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.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road July 2015 Vol. 3 No. 7

Been out on my bicycle and am hoping to get a few more short tours under my belt before the summer gets to much further along. No multi day long distance runs in the immediate future. I just don't have the means or the time. Three short day runs should suffice for the time being though. Hope to have one of those ready for the next issue. My youngest son is looking forward to pedalling his bicycle somewhere with me.

Our on line cycling magazine here has been doing well. We should finish the month with another page view record. At this point I'm expecting to fall just short of 2200. I will try to refrain from talking about it all the time if this trend continues. Our Twitter following has also topped 1000 for the first time as well.

The only bad news is that Jack's laptop had some problems and he was unable to submit his article in time for this issue. He'll be missed but I'm confident he'll have one for us in August.

In This Issue
(Click titles for access)

Weekend In Reno

This is the continued story of my tour that I've been writing instalments for the last six months. I spent a terrific weekend with friends in Reno, Nevada. Great tour, great friends and great times.

Pamper Your Bottom

Another of those lessons I learned the hard way. Don't underestimate the value of a good seat. They are not all made equal. Your rear end will thank you.

Job Hunting and a Grudge

There was a time when my bicycle was my only means of transportation. Didn't restrict me at all, but try to convince a doubter isn't easy. In this case the situation was hopeless and I didn't go home very happy about it.

Cycling Scofflaws

I hear endless complaints about cyclists that either ignore the rules of the road or don't know what they are. People like this exist and I don't approve of their behaviour on the other hand...

Emergency Tire Repair

This was inspired by someone's Facebook post. Some times a patch kit isn't enough. It doesn't have to leave you stranded. The photo is a quickie job to keep the tube in the tire. I discuss how to make the repair the "right" way.

That's it for another month. The weather should be great most of the time for those of us in the northern hemisphere. Don't just read about cycling. Get on your bikes and do it. You'll be glad you did.

Pedal on!


Weekend in Reno

By Pico Triano
Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Pico Triano

My ride from Truckee in California to Reno didn't take very long so my arrival was quite early in the day. With the help of a map on a gas station wall I located Leroy and Yong's home. They had offered to host my visit while I was in town when I met them in San Jose the previous weekend. We touched bases before I rode back in town to run a few errands of my own.

First order of business was to service my brakes. They'd taken a lot of wear and I didn't have another set of brake pad in my kit any more. I found a bike shop and believe it or not they didn't have brake pads in stock. Mid-eighties coaster brakes were passée and disc brakes were just a novelty. How could you possibly be a serious bicycle shop and not have brake pads. I had to carry on down the road for another shop. They had everything I needed.

I also replaced the cones in my front wheel. There was a flaw in the bearing ride. What caused it I have no idea but those things come back and bite if they aren't taken care of. It didn't take long. While I was there I met a professional gambler taking his granddaughter I think she was to have something done to her bike. Had an interesting conversation with him. He shot craps for a living. Claimed he could go into the casino with twenty bucks and come out with all the money he needed for the week. He said as long as he didn't get greedy the staff wouldn't give him a hard time.

With my bike ship shape for the next couple weeks of the tour, I headed back to my host's place. They were excited to have me over and wanted to make sure I enjoyed the visit. We did so many things that weekend I am at a loss to explain where everything fit in.

First thing they did was take me to the biggest and best smorgasbord in town. While we waited for a table we played the video poker machines. I had a whole fifty cents and said I would stop when it was gone. When they called our table I had a whole dollar. I doubled my money in Reno. I'm sure that qualifies me as some kind of gambling expert. We rolled out of there well and truly stuffed.

We else we did that evening is a little unclear even with the help of the journal I was keeping at the time. Somehow between Friday evening and Saturday evening we did a whole bunch of things. We visited the auto body shop to see if his car was repaired. He'd swerved for a deer slapped the deer on the rear end with the quarter panel and then rolled the car down an embankment. The car was nearly totalled but Leroy and Yong walked away from the wreck unhurt. We spent the weekend driving around in their business pickup truck (Leroy had a professional window washing service business). We drove up to Pyramid Lake to see the natural formed pyramid shaped island. The land along part of the route was open range and every cow that took a step toward the road was putting Leroy's heart rate up. We visited his brother at his apartment at one point and the two of them went to visit his mother in her trailer. We watched an action adventure movie on tape at their home. Keep in mind we went to Sabbath services on Saturday so I'm not sure where everything fit in.

