Showing posts with label Cycling in Winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cycling in Winter. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Winter Cycling Sausage Party

I am truly at a loss for words with this one. Enjoy:

Yer Pal,

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Brave. Fallen. Failure. Hero.

Hi all, hope yer brains are holding up. It ain't easy, I know. My workplace is considered "essential", so I have been going to work every day, which is a slightly scary blessing compared to staying home for me. Speaking of blessings, being a winter cyclist is a great blessing in these difficult times, as I  am sure many of you can attest.

We finally got a nice amount of snow a few days ago, and the kindness of strangers prompted to make the following video. Hope you like it!

Yer Pal,

Sunday, September 13, 2020

The Spinny Bits

After mentioning that my Fat bike had become my number one commuter, of course I ended up riding my "skinny" (32c) tired bike for a few weeks and man, has it ever been good. It's almost like I enjoy riding bikes no matter what type; go and figure! The reason for the switch was that I was getting the fat front wheel rebuilt on a Hope Fatsno hub. The rear had been Fatsno'd a year ago. Over last winter I found that the front hub, which was fine above freezing, was still gumming up and dragging when things got cold, but the rear spun really well in all temps.

The build was delayed by the fact that Outspokin' Cycles was having trouble getting black spokes in the size required - I guess all things bike are in high demand these days. Anyway, they called me up with the problem and seemed rather shocked when I said silver spokes were fine - this bike was pretty well colour coordinated you see. However, I told them it was a work horse not a showpiece (they should have known that from how dirty it was). It is kind of liberating to just give over to utility and forget beauty, just go with function over form. Anyway, I now have a bike with one silver-spoked wheel:

This bike was an entry-level one with decent components but cheapish wheels. The wheels are still not high-end; the rims are heavy and couldn't do tubeless if I desired it - but given the way I'm using it, as a winter commuter beast, that's fine. I'm not going to get stranded in the wild should I suffer a flat and I'm no racer. It seems to me that if I'm gonna spend money improving such a bike, it makes sense to improve the spinny bits (hubs and bottom bracket) above all other things. After all, a bike that rolls and pedals beautifully can be forgiven most other shortcomings.

Keeping this thinking in mind, you won't be shocked that I have replaced the bottom bracket with a nice "nuke proof" brand one:

Ironically I suppose, it is colour coordinated! At time of purchase black was out of stock and the bike was still all matchy-matchy so blue seemed cool. The previous bb had been functioning fine except for a little creak that was driving me nuts. I tightened and greased and re-set a couple times, but still creak creak creak. I had to stop it. Fat-specific bbs are hard to find and stupid expensive when you do, so I just got a bb designed for a normal mtb and fitted the old plastic tube that runs between the cups to the new stuff. I wasn't a perfect fit (one side wasn't fully snug around the little gaskety thing), so I tried to make up for that by jamming tons of grease into everything. It should be fine and all spins in that lovely satisfying, silent and smooth way that good bike bits do.

Left to do is fire a new chain on there and finish decking out the butterfly bars I mentioned last time. The handlebar thing is gonna require a whole 'nuther post because you know, EVERYBODY wants to hear every excruciatingly unremarkable detail. 

About the chain though, I do want to say this: If you're riding in winter, fork out the dough for chains with some rust resistance from nickel plates or similar. I like sram chains and asked a bike shop to use one last time but didn't think to specify the more expensive type, since I usually replace my own chains. The cheaper chain they used got this awful rust/lube combo all over my bike as I just slopped lube on the chain all winter as I usually do. Please don't judge - maintaining a drivetrain in winter is not easy.

Be good, Be safe, and don't lose yer shit. Everything's gonna be ok eventually.

PS - I have a photobomber who is sneakily working against me. Mr Big Toe, who I edited out of the previous pics:

Sneaky little bugger! I'm gonna have to keep an eye on that thing!

Friday, November 8, 2019


Earlier I posted a lovely picture using Instagram, mostly because Insta lets me easily shoot it to Twitter and Facebook at the same time. Trouble is, Insta crops the image into a near square.

Here's the wide version:

Ah, much better.

Yer Pal,

Friday, February 1, 2019

Super Duper Bike Melt Tray-O-Rama

I've been bringing my bike indoors when I get to work, partly for security and partly so the hubs thaw out and roll better again for a little while. When it is covered with snow and muck and slush, I've been leaving it in a hallway where the public does not come or go, but some of my co-workers do. Although nobody has complained yet, I was feeling guilty about the puddles and dirt being deposited on the floor.

