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22 June 2008 @ 10:08 pm
I know it's been a long time since the last post; this year has been a horrible one for me, cycling-wise.

The winter months were either too cold, too windy, or too warm. Too warm? Yep; I hate riding in rain with the temperature just above freezing. On a long commute, if you get wet, you are in trouble.

I was all set to start the cycling season, a little late, in May. I had five weeks of holidays booked, and brook the middle toe of the left foot while playing with my son. I couldn't really ride until the fifth week.

Then, I tried the hardest 200 km brevet the Randonneurs Ontario have, and rode to the ride (extra 70 km each way). The weather was supposed to be warm, cloudy, with thunderstorms. What did we get? Sun, sun, sun. I stupidly didn't bring my sunglasses and sunscreen, and then to top it all off, passed a kidney stone during the ride. Thought my seat was not set up right; turns out I was sitting on a big puddle of urine stuck behind the stone. At the turn around in the ride, I peed, and boy did it hurt. Rested for awhile, then headed back to the next control. I was so tired, sunburned, and sore, and badly out of shape after nearly no riding all year, that I packed it in, and headed south to Hwy 2 (Dundas) and toward Toronto. The locals kept telling me that I was closer to Toronto than I was, and I was so tired I was walking the bike up most hills. I guess the kidney stone really got me. I finally stopped in Whitby, still a good 30 km from the bus and subway system that would get me within 15 km of home, just before a torrential downpour. I should have kept riding, but I had had enough, and called for a spousal pickup. Boy, was she upset.

So, I have just done a little cycling around the area, like picking up catfood at Costco, and taking Joshua to school in the trailer.

Once he is out of school, and I don't have to pick him up at 1130, I want to start doing longer rides into the Niagara pennisula a couple of times a week.

Totals for the year: 1560 km, 62 403 CKAP kms

Hopefully I'll get a ride in tomorrow. I am back to work Tuesday, and am switching back to the ambulance station closer to home - an hour closer commuting in each direction, so I won't be so tired on my days off. That should happen some time in the next few weeks.

Take care, Paul
27 January 2008 @ 09:40 pm
The past two days have been a learning experience with my Exustar winter cycling shoes. I have ridden in most conditions I expect to see - cold well below freezing, slushy snow, and damp roads - all in two days. My conclusion is that the Exustars are not any better than using a summer MTB shoe with rain booties over them. I am using Hotronics Footwarmers as well, but I was as well with the summer shoes, so that factor is equal. I am going to try to stretch my rain booties over the Exustars. As well, despite the advertising, they are not waterproof; I got a lot of slush on my shoes coming home last night and going to work this morning, and my socks became soaked from the top down - not the way to keep the feet warm.

At least I have got my butt in gear and am riding again - and losing weight already, after two days - 76 km yesterday, 77 km today.

End of the week report - 182 km for the week
- 383 km for the month (and year)
- 61227 km CKAP total.

Take care, Paul
Current Mood: contentcontent
24 January 2008 @ 11:15 pm
It has been too cold to ride since the weekend, with windchills of -20C and cooler. Josh has had a cold, so no rides to school. I finally got out today with a ride to Walmart and Costco, managing to scrape together 25 km. It wasn't bad out; -6 with a windchill of -14C. I took the fixie and trailer, and when not going against the wind (20 kph) it wasn't too hard. The distances should increase when I return to work on Saturday, and soon I'll be doing centuries for the UMCA. I might try to cobble one up tomorrow - 30 km between taking Josh to school and bringing him home, then 85 more riding to work to take care of my uniform laundry, then I would just need to find an extra 47 km, so maybe riding to the other side of Burlington and back would do it. Tomorrow is the last day to get one in for January for me, so I will give it a shot if it is not too cold.

Take care everyone, enjoy riding.

Paul Dicks, CKAP 1206
Current Mood: tiredtired
17 January 2008 @ 06:19 pm
Despite the season, it has generally not been that cold in the Toronto area. I haven't ridden to work yet (75 km round trip), but I have been taking Joshua to school on my days off in the trailer, then riding around until time to pick him up at 1130. So far I have 140 km for the month of January. I haven't really ridden any place interesting yet, just around the neighbourhood. I will be starting my UMCA centuries very soon, into the Niagara area. And in a couple of months, the club rides begin, and the kilometer totals should grow more quickly.

