Hey! Hi there, how’s it going? It’s been a hot minute since I posted a blog, so we are a little overdue. We have some things to talk about: The Velodrome, winter riding, what to expect from us this winter, and whatever else pops into my head between now and the end.
Let’s talk about the Forest City Velodrome. As many of you know, there were shenanigans and our history-making velodrome was temporarily shut down. It sure looked like it was going to be permanent but nope, it’s open again! We are thankful. I can’t ride on there – yet – but Mike is a fully paid member. There is a new board of directors (and here I’m borrowing a photo from the Forest City Velodrome Instagram @forest_city_velodrome):
Left to right, we have Scott Matthews, Tony Fangeat, Sue Gazda, Eric Hueston, and Mark Buckaway.
We are sure they’re going to do a great job, but they have a veritable Gordian’s Knot of things to untangle to get things running as smoothly as possible. They’re up to the task, to be sure.
You can become a member by going to their website, https://www.forestcityvelodrome.ca/ . There’s a drop-down menu at the top of the page, click on “Join” and select the item that will be right for you. It’s free to go and try it once. To keep riding there, you need at least your Track 1 level skill. To ride better, more safely, Track 2 is strongly advised.
Go! See it! It is the shortest, permanent, indoor track in the world. That means that the embankments at the end are at 50 ͦand the middle straightaways are at 17 ͦ. The entire track is 138 metres long.
There is so much written about winter riding that it would be boring of me to rehash it all. So, in this section, I will tell you things we’ve learned and give you some links to other articles, including places you can go to fat bike/snow ride over the winter.
Let’s start with a few safety items:
- Helmet, obviously. You want to protect your current way of life and who you are, right?
- Wider tires, preferably studded, will give you better traction on the ice and snow. It’s a greater contact surface.
- Lights. Lights are VITAL. If you cannot be seen, drivers (and pedestrians) cannot avoid you. Be seen. Add reflective clothing to your lights – even if it’s only a band around your ankle and reflective tape on your helmet. Drivers will make the “I think that’s a human” connection with the motion of ankles and head.
- Keep your bike clean. That will protect it from the wet and salt.
- Try a dry lube on your chain. That will protect it better from the wet.
- Speaking of protecting it from the wet, using something like Castroil Motorcycle Chain oil on all the bolt holes and places liquid and salt can potentially get in (Don’t worry, we have a spring cleaning service 😉)
Now, what to wear:
- Lots of layers with zippers. You want to balance being warm enough with the need to cool down that will probably happen. (In other words, you don’t want to be sweating. You want to be able to let out the heat when it gets to be on the edge of too much.)
- Waterproof gloves and footwear. You don’t want cold and wet hands or feet. (They have weird things like handlebar mitts to protect your hands.)
- Something to cover your face – a scarf, a balaclava, tube scarf thingy. Sunglasses, or clear glasses, or goggles to protect your eyes. Don’t forget that UV can be just as fierce off the snow as it is in the summer.
- Waterproof outerwear. This is jacket shells and ski pants or windbreaker pants. It can be more costly but just because you’re riding doesn’t mean it has to be cycling specific clothing. If you can pedal and get on and off your bike, wear it.
I have straight up lifted this next bit from Ontario by Bike’s page on Winter cycling/fat biking:
Where and When You Ride
· Be smart about where and when you ride.
· Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
· Paved trails will be easier to navigate and ride as they drain faster. Many trails in urban centres are regularly cleared of snow during the winter.
· Beware of black ice.
· Roads will have less space for cyclists if there is any snow accumulation.
· Be extra cautious in vehicle traffic, motorists may not expect to see cyclists out this time of year.
Here are some places you can read more about winter riding and fat biking:
First, the Ontario by Bike site. This is a wealth of information about where to ride, tips for riding, maps, as well as industry information and events and tours.
Ontario Bike Trails is a great site if you’re looking for some place new to ride. All kinds of maps, articles, and nearly anything you could want to know about riding in Ontario. This link is about where you can fat bike, including places to rent.
Of course, we have Destination Ontario talking about, what else, destinations in Ontario for cycling in the winter.
Here is a site specifically for riding in Toronto, which means that most of the weather tips will work for most of Southern Ontario. They say the parts you need to protect the most are head, hands and feet. The torso will stay warm as you ride but ears, fingers and toes are susceptible to the cold.
Finally, the most important tip, IMO, is:
Map your route, check the weather, layout all your gear and make sure it’s dry. When you get home, hang it all up to dry and wipe your bike off. Check your tire pressure regularly.
As a side note, something totally unrelated to cycling but related to winter. (Frankly, I prefer winter over summer, because you can pile more on you to stay warm but there’s only so much you can take off to cool down [and so much you can take off before some of us get scared lol]) This website has 9 great things to do this winter in Ontario.
What to expect from us this winter
Though we are on appointment-only hours we are currently here quite often, from around 8 in the morning to about 3:30. Sometimes we’re here until 5. While it’s relatively safe to assume we will be here, I do advise calling or texting before popping in.
Mike may be looking for outside work this winter. After such a chaotic year, we could use a bike-break (brake?). That doesn't mean we won’t be here at all. (And if you know of something, please, talk to Mike, he’s got all kinds of skills.)
I will be around working on various things from restorations to my certificate in Digital Marketing to writing.
If you need anything, all you have to do is call and we can arrange things.
We have a new neighbour moving into the shop next door. We don’t yet know a lot about them, just that they sell maternity and baby stuff. When we know more, you will too.
Have a great winter and if we don’t see you before, we’ll see you in 2024!
“Don’t buy upgrades, ride up grades.” — Eddy Merckx, Belgian pro racer