riding. I didn’t worry about getting them wet, and the wider section tires grip better in the wetter conditions. Then I added a small set of fenders that simply snap around the front forks and the rear stays. They help to protect the bike parts, my back, and anyone drafting closely behind from wet and dirty spray. And lastly, I had a bike fit which resulted in several minor adjustments to the saddle height and lateral position as well as a new, flatter saddle. The new saddle reduces the pressure points considerably, and has me sitting more on my sits bones at the back of the saddle.

The bike fit was revealing. I learned that I had lost flexibility in my left hamstring and hip abductor muscles which resulted in uneven weight distribution on the saddle, and a right knee that did not track perfectly perpendicular when pedalling. Despite training in front of a full length mirror when on the spinning bike, I had not noticed. Like many cyclists, I neglect to stretch, particularly during the cycling season. Consequently, I have included a 15-20 minute stretching routine after each and every spinning session for the past 8-10 weeks, and have noticed a significant difference. The knee appears to track correctly, and when on the bike, I tuck into a more aerodynamic position easily.

I plan to ride Chas in the Pacific Populaire. He is built for this type of cycling. His heavier, steel frame, longer wheelbase, and wider section tires make for a more comfortable ride over longer distances. Weather permitting (that means no rain), I’ll switch out the wheel set to my newer Shimano RS61 equipped with narrower 25 mm tires. These wheels are faster, roll more smoothly, and quite frankly are a treat to ride.

So, Chas and I have not been idle. Both he and I are better prepared for this century ride than we have been in previous years.

I’ve come full circle …


In 1980 I purchased an English, bespoke, steel touring frame, hand crafted by Chas Roberts of Croydon, England, the son of Charlie Roberts, founder of Roberts Cycles, one of the finest bespoke frame shops in the country.

I subsequently named the bike Chas, not after the frame builder, but rather my father whose name was also Charlie. Those of you who follow this blog know that I still ride Chas regularly. He has been rebuilt several times, first as a touring bike, then a road racer, and now as a bike to train on.

Chas Roberts is on sabbatical and has temporarily (I hope) suspended operations.

I purchased Chas from a fellow named Michael Barry who, at the time, owned a bicycle shop in downtown Toronto called BicycleSport. A black and white decal with the shop’s name and address is still affixed to Chas’s down tube. Michael is an ex-racer from England, and his shop was a cyclists’ candy store carefully displaying top end components from Cinelli, Campagnola, and other elite component manufacturers. The shop was close to the university where I was teaching at the time, and I would drop in frequently on my way home.

Michael Barry also made frames. Shortly after opening the shop he introduced a bike brand he named Mariposa. His frames were beautiful but, because I mistakenly thought he was new to the business, I preferred the Roberts. He named the brand after cottage country north of Toronto, an area now known as Kawartha Lakes where my family cottage is.

Can you see this circle yet?

After 30 years of operation, Micheal closed BicycleSport and ended the Mariposa tradition.

Micheal Barry had a son, Micheal Berry Jr. You may have heard of him? He is a retired “domestique”, racing with the likes of Team Sky, T-Mobile, US Postal, Discovery Channel, and the Saturn Cycling Team.

I was given a copy of the December edition of the Canadian Cycling Magazine for Christmas. It’s the one magazine I read cover-to-cover, including all of the advertisements. The feature article of the issue is entitled “A Family’s Tradition” written by Michael Barry Jr. The headline reads “After years of racing abroad, a son’s passion for cycling now picks up where it began, at home in his father’s shop“.

You got it.

Michael Barry Jr, and his wife Dede (Demet) Barry, time trial Silver Medalist from the 2004 Athens Olympics, have resurrected the Mariposa brand, continuing the long standing family tradition of crafting custom frames for randonneurs, racers, and tourists.

I need a new bike. Well … I would like a new bike. No cyclist needs a new bike, but every cyclist would like another bike.

I would like a Mariposa bike.

It just makes sense. It is meant to be. The frames are made by the son of the fellow that sold me my first bespoke bike, and taught me the intricacies of bike geometry and fitting. And not only that, the bikes are named after the very place I enjoy most – the cottage at Mariposa.

The Mariposa shop is located on the east side of Toronto, close to where I used to live. Next summer, while at the cottage, I will visit the shop to place an order for a new, bespoke, steel frame.

