Thursday, September 30, 2010

granville after dark

Thursday night. We wandered up Granville St. from Waterfront Station to the Vogue theatre for the Pecha Kucha, me pushing my bicycle beside me.

Every. Bicycle. Rack. Is. Taken.

There are bikes locked to benches, sign posts, and spindly trees. There are ratty old mountain bikes; there are fixies; they are vintage; they are shiny; there are beach cruisers; they have banana seats.

By the time we exited at 9:45, the street was aglow with neon and wheels.

I wanted to stake out a spot, set my camera to the highest ISO it can suffer, and capture a blur of revelry, of shadows, of party goers on bicycles, enjoying the perfectly crisp, clear, dry, still-warm-enough-for-only-a-light-jacket night of early fall.

Can you imagine what Friday night is like?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

taking precipitational chances

Over the past few weeks, I've realized that it's more the threat of rain that decreases cycling than the rain itself.

little lakes on a bench

Now that I have a "rain plan", my default behavior in an overcast or drizzly situation is to pack a jacket and go. Last year, whenever it seemed like it could possibly rain, I erred on the side of caution and took the bus or walked.

So how many times have I actually been caught in the rain so far in September?

autumn drops


(Not counting the one time it was already raining when I left the apartment.)

Many days, the rain has happened when I'm inside: at work, in a coffee shop with a friend, in the mall. By the time I'm ready to go, the sky isn't falling anymore.

If I'd avoided riding on all those overcast days (and yes, there have been a lot of them in September so far), I might as well be a shut-in. Or buy a bus pass.

rain anenome

The west coast certainly has a reputation for being rainy, but it's more that it could rain at any time, not that it does.

polka dotted pink

Besides, isn't the world just so beautiful when decorated with water?

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 norco city glide 3 ST

Yesterday I test rode a 2010 Norco City Glide 3 ST at the Bike Doctor on Broadway.

Colour = Like. Deep turquoise. (Deeper in person than appears -- at least to me -- in the photo.) Passes the "not a stereotypically girly colour" and "doesn't make me want to puke" tests.

3-speed = Just not enough. I was really struggling to get up the hill, feeling in 1st gear like I was stuck in 3rd gear on my current bike. (That's 3rd gear on rear, middle gear on front; I ride my 21-speed as if it were a 6-speed and that's entirely sufficient for my needs.)

Internal Hub = Like the aesthetic, can deal with the weight, but I heard it. The guy at the shop took it for a spin when I returned and said that he didn't think there was anything wrong with it. I've always ridden bikes with derailleurs, but I'm used to silence while pedaling and the whirring sound only when coasting. This one whirred even when pedaling. Is that normal?

Posture = Seriously upright! The handlebars felt so close to me. It might take a bit of getting used to, but I think I would like it.

The frame has interesting angles and tube shapes that almost make up for the fact that it's still roughly welded aluminum. I love the shape of the stem (like a long, elegant neck) and the fact that the seat post is so plain. Overall, the City Glide bikes have a fairly "clean" aesthetic that appeals to me, including logos and other branding.

Unfortunately, the 8-speed version, as I've probably whined about before, comes only in mint green (2010) or bright blue (2011), which are both deal breakers. The only place I've heard of so far that paints bikes is Toxik Design Lab in Burnaby, and from the website the rates START at $250 (plus tax) to paint a diamond frame and fork in a single colour. Yowza! It just feels like such a shame to buy a brand new bike and then pay somebody to completely strip it and start from scratch.

What can I do but send feedback to the manufacturers and hope I'm not the only one (black\burgundy\dark grey\dark blue\dark purple, pretty please?) and keep looking and hoping that some day, some where, some North American bicycle manufacturer will get a clue and start painting step-throughs for grownups.

Because seriously? Want. In an 8-speed step-through. Diamond frames have all the fun.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

of wellies and slickers


Now that was a success!


Today it rained, as it's going to do for the next 8 months. "Oh, bother," I thought, as I peered out the window in this morning's early grey light. That was followed with: "But wait! Wasn't I hoping for this?"

And I was.

And it was as good as I hoped.


