Cycling Year End Party, Customer Appreciation Night

The 2017 cycling season is definitely winding down. We’ll see how long the Sunday rides will continue. Last Sunday was windy and chilly, but a fantastic ride, nonetheless.

Riding up and over Nose Hill

Wednesday night was the club’s season wrap-up party, which was held at the Last Best Brewing pub. I walked over from work and Tammy picked me up on her way home from work. There was a really good turnout and it was a good time. The photo below was only about half of the attendees.

Hannah, Phil, Alice, me, Peter, Collette, Kenny, Paul, Tommy, Allan, Kim, Mark and Wing

Then last night, it was the Bow Cycle Customer Appreciation Night. I’ve stopped by almost every year since I moved to Calgary, and bought my old trainer at the 2013 edition. There is food and drinks and deep discounts on pretty much everything in the store. This year, Tara arranged that the Bow Cyclist Club would have a table at the event, and Peter and I volunteered to help her. It was a good excuse to be at the event for a long time. Got to see lots of people I know and answered lots of questions for people.

Me, Tara and Peter

New Trainer, Fall Riding and Weatherstripping

Fall is truly taking hold in Calgary. Gone are the 30 degree days, replaced with 7 degree days. Soon, snow will take over. In anticipation of the long winter and slippery roads, I have purchased a new cycle trainer. In 2013, I bought a Kurt Kinetic Road Machine, which is still going strong. However, in the time since, I have taken up Zwift, which along with other similar apps has really driven the market towards computer-controlled trainers. These are trainers which vary the resistance and measure wattage directly for apps like Zwift.

Using my Bow Cycle Ambassador discount, I brought home a Wahoo Kickr Snap.

Wahoo Kickr Snap glamour shot

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Highwood Pass

And hot on the heels of yesterday’s MEC ride is today’s Highwood Pass ride. Considering I was going into the weekend wondering if either ride would happen, I ended up with two.

Highwood Pass is something of a local legend in Calgary. It is high enough and steep enough that it deserves respect, but it’s accessible. The road is closed between December and June 15 every year, and a lot of riders take advantage of there being no cars on it on those weekends right before it opens. I had never ridden the north side before, and my MEC rides didn’t take me all the way to the summit this year or last.

The ride was put on by The Lead Out Project, and sponsored by Bow Cycle. It wasn’t technically a Bow Cyclist Club ride, but there was great attendance.

Some of the gang, ready to roll. Photo by Wing.

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Glass Half Full Ride

Today was one of those tests to see if I’m a glass half full or glass half empty guy.

It was the MEC Fall Century Ride, and I was signed up for the 160 km distance. I did it last September and today was the capstone of the cycling season. Unfortunately, the weather has turned from summery to wintry in the span of two weeks. Two weeks ago it was 30 degrees, but this week it was trying to snow.

The glass half empty person would complain that it was barely two degrees this morning in Turner Valley.

Paul, Adam, Tommy, me and Phil

They would also complain that I didn’t get the 160 km ride that I signed up for. Phil and I ended up riding together for the day, and when it got even colder as we climbed into the mountains and the snow was coming closer to the road, we turned around.

But, I’m not that guy. I dressed warmly, and felt strong. We were within visual distance of the front group until almost the 30 km mark. We took it easier after that and had a great ride up into Kananaskis Country. While we didn’t go all the way up, the scenery was beautiful.

Me about a kilometer from where we turned around

We got a 122 kilometer ride, when I thought for sure I wouldn’t get a ride at all. Then, when we came back down, the weather perked up and got warmer, but not too warm. Sunshine makes everything look better.

The road back to Turner Valley

Finished in about four hours and 20 minutes, and got to eat the after-ride meal with everyone I started with. My toes weren’t even numb by then. 🙂

The 2017 Tour de Victoria

This is the third year in a row that we have worked the Tour de Victoria into our summer vacation trip back to Victoria. In 2015, I rode the medium distance. In 2016, I rode the full distance. Now in 2017, I rode the full distance, and Tammy and Miranda rode the challenge distance! Woo! 🕺🕺🕺

Yesterday, we went down to the Trek bicycle store to sign in, and then walked downtown. It was a lovely day, and we stopped on the Johnson Street Bridge to watch the Coho Ferry backing out.

Victoria Harbour

The gang on the bridge

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Bicycle Parking

What’s with all these bikes?

