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Brantford Cyclepath Blog

We Know Bikes

“So Long, Summer!” (don’t let the door hit you on your way out)

fall-railtrailer

It really wouldn’t be too far out of line for all of us to give each other collective high fives and perhaps even a great big group hug. After all, each and every one of us are survivors of what is being touted as the “hottest summer on record”, which apparently beats out last year, the old “hottest summer on record”.

And what a summer it was. Lengthy stretches of torridly hot days, heavy with humidity, dry and dusty trails and sleepless nights. As a rule, when the summer heat becomes too much to bear, the bike paths and bike shops become noticeably emptier. Since this was a standout summer weather wise, why shouldn’t this years cycling habits be just as unusual? People decided to defy mother nature and ride their bicycles as if the heat was a non issue. They bought more bicycles this summer than in any year previous. No one seemed willing to let these less than ideal cycling conditions get the better of them. A big round of applause for all.

summer-mtb-in-woods

Heroics aside, it’s certainly a welcome relief to see autumn making its colorful grand entrance. After all, these are the days that are tailor made for cycling. Cooler temperatures promote longer and more spirited rides. As each week rolls by, the trees display increasingly more vibrant colors. It’s difficult not to have ones spirits lifted when seeing red and gold leaves displayed against a perfect blue sky. In the woods the foliage pares back, leaving the trail feeling more open and visible. The last of the summer insects buzz lazily about. Wildlife becomes easier to spot as animals make preparation for winter. Does the sound of geese on the wing ever get old?

Going forward over the next several weeks means remembering where you’d squirreled away your thermal riding tights and long fingered gloves. Where did you put that fleece lined beanie and helmet cover anyway? The air is so crisp that you can ride all afternoon. It’s always a surprise to see fewer and fewer leaves on the trees with each passing weekend and hear the whisper under your tires as they roll through ever increasing drifts of golden leaves. That irresistible autumn scent is in the air. Late season sunlight is softly diffused. The opposition of chilled air and moderately warm sun on our faces feels invigorating. There seems to be nothing like a brisk autumn ride to stimulate the appetite and the last few kilometers of a Sunday ride can usually be spent thinking about a hot tea or latte and a pastry or two.

muffin-latte

From this point forward it’s the realm of the true cycling enthusiast. Colder weather means shorter days and quicker rides. The trails are all but abandoned save for the few like minded souls that enjoy the solitude of a late autumn ride. Cold weather cycling gear makes getting out in late October and November extremely comfortable. Whether you’re a die hard racer on a training ride or a recreational rider on a hybrid it’s the little secret to being able to stretch your season to the limit.

Shed no tears when bidding goodbye to summer riding. For many of us the best cycling of the year is upon us. Pull on your favorite sweater, grab your bike, and hit the trails. Latte or tea, muffin or pie. What’s it going to be?

autumn-paved-railtrail

 

 

 

 

 

Pas Ce Que J’Appelle Recyclage

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One of the nicest things about being into bikes and being a self admitted “bike watcher”, is that when travelling to different places it’s always a guilty pleasure to observe and take in various local bike cultures. Whether it’s lesser numbers of cyclists going about their business locally, or the bicycle heavy activity of a city like Toronto, it’s all designed to be taken notice of. Once upon a long time ago, when I lived in bicycle rich Edmonton, I became part of the daily cycling buzz of that city. Bikes and the people who rode them were everywhere. It felt good to be alive and on a bicycle. It felt good to be part of the scene.

parliament

A few weeks ago I found myself standing in front of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. You couldn’t have asked for better summer weather. Due to this, or perhaps in spite of it, bikes and the people who rode them were everywhere. I couldn’t help but soak it all in, taking mental notes as we walked the streets. That old feeling of being part of the scene came creeping back.

It didn’t take long to notice a few interesting points concerning the bicycles that people were riding… or locking to signposts and railings. A very large majority of these machines were older drop barred road and touring bikes. There were old Cannondales and Miyatas. Treks and Nishikis. Velo Sports and Bianchis. Nearly every one of them were reasonably maintained. There seemed to be no rusting hulks in dire need of repair. There was the impression that these bikes were not so much what you would call recycled junk, but machines that had continued to be ridden regularly since being purchased new some twenty or thirty years previous.

nigeldean800

Not to be left out, there were also plenty of modern bicycles being ridden. Flat bar commuters were plentiful. As were road racing bikes made of aluminum or carbon fiber. You would see the occasional mountain bike, but the machines of choice both on the city streets and on the bike paths and the bridge crossing over to Gatineau, Quebec were of the narrower tired variety. Nearly every bicycle, whether modern or older, used a rear carrier rack to tote the riders personal belongings. Busy people busily cycling about their business.

