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.

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.”

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 🙂


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.

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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.”