Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hidden trap

I don't usually come home through this large, central park but some after-work business had me cutting through.  A really nice diversion for a bit.
I came across a flat paved section that led into a well-trimmed grassy area.  As I approached the lawn I spied a leaf-covered path, and I thought to myself "Urban single track!" Just as I left the pavement for the path I found myself down on the turf!  Those leaves were innocently covering a very large hole that I hit like a wall because it was so deep.
It hurt, I can tell you that.
After I pulled myself together I took a couple of pics.  Doesn't this path look perfectly inviting and pleasant to you?
Looking back...

The beauty of this park marred only by the specter of a death-pit lurking beneath these leaves.

I didn't have any means of measuring it, but the hole went upto my elbow!
After the photos, I dug out the leaves and exposed it for all.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Almost done the rebuild

Adjusting the gears on the Sturmey-Archer 3-Speed was actually kind of tricky because the frame didn't accept the cable sheathing.  Nevertheless, with a bit of tinkering I got things going.  I'll tape the handlebars, add a bell and a rack and that's it!
Here's a cost breakdown.
Peugeot bicycle - $7 (its the frame I was after but I also used the bottom bracket, cranks, rear rim, entire front wheel and the stem)
New tires - $15 (didn't get the fat ones yet)
New tubes - $5
Sturmey-Archer hub - $90
Spokes - $10
New bearings - free
Bell - $9.00 (struck me as expensive but it supports the LBS)

Since I had everything else in parts, didn't go with the new powder coat, and did the work myself the grand total of a fantastic bicycle for my daughter is $136.  You'd get a lot less bike for that around these parts so I think I did pretty well.

Pics of the final product next.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Early Morning Ride

Long story short.  My good friend told me he was needing a goal - something to look forward to.  He had concluded that he would complete the hike to Base Camp (as in, Mt. Everest).  He's really trying to get me to join him for this.  It's not exactly on my bucket-list, but I'd consider it.

Nevertheless I suggest the Tour the Divide as something else he might want to consider.  "What's that?" he says.  "Wellsir, its a ride along the Continental Divide from Banff, Canada to the Mexico border," says I.
He seems intrigued but not having ridden a bicycle in at least  15 years I'm not certain I have him sold.

Shift to the next day.  My phone rings.

JD (my friend):  I'm just calling to tell you what you've started.

Wilson: ??

JD: I bought a bike.

Wilson: Awesome!

JD: I also told my two uncles about this thing and they're both in.

Wilson: (gulp).

So now I'm not sure if I am committed or not.  I'm not a mountain biker per-se (although I'd love to get a Pugsley!).
In any case he felt we needed to begin training right away, so the next morning we went on a 50k to the next town.
JD and his uncle.  The trailhead is just across the street.

At this point my light was working, but not for long!

JD trying to get his head around his first bike ride in 15 years.

My light had long-since konked out.  Sunrise about 20 minutes later was beautiful.

Almost home.  
The trail was decent.  I had not been on it before.  Did not meet anyone on the way out but passed several people walking dogs on the way back.

Apparently JD and his uncle are off on about a 30k ride tomorrow.  I had to pass because of other commitments.  We've a lot of training ahead of us if we are actually working toward the Divide.  100k a day is within my capability but I'm not so sure if you throw in the equivalent of scaling Everest 11 times.  I will obviously let you know how this develops.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Hiking the Bruce Trail

Got in a nice family hike last weekend.  We are fortunate to live right beside some of the best hiking trails for hundreds of miles about.  The Bruce Trail is hundreds of miles long but we managed to tick off about 2 miles of it.  Ha!  It's not that it was so difficult going that we only got in the two or so miles, but rather because my wife and daughter were continually looking for ways to scale the slope to the top.  It's extremely steep and one is not meant to go "up" but rather side-to-side, if you will.
Hallelujah about to head up the slope
Nevertheless my wife and daughter, undaunted by clear rock fall debris and extremely loose aggregate finally made it to the top.  I admit they found a safe-ish place to do that and I followed because they wanted to explore some farmers field (read: private property) at the top.

It's a lot steeper than it looks!

Neither my wife nor Hallelujah could get past this shelf, in fact they could barely get down. 

