My Big Year

In the birdwatching world, there is an informal competition about who can spot and listen the most species of birds in a geographical area in the same calendar year. It’s a big deal an they even made a movie about it with Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, it’s a good movie, check it out.  I’ve known about big years for a while, even before the movie. And even if I’m no birder, I have always like the idea of a large challenge that is more of a marathon than a sprint contest.  

So when I started off my cycling season this year on April 8th, I was not thinking of anything more than heading towards 100 daily commutes. It seem possible as long as I was willing to put in the 5 days week in the summer and trying ramping up to it as quickly as possible. So after a respectable 600 plus kliometer month of April, May 4th marked my first 5 day riding week and 1162KM as well as the introduction of the Green Hornet. June, July and August marked a crazy >1250KM three month streak. During that summer period, I rode to Quebec City on a tricycle to kick cancer’s ass and put in an Epic 8 Century Rides (Metric of Course EH!). In seeptember, I had my first real accident in years. I hit another cyclist head on while cheating my line and moving a littel agressively for a commute. I slight shoulder separation later and I still manage to put in 771Km and 15 commutes. October got things back on track with 17 commutes and 890KM. On October 23rd, I hit the magic 100 day commute. But the weather was great so I kept riding. For the week of Nov 2nd, I put in another 5 day commute week and topped it off with great Rotters ride to put in a 300KM week… IN NOVEMBER.  Crazy Right. But this Morning I got up and looked out the window and then checked the forecast Sunny and Cold but DRY! So I put on my booties and my lobster mits, took a good dose of MTFU and then JFR’d into work for 7990. Tonight’s Commute 113 Back marked 8015KM so far. 

The wildest part is that the season started off very windy and at one point I felt like I was going to blow my knees out on the fixed gear Peugeot. That’s when I decided to suck up my pride and make my daily ride along North America’s longest wind tunnel: the Lachine Canal a little easier and get myself a “real” commuter. A deep analysis and a few spreadsheets later, I picked up the Great Hornet from Martin Swiss in Westmount. The Hornet is a green Kona Rove (2013 model) with a steel frame, disc brakes, SRAM groupo, my Brooks saddle and some racks for my waterproof paniers. The Rove is a CycloCross adventure bike which is ideal for commuters who want a little weekend warrior gravel action. I swapped out the 32mm knobbly tires for some 28mm Gatorskins, kept the pressure at 90-95psi and re-leanrt to spin up at 90RPM to save my knees. After putting in over 5000KM on it this year in commuting and the occasional trip to the yacht club or Le Petit Train du Nord, I really grown to love riding it fully loaded. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still rolling at 30Km/h and occasionally attacking at 38-40km/h but this bike is about the ride and not the KOM. Especially after the accident, I realised how much I really enjoy the ride. Waking up to the lakehore  breeze and then finding some post work zen on the commute home, thinking about that well deserved beer waiting for me on the deck.  Because let’s face it, that is still why we ride. 

I am sure there are guys out there that can put in 10,000 plus km in year. But for a father of four living in the Great White North with a full time job and a growing sailing addiction, this has been a BIG YEAR indeed. I have loved every kilometer of it and the pleasure sharing those rides with JubJub, Sudsy, Woody, Alister, El Capitan, Blair, The Hulk, Quadzilla, SnowMeal, Rooster, Doug, Luc, Fred, Martin, J-B, Simon, Pascal, The Rotters, Team Kat, Morgan Foreman, Les Boys, Shlowy, Maddy and Patate. I really want to thank you all for sharing the road with me on this Tour de Francois.   

Isolation via @xkcd



I could not agree more, this is an old trope from coffee shop anthropologists who really don’t get it at all. What you witness in every scene is humanity reaching out and trying to connect it’s far reaches. Granted that watching 6 seconds clips of guys getting kicked in the balls is probably a little far reaching than reading Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 days or scanning National Geographic. But I will give everyone in the above the benefit of the doubt in that not all of were looking at African Boobies.

