Thursday, May 11, 2006

Trikes and alternative tandems

The Duet
The Duet,
originally uploaded by pedalmaniac.
Today at work we had a "bike expo". Not the bikes you and I use though.
These bikes were for kids and adults that are less fortunate and can't ride bikes for themselves.
These bikes help those who don't feel the freedom of cycling as you or I would.
These bikes free kids from their wheelchairs.
I have more pictures on my flickr account where there are some close ups of some innovative adaptations.
Thanks to Freedom Concepts for the demo

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

North Shore Truck Driving "School"

I sent this letter to North Shore Driving School this morning in response to a close call I had with one of it's charges.

Dear Sir or Madam
I would like to report an incident that I believe was dangerous and uncalled for.

This morning as I was riding my bike into work I was passed by one of your trucks just north of 1st avenue and Renfrew st at around 8:00 am going southbound. I heard the truck coming and thought that it would change lanes and pass me -- as the law states. The truck did not change lanes but it did pass me in the curb lane. As the cab came by I was forced to move to my right, into the door zone of the parked cars. I could have reached out and touched your truck at any time during it's passing me. At one point the rear wheels of the trailer were less than 30 cm from my handle bars. As the truck came to a stop I rolled up beside it and asked the driving instructor not to pass cyclists so close in the future and to ask his charge to do the same. The reply from you instructor was that I "was to move as far to the right as I could" and "what are we supposed to do?" I stated that he, as the driver of a truck, was to give me, a cyclist, the same care and attention he would give any road user, and that he "should have changed lanes to pass me." At that point the light changed to green and we were off again. This time I took more of the lane that was my right to have and your truck did not pass me again.

I guess I am worried for a number of reasons. First of all there have been a number of cyclists being killed by trucks, in Toronto alone there have been 6 this year. Secondly, this was a driving school truck, so there must have been some sort of instruction taking place. What worries me is that the instructor didn't seem to think it was a problem passing a cyclist in the same lane. So therefore he is not teaching proper road etiquette of for that matter following the law. If he is not teaching this student properly, how many others were improperly taught? Finally, it would seem that even though I have 25 years of cycling experience, I am still vulnerable to bad drivers, but more frightening is the thought of a novice cyclist being in the situation that I was in this morning. How would a less experienced cyclist have dealt with the situation? Would he/she have swerved into the wheels of the truck or into a parked car on the side of the road?

Trucks take up a whole lane, I don't think you will argue with that. Cyclists take up part of a lane, you probably won't argue with that either. So why was a truck and a bike in the same lane? It wasn't wide enough for both of us. I was at a disadvantage in terms of size. It was scary.

One final thought. Do any of your drivers ride a bike? It would be an interesting eye opener for them to commute to work by bike for a week.

Please, please, please teach your operators not to share a lane with a bike it is just too dangerous


John Henry Days

John Henry Bikes is a LBS that yearly has a weekend event that usually has a big bike expo tied to a giant sale. This year was a bit different, the expo was a bit smaller and there was no dirt jumping competition. Instead they had the Flowriders doing demos on Saturday. It was amazing. I thought I had seen enough of that stuff -- you know young kids flying though the air, defying gravity and the laws of physics -- but this was a bit different. The structures that the Flowriders use are quite spectacular. They are skinny, high and death defying -- in other words a good circus act.

The real reason we went was I had the kids all day Saturday and we had already been to dance class for T and had shopped for birthday presents for the requisite party on the weekend, and for the soccer coaches. We had had lunch and the rain had finally stopped, so we needed to get out. I had seen that JH was having a family scavenger hunt on bikes-- this sounded fun! A was pumped to do some riding and get a prize. T was happy to go along for the ride but prizes made it a bit sweeter.

With the clues in hand we began the quest for all the "treasures" on the list. After we found the first few and had plotted our course we quickly realised that this scavenger hunt was for older kids, not a 3 and a 5 year old. The 4th item required a huge hill ride up. We had already been to the playground, we had seen the horse, we had made friends with a giant dog, yes we could afford to skip a few. Next clue was the skateboard park, A was thrilled, he could do a few laps. Down the river across the bridge and we wrote our team name in the gravel field. By this time T was falling asleep on the Trail-a-bike and A had had enough riding. We had to skip another couple of locations and it was back to JH Bikes where we had to get some autographs and take some more pictures for the Hunt.

