Another helmet theme … The magpie is a most illustrious bird Dwells in the diamond tree One brought sorrow, one brought joy, Sorrow and joy for me Sorrow and joy for me ...(Donovan)
Author Archive (Kern)
Prologue Tickets were booked in January and dates were fixed. Mary steadily lost ounces all summer in preparation for the trip; I gallantly made up for her losses. New tires installed in October scraped against one side of the rear mud guard. A rotary tool was used to trim back the edge. The route was […]
“Smooth, open roads. Stunning scenery. English road signs. An ingrained cycling culture. Stellar road safety.” Do we have your attention yet? I was lying in bed, flipping through a magazine when I paused over a two-page colour advertisement. Graphically, it was terrible – I had flipped past it at least three times previously. But once […]
April may be the cruelest month, but November is surely the dullest. It is dark and getting darker, cool and getting colder, frosty and getting snowier. Its one public occasion is sombre. I would lay odds that Shakespeare wrote his “winter of discontent” phrase in November. Grumble. However, that makes it a good time to […]
The past two summers I have ridden through Winnipeg. As my project started to wind down, I began to think of my evening rides as a “farewell tour”. Every ride started here, at the corner of St. Mary and Carleton. I would ride down Carleton, to the right. This photo of St. Mary Cathedral in […]
Last weekend I had a day in London between destinations. Pity. It was an opportunity to aquaint myself with one of the world’s great cities. By late afternoon my feet ached – I had walked for hours and decided to try a Boris Bike. Well, I couldn’t get the kiosk to work, nor could the […]
Spring (finally) came, and now it has gone. It was only a few weeks ago that the last of the frozen water pipes in Winnipeg finally thawed. Winter’s frost was over 7 feet deep. The late weather did not help the cycling season, but eventually the legs started turning.
From my bed I could see it; blue sky and its attendant promises. Lift and lower. My old Marin came down from its hook. Lift and lower. The pump restored new life to the tires. Except the the rear one, which had a flat. “You can take my wheel,” offered Mary chivalrously.
In spring a young man’s thoughts turn to love; a not-so-young man’s thoughts turn to touring. One of the challenges of touring on a tandem is luggage capacity. Mary’s philosophy is to take absolutley everything she might possibly need. Before we got Lady CoMo this approach worked reasonably well, but the tandem forced us to […]
I have a very simple conundrum. To hang or not to hang? Winter approaches. This past weekend was gorgeous, and what was I doing? Raking leaves. If I don't do it now I will be staring at a pile of leaf mold in spring. it is time to put the bikes away. My question: Should […]
This weekend is the equinox. All places on the planet will have 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness. Evenings are now too dark for safe riding. My Mistress is in a box and on her way home. Last night was my last ride in Winnipeg (“Muddy Water”). Mistress and Wife Winnipeg’s cycling […]
In the beginning ... "I can make it complicated for you if you want. I'm good at that." So says Mary as she sets me up on her iPad to write the trip report. There’s no need for that. Things get complicated soon enough. Our ride this year is a trip around the Gaspé peninsula, […]
Stopping is the issue. Stopping and standing still. I was standing on the pedals, horizontal position, balanced over the handle bars, shimmying the front wheel to stay upright, waiting for the light to change. I cranked the pedals backwards two full revolutions and for a moment I was actually riding in reverse. Then I woke […]
Winnipeg is like a medieval town, except it isn’t. Being a prairie city there are no limits to its geographic expansion, except for a perimeter road that allows long distance traffic to bypass its innards. And, being on the flood plain of the Red River, it has been encircled on three sides by a floodway […]
I blame it all on the man with the Golden Voice. Winnipeg is about 100 miles north of the United States, and just about smack dab in the middle of Canada (east to west). The prevailing winds come from the west. The nearest wind break is over 1,000 prairie kilometers distant. Portage and Main is […]
Skull cap: check. Helmet: check. Merino wool layers: check. Cycling shorts: check. Long pants: check. Long-fingered gloves: check. Cycling shoes: check (note to self: replace). Wind breaker: check. Tyres: check. Chain: check. Water: check.
