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 🙂

I made a commitment …


Three years ago I made a commitment to myself. I committed to commute by bicycle throughout the year, not just when it is warm and dry, or when it suited me. I committed to cycling to and from the office every day regardless of the weather. No excuses.

Cycling was not new to me. After all, I had trained, toured, and even commuted for years. It’s just that when the weather got cold and wet, I would drive, walk, or take public transit. This time, things were different. This time, the stars aligned. I had a suitable bike, and clothing for all seasons. I could bring my bike into the office without fear of the ubiquitous bike thief. The office had a very casual dress code. There was a shower in the office to clean up, and change when necessary. And, there was a community of like-minded cyclists in the office.

What started as a one year experiment, turned into a three year adventure. Although I had cycled seriously for years, cycling became an indispensable part of every day. Every day I cycled 40 km, and very often, a lot more. It is only a 5 km trip to the office in the morning but a 35+ km workout on the way home.

There are the obvious benefits. I saved money on gas and parking, managed my weight without much effort, and spent more time outside.

And, there are unexpected benefits.

I didn’t expect to become a much better cyclist. I guess I thought I was good to begin with. Today, I am more technically proficient. I pedal in circles without even thinking about it. I spin faster in lower gears minimizing the wear and tear on my knees. I climb, and descend faster. I shift easily, and often, maintaining a consistent cadence. I cycle longer, and farther. I complete centuries faster, and more easily than ever. And, the wind and hills are actually fun.

I take better care of my bikes. I need to. I depend on them. I’m a better bike mechanic confident installing and adjusting stems, saddles, bars, derailleurs, tire, tubes, wheels, chains, cassettes, cables …

I eat better. I eat to fuel my rides, not to feed insecurities. No meat. No fast food. No sweets. And fresh, local produce whenever possible.

I’m acutely aware of how inefficient the automobile has become, creating more problems than it has solved. Congestion. Noise. Pollution. And, the wasteful use of land for roads and car parks.

And, perhaps most importantly, I live more simply. I need less, but have more. What began as an experiment to cycle more has shifted my priorities.

Cycle commuting isn’t for everyone. I understand that. Some need a vehicle for work. Some live too far from their work. And, others are not able. But, as urban densities increase, there is an opportunity, no a necessity, to get more people cycling. Municipalities and local businesses have a part to play by providing the necessary infrastructure – bike paths, dedicated bike lanes, traffic calmed streets, end-of-ride change facilities, bike lock ups … A carbon tax and bridge tolls are being considered here, and if implemented, will spur commuters to look for alternatives.

What are you doing to reduce your carbon footprint?

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.”

Happiness is a new chain


I have been remiss.

Thatch: “I’ll say.”

Thatch has needed a new chain for awhile. It was easy to tell. She didn’t shift smoothly, and seemed to have lost power. On the weekend, I fixed that with a $15 chain.


I use a chain wear tool and usually do not allow my chains to get so worn. The tool is easy to use. You place one end between 2 links and drop the other end down. If it drops all the way down, as it does in the top picture, the chain is done. If it is unable to drop between the links, like in the second picture, it means the chain is new and good for miles of cycling.

If you replace the chain before it is fully worn, you will not have to also replace the cassette. I generally get 2 chains to every cassette. However, if you spin a fully worn chain for any length of time, you run the risk of damaging not only the cassette cogs but the chain rings as well.

There are several things you can do to prevent premature chain wear. First, and foremost, clean and lubricate your chain regularly. And secondly, don’t cross-chain. Not under any circumstances (but we all do).

What is cross-chainging?, you ask. It’s what inexperienced cyclists do. It is what elongates a chain quicker than anything. Cross-chaining is when the chain crosses the centreline of the drive train. In other words, when your chain is on the large chainring and large cog on the cassette, or the chain is on the small chainring and the small cog at the back.


Thatch: “Ooooooh! That hurts.”

You can easily tell if you’re cross-chained. The chain makes an irritating noise as it rubs mercilessly against the other parts of your drivetrain. As a rule of thumb, I change chainrings when the the chain is mid-point on the cassette.

How often do I need to replace my chain?, you ask. There is no magic number. To a large extent, it depends on the type of cycling you do, how well you maintain it, whether you cross-chain regularly, and road conditions. I would suggest you purchase an inexpensive chain wear tool like I have and check your chain wear every month or two.

Thatch: “That sounds like the smart thing to do. Why didn’t you follow your own advice?”

Just try it. I dare you.


