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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New Project


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CityChase Toronto #1

Team LB at the Start. Phil B, Andrew R

At the Start

Phil and recently completed our third Toronto City Chase. Our first was in 2009, and we achieved our goal of completing 10 Chase Points (CPs) within the time limit. In 2010, with an understanding of the game and better fitness, we improved our time by approximately 90 minutes, and placed 100th of 500 teams. For the 2011 edition, we further improved our time by 30 minutes, and placed approximately in the 30s of 750 teams. I say approximately as there have been issues with the timing and scoring, and we don’t currently show up in the results. This is a sore point with us as it seems to be a very common problem with the race, and one that I would like to see fixed.  Even charity runs give participants a chip/transponder.

Quick race recap:

Part obstacle course, part scavenger hunt, all fun! Complete 10 chase points in the allotted time (6 hours), the first team back over the finish line wins.

  • Race start was a Dundas Square. After the opening ceremonies, we had to find a hint hidden in some helium balloons around the Square to obtain our clue sheet. After popping one, we got a printed sheet with some lat/long coords on it.
  • We ran. And ran, and ran! Figuring the clue sheets were on King Street (hints were given during the ceremonies) we hot footed it south on Yonge, cut through the Eaton Centre and headed through Nathan Philips Square. We were lucky at this point that we spotted the Chase Marshalls with clue sheets! We grabbed one and sat down to figure out some of the clues.
  • Leaving south-east, we ran to the Hockey Hall of Fame for our first chase point. We needed to examine a display with hundreds of pucks to determine how many had photos of player’s faces on them (21), and what three colours were on the Indiana Racers’s puck (red, white, blue). This was our Blunder #1, as we both grabbed a quiz sheet, and the questions were different! We regrouped & refocused and tore out of the Hall.
  • With our first Chase Point in the bag, we ran to York and Front to the Loose Moose to learn a flair bartending routine. We had some something similar last year, but the routine was a bit tougher and took us a few tries to get it right.
  • Our next clues brought us running down to the waterfront. We quickly located the next chase point at the foot of Rees street. With another team, we navigated long 2×4 skis through an obstacle course and then hopped on stilts for a couple of laps. The skis were fun, the stilts were tough! Chase Point 3 was done!
  • Around the corner we located the “Backdraft” Chase Point . This was a really fun challenge where we had to don firefighting gear (jacket, helmet), shoot a fire hose a two targets and then unfurl and then re-coil a fire hose. This was hot work, but we were soon done our 4th Chase Point.
  • We easily located the next Chase Point, where we had to navigate kayaks that were lashed together through buoys in the water. There was an optional inflatable hamster ball that floated on the water that looked like hilarious fun, but we figured the kayak would be faster. With our 5th chase point out of the way in only 90 minutes, we were feeling a little cocky, and we made our 2nd blunder of the day which would cost us.
  • We grabbed the Harbourfront LRT and made our way back up to Yonge and Queen. Taking the streetcar out to Queen and Logan, we completed Chase Point 6; an ice-cream tasking challenge. We had to identify three ice cream flavors. The penalty for failure was eating a dog biscuit! We both had to chow down but we were done quickly.
  • Hopping back on the Queen car, we jumped off at Sackville to do what we thought would be a gymnastics challenge. Alas, there was a problem at the venue and all we had to do was make a funny face for the point. With our 7th point, all we needed was one more mandatory that would be a two-fer (we had raised $50 for Right to Play), and another optional one. We figured one of the mandatory CPs was back at Dundas Square because of the clue given to check Facebook. The facebook page had a photo and title of a Columbia Booth at the Square with the title “Master of Faster,” which was the same title of the challenge. We knew there was a billiards challenge just north of the race finish. We felt great! Our enthusiasm was set back once we talked to some other chasers who explained that the challenge we were after was at Fort York. D’oh. Phil had figured out that clue the night before but in our haste to keep moving we hadn’t realized it. I think the clue sheet and FB clue during the race was misleading. At any rate, we planned our next move on the fly.
  • On the way back to Fort York, we stopped at the Toronto School of Art for “Dare to Bare.” Phil had to pose nude with another model in the studio, and I had to sketch them. I did a lousy job (hey, I’m used to drawing on the computer with a CAD system) but the instructor passed me. After getting his clothes back on, we got our race bib pipped with our 8th CP.
  • We ran from Adelaide and Spadina to Bathurst, where we hopped the streetcar and got off at Fort York. We quickly got CP 9 for our Right to Play fundraising, and then did the boot camp training CP. This was fun! After running through some tires, doing squats with weights, crawling under a camo net and scaling a wooden wall, we had our 10th and final CP.
  • Arriving at the finish via running, streetcar and more running we finished in a time of approximately 3 hours and 35 minutes, and event record for us.

We had a great time and enjoyed some cold ones after the race. If we hadn’t of made the second big blunder, I think we would have cut close to 30 or 40 minutes from our time. There’s always next year!

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noun /mōˈmentəm/  /mə-/ 
momenta, plural

  1. The quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity
  2. The impetus gained by a moving object
    • the vehicle gained momentum as the road dipped
  3. The impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events
    • the investigation gathered momentum in the spring

This has been a very tough cycling season for me so far. I’m far an away a commuting cyclist, but it’s been difficult to get much saddle time this year. Many factors have contributed to low mileage (I still feel funny saying/writing mileage when we use kilometres. Kilometreage sounds just plain weird).

  • Late spring
  • Crappy weather in the spring
  • Work travel & commitments
  • An early summer cold

Today was the first day in weeks I was able to ride to work. It felt great. I hope to keep up the momentum and ride whenever I can. July and August are usually the best months traffic wise with school out and lots of folks on vacation.

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I saw this rig at a Canada Day event. Looks almost like a recumbent. I wonder how it rides.

The attachment system looks like it would suffer from the same problems as the Trail-a-bike we use. I find it a little hard to control the bike moving at slower speeds. As my stokid gets more confident on the back, he seems to want to shift around more and more, making it tough to steer. He’s also a speed demon, and always wants to pedal down the hills when I want to either coast or use the brakes to modulate our speed!



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Richmond Hill Shifts Gears

Bike boxes have been popping up at Libraries and Community Centres around town.



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Nearing Completion

News from Rawland Cycles this week.  The frames look like they’ve got their paint and clearcoat done.  I guess I need to start thinking about getting some parts together!

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Back from the ashes

The web host crashed and burned and took all my data with it.  Of course I didn’t have a backup because the webhost said they did such a good job of maintaining backup files…  At any rate, live and learn.  I feel worse for Brother Dave as he was generating some traffic from his gaming blog. 

I’ll likely be monkeying around with the site layout, and repopulating some of the links as I have time.

Monkeymartian rides again!

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