One of the first rules of climbing, "don't go up if you can't get down."

This tree was a rest stop from the steepness of the grade.

Mom and daughter coming down the escarpment the easy way.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nice sunset

Sun just setting over the escarpment and catching the tower in Battlefield Park.  This is an 1812 historical site.  They do re-enactments and such here.
I've seen the last of any kind of sunshine on my commute home for this year.
Stay safe out there in the dark everyone.

Friday, November 18, 2011

I built my first wheel!

I am pretty excited, let me tell you.
Last night I got the spokes and nipples for the wheel build and I figured it would make a fun weekend project.  Well, I pretty much couldn't help myself so I laced the wheel last night, and then trued it up the rest of the way today.

Here's the wheel...
Other than that the Sturmey-Archer three-speed hub is quite heavy and made things awkward, the whole build was actually not that difficult.  I expected to get a lot more frustrated.

At first I kind of messed up the lacing.  So I sat and stared at the pattern for about 20 minutes until the answer just came to me.  Like the guy in "A Beautiful Mind" it was like I suddenly saw the pattern.  I had the series slightly out of order.  Thankfully the fix was easy and didn't require me to disassemble the whole thing.

I originally wanted to use brass nipples but the LBS doesn't have any to spare right now, so I used stainless.  For my daughter's purposes I am pretty confident this will do just fine.  Perhaps one day she will rebuild her rebuild and switch them out.

The lads at my bike co-op loaned me a Park wheel true stand.  They're always a big help.  Cheers to them.

I must say that this is quite addictive.  I am certain that I will need to engage a new build as soon as this one is done.  Maybe I'll just volunteer more hours at the co-op.

Anyhow, won't be long now before I have the finished product.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sturmey-Archer Hub is finally here

The co-op got their order in and my hub was among the schwag.  I brought it home with me just so that I could show my daughter.  She will be excited and this is the missing piece of the puzzle.  Now, with the assistance of the fellows at the co-op I can begin to build the wheel.

I am glad I went with the coaster brake.  For a ten year old (my daughter) I think that this will be a more solid and reliable stopping option.

It is heavy, probably 5 lbs., but it's a cassette, derailer and brakes all in one little, slick package.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top 10 Reasons to Live in Minneapolis

I have had the privilege of visiting Minneapolis several times and I am always impressed by its beauty, diversity and friendliness. 
I don't think I'd ever find myself living in the USA but if I did, it would be one of my choices.
Here are my personal reasons why - I leave the 10th spot open for you to fill.
So, in no particular order here are the reasons I think it would be great to live in Minneapolis.

1. It's the home of some cool players in the bicycle industry - Surly, Park Tools and more.

2. It's the home of some great and innovative theological thinkers - Greg Boyd, the folks at Solomon's Porch, etcetera. This might not mean anything to others but I appreciate it (but that could be said for each of my points).

3. It is friendly to cycling and bicycle commuters.  I believe it just won the honour of friendliest bicycling city in the USA.

4. It has an NHL team.  I won't often pay for these overpriced tickets (in any market) but on occasion I will splurge and this is my sport of choice when it comes to mainline sport.

5. It is a small city, but still a city by any definition.  Not overcrowded and has a nice feeling of space.

6. It is a disc golf mecca.  Maybe even the disc golf mecca.  This is a game I play and have played several times in Minneapolis.  Last time I checked they had more courses than any other city in the USA and therefore likely the world.  Added to which, there are some great players in Minneapolis, and several disc-golf-only retail stores.

7. It is a city that is close to the wilderness surrounding it.  Maybe that's why the hockey team is actually called 'the Wild'?  Just supposing.  I have always found that driving into the city one goes from countryside and small town Minnesota 'directly' into the city.  There appears to be a very quick transition between the two.  For me this is a plus because it indicates that the city engineers are planning expansion properly and it also means that its quick to get to the great outdoors.

8. Prince is from there.  He's actually got a place in Toronto now too, which, again, to me, is pretty cool.  I know the Purple One isn't everyone's cup-of-tea but most would have to admit that he is a musical genius.  His stuff from the last 15 years hasn't been great, but leading up to that it's been inspirational.  He used to have a club in Minneapolis called the Glam Slam.  I've never seen it.  Wonder if its still there?

