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.

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.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

I Want To See the World: Part 3

By Jack Hawkins
Photos & Video: Iohan Gueorguiev

Iohan is back! This time with his latest installment of his “I Want To See the World” series. This latest film details his ride along the Great Divide - route which runs from Banff, Alberta to Mexico. Iohan rode it in the winter, in his usual crazy style!

Once again, as with his previous films, we were privy to stunning filmography and landscape pictures which truly emote the beauty and serenity of the Great Divide in winter, along with his seemingly effortless pedal-and-film style of riding.

He first rides through the picturesque landscapes of British Columbia, before reaching Montana, where there are yet more stunning mountain vistas to be captured, and Iohan stumbles across a town where “You don’t have to cut your grass, the deer take care of it for you!” He captures the beauty of Montana, from dazzling, glorious sunsets, oh yes, and jail. That’s right. Our intrepid explorer spends a night in the slammer!

Fear not, he wasn’t arrested for BUI (Biking Under the Influence), he simply slept the night in an old jail cell in Ovando, Montana, which the town upkeeps, in order to provide wayfaring strangers with a place to sleep. He then starts to ‘mooo!’ at the cows, and produces an interesting (if untrue) factoid that cows outnumber humans in Montana by a ratio of 5:1 - who knew?

From cows, to horses in Iohan’s bicycle touring ‘zoo’! He comes across free-range horses in Montana, who graciously accept his “Wanna be friends?” request. They then hilariously attempted to eat his backpack. He decided to not leave his backpack to mercy of the mares, but they began to follow him for a time as he left them behind. He is now, officially, the Horse Whisperer!

And then the viewer is rewarded with one of the most incredible sights of nature at work that I have ever seen. Iohan is able to spectacularly capture the geysers erupting at Yellowstone National Park, and with an apt, “Woahhhhhh!”, which describes the moment perfectly.

Unfortunately, as Iohan has chosen to ride the Divide in Winter, he encounters all sorts of bad weather, from sleet and snow to heavy rains. Although none as bad as in Wyoming! With plummeting temperatures, sometimes reaching as low as -30℃! And a snowstorm to boot! Though of course, that did not deter Iohan from capturing the brutality of riding in the storm - whilst riding in the storm.

After the snowstorm, his exceptional camera work comes into play again, this time capturing the snow-laden landscape of Wyoming and Colorado. Yet more breathtaking landscape shots cultivate the final few minutes of the film. Once again, a musical score of soft acoustic songs comes into play, as it has throughout the film. Adding a simple, yet potent backdrop to the awe-inspiring scenery that is captured by his GoPro.

The film ends with a mix of more scenic shots, ride-footage and music, as Iohan explains his choice to end riding the Great Divide due to snow, and instead head to the USA’s many national parks in the South West.

Iohan is now a Blackburn Ranger - and will again ride the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route from Canada to Mexico, sponsored by Blackburn. He promises to document that journey too, so be sure to follow him on his Youtube channel, or on his Website for more stunning video documentaries and intriguing blog updates.  

Similar & Related Articles

Jack Hawkins reviews an earlier tour. There are links to Iohan's film of the tour as well. It is pretty incredible and worth watching. This in my mind is not to be missed. I embedded the video links at the end of the article. A new experience and I don't know that it looks that professional but the links are there. The content is what really matters.

Our first encounter with this intrepid cyclist. Riding 2000 kilometres from Toronto to Halifax, Iohan Gueorguiev proves that it can be done even in the Canadian winter.

Cyclist to the Rescue

By Pico Triano
Photos: Shawn Whitelaw, Pico Triano

I'm sure it doesn't happen very often that a passing cyclist ends up assisting at an accident scene. It has happened to me however. This particular incident did give me pause for thought at the time. I've seen more spectacular crashes but I'd never been in a position to get involved before.

Long early morning commute in Eastern Ontario – most of my ride in was through countryside. On the way I passed through a couple of small villages. Lunenburg isn't much of a hiccup on the map, a few houses, a post office, a church and one intersection. It was a cool fall day, one of those harbingers of winter. Just south of town a car passed me and maybe a hundred feet further up the road the driver over corrected with the steering and went into a skid. I watched the car slide sideways and then spurt forward straight off the road. It disappeared into the bushes followed by a muffled whumpf.

Hard to understand why it happened. The pavement was quite new and I had a wide paved shoulder to ride on. I'm glad she decided to lose control well after passing me or I could have been a casualty. I honestly don't have any idea the cause. She wasn't texting and driving or talking on the cell phone at the time because she had to pull that out of her purse after the fact.

