Cycling Kalgoorlie

I must admit, at first I had my doubts about whether or not I’d be cycling Kalgoorlie. I visited the Museum of Western Australia and found this remarkable precursor to the modern Cervelo, built with wheels from old boxes, “tyres” from old meat tins, and forks fashioned from mulga wood…

I must admit, at first I had my doubts about whether or not I’d be cycling Kalgoorlie.

Wooden bicycle

I visited the Museum of Western Australia and found this remarkable precursor to the modern Cervelo, built with wheels from old boxes, “tyres” from old meat tins and forks fashioned from mulga wood (whatever that is).

Wooden Bicycle Chain

Consider this detail of the chainular region, which back in the day would have been wrapped with – would you believe – a “chain” made of bullock hide (whatever that is). One can only wonder how the fate of Andy Schleck in this year’s Tour de France would have been altered if he’d opted for this legacy technology.

From Southern Cross to Mount Barker
This map needs more kangaroos

The exhibit noted that this woody relic had been “pushed” from Southern Cross to Mount Barker back in the gold rush days. Being a Canadian and generally unaware of distances here in the outback, I had to have a peek at the map to discover that this represents a distance in excess of 2,150km, which, I am sure you’re aware, is about the distance from Vancouver to Winnipeg.

So what excuse did I have, visiting Kalgoorlie and not getting onto a bike myself?!

Hannan's Cycles, Kalgoorlie

I proceeded into town and found the local cycling shop, Hannan’s Cycles. If you need cycling gear in Kalgoorlie, Hannan’s Cycles is the shop you’re looking for. A gentleman named Brian there very kindly loaned me a road bike they had in the back. I will be forever in his debt, for not only did this act of generosity give me access to a bike made out of modern materials, but he’d also tuned it up  ready to go for a cycle out of Kalgoorlie!

Epic.

Superpit wide shot

I started by visiting the vast Super Pit, this massive gold mine just outside of town. In fact, I was there just in time to see the day’s blast! This pit is insanely massive, and only getting bigger: the viewing platform I was standing on is due to be demolished shortly as the open pit expands towards town.

Goldfields Highway

So off I went down the Goldfields Highway to see what I can see. In Toronto I sometimes lament  not having a long enough stretch of road to (safely) attempt a series of intervals. Here, this is not an issue. The road went on into the bush for as far as the eye could see.

And not only that, but look at the shoulders. They were great, and traffic was forgiving.

However, I will never complain about Canadian trucks again. I learned a new term in Kalgoorlie: “Road Train.”

These Road Train mothers of all truckers legally stretch up to 63.5m in length and just when you think they’ve finished passing you, there’s an improbable amount still coming to whoosh by.

Pipeline

The Goldfields Highway follows the route of the pipeline that provides water to Kalgoorlie from Perth, which itself is a storied engineering feat. It’s hard to imagine life in the goldfields before it was bringing water out here. (I mean, how could you lug the weight of water over that distance without having to drink all the water you were carrying?!)

Two Up

Feeling in need of a little extra life, I considered a short stop at 2-Up. Actually, I found out afterwards that this is not in fact a Super Mario Brothers reference in the middle of the bush, but instead a now-defunct casino whose name references a popular Australian gambling game played with two old pennies. (I was given a set by some thoughtful Australians I met in town.)

And what trip to a mining town would be complete without a visit to the explosives reserve? Actually, I kid — they wouldn’t let me anywhere near a room this full of explosives! This is an exhibit at the Mining Hall of Fame showing what the explosives would have looked like during the same era that the above mulga wood bicycle was bleeding edge.

Pouring Gold!

I suppose that, in a pinch, the very resourceful cyclist of yesteryear could have whittled their mode of transportation into a fuse, ignited the explosives, and found some gold like the hot stuff pictured above, which could then have be used (in conjunction with time travel), towards the purchase of a new Cervelo.

Can you pull off a cunning stunt like that with a carbon fiber frame? I dare say you could not. I rest my epic case.

Sign at the edge of town
All the best from Kalgoorlie!

Finding New Cycling Routes in Toronto

Toronto Cycling Map
Toronto Cycling Map at iBikeTO.ca

I can’t quite recall where I read it (probably Joe Friel’s Cyclist’s Training Bible) but apparently during your first year of cycling training, you need to log about 1,000 miles (1,600 km) of foundation before getting serious about skill-targeted training regimes.

That’s a lot of miles, and although I have some favourite routes in the city, it’s still nice to mix it up occasionally and discover new trails.