Enter the Super Duper Bike Melt Tray-O-Rama!


3 boot trays
Duct tape

I taped this together last night, folded 'er up and brought it in on my rear rack today:

Conscience eased, and with so much super duper style I can hardly stand how cool I am. I was pretty awesome before, but now I think I am fully justified in being downright insufferable.

Yer Pal,

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Cold Snap Riding

This morning I broke my previous record for cold weather cycling by 1 degree C, making my new coldest ride temp -24C (-11F). For some cold weather cyclists this is of course child's play, but I am pleased nonetheless. In truth, last night's commute home was much tougher. The actual temperature was -19 but with headwinds gusting to 60km/h (37 mph) it was very difficult and very cold. My rides in these colder temps have been made worse by hubs with grease that kind of freezes or congeals when temps drop below -16C or so, making the bike ride like its got a stuck brake or something. Advice on how I should service the hubs (cartridge bearing type) for next year is welcome if you have some. For now I'm bringing the bike inside so the hubs free up at least for the first half of my commute, before they get cold again. I suppose it is also possible that the grease is OK but some metal in the hubs is contracting too much in the cold... I'm tempted to build/buy a set of winter wheels that would match hubs up to the challenge with my Studded Jumbo Jims, which are performing wonderfully by the way.

Speaking of performing wonderfully, I took the advice of some of my dear readers and spent some money on a good front light: a Moon Meteor Storm Lite. 

This thing is BRIGHT (1100 lumens claimed, and it looks like it really might be), charges with USB and holds that charge reasonably well even in these frigid temps. The mount is also of higher quality, which I suppose it should be with the light's chunkier weight and price. I paid almost $80 CAD for it. If not for advances in LED tech a light this good would have cost hundreds not that long ago. I always use it on steady, at the highest brightness setting, since I don't need to stretch the battery life at all for it to stay bright right through my short commute.

I guess that is it for now; stay warm, be well and I hope to see you again soon!

Yer Pal,

PS - I ain't received nuthin' from nobody for my kind words about any bike products mentioned here.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Sewer Hole!

Obviously I have not been writing much. That is bad. I have, however, been riding my Fat bike to work and back most days, which is good! Very good, really. They may not be for everyone, but for post-stroke me this well-equipped fat bike is perfect. People ask me if it is slow. The answer is yes, but not as slow as one might think. If I were more fit, it would be even faster. But speed is not the thing when I'm on this rig. I go from ice to hardpack to mud to powder to shortbread snow making almost no adjustments as I go. This thing just rolls over it without reacting much at all... it is weird and wonderful.

It is wonderful enough that it induced me to stray from the path the other day, with hilarious (at least I think) results. So, without further adieu, I present for your viewing pleasure, "Sewer Hole"!

Yer Pal,

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ice + Studded Bike Tires = BIG FUN!

So far the new fat bike has been terrific. I need more snow though. Anyway, I made a video about ice and stuff! Watch it! Love it! Love me! Looove Meeeeee...

Yours In Creepy Online Neediness,

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Catch Up

I've been busy, so here's a little catch up post! How are you? Good? Good. The King says hi...

Now, since we're playing catch-up, those leaves have fallen and snow has begun here in London Ontario. There hasn't been enough snow and ice for me to really test my new winter machine, but so far it has been great!

I got those Jumbo Jims studded and pogies on! Wooo Hooo!

And last, a pointless anecdote: When I was little I and my friend Darren would walk to school together, most often trailing behind my big brothers and sisters, who would turn back and yell "catch up", to which Darren and I would reply "Ketchup"? and laugh our heads off at our total cleverness. In Canada, catsup is spelled and pronounced "ketchup". This leads me to a question: Is catsup catsup all over the USA, or do some yanks say "ketchup" too? Thankfully the three people who still visit my poorly tended blog are American, so I may get my answer.

Those of you who enjoy winter riding, congrats, I hope you enjoy it as much as I plan to! If you are from southern climes where you ride without much trouble all year long, up yours. I mean it, you lucky buggers.

Yer Pal,

Friday, January 9, 2015

Things People Say Fridays #15: Yeah, Buddy!

