Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road is an online cycling magazine. It is intended for writers and riders who want to share their on the road cycling stories and pictures. Submissions that follow our guideline are gratefully appreciated. See the appropriate page in the site menu. Will publish the best of the best each month. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter @PicosCycling.

Monday, 19 June 2017

The Kid Plays Lazy Sometimes


By Pico Triano
Photo  Francine Bolduc

I don't always choose the path of least resistance and my choice of Physical Education credits in college showcased that. That's why my sophomore year I was up bright and early for Jogging & Conditioning class. The course had a reputation and there were only five of us signed up. One was taking it for non-credit and as the instructor predicted she dropped out in a pretty big hurry.

One of the first things we did as a class was a five level heart rate versus exercise intensity test. At level one I had the lowest heart rate in the class. The second level yielded the same result. On the remaining three levels though my heart rate shot up to by far the highest in the class. The instructor was baffled but kept it to himself until after we took the test again at the end of the semester. That time I was lowest in the class for the first three levels before I exploded. He told me he'd never seen anything like it in another athlete he'd worked with. Someone today who'd worked with people with my condition would have recognized that pattern. My secret would have been out. Those charts spell A-S-T-H-M-A. Keep in mind not many asthmatics were involved in sports like basketball or track thirty-five years ago.


I've never suffered an asthma attack (I hear they are frightening) and I, fortunately, don't have airborne allergies to worry about. In everyday life, it actually doesn't impact me much. I don't even normally need puffers. It will make colds and flu tougher. I am currently recuperating from a bout of pneumonia which is about as scary as it gets. Severe air pollution will also leave me feeling sluggish and tired all the time. That's part of the reason I try to avoid living in heavily populated areas. For that reason, an official diagnosis didn't happen until I was nearly forty. I've strongly suspected since the seventh grade but after being laughed off by a couple of doctors and facing the roll of a coaches eyes several times, I tended to keep my mouth shut. Where it does have a big impact is when playing competitive sports.

The test we ran in my Jogging & Conditioning class pretty much tells the whole story. There is a point where I am unable to take in enough oxygen to keep up with my rate of exercise. At that point, my performance will drop off dramatically. On the track, I might look respectable in the shorter sprints but there comes a point down the track where I will wilt. On the basketball court, I played in spurts. As long as I could get strategic rests I could keep going. If the game turned into one of those extended track meets though, the coach just might as well park me on the bench and forget me. My endurance had its strengths. If I could avoid spending too much time in the oxygen deprivation zone, I was a tough opponent. My cycling illustrates it even better. I can't win a bicycle race to save my life. The ladies will beat me. Yet I've ridden a full double metric century (200+km in a day), four consecutive century rides (100+miles in a day) which came right after a full 24 hour fast while observing the Day of Atonement. The day before the fast I also completed a century ride. Those were all done carrying full touring loads on my bike and were parts of tours. Not many people have that kind of endurance.

Smog or air pollution throws a big monkey wrench into the respiratory equation for me. The Niagara area where I grew up wasn't too bad at that time so based on my practice performances I was expecting to have a good time at the annual church youth track meet. The meet was held in Toronto at the Etobicoke Olympium right downwind from Pearson International Airport. I didn't know what hit me. I lost two feet off my long jump and at least a second and a half off my 100-metre dash. Those are the numbers I remember off the top of my head. It was the same thing in every event. Those numbers are catastrophic. I felt like a choker. I noticed a similar pattern when I showed up for college in the LA basin and took up residence in their famous smog. At home, I'd been throwing down dunks in a barn on a hoop that was a smidgen too high and featured a big metal pedestal I had to be careful not to land on. When I first practiced in the college gymnasium, I couldn't throw down a dunk.

