Into the Heart of Darkness

The clouds of doom began gathering as soon as the destination for Sunday’s FRF ride was announced.

As we embarked on our ill-fated adventure into cycling’s Heart of Darkness, Delta, they thickened, became more menacing.

Barely over the Bridge of Lost Souls that transports unwitting victims into her lair, never to be seen again, the trouble began. Mike, an FRF newbie on his inaugural ride, flattened. By the time the day was done, the fierce headwind was no longer the topic of our peloton’s consternation; it was Mike’s unprecedented FOUR flats!

Mario Bartel cycling blog photography storyteller
An all too familiar scene; the FRF gather around as a flat tire is changed.

Delta is where cyclists get lost, and tires go to die.

The city’s bike routes are deplorable. Not only is their signage inconsistent and often illogical, the lanes are poorly maintained.

It is July, the thick of riding and bike commuting season, and the bike routes are as dirty with gravel and debris as if it was mid-March after a harsh winter of snowplowing and sanding. the sharp stones bite into tires, ricochet into unsuspecting shins, ping off shiny carbon fibre frames and even catapult off passing vehicles. Riding in Delta, especially along busy routes like River Road, is a dangerous game of waving and weaving through a moonscape disguised as a bike lane.

Mario Bartel cycling blog photographer storyteller
Gravel and stones no the marked bike lane is an invitation to trouble. Routes need to be swept.

Making roads and routes safe for cyclists involves more than just painting white stencils on shoulders. Those lanes should be swept regularly to clear them of the debris and detritus strewn by cars and trucks. A sharp stone squeezed out by a tire at 120psi becomes a missile, capable of gashing shins, chipping paint, flattening tires. Just ask Mike, whom we last saw humping his bike back down the Bridge of Lost Souls, his patience and our peloton’s supply of inner tube and CO2 cartridges exhausted.

Four flats on a single ride is terribly bad luck. In Delta, it’s inevitable.

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