Film: Lucy

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Last weekend we took off to Prince Edward County (completely different from that murderous Prince Edward Island). Since there are only so many weekends we have together in reduced numbers and there are so many things we wanted to do we arranged to get camping, biking and wining and dining done at the same time.

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Amazingly enough we were successful on all fronts.

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I expected to be busy since I got back from Cres, but I had no idea just how busy I would be! I did not even get started with that long list of projects I have to get done this summer.

Film – Budapest Grand Hotel

I didn’t want to blog (brag?) about it before I was sure I could do it, but now that April is over, I can reminisce with impunity. We all know about May being Bike to Work Month, but have you heard about 30 days of Cycling? This April I’ve challenged myself to commute by bike at least once every day.

It was not always smooth sailing (and with the April winds it was sailing more often than not), but it was always good fun and I am pleased as punch for doing it.

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Early April was snowy.

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Just as I thought the snow was over, it got snowy again.

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Antarctica performed well over winter, but as I almost overloaded it with a rather minor grocery haul, I knew it was time to bring out the cargo bike.

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As soon as it was warm enough, the boys got on the bikes too though Markus had been riding short trips with me throughout the winter.

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Our first trip was to the barber.

My neighbour Julie snapped this action shot on Easter Sunday as were on our way to Sarah’s to bake an orehnjaca. I brought everything from flower, eggs and walnuts to cutting board and hand mixer with me in case Sarah was running low or using hers for her Easter dinner. It turned out most of it was unnecessary but as there is so much space on the bike it was no big deal to bring it.

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I did bake an orehnjaca and everyone seemed well pleased with it. I was pleased that none of my neighbours had ever had original orehnjaca before so they could not see the obvious imperfections. We ate everything but the first roll as it came out of the oven. The first one had fallen apart while I was making it so I hid it away in my fridge for a few days. After a few days I decided that it tasted too good not to take a picture of the last few slices.

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Alas, I did not cycle the full 30 days. Between the pouring rain and a nasty stomach bug causing havoc in our household I had to miss biking on Earth Day. Sorry Earth, but “not every day, not all the way” is still my motto when it comes to active commuting around here.

I biked just over 200km in April. If it was not for the last August, this would have been my monthly commuting record.

I’ve found that the wind is my biggest enemy and was surprised that there was at least one instance where I had to get off the bike and walk because of the strong wind. Fortunately, on the days that the wind is strong and I have to pretty much crawl back home, I can still make it in time to pick up the older boys from the bus and then pick up Markus afterwards.

One day I was held up in a last minute meeting and did not leave work on time. I was hoping to stop the school bus before it left school because I was not sure I can make it home on time to get the kids off the bus. I managed to see the bus drive by but it I was a few moments too late to stop it safely. I was therefore compelled to get to our street before it did. The bus eventually passed me about 400 meters before the finale at which point the bus driver recognized me and the full complement of neighborhood boys including mine lined up on the bus window to cheer me on as I raced to the stop. Moral of the story – always leave on time!

Now that it is May aka “Bike to Work Month” why not check out this article?

P.S. “Budapest Grand Hotel” is a very enjoyable film.

Preparing for 2014 Cycle for CHEO

We are really looking forward to our annual Cycle for CHEO charity ride. Last year was exciting as it was the first longer ride with our cargo bike. This year Trevor will attempt to dazzle us all by biking on his very own! Not to worry, it is a fully supported ride and I will gladly carry him and his bike on the Edgerunner when and if he gets tired. Let’s hope there’s no rain!

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2013 Cycle for CHEO

I have not had a chance to organize some sort of prize giveaway, but I will gladly bake for donations. If you feel it, our family donation page is here.

Edit: Sadly, we were rained out. Hopefully next year we’ll be back on track!

I Bike Centrum!

Lately I’ve been thinking about Centrum (a shopping centre in my neighbourhood) and what makes it bike friendly and even more so what makes it bike non-friendly. Furthermore, what would make this a good biking destination.

