Thursday, December 25, 2008
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
|Conditions||Temp (°C)||Humidity (%)||Dew Point (°C)||Wind (km/h)||Pressure (kPa)||Vis (km)||Wind Chill|
|23 December 2008|
It turns out that with the windchill Saskatoon is apparently the coldest spot in Saskatchewan right now.
The ride itself wasn't bad, albeit quite slow. My goggles started to fog up after a kilometer or so, and I took them off for the last 1 km (6 km ride). My outfit included polypro liner socks, merino wool socks, long underwear, cotton pants, army surplus wool pants, rain pants (as a windproof shell), two fleece sweaters, Helly Hansen parka, winter boots, polypro liner gloves, army surplus mitts with wool liners, Carhartt helmet liner balaclava, fleece scarf, toque, ski goggles and, finally, a helmet. With all that stuff on my upper body was a bit too warm (I could have stopped to open up my zippers, including the pit zippers, but didn't), my legs were just right, my head & face were warm, and certain other parts were a tad cool (I need to find fur-lined boxers!). At -35C the bearings and rubber are stiff and the extra clothes help to slow the pace. Add to this the fact that I don't want to push too hard & overheat and it means the ride that takes 15 minutes in the summer, takes half an hour or more. It also takes a considerable amount of time to get dressed up.
It's too bad nobody was here to take some pictures of the frost which covered my head quite completely by the time I got to work.
Now I'm at work toasty warm while my grizzly bear samples incubate in a labelling reaction (hence the reason I had time to post).
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I had been looking for used snowshoes, but did not think I was going to find them in good shape for a good price. Then, this week I came across someone selling 5 pair of snowshoes in the local kijiji advertisements. I called the fellow up and a couple hours later I was the proud owner of not one, but two pair of ash-frame and babiche laced snow shoes! Other than needing a coat of varnish, both pair appear to be in great shape.
If you're hiking all day, going the distance, in unpacked snow, the longest, skinniest ones you can find are the best -- paticularly if you're punching through brush or crusty snow. You want something shaped more like a ski than anything. And a pointed tip helps a lot. I use a set like these for breaking trail.... But for campwork, like when you're setting up the tent in 3 ft of soft snow, or cutting poles, or getting firewood, a set of roundish bearpaws is best because it is so easy to turn around in them.... On a trip where I feel I can afford the weight of 2 sets, or if there are several people in the party and a spare pair is judged a good idea, I take along the first 2 types mentioned above. It's very nice to use the shoe that best does the job.So here are my new 12" x 60" Ojibwa snowshoes.
These two pair of snowshoes allow both my wife & I to go out at the same time, or for me to pick and choose my shoes based on the conditions. For camping, I could use the big Ojibwa shoes to break trail and haul the sled to camp, and the more maneuverable elongated bearpaws could be used around camp for setting up, collecting firewood, etc. I actually also have a third pair of snowshoes, one given to me by a friend several years ago. That pair is of a traditional racket-shaped Huron style, 12" x 45" including the tail, but they are youth's (teenager?) snowshoes and as such are too small for my overweight bulk. However, in a few more years they'll probably work well for my kids.
Friend and fellow canoeist and canoe builder, Mark Lafontaine started the Saskatoon Snowshoe Club last winter. Now that I officially own three pair of snowshoes, I guess I better join.
As I write, there is a 40% chance of flurries overnight, and a 30% chance for tomorrow. We're getting closer!
Friday, October 24, 2008
I have a few buddies that will certainly know one way or the other. I'll direct them to his post and get their input.
Update 28/10/08 - I've heard back from 2 people that know better than I do, one who works for PANP, and another that is a wildlife biologist & veterinarian. Both agreed that I was correct, this is a wolf with mange. Dave in PANP says that a mangy wolf like this is not uncommon in the park. Bryan, a colleague in my lab, mentioned that when animals have mange, they can become so distracted by the itching from the mites that they are oblivious to everything around them, such as humans & traffic. Bryan also added that mange and canine distemper can be associated (hence the feces on the fur & the generally poor condition).
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Transport Canada is in the process of rewriting the Navigable Waters Protection Act (NWPA) to eliminate a developer’s obligation to consider impacts on navigation when building dams, bridges, causeways or other invasive structures on thousands of waterways across Canada.
Transport Canada Minister Lawrence Cannon and his allies in government and industry hope to achieve this by exempting "minor waters" and "minor works" from the NWPA, and by re-defining "navigation" under the act in a way that will strip all legal protection from recreational navigation.