I hope everyone is enjoying what ever they do for the winter, if not riding.

Take care, Paul Dicks CKAP 1206
Current Mood: contentcontent
03 December 2007 @ 09:34 pm
Took Joshua to school today in the trailer; first time out after the storm on Sunday. It was not too bad; mainly dry roads, some icy spots; the only treacherous place was where some idiot was snowblowing his snow onto the road. It was very windy, though - 41 kph - to make the -3C into a rather signifant windchill. I used my full winter gear, except for the rain pants, and was only too warm when inside shopping while Josh was in school. 20 kms altogether.

I have to ride the MTB to Mountain Equipment Coop in Toronto tomorrow to get proper brake pads for the fixie - I have tried two sets of aftermarket pads, and for some reason they cannot be set low enough to not rub on the tire. I need to get the fixie up and running, as it is my primary winter bike; that way I can take the summer slicks off the MTB and put the studded snow tires on, for days like today, and for riding on the bike paths when they are covered in ice.

I also need to take the trailer to 42 station, at Kingston and Warden in Toronto, and empty out my lockers, since I now own a spot in a station much closer to home, though I am still working up at Keele and Wilson for at least another few months.

It was enjoyable riding today; cold enough to discourage fair weather cyclists, and to create interesting conversations with the non cycling part of the population, but not too cold to enjoy the ride - the crisp air, the sound of the tires on the frosty pavement, and the sense of doing something the majority of people would not think of even trying.

If you are thinking of riding when the world is frozen, look up icebiking on a search engine, and you will find a website devoted to winter riding - how to dress, handling skills, etc. The url is easy - www.icebike.com. I highly recommend trying riding in winter if you haven't before - the secret is dressing properly, in layers so that you can shed some when you warm up. And riding generates body heat, so you don't need to dress as warm as you would think, at least until it gets to -20C or so.

Not much in way of distance lately - just ferrying Josh to school. It will be nice going for a longer ride tomorrow.

Take care, Paul CKAP 1206
Current Mood: contentcontent
01 December 2007 @ 12:13 pm
With only one more month to attain riding goals this year, it is very cold here in Mississauga, with a nasty winter storm on the way, that will bring "icebiking" weather here for the first time this year.

This past week I have been just taking my son to school in the trailer, riding around and doing some shopping for the hour, then going back to the school to bring him home - 10 to 15 km, no big effort. I did make a kitty litter run this week - 80lbs in the trailer - big effort.

I have been riding my Giant mountain bike, as I have been unable to find proper brakes for my fixie, and any that I have purchased rub on the tire. I wasn't sure they were, until I took a look, and saw that the bottom half of the word Continental was gone. So, the bike is parked until I can get to Urbane Cyclist, as the brakes the other bike stores stock do not fit quite right.

And, this week has been heavy on computer time, working on a list of everyone who has ever submitted a cycling distance report to the Canadian Kilometer Achievement Program. That is about 750 riders, and a lot of cross referencing and typing. James Wilson, CKAPS coordinator in Ottawa, has been going through the old files and reports, making sure the stats are correct.

Well, time to get away from the computer and ride to the grocery store with the trailer - sure beats walking home with the bags, and with the temperature at -10C, I don't have to worry about anything spoiling.

And by the way, I saw Neil Young at Massey Hall in Toronto on this past Wednesday. It was the best concert I have ever ever seen, and he is definitely my favourite artist still alive (oh, how I miss the man in black).

Take care, Paul Dicks, CKAP 1206
14 November 2007 @ 01:04 am
Busy day at work today. Two near death experiences cycling to work, both within 2 km of one another. A tractor trailer passed me, the cab leaving me enough room, but the driver pulled back toward the curb too soon, and if there hadn't been a handy driveway by which to evacuate to the sidewalk temporarily, the wheels of the trailer would have nailed me. Thankfully, when I immediately rode back onto the road, the tractor trailer following the first gave me almost an entire lane.

Just minutes later, a TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) bus blows by me at well over the speed limit, missing me by just inches (like 3 or 4).

