Archive for the ‘Bike’ Category

“Fabia’s Big Ride”

Posted: October 11, 2016 in Bike
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So this past holiday weekend (yesterday) I got to do something very special of which I am immensely proud.  And not necessarily for myself either.  No, yesterday marked HRH‘s epic bike ride from our home here in Ridgeway to Lock 3 in St. Catharines and onward to the grandparents’ house.  This is what the last 3-4 weeks of cycling with the kiddo have all been leading up to…her own Ironman journey, so to speak.

I don’t have a lot to say that I haven’t already posted HERE so, instead, here’s a record of the trip in pictures:

We left at 10:15am after a big breakfast, a coffee and a poop.  Well, I did anyway.


We first rode along the Friendship Trail from here in Ridgeway for approximately 14 kilometers passing through Sherkston to Port Colborne.

We arrived just in time to make it across the Lock 7 bridge before a boat passed through on it’s way to Lake Erie.


We then joined up with the Canal Trail beginning at the Robin Hood plant and, from there, we simply pedaled northbound towards St. Catharines stopping briefly at the Flatwater Center in Dain City for a picture in the grandstand.

The autumn colors were in full bloom along the entire pathway. This is one of the reasons why I consider myself so lucky to live and ride where I do.

Absolutely gorgeous.


As we had planned, we stopped for a brief lunch of peanut butter and jelly and a few apple slices at the Flatwater Center in Welland before continuing on again.

It wasn’t long afterwards that HRH  learned another valuable lesson about riding:  always spit out and to the side…not directly ahead into the wind.  Hey, some lessons you just have to learn the hard way.


We continued pedaling on through Allanburg towards Thorold for another 20k or so.  Fortunately at this point, the majority of the ride was on a gradual downhill as we were heading north down the Niagara Escarpment but there was still the odd small hill every so often to conquer just to remind her that this was meant to be something of a challenge.

After all, anything that matters take a little work right?

After another hour or so we popped out at the tippy-top of the Flight Locks in Thorold to begin our big decent down to our finish destination at the Lock 3 Viewing Complex.

Oh, we stopped for these candid shots with the amazing murals in Thorold as well.

It was only another 10-15 minutes from there before we arrived at our intended “finish line” after 53 kilometers of cycling.  Of course, we had to take the obligatory victory photos.

I had even brought along my dad for the ride seeing as how I was using his bike (click HERE) and I like to think he was looking down on us from somewhere smiling.

This one however I think is the real winner on the day:


Of course, it took her a moment to get it up there in the first place.


So a celebratory hot chocolate was definitely in order.


Lastly, we tackled the final 2 kilometers to grandma and grandpa’s house and a well-deserved treat.


So what does an 11-year-old cyclist do to warm down after a long, chilly, autumn ride?

Why, this little ensemble of course:


I’m sure all the greats had one:  Eddy Merckz, Bernard Hinault, Miguel Induráin, Greg LeMonde…shit, I hear Chris Froome even warms down in a fuzzy Kermit the Frog suit.


I’ll stick to the essentials.


Anyway, this was just about the best way to begin winding down the riding season if you ask me.  I know I’m currently getting in the mindset to renew my Ironman training so I figure having a little fun before that hammer drops would be a good idea.

Besides, if you can’t enjoy your passions with the ones you love…what’s the point?

“Riding with Fabia”

Posted: September 28, 2016 in Bike
Tags: , ,

Summer is finally over, meaning that I have to begin focusing on the upcoming Ironman re-do in July; let’s just say that I have unfinished business there (click HERE).  Therefore, the “training plan” is about to change to be more run and swim focused through the autumn and winter months as biking season begins to wind down.  I’m already in the pool twice a week building a solid base of 6000-7000m weekly, and I’m now running shorter interval runs (3x a week) anticipating a return to my regular fartlek and long progression runs in another month or so.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m giving up the bike just yet, no.  It’s just that I’m not really “training” on the bike at the moment by involving myself in weekly “Hammerfest” rides anymore.  Instead, I’ve been doing some sweep riding for charity (click HERE) and soon I’d like to begin breaking out Snowflake more regularly and actually learn how to mountain bike properly.

However, there is another type of riding that I’ve been enjoying more frequently as well – cycling with the kiddo.

14480671_10154396707870977_384844982912467854_oJust recently, we introduced HRH  to a proper women’s road bike (thanks Colette!).  We replaced the clip pedals with normal pedals, gave it a decent tune up and, Bob’s your uncle, we’re now riding together – regularly – 2 to 3 times a week.

It’s a whole new world for her.

On these rides, I’ve been giving her the crash course on how to use her gears effectively so she can manage a decent pace (for an 11-year-old anyway), otherwise known as the delicate art of “cadence”.  She’s no lover of hills (yet) – like her mom – but we’ve practiced how to get up and over them anyway.  We’ve practiced how to draft properly and she has become rather proficient at riding on my wheel.  We’ve even practiced the dynamics of riding in a group (communicating, hand signals, clearing intersections, etc.) on the occasions we have invited another cycling buddy along for the ride.  We’ve practiced how to drink on the bike as well as how to ride safely in traffic.

And, yes, we’ve even practiced how to spit and wipe your nose whilst riding too.

You know: the fundamentals.

And I admit, she even has her own Strava account as well as her own special sprint segment of which she is now gunning to be the KOM.

img_0856In other words, we haven’t just been going around the block any more like we did last summer during our ‘Tour de Ridgeway’ outings, no sir.  This year, now that she has the proper tools, “Fabia van Hall unt Hauser” has reinvented herself as a serious Grand Tour rider, so to speak.

Meaning, we’ve been doing some decent distance.

So far, we have managed to complete a whopping 45k ride as our longest ride to date, and then we also complete a few other shorter, fun rides (weather permitting) that more or less explore all the back country roads in and around our area that she has never had a reason to go down before and, likely, never would have been able to get to on her own pedal power.

Remember, after 10-11k last year on her little kid’s bike – her legs were toast.

I think the most fun part of it (for me anyway) is getting to witness that sense of accomplishment and, ultimately, that “freedom” that comes from the accomplishment of completing some serious distance, especially after she realizes that she has ridden out to Port Colborne, Stevensville or Fort Erie…all by herself.