The new law will ignore all whitewater rivers, all seasonal waterways and all vessels with less than a one-metre draft. This is a direct assault on Canada’s tradition of river travel and the future health of our waterways by the same people who are supposed to protect both. It is a fundamental breach of public trust.
I Speak For Canadian Rivers website. While there, register and sign the online petition if you agree. Get one of their signs too and display it to show your support. Also, send a letter to your MP to express your concerns and cc the letter to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the federal and provincial Environment Ministers, and anyone else you can think of.
Spread the word. Contact your local environmental organisations and get them on board. E-mail or write your friends and any contacts you have that you think might get behind this movement.
Paul Mason thinks it's important. Check out his latest cartoon which suggests his thoughts on the matter.
Monday, July 28, 2008
The straps and jigs are being assembled and sold as a kit by Ron Frenette of Canadian Canoes. The kits are pricey ($375) but seem like a pretty slick system for building a fine piece of woodcraft.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
First posted: August 4th, 2005.
Why do so few Saskatoon drivers understand what a friggin' "free flow lane" or "lane added" sign like thisor a merge sign like thismeans. Whenever I drive somewhere and am using an exit lane to the right that joins another road as an added lane, I end up behind some idiot who STOPS in the middle of the bloody road thinking they've got to merge with and yield to the traffic when what they should be doing is getting up to speed and then moving left into the adjacent lanes if they so wish. Many folks are just as confused regarding how to merge. Again, they STOP and wait for an huge opening in the traffic before they enter the lane and continue on their merry way oblivious of the frustration and danger they cause. If any car should appear on the horizon in any lane, they must wait for all traffic to pass before they too can enter the roadway. Often it seems that the problem is due to the person wanting to go directly over to the left lane. Here's an idea: get up to speed and do a couple of lane changes in quick succession after properly shoulder checking. Occasionally they're just going to have to resign themselves to NOT doing a left turn 100 feet after the botched merge, and just taking the next road. Rarely would this add more than a minute to the drive, it would be safer and quicker for everyone, and I'm less likely to blow my top when I'm stuck in peak traffic behind this goof and we'd all get home sooner.
You can find the Saskatchewan Driver's Handbook here, including a section on signage here. It is disappointing that SGI does not include a section on the type of merging and driving discussed above in the guide, though they do discuss highway merging which is relevant. You can read the "Drive Right with Tim Felzak" column or watch the video clip
Sunday, July 13, 2008
First posted: May 10th, 2005.
Hold up your left hand. OK, now hold up your right hand. Good. So now why do so many drivers & cyclists out there not know their left from their right? The rule in this province is at an "uncontrolled" intersection you must yield to the vehicle on the right. Seems simple enough right? So why is it then that so many people seem confused by this? In Saskatoon we have many uncontrolled intersections, especially, it seems, on my normal cycling route to work. It has nothing to do with how wide the street is, or how fast you're going, or how big your SUV is, or how important you think you are, or whether your heading North-South or East-West, or whether it's a bike or a truck. About every other day I yield to a vehicle on my right, performing a precariously balanced track-stand and hoping they will hurry up and get through the intersection so that I can get on my bloody way, while they also come to a complete stop, look at me questioningly, then try to wave me on wondering why I'm stopped in the middle of the road where that truck behind me is surely going to run me down. Of course on the other days, someone else tries to run me down by blazing through an intersection, often at speeds way too fast for a residential neighbourhood, without heed to anything that may be coming, whether it's me on my bike or some other unlucky soul. I see so many near misses every week that it really makes me wonder why these people haven't weeded themselves out of the driving population yet. Too bad they're also quite likely to weed several other innocent folks out of the breathing population in the process. The cyclists I meet on the road are often no better in this regard than those operating motorized vehicles, but at least they are less likely to cause serious damage to anyone other than themselves.
So, please remember, if you are approaching an intersection and you don't see signage to indicate right-of-way, yield to the vehicle on your right [even at a t-intersection]. Of course, you must also keep a sharp eye out for the fool who skipped that day in driver's ed, or that day in kindergarten, when these lessons were taught in the first place.
To review the local rules, see page 45 in the linked pdf, a section of the Saskatchewan Driver's Handbook.
Sunday, July 06, 2008
First posted: March, 2005.