When I got there, the car was upside down on its roof. The one front wheel had a big clod of dirt and grass hanging from it. A tractor trailer rig from the other directions stopped as well, a good thing because I really didn't know what to do. The rear window of the car had shattered and the trucker got a blanket out of his truck and laid it down to protect from all the sharp corners. I helped him haul the young woman driver out that way. Thankfully she was unhurt, just very shook up.

While he kept her calm, I set about trying to flag down someone with a cell phone. I worked for years in a call centre servicing cell phone customers and I'm kind of allergic to the things. That's part of the reason I don't carry one. The trucker had one but down on the low ground beside the road he was having trouble getting enough signal to call.

Once everything was settled, I continued on my way to work. I usually leave with time to spare so I still made it to work on time.

Later that year the company I worked for offered to pay anyone interested to get their first aid certification. I jumped at the opportunity. Anyone can stumble upon an emergency medical situation and this way I don't feel quite so helpless. The accident I witnessed could have been a lot worse. My hats off to any first responders. My certification has since expired but if I ever get the chance to renew it I'd be just as eager to retake the course. Never know when you might be needed.

More Articles From Pico

Share the Road

A rant about road safety from a cyclist's perspective. Riders need space to ride for their safety. Let's share the road safely.

Children Cycling - A Parent's Nightmare

Being a parent watching your children grow can have its tense moments, especially when it comes to their safety. Here are some quick tips on making it through and not smothering the adventure of riding a bike for them.

Through the Urban Jungle

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pixabay

After a scenic ride up the California coast, it was time to ride through some heavy civilization. This was complete shift from last month's “Scenic Rollercoaster”. Even starting the trip in the Los Angeles area in “It Begins” didn't compare to this part of the adventure.

Stealth camping becomes more of a challenge the greater the population density. I've always managed though. Never ran into any real problems in that regard but it is something that any rider should consider.

My weekend challenge was to go to church and not just any church but an organization that I was at the time associated with. I had a contact number but getting directions was more adventure than I had expected.

First problem was that the person giving me directions didn't know how to get there without driving on the freeway. Long distance cyclists in North America probably should get used to this. I took the directions this person gave me, found a gas station with a San Jose city map on it and figured out how to get there. Normally this would have been enough but not this time.

Following my adapted directions, I was following the street that was on the address counting up the numbers. I was looking for number 770. I got to 696 and it ended merging into another more major street. That left me scratching my head. Sometimes city streets skip blocks and continue on somewhere else. That was not the case here. I searched with that thought in mind. Turns out the street numbers continued on the street it merged with but only on one side. I don't know what city planner thought that up, but I spent a lot of time figuring it out.

A stroke of luck in that when I found the hall, there was a small park in back that I could camp in without being bothered by anyone.

The next day was a three ring circus for me and I don't mean that necessarily in a bad way. Turns out I wasn't the only visitor at church services that weekend. A youth group from the Los Angeles area was visiting as well. The organizer for that event was a Mr. Damore whose son was a college classmate of mine and we'd played some basketball together. He made sure I was invited to join the group for supper. I cycled across town to the hall that had been rented for the occasion. After the meal Doug Burke along with Leroy and Yong Abolinas decided that I would not be stealth camping that night. I believe I was sleeping on the couch but parts of that day were a blur. They had a guest room but Leroy and Yong were visiting from Nevada. Before calling it a night though they took me bowling and got to laugh at my utter ineptitude. We had a blast but so much for an early start the next morning. Somewhere in all this I mislaid my touring suit jacket and vest (yes I actually brought some more formal attire). I never saw them again. Replaced them at a Salvation Army thrift store I think in Sacramento.

I crossed Oakland the next day. My new friends had warned me not to ride a certain route through Oakland. They didn't tell me why. I don't know if that was out of political correctness or what but there are neighbourhoods in big US cities where it matters what colour your skin is. If you're black there are places you don't go and if you're white there are other places you don't go. I'm Canadian and this is something I don't readily understand. I missed my turn and rode right where I wasn't supposed to. By the time I got to Berkeley I understood why they didn't want me to ride there. Fortunately bikes are quiet and I only got one comment. I little kid shouted out of a pickup truck passenger window, “What are you doin' here white boy?”

Just before exited that part of Oakland my rear wheel dropped down into one of the slots in a storm drain and got stuck. I hurried in a near panic prying it back out of there. Gouged my rim up some but I escaped without further incident.

Berkeley immediately followed and my day only got weirder. First stoplight some man dressed as a hobo (no kidding, stick with his belongs wrapped in a bandana over his shoulder) started talking to me about how his wife did him wrong. He had a very disturbing look about him and I was in my head just begging for the light to turn green. In retrospect, he was obviously schizophrenic and now that I have real life experience with others with that life challenge, I probably would have talked with him. Sad that someone like him winds up on the street where he has to battle his condition by himself.

