Monthly Archives: December 2010

Bulldozers and the Bluffs

Last post involved the path down at the base of the bluffs, and how it would make a great bike path (read the dedicated “Commuting, a Trail Proposal” page). However, construction efforts have been stupendously slow. Almost no actually progress has been made since two summers ago; dump trucks are only piling up the fill at the one end of the path.

The red circle is where the current construction is ongoing. 

Upon closer inspection of the site, a bulldozer and an excavator can be seen – these have served only to force the dumped loads into mounds. In the future (who knows how long), the rubble will be pushed into the water to construct the remaining section between Gates Gully and this path situated below the Guild Inn.

The red line indicates the path being built now – about 240 meters. This is less than 1/17 of the amount of the path needed to be newly constructed (including breakwater trails), and has taken a full year to get only the building materials collected. It’ll be another 20 years to get the thing finished! Oh, well. With some motivation, we may just be able to get city council to push the project up on their “To Do” list.

It may be interesting for you to know that the heavy equipment they use is not kept under lock-and-key at all; it is simply abandoned at the end of a working day:

The unlocked bulldozer
Is it considered “breaking in” when there was
no breaking involved?
My buddy, for relative size
Operating the control levers, but with
no great success.

Note the metal paneling over the windows and door: it
may be easily removed with only a wrench.

The ‘dozer was left completely accessible, minus the operating keys, but it still had enough hydraulic pressure to lift and lower the bucket, twice! While I don’t recommend it, one only needs a wrench, and they can get in and fully operate the excavator – the workers leave the keys inside, but slide on metal coverings over the door, and keep them in place with only a few bolts!

They are still around the end of the path, for anybody interested, as of Dec. 27th, and don’t look as if they are moving anytime soon. Just watch for the workers between 10 AM and 6 PM once the holidays are over. Cheers.

2010 In Review: Part 2

School may have come to a close for this year – but it will soon rear its ugly head (on the 3rd of January – ugh!). There are only…  4 days left as I am writing this

There are a few more highlights to go through on the 2010 review itinerary, this one being about cycling. What’s not to like about it? I personally am very fond of the sport, recreation and leisure offered by the activity. Well, so far, I’m still fairly novice – I’ve only logged a little over 5500 km in my life – but that’s not too bad a start.

This year’s cycling mileage is roughly 2000 km – almost half of my total. Why ‘roughly’? My cyclometer died half-way through the year, resetting its data, and I don’t ride with it all the time. Counting school commuting, I’m much closer to 2750 km.

A milestone in itself, at least, one to note and beat in the coming year – once I manage find my cyclometer again (*sigh*). Another milestone: first long-haul tour, from Toronto to Kingston. Over 380 km of road and light trail, with the exception near Cobourg, which was some tough trail for someone loaded for road touring. Great ride, scenic, and okay (actually, rather poor) weather. Covered in 3 days, it still came to a push at the end, when lost in Prince Edward County (a very hill county, with plenty-o-climbs to make up for the rest of the trip).

Lunch!
Lookout near Lake on the Mountain, Prince Edward County.

Milestone #3 – What I’ve learned from the experience: ALWAYS BRING SPARE TUBES! A tire patch kit won’t cut it if the valve-stem rips off. Try fixing that in the rain, in the middle of nowhere (well, I managed to, but you might not!).  Also, bring lots of water bottles if you know your fellow rider gets thirsty easily. And I mean a lot.


Enjoy the rest of the Holidays!

Family Visits

Went to visit family in Kingston this past weekend. The Clan is getting larger by the year… I’ve too many cousins to count. Well, 13. Or is it 14? Oh, and enough aunts and uncles to sink the Titanic as well – which, for all we know, they may very well have. We (my immediate family) who live in Toronto, however, are not that numerous, but still manage to have a very poor track record for being punctual, despite not having to deal with as many bodies to get organized. The plan this Christmas: we get packed Friday to leave by 8:30 AM Saturday for K-town. The actual result: finished packing by 2 AM Saturday, left at 10:00 AM after we dragged ourselves out of bed. And then we got caught in a snow storm:

Scary drive up – hit snow squalls in Trenton, the average speed on the 401 dropped to ~50 km/h, but yet a few intrepid drivers (a crazy in a wee hatchback and then a redneck in a hummer) plugged away at high-speed. And with them too went many of the 18-wheelers (one started to split lanes as we were passing! f@*&!) – any that, my friends, is why I like freight trains.

We arrived 4 hours late, and so missed ice skating w/ the rest of the clan (*sob!*), as well as arrived ‘fashionably late’ to the Christmas party. All else went well, till we were nearly late for church the following day.

We weren’t so late as to miss the sunset at the lodge, however!

