Three Speed October Challenge: Week Three Finale

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1965 CCM Continental

Challenge complete! It was warmer this week, most of the early snowfall has now melted and the normal autumn weather felt like a reprieve from a winter that hasn’t officially arrived yet. I found the time to get my third three-speed bike into service to ride for the challenge and met my additional personal goal of riding each bike at least three times during the three weeks.

The last of my bikes to be used in the challenge is the first three-speed I ever owned. I bought this 1965 CCM Continental a few years back from the Raving Bike Fiend. It’s a lovely old bike that has only seen light use since I acquired it. Unlike the Superbe or the R20, and for reasons I can’t quite pin down, this one insists on being ridden at a leisurely pace. I’ve mostly used it for relaxed family rides or as a show bike for group rides.I rode it for the 2011 Edmonton Tweed Ride. I dressed it up a bit for the first 2012 Edmonton Steampunk Bike Ride. On the more practical side, I rode it to work one frigid winter morning when it was so cold that the freehub on my winter bike was freezing up – no need to worry about that with the Sturmey-Archer three-speed.

The bike has front and rear lights intended to powered by the dynamo built into the AWG rear hub but I’ve never got around to wiring them up properly. It has steel rims, a one piece crank, fantastic high bars and weighs about 40 pounds. The bike is a bit small for me and as nice as it is to have some Made in Canada content in my little bike fleet, I think I will soon sell this one. I hadn’t ridden it in all of 2016 and I don’t believe I rode it more than once in 2015. With this October Challenge I was glad to have a reason to shuffle it out from the back of the bike pile in my garage, dust it off and ride it for a few days.

Day Three: Tuesday

On Sunday and Monday I played it safe and commuted on my winter bike but by Tuesday the conditions seemed suitable for bringing out a three-speed again for the 20km round trip to work. Road construction caused me to detour onto a short segment of footpath.

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On the way home I stopped to take a few pics of the rapid progress that’s been made on the new footbridge that’s part of the city’s funicular project. Given the foul weather on the previous Friday I had been cranky about the lengthy detour this bridge construction forced me to take. However, now that the hill is open again and I can see how much work they got done over the course of four days I have to be impressed with the good job the workers seem to be doing.

That evening I also completed a second qualifying ride when I rode my Raleigh 20 on a 5.5 km round trip to Kingsway mall to run an errand. I didn’t stop to take any pictures but I did notice just how much more nimble and zippy the R20 is compared to the CCM.

Day Four: Wednesday

On Wednesday I rode the CCM to work again for another 20km roundtrip. On the way back I stopped at the southside Earth’s General Store for supplies. My bike was in good company at the rack with a Kuwahara Super Tour and a Norco Eurosport Tri-A with an appealingly gaudy pink & white splatter paint and added moustache bars. After leaving the store I indulged in another beauty pic of the CCM and a riding bike selfie. (Remember when they were called Panda Shots?)

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Day Seven: Saturday

I managed to get one more qualifying ride in on the CCM with a 8km roundtrip downtown to visit the bank, shop for supplies at the downtown farmers’ market, and drop in at Bikeworks North on the way home. I couldn’t let the entire October Challenge pass without getting tweeded up at least once so I dug out my Harris Tweed for this ride.

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It was a wonderfully relaxing afternoon ride under a bright blue sky while breathing in the crisp autumn air. While downtown I snapped a few pics of the recently completed Kelly Ramsey Tower. The original building was badly damaged by a fire in 2009 and was eventually demolished. However, much of the original facade was salvaged and reassembled as part of the new building. I often feel ambivalent about projects that preserve the only exterior of a building but in this case it was well done to save something from the aftermath of the fire.

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After popping in to Bikeworks to say hi to the other volunteers I rolled across the avenue to the Hungarian deli to buy a couple of links of their medium-hot sausage. This little unassuming shop has lots of interesting products and is also my source for jars of thick, tangy rosehip jam.

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That was my final ride for the October Challenge – it was lots of fun to get out and ride these pleasing and practical bikes. During the challenge I rode my Raleigh Superbe seven times with six qualifying rides totaling 106 km (66 miles). I rode my Raleigh 20 four times with three qualifying rides totaling 30.5 km (19 miles). I rode my CCM Continental on three qualifying rides totaling 48 km (30 miles). Of all the rides only one was strictly a pleasure ride – the others all qualified as utility rides.

Thanks to Portland’s Shawn Granton of Urban Adventure League  & Society of Three Speeds for creating the challenge.