Just try it. Just try and steal my bike.

Thanks (again) to Chasing Mailboxes, I discovered a trick to thwart would be thieves by simply passing my helmet strap through the front wheel and bike frame before clasping it. Sure. It is easy to remove. And, I would never leave the bike for long like this, but since learning of the technique, I have tried it twice. The first time, I had to quickly run into a neighbourhood store. I leaned Thatch against the front window so she was in full view the entire time I was inside. And, the next time, I was at my grandson’s soccer game. I was never more than 20-30 feet away from Thatch but rather than worry about her, I enjoyed the game knowing that a would be thief wouldn’t get far without me noticing.

This is another clever use of a helmet that I never thought of.

Thatch: “I’m not surprised.”

I wonder what other uses for the helmet I may discover 🙂



It feels like summer …


Sometimes the ride isn’t about speed, distance, climbs, or descents. Sometimes it’s the scenery. Sometimes, it’s overwhelming. On a bike you go slower. It may feel fast, but slow enough to notice more. We have been blessed in these parts with warm, dry weather recently. It feels more like summer than the second week of October. The trees have turned. The sun is warm. The skies clear. An indian summer 🙂


He was a Christmas present | 5 Day Story Challenge


He was a Christmas present.

A surprise gift from my partner 25 years ago. A hand-made, rigid mountain bike. Perfect for exploring the local lanes with my 2 young sons. Or, so she thought.

He has served me well, and like all of my bikes, has seen several reincarnations. In the beginning, we did explore the neighbourhood lanes with my sons, teaching them how to ride safely. When they were ready, we began cycling the trails in Pacific Rim Park. The park boasts a network of trails, including several lengthy climbs and fast descents, where you can easily lose yourself for several hours. And then, when they were ready, we progressed to the legendary trails on the North Shore. These are more challenging, more difficult, and for some like me, downright dangerous. At this point, the bike wasn’t enough. I needed suspension. We needed suspension. We now have a stable of hard tails and full suspension bikes suitable for the North Shore, Squamish and Whistler trails.

These days, my Christmas present serves a different purpose. He is equipped with a set of narrow, slick, street tires, a pannier rack, a decommissioned Brooks Professional saddle, and an assortment of used parts from other bikes. Now, he serves as a utility bike and commuter.

Chas: “Hey! That’s my saddle.”


I have put a lot of kilometres on him. Still do. He is my main ride throughout the work week, and in the winter, when the weather is wet and cold, I continue to ride him regularly. Chas and Lou don’t like wet.

Chas: “Hey. It’s not me. It’s you. You don’t like getting me dirty.”


We have shared some great times.

He accompanied my son and I to London, England for a month. My son had a trial with one of the top London “football” clubs. He was only 15 at the time, and I wanted to be with him, but needed something to do throughout the day while he was training. Every day I cycled throughout London and points north exploring every park I came across.

Thatch: “That was fun. I like going to new places.”

Another time, we climbed up to the Elfin Lakes, a popular hiking destination. It’s a long, steady climb up, and no place for a rigid MTB, particularly on the way down. I had my hands on the brakes all the way and could barely straighten them by the time we were down. The trail is rocky, and without suspension, it was a very uncomfortable, and dangerous, descent.

Thatch: “I’ll say. That was hard but I did it.”

Once we even cycled to Squamish, a popular, very hilly, 80 km route popular with road cyclists. It took us a long time. Four hours I think. The rest of the group were on road bikes and waited patiently. Or, so they said.

Thatch: “I think you liked doing it with me. My small chainring made the long, steep climbs easy for you.”

I have even flown him to the cottage several times to cycle the quiet rural roads. So, you see, he has been a good friend for a long time. Almost as long as Chas.

Thatch: “I’m not that old.”


Here he is leaning against a tree overlooking English Bay. His tree. The same tree he has leaned against for 20 years. When we first started stopping here to rest, enjoy the view, and exercise a little, the tree was a sapling, only a few inches in diameter. Today, it is wide around the girth, a bit like me.

Thatch: “This is my favourite place! Take note. I haven’t put any weight on.”

Unlike Chas and Lou, he didn’t have a name until recently. That’s because he isn’t a he. He’s a she. Her name is Thatch. An iron lady. Strong. Tough. Determined. Resolute.

Thatch: “That’s me. Not like those other two that can’t handle heavy loads, rough surfaces, and inclement weather.”


