Monday, June 20, 2011

A perfect storm...

Blue skies...

Tons of sunshine...

Light winds...

Sunday bike day...

Body parts and trike parts all working...

How could I not take advantage of such beautiful conditions? A perfect storm doesn't always have such negative connotations.

We had our usual good breakfast, then showered, dressed and hauled our cycles out of the garage. This would be my first Sunday bike day in 2011 even though those precious Sunday events started on the May long weekend a few weeks back. That's not to say I haven't taken my trusty catrike out since the May long weekend, just that I hadn't got out to do the Sunday bike day.

The Lucent Alcatel Sunday Bike Day is a great chance for cyclists to, quite literally, own the road for a few short hours. While we hardly suffer being relegated to bike paths or having to share the road with cars and trucks, there is a certain glorious feeling to charging way the blazes down the middle of the road knowing we wouldn't be plowed into or run over by a cube van or car. To leave the chaos of fast moving Hondas, Chryslers or Ford F-150 trucks is utterly magical, not to mention marvellously quiet. The gentle but firm thrumming of road noise my catrike tires makes is not to be drowned out by the muffler-challenged 4 cylinder car the engine screaming its protest at being driven at such a high rpm. Nope, Sunday bike day mornings it's just me and my 27 gears, driven by my legs. I especially appreciate the quiet of these ventures.

Because it was kinda chilly when we left around 8:30, we both wore light windbreakers knowing we would be shedding that layer once we got to the far end of our trip. Our usual trek takes us along Colonel By Drive and we were both quite surprised to see just how sparse the road was despite it having been an utterly gorgeous morning. Chilly indeed but not so cold that cycling would have been uncomfortable. Really.

Hankering for a stop at the Second Cup on Laurier and just the other side of the U of O campus, we sailed along the road me on my trike while Adam rode his mountain bike. He has two front wheels for his 2006 Catrike Speed on order so he rode his mountain bike not wanting to miss the chance to get out on such a great day.

He even managed to take a movie of me triking. The music is awesome, too.

I am hoping to get out and do more triking this week before the forecast three days of showery weather moves in.
This picture was taken of me not far from Dow's Lake. We were on our way back and you can tell because, unlike the movie, I am not wearing my windbreaker. The morning had warmed up enough that anything heavier than a light t-shirt would have been too warm.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

If the NCC builds it...

...will they come?

This just in... The NCC is planning to allow people who cycle commute to work in Ottawa free parking for their cars in some of the parking lots within the city.

The idea is that cycle commuters could park their cars and then cycle the rest of the way to work or wherever their destination happens to be. I'm guessing that these cycle commuters bring their bikes with them on racks attached to their cars but, for all I know, there could be a place to lock up one's bike for the night. Commuters could then drive to the parking lot, park their cars and then go get their bikes  to continue their trek.

Anyway, I just caught this story on the CBC website and there really isn't much more information there. Of course, as this story develops, I will write more. No, really, I will.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Things that go hiss and sizzle...

Yesterday, June 14th, was a gorgeous day. It wasn't cold, it certainly wasn't hot and, best of all, it wasn't bucketing down rain. It was, however, quite windy. Nevertheless, we decided to head out and run a quick errand.

We have a weight machine in our basement which we both use. It isn't anything spectacular but it is a neat little device and it helps to keep our middle-aged bodies in good shape. After all, if we aren't in good shape, then we won't enjoy our triking/cycling/x-c skiing adventures.

The machine uses cables, as many of them do. As with all things in life, cables wear out and occasionally break. As anyone who has ever had to contend with a broken cable can attest, you just know how lethal the sticky-out bits can be. Performing a pre-use check comes in very handy for the both of us, a vestige of our earlier days when we were both pilots. Pre-flight checks are de rigeure (sp?) and so it was natural for us to expand that habit into other realms of our lives. Granted, we can't always account for every single possibility as we would soon learn but we can at least manage what risks we can.

Ordering cables for this weight machine isn't too huge an issue, except that they aren't all that cheap and require us to rely on Canada Post (don't start with me here). Sometimes, it can take upwards of ten days for new cables to arrive and, in the interim, neither of us can use the machine. When you get to be our age, daily exercise becomes a necessity. So, in examining the machine the last time this happened, Adam was able to determine that he, himself, could re-rig any cabling. He had the equipment and the knowledge...he only needed the cable itself. That's where our errand yesterday came into play.

