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Bicycling in 2011 – A Personal Reflection

Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully you’ll have many happy rides in 2012.

Yesterday (Dec. 31/11) was my 52nd birthday.

Growing older evokes different thoughts and emotions in different people. But most don’t feel older, they just one day realize they are. I think the adage is “inside every older person there’s a younger person saying ‘what the hell happened?!’”

For someone born on the last day of the year, the sixth of six children – always the youngest in class; in family; among my friends – “suddenly” being older is an adjustment.

Many hide or deny their ages, but there are undeniable truths about aging and being older. For the first time in your life, there are more years behind you than ahead. There are more people younger than you than older. Your body is not as responsive.But I ride a bike. And it helps me deny the years. And I love it.

Poster on Pharmacy Ave.

And in my 52nd year, I rode more than ever before.

I know the following stats are unremarkable and they are presented as much to say “if I can do it, anyone can” as for any other reason, but I have regularly commuted by bike for at least 12 years and these are all personal bests, all set in 2011.  From them I take great pleasure as they are tangible evidence that, with each passing year, bicycling becomes more enjoyable for me, makes more sense and plays a bigger role in my life.

(Each stat is recorded during my regular commutes to work, which is about 20 km round trip, or longer rides)

  • Earliest commute of the year: Feb. 16
  • Latest commute of the year: Dec. 22
  • Coldest temp.: -2c (Mar 15)
  • Hottest temp: 36c (Jul 21)
  • Most consecutive business days commuting: 26
  • Highest average speed for a one-way commute (10 kms): 29.5 km/h (Sep. 14)
  • Highest average speed for round trip commute: 27.2 km/h (Aug 19)
  • Highest average speed for all commutes to date: 24.1278 km/hr (on Sep. 26)
  • Longest distance in a one-day ride: 170 kms (Sep 17)
  • Most kms ridden in a year: 2,840.6 kms

Notable Rides:

June 21: First of two rides to protest the removal of the Birchmount/Pharmacy bike lanes
July 12: Ride from Don Mills & DVP to City Hall for the vote on the future of the Jarvis bike lanes
July 20: Ride from Don Mills & DVP to participate in the ride to protest the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes
Sep. 17: Toronto to Niagara Falls

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

No one knows what’s in store for 2012 – hopefully I’ll find layers enough for a January commute – but regardless of what’s ahead, I’m looking forward to cycling there. Again, have happy rides in 2012.

Posted: January 1st, 2012
Filed under: Bike Commuting
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Hitting the Sauce on a Sunday

Is it true that “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”?

I have straight, dark hair and a darkish complexion. My son has light, curly hair and is white like rice.  Our personalities are even further apart.

As a child he learned to ride early and we spent many incredibly amazing, stunningly wonderful days riding around town.  But as he got older, the riding days were fewer and, once he got his driver’s licence, they stopped.

If the apple doesn’t fall far, my children should be riding fiends.  I tried, but not even the Ride for Heart roused him.

Last weekend, as we picked what stays and what goes in preparation for him moving into university residence, he suddenly said “I wanna take my bike”.

I was in the garage before “…ike”.

I was met by two dead flat tires on an 18-speed Arashi mountain bike that hadn’t seen the road in two years.

No problem.  I figured I’d pump up the tires, add a drop of oil to the moving bits and tweak the brakes and gears – after 40 years of riding, that’s my entire repertoire of bike repairs.

As I made my way to the back derailleur, I noticed the back wheel moved from side to side.  But the nuts holding the wheel to the frame were tight.  It looked like the wheel was loose on the axle.


How do I tighten the axle?  YouTube had some helpful videos, and I went back out and wrenched the “locking nuts” tighter than shite.  No more looseness…but the wheel wouldn’t spin.  WTF.  Maybe it just needs a drop of oil.

Clearly I needed help and luckily I remembered BikeSauce.  The web site states that it’s a place where cyclists can fix their bikes for free, using BikeSauce’s tools and work areas, while volunteers are available to help those with small repair repertoires like mine.  There’s a lot more going on too with a wifi equipped “social hub” lounge and a fully stocked library/transportation advocacy centre.

After managing to get the wheel to spin, I thought I’d pop down to BikeSauce, check it out, and quickly get an educated opinion on the integrity of my repair.


It was way busier than I expected.  And way better.  Before I had a chance to get inside, someone greeted me, spun my wheel on its axle, told me it felt a little “crunchy” and set me up with a bike repair expert – Ben – who got me a wrench (I learned later it was a #15 cone wrench), a place to work, clearly told me what to do and left me to it.  Within 5 minutes of arriving, I was working on my wheel.

Without going into the full play-by-play of the entire visit, whenever I needed help I just sought out Ben who invariably stopped what he was doing to answer my question, help me or show me how.

By the end of my hour and a half at BikeSauce, I had handled the cone wrench, a chain whip, sprocket wrench and  truing stand; said “hey” to at least a dozen people and got help from three; removed, cleaned, replaced and greased all the ball bearings in the wheel and put  everything back together without finding mysterious extra bits.

Small repertoire no more.  Earlier this year someone told me my “headset” might need some work.  Then, I hadn’t a clue what he meant; now, I can’t wait to get back to BikeSauce to fix it.

BikeSauce is a great, welcoming place full of very nice people.  Visit.  Fix your bike. Donate. Enjoy.

Or check out the BikeSauce’s Biking Toronto blog.

Posted: August 31st, 2010
Filed under: Bike Repairs
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