Wednesday of this week was a pretty snowy day in London Ontario, pushing the limits of my relatively skinny tires in the morning and exceeding them sometimes on the way home. I tweeted something after my ride/walk home on Wednesday evening:

At the time I had just arrived home having seen many smirks and even overhearing some mildly derisive comments, so you can understand. However, now that a little time has passed I have remembered someone who was much more positive about my winter cycling efforts:

I am a firm believer that somewhat wild looking dudes with snow and ice in their beards are more likely to speak deep truths than the rest of us. I mean, if you're not going to listen to this guy, who are you going to listen to?

Not actual "yeah, buddy" guy. I was unable to get a usable image from the video. I thought this might do instead. pic source

Thanks, bearded cycling brother. You get it, and that's enough for me.

Yer Pal,

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lost In Translation

I've never been much of a picture guy. That is to say, while I obviously like sharing pictures and video, I have always preferred to fully immerse myself in the nice things I see and do rather than distract myself with taking photos of them. For this reason, leaving a video camera running on my helmet is perfect, since it is passive and requires nothing from me while it is running. I get to capture stuff and immerse myself in the good moments. This approach, however, is not without its shortcomings.

Today was the first day in London Ontario when some snow accumulated and stayed. The bike path along the river was beautiful on my way in to work, with snow seeming to top even the most delicate of branches. It was like riding through a poem.

Eager to share how great it all was, I brought up the video a few moments ago, hoping to grab a snippet or a still image that might show why I was so blissed out.

What I saw however, was a grey wet snowy morning from a bicyclist's point of view. The trees looked nice, sure, but the grey sky and slushy sounds made it all seem kind of cold and miserable. My reality in the ride was anything but; I was warm and comfortable and having a wonderful time, on my way to work of all things!

I probably won't change my approach, but I'm gaining an even greater respect for all the careful photographers out there. You are trying to capture things such that you convey as much of their wonder and beauty as possible... thanks for that. This morning I wish I had stopped to try and do the same, since so much was lost in translation.

The Snow Has Arrived! Yay!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Just One Day Ago - Snow!

I had been debating with myself whether or not to put away the bike with studded tires and start riding Summer (the awesome (as in best in the world) fixed gear) again, until two days ago when it cooled back off and we got a few inches of snow. It was great though! The paths had melted clear before it came and so were totally ride-able after, making for some of the most pleasant cycling I've done in a long time.

I felt sorry for the robins. I swear those little harbingers of Spring don't like standing in the snow, because there were abnormal numbers of them hanging out on the bare patches of the path. They seemed to be asking me for some explanation...

Sorry, gotta zoom in. Robins don't speak human very loudly, because they're, like, small and, like, birds:

I don't know why the little jerks were blaming me. All I could say was, "I know, right? Snow? This suuucks!" I was being insincere with the robins, however, because in actuality I was enjoying the snowscape a great deal.

The snow liked me a lot too, sticking to whatever it could. The bike ran surprisingly well considering all the crud that was frozen to it:

That snow is mostly gone now. Hope you're happy, robins*.

Yer Pal,

* italics in this case are meant to denote a sarcastic, sneering tone. Is that how you took it?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

SO CLOSE to open bike paths - Can't Wait.

Note: Fooling people is against my new found Spirit Guide's* teachings, so here's a straight-ahead normal post despite the date.

I am aching to get off the dirty crowded pot-holed streets of London Ontario and get onto the dirty uncrowded more peaceful MUPs that run along the Thames river.
I did a test run through a short section yesterday. SO CLOSE. Urgh. If I had fat tires, I might have even tried to stick it out. On my current winter bike, however, it was just a little too much hassle to do for longer than necessary:
Some say the City should plow the MUPs in winter. I go back and forth on that one. Right now I say the stupid Sun should finish its work on the paths and let me use 'em. Get crackin', ya damn life-giving local Star! I mean, I'm waiting here! Jeez! 

