The Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society were pleased to host Tom Babin, the author of this best selling book on Saturday, February 21st and I was very happy to have been able to attend and meet Tom along with a very nice crowd of old and new faces.
Many of us seem to hibernate in the winter and are not seen until the sun comes out and the temperatures increase, and yesterday was one of those beautiful winter days.
What we all agreed on is that there is a lot more joy than there is pain and numbness and I would remind people of the old Scandinavian saying that “there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing.”
I have heard many positive reviews of the book and read a few chapters last night before bed and since Tom is only from down the road, his early winter riding experiences in Calgary were much like ours. I think that with this freeze thaw cycle we have been experiencing our weather has been much more like Calgary’s of late.
I have been riding in the winter for so long that I had to rewind things a decade to remember what I was riding when I first started, that would have been my Trek mountain bike which my daughter named “Jenny”. She was a good bike and I started by using studded tyres of my own making. It took a few years before I decided that riding fixed gear and internal hubs was the way to go.
Tom very aptly pointed out that our society now looks at winter activities as being extreme sports, although we did not cycle in the winter as children we did everything else outside and nothing about that was seen as being extreme.
We walked and skied, tobogganed, and played shinny on outdoor rinks until the light was gone, I even remember seeing some outdoor curling rinks but most of these had been enclosed in my youth. But not all of those rinks had any creature comforts and were often nothing more than a quonset set up over the rink with a little viewing area.
You bundled up and you had fun.
Cycling in the winter really isn’t that extreme either although many a motorist will still think we are insane… that should serve to make them keep a safe distance.
I started with a scrappy but straight Raleigh Safari frame and fork, added some custom built wheels (fixed gear), Nokian 296 Extreme tyres, Nitto bull moose bars, and recycled some fenders, a crank, and fitted a Weinmann centre pull with some Kool Stop pads.
For the better part of the winter I was riding on mountain bike tyres which handle the snow really well but spring brings us a smorgasbord of road conditions that includes glare ice, lunar ice, oatmeal snow, and rivers and small lakes of standing water…this can all be found on one short ride.
If we had a Zamboni we could clear the parking lot and play some shinny…
Those Nokians were a gift from a friend and with almost 600 studs between me and the skating rinks that we call roads the traction is pretty much off the hook; there is no spinning or slipping and one can crawl out of those frozen ruts with wanton abandon.
I really like this bike… it is the honey badger of extreme winter setups and once the ice and snow leaves us it will just get parked until next winter (it’s third).
It was built for one purpose, to make sure I keep the shiny side up.
Our friend has started a Go Fund Me Campaign to help her save her beloved Squirt who was diagnosed with bladder cancer… the surgery was completed and paid for and now she needs a course of chemotherapy that is beyond my friend’s means.
To that end, RBF Cycles is offering a trade in kind where every dollar you donate will get you a matching credit on labour in our shop with a maximum limit of $500.00… as an example, our regular tune up usually runs $90.00 (plus parts) so one could donate to this campaign and pay for your spring / winter tune up or any other service we offer at the same time.
Please contact us if you would like to donate or go through the Go Fund Me link (or just click the image) and let us know how much you donated so we can provide you with that shop credit.
We hope to see Squirt enjoy a long and healthy life, she is a sweet soul and means a lot to us.
Stretch is all ready for his 7th winter, my custom extrabike has served me very well through many seasons as pickup, utility bike, and really shines in the cold weather.
It is a balmy -12 C and we are under a heavy snowfall warning, the 20 to 30 cm we are expected to see pales in comparison with the record snowfall that was seen in the east but we can expect that the roads are going to be more like bumper car tracks than anything else.
Folks here have short memories and seem to forget how to drive in the winter so it is important for cyclists to realize that although they may be stable with their winter tyres, many drivers are going to have a hard time of things.
Woody is also ready for winter as I got the winter boots on and had the brakes done… my dad used to joke that with a 4 wheel drive you’d just end up farther in the ditch. The Jeep is a great vehicle and besides that famous all wheel drive it has a heater that will bake bread and is really comfortable.
And I have to tip my toque to all the cyclists I have seen out riding this year, our numbers keep increasing and our winter cycling and tyre studding workshops were sold out and we will be scheduling more.
My wife’s step father passed away on Monday while were en route to the upper peninsula of Michigan and although Jim and I never met in person, I could not help but love and respect such a fine man.
He had been diagnosed with advanced Pancreatic cancer in August and we all thought he had more time.
He did not like to fly so he missed our wedding in 2011 and we were so looking forward to having Jim and Monica visit or to visit them in Michigan, I would have made sure that we got in some good fishing together.
We shared the love of many things; hunting, fishing, antique glass and cast iron, and Polish girls… we really love those most of all.
I know Jim is in a better place now, the cancer had spread so quickly and he was in terrible amounts of pain. He spent his last hours at home with his beloved wife of 23 years, and his son next to him… beside the lake and land he loved so much.
I started this event back in ’07 with the idea that it would be nice to wind up the summer with a ride to the Ukrainian Heritage Village when they held their annual Harvest Festival.
It is nice to look back on those past rides and see how we have changed over the years…
Such little girls…
We were a small group that first year…
I was away in Portland in 2012 and 2013 but despite that, the ride still went on in my absence… will have to track down pictures from other folks for those rides.
And here we come to 2014 when there were only three of us riding on what was a cold and overcast day where most of our time was spent riding in the rain… the skies cleared while we were at the village which was very nice.
I am pretty sure Brian has been on every ride with his Catrike…
We dedicated this ride to our friend Ian who passed away several years ago, we know that if he was with us he would have ridden regardless of the weather and the ride he was on in 2010 was pretty similar except that we also had some evil wind to contend with.
Brian and I raised a bottle of iced tea in his honour as this was his favourite drink, something that we despise btw.
And that little girl has grown up (she is now 14)… and back in 2007 I had not yet met the beautiful woman who is now my wife.
Time to start looking at 2015… maybe it won’t rain.
She was our friend and we loved her dearly… and she was taken from us at far too young an age.
We will be celebrating her life this weekend as a group of us ride out to Pigeon Lake on the anniversary of the epic bicycle tour she started a year ago, one that took her all the way to California, solo, and unsupported.