The point of all of this is that it felt pretty good to be amid this hive of activity. There were plenty of cyclists and bikes of all description to watch as they pedaled past. There was the hopeful “bike shop employee feeling” of seeing bikes used for utility as well as recreational and competitive use. And for the bike geek in me, there was the fantastic rolling museum of vintage steel to catalogue and file away in my brain. As the saying goes, old bikes have to go somewhere. It was really nice to see them being used in Ottawa. I just wish that I had brought a proper camera!

bill-cunningham

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bicycle Rx

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Spend enough time working in a bike shop and you’ll see just about every type of bike in just about every stage of disrepair. Most shop employees tend to think about bikes and bike related subjects for most of their waking hours. It’s part of why we do what we do. One of the more interesting things to think about is trying to decide which point in time it is when someones brand new shiny “baby” becomes a neglected, poorly shifting, corroding piece of metal and rubber. This phenomenon is not solely held to cheap department store bikes. No sir. We often see what were once very expensive, high end machines in various stages of neglect as well. For a bike shop mechanic it can be like a trip to the local animal shelter. These once proud machines stare back at us forlornly, their silent voices whispering “save me”.

Bicycles are amazing machines. Bearings and sprockets and chain links spin and whir literally thousands of times an hour as our bikes carry us to work, the grocery store or along the rail trail on a Sunday afternoon. Bicycles are built up of many wearable components and all of this repetitive activity slowly takes its toll. Unfortunately one thing is certain. Bikes do not heal. They stay worn out and broken until their owners take action.

PEEWEES BIKE

All is not lost! Every bicycle can be saved from a horrible fate. Some simple routine maintenance and an awareness of which components WILL wear over time is all that is needed. It takes surprisingly little effort to keep your bike running smoothly and looking great for many years.

We hate flats. We’d rather avoid the walk home in the hot sun. The solution is to buy a floor pump and routinely top up the air in your tires before each ride. It’s surprising how much air loss can take place over the course of a weeks time, and over an even shorter time for road racing bikes. Harder tires generally roll better and resist becoming punctured. Follow the recommended air pressure on the side of your tires.

oily chain

The subject of lubricating your bike is an interesting one. Too much oil can attract dirt and turn a chain into a grimy black mess, which causes sluggish performance. Too little can invite corrosion, and a dry chain is much harder to pedal. Use a good quality oil made for bicycles. Lightly oil the chain and wipe off any excess lube after a few minutes. You can also add a dot of oil to your brake lever pivots as well as the ones on your brakes and derailleurs. It’s best to keep lubrication away from disc brakes.

It can be a good idea to periodically remove the seat post from your bike and add a thin film of grease to it. You can also remove your pedals and add a small amount of grease to the threads before screwing them back into the crank arms, bearing in mind that the pedals have opposite threads. This will prevent galvanic corrosion which causes these parts to become permanently stuck over time.

pigpen

Rail trail riding will soon cover a bike in a decent layer of dust. This dust is very abrasive and works its way into the various pivots of your drive train, causing premature wear. What to do? It isn’t necessary to constantly wash your bike. Taking an old towel and dry wiping the dust off of your bike is often enough. If you DO find it necessary to wash it, a bucket of water and a sponge or a garden hose with a regular gun attachment will get the job done. Towel dry the bike afterwards. Pressure washers or the local car wash will force water into the bearings of your bike, ruining those components. After cleaning your bike, whether by wiping or washing, lubricate it as mentioned above.

It’s also a good idea to routinely check the various nuts and bolts of your bike, especially those that were used to attach racks, mirrors and fenders.

What about “wearable” components? How do bikes age? As was said before, those thousands upon thousands of rotations that occur as we ride end up taking their toll. You might remember the performance of your bike when it was brand new. Everything was silky smooth and felt tight. The bike rolled forever. As certain parts wear, the performance of the bike degrades. But as was said, all is not lost. Replace these wearable pieces, and the bike will feel new again. Sometimes this can be difficult to perceive when living in a throw away society.

flat tire vintage drawing

Modern bike chains are only designed to last for a given mileage. Once they wear to a certain point, the freewheel on the rear wheel starts to wear as well. As a general rule, it’s a good idea to replace both of these affordable components each spring if the bike sees regular usage. Tires become thinner as they wear. It doesn’t take much force for the smallest item to punch through. Couple this with under inflation, and you can easily guess why your flat tire occurred.