I just have to decide what style of bike I would like.

You see. I have come full circle.

First ride of the year …

2016 began the same way 2015 ended, only longer.

Chas and I did a 80 km workout around the city enjoying the cool but clear weather, stopping at our favourite watering hole, JJ Bean, for a customary, mid-ride coffee and wrap.

I can think of no better way to start the year.

Chas’s new drive train and tires stood the test of several lengthy climbs and fast descents. He is a wonderful ride despite his 35 years. His steel frame and new, wider 28 mm tires make a big difference on the bumpy city streets and bike paths. A steel steed. I feel like I could ride with him forever.

We are quite the pair, Chas and I. Long past our prime but intent on being outside, continually challenging ourselves, and discovering new roads to share. I think we have a long trip left to make, one last epic ride to places we have never seen before. But that is for another time.

Today is about a new start, and new possibilities. Chas and I re-traced a familiar route but in a new way. He was better dressed with his new chain, cassette and tires. And I start this new year with a more open mind. I am finished with work. Retired. I’m not certain what that may look like. All I know is that I am looking forward to spending even more time with Chas, Lou, and Thatch. We have a few trips and cycling events planned but I’m open to new possibilities. New places. New people. New challenges.

Today I was introduced to Kajsa Tyler, a young British woman set on breaking the women’s world record for the Furthest Distance Cycled in a Year. The current record (29,603 miles) was set in 1938 by Billie Dovey on a 3-speed bike. Think about that for a moment. 29,603 miles. That’s 47,641 kilometres – 131 km each and every day for 365 days. That is a lot of cycling.

Setting a new world record is certainly not on my Cycling Bucket List but Billie and Kajsa are an inspiration for us all.

I’d like to make a toast. Here is to a new start. Happy pedalling and may the wind always be at your back.


Christmas gift ideas …


I have read several posts recently with gift suggestions for cyclists. They have been interesting, even helpful, but I do something a little different.

I love getting cycling stuff for Christmas. Unfortunately, most of my family have no idea what I may need, or like. And, I don’t want them spending a lot of money. Cycling stuff is expensive, if you haven’t figured that out already.

I have some preferences. The Louis Garneau apparel fits me really well, better than other brands, and it’s a Canadian company. Eh!  And ProBikeKit (a candy store for roadies) sells all of the consumables I need – chains, cassettes, brake pads, tires, wheels, cranks … Every year, at the start of December, both of these retailers have an on-line sale. A real sale. Selected items are discounted 50-60%. Really! Some may be last year’s stock, but who cares. So, I go shopping, and purchase items I need (or want).

This year, I bought a pair of bibs that match the Team Europcar jersey I purchased last year at this time, an Ultegra 6700 chain and cassette for the Roberts, Vittoria 28mm training tires for my winter wheels, neoprene booties, another road helmet (I try to turn them over every few years as recommended), and waterproof gloves. Then I put these items in a big plastic bag, unopened of course,  and tell my family if they (or Santa)  needs a present for me, all they have to do is rummage through the bag in my cupboard. I never look in the bag again until after Christmas, so I still have a modicum of surprise. If there are items left, I gift them to myself for the New Year.

I get what I need, still have surprises, and save everyone money. In case you are worried, I do get other presents.

Happy shopping 🙂


Grey skies can’t darken my day …

The weather has changed. The high pressure system that brought clear skies, and cold temperatures, has given way to a moisture-filled low that is threatening rain and warmer temperatures for a week. Maybe longer. Never mind.

Grey skies can’t darken my day.

I cycle rain, or shine. You see, for me, a day without a ride is a day without sunshine. It’s my time. We all need my time. Right? Time alone to get our thoughts right. For me, I do that best on my bikes. My mind clears. Problems dissipate. Solutions emerge. At the end of a ride, I am renewed. Strengthened in a way not possible otherwise. It’s moving meditation.

You see, I have this daily ritual. I do laps on the seawall and perimeter road in Stanley Park doing 35-50 km depending on how I’m feeling that day, what bike I am on, and the weather. When it is warm, and I’m feeling well, I’ll ride for 2-3 hours. Sometimes longer, challenging myself to faster climbs, and riskier descents. When it is windy and wet, I may only do 1 lap around the flat(ish) seawall.

And then, I stop for a post-ride meal. A veggie wrap, salad, and a black drip coffee. Every day it’s the same thing. Laps and a wrap.

