Friday, 29 August 2014

Rainy days

We've had some rainy days recently and I'm getting a bit tired of coming into work, feeling like I just jumped into a pool.  Feet are soaked, pants and shirt are drenched. 

I've recently added in a rain coat to my front bag, it folds up into a nice bundle.  I've also added a ziplock bag to my front bag, so I can put my wallet, keys and cell phone in.  Never know when rain is going to come..

Lessons Learned: 

  • Even if your cell phone is in the front bag, the bag isn't water proof!  Ziplocks are however.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Parking the fat bike in Ottawa

Parking this bike with it's 26"x4" wheels is a little more challenging then one might expect.  I don't fit in most of those pre-defined sized bike tire racks that have been around since I was a kid.

The best I can do is, hope that someone didn't park on the ends and lock my bike up to that.  Fat bikes aren't for everyone, that's for sure.  I'm debating about when I get my next set of rubber, that I go with a 26"x3.5".

I'm almost positive that when I parked on the end, once at work.  Someone thought I was just being a jerk and let out the air in my rear tire.  Jerks.  I pumped up the tire (arm is still sore two days later) and I haven't had any issues with it.

Lessons Learned:

  • Be mindful where you park.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Visit to Dutch land

For work I get to travel sometimes but about a year ago I visited Dutch land while at a conference in Kalkar Germany.  When I got there, I was surprised on how much bicycles were used.  They had a few things going that I thought were cool.

At first glance, I was shocked to see that I didn't see a single bike with some crazy chain on it, when the bikes were locked up.  But after some careful inspection, I noticed that in fact every bike had a lock.. just it's part of the bike design.  Brilliant. Asking a local, he informed me that bike theft was a very rare event.

Then there was the breaks.  They all were using hub breaking system, seems to work great.  They have little maintenance issues with these and you can grease your chain up and not have to worry that you won't be able to break afterwards.  I think a lot of places could learn from there bike styles and there bike lanes.  They had lanes everywhere for bikes to go on, with a slight separation between them and the cars.  I myself, when using the lanes in Ottawa.. I'm always afraid to get door'ed! 

Door'ed : (When a car door whips open, into a bike lane.)

Also, people in dutch land for all sorts of reasons.  I've seen SO families that bike together, on a single bike...

Monday, 25 August 2014

Being predictable

I've come to the conclusion that in order to be safe on the road while driving a car, driving a motor cycle, driving a motor bike, or walking is to be predictable. 

If everyone can figure out what your doing, then everyone can drive safely.

Today, I almost hit a woman.  It would of totally been my fault, since she was stopping at a stop sign on a bicycle path.  This should be a yield but I've never seen a yield sign on a bike path in Ottawa. It's always a stop sign and at this particular crossing I've never seen anyone ever stop there, since the road is a dead end and you can see cars VERY clearly. 

But since the woman decided to obey the law and not be predictable, an accident almost occurred and I can assure you that it wouldn't of been me that would of got hurt.

Many time, when I come to a stop light. I'll pull into traffic and take the road from the cars.  Just so they know what my intention is, either turning left or going straight.  Once the traffic starts to move again, I'll move back to the right side of the road, so I am not slowing traffic down.

Lessons Learned:

  • Not everyone has common sense.
  • Being predictable is essential to safe riding

Friday, 22 August 2014

Blinking lights on bicycles

I can't stand being behind someone with a red blinking light.  Honestly, I get a head ache.  These aren't cool.. and are totally unnecessary!  They aren't a replacement for red reflectors..

See when someone has a white blinking light, I normally let them pass. But when it's a red in the rear, I can't do anything about it but let stop and let the person get a good lead on me.


Lessons Learned:

  • Do onto others as you wish to be done onto you.  (Really, if I had a life motto, this would be it.)

Thursday, 21 August 2014

No car challange

I was going to make this a huge, post.  Day by day, blow by blow events about the challenges that I came across, but there were no real challenges, it was REALLY easy. I made a challenge to myself, mostly due to no-one watching, I could have easily used my car.  The challenge was simple.
  • Wife and Kids are gone. I have the house to myself;
  • When away, don't use the car or van, for ANY REASON;
  • Groceries done by bike;
  • Go to the movies and watch Guardians of the Galaxy;
  • Go to work by bike (Already doing this);
  • Go to church by bike;
  • Go over to my brothers place by bike.
You get the point.  And the challenge is over and I won! I've always said I wasn't doing this to be greener, nor to help save the environment.  I'm doing this for me.

Lessons Learned: 
  • No kids, means the groceries bill is much smaller.
  • Picked up a small bungee cargo net for the rear of my bike, this made the grocery toting easier. Put the groceries in a plastic bag, tie up said bag, put it under the bungee net and the way I went.  Yes, I didn't get eggs...

