Epic Tour Halton Gran Fondo

In September last year, Andre and I participated in the 2nd annual GTA Gran Fondo that was held in the Halton Hills region (although according to the Gran Fondo wikipedia page, calling this event may be a misnomer).

Like all organized sporting events we had to wake up super early in the morning, to make it to our start time.

andre gets his beloved coffee before the GTA Gran Fondo. 140km here we come!

Luckily for Andre, they offered free coffee at the start line!

There were many rest stops along the route which were manned by lots of volunteers and each rest stop had lots of food and drinks.

We were lucky enough to have beautiful weather with very little humidity, which made for perfect cycling weather. The 140km route also took us by this enormous field of dahlias!! It was such a treat to come upon this gorgeous sight. And after the awesome downhills that our route had, taking in this beautiful sight was a highlight of my ride.

We came upon a ginormous and beautiful field of Dahlias! #dahlias #gtagranfondo

Such a magical spot on our ride #dahlias #gtagranfondo

Unfortunately, Andre and I perhaps took to much time and relaxed a bit too long at each of the rest stops. By the time we crossed the finish line and returned to the finish line festival area, we missed out on our free lunch because the organizers were out of veggie burgers. Many of the vendors that made up the festival were also packing up too. This was quite disappointing considering the entry fee for this event is quite high and there were still lots of cyclists finishing their route after us.

The event, however was really well run and the routes were organized well with lots of great signage. The only thing is the entry fee for the event is pretty high and not being able to have the much touted lunch at the end of our ride was a pretty big disappointment. Perhaps if the finish line festival had as many goodies and treats as some of the rest stops had, it would have more of a ‘festival’ feel.

Last one from the dahlia field!

Lastly, I may sound really nit-picky by bringing this up, I find that offering a unisex jersey is such a cop out for a big event like the GTA Gran Fondo. Unisex just means men’s cut. I originally thought that perhaps there weren’t enough women riders participating to balance the cost of offering a different cut, but that wasn’t the case at all! There were lots of women of all age groups out riding that day. Their website even boasts having 800 women participating in the event last year! By not offering a women’s version of the cycling jersey, the event was keeping to the norms of the cycling industry catering towards men.

But despite that little, nit-picky detail, the event was run very smoothly and seeing all the smiles, I think most of the participants had as much fun as I did!

Ride for Renewables

Happy 2015! I have a backlog of stuff to share from last year, so here goes!

Checking out solar water heating systems and solar electricity panels on thr Ride for Renewables. #gedo2014 #GEDO14 #bikeTO #latergram

As part of the Green Doors Open Toronto event, Sustainability Ontario Community Energy Co-op hosted a Ride for Renewables bike tour on October 4. I was lucky enough to have Amelia tell me about the ride and I happily accompanied her!

The tour took us to different sites around the south/west side of Toronto, showing us where buildings and organizations have incorporated sustainable energy infrastructure into or onto their buildings.

We started at the super eco-friendly Steam Whistle Brewery, where we were given a tour of all their initiatives to try to be the greenest and most sustainable brewery in the world. For example, Steam Whistle invests in thicker, sturdier, green beer bottles because these bottles can be reused up to 40 times. Which is impressive considering the standard brown beer bottles can only be reused a maximum of 12-15 times.

At North America's greenest brewery!! All bottles can be used 35-40 times! Part of Ride for Renewables #GEDO2014 #bikeTO

The most surprising thing is how inconspicuous sustainable energy infrastructure is. The tour showed us that they are all over the city! For example, in the photo at the top, did you notice the solar panels at the top of the building in the background? Or did you know that the whole roof at the No Frills on Lansdowne and Dundas is covered in solar panels? The high school at the corner of Bloor and Dundas West has solar panels on them as well!

The tour ended with a presentation about Options For Homes – which became the highlight of the tour for me. A company that truly provides affordable housing and where sustainable living is an important mandate. Because the company isn’t there to make money, they can implement sustainable infrastructure (which always ends up increasing costs for developers, but reducing costs for the home/condo owner) without worrying about how much it will decrease their profits.

For example, most condos have a flat fee for energy usage, but each condo unit built by Options for Homes has their own electricity meter so that you only pay for what you use. But because installing electricity meters for each unit is expensive, almost all developers just have one meter for the whole building and incorporate the electricity bill into the building maintenance fees. This in turn breeds an ignorance for electricity usage and also an attitude where you need to use as much electricity as possible to get your money’s worth!

Learning about Options for Homes was really inspiring for me!

Despite the chill, the tour was great. I learned so much and met a great group of caring people. Another perk on joining this tour was that my faith in humanity (which was lost with all the municiple election spin) was restored.

