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, 28 February 2014

Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road March 2014 Vol. 2 No. 3

As winter wears on, Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road is working to keep cyclists inspired. This month Jack Hawkins presents and article on fatbikes.  Awesome photos. We have a gallery to assemble to add later but time constraints have kept that on the shelf. We wanted to publish on time though. Worth coming back for a second look later anyway.

We also added a Zazzle gift shop to our site. Currently there are only a few items available but given time we will add more appropriate items. It's a great addition to this site as we continue to develop and grow.

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

Big Wheels - Big Fun!

Ran into a fellow riding one of these last winter. Jack Hawkins did us a favour and researched an article on them. Steve Crawford and Ray Brown provided us with some really terrific pictures.

Niagara Falls 1989

Final installment of the 1989 Brampton cycling club tours. Niagara Falls on the bike for four riders. It capped a terrific year of touring for a group of complete novices.

Tandem Terror

A lighthearted article from my youth. My older brother cobbles together a tandem bicycle out of derelict bike parts. I got suckered into joining the fun.

Unexpected Cycling Fame

The road is a public place and if you do something out of the ordinary or extrordinary, you may get more attention than you ever bargained for.

Spring is Coming

A final article brought to us by Jack Hawkins. I hope all our readers who haven't decided to ride through the winter find this inspiring.

Another great issue is served. Until next month enjoy.

Pico Triano Editor

Big Wheels - Big Fun!

By Jack Hawkins
Photos: Steve Crawford, Ray Brown

That behemoth above is a Fatbike. Fatbikes are bicycles with oversized tyres, they’re made to ride on surfaces that are too soft for other bicycles’ tyres, such as snow or sand.
Fatbikes have really caught on in North America since American bike manufacturer Surly Bikes - famous for producing the ultra-popular touring bike, the Surly Long Haul Trucker, produced their own ‘Fat’ bike – the Pugsley. 

Fatbikes have grown in popularity since Surly took that big, fat (see what I did there?) leap of manufacturing faith. Salsa have created the
‘Mukluk’, and FATBACK, a company which solely produces Fatbikes, have just introduced the ‘Corvus’.

However, Fatbikes are not cheap. Most range at around $1500 and up. Locally, Consolvo Bikes of Moncton, New Brunswick, sell the NORCO Bigfoot (released in November of last year) for $1500. Consolvo also offer a rental service. According to Jim Goguen, the shop’s manager, “For $50-per-day and that initial cost is waived if the rental leads to a sale, there is also a full warranty on the bikes.”

On February 8
th, the city of Moncton – in partnership with Consolvo Bikes hosted the first ever Fatbike Race in the Maritimes at Hillside Christmas Tree Farm. Below is a selection of photographs from the race courtesy of Ray Brown, one of the racers, and Steve Crawford, a spectator.

Jim Goguen reflected on a very successful day, “The Men’s Winner was Bruce Macpherson and the Women’s Winner was Kimberly Abbott. But, I must say that we were all winners today! There were strong winds and a strong wind-chill, it was -20!” Jim also stated that Consolvo’s was planning another Fatbike race in the future.

Fatbiking definitely looks like a lot of fun! Something definitely worth the fifty-dollar rental fee that Consolvo offers. Hopefully we’ll see more Fatbikers in the future.

Niagara Falls 1989

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano, Lydia Zacharias

Four days and 320 kilometres of riding, this is what the Brampton cycling club had done all its training for. This series of stories started here http://picoscycling.blogspot.ca/2013/12/scouting-route.html and continues here http://picoscycling.blogspot.ca/2014/01/rattlesnake-point.html.  The payoff proved to be worth all the hard work.

Four of us started off the same way we started to Rattlesnake Point tour only this time we were loaded with the gear we would need for a longer trip.  We even started out riding west on the same road as before. Shortly after clearing city limits though we turned south toward Lake Ontario. Before we got wet we picked up Old Highway Two and followed that all the way to Burlington.