Gear and brake cables can oxidize and become dry over time, especially when coated with trail dust. They won’t slide as easily through the outer casings. This causes very sluggish braking and shifting and leads to the most frustration. It’s very cost effective to change cables. The ones made of stainless steel are highly recommended due to their high resistance to corrosion. Lastly, brake pads are quickly worn down.  Checking and replacing them not only improves braking performance, it is also important for safety reasons.

Those are the most basic of the wearable components of your bike. Taking it a step further, you could also consider your handlebar grips or tape as well. Ditto with your saddle. Replacing your grips or tape is the fastest way to make a bike feel new, due to them being a direct touch point. The foam and gel inside your saddle ages and hardens. It breaks down over time not unlike a bed mattress. If it doesn’t feel right any more, replacing it will usually help. Not to mention, there are constant improvements in saddle technology.

worn brooks

As you can see, it’s really easy to get many more years out of your bicycle investment by following a simple maintenance regimen. All it costs is some time. Your bike will spend less time in the shop or the corner of the garage, and more time out on the trail. That’s a good thing!

 

 

 

Happy Retirement Roger!

Dear Roger,

Thank You!

After many dedicated years, you deserve your retirement!

We cyclists all have tales to tell, and here’s mine. In 1998, we had these strange looking, Specialized Body Geometry saddles show up at the shop. The sales rep waxed poetically about them. He told us these were the “New Thing”.  In an industry full of “New Things”, including regularly reinvention of the wheel, I was highly skeptical. What could Specialized know about bike saddles beyond slapping their logo on the side?

“Lighter is better” I believed! My worn and well-enjoyed Selle Italia Flyte TI railed suede saddle was comfy! I had saved up my meagre bicycle mechanic’s salary to buy it. I was proud! One day, the Specialized sales rep suggested I try the BG. I looked at him with disdain! I was mortified at the thought! Give up the Flyte!? No, I think not! The Flyte gave my bike some pizzazz, and those saved grams were worth it!

After a very a short conversation with my girlfriend, she insisted I give the BG a whirl. How bad could it be?

SpecializedSaddleLarge.jpg

I installed one on my Specialized Stumpjumper. The saddle covered with black vinyl, was way too plush and was a boat anchor. There was nothing sexy about the thing! Thank goodness my butt would cover it, saving me any embarrassment when my riding chums saw me perched awkwardly upon it. I rode on it for a few weeks and thought very little of it at the time.

This was 1998. The MTB Ontario Cup race at Hardwood Hills was coming up. I needed to do my best! I gave my Stumpjumper a full service. I was ready to rock that course! The saddle? I pulled the Flyte out from my “Box of Bike Bits” where it have been enjoying a short reprieve. I quickly took the BG off and re-installed the Flyte with care, making sure to brush it’s suede finish. It was time to get back to riding a real saddle and race my best!

I went for a training ride…..

Out onto the road in front of the shop, I headed towards my usual training trail, known locally as “Hardy”. That Stumpy was light, efficient, and a sheer joy to ride (1993 Stumpjumper M2 in Dark Black, I really loved that bike). I stopped at the first stop sign. The saddle felt too high. I lowered it and rode on. Now it was too low. I raised it again. I couldn’t figure out what was going on, but I was numb in all the wrong places. Surely my much-loved Flyte couldn’t have been bad!? It was broken in! It had never let me down! I rode on.

I had ridden a total of 1.2km (we know exactly how far from the store the Dairy Queen is!) I turned right around and pedalled back to the shop, standing the whole way. I threw the bike up on the workstand in disgust and proceeded to pull the Flyte off…. and re-instal the BG which had been unceremoniously thrown onto a greasy workbench. I was perplexed! I went straight back out for that training ride without incidence.

I have never ridden anything other than a BG saddle since! They are a sexier now, (thanks for that!) and much lighter (Yay!) and have gone through many obvious improvements. These days we don’t carry any other saddle in the shop!