We make regular use of some select stores here in Ottawa. For cabling and other mechanical kinds of devices, we opt to go to a place called Princess Auto. It's a home-fixer-upper DIY paradise and, is only about 6 kilometres from home and, best of all, can be reached without travelling on too many busy roads.

So, armed with a thorough briefing of the intended route (not to mention a good breakfast) we left the house with Adam on his mountain bike and me on my catrike. Adam has two new front wheels on order so he gets around on his mountain bike when he can't trike.

With the strong winds from the east-south-east it made for some good heavy pedalling. Nevertheless, with it being a pleasant temperature and NO RAIN to be seen or felt, it was a gloriously wonderful morning. We left mid-late morning so what rush hour traffic there may have been was done. Our trip took us around the newly completed bike trails to the south of the Greenboro branch of the Ottawa Public Library. Then, it was a quick jaunt along Lorry Greenberg and then a quick zip up Zaidan to join up with Johnston. Once there, we made a beeline, beat into freshening winds and then got to a rutted, grassy bike trail, worn into the slight hill that was there. Despite my Catrike sitting low, I had no problems at all negotiating the grassy, rutted and rock strewn trail. Adam, of course, zoomed up to the top with me following closely behind.

In no time we found ourselves back on Swansea Road. Swansea is in a light industrial part of Ottawa so there aren't many cars that use the road. Big heavy transport sized trucks are a different matter but those drivers tend to be a lot more considerate of other people and cycles on the road (many thanks). At any rate, we charged along happily and reaching Princess Auto in very short order. Adam went in while I waited and watched his bike while sitting on my trike and just taking in the scenery. Soon thereafter, he emerged, successful in his journey to obtain a whole huge roll of cable at a very reasonable price. Happy with that, we geared up and left the parking lot, safe in the knowledge that we would be home shortly.

It was not to be.

About a kilometre from Princess Auto, I thought I heard a gentle kind of hissing from behind me. At first, I paid it no mind as my tires tend to make a fair amount of road noise. However, within a few seconds, the hissing seemed to be getting louder and then Adam told me to stop as my back tire was getting flatter and flatter.

We examined the tire and saw that the tiniest itty bitty piece of green glass had not just punctured the tire but stabbed the inner tube, too. Urgh! We moved both cycles off the road and onto a grassy portion of the front of some giant industrial warehouse of sorts. Adam, pilot that he is to the core even though he doesn't fly anymore, was prepared for a tire change...except for one small device which he hadn't brought with him. It always works out that way, doesn't it? If you require ten things to get a job done, you will always have 9 with you and this time was no exception.

Adam would have to zoom home on his bike, retrieve that one solitary item and then return to finish patching and changing my rear tire.

Adam did return and we finished the task at hand. I am forever amazed at just how simple it is to change the tire on my trike, even the rear one. Sure, it got greasy but there was no bloodshed nor did it require the strength of an ox to do. In little time, we were back on the road and zipping home - this time with the winds at our back.

When we got home, I noticed that I must have also run through something gluey and greasy and so desperately filthy that I wound up washing my trike. The seat is very tightly woven nylon mesh netting so washing and drying it is a piece of cake. I used a dollop of degreaser on the chainring at the front and it now sparkles (ooh).

Because it was beautifully sunny, we decided to finish up construction of our solar cooker.

This is an idea that I have had for a good long while. Earlier this year, I acquired a cardboard box and, armed with a couple of Look brand oven bags set out to build a proof-of-concept solar cooker. My intention there was to see if I could cook some rice using the power of the sun. Long story short, I was able to get the temperature of the cardboard cooker up to about 55C which, for an early April day, wasn't too bad. However, it would not be enough for my purposes. We would need to make something more - uh - robust and that would mean wood and clear glass.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours casually mentioned that she and her husband were having a garage sale. I asked if she had any glass and she said she had not one but two pieces of glass. We went out there for their garage sale and got not just the glass but some spare plywood they happened to have there. Although she didn't ask for a penny for either item, I would not leave her place without paying. She had no idea at the time just how intensely helpful her actions were even though I made it a point to let her know.

Well, we finally built the blasted thing and, so far, have been able to reach internal temperatures of 150F easily though we did see it get up to 170F. We're getting there but we still have a little ways to go.

Here it is on our little coffee table outside next to our swing. The cushion for the swing is in the garage.

As you can see, it isn't especially huge but it will easily accommodate my small black roasting pan which came, ironically, with our oven when we first moved here wayyyyy back in 2000.

-Peace to one and all