1We have even set our own goal now to “train” towards to be tackled in the next 2-3 weeks or so, in that we’re going to ride from our home here in Ridgeway to her grandparent’s place in St. Catharines – a total of approximately 57-60k which, for her, will be quite the epic journey.

Stay tuned, folks.

What this all means for me besides being a fun way to wind down my riding season knowing that early morning trainer rides are likely in my near future (never say never, honey), is that I get to share my love of riding with my daughter and spend some quality time in the saddle together. And, believe you me; our conversations have about as many boundaries are our chosen cycle routes these days.

This is definitely something I can see us doing a lot more of and bonding over in the future and as she grows older and more capable, I may even have myself my new riding/training partner in the making.

Clara Hughes – watch out!

On Monday, I took Daisy in for her annual check tune up to in.cep.tion cyclery.  I figured it was high time since I’ve been putting a lot of kilometers on her this summer as I am apt to do every year and, being an older bike, I like to ensure she is in good running order.

Among the list of things I wanted accomplished this time around was to have the rear cassette cleaned out as it appeared as if a squirrel had proceeded to build itself a nest in it for all the gunk and road debris that had built up in it the past few months.  I thought this was normal.  However, upon pick up the next day, Brandon (the proprietor of in.cep.tion cyclery and ‘go-to’ guy for all things bike) dropped a little mechanical science on me regarding how to properly maintain my bike chain and, ergo, my rear cassette.

And, yes, I agree, for most cycle guru’s out there this might already be common knowledge and likely prompt a “What the fuck Terry, really?”  but, for all the other mechanical buffoons out there – like myself – this was a great learning opportunity that I thought I could share; basically, how to properly oil your bike chain.

For most, this probably seems like such a no-brainer thing to do requiring very little knowledge and mechanical aptitude; drop a few drops of oil on the chain, spin the pedals a bit and, Bob’s your uncle, you’re set to go.   How hard is that?  However, as it turns out, I’ve been doing it all wrong.  As I learned yesterday, there is a preferred “process” involved in effectively unfunking (ie. lubing) a bike chain that will both significantly improve your ride as well as limit the amount of wear n’ tear on the chain itself over time.

For the past eight years I have been lubing my chain the same way – the way I was shown how: drop a few drops of oil on my chain where it sits on the rear cassette (see below), and run it through by spinning the pedal backwards.  Presto!

Good to go.



First off, you should never drop the oil on at the rear cassette.  What I was basically doing was gunking up my rear cassette so that during the ride all the dust, grit and gravel I was inevitably riding over was being drawn up into the cassette and sticking there.  Hence the rats nest of shit that had built up in my rear cassette.  All this grime was essentially wearing down my chain prematurely each time the cogs passed through this tangled mess of debris.  Secondly, in applying the oil in this manner, I was dropping the oil on the top of the chain.  Now think about it, the top part of the chain isn’t really what comes into immediate contact with either the front or back cassette, or rear derailleur for that matter.  No, the bottom does.  So why am I applying oil on the top then?

Because I’m a total idiot, apparently.

Instead, I should be applying the oil to the bottom of the chain and, then, not over the rear cassette.



This way when you run it through the chain by spinning the chain backwards, it is more effectively lubing the actual parts of the chain that will come into contact with the rest of the bikes drive parts (ie. the cassettes and derailleur’s).

Makes sense, right?

 Let’s review:


Now, here’s the critical part.

Once you’ve applied the oil and run it through:


Yes, wipe it off.

hioly shit!

I know.  It blew my mind too.

Before you begin riding, take a rag and gently hold it against the chain and continue back pedaling lightly in order to wipe off all the excess oil.  I know this might seem counter-productive, but the only oil that is really necessary is the oil which has seeped down into the chain cogs themselves as that essentially what comes into contact with the cogs of the front and rear cassettes.  Any extra oil on the top or bottom of the chain is only going to serve to further gather up more unnecessary road crap and then proceed to drag it all through the cassettes, which you definitely don’t need.  In essence, once you’ve finished this process, very little oil should come off at all if you were to run your fingers along the chain.  Currently, if I were to do this with my chain (well, prior to today anyway), I would be looking at grease marks which would likely never come off without removed a layer of skin.  And, heaven help me if it gets onto my cycling kit.

Just ask Kelly.

Honestly, how many times have you ended up a ride with that toothy imprint where you your right leg had briefly rested against the chain wheel; affectionately known as a “shark bite”.  Ideally, that should never happen.  Me?  I don’t consider it a ride unless I have to practically take a Brillo pad to my calf in the shower afterwards.

To me, this bit right here was a total revelation.

So I took Daisy out for spin today with her new clean and improved cassettes and here’s what I noticed immediately.  She sounded better and she rode smoother.  Sure, having just had a proper tune up certainly would have had something to do with this but, I’m also wagering that not having to have the chain pass through such crud in the rear derailleur had something to do with it as well.

So for those of you who were either shown how to do this seemingly basic bike maintenance procedure incorrectly, or just plain didn’t know any better (I fall into both brackets apparently)…now you do.

Happy riding.

Tour De Waterloo

Posted: July 12, 2016 in Bike

A few weeks ago, seeing as how I had originally planned to be away out east – you know, competing in an Ironman competition (click HERE and HERE for the whole story) – I had some time off from work with which to relax.  Now, I recognize that there were about a thousand things I could have been doing like ticking things off my wife’s “Honey Do” list but, truthfully, I was feeling a bit morose about the whole failed event; disappointed and frustrated.  I ran the whole gauntlet of being depressed as if I had actually failed at something.

Silly, I know, but there it is.

Instead, I read, drank beer, and felt sorry for myself while listening to a buttload of sad records.  Honestly, I accomplished little other than being a lazy arse and driving Kelly completely bat shit crazy (mission accomplished on both regards, by the way).  I decided then that maybe a little “Cycle Therapy” might be order.

Hello, Waterloo!

This area (ride) is pretty familiar to me for many reasons of which I will soon explain, and I’ve cycled this particular route a few times now.  So I guess you could say it’s becoming a bit of a tradition.  Each time I go back it feels a little bit like a homecoming of sorts for other reasons I will also elaborate on.  The “tradition” started four years ago when Kelly planned for us to join what was then billed as “The Butter Tart Ride”, organized by one of the local cycling clubs.

Butter tarts and bike riding, what’s not to love about that?

