Mourning a Fellow Cyclist

29 08 2012

On Monday morning, news of a tragic accident on Whyte Avenue sent Edmonton’s cycling community into shock. Isaak Kornelsen, age 21, fell under the wheels of a fully loaded cement truck after losing control of his bike while trying to dodge a large mirror sticking out from a large pickup truck that was parked more than a foot away from the curb.

Ghost bike on Whyte Ave in memory of Isaak Kornelson.

It didn’t take long for word to spread about what had happened and for glimpses of who this young man was to appear. At the University of Alberta, he was a track athlete and a student in philosophy. He worked at a local vegetarian restaurant. He rode a bright orange Masi. He had graduated valedictorian at a nearby high school. People who knew him spoke of respect and love for a talented, accomplished, but humble young man who was a true leader and inspiration. His family are also cyclists. He sounds like the kind of person that this world is sorely lacking, and I send my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and everyone else who is mourning his passing.

Mourners gather and light candles at the ghost bike memorial.

The accident happened only a couple of blocks from BikeWorks South, and there were many witnesses, including an EBC member, who went directly to BikeWorks and started working on a ghost bike with Chris, which was installed mere hours after the accident happened.

The police called it a freak accident, but that implies that it wasn’t preventable. While I can only speculate about exactly what happened, I ride that stretch of road several times a week, and from all the witness descriptions, I feel like Councillor Ben Henderson’s summation that everybody involved, the cyclist, the pickup driver, and the cement truck driver, were pushing the limits of safety, limits that are routinely pushed every day on the Avenue. I want to be clear that I’m not blaming anyone involved, but as cyclists there is a lesson we can learn. That lesson, simply put given the current infrastructure, is take the lane.

This accident has reignited calls for bike lanes on Whyte Ave, but along with lack of infrastructure, has also highlighted the lack of cyclist and driver education that allowed this to happen in the first place. On mainstream media sites (Global’s facebook page, I’m looking at you) I’ve wretched after reading some of the nasty, victim-blaming comments, and even more friendly voices have said things like “that’s why I always ride on the sidewalk” and “riding on Whyte Ave is suicide.” Well, until there’s proper bicycle infrastructure, I’m going to keep on riding on Whyte Ave, taking the lane. If drivers want to get annoyed & honk at me, I’ll be reassured, because I’ve got the right to be there, and because when they honk, it means they saw you. It’s still the fastest way to go, and believe it or not, is safer than the sidewalk where every intersection is another opportunity for a collision, or being squeezed in between a lane of traffic and a lane of parked cars. I know it sounds scary to a lot of people, and there is always the slower, less direct alternative of taking the side streets, but even if you don’t feel like you can assert yourself in a lane of traffic, or that you’re not ready, I hope that you’ll keep in mind that level of comfort as a goal.

This Friday, the monthly Critical Mass ride will be dedicated to Isaak’s memory, at the request of some of his friends. As usual, meet at City Hall, by the fountain, at 5:30. Wear yellow in honour of Isaak. Together, we’ll take back the streets, if only fleetingly. I expect we’ll alter the usual route to include an emotional visit to the scene of the accident.

News reports:

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/sports/Cyclist+killed+road+remembered+great+runner+even+better/7158225/story.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/08/28/edmonton-isaak-kornelson-whyte-fatal.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/08/27/edmonton-cyclist-killed.html

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/story/2012/08/29/edmonton-kornelsen-university-mourns.html

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Oh Hail No!

24 08 2012

Long time residents of E-Ville may be familiar with “the most dreaded of all meteorological phenomena.” For cyclists in our fair berg, though, it’s not the Siberian high (that’s the coldest of the cold, for y’all in more southern climes), it’s the hail storm. And yesterday, we had a gooder. Golf ball size balls of ice tearing the leaves off trees and flattening gardens, marble size hail forming a white blanket on the ground, a cyclist caught in such a storm risks serious injury (though it’s the best argument for wearing a helmet ever).

An hour after the storm, there was still a solid layer of hail cores on the ramp at BikeWorks North.

Here’s a shout out to Chris and the other cyclists who were on the High Level Bridge when the storm hit – I’m glad you’re OK. Having been caught in hail storms before, I’ll never forget the scary sound of the falling hail approaching as the front moves in. It’s the sound of “you’ve got a few seconds to take cover or else you’re going to get pummeled to a mush.”

Luckily, I didn’t have to leave work until after the hail stopped falling, but there was the accompanying deluge to deal with. All the leaves torn off by the hail clogged the storm drains, causing intersection after intersection to flood.