Yer Pal,

* I don't have a new found (or any) spirit guide! Fooled ya, suckas! Hah!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Right Gear: Essentials for Winter Cycling

First off, hi! Long time! How have you been? Uhuh... yeah... how 'bout the kids/dog/fish? Some winter we're having, eh?
Speaking of the winter that refuses to end, I have been riding my bicycle in it. I had a spell where I kind of stopped, but thankfully I've been back on the saddle for a few weeks and loving it as always.
Anyone who has come across the right bit of gear can attest to the fact that it can make a big difference to your enjoyment of any physical activity. In my case, I got tired of being attached to my pedals in dicey icy snowy kooky road conditions, and I've gone back to a cleatless, "normal" shoe and pedal for winter riding. Finding just the right thing proved very easy. Like so many romantic comedies prove, sometimes your heart's desire is right in front of you the whole time... you just need to see it!
So what is "essential" about an old pair of shoes? Nothing, of course. Because nothing is essential other than a bike and some attention to what hurts. If it freezes, cover it up. Whether you cover it with the sweetest bit of expensive bike gear or a chunk of tape don't matter none. That is essential. If you get my drift.
Yer Pal,

Friday, February 8, 2013

I Am A Disappointment

Many people are going through a big snow day today. London Ontario got it pretty good (but could have been way worse) too. I drove to work. Strangely, the people who tell me I'm crazy for riding in winter are a little crestfallen when they find out.
I used to take days like this as a personal challenge and would ride come hell or high water, but with the new winter bike and its narrower tires, I felt it would take too long. That bike, by the way, is working out beautifully and is probably my best winter ride so far. It just isn't quite as good for big snows, when I need some floatation from the front wheel. Fat Bike yearnings! ARG! NOT... PRACTICAL...TOO...EXPENSIVE... n+1!
It is bugging me some... a fellow winter rider I know cycled past my house and called "Hi Patrick!" from his big MTB as he went by. I was clearing snow off the car. Me sad now. Guess I should just grow up and shrug it off as the small thing it is, but it's hard for me. Nobody likes feeling like a disappointment, y'know?

Yer Pal,

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

-18 C , -0.4 F: At Least It's Winter

Coldest day so far this winter for me here in London Ontario. The ride in was great, but I overheated a bit, having been a little too enthusiastic in dressing for the first real cold day of the year.
I am jealous of those experiencing colder temps, mostly because I would like to break my record of -23 C. That isn't very cold compared to what some Canadians and Alaskans and others do quite regularly, but hey, a personal record is a personal record, right?
Mutant Winter IV is performing really well. Needs a rinse though. The bike thaws out and drips dry indoors when I am at work, but I really should rinse that salt and dirt away. I am, as always, being lazy. I drenched the whole bike  (especially the components, bolt heads and spoke nipples) with Boeshield before the snow flew and it is showing no signs of suffering at my lazy hands so far. I'm sure there is a limit to what it can take, though.
This is one of those days when coworkers see me in my bike stuff and instantly proclaim "you are CRAZY". I like that very much. I think I'll just keep it up.
I am working on the TARATS video, but it is slow going. Thank you, entrants, for submitting your votes. The winner shall be revealed as soon as I can finish the thing. Stay tuned and enjoy the weather, wherever you are... all weather is fun, when you make a game of beating it.

Hey, I have discovered a pretty damned good page (and web site) on winter cycling for those who have an interest: Winter Cycling 101 . This was authored by a fellow Canuck who rides in Edmonton, Alberta. That is hard core compared to me, for sure, and this dude has a good overview written up.
Yer Pal,

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pretty Morning and Crazy Dog

As many of you are already aware, I have a helmet cam and I take video of most of my commutes. Over time I have developed a system for dealing with lots of mostly boring footage.
When processing video files it is easier if they aren't too big, so I stop and start the camera as I ride to avoid massive files. The thing is, I often couldn't remember if there was anything good on the cam when I hooked it up to the computer, and was stuck either deleting files because I couldn't remember or wasting precious time watching the clips from beginning to end.
What I do now is this: If I've ridden for a while with nothing interesting happening, I will reach up and block the lens with my hand for a few seconds before stopping the cam. If I have seen something I want to keep, I don't block the lens and sometimes I say something to describe what is on the clip. That way when I'm at home I just skip to the end of the clip to see whether I should delete it (blocked lens) or review it.
Believe it or not, all of the preceding stuff is only there to explain my comments at the very end of this unedited clip from this very morning. It was the first "cold" day in a while (-10 C) and I left early enough to stretch out my ride. It was a really great commute about 45 minutes long. The clip I'm posting here will give you a taste of how nice it was...

