Category Archives: Canada

Early Christmas

mary porterAbout 3 nano seconds after I opened my computer at 5:47 this morning I received a skype call from my sister. She lives in Canada so it was only 9:47 the night before for her. In my still groggy, pre-morning-ride state I was broadsided by three fifty- something women screeching like 6-year olds (see the video on facebook). But they had good cause. Mary Porter and Kirstie Carter, two members of Pam and Company and the two ladies in the photo, had just surprised my sister by showing up at her house singing Christmas carols and carrying a huge cheque. Mary and Kirstie had participated in a vendors event that always gives a portion of profits to charity. They had convinced the organisers of the event that ‘Cycle 4 Sickle Cell’ should be the designated charity this year. And it was! So at 5:47 this morning three screeching women (that’s my story anyway) presented me with a cheque for $3,444.39 by skype. Fantastic guys! Thanks so much. But next time, call around lunch time.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania

Bikes: banana seats and butterfly bars

Back around 1967 my little brother got a CCM Mustang Duomatic for his birthday. It was very cool: mustang bronze, 20 inch wheels, 2 gears, a banana seat and butterfly bars. I was about 14 then so it was too small for me. But I liked it. At that time I still had a paper route. One afternoon while I was delivering papers I noticed that somebody on my route had thrown out an old Raleigh bicycle frame. In those days we talked about bikes in terms of the size of the wheels. This frame was for 26 inch wheels. My size. After I finished my route I went back and asked for the frame. They thought I was nuts but gave it to me. Over that summer I used that frame to build a bike. I painted it white with red flashes in the middle of each bar; it had a 26 inch rear wheel and a 20 inch front wheel; a banana seat and butterfly bars: a real chopper. I had a great few weeks with it. Then one Saturday, shortly after school had started again, I rode it to the local pool to go swimming. When I came out from swimming the bike was gone. Of course I hadn’t locked it. We hardly ever locked bikes back then. And I had spent all my money building the bike and hadn’t kept any for a lock. It was a 5 mile walk home. The croix der fer that I will ride on the Tour d’Afrique is also a lovely white bike.  Perhaps I should paint red flashes on it, and get a banana seat and butterfly bars.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania


Just keep walking (2)

I have been off at a cottage in Canada for the last week and out of range of the internet, cell phones, everything. But I did borrow a bike. A couple of days ago I went for a ride on a local trail. About twelve kms in I punctured. Its’ becoming a habit. I was on a borrowed bike. I was on a remote trail. There was a saddle bag but no spare tube or patch kit and no pump on the bike. I had no money on me, and I did not take a cell phone. So I walked – for 12 kms. A victory for existentialism.

Olympic Cycling Route

The summer holiday started yesterday for us. The kids and I flew from Dar es Salaam to London, where we will stay for a few days before heading to Canada for a couple of weeks. The kids are great companions – except when they importune to shop. Driving from Heathrow to our flat south of London at rush hour last night was a bit of a nightmare. It was cold and wet. There were flash floods near where we were heading and there had been a big accident that had closed the M25 for a while near the junction we use. It took us 2 ½ hours to cover a distance that takes 40 minutes in good traffic.  I hate to think what getting around London will be like in another couple of weeks when the Olympics start. The lucky bit was that because of the back up, the taxi driver decided to get off the M25 and head down towards the A25. He ended up following about a five-mile section of the Olympic road race route. Gorgeous. In spite of the cold and the rain. The road closure signs are up and the road surface on the section we travelled looks really good. Too bad I won’t be here to watch.

Don’t forget to donate to the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

ChipIn: Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.



My first bike

Not really my first bike, but it looked something like this

I got my first bike just before I was five. It was second hand and had a low slung top bar, a bit like a girl’s bike. I had a younger sister so I am sure my parents were thinking about who it would go to next even as they were buying it for me. I got the bike in the winter. I am not sure whether it was for Christmas or not. It may have been. But we lived in Toronto at the time so there was no riding until the snow was gone. I remember my Dad – who was an engineer and had never really lost the kid’s thrill of taking things to bits to see how they worked – spent the winter taking it apart, right down to individual bearings, and rebuilding and repainting it. I couldn’t wait for spring. That summer, at age 5, I started working on the bike myself. I took the handle bar grips off so that I could turn the handlebars around – so the handles were low slung and facing towards me, like a racer. It was cool. I took it out for a spin before I put the grips back on and of course tried to jump a ditch. Didn’t make it. The end of one bar ended up puncturing the inside of my right thigh very high up. Needless to say I spent the rest of the day at the hospital being stitched up. Dad returned the bars to their normal position and put the grips back on. He didn’t say a thing. I rode that bike for another two years before my sister got it.

Canada Day

July 1st is Canada Day. But it is also day 2 (stage 1) of the 2012 Tour de France. So let’s see what Ryder Hesjedal, the sole Canadian rider in the field this year, can do today. He gave up 18 seconds to Cancellara yesterday. Good start.