It was tough riding home tonight - not as windy as the night before, but I was just really tired, and was seriously thinking of just sleeping at the ambulance station, then, during the first few kilometres, thinking of turning around. I just kept riding against the persistent SW wind until I was more than halfway home.

Running low on energy, I stopped at a grocery store a kilometre before the biggest climb on the way home, 6 km before home. A 2 litre of Mountain Dew was purchased, and a healthy gulp or 3 later, I was ready to continue. Of course, even though the pop was room temperature, it lowered my core temperature enough that my hands and feet immediately got cold.

I always feel more cold when I am tired and exhausted. The computer says it is 7C, just like last night when I got home, but it felt like 2 or 3C to me.

Daily distance: 76.216 km
Weekly: 163 km
Monthly: 517 km
Yearly: 5924 km
CKAP Total: 60403 km

Take care, and safe riding, Paul Dicks
Current Mood: tiredtired
13 November 2007 @ 12:34 am
Feeling very tired after a 12 hour shift at work, I headed home at 2220. There was a nice stiff headwind of 22 kph from the west, which made the majority of the ride rather tough. It certainly feels good to be home, ready for bed, with the protein drink already consumed.

Distance Today: 87.503 km
This Week: 87 km
This Month: 441 km
This Year: 5848 km
CKAP Total: 60237 km

Take care, Paul Dicks, CKAP 1206
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Current Music: Dead Can Dance
12 November 2007 @ 02:47 pm
The forecast today was drizzle stopping at 0700, then afternoon showers stopping at 1900. That sounded perfect, as I was leaving at 0700 for a 1000-2200 shift - leaving early to take my dirty uniforms to the cleaners and pick up the clean ones - a nice way to add 10 km to the commute. It was still drizzling when I left, so I dressed for rain, just in case. It continued to drizzle all the way to work. One nice thing about acid rain, though - it really makes your eyeglasses clean when you finally wipe them off at the destination. So, I managed a 49 km commute to work. Though I was working against a light wind, I was really flying this morning on the fixie - 32 kph until I got into the congestion of Toronto, and started climbing up Keele St. Maybe that cold ride on Saturday with a headwind seemingly no matter which way I was facing built me up a bit, but more likely it was taking a day off from the bike, despite a beautiful afternoon, and hearing in my mind my bike saying "let's go for a ride, just 40 km, you and me." Good thing I couldn't hear it from the other room while I was watching the Nascar race. This week is the most commutes of my six week cycle at work - 5 days in a row, so there should be close to 400 km just from commuting, and another planned 200 km ride on Saturday - I'll see how I feel when I get up. If not, I can pick up my cleaned laundry, then ride to downtown Toronto to pickup the Neil Young tickets I won from the local radio station, and get some new brake pads for my fixie; I am getting distressingly familiar with the concept of riding a fixie with no brakes, which I am dead set against; I have seen the aftermath of such a concept while at work - fractured pelvis, femur and ribs on the worst patient, and his beautiful fixie bike, which was actually a high end racing frame, was trashed. Me, I am riding a black fixie with fenders, rack and brakes from Urbane Cyclist on John St. in Toronto. Not quite as cool, but it is my winter transportation bike, rainy weather bike, and this year it has somehow become my all the time bike - the Cannondale R3000 has only been out on three rides; I think I did more Randonneur rides on the fixie. And my cheap MTB, with over 10 000 km of commuting on it, has just hung on the bike rack in the bedroom all year. I really should be pulling my 38 lb son in the trailer with that bike; slopes and hills on fixies are bad enough, without extra weight. The heaviest load I have pulled in the trailer was 2 bags of kitty litter, weighing 80 lbs total. That is the only time I have ever had a protein drink after a ride of only 20 kms. The trailer is great though - while I can walk to the grocery store, carrying it back can be a killer. It is more of a pain to get the bike and trailer down the elevator and through the doors of the apartment building, but it is so much easier coming home with the groceries in the trailer, and with a 100 lb capacity, it can carry a lot of groceries.

But, I digress....