5 Day Story Challenge 

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. This time, I am nominating Ellie (A Writer’s Caravan) for the 5 day story challenge because I would love to read a story about how music has shaped her life.





Winter training …

Ugh! It’s almost winter. Damn!

For the first time since last winter, I wore my full-on winter kit yesterday – long sleeve wool top, waterproof helmet cover, jacket, gloves, pants, and booties. And, still got wet. Cycling in the cold and wet is an adventure for sure. Oddly, I like it. Well, I like it as long as there is a hot shower waiting for me afterward.

This video has several good tips for the winter. Like working on your weaknesses. For me, that’s climbing. I get up. Even long steep climbs. And, with good form. But I’m not fast enough. I need to work on my power and strength.

During the winter, I put a lot of miles on Thatch (Chas and Lou get a spin when the roads are dry). And, hit the gym frequently. Back on the spinner doing power workouts and intervals. And weights. That’s funny. Me lifting weights. I visited a website last night ( to see how strong I am compared to others.

Screen Shot 2015-10-08 at 9.05.50 AM

There are a lot of people out there a lot stronger than me apparently 🙂 And I thought I was doing pretty well.

A recovery ride …


The cruise ship season isn’t over yet. A floating hotel. I can’t imagine i would enjoy a vacation like this.

I need a rest.

I can’t remember the last time I had a rest day. The weather has been too nice. Perfect for cycling.

Chas: “Yesterday was too much for you, eh.”

Today was the first time a I felt like that in a long time. I still cycled 30 km but it was a recovery ride. No. It was a recreational ride. I stopped along the way to take pictures, eat lunch in the sun at Third Beach, go to the gym for a steam, and before heading home, stopping for a coffee at one of my favourite cafes.

Thatch: “That was fun for a change.”

Thatch and I took a leisurely ride home on the Seawall.


The wind was up, the tide out, the sky blue, and the sun warm.IMG_3731

This is the largest tide I have seen this year.


I counted 15 freighters today. For 20+ years I have stopped at Third Beach with a view of English Bay and count the ships. There never used to be more than 10. In recent years it has increased steadily. Is the port busier, or is there less capacity, particularly for the container vessels?


Boats. A lot of boats. This is a boaters paradise.


Yaletown stroll. The shores of False Creek used to be home to light industry. Now they are peppered with high rise apartments.


Steamed, shaved, and ready for a coffee. The club is on the route home. I often stop for a workout and a steam bath.


Bike Thieves …


I walked downtown yesterday.

Normally, I would cycle but I needed a haircut, and wanted to explore the new, flagship Nordstrom store without having to worry about my bike. You do have to worry about your bike downtown.


Look at what is left of this bike.

Look carefully. Look what was stolen. Handlebars. Stem. Forks. Brakes. Seat post. Saddle. And, wheels. The thief came prepared with a toolbox. You might think this bike was locked in a lane way out of sight. No. This bike was locked in the heart of the retail district on the busiest corner in the city. You would think that would deter anyone. Apparently not.

There are over 2,000 bikes stolen in the city every year. During the summer months, 8-10 are stolen every day. More bikes are stolen than cars. And, the numbers increase every year.

I have had 1 bike stolen in 30 years. And, that was a long time ago. I suppose you could say that’s not bad. Or, that I’m a fast learner. How do I do it? How have I outsmarted the thieves for so long? It’s simple. I don’t lock my bikes outside. I take them into the office and park them next to my desk. I take them into stores when I’m shopping. Or, if that isn’t possible, I leave them at home like I did yesterday.

Chas: “I would have liked Nordstrom.”

I’m fortunate. I work in an environment that encourages and supports cycling. If I couldn’t take my bikes into the office, I likely wouldn’t cycle. That is what has always stopped me before. It’s not the infrastructure. It’s not having a shower or a place to change. I haven’t wanted to worry about my bike locked outside, unattended. They are too easy to steal.

I do ride and lock Thatch at the gym where I workout. I’m ok with that. The bike lock up area is right next to the main entrance to the club, out of site from the street traffic. I never take Lou or Chas.

Thatch: “What’s that mean? You don’t care if I get stollen.”

I would be upset if Thatch was stollen. We have spent many enjoyable years together. It’s just she would be easier, and less expensive to replace. And, that’s the thing. The strategy.  Older, less expensive bikes are less likely to be stollen. I keep Thatch in good working order but she doesn’t get the attention that Chas and Lou get. She’s purposely nondescript.

Thatch: “Hey! Watch what you say. I look pretty good for my age.”