Budget Day Stress Buster!

Week 6 – Monday February 8, 2016

Weather: Cloudy with 70 percent chance of rain showers or flurries.  High plus 4

Routine Gear: As discussed previously.

Variable Gear: Bula balaclava, long sleeved dress, winter boots.

Today was budget day at the City of Waterloo.  The work associated with the creation of a three year budget began over a year ago.  I spent the better part of my Birthday yesterday working through the budget documents (again) so I left the house this morning with much on my mind.

It was cloudy so I did not receive the sunshine hit of vitamin D, which I always look forward to.  Never-the-less, the ride was wonderful.  About ½ way to City Hall, I realized I left my cell phone at home.  This realization actually caused me some concern.  When I am cycling I feel that my cellphone is a part of my emergency management plan.  I have been rear-ended by no less than two vehicles on two separate ‘preventable collisions’ and having my cell phone to call for police and EMS brings me a sense of peace while riding.

The budget work reflects the commitment of the City of Waterloo to supporting active transportation.  In 2015, the City of Waterloo counted over 1 Million trips (walking and biking) across all City trail counters. The counts are reflected in the graph included.

counters

Budget day did not end until 10 pm.  By that time it had snowed for some time and it was wet, slippery snow.  Because I did not have the fat tire bike I “called a friend” to bail me out and drive me home.  The lucky friend was my hubby 🙂

Coldest Bike Ride of the Year? Not Quite

Weekend 5 – Saturday and Sunday February 6 and 7, 2016

Weather: Mainly cloudy with sunny breaks. Wind west 30 km/h becoming light after Midnight. High plus 3. Sunday February 7, 2016 was sunny with increasing cloudiness.  Wind becoming south 20 km/h early this afternoon. High plus 3

Routine Gear: As discussed previously.

Variable Gear: Bula balaclava, long sleeved dress, Fluevog Locke short boot (not insulated)

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Saturday was another beautiful day to ride.  The roads were lightly snow covered from an overnight dusting of snow so I decided to ride the “Batpod” this morning.  I awoke with a slight head ache and very tight shoulders.  I was thankful to be heading out on the bike as I knew it would be a great stress-buster.  My first meeting of the day was breakfast with friends at a favourite local establishment known as the Daily Grill.  It is now going on 6 years that I have been requesting a bike rack at this restaurant.  To date I have made no progress with the restaurant owner or the property owner.  I still remain hopeful 🙂 Until then, the above tree acts as my temporary lock up provided the area is not loaded with snow.  The tree has also grown so much that my U-lock no longer fits around the truck!After breakfast I rode to a near by transit terminal to board the bus to downtown Kitchener.  My Norco Bigfoot fat tire bike does not fit on the front rack of the bus.  The bus drivers today were awesome and encouraging to me when I brought my bike on board. Some times I jam the rear wheel against the folding seats on the bus as shown below and other times I stand with the bike.  When I am standing I keep a hand on one of the brakes so the bike does not roll.

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The City of Kitchener active transportation committee organized the annual ‘coldest bike ride of the year’ event.   I am uncertain if I should say the weather did or did not co-operate with the planned ride.   It was far from being the coldest day this winter, but the warmer weather combined with a burst of sunshine seemed to motivate more cyclists to participate. There were 18 bikes and one wee toddler passenger.

The group of us rode from Kitchener City Hall to Waterloo City Hall using the brand spankin’ new Spur Line trail.  This beautiful off-road trail is paved and complete with overhead lights!  From the Spur Line trail we rode on the Iron Horse trail to the Berlin Bicycle Café located in a part of Kitchener known as Belmont Village.

On the ride home I decided to hitch another GRT bus ride for a part of the way.  I wanted to get home so I could get ready to celebrate my Birthday on Saturday night with friends!

Sunday was my birthday! Like most Sundays I walked to and from Church in the morning. That was the extend of my exercise today because I had to work on my City of Waterloo Budget package in preparation for Budget Day tomorrow.  Outside of preparing for tomorrow I had a lovely Birthday.

I’m Riding on Sunshine!

Week 5 – Tuesday and Wednesday – February 2-3, 2016

Weather: Wednesday February 3, 2016 was the warmest February 3 on record at a high of 14 degrees C! Rain in morning and increasing winds during the day.

Routine Gear: As discussed previously except I only needed spring riding gloves.

