Friday, February 24, 2012

The Call of Ventoux, Part Two

No one ever talks about the middle section of the climb up Ventoux. Accounts of the ascent tend to focus on that final seven kilometres: summit, summit, wind, summit, moonscape, summit, wind, summit, Simpson, summit, eerie, summit. Summit. For obvious reasons—the top of Ventoux is unique, memorable, ominous. But, as anyone who’s ridden up that mountain knows, the hard part of the climb, on most days, is not the summit.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Happy ERP Day, everyone. Today is the birthday of Elizabeth Robins Pennell (or ERP, as I like to call her), one of the pioneers of cycling writing and a particular hero, or, I guess I should say, heroine, of mine.  She was born in 1855 in Philadelphia but lived a good portion of her prime years (1884-1917) in London with her husband, Joseph Pennell, a well-known illustrator and sometimes-writer. Together, they were a prolific creative duo, producing dozens of books and hundreds of magazine articles on their favorite subjects: art (especially him), food (her), travel (both), and, especially in the 1880s and 90s, cycling (both). They produced five illustrated cycle-travel books (some of which I’ll discuss in detail another day) and dozens of illustrated magazine articles about their adventures on a tandem tricycle and, later, bicycles in England and across Europe.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Stellar Cartography

They call me the Cartographer. By “they” I mean my regular riding partners, the other two Museteers, Val and Penn. It’s a half-joking reference to my default role as designated route-finder. In all honesty, it’s a role that I relish: creating well-designed ride routes that meet all the criteria of a satisfying semi-serious spin. That would include low traffic roads or ones with generous shoulders, few stoplights, scenic views, and, of course, a coffee stop located somewhere close to the midpoint. My tools are web resources like mapmyride and Gmap, the trusty Alberta Road Atlas, word of mouth, and, of course, old fashioned trial and error.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tucson Bike Race, Yee Haw!

Val and Penn are off Tucson this  week to ride in a bike race.  Next week, you will hear all about it.  Until then, here is a video about the race.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Austin Is, Indeed, Weird

They say Austin is weird, and I’ve certainly seen evidence of that in the area of East Austin where I’m staying. Even if that weirdness is now somewhat self-conscious or contrived at times (how can’t it be when that phrase makes it on bumper stickers and t-shirts?), I’ve seen plenty of authentic, genuine-seeming weirdness too.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Texas Roadkill

An auspicious day here in Austin, Texas, where I’m visiting mainly for work, but also with an eye to escaping Alberta’s winter and getting some riding in.  True, I did get out for my first honest bike ride of the year, first real one in months. That’s cause for celebration itself, sure, but that’s not what made today’s ride special. No, what made this run one for the ages was the post-apocalyptic carnage strewn along the roadside.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Inspiration #4

This one is a little more commercial than I normally feel comfortable bringing into a space like the Musette.  But I cannot deny that about halfway through the video below, I was seized by a powerful urge to jump from my desk chair and go for a ride--so I'm saying that it makes the cut as inspirational material. 

It's also a great argument stopper.  If you find yourself having an endless debate with yourself (or someone else) about whether or not you need to buy that new doo-dad, this should convince you to save your money.  You are not going to go faster with those new rims.  You are not going to clean that trail you've never mastered with another 20mm of suspension travel.  Do not get conned into the belief that the right piece of gear will do the riding for you. 

Put your money back in your wallet.  Go practice riding your bike.  Practice a lot.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Call of Ventoux, Part One

“Watch out for the crazy Belgians.” That was the advice of Bernard, our genial Swiss host at the lovely gite my family had rented for a week in the Vaucluse, a northern department of Provence.  After being there for a week in early July, I had announced my intention of cycling up Mont Ventoux, the Giant of Provence, one of the most famous mountain climbs in Tour de France history. The Belgians had also come to cycle up Ventoux, Bernard explained, but they were doing it three times in one day, as part of an annual Cinglés (that is, “Madmen”) du Mont-Ventoux pilgrimage.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Walker Overtakes Cyclist

Penn is off pondering deep thoughts on bicycles and anachronisms.   

Inspiration #3

Where did you ride your bike today?

This is available in HD.  It is good for your soul to watch it full-screen and in a quiet mood. 

Nepali Trails with Sandman Titanium. First Details from Martín Campoy on Vimeo.