Sunday, 29 May 2011

On a use of smartphones

Today was the first of Vélo-Québec's Défi's of the summer. There are usually three. The first is the Défi Metropolitain which happens somewhere quite close to Montreal. It usually happens the last Sunday in May, a week before the Tour de l'Île. The third is the Défi des Cantons de l'Est (or Eastern Townships Challenge) which, as the title suggests, takes place in the Eastern Townships, usually in early September. The second challenge has no fixed name as it moves around significantly from year to year.

Anyway, my Father and I participated this year. (My Mother was sick). This year the tour started in Point Calumet on the North Shore of the Ottawa river and took us through Oka and Kanestake (quite possibly on that road) featuring tobacco shacks, and riverfront house with lawns right down to the water's edge (if this is what Venise-en-Quebec is like then the flooding in the Richelieu is no surprise), before looping back inland through farms and various villages that make up greater Mirabel. I opted for the "127" km loop which my final odometer reading was 133.55 km, average speed 23.6 km/h and max speed of 58.2 km/h. However, it ceased reading at least once on account of the rain that dominated the day.

The rain was off and on during the morning, until at around 11 or so it started coming down very persistently. It was a fairly warm rain to the extent I ride without rain pants, but it was draining. When I got the lunch point, I went inside a skating rink to eat out of the rain. While I was eating, I check out Environment Canada's weather radar image for the area. Thankfully, it showed that the rain would soon be over. A considerable relief, let me tell you. I am very thankful for my merino wool biking jersey.

After lunch, I rode on, stopping near the end at the Intermiel apicutural centre where I bought a couple of bottles of mead. That corner of Quebec seems to be rather littered with what I think of as slightly upscale day-trip tourist destinations: orchards, sugar shacks, vineyards, soaperies and the like. (Also, discount tobacco shacks in Kanestake.)

Early in the day, I stopped at a gas station to get some gatorade (having stupidly left our waterbottles in the fridge). As I was fitting the bottles onto my bike, a local asked me what foundation all these cyclists were riding in aid of! I was half-tempted to say it was an inverse fund raiser for the RAMQ (Régie d'Assurance Medical du Québec): the more we rode, the less it would have to spend! Ah, 'thons and Québec. ;-)

At one point, my father (who opted for a 76 km ride) was interviewed and photographed for a Japanese magazine. I presume the people involved (1 Québécoise and 1 Japanese) thought he looked like "a colourful character". It would be fun to learn if he makes the cut. Also, what the Japanese public thinks of my Santa Claus-like father. Pappy later said to me that from the people he had seen, he thought he was oldest one there. I am not so sure, though he probably was up there!

Anyway, I am now bathed, fed but still somewhat sore from it all. Oh, my clipless pedals and cleat shoes worked fairly well, though at times they felt a bit loose. At others, I nearly forgot about them. This was slightly dangerous coming to a halt! In light of this last element, I think it best to take die Fleddermoose in the Tour de l'Île rather than Leonardo.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

On a disappointing aspect of a recent movie

I went to see Pirates of the Caribbean : On stranger tides last night. I enjoyed it more than the two previous movies in the series but something was missing that I couldn't pin down. However, when was reviewing Margo and Chris' photos of our trip to Spain in 2007 the missing element became obvious. There was no "Bring me that horizon" type moment.

I borrowed that phrase from the first movie, quoting Captain Jack Sparrow, and have used it liberally in this blog. To me it encapsulated the joy of being on the road on a bike, the discovery that awaits just over the horizon. Unfortunately, the movie lacked the wide open environments that lend themselves to such moments. Too much of the movie is in London, inside ships and sets or on land at night (i.e. sets again).

In addition, I am restless as my big bike trips for this year are months away. Still, the Défi Métropolitain is this weekend and promises to be pretty good. Or so I hope!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

On a formula that goes down well after a bike to work in cool weather

1 cinnamon bun courtesy of a co-worker + 30 seconds in the microwave = hmmmmm!

Thank you Flo!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

On metadata, musings

I recently installed Google Analytics on this blog, so if you are reading this, beware: I know what country you are viewing from and what browser you are using! Not that I really care, I am only curious. The most used referred trafic seems to come from Margo and Chris' blog, though Google Images picks up a number of my photographs.

The most viewed individual post in the last week is "On a fascinating choice about how to get to Australia". I am not sure what that means.

I also have readers from as far away as Iran and Singapore, not to mention Chile and Argentina. Obviously, a certain amount of the latter trafic is Margo and Chris!

The most curious thing about the stats is that most of my visitors are using Firefox, though the fact my parents and I all use that browser might play into that!

Sunday, 15 May 2011

On an interesting conversation with a cousin

Yesterday, I was at a rather late birthday party for people in my family with birthdays in April, a.k.a. the April Birthday Party. In many ways, this serves as an annual family reunion for my Father's rather large side of the family. (Just to put you in perspective, I have more than 30 first cousins on that side! "Only" 24 assorted relatives were there!)

I made of point of closely questioning a cousin of mine who had just come back from Australia. I wanted to know which airline and route he had flown and his opinion of the two areas I am thinking of (Perth and Melbourne). It turns out that he had been to Australia on a number of times. He was of the opinion that generally the best option was to go on Air Canada via Vancouver, and to change planes in Vancouver rather than Toronto. He knew the where and what of Kalgorlie-Boulder (the theoretical starting point of a Perth oriented trip) as his business involved him in mining concerns which are definitely dominant in that town! His two cents worth of the two areas was that Victoria was a more interesting state to visit compared to southern Western Australia. From my reading, he does have a point.