Crossing the Sacramento river was my next challenge. Why I felt I had to cross, I don't know. I could have followed the south side of the river and gotten where I was going. Seemed every bridge I found had a no bicycle sign on it. Including every bridge in the pictures. I was starting to get worried about making my daily goal. Finally I found one where there was no sign and started to cross. It didn't take me long to figure out that there should have been a sign. Road work truck picked me up halfway across and drove me to the other side. So much for unbroken tire track through my whole trip.

Now I was stuck on the freeway. What a freaking nightmare. Police car went on the speakers to tell me to get off the highway. Sorry I couldn't lift me bike over the fence. I eventually escaped and was relieved to be riding out in the farmland. I've ridden in a lot of cities but this was probably the most intense. Next time I'll make sure I have a better planned route.

Related Stories

It Begins

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

Bike Tour Bailout

By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano

I have a friend who always wanted to go long-distance bicycle touring by himself. He put in the training. He bought all the equipment he needed. He did all the tour preparation any rider would need to and left for his trip. A few days in, he suffers an injury bringing his bike and trailer to a stop. I don't think he actually fell but the accident caused the pedal on his bike to ram him in the calf. That was the end of his tour he couldn't continue. The sad thing is he never tried again.

There are reasons to end a tour prematurely. I'm not going to go through them all because they are as numerous as the riders out there. Injury, mechanical failure, illness, other commitments, it could be any number of things or a combination of reasons. I've had to throw in the towel on a number of occasions and have had successful virtually problem free tours as well.

For me every tour is a learning experience, even the ones that failed. Sometimes I learn more from them than the ones that go without a hitch. I don't let a failure, even one of my own doing, stop me from enjoying travelling by bicycle. In case of emergency, I'm always prepared for things to go completely wrong because life is unpredictable.

Easiest bail out is on a day trip. I always recommend doing day trips along with short overnighters to get ready for a big tour. Allows you to iron a lot of problems out. Bail out is sometimes available in the form of a quick phone call to a friend or family member.

On bigger tours I've relied on the buses to get home. On my biggest tour I was having mechanical problems and was falling behind schedule. I didn't have the funds to correct the problem which was only getting worse. I did have enough touring money to buy a bus ticket home. Mechanical trouble got me a second time cycling in Quebec and had to find a bus home. There was a third bus trip when I started suffering from constant leg cramps. Bad luck can happen to the best of us. With sufficient cash and no harsh schedule to keep. I would have finished all those tours. Unfortunately I'm not the only cyclist that has to face these issues. Just don't walk away from touring because one thing went wrong while travelling.

More Articles From Pico's Cycling

The Financial Side of Things

All this touring fun for most of us has to be done on some kind of reasonable budget. Jack Hawkins explores the topic from his perspective of planning a cross country tour this summer.

Break Days

Travelling with small children we incorporated planned break days into our schedule. We didn't achieve mileage goals as quickly but in a lot of ways the trip itself was more enjoyable.

Underwater Pedal Power

Human powered submarines - I know this magazine is about bicycle touring but some things are just too cool. We're a long way from any kind of practical pedal powered underwater travel. I thought it was worthy of a look though.

While this isn't intended as a comprehensive history of human powered submarines a little bit of background is needed. The first real submarines in history were all human powered, but not a great deal was accomplished with them until modern times. Practical submarines didn't really come into being until the advent of battery powered electrical motors. Pedal power is not dead though and there have been a lot of interesting designs within the last couple decades.

Each year there is a competition called The International Submarine Race. It will be held this year June 22-26. Engineering students from around the world will race their human powered machines underwater against the clock. For more information you can visit their website at http://www.isrsubrace.org/.

On YouTube you can see documentary segments on the 2009 edition of the race. I thought it was very cool. This is the link for the initial instalment: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xL8UCPPAWEQ. If you wish to see the entire thing YouTube will run you through the whole thing from this beginning through to the last part. I found the whole thing so cool.

The fastest subs were powered by pedals driving some kind of propeller but there are alternative systems that are used. I'm including links to videos about two of them.

The Bogus Batoid swims through the water like a Manta Ray. I'm a woodworker and have built a plywood “canoe” and the workmanship in this submarine is impressive all by itself.

The other machine was built by the same person as the Bogus Batoid and it's called Faux Fish. It attempts to mimic the way a fish swims through the water. While it may be a little impractical a lot can be learned from the way it behaves in the water. I don't think practicality is really the objective here anyway. Again the fact that someone built this and it works is cool enough.

I admire the effort and imagination put into these efforts. If there is ever a functional underwater touring model built, you can be sure we'll be interested.