Keep your eye out for the Ride for Renewables 2015!

Toronto -> Niagara Falls

Imperial Century Ride

Over the Simcoe Day long weekend, Joe organized a ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls so that we could cross another item off of our bicycle bucket list: the imperial century ride.

Imperial Century Ride

We made several stops during our 160km route, including a food stop at Hutch’s on the Beach in Hamilton, a couple of wineries and ice cream in Port Dalhousie.

Joe’s route was very scenic and included having us bike over the Burlington Canal lift bridge, along Lake Ontario and through peach groves.

Imperial Century Ride

Imperial Century Ride

Imperial Century Ride

Imperial Century Ride

It was during an impromptu stop by a peach grove that we got into some trouble. Most of the peach orchards were clearly harvested because the trees didn’t have any fruit on them, while the ground surrounding the trees were covered in peaches at various stages of ripening. Since the fallen fruit were clearly not going to be sold, we thought we could help ourselves to them and not let the non-mouldy peaches go to waste.

When I was half way through eating a juicy peach that I had scavenged, a farmer slowed down and lectured us from his truck. He told us that taking fruit from a commercial farm was a federal offence that came with a punishment of 6 months in jail. Moreoever, fruit from the ground had more herbicides and pesticides than those picked directly from the trees and could pose a health risk. Wops!!

Imperial Century Ride

Imperial Century Ride

Needless to say, we didn’t partake in any other illegal activities for the rest of our ride!

Imperial Century Ride

Imperial Century Ride

And after a full day of biking (plus a very quick sprint to the falls to beat the rain) we took the bike train Go Train home back to Toronto. Look at how civilized this is compared to the version that we were offered last year!

Imperial Century Ride

Thank you Joe for organizing this ride for us!! I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to spend 16 hours on a bike with. The company and the ride was so enjoyable that, it really didn’t feel like we were toiling through 160km. I would love to do it again!

Rapha’s Women’s 100

Almost a month ago I participated in the Rapha Women’s 100 challenge, where women around the world set off to ride as close to 100km as they could in one day. In exchange, Rapha offered to send out cute, fabric roundels to all the finishers and I wanted to be one of them.

I was out at a beautiful cottage on the day of the challenge, so instead of rounding up my lovely girl riders, Andre and I mapped out a 105 km route along the country roads by Lake Calabogie and set off.

While we didn’t anticipate the hills to be as steep as they were nor did we realize how hard rolling hills were. What we truly didn’t expect were the unsafe passing by motorists along the country ‘highway’. Most cars passed us with ample room, but so many rushed to overtake us even when there was on-coming traffic.

As you can see in the first photo below, there isn’t much of a shoulder on the highway. Every time a vehicle buzzed closely by, I had to clench my handlebars to not get sucked into the side of the vehicle and hold my breath, because it felt like if I took even a slight deviation from my line, I would be toast.

All I could think of, during the highway portion of this ride was, ‘This is why Greg Curnoe isn’t with us anymore.’

We were so happy when we were back on quiet country roads!

Jumping half way through the ride (not aware of the gruelling hills coming up) along Highway 132  #Rapha #womens100 I wore my #Rapha souplesse jersey for the Rapha #womens100 challenge! #latergram #bike #metriccentury #roadie
Just about 1/3 left for the #rapha #womens100 challenge lots of tough hills on our route So many challenging hills! We climbed over 1000m of hills on our ride.

And here we are at the end of our first metric century, feeling tired but accomplished.

At the end of the metric century ride, feeling tired and sweaty but very accomplished! Thanks for the challenge #rapha #womens100 #roadie #countryriding

I’m looking forward to getting my roundel in the mail!

Lately

Even though I haven’t blogged in a very long time, I have been biking more than ever this year! I use Strava to track all my long ride (not the short city/errand rides), so if you are so inclined you can follow me/friend me there!

On good weeks I go on two long rides (about 60kms each) where one includes some hill climb training and the other is a fast fixed gear ride. If you are up for a good workout, please come out and join me. These rides can always use more women on them!

Going to Cambridge to test out the triathlon route. #vintage #fixie vs #timetrial bike Happy Friday!! upload
Paceline on the Queensway. #MNR #allfixedgear #noobgroup #fixie From Toronto with LOVE ♥ #fixie #fixiegirl  #nishiki #vintage #allfixedgear #love
Ice cream and bikes!! Thanks for  great ride @radaction  #bikes #icecream #fixie #fixiegirls Girls of #mondaynightrehab (sans Joy) #allfixedgear #fixiegirls #fixiechics #fixedgear

I’m still really frustrated and angry about my drawn out trial with the driver who hit me, but everything should conclude in a few weeks on August 6th.