Things were coming to a crisis in the garage. With the addition of Ian’s new bike, we’d run out of space. His old bike was able to slide under the workbench, but the new one isn’t. So he was parking the bike, and there was double-parking galore. My Roubaix was being shifted from spot to spot and Tammy was terrified of accidentally hitting it when she parked.

Our old system dated back to when there were only three bikes, and one of them was a tiny kids’ bike. It worked well enough even when Miranda had moved up to the Kona bike. The two adult bikes hung on top, and the kids’ bike were underneath. We set the Ikea-hack hangers up when we moved to Calgary. Then Miranda grew. And I ended up with two bikes (one for commuting and a road bike). Then I got a second road bike. Then Tammy got her new hybrid. And finally Ian graduated to a larger bike.

The old system broke down. I also had a couple of long-standing grudges about the garage: the shelves with my most-often accessed tools were not easy to get at, especially in the winter, and the floor was crudded out with the detritus of four years’ dirt, leaves and miscellaneous et cetera.

We cleared out the garage (everybody helped). I swept and hosed out the garage and then  Tammy and I put up new bike hangers.

Nice and neat.

And Tammy asked me why there were three more spots for hanging bikes. 🙄 No reason. Just got carried away, was all…

Then we put everything back, but moved a set of shelves to be by the door, so that the tools could be reached easily.

The garage, ready for business

Unfortunately, this is the good part of today’s story. The bad part is that the Golf is currently sitting at Northland VW. Last night, Tammy had to wait an hour and a half for her car to start after work, so we took it to the dealer this morning. The amazing part was that the car demonstrated its “won’t start” behaviour with the service guy and the shop foreman. That never happens! Honest, it doesn’t start sometimes, believe me!

They have diagnostic’ed everything and have narrowed it down to replacing the console, which includes the ignition inhibitor. It’ll be $1000 to fix (parts and labour) and it doesn’t guarantee anything, but there’s no other obvious culprit.

Gran Fondo Badlands

Today was my second long bike ride of the 2017 season. The Gran Fondo Badlands is a ride that starts and ends in Drumheller, Alberta. It follows the Red Deer River valley for up to 160 km, riding through the hoodoos. I had toyed with the idea of riding in it for the last two years, but it never seemed to work out. Two years ago, the temperatures were in the mid 30s for the ride, and last year there was a lot of wind. When I signed up this year people warned me that I might not have a lot of fun, but I was looking forward to it anyway. The geography is beautiful.

It started at 7:45 AM, and it is an hour and a half drive from Calgary to Drumheller. So it was an early morning. Huge hugs and kisses to Tammy, who came up with the idea last night of putting on  relaxing music and lighting in the bedroom, which had me off to sleep by 9 o’clock. My internal clock was set a couple of hours ahead, and I woke up without an alarm at 4:30 this morning. With that good start I set out for Drumheller!

The view descending into Drumheller

I managed to meet up with three other guys who I knew would be there: Keith from new Westminster and François and Kieren from the Bow Cyclist Club. I met Keith last year at the Tour de Victoria. We rode together for the whole day. It was a little cloudy to start, but the sun burnt through by the time we crossed on the ferry.


I don’t want to dwell on it, but there was something that happened just before we got to the ferry. When I was coming down the steep hill to the ferry there was a commotion up ahead and there had been a crash. Given the speed that some of the people were going down the hill, I expected the worst and I wasn’t disappointed. There was a very badly injured man down on the road, and we were worried about him all day. When we got back to Drumheller we did hear that he had gone to hospital. I had thought perhaps he might go to the morgue. I might have nightmares for a while about that one.

But the rest of the day was awesome. Some wind did kick up later, but it wasn’t more than 10 or 15 km/h. The sun was bright but it wasn’t too hot. The guys that I was riding with decided to do the full 160 km. I had signed up to do 140 km. We did it in a little over 6 1/2 hours.

We worked well together, which was important when there was a headwind all the way back from the turnaround to Drumheller. Here we are at the turnaround.

Keith, me, Francois and Kieren

We made it back to Drumheller, and had a late lunch of lasagna and quinoa salad. Then it was the hour and a half drive back home to Calgary. That was about the worst part, because I seized up in the car. 🙂

It was a great day.

Here is a link to the results. I am rider #932.

Ian’s New Bike

Now everyone has a new bike (except me, but I don’t need one).

Ian riding his bike at home

Ian has been test riding different bikes on Thursdays when Miranda has been on the BCC ladies rides. We started with the Kona Jake cyclocross bike, but it became clear that he was more confident on a mountain bike. So he test rode a Kona Hula and a Specialized Hot Rock. Between Thursday and today, we’d made up our minds that the Specialized with 21 speeds was the right bike. He liked the shifters on the Specialized better than the Kona.