Every second intersection looked like this, making for a very challenging and wet ride home.

Of course I was on my road bike, which really hates getting wet.

Le Mercier is not an aqua bike.

I’m sorry Mercier, I’ll overhaul all your bearing systems again as soon as possible. The trick will be finding a Stronglight crank puller so I can do that finicky french bottom bracket.





Midnight Magic

22 08 2012

The ingredients:

  • A hot summer night, preferably one where the majority of people are at home sleeping because they have to work the next day.
  • Friends.
  • Bicycles.
  • A mobile sound system hooked up to an amazing disco bike.
  • A sense of adventure.

Chris brings the party with his bike.

Add a splash at the legislature grounds.

Too bad this is last year for the leg (pronounced ledge) reflecting pool.

And a chance encounter with some more free spirits (people, not bicycles), and suddenly we’re supplying the soundtrack for a fire jam.

Fire spinning!

Making art with kerosene…

…while the city sleeps…

Just don’t drop the flaming staff.

When we pulled up to the fire jam, the folks were stressing about the lack of tunes. When they saw/heard us, several of them ran up and spread hugs all around. Later, we showed them that cyclists could spin fire too, by weaving sparklers through our spokes, lighting them & riding into the darkness.

The night ended with the cyclists riding up the hill to the soundtrack of Hot Butter. I don’t care how tough the hill is, with that you can’t help but giggle & smile.

Anyone who tells you E-Ville is dead on a Sunday night isn’t looking in the right place. Sunday night belongs to the cyclists.





My Longest Rides

21 08 2012

This summer, I decided that I was going to try to see just how far I could go on my bike, with the goal of doing an American century (100 miles = 160km) and still be up for more the next day. So, whenever I’ve had a free day, I’ve tried to spend it on my bike. In fact, I’ve been spending so much time on my bike that I haven’t had time to write about it.

Before this year, my longest one day ride had been 140km on the Tour de Perogy. After doing several “shorter” long rides this year, mostly with friends, I decided I was ready to take the next step and attempt a ride that would rival my personal record, and get me some beach time – a round trip to Lake Miquelon.

Hittin’ the highway. You don’t realize how big those signs are in a car.

Pit stop in New Sarepta where all the fire hydrants are lovingly transformed into cartoon characters. Biking is the perfect way to appreciate this public art project.

I had a sunscreen fail on this ride. In addition to a blotchy burn, I got a burnt stripe between my bike shorts and the hem of my skirt. I only sunscreened to the bottom of my skirt, but of course it rode up as I rode, leaving me with bike short lines for the rest of the summer.

Miquelon has a big sandy beach and salty water that prevents some of the algal blooms we see in other lakes in the area. The water quality was pretty good early in the season, but having been there again since, I’d recommend waiting until next season for a visit. But on this day, a long float in the lake left me feeling like I hadn’t just rode 70km.

Found a shady table just off the beach to make some dinner.

Fuel: frying up veggie drumsticks.

More fuel: “accidentally vegan” cherry strudels.

On this first ride, I was particularly concerned with getting enough food and not bonking. On average, cycling burns at least 500 calories per hour. That means that for 8 hours of cycling you’d need to consume an extra 4000 calories over and above your regular food intake (which is 2000-2500 calories a day for most people). I loaded up on complex carbohydrates in the days leading up to the ride (those calories are easier to store), and took more sugary snacks with me on the ride (those calories hit your bloodstream quicker). At every stop, I shoved a granola bar or some other snack into my face. Even so, I have rarely felt as ravenous as I did the next day.

Getting ready for the return trip.

Racing the sun to the horizon. Man those signs are big.

The evening ended with a little side trip to see family, lots of leftover fake jerky, and 145km under my tires. The next day I had enough leftover to head out of town again to see my parents for dinner. They probably wondered if I’d been eating at all after scarfing down every vegan thing in sight then raiding the fridge for more.

My next big ride was to Sandy Lake, a place I vaguely remember going to as a young child with the all important nice beach. Learning from previous rides (including the peril filled Wabamun trip), I was sporting some stronger sunscreen, a white shirt & skirt to reflect the heat & UV of the incessant northern prairie sun, smaller panniers, and a handlebar bag care of the Raving Bike Fiend.

Whoa! I don’t remember the last time I was wearing so much white. I wasn’t much of a fan of wearing white before becoming a bike mechanic, but wrenching makes it impossible. It’s my new favorite colour for touring, though.

