Elbow Beach, Bermuda

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Rocket fuel

My “performance enhancing drug” of choice.  This rig should do the trick.  Baratza Preciso grinder, Rocket Giotto Premium Plus espresso machine and fresh, locally(!) roasted People’s Daily Espresso beans from the Social Coffee & Tea Company.

Rocket fuel

Rocket fuel

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Wrapped, twined & shellacked

Wrapped and twined

Wrapped and twined

I used the Fizik microtex bar wrap.  I’m certainly no handlebar wrapping wiz, but I had a heckuva time getting this stuff on the bars.  I think the larger size of the brifters also gave me trouble. I’m used to either cork stuff or cotton.  The bar isn’t evenly wrapped, and the twine is a bit wabi-sabi but whatevs.  The bike is for riding!

I still need fenders.

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It’s rolling!

Rawland rSogn first incarnation.  This is my initial build of the the frame. I still need to fine tune the saddle & cockpit, wrap the bars, get & install some fenders and figure out what to use for a handlebar bag.

It was -16 C today, but I couldn’t resist a 10 min ride around the ‘hood.  The wide 42mm Hetres seemed to soak up the bumps nicely.

Rawland rSogn 1st incarnation

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Just about there

Grand Bois Hetre 650B

Grand Bois Hetre 650 beautiful!

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Getting closer

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  • VO Grand Cru touring hubs and 650B Diagonale rims, built by Hoopdriver in Toronto with an 11-32 SRAM cassette
  • SRAM Rival drivetrain and shifting
  • Paul Neo-retro stoppers
  • Nitto Noodle handlebars
  • King Iris cages
  • Fizik micro-tex bar tape.
  • Shimano M520 SPD pedals
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Quick thoughts on Venezuela

I’m back from another work assignment in Venezuela.  Our work sites were situated such that we had much more road travel to do than the last trip. Some quick observations:

  • Roads are generally in very bad shape, and drivers tend ‘float’ between lanes on the high speed highways trying to avoid potholes, debris and dog carcasses;
  • Traffic laws are mere suggestions and generally ignored
  • The highways are dangerous, and people don’t seem to wear seat belts.  I saw the aftermath of two very nasty fatal accidents in the week I was there.
  • I saw more bicycles this time, but not many.  These are mostly folks getting to work or getting shopping done.  I saw two sport cyclists riding on the highway.   With the oppressive heat & humidity, heinous roads, cheap gas and correspondingly cheap prices for shared taxis (Carritos por puesto) I’m not surprised bikes are rare.
  • These folks have the re-use part of the three ‘Rs’ down pat.  The shared taxis are 30 or 40 years old and while falling apart, still run.
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A Taste of Cycling Vancouver

I’m in Vancouver for work and staying with family for the weekend.  Yesterday I was treated to a tour of some of the bike paths in the city by my Brother-in-law.  Leaving from the Broadway and Main area, we used the extensive bike path network to connect to Stanley Park where we did the seawall loop and bombed around on some of the gravel paths.  The highlight was stopping at Prospect Point for a pint & snack. 

I was riding in street clothes on a borrowed bike several sizes to small making it hard to get a full pedal stroke.  The underinflated knobbies buzzed angrily on the pavement, sucking away speed.  The front derailler was stuck in the middle ring and couldn’t be trimmed,  and the rear derailler clattered as it was out of adjustment.   The front shocks bounced in a most disconcerting way every time I applied the front brake.  In short the ride was a blast and I wouldn’t have changed a thing!

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A New Chapter

For my entire career, I’ve lived and worked in York Region.  Sure, it’s not the easiest place to get around by bike or transit but I’ve made it work.  I’ve come to know several decent bicycle routes and have built up a familiarity with the potholes, bad sewer grates and the flow of traffic during rush hour. 

This is all to change.  My York Region office is closing down in an effort to manage overhead costs, and the employees will be distributed to other GTA offices.  It looks like I’ve drawn downtown Toronto.  This isn’t all bad, as a) I’ve still got a job, and b) there are more transit choices available.  

From a bikey perspective, this means that I’ll probably be riding a lot less.  Some 80-90% of my time on the bike is commuting.  I may be able to ride to a GO station (2.5 km, seems hardly worth it!) or a subway stop (~14 km).  The latter is about the length of my current commute, all in and then I would need to add another 30-40 min on top of that.  I’m not sure I can find that kind of time. I guess it’s good to have options!

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Biking around the world…

Downtown Bogota from the summit of Cerro de Monserrate

…well almost.  Here’s quick update of the last three weeks.

I’m back from three weeks away.  I visited Vancouver BC for two weeks for vacation on account of a family wedding.  Excellent weather, excellent food and lots of bikes!  Cycling is a way of life in the city, and the bikey infrastructure seems very advanced.  Bikes & bike shops were everywhere.  Rented some bikes and took the fam out for a ride around the seawall in Stanley Park.  The kids had a blast. 

I spent four days in Bogota, Colombia for work.  The city traffic is insane, but bicycles still figure into the mix.  There is a separated bicycle network in the city, but to commute to the industrial areas (where I was working) the riders have to play in very dense and aggressive traffic or use the unreliable paved shoulders.  Somehow this dance works.  I  saw riders on everything from department store Huffy’s to expensive Colnagos.   The weather is mild all year, but rains are frequent.  It’s also worth noting that Bogota has spent some considerable money on improving public transit with bus rapid ways (Trans Milenio system).  There are separated bus lanes with stations in addition to the other semi-private collectivo buses.  It looks like this has been a victim of success, as the buses were absolutely jammed.

I worked in Maracaibo, Venezuela at another site.  With gasoline at something like $0.12 a litre, I didn’t see a single bike.  Also, the temperature there is very, very hot.  It was 35 C with 75% humidity at 07:00!  Roadways that I saw & bumped through were in terrible shape, particularly in the industrial sector.

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