Monday, October 16, 2017

Hero's Welcome

Parking your bicycle in front of Hero’s Welcome, a classic Vermont general store on North Hero Island, is a tricky business. Two long benches, perfect for leaning one’s bike against, sit out front, one labelled Democrat, the other Republican. These two benches are kind of famous, and meant at least partly as a joke, I think.

People think of Vermont as a solidly blue state, famously progressive and liberal minded, the home of Bernie Sanders, for God’s sake. But it’s not all blue. There are pockets of Trump support in parts of the state, mostly the rural, less affluent, un-solar-paneled areas. So you never really know, even in Vermont, who sits where.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

East Burke

I spent all of about 16 hours—and half of that asleep—in the small mountain village of East Burke in the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont. But the place felt familiar and comfortable right away. I liked it immediately and I can imagine returning there some day for a longer, more leisurely explore.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Gravel Glossary: Prairie Shale

Hey, Manitoba, you've got shale!

On my recent trip to the Morden area, south of Winnipeg, I stumbled onto a couple of these weird shale-gravel roads near the town of Miami.They look more treacherous than they actually are. The thin plates of shale are so soft and brittle that they basically crunch apart like potato chips when a bicycle tire rolls over them.

Friday, September 8, 2017

T of A 2017

Photo credit:
Poor old Tour of Alberta. Canada’s only pro cycling stage race, which wrapped up Monday here in Edmonton, is hurting. 

This year’s edition shrank to a measly four stages (the first two years, 2013-14, it was five stages plus a prologue; in 2015 it was 6 stages, no prologue; and then last year it went down to 5 stages). (The only part of the Tour of Alberta that is growing rather than shrinking is the Velothon, the mass participation event held on the closed course in the morning of the final day. This was a huge hit last year and had even more participants this year.) Then word came out last week that government funding for the event is going to be cut even more. Plus, I get the sense that communities aren’t exactly lining up to pay the hefty stage-host fees that this kind of event counts on.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Dusty Lens: Lake Champlain Piano

The western shore of Lake Champlain, in New York State, is full of surprises. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Windsock 100


Strava Jeff, inspired by a Velocity Cycling Club ride he'd heard about, came up with the idea of a day-long, all-asphalt ride around the edges of the Edmonton, visiting as many small airports as possible. He pitched it as a kind of Airports Gran Fondo, with a randonee component, where we'd take pics of ourselves and/or our bikes at each of the airports en route.

But seeing as how it was just him and me doing the thing, the "Gran Fondo" name seemed a bit of a reach. So we re-branded, as they say, and called this ride the Airports Century: 100 miles and 5 small airports to the north, east, and south of the city. By the time we finished, however, we'd come up with yet another name for this endeavor: the Windsock 100.   

Sunday, August 20, 2017


I've heard and seen pictures of winter bicycle-tire chains modelled on the style used on car and truck tires, but I'd never actually seen one in person until I visited Green Mountain Bikes in Rochester, Vermont. (This is a gem of a shop, by the way, a cool, eccentric space full of small wonders, including some fine bicycle poetry. It's one of those rare bike shops you just want to hang out in forever.)

On a neglected shelf in a corner of one of the many small rooms, I found this beauty: a gold-metal, wrap-over grip strip, designed to fit over a bicycle tire (mountain-bike tire, I think). Essentially, it's an ingenious tire-chain-like get up that is installed in one go, over a removed tire. Does it work? I have no idea.  

Judging by the dusty packaging, I'm guessing old goldy here has been on that shelf for many moons. I thought of buying it as a souvenir, stuffing into my already full pannier, but, in he end, I decided to leave it on that dusty shelf, for someone else to find. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Maple State

Okay, Vermont, enough already about your maple everything.

I get that you have a lot invested in this, that your whole maple-identity is a lucrative business. I know that you are the United States’ leading producer of maple syrup, generating over 2 million gallons of the stuff in 2016, accounting for 47% of the entire nation’s output. I get that it’s a big deal.

But the proliferation of maple “products” I saw in Vermont was just silly.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Vermont Bike Ferry

The Island Line Trail, a popular 14-mile cycling path which runs from Burlington, Vermont, to South Hero Island, Vermont, is missing something—200 feet, to be exact.