Why do I as a cyclist on the road feel I have to apologise to automotive traffic for taking up road space? I am not contributing to increasing fuel prices, I am not contributing to congested traffic (or do so only slightly), I am saving the healthcare system and in turn the taxpayer money by getting off my ass, I am not contributing to deterioration of the roadway and soaring infrastructure costs, I am not contributing to a myriad of environmental problems (CO2, CO, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons, rubber, plastic, junk), I am not going to kill anyone if I fall asleep, I'm not going to kill anyone if I drink, I'm not going to kill anyone if I don't know how to proceed through an uncontrolled intersection. But I'm in THEIR way? Go figure. OK, so not everyone is capable of cycling/walking/taking a bus everywhere but imagine if 30% of the population biked to work or the store three seasons of the year in reasonable weather (seems pretty reasonable to me, especially in a small city like Saskatoon where most things are within a 30 minute ride). Suddenly the roads would be less congested allowing goods and commerce to proceed more smoothly, parking would be possible for those that need it, civic infrastructure costs would drop, we'd be physically & mentally healthier, the world would be safer. We'd be happier.
OK, tone down the rhetoric, I'll finish with a simple question.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I've been quite interested in another option for a while now, a few years at least. It's a conversion kit which turns any standard bike into a load hauler. The Xtracycle Sport Utility Bike is also sold by Escape Sports and I though he told me they cost a couple of hundred dollars, but the conversion kit is listed on the Xtracycle web site for $399. I've seen these around town a couple of times and it seems likely that it was probably the same fellow from Escape Sports, or his brother. The Xtracycle kits come with the bags shown, and numerous accessories are available, including a wide load carrier, and a $350 blender. All this reminded me that I saw this week that Surly is now making a frame for (with?) Xtracycle (after having a look at Surlyville after seeing Ryan's Surly Karate Monkey, and Tim's Surly Crosscheck - I hadn't been to the Surly web site to drool in a couple of years).
The Big Dummy is a "cargo long-bike" frame that uses the Xtracycle components. The Surly blog has some interesting comments about the handling of a long wheel-base bike. The frame is listed at Xtracycle for $900 (US) and the complete bike at $1800.
Finally, today while waiting for a car tire to be repaired I walked over to the local bike shop, Doug's Spoke n' Sport. Right beside the entrance they had a Kona UTE "utility bike," yet another bike that I didn't know existed until this week.My daughter was sleeping in the stroller so I took it for a ride around the parking lot. It rides like, well, a solid bike that's a bit too small for me. I didn't raise the seat (it wasn't quick release) and I should have to better evaluate it. At $800, I'm very interested in this bike. Perhaps I could get rid of my beater mountain bike that I ride in the winter, and the 1978 road bike that is my rain bike/all-round commuter (it's officially for sale so let me know if you want it, or want more information!).
Looking at these options, they each have some advantages. The Xtracycle option is the least expensive, makes use of a bike I already own, and they come with some really good (large) bags for hauling the groceries, etc. The other bikes have the advantage of being purpose-built with a higher bottom bracket, tougher wheels and stronger frame (than my beater winter bike). That seems especially true of the Mundo as it seems to be far and away the toughest, and therefore heaviest, of the set. If I were to haul bricks on a bike, this would be the one I'd pick. The Big Dummy comes with a truckload of Surly coolness, but that's the only advantage I really see with that option. The UTE is a reasonably priced complete bike and has 700c wheels which ought to improve the ride a bit. The Kona also comes with a pair of panniers, similar to but maybe somewhat larger than the Nashbar townie basket. However, these saddle bags really under utilize the UTE's load bearing capacity. It would be nice to see this bike in a larger size (I'm 6' 3" so a big bike is good), with bigger saddle bags. As soon as they get those two things, I'll be snapping it up, err... if my wife lets me, someday, maybe.
For more on utility bikes, here are some additional links I have found:
Saturday, June 28, 2008
You can see the race results as they come in here.
They left Whitehorse at 6/25/08 12:30 and finished in Dawson at 6/27/08 14:02 for a total time of 49 hours, 32 minutes. There was a mandatory 7 hour layover at Carmacks, and a mandatory 3 hour Layover at Kirkman Creek, for 10 hours total to be subtracted, giving a 39:32 finish time.
The previous course record was set in 2006 by Brandon Nelson and David Kelly with a time of 40:37:05 in a tandem kayak. The Voyageur record set last year (breaking the record Martin et al set in 2006) was 41:15 by team Coureur des Bayou. That team is 5/8 the same as this year's 2nd place team, the Texans. Martin will be very happy to have beaten them. He told me he thought that he could have beaten them last year, as they were closing the gap prior to the end of the race but fell a bit short (if I recall correctly). I don't doubt that there would have been some interesting dynamics on the river as these two teams chased each other. I look forward to hearing Martin's stories.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
My wife is paddling her guillemot kayak, launched exactly one year earlier (the Saturday prior to Father's Day).
