Monday, February 25, 2008

Winterlude fun

My friend Tanya (aka crazybikerchick) came up from Toronto the other weekend to take in some Winterlude fun.

We of course wanted to get around town by bike, but since only one of my many bikes is properly set up for winter cycling I decided to do what we did last winter and use the elderly CCM tandem and clean it up afterwards. As there was no snow in the immediate forecast and the roads were reasonably clear I did not swap the slick summer tires for knobby winter ones (like I did last year). And it was fine - I think the combined weight of a heavy tandem plus two riders helped keep the bike rubber-side down.

Saturday afternoon we headed to the Rideau Canal for a skate. It was a beautiful day with the temp. around -8C or so, which kept the ice from getting really ragged due to the many blades slicing it up. And on such a nice Winterlude day it's not just a matter of a lot of skaters, but more like a busy highway of skaters! (Along its 7 km length there might be up to 100,000 on at one time.) We got on at 5th Avenue and managed to find a spot so we could switch from boots to skates. On quieter days I'd just leave my boots in the change hut, but on such a busy day it's often prudent to bring the boots along. And this particular day it really paid off to do so...

Skateway freeway

Crazybikerchick (with my fave jester hat)

Part of the Winterlude thing is to chomp on a Beavertail. But of course the lineups at each hut are a bit lengthy...

Fortunately, each Beavertail hut is staffed with about 500 teenagers (the work environment resembles a giant beehive) and they turn things over fast. So we did not have to wait all that long for our chocolate / hazelnut 'Tails.

Skating back, and I wanted to get a photo of the Skate Patrol helping out an injured skater. I only realized afterwards that I also caught this guy wearing his huge boots! It's not uncommon to carry one's boots while skating, but these are the largest I've seen around someone's neck. One also occasionally sees people wearing a boot on each hand like a glove. This comes in very "handy" if one falls forward.

At one point Tanya stumbles and says "something's wrong with my skate", and we look down to see that the elderly molded plastic boot had shattered!

Now weren't we glad we carried our boots with us! So she walked and I skated and we got off the canal at the next set of steps and walked back to the bike. Later on we cycled down to Confederation Park to look at the ice sculptures.

There were big plans for the following day. An afternoon ski bike / toboggan party at the Arboretum, then the usual Sunday night HPVOoO pho dinner, then an evening bike ride with our various bikes all lit up. Well, that WAS the plan, but freezing rain set in about two hours before the first event, so that was canceled, as was the bike ride due to the nice glossy coating all over everything. But T. and I had time to ride the tandem over to Dow's Lake and walk around the goings-on there before the rain arrived. And yes, we had another Beavertail.

The tandem was fun as usual, though also sluggish and flexy as usual. It's the ultimate cruising machine though, and I'm glad Tanya is happy to ride in the back and let me "captain". She's an experienced cyclist, doing such things as 200km randonneuring rides in addition to her daily commuting, and it's not always easy to give up control of a bike to someone else.

Yes, the bike got rather messy and the salty slush was not going to be good for it (the bike was locked up outside overnight to prevent the slush from melting and dripping all over the bike). A pail of hot water rinsed off the gunk and a good wipe-down was done when the bike was finally put away.

Despite the rather crappy weather we had 20 people for dinner, and not one of us rode our bikes to get there due to the slippery conditions. Most walked or bused, which was a tad ironic as motor vehicle traffic kept the roads in perhaps better shape for cycling than the icy sidewalks were for walking!

(Photo by RGB)

Japanese Deep Purple

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

I Am Canadian

And since I mentioned Bill Shatner in an earlier post here he is, happy to poke some fun at himself.

Monday, February 04, 2008

RIP: Sheldon Brown

Official notice of his passing.

Sheldon Brown was THE Internet bike tech guru for many years. He worked at Harris Cyclery, a family-owned shop in Boston, and it was one of the first shops with a Net presence.

Among other things Sheldon put together a fabulous listing of bike tech articles, which became a standard reference. We did a bit of correspondence over the years, and I got a small thrill when I found that he had linked to my website, mainly due to my page on the Raleigh Twenty folding bike, of which he was a fan.

Sheldon's health had been suffering over the past two years, and he'd been diagnosed with MS. It was heartbreaking to read how he could no longer ride a upright bike, and even with his stable Greenspeed trike he could not ride as far as he used to. He talked about his travails in his journal, and he was posting right up until the final day.

Rest in peace Sheldon. You were an inspiration to far more people than you may have been aware, and certainly to me. I started my website because of people like you - people that so freely gave their knowledge to others. You will be missed...