Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday cheer = Beer!

Or maybe it's beer = holiday cheer. Either way, today is day 5 of 5 of lazing around, doing the holiday thing, not working, eating, playing with Lil' D, doing some bike related stuff (cleaning the winter commuter and hopping on the trainer), and last, but certainly NOT least, drinking beer. At this time of year, there are lots of seasonal beers around, as well as gift packs at the LCBO, consisting of beers that aren't stocked year 'round, so if you're lucky, you might score a rare beer or two. One such find was the Wychwood Bah Humbug Beer. An English ale with a hint of cinnamon. I'd have to say I was slightly disappointed with this one, mainly because I could barely pick up on the cinnamon. Now, as a stand alone ale, it was quite nice, and most Wychwood beers that I've tried are pretty good, but because I was searching for cinnamon and couldn't find it, I was slightly disappointed.

Another beer that I found, available in limited quantities, was the Innis and Gunn triple matured oak aged beer. Because of the reputation of Innis and Gunn, I was expecting a knockout beer. Well, I guess I had my hopes set too high. Don't get me wrong, this is a good beer, but compared with the original, I didn't see much of a difference. If anything, it was not as sweet and less fruity than the original, but more malty... like a good dark ale. Was it worth the extra $$$ over the original Innis and Gunn...not really. Was it a good beer? Yes. In the meantime, I'm keeping an eye out for the Innis and Gunn Rum cask aged beer.

Tomorrow it's back to the grind for two and a half days of work, and then 3 and a half days off. Commute #201 tomorrow, and more beer drinking to come, including some Samuel Smith's and St. Peter's.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


I did it! Today I rode into work for the 200th time this year. Quite the day for a commute...the roads were slick and snowy this morning...really put my studded tire to the test. Funny thing is that on my way home today, I didn't think I would make it....I was about 5 minutes from my house when I rode through some snow that I thought looked slushy but turned out to be hard and icy. The front end got jerked around a bit, and my heart eased its way back down into my chest by the time I got home.

No ride tomorrow (no work), but I'm working 3 days next week, so who knows...maybe I'll hit 203! 'Till then, Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Journey Through Hell

Coffee table books. They're not something that I go out and buy on a regular basis. I've either gotten them as gifts, or bought them on sale. Well, with Christmas just mere days away, and boxing day with all of its madness almost here, there's no excuse not to add another book to your collection (or get one started). Last year on Boxing Day, I picked up "Paris-Roubaix, A Journey Through Hell", and it is one hell of a book (no pun intended). I'm not about to even attempt to write a review of the book (click the link above for that), but I will tell you that a year after I bought it, I still love to sit down and leaf through it, staring at the incredible photographs.

There is writing in the book, too. Good writing, at that (much better than what I'm capable of). On top of that, the chapters in the book are organized by themes, from the cobbles themselves, to the velodrome where the race finishes. It's a good way to ensure a smattering of pictures from different eras spread throughout the book. The pictures span from the first edition of the "Queen of the Classics", way back in 1896, all the way up to 2005.

In the meantime, you can check out some pictures that I took of pictures from the book. (Hopefully that's all I need to say to cover my ass from some lawsuit happy yahoo.) You can also drop me a line and swing by for a coffee and a flip through the book.




Sunday, December 20, 2009

A week of commuting

I meant to post this a day or two ago, but life happens and some things (like this blog) take a back seat. So, here's a quick synopsis of the last week in my little world of commuting to work.

Monday: The morning commute was warm (relatively speaking...minus 2), but MAD foggy. Since I'm MAD visually impaired (otherwise know as having to wear glasses), I had to wipe off my glasses about every 3 minutes to get rid of the moisture that accumulated on them. Makes an already hairy commute all the more hairier. I sometimes think that if I were alive back in the hunter-gatherer days, natural selection would have taken me out of the picture early on as a saber-toothed tiger that looked like a big fuzzy blurry blob made me his lunch. Hopefully I would have figured out that I would be better off staying home in the cave mackin' the ladies while some other chumps were out hunting.  Oh, and on the way home, there was sleet coming down pelting me in the face. LOVELY.

Tuesday: Morning commute, more sleet, OUCH, OUCH, OUCH. Being nailed in the face with tiny bits of ice is not exactly how I want to start my day, but it sure as hell wakes you up. On the way home, the temps dropped and the wind picked up, forming snow drifts on Baseline road along the Experimental farm. Again....hairy.

Wednesday: No complaints here.

Thursday: Colder than....I don't want to say colder than a witch's tit 'cause that one is overplayed, but it was f@#$*n' cold. On my feet: two layers of socks, shoes, and two outer layers. Down below: a pair of tights and shell pants. Up above: three layers. On my hands: merino liners and lobster mitts. On my head: face mask, fleece hat and helmet. Vaseline went on exposed skin on my face. Made it to work toasty and warm.

I didn't commute on Friday, but I just have to get in 3 more commutes to hit 200 for the year. Cold and clear weather is in the forecast, so it shouldn't be a problem.

Friday, December 11, 2009

I HATE taking the bus!