Our younger daughter gets her turn too, just as the rain started.
The next day (Father's Day Sunday) we took another tour. This time we had beautiful sunny skies and warm weather. We launched at the main beach and paddled through the lily pads and visited one of the large beaver lodges. The younger girl & I paddled the canoe while Mom and our other daughter were in the kayaks. After a while, my wife gave a tow. She reported that the Sea Flea towed very easily, offering little resistance (until our daugther learned to use her paddle to increase the drag!). While being towed, she made a game of paddling hard to overtake and pass Mom.
Unfortunately, we never did try the kayak without the outriggers. I wish we had at least tried it without them while we were playing at the beach.
Our little girl played in Mom's kayak by the beach. For more posts about the Sea Flea and the build, click here or click on the label "kid kayak."
Monday, June 23, 2008
Mark has gotten a fair bit of media coverage this time around. Over the course of his trip, Mark will be phoning in to CBC Radio every two weeks for an interview with the local Saskatchewan program, Blue Sky. The week before leaving, Mark did a radio interview with Blue Sky. That interview was aired last Tuesday (June 17th) and you can listen to the interview here (Real Audio file). His next interview will air tomorrow, Tuesday, June 24th between 12 and 1 pm. If I'm lucky, I'll remember to turn on CBC radio and listen this time. If not, hopefully it shows up in their archive. You can hear the interview for yourself at 540 am anywhere within about 500 km of Watrous, 94.1 FM in Saskatoon, and many other local frequencies. For those of you outside of Saskatchewan, or for those who, like me, don't have a functioning radio, you can listen online.
Here is a schedule of his CBC radio interviews as pasted from his blog:
|Tuesday June 24th||Between 12 - 1 pm |
|Tuesday July 8th||Between 12 - 1 pm|
|Tuesday July 24th||Between 12 - 1 pm|
|Tuesday August 5th||Between 12 - 1 pm|
|Tuesday August 19th||Between 12 - 1 pm|
His June 24th interview is now available online. Find it here.
Mark also did an interview with the Saskatoon Sun which appeared in my mailbox this weekend. It was a full page article with a picture of Mark in his canoe sitting alongside the boathouse dock. I'd like to provide a link to an online version but it doesn't appear to be available anywhere. Mark also did an interview with the PA Herald which appeared a week and a half ago. You can read it here. He was also planning on doing an interview with the La Ronge Northerner prior to launching.
You can learn more about Mark Lafontaine and his epic journey from his website (www.wildpaddler.com), including a map of the route. Mark has also been keeping a blog where he detailed some of the construction of his custom-designed expedition canoe and other aspects of preparation for the trip (wildpaddler.blogspot.com).
By the way, I got a chance to paddle his new canoe for a couple of minutes two weeks ago. Although I was only in it briefly, it felt very nice. I had just come out of the canoe club's Swift Osprey (mentioned in a previous post), so Mark's canoe felt rock solid in terms of stability. It was tougher to turn, but not bad. The narrow beam at the gunwales made paddling very easy. Of course, it had no load in it so it wasn't a real good test. I expect that upon Mark's return he'll have a clearly defined set of goals to achieve in the next canoe he builds, characteristics he likes and others he wants to improve upon.
Update: Mark ended up suffering physical and equipment problems. These issues (I'm not clear on what problems he encountered), forced him to turn around when he was well into Manitoba and retrace part of his route in order to get himself out. I believe area forest fires were also a concern and could have prevented rapid egress had he proceeded farther.
A search for reviews on the "iFlasher" battery-less bike light made by Reelight led me to Bicycle Smile. Bicycle Smile is a blog, created by Ryan Warkentin, featuring reviews of cycling gear. Although they have a link to Reelight, they don't actually have a review up (yet?). I covet his Surly!