Stopping to explore an abandoned homestead along a back road.

Inside the little house on the prairie.

Pit stop at the Angus & Agnes memorial swing set.

An operational grain elevator in the wild! Elevators were the sign posts and landmarks of the prairie of my youth, but now they’re just memories.

There was a vague familiarity to the road that snaked down to the lake to a memory imprinted in a preschooler’s mind so many years ago, face eagerly pressed against a car window. Not everything was as I remembered though.

Sandy Beach on Sandy Lake. Yep, it’s sandy. It’s a lot of other things, too, like green.

Sandy Beach is a summer village that has seen better days. It seemed like every second cottage had a for sale sign, many of the rest looked run down and on a thirty degree day, the beach was completely abandoned. I cooked some lunch in a picnic shelter with the company of barn swallows and gophers before moving on, with the promise of a nicer beach on the other side of the lake.

Another county line.

A slightly nicer beach, but the water was so green that I decided not to chance entering it.

At least the road to Sunrise Beach was fun – freshly paved rolling twisty.

I decided I’d better start heading home, and stopped in Sandy Beach again for food, water and gatorade (of which I bought the last bottle).

It’s the Sandy Beach store, where you can get gas, groceries, smokes, booze, fireworks but not lottery tickets.

At the Burger Bar, the other business in this sleepy hamlet which was surprisingly busy for a Sunday night, I met some of locals, who were both colourful and refreshing. The cook noticed my bike and asked where I was heading, and was shocked when I told her I was going back to E-Ville and that I’d also ridden out that day.

“Why did you come out here?”

“It was about the right distance, plus I was kinda hoping for some swimming and beach time.”

Loud laughter erupted from everybody within earshot.

“Well actually, there are some kids who paddle out to the middle of the lake on boats and swim there, but everybody usually goes to Nakamun lake, it’s about 15 minutes away by car.”

Unfortunately, it was too late to be headed anywhere but home, and once again I raced there against the sunset.

Sun’s getting low and I’m still in the country.

Having not had my planned swim, I was still covered in greasy sunscreen. This was a problem because as the sun got lower in the sky, swarms of tiny black flies hovered above the land, and whenever I rode through these swarms, hundreds of the flies would get stuck to my greasy legs until it looked like I’d been playing in the mud (but it wasn’t mud, it was flies!!!!). I’m not doing too well with sunscreen. I ought to go back to using the powder that comes off of aspen trunks.

Sunset over St. Albert.

Gross but safe, I made it home in the twilight, but not before a stop at the leg grounds for an unsuccessful attempt to remove the greasy mess. Later, when I sat down with google maps, I was pleasantly surprised to find that at 147km, it was my longest ride to date.

The next step would be to ride the full century. I decided a return to Wabamun would be in order as it would be the right distance and I knew the beach there was lovely and swim-able.

Hello Wabamun beach! It’s good to see you again.

When I rode out there earlier this summer, I was going slower than I could because of a damaged bike and slower companions. This would be the day to really test myself, with no excuse to hold back.  I knew I’d have to ride farther than the provincial park to complete the century, so I headed to the town of Wabamun.

Welcome to Wabamun. Bike, meet boat.

Rode out onto the Wabamun pier.

My original plan was to ride up Lakeshore drive to coal point (where there’s a beach made out of coal) but I got a rather late start, and if I went that far, the prospect of riding on that narrow road in the dark was quite real. Also, with the railroad tracks & allowance between the road and the lake, and blandly reclaimed former coal mines on the other side, Lakeshore wasn’t nearly as scenic as the name suggests.

I rested at one of the many little beaches that dot the lake, Notice there’s still signs warning of the aftermath of the 2005 oil spill.

With darkness creeping up behind me, I rode the 80km home in an astonishing (for me) 3 and a half hours, including snack, drink, bathroom & smoke breaks. Riding the highway in the dark wasn’t as frightening as I thought it would be. I had lights & lots of reflective gear, the traffic was light, and cars gave me a wide berth. The white line on the highway became my guide, and the scariest moments were when that line disappeared at intersections leaving me in disorienting blackness. As I rolled back into E-Ville, I was still energetic, and may have inadvertently serenaded another cyclist who was riding right behind me on Stony Plain Road with a complete version of Short Native Grasses, ipod singalong style.

Because I turned  back earlier than I planned, when I got home I plotted my route carefully to find my total distance, intending to head back out if I came short of the century mark. The tally? 160.9km! I did it (barely)! I’m a centurion!