The Long Weekend Report

I’m running behind on blog posts…

On the last Monday before May 25th we non-francophone Canadians celebrate Victoria Day. This is  in recognition of Queen Victoria’s birthday and also is the day that we recognize the current  sovereign’s birthday.   Officially, that is.  In actual practice, everybody that I know refers to it as “The May Long Weekend” and gives no real thought to distant monarchs, either current or long deceased. Those who care for gardening mark it as the point at which one can feel fairly safe that frost is not going to strike overnight. For many it is the first camping weekend of the year, often plagued by swarms of drunken idiots. For myself, it was a pleasantly bikey weekend.

Over the course of the weekend I made some real progress with my bike maintenance tasks. I finished lacing  the new rims for my Raleigh 20 and trued the rear wheel. The front still has to be trued. I am inching ahead towards being able to ride that bike again. I replaced two broken spokes on the ’65 CCM and trued the wheel, putting the bike back in riding condition. I also replaced the punctured tube on the Apollo and put a new cassette on the Kona Jake. All in all, the little fleet is slowly improving.

On Saturday I woke up early and took Nishiki-san for a spin on some of the roads North of the city. I was out of the house by 6 o’clock and was able to ride up 82 St. without worrying about traffic. This is a great route out of the city early in the morning as it brings you all the way past the Henday to the Forces Base. It was pretty cold ( 3 degrees) and windy but still a great ride. I didn’t take many photos as my fingers were getting numb from the icy breeze. Once back in the city I went to the Downtown Farmer’s market which had set up in its outdoor location for the first time this year. The vendors were looking pretty cold and many were wrapped up in blankets. I bought a pile of food including a basket of excellent mushrooms from Mo-Na Foods. Man, I missed my mushroom connection during the off season.

Although I still haven’t quite mastered the panorama mode on my camera, I think this picture really shows how flat it is around here.

Nishiki-san can handle a little unpaved riding.

Last years cat tails alongside a weirdly deserted 141st.

On Sunday I had a few errands to run so I took the opportunity to take the newly recommissioned CCM for a leisurely spin.  Cruising along the streets on the old 3-speed was very relaxing and I spent the first bit of the ride with a big goofy smile on my face. I’ve missed this bike. I went to MEC to pick up a cassette for the Kona Jake and then down to Earth’s General Store for some sundries. The weather was excellent and the river valley trails were well populated with holiday cyclists. It was a great day of city cycling.

The obligatory photo at the High Level Bridge

POV shots are also required when crossing the High Level.

The bridge for the Edmonton Transit LRT runs next to the High Level. The pedestrian walkway underneath the railway connects to the river valley trails and was quite busy.

There were lots of cyclists.

This ramp off the bridge is fun to coast down.

Crossing the High Level

Edmonton Tweed Ride 2011

Last week I participated in the fourth Edmonton Tweed Ride. While I was aware of tweed rides elsewhere, particularly the original  in London, I hadn’t known about the local one until recently. This was my first Tweeded group outing.  In fact, this was my first group ride of any sort as I am something of a solitary cyclist.

I already had a nice Harris Tweed jacket that I like a lot, some climbing pants that are a  plausible substitute for plus-fours, and a nice vintage bike. The day before the ride I zipped off to Value Village  in search of further articles of clothing. I found a nice pure virgin wool sweater-vest and an acceptable hat. There were no knee length argyle socks, but you can’t have everything. I did find some nice long green woolen socks that were OK.  I also bought an decent bike for a very low price but I’ll save that for another blog post.

The Gentlemen Cyclist and his 1965 CCM Continental

The day of the ride was grey and cool. I thought this appropriate weather for cycling while wearing layers of heavy wool.  Shortly before I was to leave for the ride a steady, cold rain began to fall . How thoughtful of the ride organizers to arrange for us to have some authentic British weather. I briefly considered staying home but after putting the effort into getting the clothing together I was determined to ride. I resolutely went out the door and set off on my bike.

While passing through downtown I spotted two other cyclists in tweeds. I pulled up behind them and commented that they could only be headed to one place. As it it turned out, I was correct and we rode together the rest of the way to the gathering point at the U of A Quad. They had improvised some effective cardboard fenders for their bikes and also seemed determined to see it through. Crossing the High Level Bridge in the wind and driving rain seemed to promise a bleak ride.

Wen we arrived at the Quad there were others already there. We milled about for quite a while waiting for late arrivals and for the route details to be finalized. While the rain stopped, it remained overcast. Flasks of booze appeared from jacket pockets. Pipes and cigars were lit. There were lovely bikes and some very nifty costumes. I was envious of the array of fine argyle socks.

I met these two fellows on the way to the ride.

He gets my vote for best Tweeded Man. That is also a splendid bike. The umbrella was a nice touch.