Together we cycled 112 kilometers through Amish and Mennonite back country, gobbled butter tarts by the mitt full and otherwise enjoyed each others company on what we would come to affectionately refer to as the “Boogers, Ball Sweat and Hoark” ride.  It’s a long story.  I remember it being brutally hot out that day but together we soldiered through the heat and had an extremely agreeable time.  The next year my father passed away and remembering how therapeutic I found that ride the year before, I returned again and plotted out a 95 kilometer route that, while still following some of the same roads as the Butter Tart Ride, also took me past more of the area that I am familiar with and have a strong connection to.  This time the ride was solo and I pedaled along at a pace that I am more comfortable with, with fewer stops.  Not that stopping for butter tarts is a bad thing, mind you.

When cycling alone, I can turn my brain off, turn the pedals over and just get lost within myself and the passing landscape in state of Zen that one can only achieve through effort and pleasing exhaustion.  Call me crazy.  I may not have gone as far, but by the end I was still thoroughly spent and more at ease with my swelling emotions.  Last year I couldn’t make it out for one reason or another, so I figured I’d resurrect the trip this year in lieu of not having an A-race to compete in; a total lemon vs. lemonade kind of dealie.

I searched out the route from my Garmin.Connect data and, this time, made more mental notes of what I wanted to see and accomplish.  Namely, retracing certain aspects of my childhood when we used to visit this area on family trips to stay with relatives.  I wanted to more thoroughly indulge in all those memories from my past and let them flood into and out my brain like water through a pipe.  Except this time it would be from the saddle of my trust steed, a Trek 1000 road bike that I have affectionately nicknamed “Daisy” (don’t judge), and not the backseat of my parents old cream colored Volvo.

Fortunately, my relatives now live in not-so-far away Waterloo, a bustling metropolis of 120,000 people (depending on what school term is currently in session), which provides the perfect launching and ending point for the trip.  Also, having attended the University of Waterloo back in the early 90’s, I am also very familiar with the north end of the city and downtown core which definitely adds to the whole “Trip Down Memory Lane” purpose of the journey.   Convenient, right?

My Aunt Kathy now lives around the corner from the campus – quite literally.  I arrived around 11:00am which was definitely a bit later than I had originally planned, thanks to on-going construction, detours and a dodgy GPS device which thought it was best I take the slowest and most inconvenient route possible.  I also have to say that I’m sure the Waterloo city planners also intended for motorists to be required to stop at some intersection other every 3.6 nanoseconds or so.  It felt like I spent more time sitting at traffic lights than I actually did making progress towards my destination.  But I eventually arrived, set and ready to get on with the journey.  After a quick chat with my aunt and tire pump up, I headed out of her driveway eager to get going.


I knew that leaving a bit later meant that I would also be dealing with the mid-day heat and humidity but I have learned to cope with both in as long as I keep moving as I can usually generate enough “breeze” to convince myself that I am actually cool.  The only real unfortunate thing was that almost from the get go, I was cycling directly into a headwind and for that I have no easy fix, so I consigned myself to the fact that it was potentially going to be a very challenging day.  Regardless, I was under way and feeling pretty good about it.

The 2016 edition of the Tour de Waterloo was officially underway.

I chose the quickest route of the city that I knew figuring that I could do the reminiscing around campus later when I got back into the city.  Let’s just say I was eager to get out of Suburbia.  I headed out west down Westmount Rd. North and, coincidentally past my old dorm on campus where I lived during my first year of university back in 1994, exactly 22 years ago.   At the time I lived (if you want to call it that) in the Village 2 Residence and as fate would have it today, I rode right past the window to the very same room I lived in East E.  It didn’t look like there was much life going on around the Village today as the drapes were all drawn and there were was absolutely no sign of student life whatsoever, given it would likely be the summer break for most students, so I rode on.  It’s not like I have terribly terrific memories I wanted to relive here anyway.  After all, how much fun can one possibly have living in a room the size of a broom closet and where everything – furniture included – is permanently fixed down?  But, hey, just for shits and giggles, here’s a throwback picture of that very room from back in the day:


My old dorm room along Westmount Rd.

Looking back at it now, it almost seems like I was in fact having fun.


Anyway, it was then a left on Columbia Rd. past more residences and the Trillium Lake Valley and right on Erbsville Rd., past the shops and strip malls of Erbsville and, eventually, a pretty lake belonging to a local conversation area of which I forget the name.  What I do remember about it though is the big climb up and past it…a sure sign of things to come.


Unknown Conservation Area

At the end of Erbsville Rd., you come to a tee at Kressler Rd.  This is what I consider to be the actual starting point of the bike route I had planned.  It’s evident that once you get to this point you are no longer in Kansas.  The city is now behind you and you have officially arrived in the country.  All this constitutes approximately 10 kilometers of cycling.  Had I known I was this close to the countryside back in university, or had the required energy levels to do so, I might have been more inclined to make an effort to get off campus more.

A quick dog leg to the west and then to the north and you’re on The Weimar Line, one of the major thoroughfares.  Upon doing so, this is the sign that greets you:


How awesome is that?

Unfortunately, just a few meters beyond that you are greeting with this gentle reminder:


Remember that you would see this exact same sign every, oh, 1.2 km.

So, sure, there may be lots of horsies and wildife to behold, but it’s still not going to be any easy trot through the pasture, so to speak.  And it wasn’t.

The Weimar Line, as scenic as it is, is basically one challenging hill after the other, over and over again, requiring nothing short of a total Sisyphean effort.  Making matters even more challenging was that I was also riding directly into a strong headwind.  With no buildings or man made structures to protect me (one of the few benefits of city riding), the wind was more or less blowing across the open fields unobstructed so that it was at times, like riding into a brick wall.  In fact, as I worked my way up each climb, instead of a nice downhill descent as a reward (after all, what goes up must eventually come down), I was greeted by a strong gust of continuous wind that would require me to keep working at turning over the pedals lest I should get blown back up and over the top of the climb again…backwards.  What a rip.

Regardless, the landscape down the Weimar Line to Bamberg is breathtaking.  It runs pretty much straight as the crow flies for 5 kilometers or so past stately country homes, rolling meadows filled with hay bales, old barns, and expansive pastureland with herds of galloping ponies.  And every inch of it you have to earn, as I mentioned before. In total, it took me exactly 12:01, averaging 25.8km/h; good enough for 666th position among other cyclists, according to Strava.

