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Brantford Cyclepath Blog

We Know Bikes

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September 2016

“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

 

 

 

 

 

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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