There was no cycling over Christmas other than two outings with Titanium Man – more on that later. Actually there was some other cycling – cycling from one table to the next, each a groaning board of delights. I now need not carry a spare tyre, I have one that is self-installed. The remaining holidays […]
The night before we left on our Pyrenees tour our son dropped off a helmet camera. He bought it earlier this summer for the tour he and his finacee did of the Sunshine Coast in B.C. After giving me a fast tutorial on its setup (which I pretended to understand), he helped stuff our bags […]
Day 1 Girona to Olot Aug 27, 2012. Spain. The first day, a big day. We were late getting away – to be expected. There are last minute decisions to make on the first day: what to leave in, what to leave out, how to pack, which route to take. I broke my pump while […]
In four days we leave on our first serious tour in over two years. We were lying in bed a couple of weekends past when the panic set in. It happens before every trip. For months you anticipate and day dream about the ride and think of all the great setup work you'll do to […]
Surprisingly, our bodies do not stay the same as we age. For almost four years Mary has been living with a discomfort that is specifically feminine and greatly aggravated by riding. Short rides have been a chore and long ones have been excruciating, sometimes resulting in painful, broken blisters. I mention these details only in […]
It's worth taking a close look at this one ... fixed gear, no less
Last weekend was the annual Rideau Lakes Cycling Tour ride from Ottawa to Kingston. We were almost at the registration area and had not seen a single cyclist. “Are you sure we have the right date?” It was the right day, alright – we were just a bit early getting started. What a gorgeous morning. […]
We were supposed to ride on Saturday. The previous weekend was brilliant for weather and we spent all of it in the garden or around the house. We didn’t get on the bike once. This weekend we were going to ride, ride, ride to make up for lost time. What did we wake up to? […]
Victoria Day is a long weekend (a.k.a. bank holiday) in Canada, during which the Queen’s birthday is celebrated. Sort of. In cottage country May 24 is the traditional cottage-opening weekend after a long winter, although openings have been earlier in recent years due to weather changes. Canada’s head of state is Queen Elizabeth. I am […]
The original plan was to do a long distance ride on Sunday when the forecast was for a clear, sunny day. However, the best laid plans of mice and men ... Lady CoMo was the victim of a car accident on Thursday. She came out on the losing end of the encounter. It was not […]
The ride to Champlain Lookout in Gatineau Park is the standard weekend ride for most Ottawa cyclists. Gatineau Park, in the province of Quebec, is right across the Ottawa River from Ottawa. It is closed to traffic until May 1st and every Sunday morning during summer, making it a cyclists' paradise. The return ride from […]
Fresh snow on the ground yesterday morning – at least two inches of the stuff. By this morning the pavement was bare; by noon the temperature was above zero. Slow and easy getting started: bike down, find the clothes that were tucked away last November, inflate tyres, wax the chain. Water, don't forget water. Take […]
Kate wandered a bit too close last Wednesday, just as I was really digging in to catch Titanium Man. All it took was one unfortunate wag of the tail – a hair got caught in the roller, and it dragged her in. I expect she will be alright. The vet says she may not need […]
Is there anything more frustrating than a lousy handpump? In our short cycling career I must have gone through a dozen pumps, most of which are now landfill. There are two main requirements for a good handpump in my humble opinion: it must fasten securely to the valve stem, and you must be able to […]
The weekend was the last ride of the season. By Saturday rain had washed away Wednesday’s snow and the pavement was dry. The ride wasn’t as long as planned. It so happened that our intended route over Bellamy Side Road is not surfaced, so we just did a short out-and-back. Nothing strenuous. On the way […]
A number of waterways flow through Ottawa and influence its shape; just so, a number of layers of government control its environs, for better or worse. The most unusual of these is the National Capital Commission (NCC), an appointed body that controls specific areas of green space and parkland in the capital region. It is […]
Cycling safety has been in the news lately. One cycling-related trial has just finished, another is about to start, and the province’s Chief Coroner has announced a province-wide inquiry into cycling safety. The City of Ottawa opened its first downtown cycling lane this year on Laurier Avenue. The city has needed this for a long […]
Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is a Canadian outlet for high quality, outdoor gear including products they market under their own label. (I believe Hilary's Mountain Equipment sleeping bag is a MEC product.) Last year they introduced a line of bicycles, which caused some consternation among local bike shops. As a cooperative MEC is subject to […]
Thanksgiving is a North American holiday, supposedly celebrating the generosity of the native Indians when the original pilgrims were starving during their first winter on this continent. I read recently that, in fact, it was declared a national holiday in the U.S. by Abraham Lincoln to celebrate recent Union victories over the Confederates after three […]
We were not mafting in Ottawa this weekend – we were cold, wet and drafty. The Saturday forecast was for a period of sun in the morning so we planned to ride accordingly. Needless to say, the accuracy of the weather forecast was predictable, and it was mid-afternoon before we were on Lady CoMo for […]
One of the first trip reports we read said that you can always count on your bicycle computer malfunctioning on a tour. Certainly ours have. Lady CoMo has her needs, one is a computer. We decided on a Garmin 800, mounted on the stoker's handlebar. If I think Mary's bored I can call out, "What's […]
One more block The engine talks Whispers 'Home at last" Whispers "Home at last" Tom Waits – "Diamonds on My Windshield" Home at last. We have just finished a three day ride on Lady CoMo from the cottage to Ottawa and are shivering and exhausted. However, we are still talking to each other, and the […]
We knew that as soon as we picked up Lady CoMo we would be faced with the challenge of transporting her. We had a bicycle car top carrier from Volkswagen, but there was no tandem carrier available for it. Also, although the Volkswagen carrier is made by Thule, it is a lower end product (more […]
Lady CoMo's rear wheel cleared customs last week. The plan, which had been to get to the cottage early on Friday to meet Mary, was adjusted. I went down to Bertrand's late in the day for a fitting, put her on the new roof rack and drove off into the sunset.
It was luck that did it. Mary, who is superstitious about such things, came across a charm of a tandem couple and bought it as a pendant. “What do you think?” she asked when she showed it to me that night. She had planned to buy us mountain bikes this year – now a tandem […]
When two Ottawa cyclists meet at a stop light, the Rideau Lakes Cycling Tour (RLCT) is probably the third most common topic of conversation (“great day”, “how far?”, “riding the Tour this year?”). It is the classic ride of the region, run by the Ottawa Bicycle Club on the first weekend in June. Because it […]
Spring weather has been awful – bone chilling cold, rain, wet snow, cloud, winds – you name it, we’ve had it. As the sign at the local cinema says, “Where in Hell is Spring?” We decided to take last week off and ride. The original plan was to go to Virginia (where we rode in […]
On our last tour, locks and cables were the heaviest items we carried. Securing our bike frames is one thing; keeping our wheels from walking off is another matter. Pinhead skewers are a good, simple solution for keeping your wheels attached to your frame.
Mary is a gadget person. Her birthday is coming up, and I know she would really enjoy a GPS for her bike. But which one should I get?
Titanium Man is a wimp. He doesn’t work hard enough. So I’ve stopped riding with him. Instead I am riding against myself.
One of the interesting aspects of the CompuTrainer is the SpinScan. I’m not sure quite how it’s done, but the system measures the torque applied to the pedals at each point in the compass. The visual display gives you an idea of the efficiency of your pedal stroke – an ideal pedal stroke would show […]