Leroy was a great guy to hang out with and Yong tolerated the two of us with grace. This had to be the most enjoyable weekend on the trip. Early Sunday morning I had to move on with a belly full of food, a head full of memories and just a little short of sleep.

The Rest of this story (Click photos or titles for access)

Leaving on my first big tour. This is part one in the series. The trip begins in Pasadena, California. I head straight to the Pacific coast and then north.

The story continues with part two in this series. After a few rocky moment at the beginning, I settle in for the long and sometimes winding road.

Third in the series. I get to ride some of the most beautiful coastline in the USA. At times spectacular but challenging.

Crossing the urban sprawl of the San Francisco bay area was quite an experience for this Canadian. It stands in contrast to the rest of my trip.

The Endless Climb

It did seem to go on forever. Riding up hill literally for days on end. Crossing the Sierra Nevada mountain range was not for the faint of heart. The downhill part was the most fun.

Pamper Your Bottom

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano

When I bought my touring bike, my intention was to get the perfect bike in my view. I didn't do all that badly either. It was lighter yet stronger than any bike I'd ever owned. The frame was built for a rider of my size. Every other bike I'd ever ridden was made for a smaller person and adjusted so I could ride it comfortably. I could ride faster and further than ever before. I still really like those anodized aluminium Blackburn racks. The seat – well, that was a different story.

That seat was a traditional ten speed bike seat. Absolutely no padding whatsoever, covered with hard vinyl. It was built to last. Problem was that it was tougher than I was. I initially commuted to work on it and then trained for a long tour. During that entire time it never bothered me. To that point all my really long rides had been done on older bikes with different, cheaper, albeit padded seats.

I certainly learned by painful experience but it could have been worse. My first day touring on that bike was a miserable one for my posterior. The second day wasn't any better. The next four days of riding were better but still not very comfortable. But it could have been worse as I said. I did not suffer from penile numbness which can happen and under prolonged circumstances cause permanent damage. That would have turned the whole trip into the ultimate male horror story. I didn't want that to be my last tour but at the same time I never wanted to suffer that kind of pain again. Incidentally, bad seats aren't any fun for the ladies either.

This was the mid 1980's and I don't recall at the time seeing anything resembling the ergonomic bike saddles that you find on the market now. Even my cheap Walmart bike has a shallow channel down the middle to help relieve unwanted pressure. At the time though I discovered Spenco and for me that was heaven. Spenco made thick gel seat pads, handlebar pads and cycling gloves. I bought them all. They made an immediate and dramatic difference. I jiggled a little on the gel with every bump in the road but I had no more pain.

Good quality seats that address this issue are available and easy to get. Talk to your bike store. They'll be more than happy to get you set up right. Your posterior with thank you.

More Articles (Click photos or titles for access)


These little cycling accessories are terrific and in most cases very easy to use. Just make sure you keep you're eyes on the road.

Camping Out In My Micro-Swift One-Man Tent!

Jack Hawkins tests out some touring equipment and finds out how hard the ground can be.

Job Hunting and a Grudge

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pixabay, Pico Triano

Spring 1982 was not a good time to be looking for work for a young man recently out of high school on the Niagara peninsula. I had a job with a kitchen cabinet company but they ran out of things for me to do. One can only rearrange the scrap wood pile so many times before someone decides that you're expendable. No bad blood there. I was treated well but there just weren't enough orders to justify keeping me. I left with a good name.

Unemployment for my age group in that area was officially around 25 percent. That only included people registered with the Unemployment centres. Like many of my peers I'd given up on the employment centres very early in the game and the reality was far worse. There really wasn't much out there. Worse many companies were downright unpleasant toward most job hunters. After asking to leave a copy of my resume, I don't know how many times I got told just to get lost. It was tough just to get out of bed and keep pounding the pavement looking for work.

On this particular day I had a few leads to pursue and I thought my prospects were pretty good. Especially on the last call of the day. Jordan Station (name of the town) had a gas station/motel looking for a gas pump attendant. What I really liked was that it was closer to home than my previous job. In fact the street I lived on extended most of the way there. Where it ended, I would cut over to another street descend the Niagara escarpment go around the corner and I would be there. Did the same commute one summer for a couple weeks picking strawberries with my younger brothers.

