Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Vacation in Montreal on a Bike Part 3

Sunday was a lovely day and the good people at MEC (Mountain Equipement Coop) had organized Montreal's first Bike Fest. Of course I had to go down there to meet up with a lot of people I know and I sure did.

I met some familiar faces that day and even a pair of readers. It's always fun to meet people who read my stuff. You know who you are both of you. :)  We had the presence of many community groups who promote biking, from the all season commuters association, the bike moving company and the gardeners on bikes. Even the gals in blue showed up to give safety tips to kids and they held a raffle for a cool looking helmet. Eric Hannan and his crew showed up with their mad Choppers and grabbed all kinds of attention as usual.

I spent the rest of the day with a ride downtown. The last one was over a year ago and the nice warm day was all indicated to go at it. I was surprised to see Ste-Catherine so crowded on a Sunday afternoon. I'm not phobic about crowds but it seems that their was a lot more people than I am use to. I cruised away from the "Cat" and took some shots of Windsor station. If you recognize it but can't put your finger on it, it has been used to portray many cities in movies.

It was a great day and I hope that Bike Fest will be done again next year. The Féria du Vélo in the beginning of June is nice but too corporate. The Bike Fest was more down to earth and really reached out to the grass roots people.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Vacation in Montreal on a Bike Part 2

Today I decided to look over the bike before heading out to a short ride in my immediate neighborhood North of the City. Turns out the front brake pads came out of alignment and were rubbing on the front tire. The rear pads were not fairing as good either since they had a lot of toe-out that made them yell like crazy!

All came back together with a bit of tweaking. I even managed to get my saddle height correct and now that 50 year old Brook's saddle feels great. I went for a short 10 kilometer ride today but it was well worth it. I happen by chance to get hungry near a little place on Gouin at the corner of Delorimier called Pitabec. I had the best Shish Taouk pita sandwich in my entire life. That pita sandwich alone was worth getting the cruiser out today.

Big bike fest tomorrow(Sunday May 23rd) at Lafontaine Park starting at 10am. If you are in Montreal, come look for me there tomorrow.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vacation in Montreal on a Bike Part 1

So the first day of the vacation started off with a late evening ride that is posted on the Fixed Gear Montréal group on Facebook. It's every Thursday evening at 10H30 pm starting in the park at the corner of St-Laurent and St-Joseph.

I met up with three other riders, Max, Vladimir and a reader of this blog who chose to remain nameless. The plan was to go South, so we did. South from that point in Montreal is downhill so it was a lot of fun despite the fact that in the back of my mind I would have to climb those hills on the way back at some point in the evening. But I live in the now and truly enjoyed the ride all the way down to the Old Port. We ended up on top of the belvedere at the Old Port with a superb view of the skyline.

We moved out West passed the old Five Rose flour plant. It was great to see that the neon sign, which is a City landmark, is still working and to be this close to it was pretty cool. We rode the Lachine canal all the way up to St-Henri were we parked it in a local pub. Riding the canal at midnite is quite different than riding it during the day with tourists, commuters and Lance Armstrong wannabes. The darkness and absence of said populace made it surreal.

We shared a large pitcher of a refreshing beverage, the beer kind. It was quite refreshing to hang out with a few twenty somethings discussing bikes, life and existence in general. 2 am came along and we parted ways. I had 15 kilometers ahead of me to get back home, of which at least half was uphill and I was completely smashed!

I learned a lot of things during that gruesome ride.

1- I do live in one of the safest cities in North America. The Canadien hockey club just won 5 to 1 against the Philly Flyers that evening in the Stanley Cup series and although people were in a very high party mood, all was done in a civilized manner.

2- My bike weighs a ton! Pushing that thing up St-Laurent boulevard made me realized that I have to be more weight conscious when I slap a bike together.

3- You're less likely to get doored at 2 am. The more you get away from the City core, the quieter it is.

4- Some people love my bike. Determined by the fact that a drunk girl yelled out "I love your bike!" while I was concentrated on the pain of pedaling it uphill hard.

5-  Beer doesn't numb the pain enough. I still felt my butt, legs and back hurting all the way.

I made it home in one piece and I was quite happy with the day's riding. I will cherish this late evening ride forever. Would I do it again? I most probably will next week. Many thanks to my riding buddies who made this experience truly awesome.

Until next time ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vacation in Montreal on a Bike

I had a week's vacation coming and I wondered what to do with it. Fortunately the recent nice weather here and me having to get around the City for many reasons made me realize that I live in a pretty cool place that needs to be explored.

So the idea is to take my bike and camera and go out there everyday. It all started today with the ride back from work which was exhilarating not too say the least. The kind of epic ride where everything seems to mesh perfectly together. Wind, road, traffic, body and the bike all came together in perfect unison to make a small commute awesome. A great Omen for the week to come.

I will share with you in text and image as I explore my City on 2 wheels. Not only the usual tourist attraction but also less visited neighborhoods that are still quite interesting and lucky for me there are a few biking events scheduled for the next week as well.

So keep posted on my adventure in Montreal on a bike.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Sons of Jenna

As some of you know, I have entered my homemade stretched cruiser bike in the build off at ratrodbikes.com. It would seem that my attempt at trying to make a utilitarian bike look cool has spawned two more of these in the ratrodbike.com community.

Member Hsean has slapped together "Imma Hauling" from a classic Raleigh Three speed roadster

Meanwhile member and moderator Hooch as taken some vintage American iron and actually entered the bike in the build-off. The bike is called #2, for now anyways.