Variable Gear: I80s earmuffs, 3/4 sleeve dress, Fluevog Locke short boot (not insulated).

Tuesday was one of those crazy days that started out with 7:30 am meeting in South Kitchener followed by meetings in North Waterloo.  Although the weather was spring like, I had to leave the bike parked in the garage at home.  When the sun came out around noon I was so wishing that I was sitting in the saddle of the Trek Cocoa!

Wednesday was the warmest February 3 on record with a high of 14 degrees C.  I had a day that would include a couple of 30-40 minute rides. Although it was raining when I left the house, I still wanted to ride and enjoy the fresh air.

When you commute daily remember to check tire pressure at least once per week.  I had to pump up the rear tire on my Trek commuter prior to heading out.  I have an awesome hand floor pump that includes an easy to read pressure gauge.  If you do not own one of these it is worth the investment.  They are not too expensive and I use it on our family bicycles as well as my Vespa.

2010-vespa-gts300supere-small

It was lightly raining when I left home this morning but it was still an excellent, fast commute. I did not have to worry about glasses fogging up so I was able to wear my cycling glasses.

I love my cycling glasses!  I wear Serfas www.serfas.com.  I have had them for about 5 years.  They came with four inner changeable lenses as well as an Rx insert I had filled with my eye glass prescription.  Eye protection while riding is very important, we only have one set of eyes.

As the day wore on, I headed out for my much anticipated 30 minute ride.  Unfortunately the head winds became so strong that I had to make a change on the fly and ride home to exchange my two wheels for my four wheels with a gas engine so that I would not be late for my meetings.

The winds remained high for the balance of the day but I still enjoyed the blazing sunshine from the seat in my Hyundai Tucson.

The Promise of Spring

Week 5 – Monday – February 1, 2016

Weather: Mainly cloudy. Wind west 20 km/h becoming light this afternoon. High plus 2.

Routine Gear: As discussed previously.

Variable Gear: I80s earmuffs http://180s.com/, MEC thermal arm coverings, sleeveless dress, Fluevog Locke short boot (not insulated) www.fluevog.com

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It was a beautiful day to ride.  The roads were clear so I decided to ride my Trek Cocoa urban commuter bike.  I was headed to City Hall for a 9 am meeting.  It was the City of Waterloo Capital Budget Day, so upon arrival I knew it would be a day of heavy, thought-filled conversations.  The ride really helped to clear my head and prepare me for the day.

The off-road trails were clear in appearance, but there were many areas of both ice and “black-ice”. I passed a “fellow” bike commuter in the morning pushing his bike.  I was so focused on not arriving to City Hall late, that it was not until after I passed him that I realized he may have been in need of assistance and require a bike pump or something of that same ilk.  I felt like a smuck until I passed him in the evening on the ride home and was able to ask if he had needed assistance in the morning.  He informed me that he had taken a fall in the morning on black ice.  He injured his knee and leg and was walking the balance of his commute when I passed him because he did not want to risk another fall.  I observed that he rode clipped into his pedals.  Admittedly I have taken a few topples while clipped into my pedals and prefer to not clip in during winter riding conditions.

By the ride home, the roads and paths were clear of ice.  The fresh air, as always clears my mind.  The sun streaming through the trees on the off-road bike ways remind me of the promise of spring.  I am thankful for the beauty of our changing seasons.  I take it for granted, but I should not.  Every day is a blessing and should be lived to the fullest!

Derailed – but Back in Gear!

Week 4 – January 25-29, 2016

Weather: January 29, 2016: -9°C (with wind chill -21°C), Cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries. Wind northwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 km/h. Main roads are clear, side roads are icy.  On-road bike space ranged from clear to snow covered with some icy sections.

Consistent Attire: As previously discussed.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: MEC thermal arm coverings, 3/4 sleeve dress, and Bula balaclava.

Since Friday of last week, my daily schedule has seen me needing a car to be able to attend meetings at various locations throughout the Region of Waterloo in Ontario Canada.  Some of the destinations were a reasonable distance by bike, but in the winter weather would have taken me approximately 1 hour to ride and I only had 30 minutes between meetings.

