Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road is an online cycling magazine. It is intended for writers and riders who want to share their on the road cycling stories and pictures. Submissions that follow our guideline are gratefully appreciated. See the appropriate page in the site menu. Will publish the best of the best each month. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @PicosCycling.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road February 2014 Vol. 2 No. 2

I had a very difficult month as far as getting this February issue ready but with determination and a lot of help, we are right on time. Jack Hawkins brings us an exclusive interview with winter solo rider Iohan Gueorguiev on his way from Toronto to Halifax. Easily the highlight of this winter issue. Our cover features this intrepid cyclist bike raised in victory again courtesy our own Jack Hawkins.

In This Issue
(To view articles just click on the links)

Iohan Interview

Our cover story. Riding 2000 kilometres from Toronto to Halifax, Iohan Gueorguiev proves that it can be done even in the Canadian winter.

Rattlesnake Point

Second stories in a series. Last month we were "Scouting the Route". This month we do a real shake down tour with a group of novices. Great trip. It was good enough to be the season's highlight for our cycling club all by itself. Don't go away though next month, we'll be following up the real tour de force.

Homebuilt Bike Trailer

This isn't a how-to article. This a story of being determined to ride with a young family without a lot of money to back up that dream.

First Family Tour

Not every tour I've ever been on was completely successful, but I've never gone on one that wasn't memorable. That trailer we built served us surprisingly well.

Cycling Fitness Over the Winter Months

Finally for those who don't embrace the cold, Jack Hawkins brings us an article on how to keep yourself ready for those tours coming. Be ready when the weather is kinder.

So far I'm proud of how this Webzine is turning out. With Jack's help I think we get some needed variety. We'd love to add articles and stories from other writers. Three issues and we are still going strong. Hope to be able to pay more attention to it in the coming months. We do still have a few planned articles on our plate. I hope our readers are looking forward to them. See you all again next month. Until then keep pedalling.

Pico Triano editor

More From Pico

From Pico's Pen

This is my personal author's blog. I write about more than just cycling. I am in fact a resident author with Ink n Beans Press. I also write on a few other writing platforms. Visitors are always welcome.

Pico's Writing Practice

Whenever I write something that doesn't fit on one of my other blogs or platforms that I write on it goes here. Sad, mad or funny, you'll never know what might show up. For me it's practice. I'm a writer and I write.

Iohan Interview

By Jack Hawkins
Photos: Jack Hawkins, Iohan Gueorguiev, Charles Richard

It was an early morning start for me on Thursday, January 9th. But this time, I wasn't cycling, nor even out on the bike.

I was set to meet a young man named Iohan Gueorguiev, who had just cycled from Toronto and was cycling to Halifax for his Christmas vacation. A journey of 2000km. We met through the CrazyGuyOnaBike Forums and our conversations through Gmail led to me sitting down with him to find out why he chose to cycle 2000 kilometres in the winter, and find out about the experiences he's had while on this remarkable journey.

Iohan and Charles received some very strange looks from the crowd at Tim Hortons when they rolled up on their bicycles at eight-thirty, he tells me that “I figured, even though people have called me crazy,” he says, “if I didn't do this, then I would never have known whether or not I can do it.” Those were very inspiring and insightful words for me. He's absolutely right, even if everyone else thinks you're nuts, you will feel the greatest sense of achievement once you have completed the thing that they all said was impossible.

And this isn't the first time that Iohan has embarked on a journey that some would deem “crazy”. He's cycled from Vancouver, British Columbia to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, and then cycled back to Thunder Bay, Ontario. This time, the journey was 6000KM – and it's all documented here, in Iohan's CrazyGuyOnaBike journal.

Not only is he doing this for exploration, and to discover whether or not it is indeed something he can do, he's also raising awareness of -- and hopefully funds for -- a Hamilton-based organisation called WelcomeInn. Which, according to his CGOAB journal, is - “Striving to bring people together and reduce poverty.” And though I didn't get time to ask him more about this organisation, I find myself commending this man for raising awareness about poverty and cycling for a cause.

I then asked Iohan what he had learned about himself while on tour.

“I learned that I want to travel more, even before a tour was finished I began thinking about where and when I can do another one. When you spend hours behind the handlebars, you often think what you want and what makes you happy. At this moment, I just want to travel around the world and enjoy the beautiful scenery, learn about different cultures, meet new people and at the same time keep the journey mentally and physically challenging.”