That wasn't the only thing on my plate that day though. I don't remember how many other stops I made along the way. I do remember the basic route though. I hopped on my bike early in the morning so that I would get to the employment centre in Welland just after they opened. There I would check the job board and any other ads they might have on the bulletin board. From there I rode to Niagara Falls and did the same thing. I checked out anything available that I might qualify for along the way. From Niagara Falls I rode to St. Catharines and did the same thing again. If I recall correctly some auto body shop actually let me fill out an application and took my resume somewhere in there. I ate a packed lunch my mom made for me somewhere around noon. From St. Catharines I headed for Jordan Station right on time. I arrived comfortably within the time frame advertised in the paper.

When I arrived I was given a form to fill out and ushered into a waiting area along with what appeared to be somewhere between fifty and hundred other people my age applying for the same job. I refused to despair. I'd worked as a newspaper boy and had experience handling cash. I had good references and everywhere I'd worked I'd been considered a good worker.

My name got called and I went to the office to be interviewed. The interviewer was a very tired harassed looking woman. This had to be a case study in why mass interviews for this kind of a job is not a good idea. She was decidedly unfriendly and seemed to take an instant dislike to me. She quickly ascertained that I had come to the interview by bicycle and asked me if I had a drivers license. I told her not yet. At which point she took my application and drew a line across it from one corner to another right in front of me. Now I'm not stupid. I know what that means. I didn't ride my bike nearly a hundred kilometres already that day just to get dismissed like that. I attempted to defend my use of my bike as transportation. At that point she wasn't just unfriendly, she was borderline hostile. She said I would be bumming rides from other employees and would have trouble getting to work (I've never had a problem and never done that). She couldn't see how I could ride to work without going on the QEW (Illegal to ride a bike on that besides I'd actually have to go out of my way to ride there). I pretty quickly realized the situation was hopeless and shut up. I walked out of that interview absolutely livid.

I later found a job as a grounds maintenance person for Robert Land Academy. When I was interviewed there, they were impressed that not only did I ride my bike to the interview, but during the interview I wore a crisp clean suit. The commute was similar to my previous job but the extra mileage didn't bother me. The auto body shop called back to offer me a job much later but I was already working. I appreciated their professionalism though.

Incidentally, I know I no longer live in that area, but even when I did, in thirty-five years that establishment, where I felt so badly treated has not gotten one thin dime of my business.

More Stories (Click photos or titles for access)

Not all commutes to work are scenic. While living and working in the Moncton, New Brunswick area I was blessed with a very scenic route to and from my employment.

I have a cycling motto which is "All season, all weather, all the time". This article is about the all the time part. If I need to get somewhere, the fact that it's night doesn't stop me.

Cycling Scofflaws

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano

Back in my highschool days I took a summer class to upgrade to the advanced program. Classes were in a nearby city and I got to commute to class by bicycle. Because there were no buses most of the students used the same means of transportation. Out of all those cyclists only two of us actually stopped for red lights. Neither of us were from the city itself although Jim might have lived just within city limits. I find that unfathomable.

A scofflaw is someone who wilfully and deliberately ignores or disobeys the law. We've all seen them. The issue is far worse in some places compared to others. It is one of the biggest pet peeves of motorists when it comes to the subject of cycling. I have noticed a correlation between cyclist behaviour in some cities and how they are treated on the road compared to other cities. I don't appreciate scofflaws because their behaviour does effect other cyclists.

It is my position that cyclist should know and obey the rules of the road. They were designed to make the road a safer place for all users. I get that most of these laws were made for and by people who may have had little or no understanding of cycling needs but I don't think that's an excuse for flaunting the law. There are groups working to address those issues and there are better ways to make lawmakers aware of those needs.

I also strongly believe that motorists should know and obey the rules of the road too. They often don't. A recent post on Facebook and probably other social media showed a cell phone photo taken by a motorist of a cyclist captioned with the statement that she wanted to ram the idiot because she felt he should be riding on the sidewalk. She felt this rider was a scofflaw even though she was illegally using a cellphone while driving and ignorant of the fact that the law where the photo was taken prohibits bicycles from using the sidewalk. There are many more people who think like she does. She got ten likes from other people online. I've actually had a motorist screaming out of a car window that it was illegal for me to be riding my bicycle on the road. Cyclists aren't scofflaws when they are riding within the rules of the road.

Road safety is a life skill and should be taught in schools. I don't understand why it generally is not. It's important to learn marketable skills so that you can get a good job to support yourself. Isn't it just as important to know how to get to said job safely whatever your mode of transportation?

