Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Gravel Alberta 2018




Could 2018 be the year of gravel cycling's big breakthrough in Alberta?

The lack of a thriving gravel-cycling scene in this province—and the prairie provinces, in general—has long been a puzzler to me. South of the border, in the equivalent landscape known as the Midwest or Great Plains, cycling on the thousands of miles of gravel backroads has been a thing for years.

It’s difficult to find data on the actual number of gravel riders, but just consider, as an indicator, the number of gravel-cycling events in the midwestern and western United States: competitive races (such as the Dirty Kanza and Gravel Worlds); more recreational rides and fondos (such as the Cino Heroica and Rebecca’s Private Idaho); and any number of informal, unsanctioned, no-fee rides. Throughout Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas you’ll find some kind of gravel-grinder event happening almost every weekend in the summer months. Check out the event listings on Gravel Cyclist to get a sense of the burgeoning American scene.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Victorian Cyclist Stocking Stuffers

Cycling accessories have long made for perfect gifts for the cycling enthusiast, whether the sporting gentleman or the adventurous New Woman. 

We at the Dusty Musette have assembled a small list of suggested gift items--both sundries and accoutrements--for the Victorian cyclist in your life. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Kuwahara Death Pose


My winter commuting bike died last week. It was a red and white Kuwahara mountain bike, fixed fork, circa 1987, which I purchased second hand (more likely, seventh hand) for $80 from Edmonton Bicycle Commuters three years ago. The bike was, by any measure, a piece of crap, and always had been. But I had grown fond of it and feel a little sad that it’s now toast, its scavenged carcass splayed out in my backyard.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Shut Up, Jens

Image result for shut up legs

Who doesn’t love Jens Voigt? The eccentric German pro cyclist was a fan favorite for years, beloved for his bold racing style, tireless work ethic, and wonderfully quotable commentary. His quirky personality, toughness, and penchant for long, impossible breakaways made him something of a throwback, a refreshing exception in an age where race-radio calculation all too often counts for strategy. In the final years of his career, Jens had a cult following, especially in the United States, where the story of him yelling at his own suffering body during races—shut up, legs!—has become the stuff of legend.

Jens is retired now but milking the cult-cow for all its worth, commanding a huge Twitter audience (#thejensie), hosting a Gran Fondo in Marin, California, and doing commentary on Tour de France tv coverage. (He’s the guy with what sounds like a totally fake German accent.) So, no surprise that Jens is cashing in on his success with an autobiography (written with the help of James Startt) called, of course, Shut Up Legs! My Wild Ride On and Off the Bike.  

Monday, November 13, 2017

Winterfeet


My feet are humming.

It’s full winter in Edmonton, has been since November 1, when a frigid front moved in with a dump of snow making it feel like deep January, even though it’s only Remembrance Day. Winter doesn’t officially start for another 5 weeks. Tell that to my toes.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

After Supper, Part One (A Cycling Ghost Story)

With Halloween approaching, I was reminded of this story I came across a while back in J.W. Allen's wonderfully eccentric Wheel Magic, Or Revolutions of an Impressionist (1909). This chapter is, indeed, a cycling ghost story, perfect for this time of year. Here's the first half. I'll post the thrilling conclusion on October 31. 


Monday, October 16, 2017

Hero's Welcome


Parking your bicycle in front of Hero’s Welcome, a classic Vermont general store on North Hero Island, is a tricky business. Two long benches, perfect for leaning one’s bike against, sit out front, one labelled Democrat, the other Republican. These two benches are kind of famous, and meant at least partly as a joke, I think.

People think of Vermont as a solidly blue state, famously progressive and liberal minded, the home of Bernie Sanders, for God’s sake. But it’s not all blue. There are pockets of Trump support in parts of the state, mostly the rural, less affluent, un-solar-paneled areas. So you never really know, even in Vermont, who sits where.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

East Burke



I spent all of about 16 hours—and half of that asleep—in the small mountain village of East Burke in the Northeast Kingdom region of Vermont. But the place felt familiar and comfortable right away. I liked it immediately and I can imagine returning there some day for a longer, more leisurely explore.