A tip of the cap

29 06 2016

The Fraser River Fuggitivi isn’t the most competitive cycling club.

Most of us don’t race.

Amongst our peloton, we’re lucky if we’re able to hold onto just a handful of Strava KOM’s.

But in our relaxed mediocrity, we sure look good.

Don't turn around! Or Richard may not put the key in the car's ignition for his journey east.

Don’t turn around! Or Richard may not put the key in the car’s ignition for his journey east.

We have our resident milliner, Richard, to thank for that.

A founding FRFer, he marked the trails for many of the routes our group would eventually follow as we grew from a motley assemblage of cyclists into a proper peloton.

He leads by example.

Richard lives and breathes cycling.

He raced for a time, then expressed his passion for the sport in sketches and paintings.

He eschews the trendy trappings of the cycling like carbon fibre and PowerTap for his beloved classic steel steed, a beautifully restored and maintained Marinoni whose lithe straight lines still look fast even amidst the sinewy swoops of our group’s Giants, Orbeas, Cervelos and even Lapierre.

The FRF is growing. But it's also shrinking, as we gather for one last ride with one of the group's founders, Richard, who designed our distinctive and stylish kit.

The FRF is growing. But it’s also shrinking, as we gather for one last ride with one of the group’s founders, Richard, who designed our distinctive and stylish kit.

He pays the rent through cycling; Richard and his partner, Carrolle, design, sew and sell cycling caps through their little online enterprise, Red Dots Cycling.

The short-brimmed, eight-panel caps used to be a staple of the sport, keeping the sun off balding heads, sweat off the brow and shielding eyes from the sun’s glare. But as helmets became more accepted, caps began disappearing from the peloton. Even at podium ceremonies, the classic cycling cap seemed to be losing status to the conventional baseball cap (I’m looking at you Alberto Contador).

Red Dots found a niche with designs that paid homage to cycling’s heritage, its monuments, moments and heroes.

As a news photographer I liked them because the stubby brim allowed to me to bring my camera’s viewfinder up to my eye without having to flip it up or turn it around. They also sparked conversation; “hey where did you get the cool cap? haven’t seen those around in years.” I can only hope a few of those exchanges eventually turned into sales.

When it came time for the Fuggitivi to up their game by dressing up in official kit, all eyes turned to Richard in anticipation of what he’d come up with. He didn’t disappoint.

We’re biased of course, but we like to think Fuggitivi Kit v1.0 is some of the finest looking club kit around, classy in black with just the right amount of colourful accents to make it immediately stand out from all the other Sunday riders, as well as at the finish line at official events.

Of course, could we expect anything less from our milliner, a quietly class act himself.

Richard rides into a Vancouver sunset for the last time.

Richard rides into a Vancouver sunset for the last time.

But as Vancouver real estate and rents spiral out of control, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for small home-based businesses like Red Dots to earn their proprietors a sustainable living. Coupled with the presence of most of his fabric suppliers and an enormous untapped market three time zones to the east, Richard and his partner today pulled up stakes.

Toasting our resident milliner, who is pulling up stakes to move east.

Toasting our resident milliner, who is pulling up stakes to move east.

Safe travels Richard. The Eastern branch of the FR Fuggitivi will soon be open!





June-uary blues

18 06 2016

What’s wrong with this picture?

Rainy, cool days and work obligations have kept me off the bike more than on it in June.

Rainy, cool days and work obligations have kept me off the bike more than on it in June.

Well, pretty much everything. It’s taken from inside my car, instead of from my bike. And I’m inside the car because it’s raining outside. Kinda cold too.

Welcome to June-uary.

That’s what we call the month when we’re supposed to be welcoming the first days of summer.

After an awesome April and magnificent May, rain and cool temperatures have been the rule, rather than the exception, in June. The weather is more like January, than June.

Sure, there have been nice days. Even some spectacular ones. But, so far, they haven’t coincided with riding days. Especially now that the availability of those days has been constricted by work obligations. Three days shy of the solicit and the Garmin is still woefully shy of 200 km.

Sunday’s forecast isn’t encouraging. Two or three more poorly scheduled rain days, and this could be the worst June since I started tracking rides in 2004.

The Weather Network called it earlier in spring; their forecasters said the ongoing El Nino pattern would bring us nice mild, dry weather early in the season, then a dip of the jet stream would carry rain and cold.

A typical June scene for the FRF; heading out for a Tuesday climbing ride under leaden skies.

A typical June scene for the FRF; heading out for a Tuesday climbing ride under leaden skies.

Scroll back through the history of this blog and you’ll find no shortage of photos from June rides against a backdrop of leaden skies or posts lamenting woeful weather.

So, we shouldn’t be surprised by June-uary weather. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.





By dawn’s earliest light

14 06 2016

I’m a morning rider.

If I”m not on the bike by noon, it’s unlikely I’m getting on the bike at all.

