Saturday, January 29, 2011

Chain Lake Trail

So today I set out around 11 or so, after a hearty breakfast of bacon, a blueberry bagel, orange juice and a cup of tea.

First I went to Bikes by Dave. Dave Reminds me a lot of Harold from Earle Industries back in St. Johns. An older guy who just really loves bikes and running his shop. I told him about my trailer idea and asked him if knew anyone who could do some fabrication for a decent price. He directed me to Cam, a mechanic in the store. "I know just the guy," he said, "you should talk to Steve he's a welder at the docks and is just setting up his own space. He loves bikes and trailers." Awesome. He couldn't find his number so I passed on my contact info to Cam to give to him.

Then I made my way down to Halifax Cycle Gallery to speak with one of the owners, Roger. Told him my idea. "I know just the guy," he said, "you should talk to Steve." I laughed. Apparently I should talk to Steve. I chatted with Roger a bit, got Steve's contact info, and then headed out to the Chain of lakes trail.

I haven't gone on an extended ride in quite some time, and the terrain didn't help. Being an old railway line, the grade was fine. At first the trail was paved, and actually cleared of snow. Pretty awesome. But that didn't last real long. After passing under a bridge at NW Arm Drive, the trail turned to gravel, under about 3 or 4 inches of snow. Now, we've had a lot of snow/rain/snow/rain, and some really cold days, so every footstep and track on the trail was a big hard ice speed bump, and with no suspension, my wrists had a hard ride ahead of them. Some spots were okay, with a nice inch of just crunchy snow and a few bike tracks, but the majority was pretty rough.

Once I hit Governor Lake I was ready for a little break and a snack. I found a little spot just down off the trail that opened up a little. The lake appeared to be really frozen. I tested the strength of the ice very precisely (see the rocks in the following pictures) and decided to see just how well my Schwalbe Ice Spikers worked on ice.

If riding around in circles on a flat sheet of ice doesn't convince you, then I don't know what to tell you. Schwalbe's Ice Spikers work. Simple as that.

Lunch Time.

I had a nice ripe pear, some almonds, and a can of pepsi. I made sure to bring all my garbage back with me. From here I headed to the tip of Governor Lake, despite the vibration inducing terrain, committed to completing the route I had set out for myself.

I turned around and headed back from here. there was a slight grade down for a good chunk of the trail back, so it wasn't as bad, but after my break my toes and hands had gotten cold, and I was getting tired. Everything warmed up again after a short while, and I hit pavement again. Freedom! I then continued on the trail past the point at which I started at just to examine it. I made it to the end, where I crossed the road, and continued on the old railbed to where the railway still exists. On my way here I ran into a group of men hanging out by the tracks, drinking a case of beer, at 2pm. They were having a really good time by the sound of it, and one of them was urinating out right on the path. It was an interesting encounter to say the least, and a funny end to a good day.

View Chain Of Lakes Trail+ in a larger map

From my GPS.
Home now.
I have the beater in the back porch on some plastic mats so the snow melts off it and it can dry off. Then back in the shed she goes.
Talked to Steve. He seems like a really nice guy who is genuinely interested in building bikes and trailers, and he said we could definitely work something out. Sent him my sketches and hope to meet with him soon.

Lazing around now in a bath robe. Going to cook some chicken soup soon.

Don't let the cold and snow stop you. Get out and ride the bike that you love.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Steel Pipe Dreams

I've been known to make grandiose plans from time to time and never follow through. Sue me. I get so wrapped up in an idea but as a student, and now a full time working person and student, there isn't a whole lot of time for projects. Not to mention my lack of equipment. But at least now I have money. Well... a little anyway.

As you all know I love the idea of bike chore-ing, doing mandatory chores by bicycle and enjoying it. Yes I did just attempt to create my own name for it. So naturally the idea of long bikes, cargo bikes, and trailers have perked my interest many times in the past. The Surly Big Dummy, the Yuba Mundo, Xtracycle, and various trailers.

They're all so damn expensive... and for what?!

Prime example. The Wandertec Bongo Cargo Trailer.

It's a fabulous design. Comes with a flatbed on top and lots of little spots to mount bungies etc. This trailer costs a whopping $319 from That is a fair price and is in kind with all other trailers, but it's 3 pieces of metal and two cheap 20" wheels for christ sake. And like most other things now-a-days, probably has poor craftsmanship from a small factory in south east asia.