Hamilton Harbour is a major obstacle if you don’t know your way through. There are only two bridges across the mouth. The QEW goes over one of them, one of the busiest roads in Canada and no place for a bicycle. We took the other one.

From there we rode through Stoney Creek and followed Old Highway Eight along the Niagara Escarpment. We had to climb that, but we picked our spot. Easiest place to do that was a back road called Mud Road in Beamsville. Perfect choice. The gang handled it with ease. Fly Road to Townline Road and then Highway Twenty and we rolled into Fenwick without major incident.

We did have minor incidents right from the start and it continued for the whole tour. I have never had to deal with so many flat tires in all my riding on tour. I’m tempted to call down a curse on all those idiots who pitch glass bottles out of car windows when they’re done with them.

There was a large tent set up in the yard before our arrival. The boys got to stay there. Our lone female rider got to sleep in a real bed inside the house.  The arrangement went very well.

The following day was a rest day for everyone. We visited church and spent most of the day lounging around. I've always felt that planned rest days are a good thing in a tour even when they are not religiously inspired.

Our second riding day was lighter on riding and heavier on sightseeing. Our route was a wide loop that allowed us to visit Niagara Falls and travel along the gorge some. We relaxed by the Welland Canal and visited several War of 1812 historic sites. The day was not physically demanding but it was still very full.

Our return trip followed a different route than the first. We elected to stay on top of the Niagara Escarpment all the way to Stoney Creek. We rolled through flat farmland before picking up the route around Hamilton Harbour. Gave us a bit of variety. 

The flat tire woes continued and it did lead to some trouble. We ended up arriving home at dusk. It was starting to get pretty dark before we arrived. I was the only one equipped for night riding and I hadn't planned on that. We made it though and the display we put together boasting of our accomplishment was a big hit at church the following week. There was suddenly a great deal of enthusiasm for a new set of tours for the following year. 

Learned a great deal about the dynamics of working with a group of riders. Because most of my riding was solo efforts, the learning curve was a little steep at times. Terrific experience though and I would set up something like that again in a heartbeat.

Tandem Terror

By Pico Triano
Photos: Shawn Whitelaw (taken at La Bikery Moncton rebuilding derelict bikes)

We didn’t grow up very rich and brand new bicycles from the store were not generally how we got our rides. To illustrate the point, my first bicycle was a hand me down one speed that my Dad originally got at the dump. My second bike was an English racer built from a scavenged frame we got on garbage day.

My brilliant bike mechanic older brother Hank noticed that the steering tube on most old one speeds those days was the same diameter as the tube the seat post fit into. That gave him an idea. He mated two bikes creating a three-wheels-in-a-line tandem. He somehow mated the drive trains with hose clamps and created a rideable monstrosity. It flexed in the middle so you could park it upright without a kickstand.

He convinced my younger brother Jake to climb aboard and go racing all around town. They raced everyone they encountered and usually won. Something Hank probably would have managed without this set up. This led to his second inspiration and where I got shanghaied into being involved.

My high school every year had a bicycle race. Hank decided that with more power, he could win that race. I was that more power he was seeking. Unfortunately more power meant sacrificing some control. Hank was already a Clydesdale (cyclist weighing more than 200 pounds) and I would get there not long after high school. Balancing a tandem is a whole new adventure especially when you factor in our size. We were fast without a doubt but for me the ride was absolutely terrifying.

We did a “training” run to school sometime before the race. If balance was already an issue, try carrying an armload of books along with that. I am grateful for the soft landing accident we had. Hank decided to try me on the front and I lost control. We wound up in the ditch. I refused to get back on. Enough was enough.

Hank should have entered that race on his own bike. He would have done well. I believe he had a legitimate shot at second place. But he didn’t. We would have never successfully stayed on that tandem for the whole race anyway. I’m sure we would have crashed out.