I also managed to get Iohan's spin on cycling in the Maritimes during the winter – something which not many Maritimers get to experience. He faced a gruelling first day in New Brunswick, “I rode against 30km/h winds, complete with snow from the night before and into the afternoon, then freezing rain and rain in the evening. But it was one of those days that if you can get through it, you kind of know that nothing else can stop you.”

The only question left for me to ask was, “Where are you going next?” His response was exactly what I expected, full of adventure and determination.

“While summer is still uncertain, I am going to take one year off school to ride down the west coast to Argentina and then hopefully hitch a sailboat ride to another continent or at least that is the general plan. Aside from ensuring that I can enter specific countries (visa applications and so on), I plan on having a very open-ended route and I hope to meet other cyclists going the same way and ride with them for some time (something I did not get to do yet.).

As for winter touring, I would probably try to avoid it for now, but riding The Dempster Highway (and the Tuktoyaktuk ice road) or Across Siberia would definitely be great adventures.”

More stories from Iohan (Click photos or titles for more)

Our most popular story ever. This is Iohan beginning a tour in Tuktoyaktuk. There are links to the part one and two videos from his youtube channel.

I Want to See the World: Part 3

Great to have another follow up article on the further adventures of Iohan Gueorguiev. This is part three of his tour. He cycles the Great Divide in winter.

Rattlesnake Point

By Pico Triano
Photos: Andrew Egan, Pico Triano, Simon Shirley

The Brampton church cycling club I founded and led years ago had three organized tours that first summer. The first was a forty-kilometre (25 miles) run to Georgetown, Ontario and back. There were no special activities planned. It was more or less just a chance to assess where everyone was at and give the members an idea what kind of conditioning would be necessary to prepare for our main tour to Niagara Falls. Unfortunately no one took any pictures either. It served its purpose though. I covered the planning stages in our last issue in this article: http://picoscycling.blogspot.ca/2013/12/scouting-route.html. Now we were ready for something challenging.

Rattlesnake Point is a point of land high on the Niagara Escarpment right by Milton, Ontario. There were a lot of things that made it an excellent day trip/training run.

1)      The distance of eighty kilometres (50 miles) was long enough to push the group hard. We needed to know that we were ready for a long self-contained ride.
2)      The terrain took us out of town away from heavy traffic. It also included one significant hill.
3)      There is a great day use picnic park right at the top. Water, bathrooms and one of the best views in Southern Ontario.
Five riders made the trip and we had a lot of fun. Four of those riders would go on to complete the main tour without any serious trouble.

We started out in front of my apartment near the Bramalea City Centre and headed out on to Steeles Avenue riding in formation (My tours all use the same formation riding plan as discussed in this earlier article: http://picoscycling.blogspot.ca/2013/11/group-riding-as-family.html.  Early on a Sunday morning traffic hadn’t built up much yet. We rolled easily on highway seven toward our goal, lunches and drinks nestled in our saddlebags and other makeshift packs.

We travelled incident free all the way to Milton. There we crossed paths with an idiot driver. This guy pulled out of a side road and bulled his way right through the middle of our line of riders. Guess who the lucky middle rider was at that moment? I swerved to avoid the collision. My whole upper body hung over the hood of that car as it advanced. How I cleared the corner of his vehicle without getting hit, I’m not even sure. We were all yelling our heads off at him.

When the dust settled and we had a chance to calm down, I asked, if anyone remembered to get his license plate number. There was a long pause and then we all broke up laughing. We were either too upset or too busy staying alive to think of that.

The day really heated up and before heading up the hill we stopped at a gas station for water and a bathroom break. One of the riders was wearing a moped helmet. ANSI approved but no ventilation. He had, unknown to him, built up a pool of sweat on top of his head. It didn't smell too fresh. He rinsed off while we were there.
The climb up the Niagara Escarpment is not an easy climb. We all made it without incident except that our formation riding got out of whack. As a result two of the riders in their enthusiasm flew right past the park entrance and down the front of Rattlesnake Point. All that tough climbing they just did, had to be done all over again.

We spent the heat of the day resting in the park getting ready for the ride back. I don’t remember what we ate for lunch. I do remember strolling around seeing the sights and having a good old-fashioned water fight.

Great location, awesome weather, good friends, proper training and adequate planning, I’ve never had a planned group trip run so smoothly. Our main event, which I’ll write about next month, brought our group touring up to another level yet.