Weimar Line

That’s not an entirely impressive time and I could certainly do better, but I was too busy enjoying myself and taking in the sights and smells of horse shit and dried grass.  That’s not to say however, that I wasn’t working.  To effect, I don’t think it’s any through any mere coincidence that I ended up 666th over all.  I genuinely thought at times that I could feel Lucifer himself prodding me along up the road by sticking his pitchfork in my ass.  Coincidentally enough, I also passed this sign:


Little did I know at the time that this sign was actually in reference to myself.

It was also somewhere along here that I passed my first Amish horse and buggy, of which there would be many more over the next few hours.  I would have taken a picture to post here, except that I know the Amish hold humility as a highly-cherished value and view pride as a threat to community harmony.  They literally take “Thou shalt not make unto thyself a graven image” (Exodus 20:4) to heart and they would prefer to be remembered by the lives they lived and the examples they left, not by physical appearance.  So I refrained from doing just that.  Besides, I’ve seen ‘Witness’ and wouldn’t want to end up laid out by some Amish poser with a well timed Harrison Ford-style haymaker to the bread basket (click HERE).

I will say though, that there is something hugely satisfying about passing a horse and buggy on your bicycle.

I should also mention here that the last climb into Bamberg is a real doozy.  Just look at this gradient:

Bamberg Climb

This little bump here in the middle may only constitute a mere 380m of elevation, but it took me exactly 2 minutes and 50 seconds to grind up and over, good enough for 643rd spot on Strava.

Big whoop.

I will concede by saying that on the left hand side as you climb, there is the most spectacular farmhouse and working farm you have ever seen, complete with vegetable garden, pretty flower beds and a clothes line with wet laundry flapping in the breeze.  When was the last time you’ve actually seen laundry on a clothes line?  It was something right out of ‘Little House on the Prairie’.  I have expected that Laura Ingalls herself would come running out of the house, pigtails trailing behind her, to cheer me on as I struggled up and over that damn hill.  But she didn’t and I almost died.  I did, however, finally make it over and pressed on.

Anyway, continuing down the Weimar Line, not to mention up an over another stupid amount of hills, you eventually end up at the end of the line at Hutchinson Rd.  I turned a sharp left here and made my way towards the Township of Wellesley.

Wellesley is where my relatives lived for many years when I was a kid and this is where my family would venture out to on Christmas vacation.  So I am quite fond of the area.  Wellesley encompasses approximately 277.79 km2 and had a population of 10,713 as of the 2011 census.  Most of the residents likely will not have a home phone, access to the Internet or have the faintest idea about Pokemon Go!   The town of Wellesley’s original name was Schmidtsville, derived from its founding settler, John Schmidt.  But In 1851, the town was renamed Wellesley after Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, the eldest brother of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.  The community quickly grew to be the largest economic centre in rural Waterloo Region, then called Waterloo County, with a wood mill, feed mill, grain mill (which still stands today after being constructed in 1856), leather tanner, cheese factory, restaurants and housing, and many other businesses that also brought much trade to the town from the nearby farms and farming villages.  It was in here that Kelly and I stopped for our first butter tart on our ‘Boogers, Ball Sweat and Hoark’ tour, at a cute country style deli on Nafziger Rd.  It was also here that I had a colossal (not to mention embarrassing) wipe out on the curbside outside the shop.  There would be no butter tarts today, however, and I pressed straight down Queens Bush Rd. through the center of town past the local post office, feed store, pharmacy and a village market.

This entire area is also the setting for the annual Wellesley Apple Butter and Cheese Festival of which I am also well acquainted.   Periodically, my family would make the bonus trip up in September to visit with the relatives which, for whatever reason, always welcomed us back even after allowing us access to their home for a week already that past December.  The festival, founded in 1976, attracts a few thousand visitors to the grounds located at the Wellesley Arena and Community Center during the weekend-long festival.  The festival begins with a community pancake breakfast at the crack of dawn and continues with a smorgasbord at noon, not to mention the apple butter and apple cider available all day long.  There are cider tours, coach rides, quilting bees, remote-controlled boat races on the nearby Wellesley Pond, horse-shoe pitching competitions and a classic car and tractor show.


Good times.

At the top of Queens Bush Rd., I turned left on Greenwood Hill Rd. and up an extremely scary looking hill that leads back up to the Weimar Line completing the loop through Wellesley proper.   It was here on our butter tart ride that I waited for Kelly to get to the top.  Here she is at approximately the half way mark, ready to toss up her butter tarts:


Don’t laugh though, this climb may be short but it’s a total bitch.  It took me a whole minute and 45 seconds to breach the summit (good enough for 483rd spot on Strava).  I thought it would be altogether appropriate to have a Sherpa greet you at the top with an oxygen bottle.

Here’s the results:

Greenwood Hill

How the hell the KOM on this segment navigated this hill in 35 seconds averaging a speed of 44.3km/h  I’ll never know.  I suspect doping.  However, providing you are observant around the half way mark of the climb as your lungs begin to explode (especially given how hot it was out), you might notice this beauty on the right hand side:


On the other side of the hill is a more modern and fancy residence complete with a private pond, gazebo and floating jungle gym.  As gorgeous a property as it is, it seems extremely out of character with the rest of the landscape.  But, hey, power to them as I would have loved to have been able to jump in that pond at that point.

At the top, I kept climbing up and over the Weimar and down again…into another headwind.


This, however, was a stretch of road that I had really been anticipating since I left.  For here, at #2039 Greenwood Hill Rd. is where my cousins lived.  To say I have fond memories of this place would be understating the obvious.  I remember my cousin Jodi tangling her hair up in the tire swing out back, getting trapped half way up the tree house in the field beyond the backyard and having to be rescued, waking up Christmas morning with chicken pox, mountains of presents piled up under the Christmas tree, huge roaring fires in the afternoon as the snow slowly piled up outside.  Man, those were the days.  I also remember going for my first “jog” here along this very stretch of road, when I stubbornly followed my Aunt Kathy until it was impossible to keep up and I was abandoned to play in a snow bank by the side of the road until she came back to collect me.  In total, I think I made it about 50m from the house or so.  Now, she has no recollection of this whatsoever and swears that she has never ever jogged in her life, but the memory is so vivid in my mind that I can’t imagine how it could not have happened.