A couple days later I rode back out to Miquelon with friends. I didn’t take very many pictures that day, but I’d like to share this one. Because, for me, it isn’t all this riding that leaves me breathless.

Watching this left me more more breathless than the biggest hill in Beaumont.

In cycle touring, it’s about the journey, not the destination.





Restoring a Canadian Classic – The ’46 CCM Loop Frame

15 08 2012

The Raving Bike Fiend had offered me this bike some time ago, knowing that I have a soft spot for loop frames, the ability to properly fix it up, and that my own vintage CCM, Poplar, was in extremely poor condition and I was spending more time fixing it than riding it. But with both of us living car free, transporting a non-functional bike cross town can get a little complicated. With a big trip on the horizon, though, he got his car rolling again and outfitted it with the necessities: racks for multiple bikes.

Keith loads up the ’46 CCM and le Mercier beside it to get me & my bikes home. This would be the first time in months that I’d stepped into an automobile.

The bike was given to Keith by another BikeWorks volunteer, whose grandmother was the original owner. In remarkably good shape, the burgundy rims still had their original white pinstriping, though the striping on the frame hasn’t fared as well over the decades and the white paint on the chain guard and fenders was particularly rough. It was missing a pedal, chain, grips, saddle and seatpost but still had all its integral components. However, the important question was how it looked on the inside.

The first step was to replace the missing components and get it ready for a test ride. Keith gave me a new old stock CCM seat post and I lucked out tremendously and found a Wrights leather saddle (history note – Wrights was an English manufacturer that was bought out by Brooks in 1962). With a brand new 1/8″ chain, it was starting to look like a whole bicycle again but started getting complicated when I went to install pedals.

I had found an appropriate set of 1/2″ pedals and had them ready to go when, after much grunting, swearing and penetrating lube to get the old one off, surprise! I discovered one side of the 1 piece crank was drilled 1/2″ and the other side was drilled 9/16″. WTH? Why would anybody do that? Did they start on the right side before realizing the left side was reverse threaded and needed a special tap? Disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to use the awesome pedals, I headed to the parts room to see if, by some major minor miracle, I could find a matched pair of mismatched pedals. Luck was on my side again, and you wouldn’t know they weren’t a pair by looking at them.

Keith had mentioned some concerns about the coaster hub, so I started the overhauls with that. Old CCM coaster hubs are fairly different than any other coaster hubs I’ve worked on, so if any of the parts were worn, finding spares would be an issue. Though very grimy on the outside, I was pleasantly surprised to find pretty clean lube and all the parts in excellent condition when I opened it up. When I tell people that hubs can outlast bikes if they’re taken care of properly, this is exactly what I’m talking about. This 66 year old hub was in better condition than a lot of 2 year old hubs I’ve seen.

A large part of a project like this is cleaning. There’s a nice cog under all that caked on grime, waiting to be exposed with degreaser and some elbow grease.

The parts of the coaster hub before reassembly. If you look carefully, you’ll see that every part, even the nuts, are stamped “CCM.” I don’t know why, but it makes my heart skip a beat in joy.

Reassembled and shined up CCM coaster hub. Made in Canada, patented 1937.

My next priority was to repack the headset, which felt a little loose. No surprise that the stem was corroded in place inside the steerer tube, but after much grunting, swearing and malleting, I got it out. The wedge part actually had rustcicles growing from it! I disassembled the headset and set the fork aside to clean the cups when I heard the sound of running water. It turned out the steering column on the fork was full of water, which was now running across the bench and onto the floor. At least that explained the rustcicles.

Despite the watery surprise on the inside, the races, cups and chrome were in beautiful shape underneath the grime. Also, this is by far the best photo of anything I have ever taken inside BikeWorks.

The headset itself was in fine shape, and I didn’t have any other issues repacking it. While I had the front wheel off, I repacked the bearings in it too, and like the back, it looked like it had been maintained regularly and would see many more decades of use.

The headbadge has seen better days, my guess is because of a basket. Notice how the paint is unevenly faded where parts of the badge have chipped away.

After all of that was reassembled, I could finally put on my grips. I wanted something special that would still be appropriate to the bike while fitting within my next to nothing budget and vegan values. I decided to go with cork stained to match the saddle, as described in Lovely Bicycle and in the subsequent comments.

Two light coats of all in one Minwax stain/sealer on plain light beige cork. I then used a layer of double sided tape to keep the grips in place.

