When riding is like a game show

27 06 2012

So far this cycling season has been like a gameshow, Beat The Rain.

Ride today because it will likely rain tomorrow. Leave early because it’s forecast to rain later. And hope you timed it right and don’t get wet.

Every time you head out, it’s like spinning the Wheel of Fortune and hoping the weather doesn’t put your ride in Jeopardy.

Giebelhaus discovers the Truth that sudden moves on the road bike can have Consequences.

The day may start dry, but It’s Anybody’s Guess if it will stay that way. If it does, you know It’s Your Chance of a Lifetime.

With bad weather always looming, it takes all your Concentration to stay on course and on time. A lingering pit stop can set off a Chain Reaction that ends up getting you wet. Damp roads can be your Downfall, leading to a Wipeout. A bad fall could result in a Knockout. Every Second Counts.

Luckily I didn’t dawdle too long at the Jimi Hendrix Shrine.

Will we ever get summer? That’s the $64,000 Question.

River runs deep

20 06 2012

How can you tell it’s summer solstice in the YVR?

The cloud deck sweeping in from the west, making for a gloomy dusk might be a clue. Or maybe the knickers I’m STILL wearing.

In fact, I’ve yet to wear my bike shorts this year; it should make for an interesting tan situation when the weather finally does warm up and I get to banish the knickers to the closet until fall.

Sparing the world my pasty white legs. For now.

The relentless rains of Junuary have also raised the waters of the Fraser River. Huge white sandbags are on standby in our riverfront neighbourhood, mostly hidden from view though so as not to panic residents.

The high water also caused a minor inconvenience to my solstice ride; an underpass I needed to access to begin my homeward journey from the airport was flooded out due to its proximity to the rising river.

Water hazard ahead.

So solstice happened; the summer part we’re still waiting for.

Urban rush

12 06 2012

A great perk of cycling is the way we relate to the environment around us when we’re on the bike.

The way we experience a road, a route, a city is very different on a bike than when we’re in a car. The people look different, so do the buildings. On a bike, we actually SEE the people and buildings.

On a bike, we’re very much a part of the environment; we’re not encased in a climate-controlled cage of steel, glass, plastic and fabric. We feel the weather, for better or worse, we make friendly eye contact with other people. We pass by the landscape slowly enough to notice some of its quirks and features. And as many times we may ride the same route, there always seems to be something new to see.

Sunday’s Fuggitivi ride to a very familiar destination took an unfamiliar route through a part of Vancouver that had previously existed only on the edges of my peripheral vision as I drove past it hundreds of times over the years. Hugging the Fraser River, the Kent Street bike route slices through some of the city’s vanishing industrial spine. Lumber mills, cement plants and rail yards are being squeezed by warehouses which are in turn being crowded out by big box retail stores to service the condo and townhouse developments that are battling for prime waterfront real estate.

Sunday’s Fuggiviti ride skirts the backside of new condo and townhouse development along the Fraser River.

It’s a part of the city where industry is slowly being squeezed out.

Driving past it, it all looks like just so much nondescript urban landscape. Riding through it, you become very much aware of the transitions, the zoning battles that are allowing them to happen, and the changing character of the city.

Junuary blues

8 06 2012

Rain. Cold. Repeat.

Welcome to Junuary.

June weather in these parts usually isn’t great. But this year, June has so far been craptastic. Eight days in and we’ve yet to achieve a warm, sunny day. In fact, I’ve yet to wear my shorts on a ride. It’s still knickers and arm warmers’ weather. Booties in June is just… wrong.

Bundling up to ride under grey skies and the constant threat of rain just isn’t too motivating.

It’s especially frustrating as I’d built up some good mileage momentum towards the end of May; in fact, it ended up being one of my best Mays ever.

Grey skies and cold temperatures on last Sunday’s group ride.

But a month out from the Axel Merckx Gran Fondo, and I’ve only done one ride in June.

Not cool. Because it’s just too damn cool.

Lunch prescription

1 06 2012

One of the best parts of cycling is the eating.

I always seem to eat better when I’m on the bike. And it’s not just because my body craves healthier, more substantial food to fuel the rest of my ride.

Being on the bike just seems to open new lunch and snack possibilities, leading me to explore little bistros, delis, bakeries and lunch counters I’d otherwise pass right on by. Mix Bakery, The Gallery Bistro, the Musette CaffĂ©, the little deli in Horseshoe Bay, Chez Meme Baguette Bistro and the Lunch Doctor have all become favourite lunch stops during rides.

Well, the last one wasn’t actually a cycling discovery; the Lunch Doctor was the first place I had lunch on my first day working at the paper after moving west. A colleague, assigned to show me around, took me there, said the sandwiches were the best.

He was right, simple sandwiches heaped with deli meats or tuna salad and an array of fresh vegetables on fresh-baked breads or rolls, served with a sweet dill pickle. And you paid after you ate.

The tuna salad sandwich at the Lunch Doctor tastes as good as it looks.

Years later, they’re still in business, the sandwiches are as fresh, tasty and huge as ever. And you still pay after you eat.

The cyclist’s requirements for a good lunch stop are pretty basic; fresh, healthy food, some outdoor seating, a place to lean the bike nearby (no self-respecting roadie carries a big lock, so we’ve got to be close to our steeds at all times), a good selection of beverages and a clean washroom. It’s rare you’ll ever see a road bike leaned outside a McDonalds.