Oh – one interesting (well, odd, at least) thing that I saw this weekend, travelling back at night:

Just a TV, Chillin’ outside 

It’s a TV set, on at 11 PM in the cold, outside, in front of a closed eatery. Any takers? It’s somewhere near the intersection of MacDonnell and Princess streets in Kingston. Sorry about the blurry photo; it was late and the car was moving too quickly to take a good shot.

A Winter’s Outing

Went for a few hours’ ride today – the first full test of the ‘new’ tyres; they are actually 16-year-old ‘Dual Sport’ (i.e., wide as a mountain tire!) Chen Shins which came with the bicycle. They did a real swell job, once I let some air out to run them at ~45 psi, handling the snow, road, gravel and even some ice without slipping.

.
 My GT has lots of extra room for an
even wider tire, despite already having
on 42mm ones.
 The steep hill down to the buffs is
 salted and in use by dump trucks




I headed down to Guild Inn to access the bluffs’ lakeside trail, and enjoyed a pleasant photographing and sight-seeing session. The bluffs change so much from their summer appearance!

 The bluffs look even more awesome in person. Sadly,
they are predicted to gradually turn into steep hills,
some as soon as 15 years from now.



Even in the winter, dump-trucks laden with dry-fill keep on tipping their loads to complete this soon-to-be Waterfront Trail section, which will eventually connect the beaches all the way out to pickering, without interruption; it will be all path without any streets/roads. Most of the path is already done, with only a few connecting portions missings. With the rate at which construction has increased over this past summer, I expect it to be done in under 5 years, but we’ll see if the project ever gets finished when Rob Ford starts slashing Toronto’s expenditures.
The lonely trail in the winter.

For one strange reason or another, a good lot of car parts have accumulated at the base of the bluffs. Maybe someone drove them over the edge a long time ago?

My favorite photo depicting the car parts down by the lake. This one really
 shows the density of the car parts strewn about.

Most of the parts seem like late 1950s to early 70s vintage – a lot of old OHV V8s are hanging out amongst the engine blocks. Dating them is also made easier by the drum brakes; they were replaced by discs on most performance vehicles by the 80s. Most parts seem to be Ford from the bits of writing I was able to make out on some axles and brake drums.



Not a car – but found down by the bluffs anywho.

  

I think this is a Ford V8.



 
I once found an entire crushed Ford Bronco II! If I ever get that roll of film developed, that picture will most surely be put in a future post. That’s it for now – I’ve some homework to finish before the holidays begin.

See more of my photos at: http://thetriplex.deviantart.com/

2010 in Review: A Blog Series

This is the first post of what I like to call “2010 in Review” – a review of all the notable events and achievements of the past year.

1. Started to do some real UEing (that is to say, urban exploring) this year. What an experience, I didn’t know what I was missing! I particularly like draining:

Trying my hand at ‘light painting’ – look it up. Taken in “O’Malley’s Lair”

# Drains explored: 5
# Building explored: Really, none, but that’s cuz there are no abandones in my area! (There are, however, lots of little tunnely-drain things!)


Map of some recently found or explored drain systems. 

I’ve never done really technical drains, only the fairly linear systems. A good few to check out are “Beefy McFistpunch’s Tunnel” (nick-named after my burly friend who showed me it) and “O’Malley’s Lair” (another friend’s nickname – we like Irish nicknames). Nothing dangerous in these – the first is actually a cira 1900 stone culvert under the bridge on Scarborough Golf Club Road, and the second is a small storm drain serving about 25 homes, opening onto a ravine. See the map above for details.


Warning: The author holds no responsibility for your safety – you are solely responsible for your actions. The author does not condone this type of exploration, especially where signage indicates that it is prohibited.

Whoow. Just had to spew out that legal mumbo-jumbo. Who knows where I could end up if I don’t? The legality of drains is kinda sketchy at best – it technically should be legal to access these public works, if there is no “Do not enter” kind of signage. But try explaining that to El Policia. Best not to get caught, period.

You can find out much more here: http://www.uer.ca/forum_search1.asp
Its Canadian-based, lots of Urban Exploring stuff, from abandoned homes to factory complexes to drains.

As a note to anyone who wants to try draining, take a look in the UER  forums for tips and tricks – it’ll keep you at least a bit safer. And always remeber: No Drains when it Rains; check the weather first.

Keep on exploring this big city of ours – Cheers!