The last major thing to do was the bottom bracket. After finding all that water in the steerer tube, I was really worried about what awaited me in the bottom bracket, especially considering the bike had been sitting outside with an open seat tube for an indeterminate amount of time. Bugs, leaves, sand were some of the things I expected, but all I found was enamel that had chipped off of the inside of the bottom bracket shell. There was a very small amount of pitting starting on the races, but it should be OK with diligent maintenance to keep it from getting worse.

The last step was take it for a late night test ride!

The wolf was also excited about this old school bike and wanted to take it for a test ride too.

All these repairs took several nights, and I had been riding the bike back & forth to the shop without grips & overhauls, but that first guilt-free ride when you know you’re not pushing your luck by getting on an unfinished bike is something special. The bike is heavy and clunky, and I think I may need to look at the coaster brake again because it occasionally makes an unhappy noise, and the saddle squeaks like crazy, but  it’s still a joy to ride. Upright, lady like and attention getting, the bike turns heads and I’ve gotten many compliments on it from random strangers. Because the frame isn’t bent, it handles much better than Poplar, and the gear ratio feels just right. The tires are in fair condition, but I know I’ll have to be on the lookout for appropriate replacements. The wheels could also do with a truing, which I’ll do when I replace the tires.

I don’t care how late it is, I need to test ride this baby.

I fix enough bikes to know that some are more satisfying than others. This one was off the scale. I’m sure at least one of you wants to know if and what I’ll name this bike. For something that’s survived so well intact and potentially still has a long life ahead of it, it feels kind of presumptuous to give it a quirky moniker. But as I reread this post, an underlying theme of luck comes up, so I think I may use that as inspiration for a name.





Trial by Bike Tour

2 08 2012

I’d been talking with A-bomb for months about going on a bike camping trip, so the “Lake Wabamun Bike Attack” was highly anticipated. After meeting at MEC and loading up on Clif Bars and chamois cream, four intrepid adventurers, dressed mainly in white, hit the highway in 30+ degree weather with the goal of frolicking on the shores of the second largest lake in Alberta.

Panda on the highway. Highway 16A was busy but had wide shoulders that were generally in good shape.

The first stop we had planned was the legendary vegan restaurant in Stony Plain. Twice before I have tried to eat there, and both times it didn’t work out, so I was sure third time would be the charm. The promise of healthy & varied vegan nosh kept us motivated as we rode through the outer suburbs, stomachs becoming increasingly demanding. When we got there, all was quiet. There was a small sign in the door that basically said they were out of business. Some internet snooping informed us that this had only happened in the last few weeks, and there were a steady stream of disappointed customers coming to the door who hadn’t heard the news either.

I left a note on the door expressing the extreme disappointment of riding for more than two hours to get there, but that was only half of it, because now I was in the situation I really wanted to avoid, finding a nourishing vegan meal in a small town restaurant. The place we ended up eating (ironically) used to be a garage/service station, and I had (wait for it) onion rings and fries, aka the small town vegan special. I hit a grocery store before we hit the road again to try to round out my fuel.

Instead of following Highway 16A all the way to the Yellowhead, we turned down Parkland drive, which proved to be one of the loveliest country roads I’ve ever cycled. No cars, gently rolling hills, lots of trees & scenery, this is what bike touring is all about.

Parkland Drive: highly recommended.

Too bad that lovely road had a few surprises in store for me. After a rest stop at a country school, I was fiddling with my panniers because I was having some heel strike issues. We were not far on our way when a large dip in the road caused one pannier to bounce into the spokes of my back wheel, taking out three of them. This is the part where I turn into a cartoon with a cloud of expletive punctuation above my head. After letting off steam, I started unthreading the spokes from the wheel and figuring out what to do next. Disengaging the back brakes was enough to prevent most rubbing on the now warped rim, and my front brakes were good. Perhaps I could move a spoke from another part of the wheel to help balance it a bit more when we got to camp. Because I was traveling with a couple of first time bicycle tourists, I brought way more tools than I thought I’d possibly need, including spoke wrenches, so it was doable (thankfully, they were non-drive side spokes – I wasn’t so overly prepared to have a Regina freewheel remover). I also remembered the time my ex-companion rolled into Vancouver with 8 broken spokes, having travelled with more weight and farther than I was from home. As long as my wheels kept rolling, so did I, and I let my fellow travelers know that I’d be taking it easier (they were probably happy to hear that) but I was still good to go.

I formulated a plan for when we made camp. I had taken great care to pack some vegan marshmallows, and that night we’d roast them on the broken spokes.

