First (real) ride of spring


First ride of the season – Toronto to Oakville (and back):
Total distance: 103km
Avg Speed: 28km/h
# of Red lights: 1 million

It’s great to see your winter training pay off on your first ride of the season!  I’ve been riding to work all winter but it’s only 5km each way.  I do this about 7x/wk over 5 days, amounting to about 70km altogether.  It’s better than nothing.  I’ve also been riding the Wattbike 3x/wk for an hour at a time.  It’s an over priced piece of crap (IMHO), but that’s another story.  Those rides add about 110 more km to my weekly total, depending on the workout, still not a lot, but I wondered if it would be enough to allow me to pick up where I left off last fall without having to ramp back up again.

So with the promise of temperatures rising to 6C I downed my espresso and set off on my fixed gear bike with the sun still low in the sky, casting a long shadow before me as I headed west along the shores of Lake Ontario.  The temperature was just below freezing, around -2C, and my fingers, just above freezing, just…

I traveled south through town, going briefly east down the very chilly Rosedale Valley Rd, eventually hopping on the bike path until around Ontario Place, and taking the Lakeshore the rest of the way to Oakville (and back).

Last year I felt the need to ramp up gradually to that distance, so this season is off to a good start!  🙂

See you on the road.






A winter ride (to work)

Luckily I’d left for work a few minutes early yesterday so I had time to slow down and enjoy the scenery as I rode to work.  Toronto had some more snow overnight and it clung beautifully to the branches that hung overhead along Blythwood Rd.  I stopped briefly to snap this shot:

a winter ride  to work

a winter ride to work

And here we are, March 1st at last.  Was that to be our last snow fall of the season?






DIY Cycling Mittens

$85 for new Pearl Izumi Lobster gloves?!?  Okay, I loved my old pair but I’m just not willing to part with that much money to keep my hands warm this winter.  Truth be told, I suppose they are worth the money.  Lobster gloves are the perfect blend between the warmth of a mitten and the dexterity afforded by a pair of gloves.  Riding a fixed gear bike though means no gears to shift and only one brake lever to grasp so I can get away with mittens if I want which gave me a great idea.  I decided to upcycle my old Louis Garneau jacket into a pair of gore-tex cycling mittens.

My LG Gore-Tex jacket lasted for years!  I wore it for my daily commute from October to April for 7 years before bits of the gore-tex began to peel away in some high stress areas, like where my shoulder bag would sit, until I was left with a wet back and shoulders on rainy days.  There were of course a few spots that could still hold back the rain and I decided to put them to use.  Full disclosure: I never took Home-Ec and have never been taught how to sew, but, like Jeremy Clarkson so often asks on BBC’s Top Gear, “How hard could it be?” 🙂

I started with some liners that I made from fleece that I’d picked up at Fabricland.  The minimum purchase by the yard will cost about $8 and will get you enough for at least 6 pairs of mittens (if you’re feeling ambitious).  What I have here certainly won’t constitute a pattern, but if you decide to give it a try for yourself, just fold the material over your hand and trim off the excess and cut a pac-man for the thumb hole.  I’d actually started by making one that turned out a bit tight, so I started over, using it as my pattern.  Seen here:

mitten (2)

I sewed these by hand, using some extra strength thread and a loop stitch   The thumbs were a bit of a pain in the butt to put together.  I put my thumb through the hole, folded some material around it, pinned it in place, trimmed the excess and sewed.  Voila, liners are complete and are a perfect fit!

mitten (4)

I’ve had some deer hide sitting around for a while that was supposed to go into another project.  Instead they became the leather palms for my mitts.  Less than 6$ worth.  Here they are after being cut for size:

mitten (5)

Then it was time to rough cut out the gore-tex covers and complete the thumbs before adding the leather palms.  Leather palms do take a while to add.  First you need to mark all of the holes with a pin wheel, then punch all of the holes with an awl.  Finally saddle stitching them into place with a braided nylon thread will set you back another hour each.

mitten (7)

and many hours later:

mitten (8)

There we have it custom fit, Gore-tex riding mittens with deer hide leather palms.  No, the gloves aren’t seam-sealed and they’re not perfect, but they’ll do just fine.  I used them last week and they were great.  I made the thumbs a bit longer than standard fit so that the tips of my thumbs have a bit of extra space, and gave my fingers a bit of wiggle room as well.  They were wind-proof, gripped my bull-horn bars well and were very warm!  If winter ever arrives then I’ll be ready, or at least my hands will be warm…