Road Bikes

Irene is built around a custom-made 58cm True North titanium touring frame, hand-built by Hugh Black in Guelph, Ontario in 2010.  She does have the S&S couplings as well as canti’ bosses(you never know..), rack and fender mounts and three water bottle mounts.  She’s equipped with a Wound Up Composites carbon cycle-cross fork with disc tabs and fender mounts, though no rack mounts.[I’ve attached the front rack with some clamps/brackets of my own making]  Headset is a pewter Chris King.  Wheels are both 32h Mavic A719 rims laced to pewter Chris King disc hubs with Schwalbe Marathon Plus 40c tires.  I had run Continental Top Touring [I only use Conti tires on my road bikes] tires but the side-walls starting cracking after just 3000 kms of touring.

Drive train is a full 3×10 (32/42/52t) Shimano Ultegra R6703 with a long-cage Shimano M770 rear derailleur.  Brakes are Avid BB7 cable-actuated discs which worked quite well.  Other parts include Kent Eriksen titanium seat-post, 46 cm Bontrager alloy handlebar, Shimano M985 pedals and King Cages titanium bottle cages.  Front and rear pannier racks are Old Man Mountain while all the bags are from Arkel.  I did start with a pewter Chris King BB, but the bearings went after just a couple thousand miles.  After giving me a hard time about the impossibility of their bearings being shot after such a short time, King did eventually replace the bearings under warranty.  However, because of the experience, I’ve tossed that BB into a box and am back riding a Shimano XT BB. Originally I had a Brooks Ti B-17 but the main bolt broke after about 7000 kms. The bolt has been replaced but I no longer have faith in the design or application of Ti to saddle rails, so it’s been replaced with a Specialized saddle.

Riding this bicycle is shear magic, I am so incredibly comfortable on her.  The birth of this beautiful bicycle came after the death of my mother in 2010.  She was also the reason I began touring and have made cycling the focus of my life’s happiness.  Irene is my mother’s middle name and my grand-mother’s first name. Hugh skillfully etched her name into the frame, taken directly from a sample of my mother’s hand-writing.  Thanks Hugh, nice touch.

Now that I’ve begun bike-packing–which is just another name for light-weight off-road touring on a mountain-bike–I’ve realised just how much–and how little-gear I really need to carry with me.  I am curious to see if on my next cycle-touring trip on Irene, if I’ll even need all the space those giant Arkel bags provide.

As well as touring, I’ve stripped Irene of her racks and fenders, thrown on some 35c knobbies and taken to exploring gravel/dirt roads. She is perfectly suited for such adventures and I enjoyed several gravel rides while in the desert this winter.


Irene, fully loaded, somewhere along the Oregon/California coast in 2010.


Out for a gravel road ride in the desert of Big Bend. Perfect bike for those roads.


Irene and I pose for the Bicycling magazine cover picture.


Shirin is a 2009 carbon-fibre Cervélo “S2” and she’s fast as hell.  Mostly stock, she is spec’d with a full Shimano Ultegra 6700 drivetrain, although, after running a Shimano Dura Ace 7800 (42/53t) crankset, that was swapped out in the spring of 2014 for an Ultegra 6800 compact 52/36t which I enjoy much more, especially in the mountains.  The lower gearing is much easier on my lower back.  Wheels are Bontrager Aeolus ACC’s with Continental GP4000 rubber and titanium Bontrager q/r levers.  Handlebars are carbon 3T and the saddle is a Specialized Toupe RBX.  There also a few little goodies here and there, like the custom-made head-set top-cap; a gift from my pal, DBT. Thanks bro.

When looking for a woman’s name for this bicycle, one that started with the letter S, I went to my mum for input.  She told me of the time she worked at the Iranian embassy in England in the late 1960’s.  Posted there at the time was a diplomat named Shirin; a very passionate, intelligent woman who was a lot more than simply a token female appointment.  Shirin not only means “sweet” in Farsi but the name comes from an ancient Persian queen who did much for the oppressed and marginalized minorities of her time.  What’s more, I purchased this bike while working at Neworld Cycle, owned by brothers who hail from Iran[aka Persia]  Yup, Shirin it would be!

Over the past year, Shirin has developed play between the seat-post and the seat-tube. Enough that the seat-post basically rocks back and forth at the collar, making ugly noises. I use carbon-prep, I’ve changed out the seat collar, but it continues to get worse. Cervélo are excellent about their warranty and stand behind their products, so, Shirin is being sent back to be replaced. While Shirin and I have ridden many wonderful miles together, an era is coming to a close. That said, another will soon begin.



Shirin at roadside in Burlington, ON


Shirin stripped and ready to be take back to Cervelo under warranty. End of an era.


Climbing and climbing during the 225mile Durango Death Ride in 2014