The man who won the race that year was none other than Steve Bauer. Steve Bauer is the only Canadian to finish the Tour de France close to the podium in fourth place. He led for much of the race that year. There is no shame in finishing second to the greatest cyclist in Canadian history.

Unexpected Cycling Fame

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano

Long distance self-contained bicycle touring is for much of the population out of the ordinary exotic. It attracts a little bit of attention. Doing the same thing with a family of young children attracts a lot of attention. Maybe I should have expected that.

For us the concept of bicycles as transportation and travel is normal. We never thought it was unusual. Years ago there was a family in the Toronto area living car free. To prove the concept a television station gave them three challenges to complete. They had to go buy all the week’s groceries on their bicycles. They had to bring one of the bicycles to a repair shop for repairs and finally they had to get dressed up in nice clothes and ride down to a park along Lake Ontario for a photo shoot. The online comments reflected the opinion of most that this family’s success at the tasks was a fluke. My children’s reaction to the story was different. They all made the same comment. “Why didn’t they give them something difficult to do?”

Our first tour that included kid power included a seven year old, two five year olds on training wheels and a three year old in a bike trailer with equipment piled up around her ears. On our second day of the tour a reporter passed us on her way to work. Her husband intercepted us as we rode through the next village and asked for an interview. We were interviewed in our tent in a nearby campground. The following day we played tag for half the day with a sports photographer.

We realized something was up as we returned home on the fourth day of the ride. People in cars were pointing and looking at us funny. Sure enough our picture was in the top corner of the front page of the newspaper with our story on page three.

Weeks later on a day trip, we were cycling across the city and were busy fixing a flat tire in someone’s front lawn when the owner came out. She was a sweet grandmother type. She recognized us from the newspaper article and invited the kids in for refreshments.

On our return from a weekend trip two years later a cyclist raced past us on a cross-country tour for a charity called Hope Canada. We know this because his support vehicle had to stop and talk with the unusual sight we presented. They’d never seen a family doing what we were doing before. I hope he found his rider back because the delay got them separated. Hope Canada has a picture of us in their database somewhere.

Years after the trip someone at work told me he had a trailer in a campground we stayed at and said he vividly remembers our stay there.

Moral of the story is this: If you are going to ride like we do, don’t be surprised at the attention you just might wind up attracting. Some people will think you’re wonderful and others will think you are nuts. Either way, pedal on!

Spring is Coming

By Jack Hawkins
Photos: Pico Triano

Spring will (hopefully) be here very soon! And most of us (myself included) will do some kind of happy dance, maybe a jig and Flintstone-esque “Yabba-dabba-doo!”, why? Is it because the snow is mostly gone? Because there’s actually a whole week where the temperature is above-zero? Well, yes and yes. But more importantly than the weather, it’s the time of year where we dust off our bicycles, grease the chain, adjust the brake cables, pump up the tyres and RIDE!

You know the feeling - your first day out on the bike after the longest winter in living memory! (Well, that’s every Atlantic Canadian winter - but you catch my drift) It’s a wonderful feeling. Warm-ish breeze in your face, perhaps it’s a little chilly but that’s fine, you don’t care. You’re free, you’re back in the saddle for the first time since October.

You’re able to enjoy a leisurely ride, even if you don’t go very far, it’s still rewarding. The grass is turning greener, birds are beginning to fly again, flowers are beginning to pop up… “Aaaah, Spring.” You’ll say.

For those of you who have taken the winter and hibernated, I say this: “On yer bike!” It’s Spring for God’s sake! After an entire winter of nothing but freezing temperatures, several feet of snow in one storm, and then another storm - and then another, what greater motivation do you need?

Well, in case the very fact that winter is over wasn’t enough, here’s some motivators for you:

1. First off, Spring is a great time to catch some deals on all things cycling. If you don’t already own one, plenty of people are selling their bikes on websites such as Kijiji, although they are sold year-round, Spring and Fall are particularly great times to get them. As Christmas is over and Junior has a new bicycle now and his parents want to sell his old one.

