Archive for Bike

DIY on a Saturday

It’s nice to get to the weekend and take care of a few things that you’ve been meaning to get to.

I’ve been playing around with earlier wake-up times lately. This week, I did a couple of 5:30am wake-ups and found that the extra hour in my day didn’t have a negligible impact on the state of my affairs during the later parts of the day. If anything, I was actually *more* ok than most days (I tend to suffer from energy dips at around 10:30am, 1:30pm and 4:30pm). The energy dips I used to chalk up to those being times when a) breakfast runs out; b) when lunch lands in my stomach; and c) my brain quits because it’s 4:30 and it’s naptime). The 5:30 wakeup seemed to negate all of that. I didn’t have to back my bedtime up that much — I racked out at 10:45 or so, but 5:30 really seems to solve a lot of my inertia problems during the day.

But that wasn’t today. Today, with no alarm, and with a head full of shit that’s happening at work, I woke at 6:30. Spent part of my morning just laying in bed, finishing off the book I’ve been reading, and then getting on with my day. Saturdays can be busy, but I took advantage of things right off the bat. Levi and I took care of some yard work, and then made a couple of pit stops. First one was to Salvation Army, where we got a pair of ski poles, and then to Canadian Tire for some ABS pipe, machine screws and street hockey balls. More on that in a minute.

T has art class out in Langford for two hours right around mid-day, which isn’t really worth the trip back in to View Royal, so after dropping her off I decided to grab a coffee and go for a walk in Havenwood Park. A nice walk, and I spent a little time talking with one of the ladies who resides near there. She tipped me off to the best vistas in the neighbourhood.

Once we got home, Levi and I got down to some serious business – the manufacture of two bike polo mallets.

Thanks to teh interwebz, we had a really easy guide to follow – Remove the handles from the ski poles, cut the bottoms off, cut 4.5″ of ABS pipe, drill through, make a pocket on the inside of the pipe for the ski pole head, drill a screw through the side of the pipe and the shaft of the ski pole, bolt in, plug the ski pole end (no core sampling!) and tape like a hockey stick. Repeat with the other side.

Levi worked on a little bike maintenance on his ride while I put the mallets together, and then we headed for the tennis court at our local rec centre.

Now, I can get pretty excited about stuff, and when I find a new obsession, I tend to go all in. Think commuter cycling. Or brewing. Or hockey. I tend to not do half-measures. Bike polo, I’m afraid, is going that way. I think I’m in love.

Levi and I figured out pretty quick that bike polo ain’t exactly the easiest thing to do, but at the same time, it’s so RIDICULOUSLY fun. We hit the court around 2:45. Levi was hooked right from the start. We even got to show our neighbour, Geoff, what it was we were doing. The look on his face said “you’re crazy, but I see where you’re going with this”, and after a while longer, I headed back to the house. I urged Elijah out the door, put him on his bike, gave him the mallet, and he took to the game like a fish to water, too. His comment was that bike polo was “weird” but that he liked it.

I headed back to the house to start to get dinner ready, but Levi stayed out on the court for over two hours in the light drizzle, just working on his shuffle and his shot, not to mention trying to keep his feet off the road. Tomorrow, he plans on eating breakfast and getting on the court right away.

This week might be the first week I head to Victoria Bike Polo.



Take The Long Way Home

Last night, I was supposed to meet up with a friend for a beer. I’d had a long day, followed by a game of hockey. I had a quick turnaround at home, and hopped on my bike to head downtown.

First revelation: I can now get downtown wearing street clothes and not look like I just ran a marathon.

This said, my pace was off what I normally ride, but I left plenty early and allowed for all the hills along the way.

Once I got there, I checked my phone and discovered that my friend had to jam out due to unexpected family business. No problem, I wasn’t going to let that get in the way of me having a couple of very hipsterish glasses of beer (one being called “Hot Trub Time Machine” and the other being “Junk Punch IPA”). The soundtrack at this particular establishment was very fine, too, and I found myself being quite inspired by what I was hearing.

After settling up, I got my gear back on and started off for home. Had a brief chat with another cyclist in the bike box just before the Johnson Street Bridge, and then proceeded across my favourite metal-decked span.

Normally, I go up to Tyee Rd and along through Vic West to my house, but this time around, I opted for Harbour Rd. For starters, it was quieter, a little darker, and I was really able to enjoy the scenery as I was pedalling through the night.

When I got to the path to the Galloping Goose, though, I decided to take a little detour. Nobody waiting for me at home tonight, and nowhere else to be, I just started pedalling. I found it exhilarating to be on a night ride, taking paths and roads I wouldn’t normally take. Realistically, it might have only been a two- or three-kilometre detour, but I found myself laughing and experiencing moments of true joy as I rode my way home.