However, I recently came across the fact that the climate in Western Australia would be sub-tropical whereas Victoria is largely temperate. Given that I have spent the vast majority of my life temperate climates, it might be fun to try out the sub-tropics! Then again, it might be far too hot.

I have spent part of this evening working on a date-distance chart for the Broken Hill-Melbourne option. The timing seems to work though I am uncertain as to the exact terrain I will be facing. As well, I am fully aware that it only an approximation as the area is well populated allowing for the easy extension or contraction of a cycling day. I am going to have to build up something of a database of the facilities along my projected route.

I have been using Google Earth to get an idea of what is available. In some shots, there is dramatic evidence of the wildfires that swept the region not too long ago. I can only hope that I don't have any problems with them! Not that I am terribly worried about that as there is bound to be reasonable warning that would allow me to change my route and/or get a lift to somewhere safe.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

On a good quote from a decent Prime Minister

In the current issue of Canadian Geographic which is devoted to the centennial of Canada's National Parks, there is a very amusing quote about how one park was created:

1976. While flying over Baffin Island with his wife Aline, an awestruck Jean Chrétien resolves to make a park here for her. Chrétien later explained, "When I returned to my office...I consulted the Minister of Indian Affairs, who was myself, consulted the Minister for Northern Affairs, who was myself, and consulted the minister responsible for parks, who was myself, and they all agreed on the matter." As a result Auyuittuq National Park is created.

One could quibble about too much power being concentrated in one cabinet minister, checks and balances and all that, but on the other hand, national parks are good things on the whole! Then again, Chris once told me about meeting Chrétien by chance much later in what I think was the Yukon and coming to the conclusion there was nothing they could really have a discussion about!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

On Airbus 380s

I have referred to the Airbus 380 before in blog entries both recent and not so recent. I saw one fly over Montreal today (probably Air France). I have this to say about them: they are honking big planes!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

On a decent trial run

As it was a nice sunny and dry day, I took Leonardo out for a spin in order to test out a few things. Most important of these were my new clipless pedals. They worked very well, though it is still harder for me to click into the left one than the right one. I had to raise the seat about a quarter of an inch to get an optimum pedal stroke.

I also trialed attaching my iPhone to the handlebars using a JOBY Gorillapod Tripod that was given to me for Christmas and a special iPhone cover from JOBY that allows you to attach an iPhone onto a JOBY Gorillapod Tripod. I had intended to only try it out as a source of music while biking. It works in such a capacity though I wouldn't bother using it for subtle music or spoken word.

However, I came to realise that the lack of a bell on Leonardo was a bit dangerous and that I really should get a replacement. I had ridden across the ice-breaker bridge and then westwards along the Seaway to the locks at Sainte Catherine. I had been planning to cross onto the South Shore and proceed back along Boulevard Marie-Victorin. I thought about extending my trip to go to MEC over by the Marché Centrale before remembering there is one in Longueil. Here is where I began to experiment with another use of the iPhone for biking: suburban navigation! Using the map and GPS lite functions, I was able to plot a course to the MEC and get myself a new bell. However, I did have to apply my own navigational skills as the map functions don't have a "bike" setting. In the process of all this, I mused that Vélo-Québec could do worse than to create a bike navigation iPhone app! Come to think of it, I should explore what is available already!

Time to go grocery shopping.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

On a frustrating afternoon

The rear brake pads on die Fledermoose were in need of replacing so yesterday, I picked up some brake pads of the cartridge variety at my local bike store. As I then went to the gym, and it was raining, I put off replacing the pads until today. (It has been raining since Monday.)

This afternoon, I arrived home in a heavy downpour and hauled die Fledermoose up the stairs and into my living room. After setting up the bike stand and removing the rear wheel, I discovered that my rear brakes weren't cartridge type brake pads. I had thought that the brakes on die Fledermoose were cartridge type, but for some reason the rear ones weren't! I replaced the rear wheel, lugged the bike downstairs and rode off through the light rain to the bike store to get new, cartridge-type pads. At this point I was hoping the store mechanic would install the pads and spare me the farting around that comes with installing new brake pads as I was in a grumpy mood which is not conducive to precise adjustment. No such luck, so with the newly acquired brake pads, I went home through the very light rain and with the sight of a rainbow.

Once home, I installed the pads. During the process of fine tuning, I noticed that my rear rim is distinctly concave indicating wear that bears watching. In addition, the wheel is slightly out of true and as luck would have it, the spot in question is where the wheel reflector is. The presence of the reflector makes it that much much harder to true the wheel.

I still have to clean and re-oil the chain as there were signs of rust on the chain this morning. I last oiled the bike a week ago. I am getting rather tired of biking in the rain!

Post-posting scriptum
To clarify: I had thought my rear brakes had replaceable cartridge-type brake pads, so I bought the replacement cartridges. It turned out that my rear brake pads weren't that variety. So I replaced them with the replaceable cartridge type.

Monday, 2 May 2011

On some exercise I got today

I got my usual cardiovascular workout biking to and from work today. After work, I went to the gym to get in some anaerobic exercise (weight lifting).

After that, I went done to the polling station to exercise my democratic right to vote. There was a considerable turnout and I had to wait in line for quite some time. When I finally got the poll area, I was right behind some morbidly obese oaf who had been put to the front of the line on account of his "disability". It took forever for the ladies manning the poll to find his name. After he waddled over to the booth, he took a very long time to decide whom to vote for. Really very annoying. Of course, I was a bit grumpy as I was hungry. On the plus side, I actually voted for someone as opposed to against someone, contrary to my earlier prediction.

Overall projected results: bugger!
The candidate I voted for projected results: not bad.