You would think I might change things up. I do on the weekends, of course. I have several longer routes I enjoy but during the week the park is my place. It is close to the office. Close to the house. And, connected by a traffic-calmed bike pathway.

“Can’t you at least eat something different once in awhile?”, you ask.

No. I can’t!

“Can’t you try another route just once?”, you ask.

No. I can’t!

You see, this is my advanced health formula. It boosts my immune system. I’m seldom ill. It increases my energy. I accomplish a lot each and every day. I sleep soundly for 8-9 hours a night. My weight is managed. And, I have a positive attitude basking in sunlight, even when it rains. It is just part of my day. Part of getting to and from the office. I don’t have to make time for it. I don’t have to book a tee time. A court time. Or, make time for the gym.

I just do it. It’s involuntary, like breathing.

Chas gets a turn …


Chas and I went for a ride today. This is the last day of clear, but cold, weather. Rain and warmer temperatures are forecast beginning tomorrow.

It’s really not bad cycling in the cold provided you have the proper clothing. For me, that means a helmet cover to dissipate the wind, a balaclava, yellow tinted sun glasses to block the wind (and cold), a cycling specific wind/rain jacket over at least 2 layers, full-finger winter gloves, lined cycling wind tights, cold-weather booties, and heavy wool socks.

Last week I purchased a new pair of lined cycling tights – MEC Flyer Tights – that I can’t say enough about. The front panels block the wind, and repel light rain. The knees are articulated providing a full range of motion when pedalling. And, inside they are warm and cozy, perfect for winter cycling.

It was 2 degrees Celsius when Chas and I headed out. We don’t cycle as fast, or as far in this weather. I concentrate on maintaining a consistent cadence, and an efficient pedalling stroke. And, the scenery. It was beautiful by the water.

Tomorrow it will be much warmer. And wet. Thatch will get a turn tomorrow, and the rest of the week. And, I won’t be stopping to take many pictures.


New fenders …

It’s that time of year again. The rainy season. It is clear and cold right now, but that won’t last for long.

My commuter has a set of full length fenders, and I don’t mind riding her (Thatch) in the rain. As I have said many times, I enjoy it and view it as more of an adventure than anything else. The key is to stay dry and warm. Once I figured that out, my life changed. I generally don’t ride the road bikes, particularly the Garneau (Lou), in the rain. But I do go out when the roads are still wet after a rainfall, usually taking the Roberts (Chas). When the roads are dry, all of the bikes get a turn, but I digress.

I need fenders for the weekend club rides. When you are tight on someones’ wheel, you don’t want to wear wheel splatter on your face. And, you don’t want the dirt and wet to spray up your back. Do you?

I wanted a pair of fenders that were easy to install without bolts and wrenches that I could, when necessary, quickly switch between the Roberts and the Garneau, between Chas and Lou. I came across the SpeedEZ Road fenders from Planet Bike in my local bike shop. They mount on any bike with 700C tires up to 25 mm in just minutes. No bolts. No wrenches. Just a little patience. More than I had initially 🙂

I have them on the Roberts right now. It took a ride or two to get them properly centred over the tires without rubbing. There is a trick. There always is a trick. But once I understood symmetry, and put my glasses on, it was easy 🙂

Sawdust and bikes don’t mix | 5 Day Story Challenge


Several years ago, I converted what was a small garage into a large bike workshop. I had no use for the garage. It was too small for my “truck” and only collected things. Things I was simply too lazy to discard.

This was no small project. First, I had to plumb and reinforce the west wall. Then, I had to rewire for the electrical for lights, extra plugs and an outdoor motion sensor light. It needed more natural light, so I added a large sliding window in the east wall. And, I needed the space to be more secure. I installed an overhead metal door at the back and replaced the wooden entrance door with a wider, and taller, metal one so the bikes could be rolled in and out more easily. It had to be insulated so I could work outside all year round, and to prevent the tools and bikes from rusting. I created storage space in the newly formed attic (I couldn’t discard everything), and then put up wood panelling in the new room.

I’m proud of this space. It’s my space. It has a small beer refrigerator, an old stereo, and room to hang 6 bikes, a 30-year old hand-make work bench, and my canoe (a 50 year old relic).