It's always nice and flattering to inspire others. :)

You can follow the builds here:

Imma Hauling


Jenna Saykwa

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Murphy's Law and Bicycle Repair

Let me share with you here 18 years of mishaps and battle with Murphy. This being a bike repair blog, I will go one up and recommend the preventive measures to avoid dealing with the Murph man.

1- If you leave your pump or spare tube behind, you will get a flat. The risk grows with the potential distance you will have to walk if stranded. Darkness, rain, hurricanes, squadrons of biting mosquitoes will also contribute to the odds of you being stuck with a dangling tire from your rim.

Solution: Always have some kind of working tire pump with you and a spare tube of the proper size.

2- Your crank arm will fall off in the middle of nowhere. If Murphy is really into you, it will happen in a desert and you'll risk dying from the ensuing ordeal.

Solution: Check your crank arm bolts for tightness every so often, especially before a big ride. To eliminate all risk, carry a crank wrench.

3- Even though you come across it all the time when looking for something else, you will not find the 13mm socket when you absolutely need it. This applies to any other tool that is always in your way but magically vanishes when you somehow desperately need it.

Solution: Be tidy and always put your tools away in their proper place right after you are done with them.

4- That air bubble squeezing itself out between the tire and the rim will explode milliseconds before you reach the air valve to let the air out.

Solution: Put in only 10 pounds of air in the tube and stop. Check the tire on both sides to see if it's properly seated in the rim. Make corrections if necessary and resume inflation without fear of going deaf or making your spouse think you just fired the shotgun in the garage for fun.

5- If you know how to use a chaintool, your chain will break if you don't carry one. The longer the chain, the bigger the risk.

Solution: Always carry a chain tool even if it's a cheap one.

6- The spare tube you bought has a Presta valve, you don't have an adapter because you didn't know it had a Presta valve. You now curse the very existence of Presta valves and who ever came up with that bright idea to the 8th degree.

Solution: Always check tubes out of the box before you just toss them in your bike bag. Make sure you got the right thing before you need it in an emergency, then store it away.

7- You willingly use inner tubes with a Presta valve (curse them %$#&*@ things) but you do not have an adapter when your only source of air is a service station pump.

Solution: Always have an adapter already screwed on one of your tires air valve.

8- A simple repair job will always take up a lot more time than you thought it would.

Solution: Plan for twice the amount of time you think it will take. Be proactive and actually triple it.

9- When installing or repairing an expensive derailleur you will be stomped by a missing or broken $0.25 doodad that you can't find or buy just about now.

Solution: Keep on hand a few nuts and bolts, cable stoppers or any other small thingamajig that gets overlooked on any repair job until you absolutely need it. Trash bikes are great for those.

10- The cheap brake pads that were everywhere growing like weeds are nowhere to be found now that you need to replace a set.

Solution: You see a good deal on brake pads, cables or any other stuff that your bike goes through anyways? Buy them now, you'll use them eventually at some point in time. Don't hoard, just buy what you'll need.

I'm sure there are a tons of others, so feel free to leave them in the comments.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Monday, May 03, 2010


One of the steps in the Flat Top Cruiser build is to repaint it. However, my time and budget being very limited, I have to be fast but I still wanted something that looked decent. Hence the quick and easy method using rattle cans. One thing though, this only works good with flat or semi-gloss paints. You can try with a gloss finish, but I don't feel it would look that good. Remember, this is a rattle can paint job and it won't be as tough as a factory finish. Oh yes, there will be scratches!

First step, take the thing apart. Want to know how? Just go on my other blog here:http://bikeoverhaul.blogspot.com/

Second, whatever you don't want to take off but don't want to paint, mask it. Use some tape and an X-acto knife to trim.

Third, wash the entire bike. I use Simple Green which is a great degreaser. The removal of grease or oils is the key to avoiding weird looking reactions when applying the paint, so any good degreaser/cleaner should do. Use a clean rag or paper towels to dry the frame.

Fourth, sand, wet sand or steel wool it. Whatever you do make sure you dull that original finish(Keep the original finish if you can. It can't be beat to protect your frame.). It will give some grip to the primer and even out the surface for a better looking finish.

Fifth, primer that thing. You can use regular primer on painted surfaces but if like me you want to paint on chrome, you must use a self etching primer. This stuff runs about $15 a can and can be found at automotive supply stores. After you prime it, go for multiple light coats, give it some time to dry. 24 hours should do or until the primer feels untacky to the touch.

Sixth and lastly shoot the main color coat. I used Krylon flat black here but it comes out in a semi gloss finish, which works out great for me. I apply a few light coats with about 20 minutes between each. Leave in the Sun to dry. Don't start putting it back together right away. Give the paint a chance to dry for at least a day before you start messing with it. Don't do like I did. :)

So it's not a factory finish, but the bike is one nice even color and looks a lot better. Anyways, paint is only temporary.

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed!

Gerry :)

The Flat Top Cruiser, my build off bike

So the Rat Rod BikeBuild Off #5 started off officially Saturday morning and I decided to toss my hat in the arena. My Build Off bike will be my everyday ride which I have decided to call the "Flat Top Cruiser".

The challenge here is to make a cool, yet still very practical bike. I love the ride of this bike and the stretched out frame is practical to carry a lot of stuff. However, it's just plain ugly.

My plans are to make this into a mobile bike shop since I intend to give free bike repair clinics along some of Montreal's bike paths starting in the next few weeks. This bike has to carry the tools, be used as a work stand and look cool while doing it.

I'll share some of my work on the blog and you can also follow the build thread here:http://www.ratrodbikes.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=26164

Until next time, ride safe and Godspeed!

Gerry :)