Archive for the ‘Cycle Commuting’ Category

Seeing the Light   2 comments

The spring has been late in arriving in this part of the world. Here it is the third week of April and I have yet to get my bike on the  road. I thought I was so close a month ago but then winter returned. Of course there are increasing numbers of winter-hearty cyclists who never stop riding just because of cold and snow – to them I tip my cycling cap.

I stopped in at the local MEC today and browsing through the cycling department sure got me thinking and exciting. I was looking at some new fenders for my touring bike and dreaming of some new wheels for my old road bike. However what really caught my eye was bike lights.

What I noticed probably wouldn’t be that big a deal for anyone that has been keeping up with the technology developments but I haven’t been in the market for a new bike light for maybe 20 years. The last light I  bought was state of the art (for the time) but what sticks out was the rechargeable  battery which was the size of a water bottle and intended to fit in a water bottle cage. The headlight itself was a massive incandescent thing (it still remains mounted on my mountain bike, although I haven’t used it for years). It was good and bright – but big!

So what I saw today was lovely compact units – thanks to improvements in light and battery technology. All of the units now use very energy efficient LED “bulbs”. This efficiency means that the batteries can be much smaller – yielding complete units that fit in the palm of your hand.

A great feature of a number of these compact lights was the ability to charge the battery via a USB connection. With hours of battery life and the ability to charge them up any time you are sitting at a computer for a few hours, this design seems ideal for a commuter or recreational rider. Other lights used non-rechargeable, but readily available AA batteries.

One thing I noticed in comparing various units was the amount of light given off. Among the LED I saw 5 and 50 Lumen units. I have yet to test and compare these but I am guessing that the  5 Lumen units would probably be most suited when your main goal is to be seen – say when riding on urban routes with street lighting. The 50 Lumen brightness would seem to be what you need when riding dark paths and need not only to be seen but also to see the road ahead of you. Some of the AA battery powered lights offered over a 100 Lumen brightness.

I have no plans to do night riding in the near future but given the compactness and cost of these little units I will probably pick up a headlight and taillight to tuck into  my pack, “just in case”.

Posted April 19, 2014 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Commuting, Cycling

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Bicycle Times – a magazine review   Leave a comment

The other day I noticed on a magazine rack, a cycling magazine that I had not read before. So I picked up a copy and here’s what I found.

Bicycle Times magazine

This is issue #10 of Bicycle Times, a magazine published 6 time as a year out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. The subtitle “Your Everyday Cycling Adventure” was my first clue as the nature of this magazine. It is down to earth, practical and comfortable. I like it.

This issue contains six feature articles:

  • Cycles – a poem that starts, “To work off the ice cream…” Not something you see in every cycling mag.
  • Of Melons, Mountains and Travels Through Turkey – I like to read about cycle touring adventures (especially of places I’ve never been and may never get to)and this is an interesting article with good accompanying photos
  • The Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program – fascinating  article about the cycling activities of this San Francisco area organization. Interesting discussion of handcycles.
  • An Outfit for all Seasons – a good review of everyday cycling clothing with suggestions on “coordinating” outfits for different occasions
  • Advocacy: Portland is Not a Different Planet – well I wondered about that? Seriously, important stuff! The article starts: “Their farsighted bike policies can be adapted and even improved upon in other cities”
  • An Interview with Bruce Gordon – an interview with an American bicycle maker – insightful!

In addition to these features articles there are a number of regular departments. In this issue I see:

  • Spoke’n Word – reader feedback
  • Wheel News – story about “The Ride of Silence” – this Grand Rapids version of a worldwide series of rides to honor cyclists injured or killed on the road.
  • Vintage Velo – a look back at a 1980 Schwinn
  • Yehuda Moon – a full page cycling comic
  • Between the Lines – very practical discussion of riding on the road amongst traffic
  • The Candy Store – reviews of four really interesting, unique bikes and some accessories
  • Bike Socials: Events – announcements/previews of half a dozen major cycling events around the US
  • How We Roll – an end of  the issue editorial (this one an ode to the writer’s “paperboy bike”)

Obviously there is a lot of info  in this issue and if you are interested you will just have to pick up a copy. You an also check out Bicycle Timeswebsite for reviews, news and subscription information (including an available digital edition).