Of course, that meant that when we got to Bow Cycle today, they were sold out of that bike in the colour that Ian wanted. 😣 There was a bright red/neon yellow one, but he didn’t like it. The salesperson Aidan offered up a different bike: a Cube Kid 240. It was less expensive than the Specialized and had some upgraded parts. Ian took it for a ride.

Ian liked it… except for the tires

He loved the shifters, and he said that he couldn’t tell the difference between this and the Specialized (he rode the red one back to back with this), but he didn’t like the white tires. The Cube also came in grey and green with black tires… but that was sold out too. 😡 Ian was willing to wait a couple of weeks for more to come in. That’s how I was sure that he really didn’t like those tires: he was willing to forego a bike today.

But I spotted Chris at the parts counter as Ian and I were wandering around shopping for other things, and I asked him if they had any 24″ tires. They did, and with my staff discount, new tires only added about $40 to the price of the bike. It was still cheaper than the Specialized. So, with black tires, a bell, and a water bottle holder, Ian got a new bike.

Ready for his first ride

I juggled the white tires and a bag full of other stuff as we rode along the river to Tim Hortons, where Tammy met us for some lunch. Ian had a great time riding there.

Miranda was at Calaway Park today with her friend Sierra.

Miranda and Sierra, back from Calaway Park

For the record, at the moment we have eight bikes:

  1. Specialized Roubaix (Simon)
  2. Norco Valence (Simon)
  3. Giant Seek (Simon – commuting)
  4. Cannondale Quick (Tammy)
  5. Specialized Dolce (Miranda)
  6. Specialized Vita (Miranda’s old bike, Tammy uses it on the trainer)
  7. Cube Kid 240 (Ian)
  8. Kona Makena (Ian, but will be donated soon)

Rolled the Dice and Lost

I’m doing my best not to do a happy dance that Miranda has taken an interest in cycling. Seems like it would jinx it, eh? Anyhow, yesterday afternoon, she and Tammy signed on the dotted line with the club, paid the money and she was an official member. Thursday night is the Ladies’ Ride, which I know relatively little about for obvious reasons.

The weather forecast called for thunderstorms, but with Calgary you never know. They were supposed to hit at 3:00, but that didn’t happen. Then the forecast said 5:00 and that didn’t happen. Then it was revised to 8:30. At this point, one has to ask what the purpose of the forecast is.

Tammy was off to work, so I took Miranda and Ian down to the shop. Liz the ride leader was there, and other ladies started appearing so the ride was on. Liz decided to proceed cautiously and ride the Bow Pathway so that they could turn around if the weather turned. Miranda was off, and that left Ian and I with time to kill.

First I dropped my Roubaix with the service department so that they could re-seat my bottom bracket without the annoying creak that’s in there now. Then Ian and I were eyeballing the Kona Jake 24, a cyclocross bike that’s the last junior size: bigger than his existing 20 inch bike, but not a adult size. We took it out into the back alley for a test ride.

Ian on the Kona Jake 24

It was his first time riding a bike with drop bars. He was a little uncertain at first, but overall it went well. It reminded me so much of when I got my first bike like that: a 5-speed road bike.

Ten-year-old Simon and his new bike

Meanwhile, Miranda and the ladies were cruising the pathways. Miranda said she was having a lot of fun.

Ladies’ Ride Selfie

I took Ian to Ed Worthy Park, which is along the pathway. We poked around by the river, which is swollen with the spring melt, and we were mesmerized by the rushing water under the bridge. Unfortunately the sky was turning from threatening to menacing.

Note the sky in the upper right

When the first raindrops started, we went back to the car. I figured if the storm hit, Miranda might be happy to see me and get a lift. We watched her location on my phone, and then the storm really plowed into us. It was torrential, with wind and lightning and pouring rain. I noticed that Miranda’s location had stopped moving at the Extreme Bean Café, a spot about two kilometers away along the path. So we drove there, and I found six very wet women huddling in the foyer of the café. I offered to give lifts back (since I had the bike rack) and Miranda and one of the ladies accepted. The rest waited it out, I think.

Despite the sudden intervention by Mother Nature, Miranda was really excited by the ride, and it was more to her taste than the Sunday one was. It was more social, and at a lower speed. I’m happy that she’s happy, and that I was in the right place at the right time.