One thing that serious cyclists would like motorists to understand is that bicycles are not toys. They are a legitimate efficient means of transportation. In most places the law classifies bicycles as vehicles not pedestrians. As vehicles they have the right to the entire lane. Especially in cities cyclists often claim that right, not to be a pain in the posterior, but to avoid being trapped in the door zone (New reduced speed limits in some big cities make that easier and safer). As long as motorists are respecting that, the cyclists are not doing anything dangerous. As a motorist you are not allowed to pass other vehicles unless it is safe to do so. That includes bicycles. You should treat them as you would any other vehicle. If you can't do that you shouldn't have a driver's license.

Yes, a lot of cyclists ignore stop signs and traffic signals. They often fail to signal their intentions to make a turn. If they are caught and ticketed, I don't feel sorry for them. On the other hand I see just as many cars breaking those same traffic laws. Being a scofflaw is not exclusive to two wheels.

More Articles (Click photos or titles for access)

I appreciate the thought behind share the road programs and awareness campaigns. I think drivers need to be aware of what three feet at high speed feels like for a cyclist. I think it's a flaw in the program.

Previous article along similar lines. My position is that cyclists should be keeping the rules of the road.

Emergency Tire Repair

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano, Simon Shirley

Unexpected tire failure, this is why I carry a partial roll of tape in my bicycle repair kit. It is not there for permanent repairs but it has gotten me to the nearest store where I could replace that tire on many occasions.

On long self-contained tours I make a habit of carrying at least one spare tire and one spare tube. To do otherwise would be travelling unprepared. For shorter trips or commutes you might not want to be carrying a lot of gear. Securing everything every time you lock your bike up somewhere can be a major issue. In some cities anything that can be easily removed from you bike stands a high likelihood of being stolen the minute you're out of sight. I don't leave my repair kit, tire pump or cyclo-computer on the bike. I take them with me. That little roll of tape has earned a spot in the repair kit.

Patching a tube is no big deal unless it's raining and carrying a spare tube isn't that difficult. I know a spare tire isn't that much bigger but the line had to get drawn somewhere. Tire failure usually is more severe than a little hole in the tube and not nearly as common. I've gotten big cuts in the tire from glass, big enough that when the tube was repaired it bulged out of the hole in the tire. I've had an old tire rip along the side wall. Rubber ages and sometimes it doesn't show. Sometimes it's just bad rubber to begin with. I've had the wire in the bead edge of a tire break (probably a manufactures defect). In every case, not only did I need to get home but I had to get to the nearest store to buy a replacement. That was ten miles away.

The quickest way to effect the repair is just wrap tape around tire and rim, make sure it doesn't interfere with your brakes (because it almost always does) and hop back on and finish the ride, thump thump thumping all the way. I've usually got time to do a better job though.

I pull out the tube where the damage is (often you have to patch the tube anyway). Pump the tube up to roughly the size it will be inside the tire and wrap the tube instead of the tire. The objective is to just make sure the tire doesn't bulge out of the hole and give you another flat. One of my online Australian friends has used one of their polymer bills to make a sleeve for that same purpose. I'm sure our new money in Canada will work just as well.

My tape of choice is electrical tape with apologies to duct tape aficionados like Red Green. It packs smaller, has a little bit of stretch to it and doesn't leave much glue residue on the tube when you're all done. Virtually any tape will get the job done though.

The biggest drawback to this kind of repair is the temptation to leave it that way a lot longer than you should. If you've done a quality job, your wheel will ride smoothly and you could potentially travel a very long way before it fails again. That might be great in an emergency but my recommendation is to get that tire replaced as soon as possible.

Incidentally we used to use electrical tape on the inside of the rim to cover the spoke nipples and keep them from wearing holes in the tube. I know there is a proper rubber strip for that purpose but a couple of laps of electrical tape on the rim did the job just as well and would never slip out of place while riding.

Related Articles (Click photo or title for access)

If you do a lot of riding you are going to get flat tires. Punctured tubes are easy enough to deal with on the road. It doesn't have to be a disaster.

Breaking spokes is such a pain in the posterior. This article might shed light on why they are breaking and what you can do about it.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road June 2015 Vol. 3 No. 6

Our May issue lived up to all my expectations. We did reset our monthly readership record. Final numbers won't be in until tomorrow but as of the time of this posting we're already past 1800 page views. Another first is to see every single article surpass one hundred individual views. A big thank you to all our readers. I think this month is another excellent issue and I'm hoping to see continued growth in our readership.