More Stories (Click photos or titles to access)

Niagara Falls 1989

Rattlesnake point was the warm up for this longer more involved tour. Three days of riding and one rest day for four riders. It was a resounding success.

First Foray

This was my first baby step into long distance touring. I rode from the Niagara area to Toronto and spent the weekend with friends.

Homebuilt Bike Trailer

By Pico Triano
Photo: Pico Triano

This is not a story of how to go about building a family bicycle-touring trailer. It’s more a story of sheer determination to do so in spite of not have the where with all to buy proper equipment.

This trailer was built from two out of date front wheel fork assemblies, some two by threes, a sheet of the cheapest plywood I could find, a slow moving vehicle sign, a chunk off an old car tire, two hinges, a hasp and a can of yellow paint. The parts were cut with a handsaw. The only power tool used was an old Black & Decker electric drill my father-in-law picked up at a flea market for next to nothing.

The design was a box with a frame. A roll bar was incorporated along with assemblies to support the forks holding the wheels.  The hitch assembly included a joint using a chunk of old steel-belted radial so that it could flex in three dimensions. Crude and heavy, but it did work. The hitch assembly bolted to the towing bicycle’s frame low to the ground.

The good points were that the hitch while heavy worked like a thing of beauty. It was rugged. It was crazy visible. If necessary it could also be disassembled. The cargo carrying capacity was also impressive. It could have probably carried a five hundred pound load.

The bad were that it was way too heavy and I doubt if it offered anything resembling safety for the passenger. That roll bar was little more than a heavy decoration, but the thought was there.

It served us for some short family rides and one tour, which will be detailed in another story in this, same issue. After that it was used to carry cargo, which it did very well. During its life it underwent a few modifications. We reduced the width from four feet wide to three and a half. There were handles cut in the box portion to make it easier to handle. It was also cut out behind the slow moving vehicle sign in an attempt to save some weight.

In 1998, six years after building it part of it was destroyed during the infamous ice storm that struck the area. The wheel assemblies and hitch were under the eaves of the apartment we were renting and when that eight inch thick slab of ice came off the roof they were crushed. The box served as the family toy box for the kids for almost another decade.

I’m not proud of the design. I do think it was a testament to our determination to enjoy cycling as a family. Our next two trailers were purchased and served in our tours admirably. We did get our money’s worth out of that first one though.

More From Pico's Cycling (Click photo or title for access)

Not Everything Costs an Arm and a Leg - Bike Clothing on a Budget

Jack Hawkins discusses how to fill your need for cycling clothes without breaking the bank.

Bargain Bicycle Review

I review the cheap bicycles offered by Walmart and other discount stores. You do get what you pay for. Certain upgrades would make the bikes serviceable though.

First Family Tour

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano, Francine Bolduc, Yvonne Tetreault

We took this home built trailer on a significant tour. This plan was an ambitious one. We planned to ride as a family from St. Pie-de-Bagot, Quebec, south to Farnham, back up to Granby, then all the way to Magog and then home

We failed to reach our ultimate objective for the tour, but we made a lot of memories along the way.

The first day of this first family tour rolled well. We stopped in Ange Gardien, Quebec which was about halfway to our first destination for refreshments. If you can read french, I know what you're thinking. They did not just sell beer and wine. We tanked up on water and fruit juice. Hey, we made it to Farnham so you know I'm telling the truth.

We took our time and had a memorable picnic in an apple orchard. Both of those pictures in retrospect hold a lot of meaning for my wife and I.

We slept two nights in the backyard of my in-laws. During the day we took a short day trip for a picnic along the Yamaska River and then returned. The idea was to rest a little bit before we got more ambitious. That was a pleasant ride. With the camping gear off the load if was easier on me.

Our third day on the road was a great deal more challenging. We followed the back roads from Farnham to Granby, Quebec. The riding was flat but it seemed like an awful long way.

In Granby I managed to get a flat tire on the trailer right near the beginning of the paved recreation trail that runs from Granby to Waterloo, Quebec. I used the bike stands at the bike shop as a makeshift jack stand to hold everything while I affected the repair.

It was getting late as we started down the bike path and it started to drizzle. A short while before it got dark, we happened across a small picnic area. Perfect spot for us. There was a flat clear place for the tent, bike racks, a picnic table and no sign saying we couldn't camp there. I don't remember if there was an outhouse there or not. Never stopped us anyway.