Anyway, the house is one of only a few residences along this stretch of roadway which definitely adds to its quaintness.  Back then, it was a log cabin style residence and features a gi-normous wood burning stove in the family room, perfect for Christmas eves and mornings; especially for disposing the small rain forest worth of wrapping paper we inevitably tore through.  Its new owners have now covered up the log exterior with a soulless cream-colored vinyl siding and have paved the driveway, but I was pleased to see the same huge bay window in front.  Back then, this was about as “rural” as I thought you could get.  It seemed to be in the middle of nowhere but, then again, anywhere where I could cross the street to see cows grazing behind barbed-wire was about as rural as I could get; city slicker as I was.    I would have stopped and peeked inside the window had there not been a Dodge Caravan parked in the driveway.  Can you just imagine the reaction of those people had they found some stranger in a skin tight pink and purple Lyrca cycling kit pressing his nose up against their front window?

“Honey, fetch my shotgun.”

Shortly afterwards, I turned right on the Hessen Strasse, which more or less parallels the Weimar Line meaning I had to deal with all those hills again in reverse order.  And let me assure you, they are no less challenging in the opposite direction.  In fact, they’re longer, meaner and nastier.  And any notions I had of finally having the wind at my back were immediately vanquished the second I turned onto the Hessen Strasse; Mother Nature was definitely having a dig at me today.

Similar to the Weimar Line, the Hassen Strasse is beautiful…maybe even more so.  There are the same vast expanses of open pasture land, quaint little churches (one of which we would visit on Christmas Eve) and maple syrup farms as far as the eye can see.  If you stopped to have a swig at every maple syrup farm along the Hassen Strasse you would surely have type 2 diabetes by the time you navigated it’s entire 10 kilometers or so.  One day, I might even put this to the test.  It is along here though that you begin to come across a lot of little roadside “aid stations”.  This one was located approximately half way up another stupid climb:


That’s one of the reasons why I love the Amish and riding in this area in general.  They may not like you very much or care to do business with you directly, but if you’re inclined to leave a buck for a cold can of Coke left in a grungy old cooler at the end of a remote driveway, so be it.  Other unmanned roadside stands (if you can call them that) will have bouquets of flowers, home baked goods, bottles of water, and excess fruits and vegetables from their own gardens.  Garlic scapes were certainly in season as that what was primarily on offer.  You really don’t need to bring any GU gels or protein bars when you have all this instant nourishment available on the honor system by the roadside.  Likewise, who needs Clif bars when you can have a home baked Amish-style fig cookie?  I love it.  I could pedal for hours after one of those things – and I literally did.

Here’s another more “elaborate” one:


Around this time I passed another horse and buggy.  As I approached it from behind, I noticed two little faces pressed up against the back window watching me ride up on them.  Two little Amish girls were sitting in the back seat of their family carriage on their way to market or whatever with their father.  As I passed, the stern looking man never gave me so much of a sideways glance, which given what I happened to be wearing, seemed kind of surprising, but such is the Amish’s ability to block out the rest of us “English”.  However, I did manage to get a quick and nervous little wave from one of the girls before she instantly snapped her gaze straight ahead again as to not be noticed by her father.  I flashed her a little smile but I don’t think she noticed.

Turning left on Kressler Rd. again, having completed the first big 40 kilometer loop of my route, I headed north towards Heidelberg.

Oh, and I also passed this:



Weird, right?

Anyway, there’s not much to write home about Heidelberg aside from its being nearly 200 years old.  There’s not much even there aside from a stop light intersection, a garage and The Olde Heidelberg Restaurant of which I have never visited (maybe someday).  Really, it’s a reference point on my route to turn left on the Lobsinger Line into St. Clements and then right on Herrgott Rd. to Wallenstein.  Neither of these routes are particularly enjoyable riding as they roughly paved, and busy thoroughfares for traffic and large trucks so I just boogied along them as quickly as possible to get to my next intended destination in Elmira.  In fact, I will likely seek out an alternative route altogether on next years’ tour.

I will pause here for a moment however to point out that one of my stops is at the General Store in Wallenstein.


By this point I am at the (more or less) 60 kilometer point of my tour and could generally use some sustenance in the way of a cool beverage seeing as how there is very little shade along the road out here…anywhere.  The last shade I passed through was likely back at the University Campus.  It has been my habit to stop here for a Coke and give my ass a brief break while I’m at it.

Now, say what you will about the Amish and the Mennonites, but they generally aren’t very welcoming of strangers for one reason or another.  Each time I am in their presence I do my best to be polite and courteous and mind my own business.  When I entered the store, I was greeted by no fewer than 13 ladies in their traditional plain dress.

I gave them my best non-threatening smile.


Not.  A.  Single.  Response.

Then again, considering that I was dressed like somebody who was about to be shot out of a cannon, maybe it was too much to take in all at once.  Maybe they were just stunned?  I tried for a little friendly small talk by confirming with them that Elmira was in fact just up the road.


I thanked them for my Coke and told them to keep the change.


So much for “Where Friendly Neighbors Meet”, and I exited the store to allow the women to return to their scowling.  While sitting on the porch though, a huge Parmalat truck pulled into the parking lot beside the store.  One of the scowlers (about 70 years old I might add) came out of the store, jumped on an old forklift and proceeded to unload about a dozen palates of ice cream out of the truck and into the back of the store in seconds flat.  I guess the Amish and Mennonites really like their ice cream.  So say what you will about the Amish and Mennonites, they sure can drive a forklift.

I continued on to Elmira, about another 7 or 8 kilometers along Country Road 86, where I had planned to have lunch.  Elmira is the largest community within the Township of Woolwich in the Regional Municipality of Waterloo.  While the land comprising Elmira originally belonged to the Huron followed by the Mohawk Indians, the first settlers arrived in here in the late 18th century.  In 1798, William Wallace (not this William Wallace) was one of the first settlers in the area after he was deeded 86,078 acres (348 km2) of land on the Grand River for a cost of $16,364.  In 1806, Wallace sold the major portion of his tract to Mennonites and the rest, as they say, is history.  There is obviously still a strong Mennonite influence in the area.  Each spring, beginning in 1965, tens of thousands of people gather in Elmira to celebrate the return of spring and maple syrup as part of April’s Elmira Maple Syrup Festival.

My usual stop is at the Elmira Donuts & Deli off the street a little behind some shops.

You can see my little jog back to it here:


It’s nothing fancy.  Believe me.



