Friday, March 29, 2013

Full Moon Ales

The moon is made of cheese, and so am I. At least that’s how I feel after inhaling a small drumlin of nachos. We—Val, Penn, and I—have been at the bar partaking of post-ride beer and snacks. That’s right. Post-ride.  As of this evening, the 2013 Dusty Musette cycling season has officially begun. 

Winter has waged a long and brutal campaign here in central Alberta. Just last week, it socked us with the final insult—another foot of you know what. But today was a breakthrough. Today felt like spring. So even though the snow is still piled high and the roads are a mess, off we went for an evening spin. A Full Moon Jaunt in Edmonton’s slushy river valley, followed by bevvies—what better way to celebrate the possibility of spring? 

Friday, March 22, 2013

MB 2000 Update: Headset & Crank

Building a bicycle with a 12-year-old is full of surprises. Whereas an adult might see the job as a series of orderly (and in my case, mildly daunting) tasks, the 12-year-old sees it primarily as a chance to do fun things with tools in the garage. On a recent afternoon in Val’s shop, these included . . . 

Hammering: Despite Val’s sage advice—“A hammer is almost never the right tool when working on your bike”—one of the first things young Gil found himself doing was standing on a stool, mallet in hand, whacking the bejeezus out of a tube placed over the crown race of the headset. As Val explained, the crown race is held in place only by friction, so it needs to be pounded onto that head tube in a serious way. Gil whaled away like a mini-Thor, and then, pooped out by the effort, passed along the mallet so Val and I could get in on the fun too.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Bicycletiquette: Bib Protocol

Dear Jasper,
Photo taken at Liberty Cycle, St. Catharines, Ontario
I am a semi-serious cyclist, and I recently purchased my first pair of bib-style cycling shorts. I like them a lot. In fact, they’ve changed my life. But there’s one problem. For the life of me I can’t figure out the logistics of, you know, relieving myself without getting entangled in a mess of suspender straps and shirt fronts. Is there a secret to this? What’s the protocol?
Bibbed and Desperate

Dear BAD,
Many brethren of the wheel would concur that bib-style cycling shorts are a game-changer. No more worries about one’s shorts creeping up or riding down; no more exposed hairy lower backs (or worse). The bib has a way of making one feel sleek, fully contained, and positively aerodynamic. But when nature calls, even the most serious bib-wearing cyclists must answer, and over the years some wily wheelmen and women have come up with proven, even ingenious, methods for taking care of bib-ness.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Pushing the Season, Part 2

Image from Glen Norcliffe's The Ride to Modernity
Back in November I wrote about my scheme to extend my commuting season here in central Alberta. My plan was modest: I’d slap on some studded tires, stick a toque down the front of my pants, and pedal to work when the roads/sidewalks were more-or-less clear and the temperatures weren’t crazy-cold. The hope was to squeeze in a few extra days of riding here and there but still take the bus to work when things got frigid or snowy—nothing radical.

Now it’s time to report on this venture.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Between the Lists: Dispatch from the Karl Kronicles

With the MB 2000 Project back on track, I’m turning my attention to my other winter cycling project, reading Karl Kron’s footstool of a book, Ten Thousand Miles on a Bicycle (1887). I’m only about ten chapters in (one sixth of the total), but I’ve got a pretty good sense of how the book works and what I’m in for the rest of the way. So far, the reading experience is mostly tedious. Although I’ve found the occasional gem of a line (“No vehicle invented by man ever stood in so little need of ‘regulation’ (to prevent interference with the rights and pleasures of others) as does the modern bicycle”), for the most part, reading this book feels akin to pedaling into a stiff headwind. It’s a grind, and I’m beginning to wonder if it will take me ten thousand hours to get through it.