In the coming months, we will continue to work to improve the site. At the end of each article we try to add links to similar or related stories. That will continue. One thing that I've noticed is that a lot of our readers are not aware that the pictures and titles have been set up as links to those articles. Not sure what I can do to make that easier to follow. I'd also like to figure out how to set those up so that the article opens in a new tab instead of routing people away from the page. Over the course of the summer I intend to slowly add similar links to all our back issues. The intention is to enhance our reader's time visiting us.

In This Issue

Click on the links to read or just scroll down

Jack Hawkins brings us a story of a cyclist who has crossed a large part of Canada not on two wheels but on only one. Sophie Stirl shares with Jack her experiences touring on her unicycle.

Riding alongside parked cars can be dangerous. This article is written to spread awareness of the issue. This type of accident is entirely preventable if everyone just took the time to look before opening a car door.

My story continues. This instalment sees me tackling mountains like I'd never done before. From the San Francisco Bay area over Donner Summit and on to Reno Nevada. This was definitely an unforgettable climb. 

Loaded down creaking slowly down the road on my touring bike, this scenario played itself out over and over again on my tours. Part of me found it annoying, while another part of me finds it too funny.

Sometimes we don't know how fast we can ride until we really push ourselves. I found out on this occasion but I'm still usually content with moseying along at a more sedate pace.

That's it for another month. I hope our readers enjoy this issue as much as they did last month. A big congratulations to Canadian Grand Tour racer Ryder Hesjedal for an inspiring comeback. The Giro d'Italia finishes today. He was at one point in 29th place and finished yesterday in 5th overall. Way to go. Winning again would be nice but that is one impressive comeback.

Don't forget to follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Picos-Cycling-Tales-of-the-Road/204903946360150?ref=hl or @PicosCycling on Twitter

Until next month, keep those pedals churning.


Unicycling Across Canada With Sophie Stirl

By Jack Hawkins
Photos: Sophie Stirl

Many people ride a unicycle, and many people ride across Canada. But not many people ride a unicycle across Canada. Meet Sophie Stirl.

Sophie Stirl has spent the last four months cycling across Canada... on a unicycle! Sophie, 18, from Dusseldorf in Germany has been cycling across Canada since early July, and her journey has taken her from Toronto to Montreal, then back West again as far as White River, Ontario.

Sophie has been riding a unicycle from a young age, "
When I was six there was a girl in my kindergarten, who had a unicycle, but couldn't ride it. I told my parents that I would like to learn it and a couple of days later my dad came home with a 16" unicycle. I've been riding since then."

"It does take some time and it does require balance. It's hard to say how difficult it is, because some people learn it in a couple of hours and for others it takes a few weeks. It depends on how often you practice. It's usually easier to learn when you're a child. Children are just less afraid of falling."

I was interested in how different it was for Sophie to ride with panniers, and what she did about maintenance while on the road...

"I tried to ride with a bigger backpack first, which was easier to learn, but harder at the end of the day. Then I tried to ride with more weight on the unicycle and less on my back. I only went for a few rides with the panniers before this trip, so I guess it didn't take me too long."

"I have a second inner tube (which I never had to use, because I didn't have a single flat tire!), a couple of spare bolts and nearly all tools that I need to fix it (except for crank tools, because if one of my cranks break, I have to order one online anyway, so it doesn't make really sense to carry it). Oh, I have spare spokes as well. Some things are easier to maintain on a unicycle than on a bike, because I don't have a chain to look after. On the other hand all the weight is only on one wheel so I have to look after my spokes a bit more often."

Sophie also rarely locks up her bike. "Whoever steals a unicycle must be really stupid, because finding it is a lot easier than a bike."

Sophie has been planning to ride across Canada for two years, but already has extensive bicycle touring experience, on both one and two wheels, "My family (my parents and now 14 year-old brother) went on cycle tours almost every summer holiday." Sophie and her family have toured in many countries, including: France, Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland and her native Germany.

Sophie had been planning her cross-Canada ride for two years, she was attracted to Canada by the Unicycling World Championships, Unicon that took place this year in Montreal, Quebec. "I knew that Unicon was going to be in Canada, so I decided to come here two years ago. Then I figured that I might as well apply for a working holiday visa, because I wanted to do a gap year and not go to university straight away anyway."