My friend Derek, who lives in Toronto, uses their bike share system and he got me thinking again about bike shares and rentals. One thing I started doing through the last number of tours I’ve been on has been to find a way to either bring a bike or rent a bike when in different cities. I really started in earnest in Ypres this past summer, when, faced with a half day to myself before hitting the road, I rented a bike and started pedalling through the countryside. Before I knew it, I’d gone for a couple of hours, just wheeling my way through all the scenery. In Amsterdam, I rented a bike for the days I was there, and found myself able to cover so much more ground, and experiencing that city the way a lot of locals do. In Paris, same deal – their bike share system is very robust, and I covered a ton of ground for 8 Euros for the time I was there. Later on, when I was in Toronto, I used their bike share system during breaks in the schedule to ride from Air Canada Centre back to the hotel for naps, or to go to the last Jays home game. All of this on two wheels.

It goes back to that sense of freedom I spoke of in an earlier post. So much opportunity presents itself when you’re on a bike. My youngest definitely gets it, and my eldest is starting to now, as well (he’s been borrowing my bike to go on photography expeditions).

All that to say, just get out there. Ride. Figure out how to buy your groceries on a bike. Go see some stuff. Go to friends’ houses just like you used to when you were a kid. Just go.

They Say That Money Can’t Buy Happiness…

But it’ll get you a bike repair stand, and that’s a very, very close second.

I just picked up a Feedback Recreational Work Stand so that I could repair the ever-growing fleet of bicycles that seems to be appearing in my garage (currently sitting at seven). For my youngest and I, we’ve been commuting through a construction zone, so our bikes were filthy and definitely in need of a drive train cleaning.

Levi and I got started on his bike. I have to say, working with a bike on a fixed stand is a joy. For so many years (over 15), I’ve done my repairs with the bike on the ground. Massive pain in the hole. Like the time I discovered panniers, or the day I discovered clipless pedals, the bike repair stand was nothing short of revolutionary for how I got to deal with my wheels.

Levi’s bike was dirty and his drive train had some minor rust on it. We worked together to clean his chain and re-lube it, plus we took care to wipe the dirt and grime off of the rest of things, plus took the opportunity to adjust his back brake.

My bike needed a little more work — I was LONG overdue for some new rubber on my wheels (like 5,000km overdue), so I got the opportunity to get that worked out, plus I discovered (surprise, surprise) that my chain is way over-stretched, and needs replacing in a big way.

Here’s where the neighbourhood dynamics (and beer) come into play. When we lived in Ottawa, especially in Orleans, if the garage door was open, that was code for “hey, come on over, let’s have a beer”. My friend Mike MacDonald was the greatest purveyor of this. Frequently, there’d be a call such as “Want an ale?” shouted from across the street followed by a can-shaped missile launched from across the way. Invariably, we’d gab for a while and occasionally, a neighbourhood hang would develop. More on that in another post.

All that to say that the garage door was open today and I saw three of my neighbours (and the son of a fourth) and we all had a good chance to say hello and catch up. Ray, my next door neighbour, stopped by and we shared a couple of beers, and using my new stand, was able to give his bike’s drivetrain a good cleaning, too (Ray works on the base, and we have essentially the same commute to work).

At the end of it all, with all the bikes put back together, I can’t help but feel this sense of satisfaction. More than just about any hobby or other activity I’ve undertaken, there’s something about the feeling of working on or with bikes that is hard to replicate.

Bike Polo Beginnings

I’ve been into bikes since I was five or six, when I first learned to ride a two-wheeler. I’m fairly certain I learned on this orange-y yellowish bike that had a banana seat that I had borrowed from one of the neighbour kids. I have a vague recollection of working my way up and down the fenceline of my parents’ yard until I finally got the hang of it.

Like most kids, my bike boundaries were well defined. At six, I was up and down half the block. By seven, the end of the street. Eight, and I could go around the block and to the corner store(s) by myself. After that, I started commuting to school. In high school, before I got a car, I seemed to only date girls who lived outside the city limits (and/or half-way up mountains).

I took a pause for some car-driving years (say, 95-02). In ’02, having just moved back into Vancouver from the ‘burbs, I borrowed my dad’s mid-80s Stump Jumper, bought some clothing to help avoid road drownings, and got straight down to being a bike commuter. My commute started out as a ride from Knight/E. 59th to Pender/Thurlow, later becoming Boundary/Marine to downtown, and then finally Boundary/Marine to Lonsdale/15th in North Vancouver (a mere 36km round trip daily). The trip was faster than car or bus travel, and it made such a difference in my life, being able to shed stress to and from work every day.

