Friday, July 18, 2014

Vélivre: Dancing on the Pedals

Phil Liggett. Poet?

He’s dancing on his pedals
              in a most

                --Phil Liggett`s description of Dag Otto Lauritzen climbing during the 1989 Tour de France

For me, and, I imagine, a lot of cycling fans, one of the pleasures of watching the Tour de France on tv is hanging out with Phil Liggett, the “Voice of Cycling,” and his sidekick, Paul Sherwen. Let’s face it—bike races can make for pretty boring tv—hour after hour of turning of pedals with occasional bursts of drama. But Phil and Paul have a way of making those hours delightful, entertaining, even funny (though not always intentionally).  A big part of their charm comes from Phil Liggett’s quirky, eccentric, insightful, sometimes-bizarre, sometimes-poetic play-by-play. (Just the other day, for instance, he referred to the attacking Thomas Voeckler as “an absolute imp.”)  So famous are Phil’s utterances during bike races that there are several websites devoted to collecting and relishing the best of them.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dusty Lens: Spin Grass

This ancient York exercise bike sits in a field along
Sunnydale Road, north of Edmonton.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Iron Horse Recon

After scheming for months about cycling the Iron Horse Trail, I finally made it out there on the weekend for a little lookie-loo at part of the southeast leg of the trail. In fact, we made it a family overnight: me, my wife, and our two boys, ages 13 and 11. The plan was to pack up the bikes and Bob trailer, drive to St. Paul (two-hour drive northeast of Edmonton), park our car at the staging area there, cycle 32 km to Elk Point, where we’d camp and then ride back the next day. Things didn’t quite go as planned, but the trip was a fine adventure nevertheless. We ended up getting a pretty good sense of the Iron Horse, and gathered some valuable intel for future, longer forays along the trail.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dusty Lens: July 1

From a ride out to Canada Day celebrations at Elk Island National Park

Friday, June 27, 2014

Two-Church Loop

Holy Trinity, east of Devon, Alberta
When you live in Edmonton, dropping off a friend or loved one at the airport can be a hassle. The Edmonton International is a long piece south of the city—a 1.5 hour round trip, and that’s if the traffic is good. But I’ve found a way to make that trip much more enjoyable. Bring a bike—any wide-tired bike will do—and take the long way home: tack on a gravel loop ride around the farmland west of the airport.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cycling Amish

When I hear about the latest hi-tech cycling gizmo, like this Vanhawks smartbike, which features internal sensors, blind-spot monitors, and security devices (it’s a bike that is also a gizmo), it awakens my inner cycling Amish. I begin to feel my moustacheless beard sprout. I find myself instinctively resisting, even scoffing at, such so-called advances in technology.

Some Luddite part of me refuses to accept that a smartbike is a good idea. Yes, we have the technology to make it, but that doesn’t mean we need it or that it will improve my cycling experience. In fact, the more I think about the Vanhawks, the more I get an urge to pop a bonnet on my wife’s head, and move my family to rural Pennsylvania, where I can live out my days making furniture and pedalling my trusty ordinary to barn raisings and shaming ceremonies.