Monday, 5 May 2014

On preparations for the biking season

Leonardo's rear wheel

In order to avoid the spring rush, I took Leonardo into my usual bike shop for a tune-up in March. Of particular concern was the rear wheel which was a bit loose on its axle. Consequently, I pointed it out to the person who accepted the Leonardo. (I must getting old as he really seemed like a kid!) He didn't think it was that significant, but duly noted the "gripe" in the work order. A couple of days later, I got a phone call from the bike shop to the effect that the rear hub was in need of repair and that the rim of the rear wheel was very worn from the brakes and therefore I needed a whole new wheel. There was a somewhat apologetic air to the voice at the other end of the phone which I tried to sooth by pointing out that I had expressed concern about the wheel at the outset and that the wheel had seen me through at least 12,000 kilometres on roads of very varying qualities on three continents, in 5 foreign countries (the United States, Spain, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Australia) and in all 10 Canadian provinces (if only briefly in Ontario)!  In other words, I thought I had got my money's worth out of the wheel and would be quite happy to pay for another one.

A new rain jacket

The saying goes: "April showers bring May flowers."  Well, April ended with some serious downpours which carried on into May. One in particular caught me in my soft-shell jacket at work. Riding home, I noticed that the waterproofing had weakened and when I got inside my flat, I stripped off and made a mental note to renew it's waterproofing.

I also decided to wear my proper biking Activa rain jacket for the remainder of the week! However, as I put it on the next morning, I noticed that the inner waterproof lining had a large U-shaped rip in it that boded ill for its ability to actually repel water, its primary function.  I had recently had resewn a bit of the collar and despite infrequent washings, it had grown very grubby, something that was much more obvious when the hood was attached.  I bought on the same trip to Vancouver (and indeed at the same shop) where I had bought Leonardo which made it about seven and a half years old.

I consulted with Margo who noted that she and Chris had disposed of their Activa jackets of roughly similar vintage last year on the grounds of age.  She suggested that I look at the jackets offered by MEC, namely the MEC Derecho and the Showers Pass Transit or Elite jackets.  As this advice suited me, I went to MEC to shop after work on Friday. I picked out the MEC Derecho in red and the Showers Pass Transit in "Yelling Yellow" (a lemony yellow).  After much hemming and hawing, I decided on the Derecho and went home, then put it on to go to a friend's apartment.  I stopped along the way and realised I had made a serious mistake as the Derecho doesn't have pockets suitable for stuffing your biking gloves into when you stop briefly for something.

A fatal flaw for me.

Anyway, I went back to MEC the next morning and returned it and bought the Showers Pass Transit jacket.  The Shower's Pass Elite jacket wasn't a contender for a number of reasons.  A. it was much more expensive than the other two, B. it didn't have enough pockets, and C. it wasn't available in Montreal!  I had examained the women's version of the Elite enough to determine its unsuitability in the pocket department.

Taking a bike on Via Rail to Clearwater, B.C.

Being a anxious if anticipatory traveller, I have spent probably too much time researching travelling with a bike on Via Rail. While Via Rail's website has lots of information, given the size of its network and relatively small size of Clearwater, B.C., I have been unable to deduce from the website if it is possible to take a bicycle on the train to Clearwater.  Three separate inquiries with user-friendly liveware have produced three different answers, namely "Yes", "I am not certain" and "probably not".  As these responses pretty much run the gamut, I have resolved to get a proper answer in writing from Via Rail. A pity that the information isn't clearer.

A cartoon

Spring is pothole season in Montreal. This cartoon rather exagerates the severity of them, if not the indifference of City Hall:

1 comment:

Margo said...

That seems rather early for a whole new rear wheel. Poor Leonardo!But pre-emptive maintenance is always best, so good to do it.

Some multi-year tourers told us their rule of thumb was that rear rims should last 30,000 km and front 50,000. With luck, a hub should last through two rims ...but if the hub is also a bit whonky the labour cost of a wheel build id not worth it.

Good choice on the jacket. We agree pockets for gloves are essential.

We've had similar vagueness and conflicting stories from Via, but will report on the reality soon.