From Ryan's web site, I found the blog of Tim Brown, aka Tim's Bike Blog. I've known Tim for a few years now. We once competed in a cyclocross race together where I beat him. ;) This was my one and only race (cyclocross or any other bike race) and it nearly killed me, or at least that's how it felt. It was fun though and I wish I had the fitness to do it again (I haven't been riding with Horizon 100 in a few years). One of the things I admire about Tim is his mobility with two kids by bike. I occasionally see him around town hauling his young kids around in the bike trailer demonstrating what can be done. I take my kids year-round and through the occasional blizzard in the bike trailer to school, day care, and sometimes shopping, but Tim takes it up to another level.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Video: Shaman Kayaks by John Petersen
After watching the video, browse the site to see his kayaks & paddles.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Saturday at Pike Lake the day started off pretty nice with warm and sunny skies, but eventually thunderstorms and rain rolled in (as previously posted). The rain really didn't matter too much since we were spending the afternoon largely in the water anyway. A bit warmer might have been nice but it was OK. My outfit for the afternoon while we were wet and practicing rescue techniques was a "shorty" wet suit, a polyester t-shirt, cycling sleeves (arm warmers), PFD, paddling gloves, with my light cycling jacket thrown over top of everything (I didn't realise how odd the jacket over everything made me look until I saw the pictures later - think red beach ball with a head on top). I tried goggles for about 30 seconds but they immediately filled with water.
After getting pretty confident with our "eskimo rescues" (aka T-rescue) I decided it was time for an impromptu test. While paddling fast alongside Jay, I called over to him and asked "Jay, are you paying attention?" He looked over and said "yeah" or perhaps it was "nah" or maybe "huh?" I promptly flipped over (while still under steam) and began banging on my kayak hull, the signal that I need assistance. My thought was that Jay would just paddle right over and present his bow for me to grab onto allowing me to right myself without leaving the cockpit of the kayak. Only problem is that Jay was paddling fast in the slowest turning kayak in the group. By the time he even realised what was going on, I was under water, banging on my boat and moving my hands back and forth waiting for the sudden appearance of his bow in my hand. Everything also seems to go a little slower while your are hanging upside down under water. I quickly ran out of breath and had to wet exit. By the time I came up in the water alongside my kayak, Jay was rounding the turn in his kayak and just about on his way over to me. Well I guess it ended up being a good practice of assisted re-entry techniques.
At the end of the class our families found us and took some photos. Unfortunately the batteries on our camera were dying so the videos that my wife took didn't turn out.
In the photo below the class is grouped around Viki who is wrapping things up.
Viki and the others head back while the 4 guys paddle over to the families.
Using the water pumps to spray the kids.
After the class we launched my daughters' new kayak. I still have to crop & upload the photos so that post will be added in the next couple of days.
With blades painted, I epoxied them onto the shaft of the paddle, cut and shaped from cedar left over from the Sea Flea stringers. The shaft has a curved profile at the point of attachment of the blades. A fillet of thickened epoxy was added to the blade/shaft joint, and the back of the shaft shaped such that it becomes quite thin near it's extremities and gradually increases to full thickness. The shaft at the back of the blade also has a curved profile. Once the blades were attached and the shaft backing the blades shaped, a 14 gauge copper wire was added to the edge of the blade in order to protect the blade in use. Getting the copper wire attached to a blade edge that was less than 1/8" thick was a bit of a challenge. In order to provide some backing to the wire to keep it in the right spot, I clamped some additional 1/8" plywood to the blade with wax paper to keep glue from sticking to it. I then used Krazy Glue (cyanoacrylate glue) to tack the wire in place.
I worked progressively around the blade, starting at the tips and tacking the wire in place as I went. I would hold and/or clamp the wire in place then tack it in a couple of spots with glue then after a fwe seconds for the glue to take hold I could let go. I would give it a further few minutes for the glue to set before moving the clamps to tack the next series of spots. I only glued my fingers to the paddle a few times.
With the wire in place, the backing piece of plywood was removed and the glue residue seen below was cleaned up.
After a bit more shaping of the shaft on the back of the blade, it was ready for fiberglass. I used 6 ounce cloth left over from the guillemot kayak. I could have used 4 ounce, but it wasn't quite as close at hand as this stuff. The photo below shows both blades with cloth pieces and ready for epoxy.
The silvery sheen of woven glass fibers turns clear as it wets out with epoxy.
Below, the blade nearly fully wet-out.
The back of the blade after a coat of epoxy.
After the epoxy was partially cured to a green stage (somewhat rubbery, stiff but still flexible), the excess glass was trimmed with a sharp blade. The blades then received a fill coat of epoxy which was allowed to mostly cure before sanding and a third coat of epoxy was applied. The shaft also received a coat of epoxy along it's length.
The next photos I have of the paddle are of it in use during the launch of the girls' new kayak so stay tuned for the "launch" post. Later I will have to update this post with a weight and length (it's about 155 cm I believe).