Wednesday, 18 November 2015

On an interesting discovery regarding headlights

A couple of weeks ago, my somewhat elderly headlight was acting up. I love the old dear as it is easy to clip onto the front of my helmet and reasonably bright. Alas, it is no longer for sale and to be honest, I am not sure which company made it back in the day as it lacks logos. However, I have had it for at least six or seven years and I rather like it. Its major fault is that it is powered by three AAA batteries which is an awkward number for rechargeable batteries. Thankfully, after I applied a little TLC (in the form of filing away some corrosion on the battery contacts) it has regained its reliability.

Nonetheless, I passed away an idle hour or two surfing the net for a potential replacement.  I was vaguely annoyed that nothing in my casual survey met my rough criteria of "front-of-helmet-mounted" and "internally rechargeable" headlamp. However, I was interested to see that there is a website more or less dedicated to bike lights. What a time to be alive.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

On an idea originating in a dépanneur in Martinville

I was in a dépanneur in Martinville in order to buy a nice cold bottle of Gatorade during the Eastern Townships Challenge back in September. As a first, I was doing it with someone from work as well as my parents. My colleague Alisa was doing a bike challenge for the first time along with Troy, her significant other. In order to get the three of us out to the Townships along with our bikes, I rented a pickup truck which was a first and fun thing at a certain macho level. Alisa got a kick out of it too, and wanted to ride in the back with the bikes. I nixed that idea, but I did take a picture as she posed in the bed of the truck.
As you can see, it was a very nice day as opposed to last year's Challenge which was a miserable experience as you can read here.  After all, it wouldn't have been good for them to start their Challenge experience with a wet slog, especially as they weren't as well equipped as me for rain gear and the like.
As this year's Townships' Challenge started in Coaticook, we spent the night at the Parents' house in North Hatley and started together after the traditional Cheese du départ. (That is a group photo before starting.)
Anyway, the route was very nice, taking us through some very nice scenery and the highest village in Quebec as measured from the door of the Catholic church!
Anyway, during the mid-afternoon, I stopped for some cold Gatorade in the aforementioned dépanneur in Martinville, when I realised that the place also had public bathroom which I went to patronise. Before getting comfortable, I noticed that there was no toilet paper available, so I went out to Leonardo to retrieve the roll of TP I carry in my pannier for just such emergencies. In truth, I had left it there after my trip from the Soo. (I hadn't had need of it on that trip, but that's not important.) What is important is that something clicked in those few minutes. For some reason, I had been thinking about Adventure Cycling magazine which current includes several mentions of the upcoming 40th anniversary of the Bikecentennial '76 event which seems to have been a seminal event in the Adventure Cycling Association. I then put it the context of Canada's sesquicentennial year coming up next year. What if I were to weasel an extended period off from work and ride from Vancouver to Halifax in one extended trip? I would have over a year to work on logistics and possibly bring others in on the trip.  Now there was a thought.

Anyway, I did my business and left. Owing to my superior bike and the fact I didn't stop for most of the pioneer silhouettes audio historical plaques on the route, I arrived back in Coaticook before Pappy, Alisa and Troy.  Pappy arrived first and then left in the car to retrieve Mummy who had been sidelined by multiple flat tires just beyond Compton.  Alisa and Troy arrived back tired but happy at their first major ride.
Later in September, I spoke with Margo about my idea to see what she thought of it. She was interested in the general idea particularly as she had fond memories of Expo '67 as it was first time was allowed to a major event independently of her parents. At a later time, she wrote back with a counter proposal as biking across Canada West to East was a shade too common for her. She proposed biking North from Jasper, catching a riverboat down the Mackenzie River to Inuvik and riding back to Whitehorse! Unfortunately, the riverboat she had in mind is out of service. She made another suggestion of going by freighter canoe that I wasn't enamored with as it seemed a shade too wild woolly for my liking, especially with bikes in the mix.  Thankfully, Chris was also of the same opinion and the current thinking would be to drop the Mackenzie River from the plan and either end or start in Inuvik. Now that I think of it, I think that it would be easier to plan if we were to start in Inuvik.

To be honest, I have no idea if these plans will happen. I have tentatively approached the director of the Library about getting the time off. She was somewhat taken aback as it would involve finding a replacement for my services to the Library, something that isn't as obvious as it seems. (It is nice to feel essential to the workplace!) Still, it is something to dream about.

On winter biking, more thoughts

On Thursday, I was meeting with a financial advisor when after noticing my helmet, he commented that it was apparently about to snow on the morrow. I hadn't been aware of any such forecast, so I said I would check the Environment Canada weather site when I got home. It turned out that the snow in the forecast was for Friday night or Saturday morning so I could cheerfully ignore it. In the event, there wasn't any snow to speak of.

As my readers may remember, my oft stated philosophy regarding winter biking is: "I am a devout, not a fanatical cyclist," meaning that I don't ride during the winter, the winter being defined when there is snow on the ground. I just think that winter cycling isn't worth the effort.  I am at neither of the extremes of this CBC article entitled "Winter cycling: a good idea or flat-out insane?" That hasn't stopped me from offering practical advice (i.e. other than "don't do it") to a colleague who is thinking of continuing to cycle-commute this winter. 
Of course, this makes me look like a wimp compared to Anna, as can be seen from this picture Mummy posted! ;-)  Actually, the snow hadn't started falling when they set out on their expedition. Anna seems happy to ride in the snow. Maria seems happy on her scooter. I can only hope that Alice and Mummy weren't too concerned about the conditions!

Saturday, 7 November 2015

On my next trip to visit nieces

I have just booked my second trip on the Canadian, namely a ride to Clearwater in February to see Kerry, Maria, Anna, Alice and Mark. I have also booked my third trip on the Canadian, namely Clearwater to Vancouver. In Vancouver, I hope to see a variety of relatives.