Selfie-related injuries and deaths versus shark & cow attacks 

The simple fact that the following list exists is scary enough, but the fact that the death total is higher than shark attacks is just mind blowing. Thankfully the death tole is still not as high as cow related deaths at 22 because everyone knows that cows are the real killer of the sea.


  • A 21-year-old South African woman died after falling from Northcliff Hill, Johannesburg as a male companion was setting up a tripod for a selfie. Reports vary as to the identity of the companion.[21][22]
  • Two young men died in the Ural mountains as they pulled the pin from a hand grenade to take a selfie, which remained as evidence of the circumstances of their deaths.[23]
  • Three Indian students aged 20 to 22 died trying to take a “daredevil selfie” close to an oncoming train.[24]


  • An 18-year-old Romanian teenager died when she attempted to take the “ultimate selfie”, posing with a friend on top of a train in the north-eastern Romanian city of Iași when her leg touched a live wire above, sending an electrical surge of up to 27,000 volts through her body. A 17-year-old friend who accompanied her was hospitalised.[25]
  • A teenager climbed on a railway bridge in the Ryazan region in Russia to take a selfie and died when he came in contact with live wires.[26]
  • A 21-year-old Russian woman asked a security guard at her office to give her a 9-millimeter rubber-bullet pistol for taking a selfie and accidentally shot herself in the head sustaining heavy injuries.[27]
  • A 21-year-old man from Yogyakarta, Indonesia fell into the crater of Mount Merapi and died while attempting to take a selfie.[28][29]
  • A Singaporean tourist died after falling into the sea while taking a selfie on a cliff in Nusa Lembongan, an island off the coast of Bali, Indonesia[30]


  • A 21-year-old Russian university graduate died after falling from a bridge while she was trying to take a memorable selfie next to Moscow City financial district.[31]
  • A man from San Diego, California, was hospitalised for five days following an attempt to take a selfie with a rattlesnake.[32][33][34]


  • A man died in the annual bull running festival in the town of Villaseca de la Sagra trying to take selfie with the animals.[35]


  • A 19-year-old from Houston, Texas died after trying to take an Instagram selfie while holding a loaded gun to his head. He accidentally fired the gun and shot himself in the throat.[36]

  • A Japanese tourist fell down a staircase to his death while taking a selfie at the Taj Mahal.[37]


Source: List of selfie-related injuries and deaths – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Crosstown Bixi with Saddle Bags

Panniers are MEC AquaNauts

Ever wonder what to do with all your cycle gear if you have to leave it at the bike shop because of a broken spoke. It’s not like you can just lock it in the trunk and only give the garage the valet key. Yesterday, I had the chance to figure all this crap out.

First off, a little back story. I jumped a bad curb coming off the Banana Bridge in Valois on Wednesday and not only pinch a tube but busted a spoke. After fixing the flat, I managed to secure the spoke and get into town. I dropped off the bike at my fave LBS: Martin Swiss and then went back to work. When it came time to pick up the bike on Thursday evening, I really did not feel like taking the bus in cycle shorts and shoes. So I came up with the idea of getting the Westmount shop via Bixi bike. A buddy lent me his key for 45 minutes and then I had to figure how to strap the paniers to a rackless bike. Luckily the Bixi bikes has a make shift sturdy bask made for strapping in a attache case or something of similar size.  So I would be able to get one of the bags in but what about the second? Well it turns out that you can feed the Bixi bungy chord through the straps and position the bag so it faces forward over the first bag. It looks stupid and is bit awkward to ride with but it does the trick.


The funniest part of course is riding across town along Maisonneuve in full cycle gear: shoes, shorts, shirt, helmet and gloves while everyone else is still wearing their city clothes. Even the courriers were having a good chuckle at my behalf. Oh well it’s not like it’s the first time this summer.


The setup got me to the shop in time to pick up the Hornet and get back home again safely and comfortably on a great bike that already served me for 3000KM this summer.