Slings ‘n Things

There is going to be a shorter post today – I’ve homework to get though, and a laser-quest game! Yes, laser-quest; I am a Scouter (well, scouter-in-training) with a scout troop (good for the community hours, and having a few outtings isn’t so bad either!), and I’m there supervising tonight. But I get to play too, so I’m not complaining! I’ll post some pics of this later… its sure to be fun. Ahead of time, I would like to apologize for my poor pictures – my Sony DSC just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

On friday, my friend and I built some mini-crossbows out of rubber bands and rulers in math class – it was a free period – and perforated apples with ’em. This gave me an idea: what other ‘weapons’ can I fashion from things lying around my house (or school room)? The result: the humble sling, made from cotton twine and a strip of an orphaned sock for the basket.




My homemade sling. Can you believe Goliath got toasted by one of these?

 

Slings work by multiplying the working force upon the stone, by effectively acting as an extension to your arm. One end of the string has a finger loop, the other, knots. You swing the sling to build up momentum, and then release the knotted end, thus throwing the rock. This homemade sling does the trick – it does indeed fling stones a good distance, to about 100 meters. Unfortunately, due to the sock pouch, rock tend to slip out, and also the thin strings always get tangled.
I tested this sling in a park nearby, and got there by biking. It was snowing today, and since I always am looking for an excuse to snow cycle, this testing was one excuse that couldn’t be passed up. Too bad it was a little windy – otherwise, it wasn’t too cold. About -7C by my estimates.



Ignore the purpleness – it was actually quite nice with a white covering of snow everywhere. I had to beware of ice, though. 



Right now, I’m running my ‘winter’ set-up: I’ve switched into some 41mm Chen Shin ‘Dual Sport’ tyres, which really have quite a bit of traction even when at the max. 75 psi. Still like skates on ice, I found out. I’m thinking of ghetto-winterizing the tyres by shoving some tacks through them – anybody out there with advice on this?
Back to the story: Found some rocks and tested it. Knocked a tree ~30m away hard enough to knock down snow from the braches.

Rock in the sling.

 So, for anyone wondering, Yes!… David probably wouldn’t have had a hard time taking down Goliath, especially since he had years of training and I was still able to whack a tree with 5 minutes practice. 

Camera, taking picture from sling. Note: No cameras
were harmed in the taking of this pciture
That’s about it for today, I’m off to do math.

1st Post!



How exactly does one go about kicking off a new blog? Well, I’m not sure exactly, so I’ll just start with an introduction. I’m a highschool student in Toronto, and today I should be working on my homework, but as I have recently finished a 18-page long maths portfolio (for friday!), I feel like being lazy. And the weather isn’t making me want to get it done, either:
Raining – no biking today.

 

With the day miseable,  I should be spending time on academic purposes. However, with rain comes no motivation to finish – it is not as if I will be able to spend my time in ways I like. Perfect day to start a blog, non?



I enjoy the experience of getting to know my city better – since I’ve taken up cycling four years ago, I’ve become a lot more familiar with the Scarborough area (where I live!) as well as the more ‘Toronto’ part of Toronto. So, to elaborate, I’ve made my way down town by bike – I don’t just stick around the boonies. Besides, I’m a fan of the ‘city’ feel, with packed streets and the anonimity that comes with this. Did I also mention I love the architechture of late 19th/early 20th century buildings, especially the decrepit and the industial buildings: I do urban exploring, so abandonments and old industrials are particularly cool to behold(in my opinion).
My bikes also bring me to school (except in winter), and take me on tours. I’ve two rigs: my ~35lb GT Vantara touring rig, and my ~22 lb fixed/single speed.



Mine’s on the right!



I personally have logged >5000km on the GT, but the bike is as old as I am and has seen another 2000 clicks from the original owner; my dad. That’s what I’ve asked for as a holiday gift – we’ll see whether my father decided to go with bar-ends or STIs! Right now though, it is equipped with a 3 x 7 drivetrain, and that’s outdated, but more than enough. Its seen me through touring, and by gosh, no whippiness at all, probably due to its 10lb frame built of plain-gauge Tange. This is my main rig, takes me everywhere!
Flamboyant? Maybe, but I love it just the same.

Don’t judge me – I’m not a hipster. I just wanted to see what all the fuss was about single speed and fixed gear.
“Then why did you go for red?!?”, you must be asking. Well, I like candy canes, so with white deep-v’s, and red-line tyres, it looks rather like candy. Plus, I just like red, and it is way better than the black spray paint that came on the old 10-speed frame.

I appologize for the crappy camera quality – the Sony point-and-shoot digital cam’s sensor died when I left it out in the cold. My only other camera is film – an Olympus 35sp Rangefinder – and I save the film for shots I feel are really worth it.



Here’s a picture of my rig I thought worth taking. Or maybe I just
only had my film camera handy?



So, there we have it, and that about wraps up the first post. A very long post, but I believe a good footing for what is to come.