"And then I thought, 'Oh, if I do a tour I'm going to see so much more and meet so many more people.' I didn't plan a lot, which was probably good. Planning the route in Germany was hard, because I didn't know which roads were better. Once I met a few WarmShowers hosts in the first few days in Canada, I knew a lot more then from my reading on the internet."

Some of the highest points of Sophie's trip, she says, have been the people she's met. As well as personal milestones. "I met a guy the other day who is walking across Canada. That was very motivating to keep going. I had my first 100km ride (I've never even ridden that much without gear) that day as well."

Conversely, the lowest points of Sophie's journey have been the wet and windy days - which any cyclist can understand. "I rode 10 kilometres in 2 hours (I think) and had to concentrate a lot to stay on the unicycle. That wasn't fun."

Sophie's cross country voyage on one wheel has unfortunately come to an end. But, she plans to stay in Canada until next summer.

"I have a working holiday visa, which allows me to work in Canada until next year July. I want to stay here over winter, find a job and just keep meeting people. And continue for a bit next year."

The Endless Climb

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano

The ride from the San Francisco Bay area to Sacramento was a pleasant roll through rich farmland. A field of sunflowers that stretch out as far as I could see and then the same thing with tomatoes. The field of tomatoes had been partly worked over by an automatic picking machine, which destroys the plants and misses quite a few of the tomatoes. I feasted on them for lunch.

Sacramento isn't a very big city but I went straight through the heart of it, right past the state capitol buildings. I didn't take any pictures. At the time I was more concerned about not missing any turns or getting run over.

After leaving the city civilization started thinning out again. I picked up I-80 and continued heading east. That road and I were together for most of the rest of the trip. Wide paved shoulders made it surprisingly bicycle friendly. At the same time the riding got more difficult because the road climbed steadily.

My bike was a twelve speed touring bike without a super low gear range. I was able to pedal up the steady incline but every once in awhile I would get off and walk. Built up quite a bit of tension in my leg muscles and that seemed to help. It seemed to go on forever and I developed a preoccupation with photographing elevation signs. I don't know why I get so much incentive from numbers. Give me, great scenery, an odometer and elevation signs and I'm a happy rider.

The gold rush town of Auburn was an interesting sight along the way. The rest was mostly mountains, trees and the ever present I-80. Finally that Thursday I reached the crest at Donner Summit. The top had a small roadside park and I had the man in charge there take a photo of me. He said he'd never seen a cyclist ride over the top like that before. I didn't understand why not. Seemed like the logical route to me.

From there is was all down hill all the way to Reno, Nevada. It was not very physically challenging. I camped out amoung the trees alongside the freeway right close to Truckee. That night I had an epic nosebleed. Not sure the reason for that. Might have been the elevation, the climate change or a combination of the two. Once staunched I was done with it, so I wasn't particularly concerned.

The following day I arrived in town early and once I'd located Leroy and Yong's home I had a lot of time to kill before anyone got home to say hello. That was the start of a whirlwind weekend that to this day I can't quite figure out how we squeezed everything in. I arrived on Friday and left Sunday morning. There didn't seem to be enough hours or evenings.

More Stories From This Tour (Photos and titles are clickable links)

It Begins

Leaving on my first big tour. This is part one in the series. The trip begins in Pasadena, California. I head straight to the Pacific coast and then north.

Finding My Rhythm

The story continues with part two in this series. After a few rocky moments at the beginning I settle in for the long and sometimes winding road.

Scenic Rollercoaster

Third in the series. I get to ride some of the most beautiful coastline in the USA. At times spectacular but challenging.

Through the Urban Jungle

Last month's instalment of this story has me crossing the urban sprawl of the San Francisco Bay area. Quite an experience for this Canadian.

Hope That Ego Boost Lasts All Day

By Pico Tiano
Photos: Pico Triano, Jack Hawkins

I creaked down the road at little more than a snails pace decked out in old sweat pants, cotton t-shirt and bandana. My touring bike was loaded down with gear, carrying my home with me. Sleeping bag, tent, camp stove, pots, pans, dishes, clothes, first aid kit, maps, bicycle repair tools and some food and water. My load weighed somewhere between fifty and seventy-five pounds. I'm cycling's equivalent of a plough horse. Plenty of strength and endurance but not much speed.