[EDIT]: as Josh Lipton from Wandertec has pointed out below in the comments, the Bongo is actually made in Flagstaff, AZ by skilled metal workers. So my apologies on that as using it as an example.

Personally I'm just not ready to shell out almost $400 for a trailer.

So I've been on the look out in the classifieds for used, cheap, department store child trailers. Thought I found one the other day for $25 but it looks like it went to someone else. I just want one for lugging around groceries, and the occasional cargo.

So then I saw this in the classifieds. $30 for 7 bikes.

But I just want that little red one in the front. I like the look of how the rear triangle just detaches because of the cheap suspension...

I wonder how much I can find someone with a welder to fabricate something up for me...

Think Xtracycle, meets Bobyak.

Tomorrow I'm going to talk to some local bike shop owners in Halifax I've met and see if they know anyone. Going by bike to Bikes by Dave and Halifax Cycle Gallery, then onto check out the chain of lakes trail. Should be a fun 25-30km ride.

View January 29th 2011 in a larger map

PS: I bought a new camera. A Nikon FE2 with a 50mm 1.8 (1978)

and here is a self portrait in my new work shirt taken with my D50.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Back in the saddle

Well it's been over a month since my last post. Since then I've finished up my experiments for my Masters program, went to Naples, Florida for a week during Christmas, moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, started a new job, spent a week in Mississauga, ON for training, visited friends in Guelph, ON for a weekend, and have my first real week of work under my belt. It's been a busy month. I won't get into the stuff much as none of it is cycling related and this blog has been lacking some serious cycling talk lately. But first I'll share one real nice shot I got while in Florida.

Straight from the camera, basic jpeg, no adjustments. I'm pretty proud of this, it was taken on Christmas day. And here is me trying something new in Florida!

I saw recumbents on display outside a shop and just had to try one out. Took it around the lot a few times, turning is real tricky with the small wheel and little rake, but definitely an interesting ride.

So I finally got to get out on my bike again. Last weekend I made a grocery store trip on the bike. The store is around 1.5km from the house, and I just wanted to get out. So rather than taking the stinky old car I hopped on the winter beater hooked up all the lights, horn, and bags, and a box for overflow (which I totally needed). It took a lot of organizing because a lot of stuff was still tucked away from the move, but I got out. It was a nice little ride, there is something about doing a mandatory chore on a bike that is very rewarding. Commuting, grocery getting, running errands by bike just gives me a very good feeling. So far still don't have a good boot/shoe for winter riding. So I've been riding in my Chuck Taylors with a pair of cotton and wool socks. haha.

The bike feels pretty hefty with all that grocery weight on the back. So I think I may try and pick up a used child trailer. Nothing brand name. Just see if I can find something local for hauling junk around in. Also I had to take the mirror in the picture off, it was really getting in the way of my bar ends, I need a better mirror solution...any suggestions?

We had a good bit of snow the other day too. I took my bike out for a little 10.4 km jaunt around town to run some errands. Had to drop some film off to be developed. Cutting through the powder in the back yard on the bike felt very interesting, and fun. I had no problem riding over icy patches and frozen chunks left over from plows on the sides of the road with the Schwalbe Ice Spikers, they make me very confident in my riding. I actually cut across a large field that had been packed down to pretty much ice by pedestrians. The studs dug into the ice no problem and I felt completely stable. In the coming weeks I look forward to checking out some trails. I was hesitant to the aggressive tread of the Ice Spikers and they're 300-something studs. Saying they are not a fast tire is a huge understatement, but if you're a rider in Canada and you want to be 99% confident you aren't going down on ice these are the puppies to get. All it takes is one fall to get a bad injury, and these tires will certainly help in preventing that.

So that is it for now, most of my blogs have been too long winded lately anyway. Now it's audience participation time.

What kind of weather rider are you? Do you ride in snow, rain or shine? Or are you a seasonal rider?

For you winter riders, what do you wear on your feet?!

Also, I find I don't take many pictures while out on a ride. I always have my smartphone but never bother to take pictures. Maybe when I get to do some more scenic riding again I'll take more.