Tick Tock … 🤔

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This clock now hangs proudly in my den.

It was a birthday gift from my son several years ago. We hung it in the bike shop. That was appropriate. Right? Well, I don’t spend that much time there, particularly this time of year. What a shame. So, I moved it into the house, and hung it on the wall I face mostly while relaxing in the den.

I love this clock. You see, my son made it using chainrings – Suntour 52/42 – from one of my first road bikes. Back in the 80’s, Suntour was a popular brand used on mid-priced bikes. The company no longer exists, but in it’s prime produced quality derailleurs, and chainrings 😂at a reasonable price.

The clock got me thinking … 🤔

I have a lot of left over bike parts. Handlebars. Chains. Derailleurs. Wheels. Inner tubes. Tires. Cranks. What do I do with it all? Apparently, I can recycle the tires. That’s a good idea. I’ve seen sculptures made from chains, coat hangers from handlebars, and chairs from inner tubes. And, I see all of these components listed on eBay being offered up for someone else to enjoy.

At the moment, I have 3 SLK stems and Dura-Ace cranks with racing chainrings sitting on my TV stand. I’m trying to decide what to do with them. What better way than to have them in constant view. A constant reminder to do something with them. The stems are too long, and I no longer use them. And the Dura-Ace chainrings are too large for these parts. I have converted my road bikes to compact setups.

I could hang them on the wall as art. I love looking at them. Or, I could sell them. They are worth a lot of money. Then again, I could build another bike … 😂

Do you have other suggestions?

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I have a new helmet … 😂

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I have a new helmet. And beard.

Did you notice they match 😂

I smashed the back of my previous helmet during a high-speed crash last year, and needed to replace it. I have two other helmets but they are 3 and 5 years old respectively. Manufacturers recommended not wearing a helmet longer than 3-5 years. Apparently they disintegrate over time, and gradually become ineffective.

So, I began looking for a new helmet. I frequented all of the local cycling shops to try on every model I could find looking for the safest, and best fit. In the past, I was more concerned with the look and price of a helmet, careful to chose one that matched both my bikes and kits. This time, I was less concerned about these things. Safety, and fit were foremost in my mind.

I tried on everything ranging in price from $65 – $400 CAD. Not once. Several times over the span of a month or more. I would even take selfies of myself with the helmets on and share them with others who I thought could help me make a decision. That was a mistake. Everyone had a different opinion, and they were subjective having nothing to do with my priorities. So, I turned to the internet, carefully reading consumer reviews, and manufacturers’ specifications.

In the end, I selected the MET Rivale helmet. Without question, it is the most comfortable helmet I found. It is rounder than most other models, and seems to fit my head better. It also has high safety ratings, is well vented, and considered aerodynamic. You may even see it on TDF riders, including Mark Cavendish.

This is what MET themselves say about the helmet.

The specific shape of the Rivale enables a rider to save up to 3 watts at 50km/h: this translates to a 1 second time advantage compared to other similar road helmets.

The Venturi effect allows the maximum air intake with the lowest drag possible. Through air channels inside the helmet hot air is pulled to the rear exhausting vents producing a great cooling effect.

The Rivale is the new standard of aero.

Interesting 🤔 And I have been training to improve my power. All I needed was this helmet 😂

BikeRadar have a more impartial view. I selected the helmet because of the fit, and they seem to agree.

The Rivale’s shape is more rounded than most aero helmets, which met with approval from most of our testers. The internal padding is minimal yet well placed, and the retention system is impressive, combining lightweight soft-touch straps and a new version of MET’s Safe-T retention system. The micro-adjust dial offers plenty of circumference tensioning, and we loved the 4cm vertical adjustment on offer, which enables you to sit the cradle in just the right spot. The straps can occasionally tangle and twist due to their thin material, but that’s the slightest of niggles. – BikeRadar May 21, 2016

The helmet doesn’t move on my head. It tightens snuggly, and sits a little lower on my head where a helmet is supposed to sit. I didn’t know that. Did you?

The fact that it is more aerodynamic, cooler, and matches my beard  😂 had little to do with the purchase. It’s a good fit, and safe. That’s all that mattered this time around.

Oh yeah, it looks good, and does match my bikes and kits 😂

 

Is there a safer colour … 🤔

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Since my high-speed crash, I have been thinking a lot about cycling safety – the confidence fostered by dedicated bike paths, separated bike lanes, traffic-calmed streets, and, the increased visibility of florescent, reflective clothing popular these days.

I walked to the gym for a spinning workout yesterday. Without much thought, I placed my new runners and cycling shoes beside one another as I was packing up. They both feature florescent yellow-green markings.

Why is that? What is there about this colour?

Well, it has been proven to be the most noticeable colour, standing out from all backgrounds, and thereby making it safer for cyclists (and runners) to share the road with motorists. In that moment, I realized I frequently wear the most dangerous kit colours of all. Black. Black shoes, tights, bibs, jerseys, and jackets. I do wear some colour but no florescent yellow-green. None.

So, I had a quick look on-line at one of my favourite cycling apparel shops. Guess what? They feature numerous jackets, and jerseys that are florescent yellow-green.

Is it time for a new cycling kit 🤔

You guessed it.

I purchased a florescent long-sleeve, cycling jersey, and wind jacket. If nothing else, I am going to be seen on the road this spring.

 

Notes to my former self … 🤔

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Adele Archer introduced me to the idea of writing a note to my former self. She said it would be “a very cathartic exercise!”