My first instinct was to beat myself up about not mounting the bike seat, but I took a step back and reminded myself that the whole point of this blog and my efforts at winter cycling are related to improving my health.   Mental health is just as important as physical health and I need to be kind to myself.  So I looked to the other times in my day where I could keep my health commitments.  These included riding my indoor bike on a trainer and ensuring that I was eating healthy.  Returning to a healthy weight is my big goal for 2016 so ensuring that I eat right, and not too much on the days I do not cycle are critically important.

Friday January 29, 2016 saw me back in the seat.  Although the forecast called for clouds, it was a beautiful sun shiny day!  The side streets were snow covered and very icy, but the Norco #Bigfoot, aka the Batpod managed those roads expertly.  There was a significant headwind so I wanted to move into a lower gear.  This gear change resulted in the realization that my front de-railer was iced up. I promptly dropped and jammed the chain.  So much, unexpected fun! So I now know I have to buck up for hard riding. The front will remain in high gear until we get a good thaw and any range in gears will be limited to the rear de-railer.

No No Don’t Make Me Go!

Week 3 – Day 3 – January 19, 2016

IMG_20160112_114257Weather: -5°C (with wind chill -13°C), Cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries early this morning. A few flurries beginning near noon. Wind becoming west 20 km/h near noon. Roads were clear on the way to the office and snow covered with tracks bare.  The bike space was completely snow covered.

Consistent Attire: As previously discussed.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: MEC thermal arm coverings, sleeveless dress, Bula balaclava and wool felt jacket.

For reasons I cannot explain I did not want to mount the bike seat today! I had to work from home in the morning because I had a contractor doing work at the house. I think my hibernation instincts kicked in and I really, Really, REALLY wanted to give into them.

Words cannot describe how I laboured to put on my cycling gear and make my way up (because everything is up hill right?) my street.  Thankfully the major streets to work were clear and that helped improve the riding effort.

In the same vein as, “what goes up must come down”; upon riding to work, I must also ride home.  Therefore I give much less thought to whether or not I wish to ride at the end of the working day.  It snowed much of the afternoon so for the ride home the cycling space was snow covered.  I like riding in the snow, but navigating through vehicle tracks is very tricky.  The bicycle tires are drawn into the track and exiting the track is very hard.  It is especially difficult in the spaces where the busses pull over to pick up and drop off passengers.  Any snow that might be caught in the bus wheel wells typically release from the effort of starting and stopping adding a few more obstacles for a winter cyclist.

To my friends who are automobile drivers I would like to share with you that if you think you are teaching me a lesson by crowding me and scaring the life out of me? Please know, I am not giving in to your tactics but I am taking down your licence plate number. With Love, Diane

Tackling the Hinterland

Week 3 – Day 2 – January 19, 2016

Weather: -5°C (with wind chill -13°C), Cloudy. 30 percent chance of flurries early this morning. A few flurries beginning near noon. Wind becoming west 20 km/h near noon. Roads were snow covered with reduced visibility because of snow and blowing snow.

Consistent Attire: As previously discussed.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: Not needed today.

Today was one of those days where I needed to be everywhere at the same time.  As much as I wanted to cycle to work, I knew that I did not have enough time between meetings to be able to use public transit as my primary mode of transportation.

So, in keeping with my promise to myself I hopped on my indoor training set up and cycled for 30 minutes.  I am so used to building up a huge sweat while riding that I had all the windows open in my sun room. Not exactly a wonderful thing for the rest of my family 🙂

To add in a bit of humour be sure to check out this video produced by this hour has 22-minutes and called: Hinterland Who’s Who-Winter cyclist: http://www.cbc.ca/22minutes/videos/clips-season-22/hinterland-whos-who-the-winter-cyclist

 

Me, My Bike and My Confidence Meet Mr. Snow-Miser

Week 3 – Day 1 – January 18, 2016

Weather: -9°C (with wind chill -20°C), Flurries and local snow squalls.  Local amount 10 – 15 cm.  Wind west 30 km/hour gusting to 50 km/hour. (Snow squall warning in effect). Roads were snow covered with reduced visibility because of snow and blowing snow.

Consistent Attire: As previously discussed.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: Sleeveless dress, MEC thermal fleece arm covers, Bula microfleece balaclava.

Winter in Ontario, Canada is never complete without a good snow squall!  Today was truly a winter wonderland.  When I looked out this morning I exclaimed to my husband what a beautiful day! Hearing no hint of sarcasm he asked you are kidding right? He further exclaimed surely you are not planning to cycle today?  I said of course I am planning to ride.  The snow creates a high traction surface and the trail riding in snow is incredibly beautiful!