Getting the official diagnosis all but came out of the blue. I had a stubborn chest cold and went to emergency at the Hotel Dieu in Cornwall, Ontario. When I laid eyes on the young very self-assured female doctor who came to examine me, I was not expecting to be listened to. At forty though, I didn't really give a crap what anyone thought of me either, so I told her I believed I had minor asthma. No roll of the eyes, no condescending chuckle, instead she says, “Sure, we can test you for that.”

The testing process wasn't complicated or involved and I only had to wait a short time for her to come back with the results. I'd be lying if I didn't say vindication for thirty plus years of non-diagnosis didn't feel good. “You have surprising lung capacity but you're right you are asthmatic and that completely changes how we are going to treat this.” I walked out with a puffer, a prescription and a note for my employer so that I wouldn't go back to work for a few days. Just like today while I recuperate from a much more serious bug.

So, do I have any regrets! Nah! Had I been diagnosed when I was young, it probably would have meant that some of my opportunities would have been limited. They didn't bring tanks of oxygen to the basketball sidelines in those days and I can't see any other way it could have been “worked” with. I might even have been denied the chance to play in some instances. I had to have my doctor fill out a full medical on me before I could attend college in the USA. I was a last minute acceptee when I did go. Would this have meant that someone else would have been given the chance instead of me? I'm kind of glad things worked out the way they did.

As a Canadian basketball player, I had a good run without even taking my limitations into account. I started playing organized ball in the eighth grade and played my last game in my early thirties in a USA vs Canada pick up church league game. Our opponents out of Portland, Maine were Northeastern champions. The Americans did win the game but I made sure they will always remember me. Along the way, I got playing time with my high school team as a starter sometimes and at other times coming off the bench. I went to summer camp in Orr, Minnesota and started at centre on the all-star team. I played three years of intramural ball in college representing my class. I held my own on the court. All the way I made a lot of friends. A lot of former teammates and opponents are counted as friends on my Facebook account. I can't think of too many players I wouldn't gladly reminisce with over a beer. Cheers to all of you! I had a blast.


I still have my cycling and at fifty-five I'm still in good enough health to enjoy it, except right now, but I'll recover. I'm planning to do at least a couple day trips with my youngest son this summer. We want to tour the upper and lower Tantramar river area, visit Aulac and hopefully Memramcook. First I have to recover from pneumonia and I'm expecting to take a month before I can handle any of that.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Pico's Cycling Making a Comeback



I'm excited. Pico's Cycling was born on a bit of a whim with the December 2013 issue and ran until July 2015. Even though we haven't been publishing new material in quite a long time, we still get regular views online. We're averaging better than two hundred per month. I learned a great deal creating and publishing this webzine and have learned a lot more since. It's high time it's given another go.

The vision that we started with was to promote long-distance touring and family cycling. Along the way our view that cycling is good for nearly everyone and should be for everyone shone through as well. I don't see any reason to change that.

Our next issue will be published when we have five appropriate articles ready. If I have to write them all, that could take awhile. I have a little bit of material to work with right away and through my own cycling will come up with more as the year progresses. We will continue to publish new issues when we are able to have them ready. How often that will be? I don't know.

As of now, I'm on the lookout for material for articles and for writers willing to submit articles. I will be spending some time haunting cycling forums to find interesting people to interview and cycling sites to review. If you are reading this and you have something that you think might interest me in that regard, by all means, contact me through picoscycling@gmail.com . This email is for article leads only. If I get email there trying to sell me anything, I won't look at before deleting it.

For riders cycling across Canada, I'm in a terrific location for live interviews. To complete your transcontinental tour you will likely pass through either Sackville, New Brunswick or Shemogue, New Brunswick. I live roughly half way between those two points. They are both within cycling range for me. Better yet, I do have a car. Setting up a meeting shouldn't be difficult.

Back in 2013, we started with no budget. We did work with some affiliate advertisers but have never reached payout with any of them at this point. To date we have not seen any income. That could change though. We are adding a Youtube channel at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj_YFZ5fIzBs_lSQPsUKaYA . We have also added a Paypal donate button on our website. You could make a direct donation there. We are considering opening a Patreon account. There are quite a number of websites online that rely on donations for support and I don't see any reason why we shouldn't do the same.

Why do we need an income anyway? I'm glad you asked. If we started bringing in an income of just fifty dollars per month, we could offer article writers ten dollars per article. That isn't a great rate but it is more than we can offer at the current time. An income could also allow us to purchase better equipment for producing the webzine. I'd love to be able to provide the needed cash myself but I don't have it. For me, producing Pico's Cycling – Tales of the Road was never about making money and any money made would go first and foremost to improving the quality of this webzine. Being compensated for the time I put into this would be nice but I'm content to work with what I have.

What do I see for the future? I can see this getting back to the point where we are able to publish a new issue every month for a growing readership. I also think that we can produce an interesting Youtube channel to run alongside the magazine. If time and resources permit, we are hoping to make a weekly cycling news segment as well. I think the future is bright.


Take this as an invitation to join us. Take the time to browse the material already on the site here. Please like and subscribe to our new Youtube channel and tell us what you think. Follow our website via email or just put us in your favourites. We look forward to providing all our readers with quality content. In the meantime, keep on pedalling!

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road July 2015 Vol. 3 No. 7


Been out on my bicycle and am hoping to get a few more short tours under my belt before the summer gets to much further along. No multi day long distance runs in the immediate future. I just don't have the means or the time. Three short day runs should suffice for the time being though. Hope to have one of those ready for the next issue. My youngest son is looking forward to pedalling his bicycle somewhere with me.

Our on line cycling magazine here has been doing well. We should finish the month with another page view record. At this point I'm expecting to fall just short of 2200. I will try to refrain from talking about it all the time if this trend continues. Our Twitter following has also topped 1000 for the first time as well.

The only bad news is that Jack's laptop had some problems and he was unable to submit his article in time for this issue. He'll be missed but I'm confident he'll have one for us in August.

In This Issue
(Click titles for access)

Weekend In Reno

This is the continued story of my tour that I've been writing instalments for the last six months. I spent a terrific weekend with friends in Reno, Nevada. Great tour, great friends and great times.

Pamper Your Bottom

Another of those lessons I learned the hard way. Don't underestimate the value of a good seat. They are not all made equal. Your rear end will thank you.

Job Hunting and a Grudge

There was a time when my bicycle was my only means of transportation. Didn't restrict me at all, but try to convince a doubter isn't easy. In this case the situation was hopeless and I didn't go home very happy about it.

Cycling Scofflaws

I hear endless complaints about cyclists that either ignore the rules of the road or don't know what they are. People like this exist and I don't approve of their behaviour on the other hand...

Emergency Tire Repair

This was inspired by someone's Facebook post. Some times a patch kit isn't enough. It doesn't have to leave you stranded. The photo is a quickie job to keep the tube in the tire. I discuss how to make the repair the "right" way.

That's it for another month. The weather should be great most of the time for those of us in the northern hemisphere. Don't just read about cycling. Get on your bikes and do it. You'll be glad you did.

Pedal on!

Pico




Weekend in Reno



By Pico Triano
Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Pico Triano

My ride from Truckee in California to Reno didn't take very long so my arrival was quite early in the day. With the help of a map on a gas station wall I located Leroy and Yong's home. They had offered to host my visit while I was in town when I met them in San Jose the previous weekend. We touched bases before I rode back in town to run a few errands of my own.

First order of business was to service my brakes. They'd taken a lot of wear and I didn't have another set of brake pad in my kit any more. I found a bike shop and believe it or not they didn't have brake pads in stock. Mid-eighties coaster brakes were passée and disc brakes were just a novelty. How could you possibly be a serious bicycle shop and not have brake pads. I had to carry on down the road for another shop. They had everything I needed.

I also replaced the cones in my front wheel. There was a flaw in the bearing ride. What caused it I have no idea but those things come back and bite if they aren't taken care of. It didn't take long. While I was there I met a professional gambler taking his granddaughter I think she was to have something done to her bike. Had an interesting conversation with him. He shot craps for a living. Claimed he could go into the casino with twenty bucks and come out with all the money he needed for the week. He said as long as he didn't get greedy the staff wouldn't give him a hard time.

With my bike ship shape for the next couple weeks of the tour, I headed back to my host's place. They were excited to have me over and wanted to make sure I enjoyed the visit. We did so many things that weekend I am at a loss to explain where everything fit in.

First thing they did was take me to the biggest and best smorgasbord in town. While we waited for a table we played the video poker machines. I had a whole fifty cents and said I would stop when it was gone. When they called our table I had a whole dollar. I doubled my money in Reno. I'm sure that qualifies me as some kind of gambling expert. We rolled out of there well and truly stuffed.

We else we did that evening is a little unclear even with the help of the journal I was keeping at the time. Somehow between Friday evening and Saturday evening we did a whole bunch of things. We visited the auto body shop to see if his car was repaired. He'd swerved for a deer slapped the deer on the rear end with the quarter panel and then rolled the car down an embankment. The car was nearly totalled but Leroy and Yong walked away from the wreck unhurt. We spent the weekend driving around in their business pickup truck (Leroy had a professional window washing service business). We drove up to Pyramid Lake to see the natural formed pyramid shaped island. The land along part of the route was open range and every cow that took a step toward the road was putting Leroy's heart rate up. We visited his brother at his apartment at one point and the two of them went to visit his mother in her trailer. We watched an action adventure movie on tape at their home. Keep in mind we went to Sabbath services on Saturday so I'm not sure where everything fit in.

Leroy was a great guy to hang out with and Yong tolerated the two of us with grace. This had to be the most enjoyable weekend on the trip. Early Sunday morning I had to move on with a belly full of food, a head full of memories and just a little short of sleep.


The Rest of this story (Click photos or titles for access)



Leaving on my first big tour. This is part one in the series. The trip begins in Pasadena, California. I head straight to the Pacific coast and then north.





The story continues with part two in this series. After a few rocky moment at the beginning, I settle in for the long and sometimes winding road.





Third in the series. I get to ride some of the most beautiful coastline in the USA. At times spectacular but challenging.






Crossing the urban sprawl of the San Francisco bay area was quite an experience for this Canadian. It stands in contrast to the rest of my trip.






The Endless Climb

It did seem to go on forever. Riding up hill literally for days on end. Crossing the Sierra Nevada mountain range was not for the faint of heart. The downhill part was the most fun.




Pamper Your Bottom



By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano

When I bought my touring bike, my intention was to get the perfect bike in my view. I didn't do all that badly either. It was lighter yet stronger than any bike I'd ever owned. The frame was built for a rider of my size. Every other bike I'd ever ridden was made for a smaller person and adjusted so I could ride it comfortably. I could ride faster and further than ever before. I still really like those anodized aluminium Blackburn racks. The seat – well, that was a different story.

That seat was a traditional ten speed bike seat. Absolutely no padding whatsoever, covered with hard vinyl. It was built to last. Problem was that it was tougher than I was. I initially commuted to work on it and then trained for a long tour. During that entire time it never bothered me. To that point all my really long rides had been done on older bikes with different, cheaper, albeit padded seats.

I certainly learned by painful experience but it could have been worse. My first day touring on that bike was a miserable one for my posterior. The second day wasn't any better. The next four days of riding were better but still not very comfortable. But it could have been worse as I said. I did not suffer from penile numbness which can happen and under prolonged circumstances cause permanent damage. That would have turned the whole trip into the ultimate male horror story. I didn't want that to be my last tour but at the same time I never wanted to suffer that kind of pain again. Incidentally, bad seats aren't any fun for the ladies either.

This was the mid 1980's and I don't recall at the time seeing anything resembling the ergonomic bike saddles that you find on the market now. Even my cheap Walmart bike has a shallow channel down the middle to help relieve unwanted pressure. At the time though I discovered Spenco and for me that was heaven. Spenco made thick gel seat pads, handlebar pads and cycling gloves. I bought them all. They made an immediate and dramatic difference. I jiggled a little on the gel with every bump in the road but I had no more pain.


Good quality seats that address this issue are available and easy to get. Talk to your bike store. They'll be more than happy to get you set up right. Your posterior with thank you.

More Articles (Click photos or titles for access)


Cyclo-Computers

These little cycling accessories are terrific and in most cases very easy to use. Just make sure you keep you're eyes on the road.





Camping Out In My Micro-Swift One-Man Tent!

Jack Hawkins tests out some touring equipment and finds out how hard the ground can be.

Job Hunting and a Grudge



By Pico Triano
Photos: Pixabay, Pico Triano

Spring 1982 was not a good time to be looking for work for a young man recently out of high school on the Niagara peninsula. I had a job with a kitchen cabinet company but they ran out of things for me to do. One can only rearrange the scrap wood pile so many times before someone decides that you're expendable. No bad blood there. I was treated well but there just weren't enough orders to justify keeping me. I left with a good name.

Unemployment for my age group in that area was officially around 25 percent. That only included people registered with the Unemployment centres. Like many of my peers I'd given up on the employment centres very early in the game and the reality was far worse. There really wasn't much out there. Worse many companies were downright unpleasant toward most job hunters. After asking to leave a copy of my resume, I don't know how many times I got told just to get lost. It was tough just to get out of bed and keep pounding the pavement looking for work.

On this particular day I had a few leads to pursue and I thought my prospects were pretty good. Especially on the last call of the day. Jordan Station (name of the town) had a gas station/motel looking for a gas pump attendant. What I really liked was that it was closer to home than my previous job. In fact the street I lived on extended most of the way there. Where it ended, I would cut over to another street descend the Niagara escarpment go around the corner and I would be there. Did the same commute one summer for a couple weeks picking strawberries with my younger brothers.

That wasn't the only thing on my plate that day though. I don't remember how many other stops I made along the way. I do remember the basic route though. I hopped on my bike early in the morning so that I would get to the employment centre in Welland just after they opened. There I would check the job board and any other ads they might have on the bulletin board. From there I rode to Niagara Falls and did the same thing. I checked out anything available that I might qualify for along the way. From Niagara Falls I rode to St. Catharines and did the same thing again. If I recall correctly some auto body shop actually let me fill out an application and took my resume somewhere in there. I ate a packed lunch my mom made for me somewhere around noon. From St. Catharines I headed for Jordan Station right on time. I arrived comfortably within the time frame advertised in the paper.

When I arrived I was given a form to fill out and ushered into a waiting area along with what appeared to be somewhere between fifty and hundred other people my age applying for the same job. I refused to despair. I'd worked as a newspaper boy and had experience handling cash. I had good references and everywhere I'd worked I'd been considered a good worker.

My name got called and I went to the office to be interviewed. The interviewer was a very tired harassed looking woman. This had to be a case study in why mass interviews for this kind of a job is not a good idea. She was decidedly unfriendly and seemed to take an instant dislike to me. She quickly ascertained that I had come to the interview by bicycle and asked me if I had a drivers license. I told her not yet. At which point she took my application and drew a line across it from one corner to another right in front of me. Now I'm not stupid. I know what that means. I didn't ride my bike nearly a hundred kilometres already that day just to get dismissed like that. I attempted to defend my use of my bike as transportation. At that point she wasn't just unfriendly, she was borderline hostile. She said I would be bumming rides from other employees and would have trouble getting to work (I've never had a problem and never done that). She couldn't see how I could ride to work without going on the QEW (Illegal to ride a bike on that besides I'd actually have to go out of my way to ride there). I pretty quickly realized the situation was hopeless and shut up. I walked out of that interview absolutely livid.

I later found a job as a grounds maintenance person for Robert Land Academy. When I was interviewed there, they were impressed that not only did I ride my bike to the interview, but during the interview I wore a crisp clean suit. The commute was similar to my previous job but the extra mileage didn't bother me. The auto body shop called back to offer me a job much later but I was already working. I appreciated their professionalism though.


Incidentally, I know I no longer live in that area, but even when I did, in thirty-five years that establishment, where I felt so badly treated has not gotten one thin dime of my business.

More Stories (Click photos or titles for access)



Not all commutes to work are scenic. While living and working in the Moncton, New Brunswick area I was blessed with a very scenic route to and from my employment.





I have a cycling motto which is "All season, all weather, all the time". This article is about the all the time part. If I need to get somewhere, the fact that it's night doesn't stop me.

Cycling Scofflaws



By Pico Triano
Photos: Pico Triano

Back in my highschool days I took a summer class to upgrade to the advanced program. Classes were in a nearby city and I got to commute to class by bicycle. Because there were no buses most of the students used the same means of transportation. Out of all those cyclists only two of us actually stopped for red lights. Neither of us were from the city itself although Jim might have lived just within city limits. I find that unfathomable.

A scofflaw is someone who wilfully and deliberately ignores or disobeys the law. We've all seen them. The issue is far worse in some places compared to others. It is one of the biggest pet peeves of motorists when it comes to the subject of cycling. I have noticed a correlation between cyclist behaviour in some cities and how they are treated on the road compared to other cities. I don't appreciate scofflaws because their behaviour does effect other cyclists.

It is my position that cyclist should know and obey the rules of the road. They were designed to make the road a safer place for all users. I get that most of these laws were made for and by people who may have had little or no understanding of cycling needs but I don't think that's an excuse for flaunting the law. There are groups working to address those issues and there are better ways to make lawmakers aware of those needs.

I also strongly believe that motorists should know and obey the rules of the road too. They often don't. A recent post on Facebook and probably other social media showed a cell phone photo taken by a motorist of a cyclist captioned with the statement that she wanted to ram the idiot because she felt he should be riding on the sidewalk. She felt this rider was a scofflaw even though she was illegally using a cellphone while driving and ignorant of the fact that the law where the photo was taken prohibits bicycles from using the sidewalk. There are many more people who think like she does. She got ten likes from other people online. I've actually had a motorist screaming out of a car window that it was illegal for me to be riding my bicycle on the road. Cyclists aren't scofflaws when they are riding within the rules of the road.

Road safety is a life skill and should be taught in schools. I don't understand why it generally is not. It's important to learn marketable skills so that you can get a good job to support yourself. Isn't it just as important to know how to get to said job safely whatever your mode of transportation?

One thing that serious cyclists would like motorists to understand is that bicycles are not toys. They are a legitimate efficient means of transportation. In most places the law classifies bicycles as vehicles not pedestrians. As vehicles they have the right to the entire lane. Especially in cities cyclists often claim that right, not to be a pain in the posterior, but to avoid being trapped in the door zone (New reduced speed limits in some big cities make that easier and safer). As long as motorists are respecting that, the cyclists are not doing anything dangerous. As a motorist you are not allowed to pass other vehicles unless it is safe to do so. That includes bicycles. You should treat them as you would any other vehicle. If you can't do that you shouldn't have a driver's license.


Yes, a lot of cyclists ignore stop signs and traffic signals. They often fail to signal their intentions to make a turn. If they are caught and ticketed, I don't feel sorry for them. On the other hand I see just as many cars breaking those same traffic laws. Being a scofflaw is not exclusive to two wheels.

More Articles (Click photos or titles for access)


I appreciate the thought behind share the road programs and awareness campaigns. I think drivers need to be aware of what three feet at high speed feels like for a cyclist. I think it's a flaw in the program.





Previous article along similar lines. My position is that cyclists should be keeping the rules of the road.