Gouda, land of Cheese, Beer and a wonderful old town.
The title of this short piece refers to a line of miscommunication that happened today, between myself and the cycle fixing, genius staff at Bikes on the Drive. I only mention it now, so I can cleverly refer to it again at the end of my story, with a deep, meaningful life message latched on to it. Next week I will be traveling 170km, along the Sea to Sky Highway, through mountainous terrain, to the Pemberton Music Festival, a 4 day long extravaganza, spanning all genres and comedy. I have never attended a music festival that you can camp at, so I am super excited to see some great artists, meet my “neighbors”, engorge myself with unhealthy amounts of sodium, fat and alcohol and see/walk in/cycle in some lovely nature, that provides the natural backdrop for the event. Oh…and not shower. Big fan of not showering at moderate levels.
I am equally, or even more so excited to cycle up there, as I haven’t “toured” in a year and am feeling quite antsy about be subjected to this singular, immotile living style that getting an education forces one to endure. I mean…my house has four walls…in fact MORE THAN FOUR WALLS. What’s with that? The Sea To Sky Highway, merges a feeling of fascination and ominous fear in me. The epic magnitude of parts of the ride is known to me, as I have driven up to Whistler before. Though, it has been a while, and the scenery will definitely feel new and my ability to take it all in will be enhanced by the speed and possibilities of being on a bicycle.
That already explains why I am excited for the ride. My fear is in my own strength to complete the ride as planned. I have never completed 170 clicks in one day. I have done 140 and that was at the peak of my bike trip across Europe and it wasn’t through mountains, but hilly Germany. While I do not like the speed trial version of cycling, I have no choice, on account that I have only one day off work to make it there. The cushioning is is that the concert does not start until 2pm the next day, but I want to get a good site to camp on, so the earlier, the closer, the better (love cycling, fuck walking (kidding…)).
Me. Posing like a boss. Heilongtan, Beijing.
To help myself succeed at this somewhat lofty task, I did some shopping on this fine, clouded, petrichor-ish Saturday. I now look at everything I purchase with the consideration of my world tour that will start in less than two years. If I am going to buy equipment or parts, I want to make sure that it is transferable to my new, as yet to be purchased bike and that it is of high quality. This is very uncharacteristic of me, as I am stubborn and presume that I can finagle by way out of spending coin by purchasing hand-me-downs. Future me will thank past me, when I am not trapped in the middle of a scorching desert, in the bowels of dense jungle, captured by some wild dogs and forced throw the ball for eternity for them, due to a cheap pedal snapping off. Originally, I visited my old, wrecked Norco touring bike at my parents, shed a few tears as I still miss it, and tried to wrench off the pedals from it’s frame to try to reuse them on my new bike. Unfortunately, the impacted from my big crash 5 years ago, made it impossible to get one of the pedals off. I also showed the lovely sales gentleman at On The Rivet Bike Shop my Shimano bike shoes and old cleats and they too were fused and worn beyond removal or repair.
So I got these sweet, sweet goodies:
The Giro Terraduro shoes ($260) aren’t cheap (in fact, they are the most expensive shoes I have ever bought) and for a penny-pinching student/artist/terrible with moneys type of person I am and will destined forever to be, it was a tough sell. But they just fit so nice, don’t overtly look like bike shoes (which is good for areas where you don’t want to show off your fancy pantsy-ness) and have great tread when I want to use them for walking/hiking/sneak up on my enemies. Again, they are great investments and the people at On The Rivet, were passionate and gave me a wide plethora of options to compare them to, to help me feel confident in my decision. Great staff make a place, and these guys were awesome, invested in my time and wanting to make sure I got the right shoe at a reasonable price for my price range.
The Shimano A530 SPD pedals ($100) are similar to the ones on my old bike, which means that one side is the clipless pedal side and one, you can use normal shoes with. The versatile option gives you the choice for a daily commute and a tour. I thought after I purchased these items, I could probably get them online for cheaper. Low and behold you can, but I would need more time pre-Pemberton to do so. Plus, that sales guy, he Worked It (Missy Elliot reference, who will also be at Pemberton!!! EXCITEMENT -> Head explodes).
If you don’t know anything about bicycles, this may all seem like gobblygoop to you, which I don’t wish it to seem like, as bike talk should be accessible to everyone. Bike shoes and clipless pedals, as they are known as, work together to allow you to fully take advantage of the motion of the pedal crank and the power you are putting into each rotation of the wheels. When we push down on the pedal, our muscle strength and weight push the pedal and crank, thus powering the gears and the wheels, and the motion of the bicycle forward. With a normal pedal, on its upwards motion, you foot simply rests on it, waiting to push down again. With your shoe attached to the pedal with the snap on cleats of bike shoes and the clipless pedals, you are actually utilizing an entirely different muscle set, to pull up on the pedal, thus pulling the crank and gears, increasing your power by about 50%. This is SUPER helpful for uphill slogs and increasing your speed at a rapid rate. The cleats come out of the pedals by a twist of your feet and take a bit of time to get use to, usually amounting to a bunch of falling and cursing (my first clipless fall was into a puddle in Amsterdam…Amsterdam, bike capital of the world). But after a while, you get use to them and riding without them, feels like play N64 without the Rumble Pak (good analogy…). There are other options that also increase your pedal power, such as toe clips and straps made of metal and leather. Personally, I just find they are cumbersome, inefficient in matching with different shoes and unreliable in using all your power. I also find them a bit dangerous, as you cannot simply twist and unclip.
Those were the small things I had purchased, in pursuit of world tour wanderlust. This is where the miscommunication happened. I took my bike in to my usual place, Bikes on the Drive to get it checked out by their mechanics, just to make sure it would make it to Pemberton. I talked to the guy in the back about touring and bike components. When I said, “it’s good to start with little things”, he thought I meant smaller tours and agreed, noting a family who had planned to ride to Mexico and only made it to Bellingham. Funnily enough that was my first trip as well, but I made it all the way. To be fair, I had no sort of family in tow (literally). I started with the big things and worked my way backwards, in that regards, learning along the way. In more than a few instances, help and luck succeeded and allowed me to go on. This time I want to make a list and check it twice, take infantile baby steps, quadruple check every, finite, microscopic detail and be as prepared as I could be. My bike’s derailer needed to be replaced, as my current beast of burden, is a constant work in progress, which is great for a learning tool, but will never leave this country on a tour of any sort. It’s kind of like Moses, in a way. Does all the legwork, only to find out the fame and glory won’t be his. Wow, an agnostic Jew wielding a bible story. Stranger things have happened. Like me, being bikeless until Tuesday. Balls.
Please support these AMAZING local bike shops, that a fullheartedly endorse. Good people, great service, non-pretentious knowledge:
1. Bikes on the Drive – 1350 Commercial Drive – My go to bike shop. From servicing, to bike gear, to new bikes, to….you name it, these are people you want to get to know and sometimes, creepily linger around. I try to not do the latter too much, though the staff may feel otherwise.
2. OntheRivet Cyclewear – 8 East Broadway – Lots of bags, clothing, SHOES, pedals, helmets, etc and staff who will make sure you get exactly what you want. It’s a small, intimate space, that is more friendly and warm than claustrophobic. You are greeted with smiles and you leave smiling. They understand budgets, cycle love and good products.