Wednesday, we had our first big (snow) dump of the year. (I added snow in brackets just to clarify that I wasn't talking about my daughter's diapers.) It would have been way too dicey to try and ride in on Wednesday...actually, the ride in to work would have been ok, it's the ride home that would have put me at the mercy of the driving skills of people unprepared for the first snowfall of the year. Taking the bus Wednesday morning was fine, and I got a ride home after work. Thursday though...

I wasn't sure what the roads would be like Thursday morning, but the real nail in the coffin was a killer headwind, so I decided to bus it. Well, I left my house at 6:30, anticipating that it would take me an hour to get to work. According to the OC transpo route planner (the biggest waste of programming EVER! DO NOT click on the link!), I would get to work on time, before 7:30. So I left the house, planted myself at the bus stop, and waited. And waited. First bus, 5 minutes late. No problem. I wouldn't have to wait too long when I transferred to my second bus. Well, I got off to transfer, and waited, and waited, and waited. My bus FINALLY came, but it was one of those damn buses that didn't do the whole route. Sh*t! I got on it anyways, figuring I could transfer to another bus later. Well, I figured wrong 'cause when I got off to transfer again, I waited, and waited, and waited, and my bus didn't come. I ended up hopping on another route, but of course it was a route that wound its way through random residential streets. By the time I finally made to work, it was 8:00. An hour and a half after I left my house and half an hour late for work. GREAT!
The ride home wasn't any better. Two buses to get me home, but with a 25 minute wait to transfer buses, it took me ANOTHER hour and a half to get home. F*@K!!!!!!!!! 3 hours of commuting using the bus! Had I biked, it would have taken me HALF that time. ARGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!

At least today the roads were clear enough to bike in. On top of that, I had a 20km/hr tailwind pushing me the whole way to work. The only downside was that the wind hadn't let up when I left work, and had a killer workout on the way home. Nothing like a wicked cold headwind and blowing snow to bring on the weekend! Time for a beer and some heavy reading.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Bring on winter riding

In my last post, I mentioned getting in some weekend riding. Well, last Saturday morning, I slept in 'till 11am. The thing about sleeping in that late is that it kind of kills all motivation. Looks like most of my riding for now will be relegated to this:

Looks inviting, doesn't it?

At least I can get a decent workout riding to work now that I've installed this bad boy:

Schwalbe Marathon Winter...A 2 pound tire = 4 pounds of rotating weight, plus it sounds like you're riding on velcro.

Last winter I rode with one winter tire on my bike, on the front wheel. It seemed to work well, although I had the occasional rear wheel slide or drift. I'm gonna stick to the same setup this year and see how I roll. For now, though, I need to get re-acquainted with how my bike handles in snow and ice. I'm thinking some riding sessions in a parking lot testing the limits of my bike's handling and cornering will be on the agenda this coming weekend.

Friday, December 4, 2009

10 more....

10 more commutes. That's how many more commutes I need to get in this month/year to hit 200 commutes for the whole year. I've already passed my previous season high of 171 commutes from 2007, but I think that 200 would just be a nice round number to hit. Has a nicer ring to it than "one hundred and seventy one" or "one hundred and ninety nine"....."Two Hundred"
I have 16 work days left in December, so as long as it doesn't get too snowy, I think I'll be safe. One of the things that amazes me is that my current job is further away than any other job I've had. Round trip commute is 33km. If I hit 200, that's 6600km this year from commuting alone. Add in road bike, mountain bike and other bike mileage, and I should be somewhere between 12000 and 13000 km for the year. That's almost as much mileage as we've put on our car in the past year! Part of it has to do with the small amount of snow we got back in February and March. The lack of snowfall made for dry clear roads...perfect for getting those early season commutes in.
I'm also hoping to get in a ride this weekend, which would mark the latest non-commute I've ever done. Keep your fingers crossed!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The wind.

Headwind. It sucks. I hate it. Can do without it. You get the picture. When I was looking at today's weather forecast last night, I knew it would be rainy. No problem. Went to bed, slept, got up, looked outside...yup, rain. Checked the weather details: Wind, E 27km/hr. Lovely. 27km/hr headwind. Given the choice between wind and rain, I'll take rain anytime.Cold and rainy over warm and windy any day of the week.

I like commuting to work...I arrive awake and in a good mood. But today, I arrived feeling totally worked over. Part of it has to do with commuting on a fixie. But I guess I shouldn't really complain, 'cause a geared bike would definitely make things a lot easier, and I do have that option. Out of stubborness I just choose not to exercise that option.

So, when I arrived at work, it would have been nice to go back to sleep and then wake up to good cup of hot coffee. Of course, that would NEVER happen. So instead, I worked, and as the day went on, I kept an eye on what the wind was doing. My workplace overlooks St. Laurent Blvd and the Museum of Science and Technology, and there's a nice big flag and a weather vane on top the lighthouse. The flag lets me know how strong the wind is, and the weather vane tells me where the wind is coming from. Pretty neat, huh? Over the course of the day, the weather vane gradually made it's way over to the west, and the flag kept on flappin' in the wind. Just before leaving work, I looked at the weather conditions, just to confirm my suspicions about the wind. And what was the wind doing? West, 31km/hr. YESSSSSS!!!!! Headwind AGAIN! Well, at least I got in two good workouts today.