Finally with most of the questions answered we handed in our clue sheet to find that we were the only group to complete the hunt. The rain had thwarted all the other groups! We won! Tons of loot, happy kids, tired kids ... Happy Dad! Thanks John Henry. See you again next year.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ripper Recap Update

Some nice photos and results posted on

Monday, May 01, 2006

Ripper Recap

Well for my first race in about 15 years I was pretty happy. Thankfully it was a fun race -- although it was pretty competitive up at the front.

James from Dizzy Cycles organised a fun filled tough event that catered to a bunch of different riding styles.

The start was a LeMans style where we ran for about 100m to our bikes -- the funny thing was that as we walked to the start line after placing our bikes, the volunteers shuffled the bikes. SO after the gun went and we all ran to where we thought our bike was, it wasn't. I spent about 30 seconds looking for my ride -- hilarious.

After that auspicious start the fun and games were not over yet. Instead of riding up to Seventh Secret we rode to almost the second switchback and then rode a trail called Bobsled back down to the start line. This was humorous in that the superfast cross country dudes were endo-ing right, left and centre. I saw one guy on a beautiful Ti cross country steed endo twice in front of me -- the second time I passed him.

The next fly in the ointment was instead of riding back up the fire road up to the first switchback we did Roadside Attraction, which was rooty, slippery and generally a PITA.

Finally back onto the fire road and up, up, up. At the 4th switchback again the route changed and we ended up doing a hike-a-bike up to the fifth switchback.

By this time the field had thinned that I could see only one guy in front of me and nobody behind me. I decided that it might be a good idea to try and catch the guy in front of me, so I changed gear and put the "hammer down." By the sixth switchback I had caught the guy. He was on a light weight full suspension bike, and look his name was on his shorts. He was sponsored! Here I was on my 33 lb "freeride" bike with Flat pedals and I was passing him. Hmm, I realised at that point that something strange was happening.

There were a couple of other guys that I kinda could see up a head, but there was no hope of me catching them so I just got into a rhythm. At the top I quickly lengthened my forks and forgot to lower my seat. Part way down Seventh I realised that things were getting pretty squirrelly with the seat up so I stopped and had to lower it a bit. Then I continued on and realised that one of the guys in front of me on the ascent had handed off to his team member that I was about to catch. I really didn't think I was going down that fast.

A few minutes later I was fatiguing pretty bad, I was all over the trail and the focus was gone. That's when I heard it "track". Damn, someone had caught up while I was in my daze. It was a young kid, who I had thought was miles ahead of me -- but no -- he had changed bikes at the top, from a light XC bike to a full downhill rig. Hey that's not right! Anyway I got out of my fog and kept him in my sights for a minute or so and then I saw him falter! "Track" and I blew past him, only to find myself in the middle of a bolder field and no control. Then he tried to pass, but just then there was a bit of an uphill and I went anaerobic up it. At the top I looked over my shoulder -- he was gone. There I was again-- no one in front and no one behind. A few twists and turns down Griffin and there it was the finish line!

Hey where is everyone? I thought there would have been a few riders hanging around to cheer the rest of us on! And then it dawned on me "did I top 10?"

How could that happen?
I mean I'm the guy that recently turned 40
I'm riding a "freeride" bike that weighs 33 lbs with flat pedals
I haven't raced in 15 years
The only real training I do is commuting to work and back
There were 60 riders in the Solo category

Where is everybody?

Well it looks as though all that time off has done me some good. I sailed to a 6th place finish (overall) in the Solo category. Full results here

Not bad.

But as my wife says -- "don;t you think you set the bar a bit too high in your first race?"
Yes honey I do.

Thanks again to James and his staff at Dizzy Cylces, all the volunteers that made the race possible, and of course to all the other competitors that made it fun.
Thanks also to for the map