In reflecting on today’s conversation with my husband I realize that in years past I would NEVER have ventured out on a bicycle in weather like today.  In fact many automobile operators do not even want to be out today!  What has changed? Many things including: me, my bike, my gear, my confidence, my desire to change my life and my keen interest to encourage others to consider ways to leave their car at home.

To account for a slower ride I allow my ride time to be about 1/3 longer than it would take in the summer months.  Today it was even longer because I had to stop for some interim bike alterations and some photo opportunities.

While tackling major roads, the sidewalk was my preferred cycling location.  In weather such as we have today, adding a car target, like a cyclist, to the roadway is very frustrating for drivers.  Being a driver, I know that and chose to cycle on the sidewalk.  I stopped at all crosswalks, dismounted and pushed my bike across.  Preventable collisions happen most frequently at intersections.  Please keep this in mind as you engage in our transportation systems.

Where the bike was concerned, my rear de-railer froze and I locked the chain when I tried to shift gears.  That was a fun experience that I would prefer not to repeat too soon.  This happened because I rode in slush yesterday.  The temperature in my garage dropped to -7 °C last night so the slush located in my rear de-railer froze.  I need to grease the bike up a bit tonight to ensure that this does not happen again too soon.  The frozen de-railer had a chain-reaction (pun totally intended) that resulted in a ride wherein I was stuck in one gear :-).  I was able to trouble shoot the problem while still within a block of my home.  I made the decision that I would ride in a “tougher” gear than I would have preferred.  I am Canadian…and willing to work harder in our Canadian winter.

It was a wonderful morning ride to City Hall! Four neighbours were out shovelling driveways, pre-heating cars and scrapping windshields.  I said good morning to all.  One neighbour hollered good for you! I responded with thanks and commented how lucky I am with no windshield to clear.

While riding the trails I met City of Waterloo staff who were busy clearing the trail to ensure it is accessible for all users.  I also caught up with the City of Waterloo 55+ hiking group also enjoying the trail.  I was again reminded that I am not the only one to use the City trails. IMG_20160118_094702

It continued to snow all day and riding in the dark on unlit trails can be very sketchy.  My commute home was initiated by partnering with Grand River Transit for a bus lift to Conestoga Mall.  I pushed my bike through the mall to the exit located in the direction of my home.  It was my plan to cycle home from the Mall on less travelled side streets and through community parks.  I did take this route, however, the mall parking lot had yet to be fully cleared, the roads were not easily passable, the park trail was not cleared, it was sheer ice under the snow,  and the sidewalk on the major road to my home had yet to be cleared.  So a huge SHOUT OUT to the home owners who had cleared the sidewalk in front of their homes.  Between riding on the cleared sidewalks and pushing the bike through snow drifts and the un-cleared park trail I made it home.  The commute tonight tested my resolve much more than my commute this morning.  It snowed a tremendous amount today and upon my arrival I shovelled the driveway and front porch.  My adult boys had previously shovelled so the work was not as significant as it could have been.

Promises Made and Promises Kept!

Weekend 2 – January 15 – 17, 2016

Weather: Ranged from plus 3 to -6 degrees C. Precipitation included rain, freezing rain and snow. The roads ranged from clear to icy to snow covered.

Consistent Attire: As per other posts.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: Sunday the weather was -6 degrees. For this ride I wore a sleeveless dress and MEC thermal arm coverings.

This blog includes my write up for the weekend and for last Friday.  The weather on Friday was rain with the temperature dropping from a high of 3 degrees C through to minus something cold. 🙂  I had meetings in Guelph Friday morning and while I would have liked to say I commuted, the 37 km, I did not.  The ride would not be “do able” on my fat tire bike.  Further many of the roads are posted 80 km/hour and not conducive to supporting winter cycling options.

Even though I did not commute outside on Friday I did start my day with a 45 minute ride inside on my road bike and CycleOps trainer.  I used this time to prepare for my 9 am meeting by reading the 147 page meeting package.  I will willingly share with you that I did not feel like getting up at 5:45 am and I did not want to put myself in the bike seat.  Nonetheless I made a promise to myself to undertake 30 minutes per day of exercise.  When I completed my indoor ride I will admit I felt great and ready to take on the day.