Before I leave city limits on my first day, another bicycle approaches me from behind. This guy is on a racing bike dressed in the latest gear. Black cycling tights, multi coloured lycra jersey, clip on cycling shoes and back in that time that stupid looking little Tour de France cycling cap (on backwards of course). 

It isn't the fact that he passed me that I found amusing, it's how he passed me. No he doesn't just blow on by. He first tucks right up behind my rear wheel and starts drafting. He waits for that perfect moment. It was early in the morning and there was no traffic so he wasn't waiting for that. Maybe he was waiting for that moment of weakness he sensed in me.

After drafting me for a block or so he suddenly whips out and put on a burst of speed. He passed triumphantly. Doesn't look at me, never mind say good morning or even a brief nod of acknowledgement. What can I say the man is faster than me... So what! I get passed by people's grandmother on level ground. Passing me is no great feat.

If you thought that was even a little bit funny. Forty miles down the road or so, I picked up another one just like him. Did exactly the same thing. Then before supper after I was closing in on ninety miles a third guy came along. I'm glad I was able to make their day. Maybe they were real racers just practicing their passing technique...somehow I doubt it. Incidentally on tour I ran into riders like this regularly. This was just one day.

More Humour From Pico (Photos and titles are clickable links)

Wardrobe faux pas. Didn't realize what I might look like to the rest of the world.

My First "Time Trial"

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pixabay

I am six feet five inches tall and weigh 210 pounds. I also have minor asthma. As a cyclist it should be obvious that I am not built for speed. At what point I decided I still liked cycling and was okay with being slow, I'm not sure. I don't ever remember out sprinting anyone. My older brother destroyed me every time and we only raced at his insistence. I never pushed myself to see how fast I could ride or for how long.

My first full time job was eleven miles from home on the outskirts of St. Catharines, Ontario. The commute home by bicycle took me roughly 50 minutes. Keep in mind that home was somewhere between 150 and 200 feet higher in elevation. I almost invariably had to battle a headwind as well. That time is probably not as bad as it sounds. Keep in mind that was ridden after a full day of physical labour as well. There was a day when I was going to have to do a lot better though.

I signed up for a speed reading night school class in Niagara Falls. That was twenty miles a way but not really an issue since Mr. MacKay the instructor lived across the street from my home. I got a ride from him once I'd gotten home. Of course there has to be one day when there was a scheduling conflict and I had to get home after work in thirty minutes or miss my ride. Worse no one involved thought it a very big deal. I would not call this shaving a few minutes off my ride.

I told Mr. MacKay that I would try but couldn't guarantee I would manage it. If he had to leave without me, I understood. He seemed certain I'd manage, after all I ride all the time. His best friend is Mr. Bauer father of Steve Bauer, the Steve Bauer who finished third in the Tour de France one year. Probably the greatest cyclist in Canadian history. For Steve this feat would be no big deal. For me it looked insurmountable.

At the end of the day, the work bell sounded and I was as ready as I'd ever be. Blue jeans and steel toed work boots. I hopped on “The Beast” a rebuilt Canadian Tire ten speed, which was my steed at the time and started pedalling furiously. I made a passing effort at pacing myself but pushed way harder than I thought I could sustain. The first couple of miles weren't too bad. Then I got to the Niagara Escarpment (the land form Niagara Falls falls off of). It is an easier spot and I stood on my pedals and ground my way up. I rolled and weaved through the countryside faster than I thought I could. In North Pelham there is a short downhill stretch and I tore through there grateful to be able to go faster with less effort.

I wasn't wearing a watch so as I entered the home stretch racing along my street pushing with everything I had left. Mr. MacKay was still there. My mom had a change of clothes all ready for me. I got to rest once I got settled into the car. Mr. MacKay gave me one of those, “I knew you could do it looks,” and we went to class.

That's the closest I've ever been to a real bicycle race. Maybe I'm not as velocity challenged as I tell everyone. I still don't feel a need for speed and when I ride I don't really care who passes me. I'm happy enough when I get where I'm going.

More Stories (Photos and titles are clickable links)

Difficult Century

The challenge of riding an unplanned century ride when all my well laid plans came apart at the seams. Sometimes you have to improvise and do the best you can.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Riding in the Door Zone

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano (thanks to my wife and son for staging these shots)

For urban cyclist one of the most serious dangers is the possibility of being doored. Dooring is what happens when a parked car on the side of the road opens its door either causing the rider to run into the door or being knocked into traffic. For a cyclist this is potentially lethal. 