IMG_1034Without a BG Saddle (I rode on a few early models, eventually settling on a Romin, then recently switching to Power), I don’t know if I’d be riding today! Our business and my career have been enhanced, in a large part due to your innovatons. I no longer race, but I am now a Certified Body Geometry FIT Specialist, which, as you know, all starts with the saddle! Many of our customers now take the Minkow Wedge for granted, but your contributions to our beloved sport are not lost on us!
Thank-you Roger. You have earned your retirement! I look forward to enjoying more of your photography!

Trying to find something witty to say…… Here goes! “Many asses have you to thank for their cycling happiness”

Cheers.

Stuart Querney

The Family That Plays Together…

FAMILY RIDE

Other than the obvious well known health benefits of riding a bicycle, an additional one to add would be the benefit of cycling being a family activity. It’s interesting to note that most of the more traditional recreational activities for children, those such as soccer, baseball, and hockey etc, are more or less spectator sports for the parents. We go to watch our sons and daughters play. Cycling is different. We become active participants in the activity along with our children.

When our children are very young, we can tow them along behind us in child trailers. These trailers boast plenty of cargo space for diaper bags, teddy bears, extra sweaters and picnic baskets. There are infant slings that can be placed inside for families with young babies. Many trailers can be converted for strolling or jogging. Some have ski kits available for year round fun.

Trail-a-bikes are the next step in riding as a family. These are essentially the rear half of a bike that attaches to the seat post of the lead bike, creating a tandem bicycle of sorts. Since the drive train of a trail-a-bike is separate, the child can choose to either coast or pedal. The amount of extra push that can be generated by a small child when pedaling can be surprising. There have been some instances where the lead bike is pulling a trail-a-bike which in turn is pulling a child trailer. This makes for quite an attention getting passenger train!

TANDEM TRAIN

It can be a very proud moment in the life of a parent when their little one moves up to riding their own bike. How time flies! It is important to bear in mind that the smallest bikes are only capable of moderately slow speed and short distances. For children that still require a bicycle with 12″, 14″ or perhaps even some 16″ and 18″ wheels, the trail-a-bike may still be the best option for longer family rides. For those on 20″ wheels or larger, this is where the fun begins. These bikes are more than ready to go the distance at a decent speed. BMX bikes are popular with most boys and while many parents voice concern over the lack of multiple gearing, rest assured that it’s usually the child on the single speed bike that is leading the way and setting the pace.

TORY NYHAUG

Speaking of pace, be sure to reserve a decent amount of time for the outing. Be prepared for numerous stops to pick flowers or look at squirrels, chipmunks, ducks and geese. It’s important to keep the mood light and the pace casual. Frequent rest stops allow for an “I can do it!” experience rather than a “I can’t keep up!” disaster.

DUCKS

Preparing to ride with children is much the same as riding solo, but with a few differences. Carry more water than you think you’ll need. Snacks satisfy hunger and give added boosts of energy. It’s especially important to make sure that you have inner tubes or a patch kit for not only the adult bike, but the trail-a-bike or child trailer as well. Mechanical failure on a hot day can be serious for a child. Don’t forget the tire pump.

Riding as a family can set the groundwork for future competitive or lifelong cyclists. Many dedicated riders start conversations about biking with the phrase “when I was a kid…” You can never tell where the next future winner of the Tour De France or world champion might come from. Maybe he or she is living in your house at this very moment!

CANADIAN JR TRACK TEAM

 

 

 

Comfort And Joy

As a followup to the previous piece entitled Trailing The Rails, I decided to focus some attention towards our newer recreational cyclists and share suggestions regarding items that will most certainly add to the experience of riding your bicycle.

mosesredsea

The two most important items that a casual cyclist can have are a bell and some way to carry water. Having a bell on your bike when the trail is in heavy use can be akin to Moses parting the Red Sea. Give a well timed ring and people move to the side of the trail, oftentimes offering a “thank you” for your courtesy. Sheer magic. A bicycle engine (you) requires fuel in the form of water. Most bicycles have at least one place on the frame to attach a water bottle and cage to. Some have two. If your bike has space for one cage, buy a larger bicycle water bottle instead of the smaller size. If you require more water, you can buy a bottle cage that mounts onto the handlebars. If your bike has the space for two cages, buy two cages and two bottles. It’s better to carry too much water than run out on a hot day. It’s interesting to note that there are now bottle cages called sidemount cages that allow a larger bottle to fit a smaller frame.