The air is fresher in the morning. So are my legs, unwearied by the demands of the day.

Getting out on the bike in the morning doesn’t give the distractions of a typical day a foothold; the ride is the primary goal of the hours ahead and all else will just have to follow.

Sunday’s FRF group ride took the morning ride to new extremes. For the first time we were joining pelotons with another established group ride by one of our sponsors, The Original Bike Shop.

160614collaboration1

The derailleur detente was a chance to see some new faces, test our legs on a new route and build some bridges with another community of cyclists.

The only hitch? They convene at 6:30 a.m.; that’s two hours sooner than the normal FRF rendezvous. When the alarm went off at 5 a.m. on a grey, cool morning, it was tempting to turn it off and just sink back into the warmth of the covers.

But the kit was all laid out, the bike was poised by the front door, its Garmin in place, shoes and helmet on the floor. I’d have to make a stealthy exit to allow everyone else in the loft a chance to continue their slumber.

By 6 a.m. I was pedalling to the meetup, pushing my knee and arm warmers into place to temper the brisk air. The day’s planned route was a tick over 100 kms, with almost 1200 metres of climbing. The goal was to be back by noon.

The Original Bike Shop is not our normal rendezvous.

The Original Bike Shop is not our normal rendezvous.

That’s another upside of early morning rides; early returns. That leaves time for a recovery beer and the afternoon free for family activities.

At its peak, our peloton swelled to 27 riders. The disparity of fitness and an early mechanical meant the ride splintered quickly into smaller, more manageable subgroups with waypoints along the way to regroup.

Awaiting the rest of our sizeable collaboration peloton.

Awaiting the rest of our sizeable collaboration peloton.

It’s a bear to manage such a large, disparate group of cyclists and keep everyone motivated and satisfied. The various captains did an excellent job of staying in touch and keeping the peloton cohesive.

At the midway point, the waits got too long for some as the cool damp air started to tighten muscles; rendezvousing became less imperative than just getting on with the ride. One group cut their ride short, another opted for a more direct route, another decided to forgo future breaks and just ride through. But nobody rode alone.

The misty mountain morning makes a heroic backdrop for @FlyingOakes to catch his breath.

The misty mountain morning makes a heroic backdrop for @FlyingOakes to catch his breath.

The dream of a peloton impressively rolling back into town en masse may not have been realized, but everyone had enjoyed a good morning out.





Strava forgot me

6 06 2016

Strava has forgotten who I am.

It’s six days into June and I’ve yet to throw a leg over the Lapierre. And already my mileage barometer has forsaken me.

Dear Strava, are you so fickle you forsake me after less than a week of inactivity?

Dear Strava, are you so fickle you forsake me after less than a week of inactivity?

I’m working again. That means trying rediscover a balance between working, riding and life.

A new job means adjusting to new routines that have a ripple effect on other aspects of our busy lives, like getting Little Ring to and from daycare, when to get groceries, managing household chores, finding time to binge-watch Silicon Valley. Too frequently in the past few weeks, it’s been the riding that’s been left behind.

My mileage is taking a hit.

In the months after my newspaper closed, I settled into a pretty simple routine; I still got up at 5:30 a.m. to shower and prepare breakfast for the family, get the household going. Once their days were established, I put time into scanning job sites, targeting possibilities, preparing resumés, drafting cover letters as well as crafted stories for my various blogs and freelance accounts to maintain my writing and social media chops. If there weren’t any other pressing errands, I was then free to ride.

I did manage to join the FRF crew for one of the Tuesday night climbing rides. Except I thought they meant riding up and down local hills, not elevators!

I did manage to join the FRF crew for one of the Tuesday night climbing rides. Except I thought they meant riding up and down local hills, not elevators!

Minus the niggling little problem of no income to replenish a dwindling bank account, it was a good routine that kept the household in order, my spirits up, my legs fit and my Strava account active.

While searching for new employment, I kept an eye out for opportunities that might allow me to commute by bike. As a journalist, I’d been denied that chance my entire career because we’re pretty much on the job once we step out the door, and during the drives around town or on the way home. That meant packing along the camera gear in case I was diverted to some sort of breaking news story or last-minute assignment. Or just scheduled to cover something on my way in or from the office because it was convenient.

A number of FRF members are regular bike commuters. I look at their Strava accounts with envy; those 20 km pedals to and from work really add up. And inevitably they’re the guys off the front during our weekly recreational rides.

Family duties meant I had to miss Sunday's long ride, which included a chance to fly the FRF kit leading out the 20th annual Run Up for Down Syndrome!

Family duties meant I had to miss Sunday’s long ride, which included a chance to fly the FRF kit leading out the 20th annual Run Up for Down Syndrome!

My new gig is a 400 metre walk from home! Which is awesome! But doesn’t afford me the chance to join the bike commuting culture.

I’m four weeks into the new position and I’m still getting my legs under me. Now I just have to figure out how to get those legs pedalling more frequently.