But they do have one kick ass tuna fish sandwich and the Mennonite proprietors are a little more welcoming than the ones in Wallenstein.  Not much, mind you, but a little.  I will usually pass 20 minutes or so here on the front stoop in the shade thoughtfully noshing on my sandwich and whatever cookie that happens to catch my eye and do my best to “blend in”, which is not at all.  I consider this to be my half way point, even though it’s really more of my three quarter point.  Regardless, I know it…I like the tuna…so I keep returning.

Such is life.

From here I zip out of town as quickly as I can down Arthur Rd. and right on Listowel Rd. and back out into the countryside.  A quick left turn onto Three Bridges Rd. and, low and behold, I experienced my first tail wind.  Amazeballs.  Finally!  I amped up the turnover of the pedals and applied a little extra effort and eventually was cruising down this nice scenic stretch of roadway at an average of 36.9km/h  and at one point I was sailing – effortlessly I might add – at 47.2km/h.  After 70 kilometers of head winds I was determined not to waste this brief opportunity.  My effort was good enough for 15th position over all on Strava this year, covering the distance in 5:26.

Yay me.

Turning left on Hawkesville Rd., I pointed my bike towards popular destination tourist town of St. Jacobs.  First known as “Jakobstettel” which means “Jacob’s Village”, the village was settled in 1820.  The St. was added to the name simply to make it sound more pleasing and the pluralization was in honor of the combined efforts of Jacob C. Snider (1791–1865) and his son, Jacob C. Snider, Jr. (1822–1857), founders of the village.  It now pedals that heritage to tourists who have come to experience the “Mennonite Lifestyle”…which is entirely laughable.  Basically, I consider it as a necessary obstacle to endure on way back to Waterloo.  I mean, it’s a nice enough village, don’t get me wrong.  There’s lots of artisans, and a thriving market and yadda, yadda, yadda.  But the hapless throngs of people and touristy bullshit piss me off.  It reminds of own town of Ridgeway which practically triples its population in the summer when the “out of towners” flood into town and literally proceed to take over the beaches, shops, restaurants, etc.  It’s enough to drive you insane, so I get out…quickly.  And that’s pretty much what I did today in St. Jacobs.

Funny thing though, in the 30 seconds or so it took me to pass through the village I probably had my photograph taken about a dozen times.  Do tourists really think a Mennonite would be caught dead on a high performance road bike…and dressed like this?

The fuck.

Anyway, shortly afterwards there is a fun stretch of road along King Str. which takes you pretty much back into the city of Waterloo again.  “Fun” in that it is downhill and protected from the wind.  Eventually you pass through Wagner’s Corner and onto Weber Str. which will take you back into downtown Waterloo.  I spent a little time passing by the old familiar haunts of my University days and much has changed.  There is a significant amount of new high rise buildings now on just about every corner.  Waterloo, it seems, has been very busy.  I also passed though the campus quickly and it too has changed drastically; most of which are the students.  Did I look that young when I was in university?  Anyway, I was hot, tired, and getting instantly annoyed with all the hipster beards and toques on campus (seriously guys, it’s JUNE!) so I made my way back to my Aunt Kathy’s and a well deserved beer…or two.

All in, I covered 95.3 kilometers in a little under 4 hours, averaging a speed of 26.8km/h, which seems miserably slow.  I know.  But given the ridiculous amount of climbing I did today (almost 2,000m to be exact), I’ll take it.

Until next year.

Fuck you, Sigma!

Posted: December 8, 2015 in Bike, Equipment
Tags: ,

WARNING: This post contains scenes of graphic violence and coarse language. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

I absolutely hate – HATESigma bike computers.

Hate isn’t even a strong enough word.  Let’s just say that I suspect that Sigma was actually designed and run by Nazi’s.  Hey, their home office is located in Neustadt, Germany, so it’s not exactly out of the question.

But, I digress.

Maybe I need to fill you in on a little back history first.

When I first started cycling and invested in my first wireless bike computer, Sigma seemed to be the only option. Most of my peers owned one and rightly so seeing that Sigma was the most prominent product on the shelves in any cycling shop. So, not knowing my ass from my elbow when it came to bike computers and available technology, I just went with the flow and purchased what everybody else had and, thus, started this whole frustrating downward spiral with Sigma.

In all fairness though, it started off okay. The computer tracked (and displayed) all the usual data when you ride: my distance, cadence, speed, time, etc.  In fact, it was probably tracking things I didn’t even know it was tracking and, likely, didn’t give two shits about either.  So that was probably my only major complaint at the time in that it had too many “functions” of which I would never really use and you practically needed an advanced engineering degree to actually use the damn thing.  I mean, seriously, who knew that something that only had four buttons would be so bloody confusing to use?  Does anyone even pay attention to “Trip A”, or Trip B” information?

But, hey, that’s hardly reason to hate something.

That all started later…

After about a year, the battery on the Sigma inevitably died and I had to get the battery replaced.  Even with my limited technical abilities, I managed to do swap out the new battery (albeit with the mandatory amount of cursing and swearing) and I even managed to get to get the computer to sync with the wheel sensor – winning! – however, it wouldn’t go into “Sleep” mode and just kept flashing repetitively, meaning that the battery would soon just die out again.  Usually, after 5 minutes or so the computer will go into a Sleep state to prevent the battery from running down.  At least it did before anyway.  Huh.

A quick scan through the product manual and, yeah, it’s all in German, so, fuck…no help there.


I decided to try and remedy the situation by contacting their online Support team directly, as recommended in the website.  Maybe they could suggest a very easy fix and save me the panicky trip into the bike shop.

Here is my original email:

“Hi Sigma. I successfully synced my Sigma bike computer to my wheel sensor but it will not go into “sleep” mode and keeps flashing. What can I do to fix this situation?”

After eight days, I finally got a reply from Chad:

“The computer will never turn off completely. It does go into sleep mode that will show the clock on the screen.”

Umm, thanks?

I tried again:

“Thanks Chris, I understand that. That’s what it was doing before but now that I have changed the battery, it will not go back into sleep mode. It just keeps flashing? Any suggestions?”

Another four days goes by before I get Chris’ reply:

“I will go into sleep mode after 5 minutes.”


The fuck?

He’s kidding, right?

I replied:

“It’s not doing that, Chris. Otherwise I would not be emailing you for help. It keeps flashing and will NOT go into sleep mode. Please help.”