2. In addition to bikes, gear is also coming in - it is Spring, after all and some people (like myself) have saved their money over Christmas in order to get that new saddle they really wanted, or a new set of panniers.

Bike shops are getting rid of their older inventory, ready for the summer. So, they may have knock-down prices on older gear and now would be the time to go grab whatever you need at lower prices!

3. It’s bike maintenance time! That’s right, and no - you can’t put it off any longer. Personally, I’ll be assessing my touring bike come Spring, I already know that the chain needs some greasing, and the rear brakes need tightening, as I currently have to press down almost all the way on the brakes in order for the brakes to actually take any effect. Maybe it was the cycling in stupidly cold temperatures right through until early December that did it!

We all need to gussy-up Old Bessie - or whatever you call your bicycle. (I swear, I don’t call mine “Old Bessie”) It’s time to assess your own bike - is there anything that’s in need of repair on it? Does it need a new set of tyres or inner-tubes? Perhaps some new brake cables? Then it’s time your trusty steed was given a full makeover! And she WILL thank you for it on your first ride!

You can either Do-It-Yourself, which is always nice and I’ll be largely trying to DIY most of my own repairs. But for those of us less mechanically-inclined, you can either take it into your local bike shop and have them service your bike.

Locally, both bike shops in the Moncton area offer maintenance packages.

Mike’s Bike Shop of Dieppe, currently offer three “Tune-up Packages”, according to their website.

Bronze-Level Tune-up - $36.99

Basic tune-up including:

  • Brake and gear adjustments.
  • Tyre inflation.
  • Overall safety-check.

Silver-Level Tune up - $69.99

More advanced tune-up including:

  • Brake and gear adjustments.
  • Tyre inflation.
  • Overall safety-check.
  • Light wheel truing.
  • Installation of up to two parts or accessories.

Gold-Level Tune-up - $109.99

Our ‘top-of-the-line’ tune-up including:

  • Brake and gear adjustments.
  • Tyre inflation.
  • Overall safety-check.
  • Light wheel-truing.
  • Installation of up to four parts or accessories.
  • A ‘Ultra-Sonic’ parts cleaning of the drivetrain.

In addition to Mike’s tri-package system, Consolvo Bikes in the Greater Moncton Area, has their own maintenance service procedures. Shop Manager, Jim Goguen explains:
“Tune-ups start at $40.00, plus parts, that covers most bicycles. Some need a little more than a basic tune-up, at that we do a free inspection so we have a more accurate cost to the customer. One thing we offer is “Fit Services” to customers for $75.00. Most people don’t know the value in being fitted for their bicycles.”

And, Jim also offers a few basic courses in the Spring, free-of-charge, on general road safety and basic bicycle maintenance - changing a flat tyre, for instance. Yet another reason to get back in the saddle once Spring arrives.

And lastly, Spring also provides us with the chance to begin a new year in our cycling calendars and set ourselves a goal for the new cycling season. If you’re a follower of professional cycling, you can mark down the dates for the Tour de France, and any other professional cycling races of importance. (My knowledge on professional cycling is very limited - so if I’ve missed out any other key races, I apologise).

On a personal level, people are setting goals for themselves all the time with regards to cycling. Whether they be fitness-related, or whether people have said, “This Summer, I want to bike across Canada”. From a touring standpoint, and as an example, my goal for this year is - through my cycling tours - to build up my presence as a freelance, cycle-touring, travel writer, both online and offline. I want to see new parts of New Brunswick and possibly the other Maritime Provinces as well and I’ll be writing all about them on my blog. As well as possibly writing a book about my experiences.

That’s what Spring is all about for cyclists. New bikes, new accessories, new goals, new experiences, and the start of a brand new cycling season.

What are your cycling goals for this year? Where do you want to travel to on your bicycle? Spring is almost here. Well… go on then - on yer bike!