When I compare this kind of thing to driving to work, well, um, there is no comparison at all. If you drive a car every day, you gotta try this if you can. Really. 

Have Great Weekends, All!
 Yer Pal,

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Mutant Winter III Mutated into Mutant Winter IV!

Congratulate me, the father of a new mutant! Some might think you get used to spawning a new mutant after the first few, but let me tell you, they are so wrong! Every mutation is special in its own way. Some may recall that I put together yet another bike for this winter, Mutant Winter III.

When I wrote that post, this weird thing happened where somebody commented and I responded; it was cool:

Well, John's concerns about "the balance" proved to be more than warranted on this bike. Like I said in my reply, I thought it would be OK, but I was wrong. I don't know if it was related to frame being much lighter (alu instead of steel) or frame geometry or 700c wheels or what, but where the tub used to only lightly affect balance before, on this bike it made the ass end totally whippy and weird. Whippy and weird is not cool when you're riding on ice and snow. The 2nd best tub in town (sniff) had to go.

I got a rear rack for the bike and am using my Ortliebs with it. The rack I bought had no "deck", so I had to come up with a way to avoid the dreaded dirty stripe up the backside. Normal fenders are prone to snow and ice buildup between the tire and the fender, which I hate. The wacked out fender/rack setup I ended up with (zip ties, back duct tape and junkpile fender piece) leaves loads of room for gunk to fly or fall away:

And it shall be called the "rafender"!

I have ridden in lots of slushy snowy goop in the last little while, and the fender stays nice and clear while blocking spray very well. I was surprised that the panniers did not collect any appreciable amount of spooge either. This bike is really working out well so far.

I hope to get a little snow riding video processed soon. It'll be boring, but pretty. Like me.

Yer Pal,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Warranty / Customer Service Report / Mutant Winter III is ALIVE!

I am really happy with Chain Reaction Cycles right now. Remember how one of my new Schwalbe Marathon Winters had a cut in it? I said I would report on the customer service I got. The news is very good.

Here's the timeline:

Tuesday, Oct 16, 12:01 PM - I emailed CRC a filled-out warranty claim form (easily found on their web site) and a picture of the cut tire.

Tuesday, Oct 16, 12:02 PM - I receive an auto-reply from their "Warranty Team" saying that based on current volume I could expect a reply to my specific claim within 2 to 3 working days. Fair enough, I thought.

Wednesday, Oct 17, 11:04 AM (the next day) - I receive an email from a real person:

Hi Patrick,

Thank you for your email.

We are sorry to hear that your tyre is damaged. On this occasion we are sending you a replacement and there is no need to return the faulty item.
This should be dispatched within the next 24 hours.

We trust this helps.

Kind regards,

I had mentioned in my original claim that there was no way I had cut the tire by accident or anything. Still, I was super pleased that there wasn't any nonsense at all from CRC. They simply said sorry and were sending a replacement. Perfect.
Yesterday, Tuesday Oct 23 (one week after sending my first email) - The replacement tire is delivered to my house. No duties, taxes or shipping charges because they filled out the paperwork properly. I pay nothing.
Call me crazy, but 5 business days from warranty claim to complete replacement and resolution, from a company based in the UK (as in across the Atlantic Ocean) seems pretty stinkin' good to me.
Now, some would say that I simply got the good customer service we all deserve, and I suppose they would be correct. The fact is, however, that in my experience things rarely go this well and I truly appreciated it. I've been aching to ride this bike before real winter snow and ice comes, so that we're really good buddies by the time we need to trust each other.
I mounted the tire last night and rode Mutant Winter III to work today. I must say that after riding fixed all summer, gears sure are weird and fun! Here are some pics of this year's winter bike:

I decided to skip real fenders on this one (sorry, fellow fender freaks). The tires will clear their treads of snow better, and the clearances with this frame and the 35c tires were kind of tight anyway. I strapped a flexible plastic fender I had lying around to the downtube as a kind of crud guard for the drivetrain, and the rear rack / plastic tub blocks spray from hitting my bum or back.
I can't wait to see how the "skinny" 35c tires do compared to wider MTB tires. It is my hope they will cut through snow to find hard surfaces for the metal studs to grip. We shall see.

Yer Pal,

PS - I think I'll send the warranty people at CRC a link to this post. It is important to praise good work, especially if you want free reign to complain about just about everything else.