Two days later, again from Chris:

“You will see a clock on the screen when it goes into sleep mode.”


At this point, I’m totally losing my shit.


“You’re totally fucking with me, right?”


There are no other responses from Chris as, clearly, we have experienced a complete and total communication breakdown.

Time for Plan B.

I bring the whole fucking bike (and computer) into the good people at Liberty! (who, for the record, didn’t sell me this piece of shit in the first place). Hopefully, they could figure out this total computer clusterfuck and get it to go into ‘Sleep’ mode properly.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t and only agreed with my original diagnosis: Sigma sucks.

I opted right then and there to get out of my current relationship with Sigma and upgraded (or, actually, downgraded since it was even cheaper than the Sigma) to a more reliable bike computer from Cats Eye instead.  Money well spent, if you ask me.

Fuck you and good riddance Sigma, you worthless piece of Nazi shit!

So, that left only one important piece of business to attend to:

The Big Move 2015

Posted: September 14, 2015 in Bike, Lifestyle
Tags: , , ,

One of my staple events every year is The Big Move Ride for Cancer in support of the Walker Family Cancer Center at the St. Catharines hospital.  I’ve been the last person to cross the starting line and last to cross the finishing line for the past seven years; ensuring that everyone…EVERYONE…gets to the end of the 100k route successfully and safely.  However, given my recent back issues I’ve been coping with this week plus the fact that it was cold and rainy, I was rather apprehensive about the ride this year.

Usually, when I spring out of bed the morning of the Big Move I’m all like:

This year, it was more like this:


Truth be told, I probably shouldn’t even have been riding but this ride is very meaningful to me and I believe that there are people genuinely counting on me for support so, come Hell or high water (we actually got a bit of both), I was determined to show up and make it around; albeit painfully.

This year was also particularly significant as this was the first year we’ve all volunteered at the Big Move as a family unit.  I would continue on as a sweep rider while Kelly and HRH  would work in one of the sweep vans helping to support the riders, aid stations, marshals along the route as well as keep track of all the signage, etc.

Here’s our family selfie:


We arrived early at 7:00am to get all set up which, for the most part, meant sitting inside the car with the seat warmers on keeping dry and drinking coffee.  Many of the event volunteers were already out in force setting up the starting/finishing line, registration tables, vendor tents, barricades, etc.  Basically, I just sat in the car and stressed about my sore back and the weather. Eventually, it was time to get suited up for the ride itself and start preparing for a long haul into the wind and rain set to begin at 8:30am.

Here is my inspiration this year:


The whole process went kind of like this:


After a brief delay though, our ride was out and underway heading out from Club Roma and directly up the escarpment at Rockway.

The climb up to Rockway Glen comes pretty early in the ride representing my first opportunity to begin providing real encouragement and support for some of the less experienced riders; never mind it’s already wet and slick out. I’ve done the climb up Rockway billions of times but for the uninitiated, it’s definitely a formidable obstacle.

Like this:

What they see

I trudged up the steep incline with Bonnie, a lady riding in memory of her husband and sister (judging by the ‘In Memory of…’ sign on her own back).  With some coaxing and encouragement and constant reminders to remember to breathe, she made it to the top to the first rest station.  She left pretty quickly afterwards though and I never saw her again (which, in the sweep business, isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

Around this time, my sweep partner declared that she was going to ride up ahead a bit and that she’d see me later.  I never did. So for the next 30-40 kilometers through Silverdale and down Silver Creek Rd., I rode with Lisa, a local tax accountant, who was braving the elements with a head cold.

There is a bit of a negative stigmatism about being at “the end” and Lisa was bit conscientious about it at first but we filled the next 90 minutes or so with fun, motivational conversation and whatnot and before I knew it she had become my “adopted sweeper” and was happily informing the marshals we passed that we were the tail end of the ride (one of the roles of sweeping).  What this really means is that I probably blabbed on endlessly about all the minute banal trivialities of my day-to-day life while she smiled and sniffed politely and then speaking to the marshals as a way of interrupting the full-blown conversational diarrhea from the crazy person riding beside her.

Like this:


A short while later, I happened across what would, inevitably become the first of my many mechanical issues (another inevitable duty of the sweep rider) of the day.

“Duckie” and her friend had been abandoned by the roadside and were quite distraught that she may not be able to finish the ride due to a flat back tire. Changing tires has never been my specialty, but after 10 minutes or so of gentle reassurance and a lot of pulling, prodding and swearing as the result of a stubborn rear wheel, we had her back on her way and en route. I continued along with Duckie & co. for a while longer until she reunited with her group at the next aid station at the Old Pelham Town Hall.

Now, I have to say, one of the best parts of sweep riding is the hero’s welcome we typically receive at each of the aid stations from the volunteers. They really are amazing in the positive encouragement they provide the riders, especially given the harsh conditions they were enduring on this day. The real awesome thing about this particular rest stop was the fresh, home baked muffins available.

Like this:


Not long afterwards, I happened across my 2nd, 3rd and 4th flats of the day.  Each rider was in varying states of panic and I’m happy to report that each rider was very quickly gotten back on track with a fresh tire and all made it back to the finish safe and sound.  Yay me!  I was definitely, getting lots of practice changing tires.  At one point, I was introduced to this incredible gizmo (click HERE), the ‘Crank Brothers Extendable Speed Lever‘ and I was all like:


I need to get me one of these.

The problem now though, is that after tending to so many other riders mechanical issues I was well and truly behind the other 100k riders.  In the sweep world this is akin to being separated from your flock.  Not good.  So after that last flat, I peeled out on my own with the intent of making up some time, turned onto Wellandport Rd. and, BAM!, directly into a strong headwind.  Crap!  Fortunately, my sweep van pulled in ahead of me and I was able to draft behind to the next aid station in time to catch the other riders.  It was a real ‘Tour de France’ moment and over the next 7 or 8 kilometers it went something like this:

34 km/h…


This is awesome.

36 km/h …

Okay, this sucks.

Stupid headwind!

38 km/h …

My back was starting to scream.

40 km/h …

Beginning to bury myself now…

42 km/h…

I was almost in tears.

44 km/h…

Fully in tears.

I think for some strange reason, I don’t know why, I felt the urge to suffer for a little bit.

Call it old habit I suppose.