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Do Fat bikes move faster then speed bikes?

I know it's improbable, due to the large size of my tires and the resistance/grip I'm getting with my 26x4 tires, but it sure feels like I can coast a lot faster then most other bikes I come across.  I feel like I am forever holding onto my breaks when I'm trying to leave the downtown core. 

This is especially true when I stop at a red light at the top of a small incline. When all the bikes take off, I'm holding myself back..  Maybe it has to do with gravity and my weight density, compared to theirs but I'm starting to wonder if there is something to this fat tire, other then it can hold my weight and not get a flat the moment I hit a pot hole!

I'm able to hold the fat bike at 22-27km with no motor and I can definitively tell my legs are getting stronger.

Lessons Learned:

  • When stuck in a line with a bunch of other bicycles, try to remain with the flow of traffic, people passing people in tight spots causes accidents.
  • I know this is obvious but I see some people who just feel they are SO much more faster and deserve to be at the front, as if they are in the "Tour of France" or something.
  • Once my bike starts moving, it just wants to keep going!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Runners, going against the flow

I'm all for sharing the road, paths with anyone who is legally allowed to be on them but when I am biking I come across (in the zone) runners, sometimes they are on the right side (where the flow of traffic is), so I ring my bell and go around them.  Easy!  

Runner #1, he's going in a direction that I can predict with a high chance of certainty.  They can't see behind them, they can only see what's in front of them, just like me.  I'm sure there are some jerks who try to ride real close to the runner, just to freak them out.

Runner #2, he's going against the flow of traffic.  He can see the bikes coming at him, but he's now unpredictable and I've had a few who see me coming and suddenly jump into the correct lane, or onto the grass.  This making the riding risky and getting them out of their running rhythm.

Here's where it gets really tricky, mostly when I get closer and closer to the downtown core, the paths get a little more congested.  I get to play pole-position with runners, making me weave in and out.  When I am weaving, that makes me unpredictable to them, which puts everyone at risk.

I think Ottawa needs to put a little bit of awareness.  It's like when I see people on bicycles on a sidewalk that's right beside a bike path.  Drives me CRAZY!

P.S. Sorry for the crude images but that's the best I can do, to explain myself.

Lessons Learned:
  • If I drive predictable, then everyone can guess to a certain level of assurance that I will remain predictable.

Monday, 18 August 2014

My ride to work..

I wanted to take a few pictures to remind myself of why my ride into work is so awesome.  The ride is near perfect.  Wonderful views, straight paths with green overhangs, etc..  It makes me start and end of the day with a smile.

I'm on roads until this point.  No SKI-DOOs!

Long straight paths with slight inclines.

Nice long bridge, love the sounds of the tires make when on this.

Long sloping turns, makes the lean in to the curve feel right

This part of the path always makes me wonder what the plan was, at the end of this little path ends with a cliff.  Normally the stones are in the way to block it but people keep moving them.  I wonder how many people drove off this?

This one I didn't stop for, but look at all that lovely green.. I get this for almost 20 minutes straight.

Then I cross on the bridge, nice sized sharrow on the right side.

View to the right of the path, always so scenic.

On the Ontario side and more long paths along the water.

An old decommissioned train bridge. 

View from top of the bridge. Bike path and then downtown. I'm always amazed how Ottawa just pops up.

Last little bridge and then to the right.  Then your downtown Ottawa.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Walking a dog on a bike path

I have NO problem with people walking their dog on the bike path, but please...

  1. Pick up the poop!
  2. Have the dog on a leash
Yesterday, while travelling around 22km I came across a couple walking slowly on the other side of them, however they had a dog and it wasn't on a leash.  And of course, it had to lunge at me. Causing me to veer away so I didn't hit it.  Lost in the moment, all I could do was yell while continuing to drive away.."WAY TO BE A IRRESPONSIBLE OWNER!" but I think next time, I'm going to just stop and tell that to their faces.  

Also, if your on a bike path.. and you have a long leash, don't use it! I've almost rode into one of these the other day too and I stopped just before getting the leash tangled up in my wheels!

Speaking of avoiding animals, I am constantly avoiding the following:

  • Bunnies
  • Turtles
  • Racoons (mostly dead ones)
  • Ducks
  • Canadian Geese
  • Chipmunks
Awe, Baby Canadian Geese, SO CUTE!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Right rubber for the right rubber job

As a fat bike rider, I've come to the realization that the current rubber (spider tread) I have on my tires is good for trails and short urban rides but when I go for a 2hr+ urban bike ride, the rubber turns into play-doh.  Feels super pliable and if I run over a stone, I get a flat.

