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.
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.
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.