Years back in Toronto, Canada there was a horrific dooring accident. A young father commuting to work on his bicycle was doored on one of the main roads. He was knocked into traffic where he was hit by a truck. He died leaving a widow and several young children.

I have a lot of cycling miles under my belt but have never been doored. Granted there have been a lot of close calls. This does not need to happen.

Sadly most people who can help spread awareness or avoid the hazard themselves don't take the danger very seriously. In Ontario the government changed the legal definition of a collision to exclude incidents of dooring. As a result police no longer track these incidents. There are people trying to do something about the issue but far too few. We can all do something to prevent these types of accident.


Cyclist need to be ultra aware of the parked cars they are passing. If possible ride far enough out to not be in the door zone. Also be especially wary of any car with occupants who don't appear to be aware of your presence. If you can keep up with the flow of traffic, I am all for claiming the lane by riding in the middle of it.

If possible avoid streets with trolley tracks. They really complicate the issue. Any evasive action might put one of your wheels into the groove and send you flying. If you manage to stay up on the rail, your brakes are useless until you're back on the pavement.

Motorists, please, always check your rear view mirror and do a shoulder check before opening your door. Look for cyclists, they are not as big as most of the other traffic. Don't open your door even a crack until they are passed. Popping the door handle and moving the door out even slightly can panic a cyclist into a potentially dangerous evasive manoeuvre. It has been done to me many times.

In Canada there are consequences for hitting a cyclist with a door. Usually a fine and points taken off your license. You don't want the life a cyclist on your conscience either.

Let's make the world a safer place for cyclists. Cheap, clean, efficient transportation doesn't have to be too dangerous.

Attention: The following video is a news report that happens far too often. It has been previewed carefully. It is not as graphic as I feared. This is a reality that doesn't need to be.

More Safety Articles in Pico's Cycling

Stop - Yes That Means You

Rules of the road are made for everyone. Not just motorists and not just cyclists.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road May 2015 Vol. 3 No. 5

Looking over the articles in this month's issue has me excited. Iohan keeps on riding. His last story destroyed our single article page view record. I am expecting to have a really good month again.

Lots of work on the site in April should be apparent as well. Several new pages to serve our readers. We introduced an archive page which I am going to completely redo but it does make it easier to take a look at back issues. Another page added is listing links for free bicycle touring resources. I think the information showing there at this point is pretty lean but we'll continue to work at that and update everyone as we go. I think it adds some great value to the site.

You will also notice this month on some of the articles links to related articles at the bottom of the page. I'm taking a page from Hubpages play book. This will make it easier to engage our readers. I'd love to go back to all our back issues and add similar links but that is a daunting task at this point.

In This Issue

Click the links to read or just scroll down.

I Want To See the World: Part 3

Iohan Gueorguiev continues his trek. His skill with the camera and selfie stick while riding amazes me. His sense of adventure and narration make this a must read and must see. In this edition he is exploring the North American continental divide.

Cyclist To the Rescue

Assisting at the scene of an accident I witnessed. Glad she was past me before she lost control of her vehicle. No injuries but scary enough.

Through the Urban Jungle

Instalment number four of my own big tour. This time I get to traverse a very large mostly urban environment. San Francisco bay area. From San Jose through Berkeley, I experience a lot along the way.

Bike Tour Bailout

Sometimes things just don't work out and you have to bailout on your tour. Even if you weren't properly prepared or bad things happen. You don't have to give up touring forever. You can learn and still enjoy yourself.

Underwater Pedal Power

I know it isn't touring but it is too cool for me to ignore. We aren't talking about nuclear armed submarines from the navy but human powered submarines do exist. Take a look at the International Submarine Race, Bogus Batoid and Faux Fish. I'm sure you'll agree that this is just plain cool.

That's it for another month. I think this is our best issue yet and think the numbers by months end will bear that out. Hope you enjoyed it enough to visit us again sometime. If you really like an article, please take the time to share it with your friends on social media sites. You might even choose to follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Until next month, pedal on!


Pico's Cycling Previous Issue

April 2015 Last month we explored the California coast, rode amoung bears and recognized spring. We also had a laugh at Captain Underwear. If you enjoyed this month's issue have a look at this one and maybe spend some time in our archive. Lots of great stories.