Not long after that, I noticed some wasps flying behind A-bomb, like they were following her. A couple minutes later, a massive shocking pain sent me into screaming fits. A wasp had flown up my skirt and stung me. Having had an allergic reaction before, I was extremely worried about what could happen. Luckily, I’d packed some antihistamines and ibuprofen, which I took before the swelling started. It wasn’t long before I was riding again, wearing my brave face.

When we got to Wabamun, I couldn’t jump into the lake fast enough, but we decided to set up camp first. The check in lady was confused. What was our vehicle’s license plate number? “Umm, we’re on bikes.” Well, what were the bikes’ license plate numbers? “Bikes, you know, bicycles, we don’t have one.” the plate number on our permit ended up reading ABC 123.

When we got to our reserved spot, there were three pickup trucks parked in it. Like, seriously? The owners of said trucks in the neighboring site were rather incredulous that a group of cyclists wanted to displace them, luckily a park ranger just happened to drive by at that exact moment, and the pickups scattered like roaches in the light.

We settled in, unloaded the bikes and had a snack, then finally started to make our way down to the beach. Going down the first hill, I heard a crash and the sound of metal skidding over asphalt from behind me, then saw Neal’s saddle sliding down the hill in front of me. The bolt that holds the saddle to the seat post had sheared in two. Unlike my wheel, this was something that couldn’t be limped, and I started to really worry about how Neal was going to ride. Brendan suggested we try to find the park maintenance folks as they might have a bolt that would work. At the camp office, they told us we could try to track down the maintenance crew tomorrow, and also that there was a hardware store in town. With two possible solutions to be investigated the next day, it was time to get down to beach!

Swim bliss. At this moment, I didn’t care if I had to walk home.

A blue damselfly chows down on an unlucky fly, on my towel.

A view from inside the bay. I don’t get enough excuses to post underwater photos on this blog.

By the time we got to the beach, the sun was orange and low in the sky, and most people were going home. It was still super hot, though, and lake was the perfect remedy.

That night, I roasted those vegan marshmallows on the campfire with spokes like I promised  myself I would and unweighted the day’s stressors. The company around the fire was lovely, and despite all the difficulties, I was feeling pretty good about where I was.

One of the reasons I love hammock camping: this is the view you get to wake up to in the morning.

The next morning, I decided to leave my wheel as is because it had full tire pressure and would probably lose less momentum with the brake rub and wobble than if I disassembled the wheel and rearranged the spokes then was only able to get up to 50 or 60psi with my frame pump. And there’d be no guarantee the wheel would be true enough that i could reengage the brakes.

Meanwhile, A-bomb and Brendan biked into town to try to find a replacement bolt for Neal’s seat. I was reticent about not going, but it was a good thing I didn’t as the path to town included some steep rough single track -no place for crippled Mercier. At the hardware tore, they had almost given up and were working on plan B until another employee said “oh, I bet that’s a metric bolt. They’re on the other side of the store.” In the entire Home Hardware, they found a single bolt that fit.

Back at camp, Neal installs the new bolt. This was also the time we found out that the previous owner of his bike had sawed off the seat post and the minimum insertion point was now a centimeter from the bottom of it. Neal’s a pretty tall guy, so this was very bad news.

We packed up camp and prepared for a slow ride home, between my fucked wheel and Neal’s too low saddle. It was also at about this time that Brenden discovered his keys were missing. WTF?

As the temperature once again reached more than 30 degrees, we stopped at the now overcrowded beach again before getting back on the road.

Heading home on beautiful Parkland Drive. I think A-bomb will reconsider her choice to ride in jeans the next time she goes 80km. Other than that, she did well on the single speed.

We retraced our route in the afternoon heat, hoping to find Brendan’s keys. With every stop, our bike breeze also stopped, and the heat was starting to take a toll on us so we had a longish break in the shadow of an overpass. By the time we crossed city limits, it was late enough that the heat was finally starting to break. We weren’t home free, though, and were reminded of this by the cherry on top of our day – Brendan got a flat.

This is possibly the longest post I’ve ever done (sorry about that), and it does seem to read like a series of unlikely misadventures crammed into a 36 hour period. The thing is, I don’t remember it as a near disaster, but as a fun adventure that challenged everyone involved, and feel accomplished for having got through it. We don’t remind ourselves how much we are capable of enough. Trial by bike tour proves you’re a lot less limited than you thought. (And that when life gives you broken spokes, roast vegan marshmallows on them!)