Our fourth day on the road we were churning toward Waterloo minding our own business, when some middle age guy rode up from behind and told us we were taking up too much room. He was talking French and not very clearly. My wife did her best to translate and told me that he wanted us to pull over. I'm not that easily bullied. And I asked not very nicely who he was.

I think he was getting frustrated that we were not cooperating, so he passed and then stopped in my path blocking my way. That was near suicide. I weigh over two hundred pounds and my equipment easily surpassed another two hundred and fifty. That isn't that easy to stop. Even if I'm not going that fast.

I managed to avoid flattening him. Again I asked who he was. Finally he grabs his little clear plastic sign with black letters that said, "patrol". He's wearing black cycling tight shorts. How am I supposed to be able to see that?

He went on how our trailer was in violation of regulations. I asked him what regulations. There was nothing posted on the trail about trailer size restrictions. His response was some general line that our trailer needed to be just like the store bought trailers because of traffic regulations for the road. He acted like this had to be the most obvious thing in the world. He told us that the big boss on the Waterloo end of the path would serve us a traffic ticket if we didn't get off the path.

Quebec does sometimes have some strange rules so we took him at his word and left the path. We did not succeed in finding a route through the hills on the regular road that we could safely traverse. The recreation path was ideal. It was built on an old railway bed and was as close to completely flat as could be. That was why we chose that route in the first place.

We ended up turning around. Spent our last night on the road in a small campground and then rode back to St. Pie the next day.

When we got back my wife called the Quebec police to ask about regulations for bicycle trailers. Guess what? There were none. Buddy all full of himself was blowing smoke.

In spite of that roadblock, I think the trip was a success. It provided some great memories. This incident did leave a bad taste in our mouths and we didn't do another family tour of this kind for another seven years.

More Family Cycling (Click photos or titles for full articles)

Touring With Small Children

It can be done. We did it. It is far from easy but it was well worth the effort. Great memories for the entire family

A Key to Riding as a Family

It isn't just about riding the bicycle. You need to be going somewhere and doing things along the way. Fill your tours with enjoyment and memories and your children will love it.

Cycling Fitness Over the Winter Months

By Jack Hawkins

Photos: Shawn Whitelaw, Jim Goguen
Video: Delaney Fearon

As many a cyclist is aware, the winter months are those that you would usually remain bundled up indoors, hot chocolate in hand, blankets galore watching 'Gladiator' or some other epic film. Blood, guts, Romans, what more could you want?!

And then there are those cyclists who think, “Rain, snow, hail, ice? Pah! Not going to stop me getting around!” I am not one of those cyclists... Crying shame, I know! But, I'm just not one of those people, Winter is hibernation for me. It's when I take my time to write articles very much like this one, and reflect on what I've got planned for the New Year.

Well, after one, two, okay – three cups of tea, I've finally decided that I'd write an article about keeping fit over the winter months. Which is one of the reasons why people who cycle, cycle – it's a great way of keeping in shape. And so, since the snow has settled here on the ground in Canada, it's about time I put away my beloved tourer and found another way to keep myself fit throughout the long winters on Canada's East Coast.

Lots of cyclists will have indoor rigs set up to accommodate their cycling needs year-round. There are plenty of cyclists who will opt for either bicycle rollers, or magnetic resistance trainers, there are also those with exercise bikes, but they're often very expensive – depending on what you want, of course.

Personally, since I can't afford to buy rollers, or magnetic resistance trainers, I run on the treadmill. Obviously, it isn't comparable to the workout you'd get if you rode on the bicycle trainers, but I do work at least some of the same muscle groups and it's good for my cardiovascular system. I've also started doing upper-body and leg workouts to build strength.

For me, since I play lots of sports, keeping myself in good shape has always been a priority. But I also just enjoy exercise! It gets me out the house in the summer. And in winter months such as these, I have the equipment at home to maintain my fitness, even when it's minus-stupid outside.

Going forward, I'd love to get a set of rollers or a magnetic-resistance trainer at some point, but that's all in the future.

How do you keep fit in the winter? Tell us your own workout routine.


More Articles From Pico's Cycling (Just click photos or titles to access)

My Big Tour Preparation

This was written as a prelude to telling the story of my own cross continent attempt. Not meant as a how-to just a chronicling of what I did to make myself ready.

A Winter Cycling Microadventure

This the first and only article from Andrew Hendrickson. Just reading it will tell you that there is probably more where this one came from. It's a great little story and tour. I just have to figure out how to entice more from him.