CANNONDALE TOURER

 

It’s nice to be able to bring needed items with you for the day. Things such as your cell phone, lip balm, sunscreen, snacks, energy foods and money etc. There are plenty of ways to tote your things on a bike. You can go all out and attach a carrier rack to the rear of your bicycle. This allows you to carry the traditional pannier or saddlebag. Many people use what is called a trunk bag. This is a box-like bag that sits on the top of a carrier rack. It isn’t as unnecessarily large as a saddlebag and most of them keep food and drinks cool. You can also buy traditional small bags that hang under the seat of your bike. A newer type of bag that is gaining in popularity is called a gel box. This small bag was designed so that triathletes could carry energy foods in a convenient location during a race. The bag sits on the top of the bike frame directly behind the steering stem. A magnetic flip top allows easy access to your cell phone and other small items without having to stop and open a rear mounted bag. There are also many handlebar mounted cell phone holders to choose from.

To take things further, you can add a small portable tire pump or CO2 air cartridges to your bike or bag. It’s also a good idea to have an extra inner tube, sized for your bike, with you. Many people carry a small tool kit or a multitool with them. The thinking behind this is that in the event of a breakdown you’ll have all of the tools needed in case someone comes along with repair knowledge. You don’t necessarily have to know how to fix it yourself. Most cyclists are willing to help.

dumb-dumber-lloyd

The final pieces of the puzzle might include a kickstand, a good lock, and a front and a rear small light. Many casual cyclists and commuters like the extra confidence that a mirror can give. There are mirrors that can be added to your handlebars, your helmet, or a pair of glasses.

For the rider themselves, a helmet makes good sense and on a hot day it provides more cooling than a bare head. Cycling gloves offer extra padding for additional hand comfort and may help to alleviate numb hands. If you find yourself heading out for longer rides it might be time to consider investing in a pair of padded bike shorts. There are many styles available. You can even find padded “underwear” that you wear underneath your regular street clothing. Once you try them, you’ll be hooked.

FEMALE ON FBR

There you have it. A list of basics that will make your cycling very enjoyable. You’ll be sure to discover other items that you can use. Every year the cycling industry comes up with another interesting widget. That’s what makes cycling fun.

 

 

 

 

Trailing The Rails

hamilton-to-brantford

When it comes to enjoying leisurely summer activities, there’s plenty to do in Brantford. Thanks to the conversion of many kilometers of unused railway lines into recreational rail trails, cycling has quickly risen to the top of the list. Riding these trails is scenic, fun and safe. The absence of automotive traffic makes them especially attractive for families with children. Choose a short route or a longer one. There’s something for every ability.

To get started, there is a very popular loop of trail that follows along the Grand River, eventually crossing over into West Brant. There are several handy access points that offer vehicle parking. Hardy Road, Wilkes Dam and D’Aubigny Creek Park are three of the more popular ones. Here you’ll ride along a section of trail that overlooks the Grand River, eventually making your way across the river via a bridge, to Brant Park. From Brant Park pedal to Oak Hill Drive. From there it’s a smooth ride through West Brant on the Ballantyne Drive bike lane to the Brantford Casino.

BRANTFORD RAILTRAIL SIGN

 

From the casino, an additional section of trail makes its way to Mohawk Park, passing by the Earl Haig waterpark and the Mohawk Chapel along the way. If a bigger ride is what you’re looking for, you’ll find this trail continuing on through rolling farmland and Carolinian forest, ending in Hamilton. The access point for this trail is at the bottom of Locks Road.

DUNDAS RAILTRAIL

You may want to ride from Brantford to Paris, which can be a little challenging due to some hills. From Paris you can enjoy a shaded section of rail trail that pauses in Glen Morris. For a longer ride, continue on from Glen Morris and pedal your way to Cambridge. You’ll find access to parking at all three points.

MILL AT GLEN MORRIS

A newer trail that is gaining in popularity begins just outside of the Maple Leaf plant, with parking once again at D’Aubigny Creek Park. It’s a great route to ride in all four of the seasons due to changes in scenery as the year progresses. There is a duck marsh that is lush with greenery in the spring, dry in the summer, colorful in the fall and frozen white in the winter. The expanses of farmland and woodland along the way also experience change. This trail contains a large paved section in addition to the usual compressed dirt surface. A scenic afternoon or evening ride can be enjoyed by riding to Mt Pleasant or continuing on until you reach Willow Lake Park. For the more determined, this is the trail that makes its way to Waterford and Simcoe, eventually ending in Port Dover.