I tell you this not to make you jealous (I know a lot of you do not have a proper place to store and work on your bikes). No, I tell you this because I have out grown the space. Well, we have outgrown the space. You see, it’s not exactly my space any longer. I share it with my son, and a few of his bikes. I don’t mind that. In fact, I enjoy it. We share a lot of quality time in the shop working on our bikes. No. That’s not the problem.

You see, my son has taken up wood working. He has always been gifted in this regard, and has hand crafted many beautiful pieces. Now he wants to take on even larger projects. And, he needs space. He doesn’t have any where he lives.

Do you see the dilemma? Sawdust and bikes don’t mix. I need 2 shops. One to work wood, and another to store, maintain, and build bikes that is free of sawdust.

I have space in the yard.


Right next to the garage there used to be a car port. I ripped it down years ago and reclaimed the space for a small, raised vegetable garden and sitting area. Fortunately, I left the cement pad and footing intact. This 12′ x 20′ area is the perfect size for a bike studio, don’t you think?

I’m at the conceptual stage. I have some ideas but I’m looking for more. I know some of you have architectural design experience. And, some of you have bike workshops. I’d like your advice. What is the best way to lay the space out? How large does it need to be? How can it be integrated into the yard?

Here are several backyard studio designs that have caught my eye.

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 9.56.54 PM Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 8.26.54 AM Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 8.31.34 AM

Tell me what you think. What features do I need? How large does it need to be? Should it face north into the yard, or west facing the garage?


Becky of Restart Urgently Needed nominated me for this challenge. She wanted to hear more about my bikes she said. Thank you Becky 🙂 I have to write 5 posts about my bikes and, with each post, nominate another blogger to accept the challenge. 


With the first post, I nominate Ellie (A Writer’s Caravan) for the 5 day story challenge because I would love to read how music has shaped her life. And, I want to hear more of her music.


With the second post, I nominate Bri (Bike Like Crazy) for the 5 day story challenge because I would love to read more about cycling in cold, and snow. Bri is an inspiration to all cyclists.


With this third post, I nominate Gail (a bike for all seasons) for the 5 day story challenge because I would like to learn how she has been changed by her cycling project – an experiment to cycle more and use her car less for a full year.  


With this fourth post, I nominate anyone interested in relating their studio space  story, and it doesn’t have to be for bikes.  I want to hear from you. What works. What doesn’t. What feature do you like the best. The worst.

Bike Chat | Triples


Chas: “Hey Thatch, do you mind if I ask you a question?”

Thatch: “What?”

Chas: “You have 3 chainrings. Lou and I only have 2. Why’s that?”

Thatch: “Is this the first time you’ve noticed?”

Chas: “No. I was embarrassed to ask.”

Thatch: “Don’t be. The third, much smaller chainring gives me a really, really low gear, a “Granny gear”, so I can climb long, steep hills even when hauling a heavy load. I’m a climber. I may not be fast, but I’m a climber.”

Lou: “I’m the climber, and I don’t need 3 chain rings.”

Thatch: “Well, that’s true. You guys have compact cranks. Your top gear is higher than mine, so you can go faster, but your low gear is almost as low as mine. Not quite, but almost. This means you can also climb pretty well, but I can climb even when the panniers are loaded.”

Lou: “What’s a pannier?”

Chas: “Now I get it. You are like a pickup truck. More powerful. We’re like a sedan. No. A 2-seater sports car. Thanks.”

Look. Look. No hands.


I have marvelled at Chasing Mailboxes‘ photographs, and wondered how she supported her bikes in her photographs. Yesterday she shared how. She uses her helmet.


I have been carefully resting Chas and Lou against something – a table, tree, chair, fence – anything that could support them while I took their picture. The support, no matter what it may have been, became an integral part of the composition. Sometimes this worked. Other times, I have been disappointed. Now, I have an alternative.


This is such a simple idea. No wonder I didn’t think of it 🙂

Chas and I went for a training ride this afternoon. 45 km. 2 laps around the park. A long climb. A fast decent. A lot of rollers. And, several stops for pictures. Different pictures. Pictures I didn’t think I could take.


Now all I have to do it figure out how to use the self timer on my iPhone. It can’t be difficult. Right? Then I can put myself in these shots like Chasing Mailboxes does so well using her helmet to hold her camera.

Another clever idea 🙂

Chas: “Why don’t you think of these things?”