First of all, I’ve looked at the businesses I patronize and realized that they are in the parts of the mall that are more accessible on foot and bike than the rest of the mall. Whether this is because I can’t be bothered to visit shops that require cars to get to (I don’t think so, I go to Centrum more often by car than by any other means) or that they are the kind of businesses that only appeal to non-active-commuters (is that a demographic???), I can’t tell. In short, I go to the Signature Plaza (grocery store, pharmacy and toys) which is connected to the rest of Kanata through trails and quiet residential streets. I often go the Chapters which, if you can get through the Kanata Avenue/Campeau intersection, is just a short jaunt along a path and wide sidewalk. Finally I go to the City Walk (hairdresser, movies, beer and wine, clothes…) area which is a bit more finicky to get to if you are not comfortable with vehicular cycling.

If I could improve something about Centrum it would be:

1. Intersections leading to the mall – in Eastbound and Southbound directions on Kanata/Campeau intersection the road is too narrow to ride along side the car traffic and, with the right turning traffic, the cyclist has to take the lane to continue going straight (I would even recommend taking the lane to go right, it is so narrow). Westbound and Northbound are not so bad. Kanata/Earl Grey intersection is not too bad, but I tend to take the lane right away down Earl Grey so I can turn into the parking lot which can be a bit of a hassle if the traffic is busy. Admittedly, there might be other, better, ways of getting there but I don’t see it.

2. Non-vehicular cyclists must have one heck of the time getting to the City Walk! I never though of this before since I am a vehicular cyclist, but now that some of our kids are biking we need to come up with a safe route to get there. Frankly, I am stumped.

What kinds of improvements might help:

- MUP along the south side of Kanata Avenue. There seems to be one behind Chapters, but it turns into sidewalk behind Wallmart and then completely disappears.
- MUP along Earl Grey from Kanata Avenue to the little island at the entrance to the City Walk – it would be nice to have another MUP to the other island behind Three Brewers, but one would suffice

I don’t spend much time thinking about using Maritime Way to get to Centrum. I tried biking along it once as an experiment and, though it seems the same distance on the map, it felt boring, long and roundabout. The road felt too narrow and there is an, albeit short, apartment building section with cars parked on both sides of the street that are just asking to door you. On the other hand, this area is still under development and there is still hope that off-road paths will be put in.

Anyhow, if you have an opinion or experience biking or walking to Centrum, please talk to me about it, especially if you don’t bike or walk there but would like to. I’d love to hear about this from another point of view.

Edit: So there is a no-lane-taking way to get to City Walk – from Maritime Way go straight down Lord Byng Way and then either ride in front or the back of Future Shop / Home Outfitters strip to the City Walk parking lot. Also we checked out Maritime Way and it is actually rather wide but it feels narrow for biking since there are no lanes on pavement whatsoever. Should be fixed in the future.

Last post about winter (maybe)

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Aside from all the actual winter sports, I have completed my first winter of honest-to-godness cycling season. Yes, yes, I cycled in winter in the previous years but it was very provisional and rarely more than one day in a month. Here are my round trip numbers for this winter:

December:3
January: 4
February: 3
March: 5

Not a lot but multiple times more than before.

And here are some of the parameters:

Equipment:
Dedicated witnerbike was the gamechanger for me. This bike is a tank. Did you know that the galvanised chain came standard?

Weather:
My rule of thumb was that the forecast needs to be promising single digits (negative, of course) in the afternoon. This was a very cold winter so we did not get too many days like that. Fortunately, the severe cold made sure that there was a lot of snow but no lumpy ice on the road because ice usually forms during freeze-thaw cycles.

It was important to keep hands and face warm. I was usually wearing only a merino undershirt under my coat because I would heat up too much during the ride. I don’t know if I would brave colder weather next year.

Traffic:
The secret to March Road is to avoid it during rush hour. If I could clear it before 7:30 in the morning or 4:00 in the afternoon, the traffic was no issue whatsoever. The “special driver” comes out in rush hour along with million other vehicles. The ride becomes too big an ordeal to be bothered with. I missed a few days of cycling because I did not manage to get out of the house early enough.

The City:
The bike lanes are not cleared in the winter so we are relying on sun and traffic to thaw them. It works to some extent but it would be much, much nicer if the snow plow swung a bit to the right every once in a while.