It was a beautiful December morning, and I have a fatbike… and one good leg. What more does one need ?

I recently installed the On One Float 4.0 tyres and am quite pleased with them so far; they have decent hook up, a fast rollout on hard surfaces, and are fairly nimble in the handling department.

The river isn’t quite frozen yet.

The lower trail is pretty well packed and at this time of the year does not get much sun, even at 11 am.

Then it was time to have lunch by the lake.

A quick gear review:

The stove is a Coleman 400 Feather (white gas) and the pot is an Optimus Weekender, at 7500 btu output it boils a litre in about 4 and a half minutes at what was -2C. The heat sink on the pot makes a huge difference and to compare, heating 500ml of water in the stainless cup (no lid) took almost 5 minutes.

Soup and mocha in under 5 minutes.

Winter is such a beautiful time of year to get out and ride, or walk, or cross country ski.

After selling my last Pug I found myself in a state of deep regret and this past summer this 2005 Pugsley came up for sale at a price I could not walk away from… I knew the first and second owners of the bike and knew how well it had been taken care of.

The original single speed rear wheel had been replaced with a 9 speed and the components upgraded to a SRAM X5 system with Bontrager cranks, the thumb shift on the SRAM is really nice when you are wearing mittens but the bike also saw a lot of ride time in the river valley (and in the river), as it really is an all season bike here.

I just installed some On One Float 4.0 tyres, the Endomorphs it came with will get saved for warmer weather as I find these to be an excellent all round tyre that can handle everything save for the gnarliest trails.

I can’t ride my hardtail like I used to and the fatbike lets me go places I would otherwise not be able to ride and when the snow comes as it did yesterday, I am pretty happy to be able to roll up another one.


Back in 2009-2010 I answered an ad in the paper for an old Singer sewing machine and found this amazing 1959 Singer 403a that was being sold by an elderly fellow who had purchased it in early 1960, the original owner was not able to afford what was a $350.00 machine and he picked it up for $275.00.

Since I did not have a car I rode across the city and brought the machine home with my bike and trailer… it was a 50km round trip.

It was also interesting that the fellow who sold me the machine had the same name as me and he had taken exemplary care of this machine ever since he bought it.

If we factor for inflation this machine would cost $2700.00 in 2015 and when you look at modern machines that could compare to this level of quality, you are still going to be paying several thousand dollars for a machine that was made in Asia, and not made in the United States.

So this got me to checking.

Back in 1959 you could have bought an average house for around $12,000 and an average car for $2200.00 and when you plug those numbers into the inflation index you get $100,000 for that average house and $18,000 for that average car in 2015.

But we know that isn’t the case.

The average home price in Edmonton is now well over $400,000, and the average car will run you $30,000… cars have improved greatly and come with a lot of improved technology but the average house price has risen to stratospheric levels.

Back in the late 1950’s you also could have expected to pay off that house in fifteen years and have your car paid off in three… now you might be lucky to pay off that house in twenty five years and car loans are often running at seven years.

Back in 1959 the average income was $3900.00 / yr before taxes.., or $32,000 in 2015.

$32,000 a year will qualify you to purchase a $100,000 home, except there aren’t any here.

If you want to buy an average house in this city you need to be making over $100,000 / yr, the average wage in Canada (for all sectors) is only $49,000 / yr.

As a final note, a really nice bicycle would have cost $40.00 to $50.00 in the mid to late 1950’s… I have a few of those nice 50’s models in the collection.




The daily mail:

WCB medical consultants are an interesting bunch, lets just say I am having a very subjective day and that my capacity is pretty low.

“As summarized by WCB Medical Consultant, Dr. (Marni) Wesner: Pain is a subjective experience and the physician’s guide to return to work identifies that fitness for work should be considered on a risk – capacity – spectrum of ability. Risk refers to chance of further harm to the worker or to another person as a consequence of work activity and reflects the basis of physician imposed work restrictions. Capacity refers to strength, flexibility, and endurance which can be objectively measured and may increase with exercise and conditioning. Capacity is the basis for physician described activity limitations. Tolerance, however, the psychological concept subjective symptoms of pain and fatigue limit tolerance. Tolerance is not scientifically based and cannot be measured. Work restrictions should be based on objective risk and capacity, not subjective tolerance.”

I have never met Dr. Wesner and the Physician’s guide she refers to must have been commissioned by the insurance industry in order to discount and diminish the issues persons with disabilities face on a daily basis in order to boost company profits, and to validate those five percenters who work for the W.C.B.

This stands in contrast to one’s own physicians who’s advice is to “exploit the good days” and to “take rest when needed” and that based on my subjective experience that today is a day to take rest, and not to operate any heavy equipment.


It was either very honest of you, or a mistake to tell me that you had checked my Facebook page and made the assumption that I must be working an extra 20-30 hours a week but you should know that my “busy” isn’t the same as your busy.

Busy for me used to be putting in a 50 hour week at one job and working part time at another, and also finding time to volunteer, and have a social life.

Now that work often comes at the expense of my health and my social life can often be quite limited as I also have to make sure I don’t overdo anything.

I do my work in small pieces as I cannot stand for extended periods and any intense work, which is again relative, can force me to take a gravity break and that busy comes at the expense of me not being able to do as much around the house which means other folks have to pick up some of the slack.

But I do some damn fine work even though it often takes me much longer to complete.