Thankfully, I made it to the ‘First In Counters’ rest station moments before everyone else was set to head back out.  I had definitely burned a few matches in getting back to the group but, once again, fate intervened in the way of some incredible home-baked cookies which were more than enough to keep me fueled and going to the end.

The last 30km was pretty uneventful and lonely to be honest.  By now, my back was in full on complain mode and I was completely sore and uncomfortable as all my pre-ride pain meds were wearing off.  Plus, we were now riding directly back into the shitty weather again that seemed to continue hovering directly over St. Catharines.  I admit here that I had some dark moments along River Rd. as I trailed silently behind the last two riders in the group.  I thought about my mom and dad and just otherwise tried my best to stoically deal with it all in stride.  I summoned a smile and a sincere ‘thank you’ at each turning point to the marshals as my passing would inevitably mean they could now head back to Club Roma for their hot pasta lunch which, hopefully, would also be waiting for me.

My small group of stragglers eventually met up with Duckie and her gang at the last rest stop and together we all plowed onward to the end finishing in just over 5 hours of very challenging riding (6 hours in total) in the midst of a total deluge of cold, drizzly rain…just as we had started it (click HERE). It was all smiles at the end for the accomplished riders as I anonymously crossed the finishing line behind them…in last…and sought out my own cuddles and congratulations along the sidelines from Kelly and HRH  who were there waiting faithfully for me. My back was well and truly spent by this point.

Here’s the big finish photo:


Thankfully, a pasta lunch had been set aside for me (complete with a much-needed alcoholic beverage) and not long afterwards we pulled out in anticipation of a hot shower and coffee.  Likewise, Daisy had more than earned herself a good cleaning and toweling down as well.

Just another day/year in the life of the ‘Tail End Charlie’ I suppose, and I’m already looking forward to next year.

Lord knows that I have my road rage moments as cyclist, specifically now that the mindless hordes of tourists have invaded my otherwise quiet rural paradise (click HERE), and would LOVE to get off my bike and make with the roundhouse kicks.  Of course, that doesn’t typically happen. In the past have dealt with dogs, idiot drivers, scooters and e-bikes, crazy ass chipmunks, rutting animals and other hazards unique to living in the country (click HERE) but yesterday I faced another different challenge: the idiot pedestrian.

There I was, joyfully zipping through town during one of my weekly bike rides.  Despite the new bi-laws that have been passed recently (click HERE) in regards to motor vehicles giving cyclists a wide birth, I still choose to sometimes ride in the middle of the road (as long as I’m not holding up traffic), particularly when passing through town where there are lots of parked cars, etc.  I mean, why tempt fate right?

So such was the case yesterday.

While doing so, I noticed an older lady up ahead waiting by the side of the road with her dog looking to cross the road.  She wasn’t at an intersection or any of the numerous pedestrian crosswalks that are in town, no, she was just there on the sidewalk waiting to cross to the other side.  She looked right me (several times as a matter of fact) so I know she saw me coming.  She never moved and continued to keep her gaze on me so I figured I was safe to keep going and she’d continue crossing safely after I had passed.  After all, I had the right of way right?


Then it happened.

Just as I approached within a couple of feet she decides to step out directly…in…front…of…me.

The fuck?!

I immediately swerved out of her way, narrowly missing both her and the oncoming car in the opposite lane.

What the hell?

Concerned, I circled back to make sure everything was okay.  I don’t know why exactly, but I felt obligated to do so seeing as she was older.  When I reached her she immediately took on an immediate heir of exasperated indignance like it was *I*  that had done something wrong.

“You really need to watch where you’re going!”, she loudly proclaimed so that the whole street could hear.

I was flabbergasted.

“You walked right out in front of me!  Didn’t you see me coming?”

I was trying to be nice.

Then she added:

“Yes, but you were going too fast!”

I’m pretty sure at this point that steam started spewing from my ears and I briefly considered hopping off the bike to dropkick her right in the cooter, but other pedestrians had started to gather after her first loud proclamation and, hey, when people who haven’t really seen what happened what happened, witness a cyclist losing his shit on old lady and her little rat fuck of a dog, well, who are you going to assume is the bad guy?  There was simply not going to be any winning of this situation so I retreated on down the road fuming.

Of course, social media being the wonderful platform it is now enables me to give her (you) the response I would have loved to have given her in the moment had others not been around.

First off, in regard to her first comment: “You really need to watch where you’re going”,  the pure fact that you’re now on the opposite side of the road uninjured lends proof that I WAS paying attention you old biddy.  What’s your excuse exactly?  You watched me coming.  I know this because you took a tentative step out into the road when I was still a ways off and when you turned that empty melon you call a head to look in my direction, you hesitated and remained on the sidewalk because you saw me coming.  You then proceeded to track my progress as I got closer and closer until I was about 10-15 ft away. It was then you decided that it was safe to start your crossing.  How stupid are you anyway?

Did you think that you were impervious to being hit, or that life was giving you the immediate right of way?  What?   Help me understand.  By the way, there was a pedestrian crosswalk not far up the road where you could have crossed safely having the right of way and I would have stopped happily to let you do so.

Just sayin’…

Secondly, as far as “you were going too fast” goes, I was holding a 34km/h pace in a 50km/h zone in the MIDDLE of the road so, no, I was not in fact going too fast. Maybe you ride at a snails’ pace when you ride your bike to market or, say, during tornadoes, but I “cycle” meaning that I keep a fairly steady pace.  So stepping out in front of me while I’m hauling ass means I’m going to hit you if you’re not lucky. I can’t stop on a dime any more than any other vehicle on the road at the time can.

In fact,  had I been driving a car you and your pooch would be dead right now.

Chew on that.

And on that point, while I definitely believe that my (or anyone else for that matter) running you over would have significantly contributed to the enrichment of the gene pool and advancement of the human species – I am a big believer in Darwinism in its most basic of forms – I do feel sorry for your dog that you inevitably walked directly into harm’s way. I mean, what was your thought process exactly?

I can’t help but wonder what else you coax this poor mutt into doing?

“C’mon poochy, lets jump into this erupting volcano, it’ll be okay.”

“C’mon poochy, let’s drink this battery acid, nothing bad will happen.”

“C’mon poochy, don’t worry about that oncoming transport truck, I’m sure it’ll stop.”

Run dog, run.

Sometimes there’s just no helping stupid.