Once we moved to places that had winter climates, my commuting season shortened, but the commutes themselves didn’t. In Ottawa, my first house was a 20km round trip, and the last place I lived in was 49km daily (Orleans-YOW). Edmonton (St. Albert) to the base was 26km round trip. By this point, I’d long since graduated from Stumpy, having gone through a Norco 10-speed that I’d been given by some friends, and then later, onto what’s now my main ride, a Jamis Beatnik fixie.

Along the way, I’ve tried to get my kids into biking, and I think I’ve succeeded partially. My eldest occasionally rides his bike to his friends’ houses, even though he’s got a bus pass. I got a good-fitting bike for my daughter this year that she likes, and so I’m aiming for her to be more independent on two wheels.

My youngest is my road warrior. He’s 10. He commutes by bike daily from my house in View Royal to his school in Esquimalt, almost 10km round trip. This kid is built to ride. We went to Recyclistas together to buy him a bike for his birthday last year, which is what set off this whole thing for him. The difference for him in having a bike that fit with good gears was a world of change, and it allowed him to really power through some of the tougher hills that exist around my place. More than that, he’s gotten to experience the same kind of freedoms I enjoyed as a youngster, and he’s using them to his advantage – being that all his friends walk to school (we live outside the catchment area and there’s no bus service), he’s able to have after school hangs. His friends’ parents even take notice, as he rides his bike on his own to their houses without any parental taxi action. He’s confident, and he understands the kind of impact that riding can have on his health and his environment.

So where does that leave me? I’ve got the shortest commute by bike that I’ve ever had – 2.5km each way. I barely crack a sweat going to work. But I do most of my trips now by bike or by foot. My truck doesn’t see a whole lot of action anymore, and I’m very okay with this.

Now, I find myself getting more into bike repair. Christmas this year saw me refurbish a bike for Kristy so she has a set of wheels available to her here. I’ve got a repair stand coming this week so I can take better care of the fleet of two wheelers that are in my garage, and like I said in my previous post, I’m planning on volunteering at Recyclistas so that I can gain more experience.

I’ve talked enough about how I got here. Now I’m going to talk about what I want to do this year — BIKE POLO. Glory be, I think this might be the sport to end all sports for me. There are enough histories of bike polo floating around the internet for you to read. As with most things I seem to be doing of late, I’ll document what’s going on – my plan at this time is to build up a bike and a mallet, figure out what’s what, and get down to some solid play time.

2018 Preview

So while folks are off recapping what they did in 2017 (and my list is, by all measures, fairly epic in what I did), I’m going to spend a couple of minutes talking about a few things I intend on doing for 2018.

Music. Lots and lots of music.

Kristy and I had several long talks as 2017 came to a close. New Year’s Eve was no different, but we both expressed again our interest in creating music together. We had a couple of moments over the dying days of 2017 when we were both laid up with the flu where we made music. Some of the results were epically hilarious (such as the moment when I questioned my abilities as a professional musician while we tried to play melodica Christmas duets), and another where she got her hands on my Wurlitzer and we improvised together for a short span. We both have a deep love of a lot of music, and a lot of that coincides with what we do. We’ve talked about it before, we’ve even gone so far as to jokingly have a band name together, and now, I think this’ll be the year where we go out and actually perform music together. I’m pretty excited.


It’s something I’ve talked about a lot, and it’s something that I need to both make time to do as well as commit to doing. So I’m going to volunteer. The two likely targets are Recyclistas, siding well with my love of bikes and bike culture, and the other is with Victoria Tool Library, which appeals to my side of all things DIY and wanting to fix all the things using my own two hands.


2017 taught me that I need to spend more time seeing things. 2018 started things off right by spending a couple of hours on my feet at a time when my body was so weak from being sick for so long. The results were nothing short of magical – being in the trees close to the water, feeling the sunshine on my face, this is what helped bring my life force back into being. I’ll be going into this year with the intention of traveling and spending much more time in the outdoors. So far, Kristy and I have plans to go camping in January, a trip to Tofino, going back to Whistler, she’s off to Japan, and we now also have long-range plans to head over to Port Angeles for a week of adventures this summer. On top of this will be plans to do even more camping with the kids, more trekking about local hills and paths, and generally finding ways to spend all the time outside. It’s totally doable, and it’s time.

The rest, like usual, I’ll make up as I go along. A lot of it will involve wanting to lead a simpler life, to spend more time with my kids, and to do more of the things that matter to me. It’s not new years’ resolutions – these are just acts and actions I’ve been working towards that I’m actually seeing through to completion this year.