If only I knew back then what I know today.

The above picture is of me, taken about the time I first became serious about cycling. I was an adjunct professor at the time, and had been cycling more seriously for several years.  I was concerned about my health, stopped eating meat and dairy, disposed of my car, and began using my bicycle as my sole means of transport.

So, what would I say to my former self 🤔

Yeah, what would you say?

Well, I’d begin with a discussion about cycling. There is a lot we could discuss but cycling will be a common thread throughout the remainder of your life.

We can start there. I love cycling but am pretty well informed already.

Really?

You are young, and you think you already have all of the answers. Well, you don’t. You have inconceivable hardships ahead, and a move you never imagined. So, pay attention, if you can.

First of all, be more patient. Don’t make dramatic lifestyle changes too quickly. It may seem easy for you, but very difficult for your friends and family. Remember, food is not only providing nourishment to sustain your health, it is also the focus of social events. You share food when you visit, and entertain. Don’t make it unnecessarily difficult for those around you. Take the time to explain why you are making changes, and involve them more in the process.

You are right about this. I have already seen the consequences.

Recognize that cycling is your sport. It is an integral part of your life now, and always will be. You’ll have a lot of opposition but persevere. For you, the benefits greatly out number any possible detriments.

What kind of opposition?

Friends that aren’t interested. Employers that don’t support bike commuting with secure bike lock-ups, and adequate change facilities. Municipal governments that have never heard of dedicated bike lanes, traffic calmed streets, or bikeways. I told you it wasn’t going to be easy.

Purchase the best bike you can afford, and always upgrade it with better components when necessary.

Find hills to climb. Think of them as your friend. They may be difficult at first but will make you a stronger, better cyclist.

I don’t mind hills. It’s just there aren’t many in these parts.

There are always hills. You just need to search them out.

Learn to clean, and lubricate your drive train. Do it regularly. It will reduce the wear and tare on your drive train. And while you are at it, learn basic bike maintenance. You need to be able to install a new chain and cassette, replace your brake and shifter cables, fix a flat tire, install new tires, true your wheels, replace a broken spoke, and re-pack your hubs and bottom bracket. Don’t worry. It’s not difficult, and there are a lot of resources available to help.

But bikes require specialized tools. And they are expensive.

That’s true but cheaper than a tank of gas every week, or annual car insurance.

You are not fast. You are built for endurance. Open water swimming, distance running, and road cycling are your sports. Accept you may never win a race, but will always finish strong.

That’s true. Runners and cyclists are always passing me on the road no matter how hard I try.

If you learn to train properly, instead of just going out for a ride when you please, you will get stronger, faster, and more confident.

How do I do that?

I told you. Find hills, and climb them repeatedly.

Purchase more than one bike. You need one for the roads. Maybe two. One to train on. The other for organized cycling events. And, you need one for getting around the city to commute, and run errands. You may even want a mountain bike to enjoy the trails as well.

How can I afford it?

Make bikes a priority. Instead of spending money on a car or public transit, invest in your bikes.

Live where the weather is suitable for cycling all year round. And where the municipal government, and local businesses are supportive so you have a safe commute on dedicated bike lanes, and traffic calmed streets, and at the end of the trip, a secure place to store your bike for the day.

Yeah! I hate the snow and ice in these parts.

Learn to dress for all weather conditions. The heat. The cold. The wet. Weather is no reason to stop cycling. You need a waterproof kit – booties, pants, jacket, gloves, and  helmet cover. And, learn the benefits of wool. It keeps you warm, even when its wet.

You are right. I need proper cycle clothing, especially those padded shorts. And spandex 😂

Build a bike shop. Find space in the basement or garage for your bikes. A place where you can store them out of the weather, out of site, and where you can work on them easily. This will encourage you to keep your bikes in good running order at all times.

What more can I say 🤔

What about women? My education? And, a suitable career? 🤔

Well, I have one last suggestion for you. Don’t procrastinate. Get to it! I waited too long, and don’t want you to make the same mistakes.

 😂

 

 

 

 

Back to work …

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Back to work. Back to commuting. Back to the gym.

This is the view from my office window. A container terminal. The local mountains. And, a busy sea port. It’s very different than the view from the cottage windows.

Gone are the daily, fast rides with Chas and Lou. Instead, I’m on my commuter cautiously navigating the city’s bikeways to and from the office with the usual lap (or two) in the park on the way home. I’m getting the miles in but they are not like the rides the boys and I  enjoyed all summer long. And, when it rains, and it has been raining a lot since I returned, I hit the gym and spinning bike. That’s different 🙂

Chas and Lou will get their turns but they will have to wait for the weekends. They aren’t used to that. I’ll ride them on the commute sometimes, particularly when I’m planning a workout on the way home.

There are hills here. A lot of hills. Some steep. Some long. They’re everywhere. The headwinds this summer have helped. The climbs are easier.

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I realize I do not have a name for my commuter. Names came quickly, and naturally for both Chas and Lou. My commuter needs a name. After all, I’m on him as much, if not more than the other bikes. Maybe he’s not a he. Maybe he’s a she.

She has been with me a long time. Not as long a Chas but nearly. She has had several looks. At first, a mountain bike with large, lumpy tires. Now, a city bike with fenders, a pannier rack, and slick city tires. I don’t just commute with her. I train with her as well. In all types of weather. Weather Chas or Lou don’t like. And she carries heavy loads. She’s tough.

She’s an iron lady. That’s it. Thatch. I’m going to call her Thatch.

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