Saturday, April 19, 2014

Memories of winter

Mercier Bridge with floating ice at sunset

Ride report: Circling the windmills

Spring has finally arrived in Montreal—at least kind of. The forecast predicted mostly sunny skies with temperatures a little under 10°C. Not too shabby. I clearly have lots of pent up demand in me for riding, and so after doing 50 km on Friday, I planned a 100 km route for Sunday. The route was a variation of two longer rides I had done before, with a new connector segment to keep the distance down. The other change was the direction in which I was doing the ride. Usually when riding in the Monteregie I do the southeast/south part first in order to have a better change of catching the usual southwest to west winds on the way back. As the wind forecast for Saturday promised rather strong winds from anywhere between southeast and northwest, I figured I might as well mix things up and start out by going southwest.
Little traffic

Well, once I crossed the St. Lawrence Seaway onto the mainland I was greeted by a strong headwind. The area just south of Montreal is very flat and characterized by vast fields on black soil—and more recently wind turbines. Few trees provide shelter, and I was struggling to maintain even 20 km/h. The wind also meant that despite the relatively mild temperatures and the spring sun I felt little incentive to stop and take a break. Once I reached Saint-Urbain-Premier, after about 45 km, I circled through the little village to find a bench or other wind-protected spot, but to no avail. Since Saint-Urbain was also the point where I would change direction from southwest to southeast I figure I might as well keep going. This was the new connector segment, which turned out to be a nice addition to my road collection, especially with the wind now at least coming mostly from the side and back.

Were the engineers slightly drunk when plotting this road...?
After another 10 km I reached the turnaround point and now had the wind fully in my back for a few kilometers. Glorious riding while it lasted—which wasn't for too long. I finally took a lunch break, fully exposed to the wind, before continuing back towards Delson. The view of the numerous windmills with their rapidly spinning blades accompanied me for most of the way. I reached home in a pretty exhausted state after 108 km.
Lunch break!

I really miss having Gunnar, my road bike, for rides like this. It's just not the same on Wolfgang.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Whee South Shore!, or: The Jacques Cartier is open again!

Hooray, I can get to the South Shore again. The Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path has reopened for the season. Definite sign of spring!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Soda can stove extravaganza – Capillary Hoop Stove

I'm a big fan of DIY alcohol stoves. They're cheap, lightweight, efficient, and not terribly difficult to make. Until now I've used different iterations of Mark Jurey's Penny Stove. It's based on an air intake loosely covered by the penny in the middle and six jets on the outside. Alcohol poured into the middle primes the stove and once that has been used up the stove draws air through the center and starts the jet burn.

Old version of the penny stove, using the no longer available Heineken cans
In a discussion about coffee-making setups, someone mentioned a Japanese maker of a different type of soda can stove, the “capillary hoop stove.”

I spent a lot of time watching tetkoba's videos, and the both the design and the craftsmanship are amazing. By virtue of the capillary force, the jet burn starts almost immediately, and amazingly the stove stays cool to the touch. Today I bought a sixpack of V8 cans of the right size and will try to build a CHS myself. To be continued!

Friday, March 28, 2014

“First insure your bicycle, then study the map” – 1897 Montreal Bike Map

I just came across this awesome 1897 bike map of Montreal on reddit. Back then, Montreal had not yet encountered the automobile -- only in November 1899 did Ucal-Henri Dandurand drive the first car in Montreal. As you can see on the upper left of the map, the dotted lines represent "good roads," whereas the solid red lines are just "roads." It would be fun to do an overlay of the present-day bike network and the cycling roads of 1897...

Source: BANQ

Sunday, March 9, 2014

And another tall temptation – Schwinn Voyageur 650B conversion

After the tall Boulder custom I linked to last week I discovered this pretty 63cm Schwinn Voyageur 650B conversion on Craigslist. This is more in my price range and seems like a great opportunity to give the 650B thing a try. The front geometry isn't low-trail (as far as I can tell) but maybe Soma will soon deliver on their promised low trailer conversion fork. I think if this bike hasn't sold by the next time I'm down in Madison the next time won't be able to resist.

(c) Craigslist poster

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Happy International Women's Day!

To all the woman cyclists and cycling women out there: Happy International Women's Day 2014!
A few topical links: