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 section below. Will publish the best of the best each month.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Off the Beaten Path


By Pico Triano
Photos by Pico Triano

Living on an undesignated road that is in places little more than a dirt track brings back some fond childhood cycling memories. One thing I liked to do on my old beat up one speed bicycle was to go exploring. Unopened road allowances, motorcycle trails and virtually any other cyclable path would satisfy that urge. You would not believe the number of hidden little places like that are often just around the corner from where you live right now.

I had several places I liked to go growing up. Number one was easily the Shorthills located just outside of the nearby town of Fonthill, Ontario. There were an endless number of trails and non-maintained roads all through there. Closer to home there were a few unopened road allowances which were great nearby getaways. For an occasion change of pace I would visit “The Pit” which was an unapproved dirt bike paradise in an old unused sand quarry.


The Shorthills is a geographical feature left by the glaciers. Most of the roads on the Niagara Peninsula are laid out on some kind of grid. Because of the terrain that doesn't work in the Shorthills. The roads squiggle all over the place. The regular roads in there are fun to drive on but that isn't all that is there. For example Sixteen Road appeared to dead end on Effingham Road. A trail used to continue on through and it was a terrific fun ride. Hogsback Road and St. John's Conservation area were other great adventures. I haven't been in those places for several decades so I imagine things have changed a lot. There is probably still a lot of places in there where you can get away from everything on your bike.

The unopened road allowances were a lot easier and closer to find. Since most of the roads in the area were constructed on a grid, just look for a place the grid says there should be a road and the map say there isn't one. Cream Street and Foss Road both had missing sections according to the map. In both instances there was a road allowance and a rough trail going down it.


Riding off road as it were doesn't work too well with a racing or touring bike. In those cases I would stick to the paths more travelled. A mountain bike or anything with fat enough tires is great for exploring these places off the beaten path.


How Do You Meet People



By Jack Hawkins
Photos Pico Triano

Is a question that I'm often asked by friends whenever I talk to them about the weird (we're all a little strange, we enjoy riding bikes for dozens of miles a day!) and wonderful people that I'm meeting through bicycle touring. Recently, I've been meeting these people seemingly on a daily basis - twelve in the last two weeks! From those on short trips around the province (as was my encounter yesterday with two lovely people who I had breakfast with!) to those who have been around the world - people like Ed Wrigley, whose very  well traveled indeed! He was on a tour from Oregon to Vancouver, across Canada then down to New York.


Often, I meet these people at places like Tim Hortons (it's everyone's favourite place in my small town!) I, too frequent it - they serve great French Vanilla latte's and their muffins are delectable. I'll often spot a touring bike parked outside as I'm pulling into the car park (it's like I have a special glasses-implanted radar for them) Racks? Check. Panniers? Check. General dis-organisation? Check. I'll go in and play 'Spot the Cyclist' - it's easy, really. They're either wearing a jersey, are typing furiously at a laptop or tablet, or are the most tired looking of everyone there!


I'll go up and say, "Hi, are you the cyclist?" And the conversation flows from there...We chat for a while mostly about their current tour, where they've been previously, where they're going next, distances-per-day food, budget - really anything I can think of to ask! They're always pleasant and, since this is a frequent thing for them, most cyclists are happy to answer my questions. Then we'll exchange email addresses, and I'll either ride out with them for a few kilometres, or bid them adieu with a handshake and "Happy trails!".


The internet, I must say, has made my job as a freelance writer one million times easier. I have met so many amazing and inspiring people because of it. Those that I don't meet in Tim Hortons, I've met online. People such as Shirine Taylor (of A Wandering Nomad), or Derek Boocock (of Derek's Bike Trip), or my crazy-insane-first-ever-interviewee, Iohan Gueorguiev (the Bike Wanderer). It's simply a case of me finding them, as was the case with Shirine and Iohan, or them seeking me out - in Derek's case. Although the number of people who tour by bicycle, as I've recently discovered is quite large - as one community, we're a minority. Remember, "Sometimes those who wander, really are lost".


But we all share a common goal, I think anyway - to see the world from the saddle. Or maybe it's simply the love of riding a bike, or perhaps just travel - who knows. What matters is that we are able to connect with one another, and that's the subject of this post - the interconnectivty of bicycle tourists, no matter how far apart we may be.


I gave a mention earlier to Iohan Gueorguiev, He's a Bulgarian man who was my first ever interviewee. I found out that Iohan was going to cycle half-way across Canada - from Hamilton, Ontario to Halifax, Nova Scotia - IN THE WINTER. And I was ecstatic to see that his route would take him through my town of Richibucto. I had to meet this crazy guy on a bike! (How apt that I found him via a website of the same name!) I opened up the communicative channel - all thanks to GMail, and we conversed for about a month before we met on a cold February morning last year. Once again in (you guessed it), good ol' Tim Hortons. We had coffee and chatted about his insane journey, and then I wished him well and waved him on his way! 'This guy's going places' - I thought. And I was right, he's currently cycling to Argentina from Alaska!


But it isn't just through CGOAB that I've met and interviewed people. I've simply Google'd "bike tourists", and that's how I came across Shirine Taylor and was able to interview her via Skype. She, in a small guest house in Nepal, I - freezing my arse off in Richibucto, New Brunswick. That has since spawned an article, we're now friends on Facebook and I am inspired every day by her thoughtful, concise and engaging blog posts - she takes some fantastic pictures, too! Bicycle touring also has it's own Facebook group, and that has spawned a spin-off group called, "Bicycle Touring Websites" - which is a group that allows users to share posts from their sites and blogs, with the aim of increasing traffic to cyclists' blogs/websites, and once again - connecting people.


The internet is full of fantastic communities where cyclists gather - nay, flock to - in many cases. There's WarmShowers, CrazyGuyonaBike, the Facebook groups, Google Plus communities... The Twittersphere is ripe with everyone from recreational tourers to people who are doing rides for causes, to people doing fully-supported rides with bicycle touring organisations. The internet has provided me with the opportunity to meet up with and/or Skype with some of the most unique and interesting people. My most recent interviewee - Sophie Stirl, is a young woman from Germany, who is unicycling (yes, you read that right!) across Canada. The other week, I met a group of five riders who were on an end-of-University, last-hurrah, cross-country tour. I even got the opportunity to share a meal with them, and ride out with them the following morning. It was an amazing night - and not one that I'll forget! The conversation was exciting, interesting and variety was the spice of it! We exchanged email addresses and friendships on Facebook and I've made a promise to visit every one of them next year - all except one, who will be in California. :( I guess where I'm off to after crossing Canada!


But it isn’t just the Internet… Sometimes it’s just pure inquisitiveness on my part, and willingness to open up, on theirs. Remember those two cyclists that I shared breakfast with? Well, I met them at Jardine Park, a local municipal campground. That same campground in fact, that I met Paul Newman – a fellow Englishman and cyclist who had crossed Canada in the summer of 2012. I simply recognised the English accent and thought – ‘Aha! One of my people – I must go and speak with that fellow!’ We remain friends and in communication today. He’s the one who started my whole interest in riding my bike across Canada. And now, here we are...


It’s quite remarkable, really… How we are all connected, despite the distances between us – whether they be hundreds of miles or thousands of miles. All of us, connected either by the internet, or by pure human inquisitiveness. All for the love of riding a bike from one destination to the next, from one town to the next. From one country to the next. What drives us all? Personally, it’s the people that I meet, the places I'll go and the experiences I'll have.


Please share with me your experiences of meeting people! How has the internet played a role in how you connect with fellow cycle tourists? Leave a comment below, or reach out to me on Facebook, Twitter or G+ - I won't bite, honest!

As always, thanks for reading and happy trails! :)

About the Author

Jack Hawkins is a freelance travel writer and touring cyclist. Originally from the UK, he swapped one seaside town for another in 2006, and has been living in Canada for eight years. Jack has always had a fondness for writing and after graduating from Bonar Law Memorial High School in Rexton, Jack decided to pursue a freelance writing career, and implemented his love of cycling into his work shortly after a chance-meeting in 2013 with a fellow Englishman who had cycled across Canada.



Jack currently writes for this webzine, but is also a monthly contributor Mike's Bike Shop's E-Magazine, "The Rider's Edge". He recently worked on and published a series of thirty-one articles for revered bicycle touring guru, Darren Alff, for his website: http://gobicycletouring.com/. Jack also writes articles, journals, gear reviews, and interview pieces for his own website - http://jackonabike.ca/.


Uncommon Commute



By Pico Triano

Sometimes when I think of all the exotic tours I'd like to do on my bike, I risk failing to appreciate what is right nearby. When I lived close enough to my job in the Moncton area, I had a beautiful commute each and every day. I had to open my eyes to see it and appreciate it though.



I left for my work in a Riverview, New Brunswick call centre early in the morning. My ride almost immediately left the back streets where I lived and continued on the Humphrey's Brook Trail. This recreation trail travels along Humphrey's Brook through a small green space that cuts through the northeast end of Moncton. No traffic to battle and usually not even that many pedestrians or other riders. Along the way I would occasionally scare up a group of Ring-necked Pheasants or a flock of Mallards.


Exiting the trail I had a section of real city riding. Along the way I passed several city landmarks. A few old churches, City Hall and the Bell Aliant Tower. Main Street has a number of sidewalk cafes. Not all the unpleasant when traffic was light.


I cut away from Main Street past the courthouse in short order. That's where I would pick up the recreation trail along the Petitcodiac River. This trail passes quite a number of historic markers. On the way to work, I'm usually in too much of a hurry to look closer but I did take the time to see what they were all about when I had more time. Flashing by those sites I sometimes had a chance to race the tidal bore. The Petitcodiac has one of the biggest tidal bores in the world. Everyday that wave would race up river with the tide temporarily reversing the flow. This trail would take me across the river and bring me all the way into Riverview.


In Riverview I had to get on the main road for a short distance and before long I would be at work. In the evening I got to reverse the trip. During the greater part of the year the return trip was done after dark.



There were variations of the trip which were just as scenic. It would depend on my time and whether I had any side errands to run. All in all I have to admit that my daily commute would bring me to enough sights to compare to a day trip tour. Don't ignore what might be right in your own backyard.




Saturday, 30 August 2014

Pico's Cycling - Tales of the Road September 2014 Vol. 2 No. 9


Summer is coming to an end and fall is just beginning. Jack is planning hard for his tour across Canada next summer. Me, I'm holding down the fort. There have been some minor changes in the background here. Nothing anybody would notice. We continue to learn as we go. I'm proud of how the webzine has progressed and kept going.

In This Issue
(Click on the titles to view)

Year Round Cycling

If you want to be a year round cyclist, now is the time to start making sure you're ready. Here's a quick get to making sure you can handle the rougher weather when it gets here.

The Stress of Planning

Jack is planning his tour for next year. In this short article he discusses some of the stresses of making sure all the details are worked out.

The Pursuit Zone Interview

The Pursuit Zone is a weekly adventure sports podcast by Paul Schmid. This is a link to his interview of our own Jack Hawkins.

Cycling Children - A Parent's Nightmare

It's all fun and games, spill and thrills for the kids but it isn't always so much fun for the parents. Even with the most careful parents and responsible children, stuff happens.

Night Rider

The days in the Great White North are getting shorter again. If you commute by bike or if you ride after work you may find yourself running out of daylight. Here is a helpful guide if you decide to ride after the sun goes down.

Another issue is published. Hope you all had a great summer. Looking forward to fall cycling and  beyond.


Friday, 29 August 2014

Year Round Cycling



By Pico Triano

I’ve met a number of people interested in riding their bicycles year round. Even known quite a few who said they were going to do it. Up here in Canada being a year round cyclist is no easy feat but it is possible.

The summer is coming to an end. If you aren’t preparing for the hard part of the cycling season now, it isn’t going to happen. I’m not saying that you can’t start when the weather is at it’s toughest. My experience is that those riders don’t carry it through. They might do it for a few days or even a week but I’ve never seen them ride longer than that.

Preparing for the weather coming can be thought of in three areas: Conditioning, clothing and equipment.

You should start conditioning now. I’m not just talking about getting into physical shape. There is more to it than preparing your muscles.

Think of it as getting slowly into the water when you go to the beach. The water may feel too cool when you first get in, but once you’re used to it, the water temperature is just fine. The same is going to happen while you train through the fall. You will become accustomed to the lower temperatures slowly. If you ride all through the fall by the time winter arrives you will be ready for the colder temperature along with having the necessary stamina to ride.

It is physically more difficult to ride on a road covered in a layer of snow than bare pavement. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. If you are riding now and continue through the fall you will be ready for that as well.

Clothing is not difficult to choose for you winter riding as long as you remember to dress in layers. This was covered in an early issue of this webzine http://picoscycling.blogspot.ca/2013/12/dressing-up-moncton-maniac.html. I found that I added layers as the weather got colder and then peeled them off as spring came along.

The clothing and conditioning go hand in hand. Because I was physically accustomed to the weather I was able to wear less bulky clothing, with fewer layers to achieve the necessary protection from the cold.

If you have an operable bicycle, you should be fine. There are important things to consider though. Winter weather is hard on a bicycle and you need to be ready for it. Snow will strip the oil off your chain as efficiently as any degreaser. Salt spread on the road will also attack your bike.

Best advice is to make sure the bike is in good working order. Be prepared to do maintenance you normally don’t have to do very often – like oil the chain. It is also wise to bring your bike indoors with you when you are not riding. If you’re weird about your bike like a lot of us serious riders are then it won’t be difficult to convince you to do that.

Winter cycling is not all bad. I actually prefer riding in weather about ten degrees below the freezing mark, even if it’s snowing, to rain. Snow doesn’t soak in. You can brush it off. The snow also absorbs a lot of sound and if you like peace and quiet you will enjoy some really serene moments out there riding.



The Stress of Planning



By Jack Hawkins

The stresses of planning such an expedition as the one I will embark on next year have been
high as of late, as I get my head down and spend hours either staring at maps, guides or reading
East to West cycling blogs online.

There is so much to factor in: Food, accommodation costs, bike repair funds in case something
should go wrong and I am not able to fix it... Plus hundreds of other variables that may come into
play.

I'm planning to leave either late April or early May, depending upon the weather and whether or
not Old Man Winter is kind to me. My route still has yet to be nailed down, that is something that
concerns me, also. I have ordered "Canada by Bicycle" by Steve Langston, in the hopes that
while it details a route West to East, it will still prove useful in terms of accommodation and utility
(food stops, laundromats, etc) information.

Another thing that I must factor in when planning out this trip, is nutrition. What types of foods
should I be eating? What is the cost of these types of foods, how much should I be eating?
Although I am not going to be so scrutinous as to map out my daily intake, I would still like to
have a good idea as to what my diet should be.

I imagine that it will contain plenty of oatmeal, Mr. Noodles, dried fruit, and perhaps the odd
chocolate cake when I'm feeling particularly proud of myself and/or down ­ chocolate heals
everything. Right?

I will also be asking the question of every bike tourist I know about what they eat. But truth be
told, I am more worried about the financial side of things, and will begin actively seeking to
crowdfund part of the budget that I have come up with.

All things considered, my bike is pretty much ready to hit the road, except for a few spares that I'll
need, and to convert my dynamo hub to recharge my electronics instead of charging my front
and rear lights. And a handlebar bag that I'm looking to add.

Despite the stresses, I'm almost ready to hit the road, and that is perhaps the most exciting
thing! Only a few months remain until I depart on the adventure of a lifetime.

About the Author

Jack Hawkins is a freelance travel writer and touring cyclist. Originally from the UK, he swapped one seaside town for another in 2006, and has been living in Canada for eight years. Jack has always had a fondness for writing and after graduating from Bonar Law Memorial High School in Rexton, Jack decided to pursue a freelance writing career, and implemented his love of cycling into his work shortly after a chance-meeting in 2013 with a fellow Englishman who had cycled across Canada.



Jack currently writes for this webzine, but is also a monthly contributor Mike's Bike Shop's E-Magazine, "The Rider's Edge". He recently worked on and published a series of thirty-one articles for revered bicycle touring guru, Darren Alff, for his website: http://gobicycletouring.com/. Jack also writes articles, journals, gear reviews, and interview pieces for his own website - http://jackonabike.ca/.


Pursuit Zone Interview



From Jack Hawkins,

Below you'll find a link to an interview I recently gave for The Pursuit Zone, an adventure sports podcast, published weekly by creator, Paul Schmid.

The interview discusses my introduction to bicycle touring, and my upcoming 2015 tour across Canada.
Enjoy!

http://thepursuitzone.com/tpz060

About the Author

Jack Hawkins is a freelance travel writer and touring cyclist. Originally from the UK, he swapped one seaside town for another in 2006, and has been living in Canada for eight years. Jack has always had a fondness for writing and after graduating from Bonar Law Memorial High School in Rexton, Jack decided to pursue a freelance writing career, and implemented his love of cycling into his work shortly after a chance-meeting in 2013 with a fellow Englishman who had cycled across Canada.


Jack currently writes for this webzine, but is also a monthly contributor Mike's Bike Shop's E-Magazine, "The Rider's Edge". He recently worked on and published a series of thirty-one articles for revered bicycle touring guru, Darren Alff, for his website: http://gobicycletouring.com/. Jack also writes articles, journals, gear reviews, and interview pieces for his own website - http://jackonabike.ca/.