Time to get moving…


Coming back to BC made me realize that I’m a little more crunchy granola than my job would indicate. Ok, maybe a lot more.

Part of the deal in moving here was that I wanted to make a real effort to get local. I wanted to live in an area where I could walk to things – work, shopping, nature, etc, and still be close enough that I could ride my bike to everything else. I found a gem of a house in View Royal that does just that – 3km to work, right next to a park, a bike path, two beaches (one to go hang out and read and watch the sunset at and the other that you can swim in), plus I have a grocery store, liquor store, dollar store, pharmacy, and Canadian Tire all at hand. The net result? I don’t have to drive nearly as much as I did before. Hell, I don’t even have to do massive weekly grocery shops! I just grab the shopping bag, see which one (or all) of my kids are up for a little walk, and we go to the store and pick out the ingredients we need for supper. We always have a lovely time on the stroll, and my kids are getting much better about navigating the insides of the grocery store, and I do believe they’re starting to get the knack for picking out produce.

Heads-Up Hockey

I just got word that a saxophone-playing bike-riding acquaintance of mine got hit by a taxi today.  He’s (mostly) ok, despite the driver’s attempt at initiating vehicular-powered human flight (net result, 10 feet).  His bike is a complete write-off.

Drivers’ heads just aren’t in the cyclist game yet.  I was encouraged by signs of life in the bike lanes today (two sets of tires other than my own as I rode down Innes at 7:45am), but in the same breath I also found myself gesturing at a driver who was talking on his cell phone as he passed me just before cutting me off to make a right hand turn.

Sure, drivers make mistakes, and sure, *some* cyclists take liberties with traffic rules, but as long as everybody does moves that are predictable, and well-advertised, there ought to be less carnage involving cyclists on the road.

I’m going to count my lucky stars tonight as I go to sleep and pray for another day of safe riding.

More Balls than Brains

That’s what I certainly had this morning when it came to riding to work.

I got up at 7am to check out what might be bad news considering that Environment Canada was predicting 2-4cm of snow overnight.  Turns out there were nothing but bare roads, so I quickly declared that I’d be riding to work.

Half an hour later, as I was getting my jacket on, the snow was starting to fall.

That said, the conditions were exactly as I’d expected them.  Wet roads, with slight encroachment of snow into the bike lanes.  There certainly were a lot less potholes than I was anticipating, and people were generally respectful of my space on the road, including the times when I had to encroach on the vehicle lanes to avoid said potholes and snow.

Things got ugly, however, when I passed the BMW dealership on Hunt Club.  The snow was coming from the west, so it had been snowing for at least an hour at that point, and was starting to accumulate on the road.  No problem though, just time to slow down and pay attention to what my bike was telling me about the conditions.  I’ve heard that fixies are great in the winter because there’s that real tactile response to what the road is like, and it’s true, I always knew what my wheels were up to.  I was also glad to be riding a fixie for when I got to work and realized that my entire drivetrain (okay, my entire bike, and most of me) was covered in slush.

It snowed pretty hard for a good chunk of the morning, but then it let up towards noon, I guess, and after checking out what the parking lot looked like (and a quick glance at the radar picture from EC), I decided to make a run for it.  Like my buddy Ralph O’Connor said, “if the parking lot looks like this, you can bet that the roads are clear” and that was indeed true.  Roads were again just wet for the most part.  The thing that killed me, though was the wind.  And the fact that it was the first ride of the season, and so my legs weren’t exactly up to the task.

Now, I’m just hoping that this snow that has just fallen will clear up and I’ll be riding again in the morning…

It’s Time.

I’m so ready I’m dreaming about it.

Fantasizing, almost.

Lest there be snow pummeling the roads on Monday morning, I’m riding my bike to work.  The current forecast calls for “Rain or Snow” with a low of -2 and a high of 6, so it can’t all be bad.  That, and I plan on doing some bike mods on Sunday, after my darling wife returns home from a meeting and a shopping excursion to MEC.

New additions to the ride this year will include a rear rack and panniers.  I kinda feel like I’m selling out on the whole pannier deal because here I am with this slick bike that I’m now going to be mounting saddlebags on, in effect.  I feel slightly dirty doing so, but at the same time, it might be kinda nice to not have to worry so much about neck/back pain as I ride.  Plus I’ll be able to carry even more stuff, and they’ll come in handy as my bike plans for this summer start to come clearer (Montreal? Bob?).

Later on this year (translation: I need more work to pay for bike gear), I’m planning on going with clipless pedals, just for an added level of efficiency.  We’ll see how that pans out though…

Until then…