9. This one is a bit weak. And I was waffling between two ideas here ... I'm going to go with, Minneapolis has curling.  Yes, that's another sport that we in Canada sometimes follow.  Canadians are also quite good at it.  I'm neither a player nor a junkie, BUT I like to watch a good match.  It's been likened to chess on ice.  It's a sport that takes a brutal amount of teasing but I think it deserves better.  It's definitely not as easy as many people think it is.

10.  As advertised is empty for you to fill in.  What do you know about Minneapolis that I don't?  Mall of America, yes, pretty cool but a mall's a mall.  Dig deep you Minnesotan's and let me know.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Winter Storm...Almost

It tried to snow the other day, but just couldn't seem to go the whole way and form actual flakes.
I was storm chasing all the way home as the system moved from it's typical west-to-east, but I could not manage to catch up.  This is as close as I got.
There are some very black clouds over my left shoulder.  They are either over Lake Ontario or even as far as Toronto.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Long Way Home

Many cities have some feature that geographically divides them; sometimes a lake or river, perhaps a new highway cutting through a neighbourhood, or maybe greenbelt.  In Hamilton its a 'mountain.'
Our mountain is really just an escarpment, but it divides us into those who live on the mountain and those who live below the mountain.  I live and work below the mountain but today I had to head on up there for business.  I decided to seek out a rail-trail that I had heard of but never used.  I found it.
It's made for a rail-line (which is now obviously gone) so that makes the climb very subtle.  It's almost like one of those magnetic hills - you know, where you're going in the opposite direction that you think you should.  That's how easy a climb this was.

It basically goes east-west, but at the top of the mountain you can, apparently, take it dozens of miles south to an adjoining community.  A trip I will make one day soon.

This is at the beginning of the climb.  It must have looked like a tunnel of colour a couple of weeks ago.

Scenic rest stop.

I pass this brick yard every day from down below.  I've never seen it from this perspective.

This is quite a way's along and no longer on the rail-trail.  I live a couple miles to the right and down.  That's Lake Ontario in the distance.
In the end this really didn't take me that much longer to get home by this route.  It's probably the most pleasant option I have, but I'm just excited about any new options at all.  I think there are many discoveries yet to be made along this path.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Rural Part of My Commute

The term "rural-urban fringe"  was one coined by my old geography professor.  It's supposed to represent an area beyond the suburbs.  As far as I can tell, this describes where I live, and hence the title of my BLOG.
To that end, here are a couple of shots of the rural part of my commute.

We live below an escarpment that actually stretches for hundreds of miles.

Notice that the trees at the top of the escarpment have had all their leaves blown off by the winds coming overtop, whereas the leaves below are still attached.  This time of year always reminds me of the trainset design I had as a kid.

Today it will reach a high of 15 C - incredible!  Usually the mornings are still crispy-cool no matter the forecast high but not so much today.  It was almost balmy.  I am looking forward to my ride home because I first need to do a couple of on-the-job errands - this means extra riding for me!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Sturmey-Archer Hub

The build I am doing for my daughter is turning out to be a lot of fun.  I am certainly learning a lot, especially with the help of my local co-op.
I decided that I wanted to get some nice fat tires for her bike (the Peugeot) and my thinking is that this means I need to remove the canti's.  So she'll need something for brakes.  I settled on the Sturmey-Archer 3-speed hub with a coaster brake.
I wished that it had come in blue to match the frame, but I can't argue with the price I paid.
It hasn't come in yet.  I just checked yesterday, but I know its waaaayyy to soon.  Another two weeks I would guess.
In the meantime I have reassembled both the bottom bracket and the headset.  The bottom bracket is like butter but I am wondering if I have gotten some bearings in upside down on the headset.  It feels a little tight.  We'll see how it is on the road when I am "done" and make an adjustment after that I guess.

And about those fat tires.  Doesn't seem like there are a whole lot of options for a 27" wheel.  So far I've only managed to find tires that are 1 1/4" ... so not really fat at all.  I'll keep looking of course.

My daughter has really caught the bug too.  Even with the colder weather here, and soon possibly some snow (although not yet) she still wants to get on her "new" bike.  Bless her!