So now I have to really start planning for the next spring.  I really want a urban tire, vee makes some and so does Surly.

After a few months of driving this beast, I have it tamed nicely.  

At first, I couldn't go very far with out using the electric motor to assist.

Day 1: 0.4km and it was on.  I felt like I was going to die! Sweating like crazy and over all thinking I was nuts.

End of Week 1: 1km and I started to use the motor.

End of Month 1: 5-6km and I would start to use the motor.

End of Month 2: 10km and I would use the motor just to rest for 5km and then use it again for 10km and then ride in the last 5km on motor.

End of Month 3: I'm at 15km, motor for 1km and then motor for 14km and then motor in for the last 1km to cool off before walking into work.  I'm amazed at how far I've come from day 1.

Every week that I drive this bike, I'm saving $60 in gas.  Bike costing me $2500, it will take me 44 weeks to break even.  So this isn't cost savings adventure, its really about getting a work out, getting fresh air.  At the same time, loosing weight, eating better and over all just feeling good.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Wear The Right Clothes

Finding biking clothing for a larger guy is rather impossible. All clothing are created, made and designed for those who are already thin and in shape.  I'm not a fan of the biking shorts, so simple gym shorts work (though the do have a tenancy to ride up my thigh, I have to stop and readjust).  And for a the top, it's T-shirts..  Nothing like taking off a sweaty, stinky cotton t-shirt after a hour or so of biking.

I've come accross a few website that sells shirts for a larger fellow, but they always self insulting, like these Fat Bastard shirts

When wearing my black shorts I normally wear a cool T-shirt from Think Geek.  It made me laugh.

I'm always wearing biking gloves and a helmet.

Lucky for me, my work has showers but I keep the following items at work:  

  • A set of dress pants, 
  • Wrinkle free dress shirt(s), 
  • Dress shoes, 
  • Socks, 
  • Underwear 
  • A can of deodorant. 
Lessons Learned:
  • Keeping the same sweaty socks on, from when you were biking in the hot summer days is GROSS!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Sticking to the right side

Sharrow : Wikipedia definition

I already talked about how some people who ride bikes don't know there hand gestures and then there are some people have no clue on how to ride on a bike lane.  They are slow riders, staying in the middle of the lane or left side of the lane (I'm guessing they don't understand there distance) which ends up hogging the lane.  I always try to stay to the right side, so people can pass with out making them veering off onto the road.  I would reference the picture on the right side, but imagine a pile of cars on the road.
Faded paint
I like "Sharrows" when they are implemented with some thought and part of the road and not just some random add on.  Sometimes I come across some sharrows and they just end for no reason. Sometimes the paint is so worn out, no one even knows there is a sharrows there. 

There are some sharrows that scare the crap out of me at times.. mostly when the sharrow is on the drivers side and the cars can park on the right side, setup perfectly for dooring. A friend of mine, got doored the other day, while on a sharrows path, front tire broken, lost a days worth of work, taking the bus to work and is still walking a bit funny a few days later.

There is a sharrow spot in Ottawa, where it's about a foot from the curb and the curb is so high that if you are pedaling, you will hit the sidewalk. So your forced to ride on the left side of the sharrow. Think just a little more thought needs to be put into these.
My Ideal Sharrow
I feel a lot safer when there is a sharrow on the right side and the cars park on the left. But those are far and few between. Even better, is the barrier. The barrier is overkill but it stops the cars from suddenly pulling into the Sharrow just to drop someone off or to pick up someone.

Lessons Learned:
  • When on a sharrow with parked cars on the right side, SLOW DOWN, look for heads in the drivers seat and be very careful.
  • If there is a safer but longer way to get somewhere, take the safer way.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Aylmer Car Show

In the town of Aylmer, Quebec. There is an annual car show that shows off big gas thirsty muscle cars, custom cars, etc. Just as I have every year, I went to look around.  I do appreciate the old cars.  This time I went by bike and not by car, never any parking anyways.

Walking from one side of the show to the other side, I must of been pulled over 20 times. People asking me about my e-bike, where did I get it, how much does it cost.  There were other e-bikes there, but not like mine.

Even had one person offer to buy it from me.  I said $3000, they thought about it and decided to pass.

I honestly felt like one of the exhibits.  People asked about the specifications, distance I can travel, speed, where did I get it, how did I put it together.  