MTPLEASANT RAILTRAIL

Fill up your water bottles, pump up your tires, grab your helmets and some riding companions and discover Brantfords rail trail system. You’ll want to ride the trails time and time again.

dumb-dumber-lloyd

 

Time Flies When You’re Having Fun…

richard

Once upon a time a man named Richard Querney (that’s him up there) decided that the time had come to leave what is commonly known as the rat race. He felt the urge to start a new full time endeavour that would revolve around his life long passion for cycling. Richard had already had his hands in a bicycle based business. In 1980 he had started a small repair business in the basement of the family home called Richards Bicycle Repair. It satisfied his interest in improving the mechanical workings of bikes while bringing in some extra part time money. Just prior to this, in 1973, Richard had been a founding member of the Ontario Cycling Association as well as a board member during 1975 and 1976. Along with his family, he organized and ran many bicycle tours around southern Ontario. Richard knew bikes.

1991 saw Richard open up a retail bicycle shop in Paris Ontario…during a recession! It was called The Bikeway. The store was built using wonderfully aromatic cedar wood. It carried parts and accessories by Norco and Specialized. The shop also offered a wide assortment of bicycle brands such as Specialized, Norco, Iron Horse, Bianchi, Miyata, Oxford and Leader childrens bikes. Richards’ son Stuart worked at the shop part time, from its opening until 1993, when he decided to become The Bikeways full time mechanic.

Bikeway Sign

March of 1996 saw an important change. An opportunity arose to open a Cyclepath franchise store and it was decided to make the move to relocate and become The Brantford Cyclepath, where it exists now. Having a brand new 1,900 square foot shop allowed for a larger mix of product… and more staff. During this time, the customer bike rack that was located mid parking lot was reduced to twisted metal one winter by a snowplow. Its replacement was wisely relocated to the sidewalk in front of the store. The year 2000 saw the construction of a 600 square foot warehouse in order to better store the increasing quantity of inventory for the rapidly growing business. In 2004, the addition of new storage racking enabled even more bikes to be shown on the sales floor.

cyclepath

Incidentally, the snowplow mishap wasn’t the only one. In September of 2010 a car jumped the curb and smashed out a sizeable section of the front window. What better time to introduce the One Less Car Sale!

car smash

2010 was also the year that The Brantford Cyclepath adopted the Specialized Body Geometry F.I.T. system and began performing custom biometric assessments. In 2014 the shop received its F.I.T. certification. 2015 saw success in conducting the first customer F.I.T. information night. Today The Brantford Cyclepath performs in-depth custom bike fitting for many types of cyclists.

Club Logo copy

Over the years the shop has been involved in many charitable events. From 1996 to 2005 The Brantford Cyclepath Bicycle Club raised money for The Multiple Sclerosis Society by holding an extremely popular annual eight hour endurance race. Adding events on behalf of The Downs Syndrome Association and The Mental Health Association had enabled the club to raise well over $50,000 for charity. Recently the shop has supported, sponsored or participated in events such as the MS Bike Tour Toronto, the local Team Green in The Ride To Conquer Cancer, and the local Team Pro Fit in The Ride To Conquer Cancer. There have been many bike raffles along the way… with many more to come!

8 Hour MS Logo RED copy

Where does “the ‘path” lead in the future? Even more community involvement using social media and events such as the upcoming Bikes Not Bullies, a second Ride Don’t Hide event for The Canadian Mental Health Association, The Brant Waterways Foundation Ride, The MS Bike Tour Toronto, as well as participating in rides held by various other organizations. With the recent acquisition of a new Muve fitting machine, the shop will take bicycle fit and assessment to the next level.