Saturday started out both quiet and lazy!  I loved it!  For those who know me well, they would tell you that I do not “idle” well.  As the day progressed, I reflected on how many calories I chose to enjoy last night at the Kitchener Rangers Game and the call to the bike seat got louder as the day wore on.  So at 8pm I finally mounted my bike on my indoor trainer and started turning the pedals.  Again I did not feel like exercising, but that promise to me spoke louder than my dissent so I exercised.  Every time this happens, I always feel better to have rode the bike!  Great excuse to enjoy an outdoor time in the hot tub after.

Sunday I attended the New Year Levee for MPP Catherine Fife.  I completed this 4 km commute in the snow on the Batpod.  The minor subdivision roads were icy and snow covered, but very manageable on my Norco “Bigfoot” bike.  The major roads were track bare and the bike lanes were snow covered.  The snow covered bicycle space was excellent.  The snow provided for very good traction.

Upon arrival at the Levee I parked my bike inside (no bike parking) and what a wonderful conversation generating tool the bike is!  Many asked how I managed the roads.  I responded by saying that when speed is controlled so is the bike.  Without question, I feel very safe and in control while commuting on the Batpod.  I also love the crisp weather air.  Week 2? Done and Done. 🙂

 

1m Passing Law Applies in the Winter

Week 2 – Day 4 – January 14, 2016

Weather: -10°C (-18°C with wind chill) snow.  Roads were snow covered.  Bike lanes in the morning were snow covered with slushy sections especially around bus stop locations.

Consistent Attire: As per previous posts.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: Leggings (Costco), and a dress with full-length sleeves. Notice I am starting to layer less and less?  I am really learning how much heat I personally generate while riding.

Bikes still belong and the Ontario one-metre passing law still applies in the winter.  Over the past two days I have observed three kinds of motor vehicle operators.  The first is the “old school” who will drive into oncoming traffic to provide adequate clearance for a cyclist. The second is the one who will crowd a cyclist and where possible drive in the marked bicycle lane.  The third is the one who drives “just right” 🙂

For all those non-cyclists motor vehicle operators who just might be reading this Blog there is great news for you! Clear guidance on how to share-the-road the road with a bicycle is provided in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/bicycle-safety.shtml.  Here are the details:

One-Metre Passing Law:

Q1: What is the penalty to drivers for not leaving a minimum of one-metre distance when passing a cyclist?

The penalty for not leaving a minimum one-metre passing distance is a set fine of $85.00 plus a $5 court fee plus a $20 victim surcharge fine for a total payable of $110.00.

Drivers who contest their ticket by going to court may face a fine of up to $500 if found guilty (fine range is $60 to $500). Upon conviction, two demerit points will also be assigned against the individual’s driver record.

Q2: Will cyclists also be required to leave a minimum one-metre distance when passing a vehicle?

Cyclists are not required to leave a specific one-metre space; however, they are required to obey all the rules of the road.   Cyclists who are being overtaken should turn out to the right to allow the vehicle to pass.

Q3: What if there isn’t enough room to allow for a one-metre passing distance?  Can a vehicle cross the centre median line to pass the cyclist?

A motorist may, if done safely, and in compliance with the rules of the road, cross the centre line of a roadway in order to pass a cyclist. If this cannot be done, he or she must wait behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass.

For clarity the above law applies to the roads year around and not just for spring, summer and fall months where roads may seem more supportive of cycling as a commuting choice.

I know that we all feel that our lives are too short to slow down and share-the-road, but the truth is a decrease in 10 km/hour of speed across a 1 or 2 km road way typically adds less than a minute to you drive and may save a life.

Today the roads were completely snow covered and the ride was slow because it was very technical.  Just like a car, the Batpod has more control when I ride more slowly.  I had a scary moment today when I was passed by a vehicle which chose to crowd me by driving into the marked and visible bicycle lane.  They continued to drive in the marked and visible bicycle lane for a long way.   I was also passed by a few folks who, even with a lot of room, chose to operate their vehicle inside the 1 metre passing area.  If I was operating my bicycle in the middle of the road I might understand these choices (well actually I would not understand them) but I was riding in a clearly visible, marked bicycle lane.

Having been hit by two cars in the past, these few vehicle operators unnerved me a bit today so I rode through some parking lots to get to work. 🙂 My resilience was tested.  I passed and I feel great about it!