This is a magazine that to me, just fits very comfortably, so I will be reading it going forward, I’ve got the website bookmarked and don’t hesitate to recommend Bicycle Times to you.

Posted April 30, 2011 by Randy Talbot in Cycle Commuting, Cycle Touring, Cycling

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Downtown to Terwilligar (testing the trails)   Leave a comment

Today (2011 April 25) marked my longest right of the year. I ventured on one of my favorite routes, a 40K out and back from Downtown to Terwilligar. This was my first ride on most of these trails and roads this year so I’ll share what I encountered.

The bicycle paths on the northside of the river from Riverdale, through Rossdale and down River Road were great – dry and clean (except for a few wet patches in Rossdale, at the southeast corner.

The first hazard encountered was a lot of sand on the path connecting the River Road trail to the northeast end of Groat Bridge. this is a steep little section and sand is not welcome either going up or coming down. It’s not bad if you are the only one on this section but if  there is traffic, be prepared.

North Saskatchewan River looking east from Groat Bridge

The view from the bridge was quite dramatic as I crossed, with many chunks of ice floating downstream (on my return crossing the river was pretty much clear)

Once across the river and up the hill, I turned onto Emily Murphy Park Road to take the overpass over Groat Road. Very sandy! Sand would be a serious issue all of the way up Groat Road – on the road leading up to Hawrelak Park entrance and then on the sidewalk/path running on the west side of Groat Road.  Caution is in order when on the road and especially when changing lanes. The sidewalk is very sandy on the road side  put clear on the park side – again not an issue if  pedestrian/cycle traffic is light.

Sandy path between Hawrelak Park and Groat Road

The path from the traffic circle to the top of Keillor Road was pretty smooth cycling – clean and dry for the most part.

The Keillor Road hill was wet, and sandy. On is not going to want to cruise down like you would on dry summer pavement. Part of the bike path were still covered by snow and there was lots of run-off on the paths.

Snow, Sand and Water on Keillor Road Hill

Once down on the flat section beside the Whitemud Equine Center the road was pretty fast although there was snow on the road sides and there were wet sections. Back on the bike paths around the little bridge over the Whitemud Creek I again found a lot of sand – slow and cautious riding called for.

looking west down Keillor Road

Blocked Path at Quesnel Bridge

The next hazard was at the Quesnel Bridge construction site. The bike path is inconveniently blocked by construction trailers right where the trail intersects the road under the south end of the bridge. Cyclists must go off-road and ease their way down the square curb.

Once under the Quesnel I connect to the bike path running back behind Fort Edmonton Park. on the south bank of the river valley. I should know better than to expect a dry trail  on this side of the river before mid-May. True enough, this section was mostly wet and very sandy – that mix that drives me crazy with the crunching once it gets into my drive train. The good thing is that it was only water, there was no snow or ice that I had to cross along this path.

Beautiful but wet path to the south of Ft. Edmonton Park

From the end of this bike path I took the Whitemud Road – up the steep, gravelly hill. The hill was rough as usual but not overly muddy, so I didn’t really think about it.  I continued along Whitemud Road through the residential community.

Awkward Off-road Connection

There is one little off road connection that I usually take  between Riddell Street and Romaniuk Road  but today it was wet and muddy and I had to make a detour on to the nearest road. I continued for a few kilometers south of Rabbit Hill Road along  relatively dry but sandy residential roads before backtracking my route to get home.

Overall the ride was a success (my longest of the year, the weather was decent and my camera worked out well ) but I think I will not venture out on this same route again for a couple more weeks (hopefully by then  the paths will be dry and the sand will be swept up).

Fort Edmonton Footbridge over the North Saskatchewan River (viewed from Ramsey Crescent)