Friday, January 27, 2012

Will the rubber hit the road . . . again?

I'll admit that I could turn a mean crank back in the day, i.e., the 1980s and 90's. I started off as a road racer and raced both provincially and nationally. The culmination of my road career was competing in the 1985 Canada Summer Games. But I must admit that one of my best bragging stories was, that for over 20 years, I held the third fastest time up Signal Hill - a mere three seconds off the overall record.  I then moved onto mountain bike racing and competed and placed second in the first organized race here in St. John's. It took place just around present-day Stavanger Drive. The area is now completely built up so it's hard to even discern the approximate location of the old course. That was in the late 1980s.

In the mid 1990's the ol' bike basically went into retirement. Cycling, by nature, is a time consuming endeavour. In 1997 I fell off the roof and broke my neck and elbow. Two weeks later my son was born. A double whammy to take me out of the cycling scene altogether. And I never really got back into it. Even when my young son expressed a great interest in riding, I could not get excited. My broken elbow can not straighten out and it really makes my pedaling awkward and often painful!!

Fast forward to Sunday January 22, 2012. My activities have been languishing due to a persistent knee problem. Even walking was getting hard. It was beginning to get a bit depressing as it was making me miss out on a lot of things I really enjoy - like competitive basketball, for instance. On Sunday I decided to throw the old road bike on the ancient mag trainer and see how the knees felt. I only did a 30 minute spin but afterwards my knees felt freakin' great. I tried this for a few days with lots of stretching throughout the day and I'm noticing an incredible difference in my knee mobility and pain. The decision was made. Purchase a better trainer and set my bike up better to accommodate my "afflictions"

Today I did just that. I bought a new fluid trainer - CycleOps Fluid 2 - and a set of aero bars to help support my bad elbow. Tonight I dragged the bike down from the attic to do a bit of work on it and to get it set up for some spinning.

I'm still using my circa 1987 Miele Beta. It's a handbuilt steel (Columbus) frame with Shimano 600EX all 'round. Yep, I'm still a sucker for the classic look of the old steel bikes. The new carbon fibre, aluminum and titanium are fine but the steel frame reminds me of the days when I started racing - when Merckx, Hinault, Fignon, the mighty Irishman Kelly and the upstart American, Lemond where the kings of the road.  There's a certain mystique surrounding the beauty of a handbuilt steel Colnago, Pinarello or Ciocc. Or is it just me?

The unmistakable simplicity of the steel framed bike and the La Vie Claire water bottle belonging to Gervais Rioux that was "borrowed" while at the Nationals in Hamilton!!

The new fluid trainer. Smooth and quiet.

Fluid 2 by CycleOps. Yep, she's a six speed hub. Can't find them anymore - not even at Walmart!!

Starboard quarter

Starboard bow
Where's this all going, you might ask? I have no idea. My only hope is that I don't "blow a knee" and make it so that I never hit the road again. Racing is out of the question - but that's not to say I won't make up for lost time riding with my son. I can't wait to give this new setup a whir, that's for sure!! Maybe even relive those days long ago when all I did was eat, sleep, breathe, work in a bike shop and RIDE!!!

Thanks for dropping by and feel free to post any cycling memories - I'd be happy to hear them!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Betcha can't build just one (or three) . . .

After hemming and hawing for the past several months, I've decided to build a new boat!!  I'm very happy with my stitch and glue Point Bennett. It's a great boat for paddling but I really want a play/rolling boat as well. I built my SOF Disko Bay for that purpose but am finding the boat, while great for rolling, is not the most "playful", i.e., it tracks like a train on a track and turns just as easy!!!!  I'm thinking I'm a bit big for the Disko and I never took the time to scale up the plans to accommodate my size!!

So, the job is determine what boat I'd like to build. And I've decided on the Black Pearl by Bj√∂rn Thomasson, a Swedish designer.

Image courtesy of 

The boat is described as " . . . a long, low and narrow kayak of east Greenland ancestry – extremely easily handled, instantly reacting to shift of weight, leaning etc, and with enough secondary stability to support leaned turns, balance brace and such. It is very easily rolled."

The beauty of the Black Pearl is that Thomasson requires a variety of body measurements so that he can custom the design/plans for the individual, ensuring a kayak that properly fits!!! I just took my measurements, submitted them online and now must the plans via mail.

I was a little hesitant about starting a new boat as I thought Cheryl would think I was crazy. Tonight I decided to raise the matter. She didn't even bat an eye when I said I was going to start a new boat. Her first question was "Is it a strip boat?" I must add that Cheryl is enamored by the beauty of some local strippers (boats, that is) and has expressed a desire to have one. I replied that "yes", the boat is a strip boat BUT it will be painted black!! Her interest waned at that point but at least she didn't question my sanity on the whole matter.

So now I must begin the task of preparing the attic for construction, start collecting the necessary building materials and get my head around the whole build process.  Oh dear gawd, what have I gotten myself into . . .  AGAIN???