The aforementioned shiny new red raincoat was perfect, save one entirely fixable deficiency. It buttoned all the way up to my neck, kept my upper self dry, and looked chic and very 'me'. The missing piece: since the buttons don't extend all the way to the bottom, the front tended to fall away as I pedaled, leaving my knees exposed (oh, the scandal!) to the rain (oh.). So at lunch I picked up some black elastic and will fix up a small tie that can be fastened when riding to keep pants dry. Very important.

Add gumboots (pictured above), a water-resistant purple plaid laptop bag:


...and a plastic hat...

inverse flower

--and I was golden for the ride to and from work in the rain. Like many, I often feel indignant about the plastic hat, but in this case if I hadn't, I would have had to have worn...

...a plastic hat.

So this one pretty much did the trick.

The next 8 months are certainly looking up.

Monday, September 20, 2010

cycling shoes

Because what is a rear rack for except to carry extra shoes?

Extra new shoes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

rain or whine

Today was "girls night" with a few of my coworkers. On the agenda: drinks at Cactus Club and Eat Pray Love at the Scotiabank Theatre.

Having my bike with me, I walked it from the restaurant to the cinema. There's something elegant about walking a bicycle. It's somewhere to rest your hands, a rolling companion that feels more often like pulling you along than needing to be dragged places. (Funny, isn't it?) Besides, Burrard Street, a margarita, and a light dizzle aren't best of friends.

There were bicycles (more than one!) in the movie, with baskets and even the bell itself got a mention. One was very clearly a brown Electra Amsterdam (and interestingly enough for the theme of the movie: not the "women's" version).

By the time we exited the theatre post-movie, the drizzle had been replaced by plain and simple rain. Rain, rain, rain.

Yesterday I had bought a new, shiny, red raincoat!

Unfortunately, I hadn't worn it to work today.

Fortunately, I live about 7 minutes from the theatre and my green non-waterproof coat held up for that distance.

Unfortunately, there's not much that could be done about the water in my eyes.

Fortunately, I had trusty lights and nobody ran me over.

And because this situation was clearly biased towards the positive, I still have more 'fortunately's left over to add:
Fortunately, it's only September, so it's quite warm and I wasn't uncomfortable even when slightly damp.
Fortunately, I was heading to home, not away from it, which makes getting wet rather irrelevant and actually kind of fun.

Last fall/winter/spring, I avoided the ran and went long periods of time without riding. The bus became, once again, my prison. This year, I refuse to...
a) avoid riding because of the rain, and
b) look frumpy and/or sporty in rain "gear" (rather than rain "wear") that I don't enjoy wearing.

Freedom! The way I see, I can choose to embrace the rain or I can whine about it. This is Vancouver, after all: it's part of culture, our way of life. There are chic rain options out there and I intend to find them. For once I'm actually looking forward to the rain so that I can take my new shiny red rain coat (red! shiny! raincoat!) for a spin.

Freedom in all weather. Bring it on!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

cooling down

I haven't felt much like writing in the past few weeks. As summer winds down, the air starts to cool, and the grey skies come, my heavy camera stays at home and my daydreams of quiet rides in sundresses and sunglasses to picnics on the beach start to fade. I've been taking a break from analysis, idealism, and observation to simply do just what this blog is all about in the first place.


Every day, to work and play.

Soon, the wistfulness will drift away and I'll feel a renewed vigor for the autumn season. The seawall will once again become an enjoyable route (I avoid it in the summertime due to the crowds). I do, do love fall/winter laying: scarves to fly behind me in the breeze, wool coats to keep warm and cool and dry, knitted handwarmers to keep out the damp coastal air. And boots! Boots with thick socks and colourful tights, avoiding the need to wrap a flapping pant leg.

The camera will come out again, ready to capture the season and how people change with it, how they ride their bicycles in it.

Until then, I may have some archive photos to post. Or I may not. Autumn, here I come.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

a gentleman's ride

In the heart of the business district, in the plaza where countless office workers eat their lunch and soak up a few minutes of lucious early September sunshine, was parked a sturdy black steed.

His double top tubes were notable in their uniqueness... but then again, he already stood out against a sea of hybrids and road bikes without even trying.

I imagine his owner (and humour my baseless flight of fancy, here) would be wearing business attire to ride to work in one the tower hives above and certainly not changing when he arrived.

This is as much a bicycle for a modern man as it is for one with admiration for classic design. Gentlemen, can you see yourself suited up on this?