I met someone with a Bionix modified hybrid mountain bike and they had over 100,000km on it.  Batteries were pretty much finished, so I explained to him how to replace them.  His motor looked in excellent condition, so I'm sure with new batteries his bike will be good as new.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Bike friendly areas

I've found myself on the skits of the bike culture, where certain areas of Ottawa have started to embrace the "biking" requirements, the festival "Blues Fest" had a huge place to park bikes, the new "Red Blacks" football games have a huge place to park bikes and now in the Westboro area has large bike parking and revived an award "welling west" for being bike friendly.

Ottawa has become a nice bike rider community but the bike paths are still incomplete at some places.  I've explored many different routes from one side of the city to another and now and then the bike lane just disappears for a few blocks..

I've driven, parked, shopped, ate in this area many times since this coral went up. 

Lessons Learned:

  • Don't have to go down town to have a night out
  • Explore the city, you'll be surprised what you find when you travel at 20km instead of 100km

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Raised stem (again)

Old and new side by side
Decided that the handle bars need to come up just a little more and a little closer, my hand was still going a bit numb from the long drives into work.  Cost $10, which is worth the cost to avoid hand numbing!  I'm amazed at how easy the install is.  

So the new one is higher and shorter.

With the new configuration I can feel my back is straighter and the bike feels crazy tall.  This is going to take a few rides to get use to.

Making these minor changes is so easy and so worth it. Making the bike fit you is so important.  Since my bike has some electronics on the handle bars, I have to make sure that the wires can still move freely and not get pulled tight.
Installation Complete

At the same time I put some two way sticky Velcro under the bell clamp.  The screw won't hold onto the large size handle bars and I can't find a bell that fits this size.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Ride with the family and eating better

My kids wanted to go out for some ice cream and I decided they needed to earn it.  Not just by doing chores but working out.  So 15km bike ride to the ice cream store and 15km back.  My daughter opted to roller blade (slowed us down but she got a work out all the same) and my son, is in a orange shirt in the far distance.  By the time we got back home, both kids were exhausted!  More days like this, is in order..

After this ride, I converted my 2nd electric bike back into a generic hybrid mountain bike for my daughter to ride.  New seat, New pedals, tightened breaks, greased up the chain, took out the hub motor and all the electrical wires that goes with it. Almost as good as new bike just for her.
We also decided to toss out all the "pop" from the house, decided that it wasn't required in our home anymore. Down goes 2 Liters worth of Coca-Cola and it felt good.  No more crappy chips, etc.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Ebike vs. Escooter

When I mention that I ride an e-bike to work, people immediately assume I'm talking about a e-scooter.

For me, it's clear that these are two different things and provide two different modes of transportation.  I myself have no interest in owning a E-scooter, they don't achieve any of my personal goals but for many people they are ideal and they are popular in the city of Ottawa (Ontario, Canada).

Both are allow on the bike paths, both have batteries, both have two wheels (sometimes three), etc.  But one provides exercise and the other is just transportation which must be boring, since they aren't allowed to go faster then 32km either!

I went over to Ottwatt (e-scooter place in Ottawa) to try out why people use the e-scooter and I can tell you, I didn't like it at all.  The PAS had zero resistance, the bike felt slow and over all boring.  I can say, that compared to other e-scooter it was better but it just wasn't for me.

I tried to get a eBike riding group together in Ottawa but I've only received two responses so far and both are on E-Scooters riders.  Having a riding group for them, would feel more like a "E-Scooter Gang" more then a riding group :)  If I can get a e-riding group together, I won't exclude the E-scooter people.

Lessons Learned:
  • I made the right choice.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Battery Power

I'm not an expert when it comes to chemistry but I have a fairly good understanding of lithium ion batteries.  This is my third e-bike. From my experience these types of batteries drop the first 20% and then hold at 80% for a long period of time, then do a sudden drop at the end of the battery cycle.

I put 54v worth of batteries in, instead of the recommended 48v worth, so I can get a little more out of the motor for a slightly longer period of time.  Most e-bike motors I've come across can do a lot more then what the manufacture says it can, (example: I've over charged a 350 watt to a 750 watt and it worked fine for a year.) 

Here's what my meter reads when I first turn it on. Once the battery is reading v48 I've already been on the road for over an hour.  I've yet to drain the battery completely from use, the more I pedal the less battery I use.  One of these days, my plan is to drive as far as I can until I can't pedal anymore and my battery is dead.  Then I'll call up my wife and come get me in the mini-van.

Lessons Learned:

  • Don't be afraid to juice up your e-bike. Think it out, read about it and then do it.  Nothing more disappointing then buying a gimpy e-bike that does nothing for you, other then going from point A to point B.
  • Don't use acid batteries for an Ebike.. I know LifeP01 batteries are better then Lithium Ion, but I can't justify the extra cost.  Maybe for my next bike...  Maybe I'll just go to a Nanowire battery configuration next! :)