I have no problem with submitting business records or other earning information, when I said I needed to check with my employer as to their policy on this you stated that I was unwilling to provide information,  I should let you know that this is not my first rodeo and can see straight through that tactic.

You said you had a background in business and commercial real estate… because I can do that math there must have been a massive pay cut to go and work for Weaselcorp and the only reason I can see, and I am making an assumption of my own here, is that you were a really bad realtor and a really poor business manager.

Today I am taking it easy, the narcotics that have been prescribed to deal with the pain also make it unwise for me to operate heavy machinery or drive, on the bright side they also relieve a lot of the stress I get when I have to talk with Weaselcorp.

My wife is sure I suffer from some mild P.T.S.D. and dealing with weasels triggers a high stress response and the less I have to deal with weasels, the better off I am and I will be referring further communications to a representative who does not cause me nearly as much stress.

I feel squinty…





Coffee always tastes better outside…


I was turning left on to 111th to head west from 95th street and after the intersection cleared I made my turn and half a block later I get pulled over by the gendarme who started out by asking me “didn’t you see that red light?” and then told me that “they were right behind me”.

I replied that I was making a left turn on the green light and told them that there was actually a very large pickup truck behind me when I was making my turn, and that I had signalled before turning. Also added that three cars had gone through the intersection before I made my turn and that I yielded for the pedestrian too.

It seems they thought I blew through the red light but then, I was riding the ‘bent and it accelerates as well as our car so they were probably confused.


They rolled their eyes a little but think they knew they had nothing and then told me to “be more careful out there”.

Yuh huh… why don’t you go find the homicidal granny instead?

Earlier in the day I was leaving the shop and heading home down Whyte Ave and when I checked the mirror all I saw was a wall of black bearing down on me… a little old lady in a gigantic black Ford had decided that I did not belong on the road.

When I made eye contact and yelled at her she told me to “get on the sidewalk” and for a moment I considered making an exception about whupping the ass of the elderly. A guy on a Harley pulled up next to me and said “that old lady tried to kill you”.

After the near miss I dropped into Mill Creek Ravine and cranked up the tunes and had a great ride all the way through the valley and stopped on the bridge for a little mental health moment… a group of school kids passed by and a good number of them started dancing to Bob Marley.

You never get this when you commute by car.

(The speaker hides under the seat and connects to the Blackberry over Bluetooth)

I guess any day you don’t end up as road kill is a good one, this guy’s day was wrecked before it even started.

There is not drive through here and in actuality, the car was hit by another vehicle in the intersection where someone probably was making an illegal turn or blowing through the red light.


Go figure.





I have lived in this province for most of my nearly 50 years, and have always been stunned, shocked, and befuddled by the way Albertans go to the polls on a provincial and federal basis.

For the first time in those 50 years it looks like the NDP might make a breakthrough of the likes that has never been seen and that they might actually form the next government, albeit with a minority and an opposition of strong conservative elements.

If they do form the government I would hope they are very mindful that they did not garner the majority of the vote and that perhaps we are at a place in our history where coalition governments are the way to go where each party partners with the other to make sure that all Albertans are represented fairly.

I am not in complete agreement with any party platform but can say that after over 40 years of Conservative governance and mismanagement, that a change is needed. The corporatism and cronyism that is endemic to the Conservatives needs to be stopped and perhaps they will come out of this as a better party.

If the NDP form the next government this will also send a strong message to the federal Conservatives and they too need a wake up call, as they are even worse than their provincial counterparts.

That boot licking ass weasel we call our Prime Minister needs to go in the worst way.

Simplex JUY 543:


This is one of the rarest and most sought after derailleurs ever made. There are few people out there who have been able to experience the incredible precision that has made many people state that the JUY 543 was a far superior derailleur to Campagnolo’s earlier parallogram designs that eventually rendered it obsolete… even the legendary NR can take a back seat to the 543 as it’s performance pales in comparison. Having used both I can only agree that the Simplex JUY 543 is a superior derailleur that seems to function as if it was indexed, and this stems from it’s patented alignment system that means you almost never miss a shift. It is quite honestly, one of the most remarkable friction derailleurs ever made and may have inspired some designers to look into developing indexed systems. French bicycles have always been immensely popular in Japan and there is a good chance that the designers who worked for Suntour (they developed the first indexed system) and Shimano may have had some experience with the Simplex JUY 543. The build quality is very good and it is very well sealed against the elements, it uses an oil bath system to ensure that even in the most grievous of weather, the derailleur will continue to function smoothly and the coil spring that moves the cage will not seize. It is an interesting design in that it can be set to run with a 3, 4, or 5 speed freewheel which was more common in the early 1950’s and production continued until 1957 where it was fitted to a good number of higher end French bicycles and used as a racing gear. Like other road derailleurs it seems to have a practical cog limit of 28 teeth which pushed the unit to it’s limit. Like the Campagnolo NR, it is much better when it is paired with a freewheel that does not exceed 25 teeth. In practice shifting does feel like it is indeed indexed as you can feel the derailleur align itself and the shift lever transmits this feedback well, downshifting requires a little more effort while the upshifts are like warm butter on glass. I run mine with a 4 speed block which is the originally equipped freewheel for my 1957 Peugeot… the front shifter is a Simplex rod type that is not quite as precise but also not as suicidal as people make them out to be. It was an expensive piece of kit in it’s day and now they often sell for amounts in excess of $1500.00 when they are new in the box.

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.

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