I like this Raleigh with the nifty kickstand.

Eventually we were ready and embarked sedately . There was some road riding and a lot of trail riding. There was a comic moment when we encountered another group ride of road cyclists well decked out in modern sporting bike gear. We stopped for a good natured chat about temporal anomalies and anachronisms and snapped photos of each other. Afterwards we headed down into the river valley along a steep series of switch-backs accompanied by the sound of a multitude of squeaky brakes. While my trusty CCM Continental is a lovely bike it does not especially like to stop quickly in wet conditions. The ride down into the valley was nice but lurking behind was the specter of pedaling back up on a 3-speed bike.  The wooded trails were beautiful in their Autumnal splendour. Throughout the ride I was  impressed as to how comfortable and suitable the tweed was to the cycling conditions. We stopped a few times along the way as the group spread out to let every one catch up.  Our destination was the new footbridge across the river. Up to that point, I was only vaguely aware of it but having seen it I was now impressed.

A moment of anachronism.

A lovely afternoon of Autumn cycling.

She is my pick for the Best Tweeded Lady.

Two impeccably dressed cyclists. I particularly like the helmet.

Bridge, Bikes and Trees

The ride back was uneventful except for a delay caused by a mechanical difficulty. Fortunately one of the riders lived nearby and was able to speed home and return with a ratchet, socket and a replacement crank nut. Riding up out of the valley was moderately strenuous on my 3-speed but I was able to complete the climb without dismounting to walk my bike. Those of us with no other previous commitments headed to the Next Act pub for well deserved food and drink. The pub staff had been forewarned but the other patrons seemed bemused by our arrival. The food was good, the drinks refreshing and the pub stood us to a round of shots. Very nice. A pleasant ending to an excellent afternoon of cycling.

Fish and Chips (of course) and a very large mug of beer.

And now, if I haven’t exhausted your patience you may want to view the video I made from the ride. It was my first trip with my new bike-cam and it performed tolerably well, I think.

Midnight Photoshoot: 1965 CCM Continental

On Thursday night the sky was clear, the moon was full and the mosquitoes were swarming. A perfect night for a midnight bike ride. Well, almost perfect. I took my 46 year old CCM bike, my 20 year old thrift store tripod and my 5 year old 6MP digital camera. Of those three items the camera is the most obsolete. I also brought mosquito  repellant.  Did I mention the mosquitoes?

I struck out along the vacant residential streets towards a local park that is my favourite for taking photos. It sits atop a high bluff overlooking the river valley and the skyline of downtown Edmonton. Riding the CCM at night is a lot of fun, silent and smooth, with the faint ticking of the SA hub when coasting. The bike has a hub generator and lights but as I’ve never taken the time to get them working I was limited to my helmet lights. I played the beam from my headlamp over the rows of quiet upscale houses fronting on the river valley as I glided past.

The street reaches a dead-end at the park entrance. I hoisted my bike over the shin-level rusty chain, catching a pedal as I did so, and cringing a little at the noise it made. There are a couple of orange street lights near the entrance casting  dingy pools of light. I headed past them to the deeper, darker end of the park.

I stopped near a bench alongside the the edge of the bluff. The moonlight shone brightly over the river  casting stark shadows into the field behind me. Looking over the edge I could see the path of moonlight illuminating the flowing river far below and I stood for moment in silent appreciation. Then the mosquitoes engulfed me. Gahhh!

I rapidly applied some mosquito repellant and got to work.  I have no knowledge of photography and my point-and-shoot camera reflects that.  It has a couple of night-time preset modes that I thought might be useful. After a few quick test shots I settled on using the Fireworks mode. It has a longish exposure but didn’t make the resulting pictures look like daylight. A few other technical problems immediately presented themselves. The screen on my camera didn’t show any detail in the dark and I couldn’t tell if I was framing the shots correctly. Holding my helmet in my hand I used it to illuminate the bike enough that I could see an image on the camera screen. Each time I did this I also illuminated the teeming hordes of mosquitoes around me. That was a little scary. Pressing on with the photoshoot, I took some photos just by moonlight and some by the light of my headlamp. Occasionally I ran about ten feet way from the camera to provide a more diffuse light.

When I was finally done and was  packing away the tripod, two cyclists with their lights ablaze with rolled past on the riverside trail hundreds of feet below me.  Yes, it was a nice night for riding and time to be on my way.

Over the next couple of days I played with my rather limited software (appropriate to my rather limited camera) resulting in a handful of what I think are decent photos. Some of them look more like dusk than midnight but I like them anyway. It almost makes me want to get a decent camera and learn to use it.