Hoping for a dry ride home tonight in the dark,

Paul CKAP 1206
Current Mood: working
10 November 2007 @ 05:06 pm
I was looking forward to a nice, sunny ride to Niagara on the Lake, easily 200 km, today. It was supposed to be 5C when I was to leave at 0800. The temperature reading on my computer for Mississauga and Toronto said it was 2C. And then, it went to 1C. Finally, at 1000, it was 2C again, and I decided I had better get going. I dressed for cool fall, using my regular cycling helmet and bandana on my head, summer jersey with Goretex jacket, shorts and tights, and my MTB shoes in rain booties, with my Hotronics Footwarmers attached, just in case. I was using my fall long fingered gloves, good until about 1 or 2C. Just in case, I brought rain pants, the outer shells of my Arcticwear gloves, and a lighter jacket.

Warmer was the way to go in clothing, not cooler. 20 km, or about an hour into the ride, I noted my left foot was getting cold - right on time for sub-zero temps, and with a windchill of -2, it was that. So, I turned on the Hotronics Footwarmer battery on that foot. I thought the battery would run down before long, as I had used it for commuting home 3 times last week. But, the right foot's battery was to be the reserve.

The ride along Lakeshore Rd was nice, through Oakville, Burlington, following the Waterfront Trail whenever convenient. I had an enforced rest period at the lift bridge between Burlington and Hamilton, as the lake bulk carrier Captain Henry Jackman was coming through, from Hamilton harbor to Lake Ontario. It was certainly a sight going through the bridge; over 700 ft long, and the bridge was above the level of the road, and myself. I could see the ship out in Lake Ontario for quite a while afterward as I rode along the shore. If you want to see a picture of the ship, go to http://www.boatnerd.com/pictures/fleet/captjack.htm

I got on the Hamilton Beach path after that. With a cloudy sky, and a substantial breeze, the shoreline was quite active, with 1 or 2 metre waves crashing into the beach; the water was a steel gray colour - quite beautiful. I saw a lot of cyclists, considering the temperature, still around 2C.

I made it to the end of the path, and popped out in a subdivision. Looking in the Waterfront Trail Guide I carried, I couldn't figure out where I was, and I decided I was in the wrong place. I also decided at this point to chop the ride down to 100 km, as it wasn't getting any warmer, and I was getting colder. So, I rode back to the beginning, and there I saw a nice sign that showed the end of the path, and how to go through the subdivision. It would have been nice to have that sign on the other end! So, back I went. I figured that by the time I got to the other end again, returning home would give me 100 km.

It stayed cold all though the second trip on the path. When I got to the end, I was at the border of Hamilton and Stoney Creek. I had already switched batteries, as the left foot's had died, and I didn't want to be out much longer in case it got even colder. So, I headed away from the lake, over the QEW, and into Hamilton - right into industrial central. As I cycled along the road, I dispaired of seeing anything selling food. When I reached Barton Rd, though, nirvana! All sorts of fast food joints. I turned right, and found a variety store. I purchased a litre of chocolate milk, and 2 Aero chocolate bars. I also bought a 649 lottery ticket for the draw tonight - can't turn down a chance for $37 million. I could get that recumbent trike I would love to get, and even the tandem recument trike, to get my wife cycling again.

Of course the chocolate milk dropped my core temperature so much I started to shiver. Getting back on the bike, I headed back home. It took about 30 minutes before I got the energy boost, and then I started to feel better. A half hour later, the sun came out - I could see my shadow, and it finally started warming up! My fingers had actually started to get cold in the Arcticshield gloves; I had put those on when I stopped to turn on the batteries. Now, my feet actually started to feel warm, or at least not cold, and my hands were slightly sweating. A quick stop at the grocery store on the way back for 2 litres of chocolate milk for post ride protein drinks for the next few days, and back west for a few extra kms, as the sun was shining, it was finally as warm as it was supposed to be at 0800, and I felt good.

All in all, the longest ride I have done in a while, this being November. If we get another actually warm day this month on one of my days off, I will try to make it to Niagara on the Lake again. Last March was the other time I have tried this ride, and I made it to Port Dalhousie, beside St. Catherines, and that was a 180 km round trip.

Kilometer Totals:

Today: 111.57
This week: 175
This month: 353
This year: 5760
CKAP total: 60239

Take care, Paul Dicks
Current Mood: tiredtired