So while I hold my breath about what will happen with the trial, I am also planning on doing a few Cupcake Rides this summer/fall to celebrate the 5th season of the Toronto Girls’ Cupcake ride! So please check back here in the upcoming weeks for news about a ride.


I won an award thanks to the multi-talented fellow Cupcake Rider, Andrea! Thank you Andrea!

But I haven’t blogged in over half a year and I feel a bit sheepish accepting an award for something that I don’t do as much anymore.

So instead, everybody that reads this post, please go visit Andrea’s great blog. She writes about hew sewing, her bike rides and sometimes about her ukulele! Her writing style is witty and while she is quite modest, she is truly a renaissance woman.

Being a bit down

standing panda

At the end of August I was hit by a car while riding my road bike. Luckily my bike only sustained handlebar tape damage and although my elbow is still a bit sore and can get itchy when I exercise, an ultrasound recently showed that it is merely swollen tissue that is taking a long time to heal. I feel extremely lucky that the rest of my injuries healed up quickly and I haven’t sustained any chronic pain.

That being said, getting compensation for my jersey, helmet and the mere $60 (with labour) to replace my handlebar tape has been a huge hassle. I feel like insurance companies try to make things as difficult as possible to try to reduce their costs by discouraging claims through tedious paperwork and long phone calls.

Through all my phone calls with insurance adjusters and claim intake people, I’ve recounted the collision at least half a dozen times with each call lasting at least 1 hour (not including wait times). I still haven’t gotten all my paperwork finished and filled out by my doctor and physiotherapist either.

Because of this, these past couple of months I’ve been kind of down. I can’t imagine having to go through all this if my injuries were worse or if I had to go in for intense physiotherapy sessions and deal with recounting the collision repeatedly.

If my small collision is having this kind of toll on my spirits, I can’t imagine how hard things must be for people suffering with PTSD.

So when my summons to witness came in, I couldn’t help but take it personally. Despite the police officer warning me that the driver who struck me would probably dispute the traffic ticket (because the fine and demerit points were really high), receiving the court notice made me really angry.

I know the driver is just trying her luck in hopes that either myself or the police officer won’t show up to court so that she can walk away without having to pay the fine and keep the 6 demerit points off of her driving record. But for me, I feel that her trying to dispute this ticket is so disrespectful. Disrespectful of my injuries, disrespectful of all the time that I’ve spent talking to doctors, insurance adjusters and going around and getting everything replaced. Most of all disrespectful of another human being that she could have killed.

Please wish me luck next Wednesday at 9am. I don’t know if I will even have a chance to speak, but I’m going to try to do everything I can so that the driver doesn’t get her ticket dismissed or even have her fines reduced.

Hopefully once this is all over, I will feel like organizing bike rides and brunches again.

Don Valley Trail in the Fall

Fall Bike Ride

A few of weekends ago I was able to catch more fall colours with this lovely couple:

Fall Bike Ride

We met up at a cute mid-town cafe called Rachel’s Coffee House (thanks for the rec Rhonda!), so that Andrea could have another entry for her Coffeeneuring Challenge which she’s signed up for a 2nd year in a row. It was also a nice, quiet cafe where she could do some lab marking and I could drop by easily after checking out an exhibition space (I’m going to be showing some new paintings in February guys!).

After we indulged in the huge cookies and some warm drinks we biked up to Broadway, to take Broadway east to enter the Don Valley Trail through Serena Gundy Park.

Fall Bike Ride

It was such a beautiful ride!!

We noticed that despite the many trees with glorious colours there were still a lot of green trees as well. So there may still be time to take in the last of the fall colours yet!

Fall Bike Ride

Fall Bike Ride

RYB Denim

Me!

Last night Denise and I went to Urbane Cyclist for a fitting party for RYB Denim.

RYB Denim is a local fashion design start-up that just reached their funding goal on Indie GoGo to create their first run of cycling jeans made specifically for women.

ryb indiegogo oct2-nov17 from RYB Denim on Vimeo.

Denise and I both found the jeans to be very comfortable and fit very cute. Denise even rode a bike to experience the joy of wearing pants that were seamless in the crotch. We were sold and we went home that night and both purchased a pair of jeans at the discounted rate offered through the Indie GoGo campaign.

Ladies!! RYB Denim is going on the road and taking their samples with them so you can try them on! If you are in New York, Philly, Montréal or Ottawa I urge you to check out and try a pair of RYB jeans on. Or if you are already pretty savvy at shopping online for clothes (I’m not!) then you can read the details of the jean fitting right on the Indie GoGo page. There is only 10 days left to get a pair of cycling jeans made specifically for women for the Spring 2014 season!
RYB Denim tour