Toronto Cycling Maps

There are great maps of Toronto cycling routes, in pdf form (here on toronto.ca) and as a Google Maps mashup (here on iBikeTO.ca).

Accessing New Routes

In pursuit of Toronto cycling routes
At Tommy Thompson Park, in pursuit of Toronto Cycling Routes

New opportunities for discovering routes are appearing all the time.

TCAT pointed me to the Bikes+Transit site, which invites Toronto cyclists to avail of new GO Bus racks for transporting cycles.  In addition to making Toronto a more cycling-commuter friendly city, the bus additions now also allow cyclists to access other routes across (and out of) the city.

You’re even supposed to use Flickr and Twitter to record your explorations. I love Flickr, so I’ll aspire to join in the photo taking. I don’t usually bring my SLR on cycling trips, but that hasn’t stopped me from taking sketchy photos and videos with my phone in the past.

Niagara trails are also more accessible now (see here). You can also take the Greyhound bus between Toronto, St Catherines, and Niagara Falls.

Is there an App for that?

Being a Blackberry user (actually a Blackberry lover), the one thing I can’t find is an app the would turn my blackberry into a GPS-enabled cycling map, for the times when I occasionally lose my way on a new route. (Apparently the iPhone has a bunch of cycling apps available!)

If anyone knows of such a Blackberry app, I’d be very much obliged. Even a generic app that would allow me to overlay a Google Maps mashup like the Toronto cycling one would be great.

Learning the Lingo

Bonus cycling link: Dictionary of Roadie Slang (the Profanisaurus of cycling, useful for a Cat. 7 like me)

Cycling in Toronto: 3 Things I Learned Today

1. A few years ago, I won a “Door Prize” and had no idea!!

This one time, in Dublin, I was cycling along minding my own business, when a car passenger carelessly opened her door into the bike lane.

She’d given me just enough time to slam on my brakes and think “oh noes–” (or localized cussing equivalent) before I received what I now know is called a door prize straight across my helmet-protected face.

It can be a lot less funny and significantly more tragic.

So I am relieved to move swiftly on to report —

2. Proposed Changes to Toronto Cycling Routes will reduce your odds of winning a Door Prize!

The Toronto waterfront along Queens Quay is under review for a major redevelopment that, among other benefits, would make it significantly more cycle- and pedestrian-friendly.

It would “mend” the waterfront cycling trail, which currently suffers from an unpleasant discontinuity downtown.

If only Queens Quay looked like this...!
If only Toronto's Queens Quay looked like this...!

The shortlisted plans in this document (.pdf), found on the WATERFRONToronto site, would improve “active transportation” and go a long way toward revitalizing the waterfront.  The sketch above is from the consultation report.

For more information, there is a summary report here (.pdf) which includes upcoming meetings at which the public can comment (including City of Toronto Executive Committee Meeting June 2nd, and Council Meeting July 6th).  Head to WATERFRONToronto to learn more.

You may be interested in one thoughtful cyclist’s recent concerns regarding the current state of the plan.

The redevelopment, of course, is about much more than cycling.  But for cyclists, it could offer a very welcome change.

(Also, in case you missed it, earlier this week Toronto City Council approved a bike lane on major north-south artery Jarvis as well! Woohoo!)

3. There is a vibrant biking community here in Toronto!

The 2009 Toronto Bike Summit was a packed house
The 2009 Toronto Bike Summit was a packed house

I met some of that community today at the 2009 Bike Summit, which coincided with this week’s launch of Bike Month in Toronto.  The image above is from Ralph Buehler’s session this morning about Freiburg, which is widely considered Germany’s most sustainable city. The ways in which Freiburg’s infrastructure and culture accommodates cyclists provided the case study for Buehler’s very interesting presentation.

Considering I’ve been cycling like crazy of late, I’ve created a “Toronto Cycling” topic on this site, and what better way to kick it off than with a link-list.

Toronto cycling resources, publications and bloggers:

The Toronto Coalition for Active Transportation (TCAT) co-hosted the summit today.

The City of Toronto’s cycling site includes a .pdf of the Toronto-area bike map.

The Toronto Bicycling Network, and BikeToronto, and BikeLane Diary, and IBikeTO.org sites all offer Toronto cycling community news and insight.

Roadrash chronicles the escapades of a Toronto cyclist who’s en route to cycling 1,200km this summer.

Dandyhorse is a new print publication – elegantly designed, clearly a labour of love, and filled with insightful and well-written articles about everything “Toronto on Two Wheels.” More love for Dandyhorse here at Eyeweekly.

I’d be very happy to hear of any other Toronto cycling resources you know of out there.

See you on the roads and trails!