Bikes not Bullies Concept 3

Where ever the cycling industry takes us, rest assured that The Brantford Cyclepath will be part of it.

peugeot ghetto crosser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wimp(er)

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There was a “once upon a time” moment in my life that I shall call “Before I Got A Car.” In this time period, the fastest way for me to get from point A to point B, without a doubt, was by riding my bike. I was living in Edmonton and was firmly rooted in the lifestyle of the “Year Round Bicycle Commuter”. A drivers license was still decades into the future. I rode my bike. Everywhere. It didn’t matter the weather. It didn’t matter the season. Nor the time of day. The distance of the chosen route was never an issue. Riding forty kilometers in winter snow to visit a “local” hobby shop was no big deal. Experiencing firsthand the magic of commuting home in the dark on a snowy Christmas Eve, just me, my trusty Kuwahara cyclocrosser, and the quiet of the falling snow, is something that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I can’t. It’s part of who I am. (when I moved to Ontario I accidentally left the Kuwahara  behind. Stupid me. I hope whoever ended up with it treated it well and continued to ride it daily). (not to mention that the bike also had an original Specialized Dirt Drop handlebar on it, which I’d love to have right about now. Double oops). Anyway, I was young and fit and rode thousands of kilometers a year.

I arrived in Ontario with my Breezer mountain bike. (I at least remembered to bring one bike to the airport). I also arrived with my commuting mindset intact. I took a week off to goof around and get settled in. The second week  I acquired a job and headed off to work every day. Surprisingly, a strange thing happened. Because of a lack of secure parking for my bike, I continued commuting…by bus. Cycling was relegated to riding the local mountainbike trails on my day off. You can guess what happened to the cycling mindset that I cultivated back in Edmonton. It slowly and eventually went into hibernation.

neon

Things got worse. I continued commuting…by getting a drivers license and occasionally sliding behind the wheel of that pine green 1997 Plymouth Neon up there. The rest of the time I walked to work. My new house was three blocks away. Several cars later, and I’m driving to work everyday. I’m also gaining weight. (it’s kind of ironic how the picture of the bathroom scales dial looks like a speedometer….)

weight-scale

“O Commuting Mindset, Commuting Mindset! Wherefore art thou Commuting Mindset? Deny thy father and refuse thy name, or if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I’ll no longer be a Driver.”

Fast forward a decade. I ended up here, at The Brantford Cyclepath. Surrounded by bikes. On a daily basis. (AGAIN! This is actually the second bike shop that I’ve worked at). The one great thing about working at a bike shop is that there is ALWAYS secure parking for your bike. The one bad thing about driving a car is that there is ALWAYS an excuse for not riding your bike, especially to work. “It’s too windy.” (it didn’t matter the weather) “It’s winter.” (it didn’t matter the season) “It’s too early.” (nor the time of day) “It’s too far.” (the distance of the chosen route was never an issue).

Wow.

What the heck happened to the guy in the opening paragraph of this blog? Maybe I’m kind of glad that I forgot my trusty Kuwahara cyclocrosser in Edmonton. If it saw me now, it would deflate its tires in shame.

Something must be done! We don’t need a silly New Years Resolution here. We need something more effective than that. After all, how many of you have already bailed on your New Years Resolutions…after only eight weeks or less? The cure in this case seems to involve a four part prescription.

andy pruitt

An extra hour of daylight is always a good motivator. Not to mention the added safety that it brings when you live out in the country. The clock springs forward on March 13th. (did I mention that I used to commute to and from work under the cover of darkness with nothing but the absurdly crappy lighting technology that was available back then?) Like I said, what happened?

An important part of the prescription, or “The Prescription” if you feel the need to add extra urgency, is to add a capable bicycle. That faithful old Kuwahara was an all-weather champ, and yep, I did replace it with my Specialized cyclocrosser, but now I have an even more capable monster in the garage. A fatbike. This thing removes any weather and terrain related objections. I highly recommend that you buy one if and when the opportunity presents itself.

Motivation, or a lack thereof, can be a big factor when it comes to sticking with a plan. Cyclocomputers are okay, but what about something that offers a little bit extra? Enter the Garmin. (if Bruce Lee was still with us, he’d most likely train with one). This thing looks to add plenty to the fun factor.

The last component of the cure, or “The Return Of The Commuting Mindset”, is to add a healthy dose of social interaction. Hello Strava! It’s a well known fact that misery loves company, and Strava seems to be the place to find it. The misery or the company…take your pick.

Well…that’s my take on the whole situation. A four part prescription for getting me out from behind the wheel and back behind bars (!?!?). It should work out just fine. After all, last years attempt was reasonable. I just stopped too early. If I don’t wimp out, and manage to keep at this, then maybe…just maybe…there’ll be a chance at redeeming myself in the eyes of my trusty old commuter. God knows, it’s overdue.

kuwa

 

 

 

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