Monday, July 18, 2011

rushin' reds

Today, riding home from work, I nearly got hit.

But...surprise, surprise...not by a motor vehicle.

I was turning left from Drake onto Burrard. Ironically, it was on the separated but in-my-opinion-awkardly-positioned bike lane, which means that it's more like turning left off a one-way street than off a regular two-way street. (Not exactly, but my ungrateful nitpicking about the separated infrastructure will have to be left for another day.) The traffic-light structure is that of a pedestrian/bicycle-activated crossing, so bicycles follow the pedestrian-crossing symbol instead of a green light. (This is a tradition which has always seemed somewhat contradictory to me, in that the powers-that-be seem to be constantly trying to keep bicycles off of sidewalks and associate them instead with motor vehicles. For the love of two wheels, WHICH DO YOU WANT US TO BE?! No wonder everybody's confused.)

Anyhoo... as the light changed and I prepared to cross, I did my instinctual check to my left to see if the cars were stopped and nobody was running the red. Two lanes, both stopped, good. Then, as I started to accelerate, a guy on a bike comes careening past the cars on the inside. Not in a bike lane; there was extra space which I think was from an unfilled parking spot. Based on our relative positioning at the time, I chose to stomp on the pedals to try to accelerate out of his way, loudly yelling "Woah, dude!", and he swerved the other way to avoid me. As he powered on through the red light without a word, I crossly -- and futilely, I expect -- yelled, "Red light!" after him.

So here's why I'm retelling this story.

As a group, we cyclists waste a tonne of breath nagging each other about helmets (in both directions). So my request is this: for anyone who knows any cyclists who routinely make a habit of this unpredictable road vice, can we attempt to expend equal effort to applying peer pressure on such cavalier, rules-don't-apply-to-me behavior? Because this isn't about the safety of one of us; it's about the safety of all of us.

Thank you.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

in a word

The man in the elevator, eyeing my red bicycle, asked where I had ridden.  "To and from work," I replied. "It's convenient."

"Yes," he agreed, then paused, seeming to search for a word. "And...civilized."

Yes, sir.  Exactly.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

fashion photo series

Long time, no blog!

It's not that I haven't been riding. I have. Every day. Everywhere.

It's that my camera is heavy and I haven't been in the mood to carry it everywhere.

However, it is conveniently located in my apartment, so I've started a photo series there.

In addition to gradually incorporating bicycles into my lifestyle over the past two years, I've also started to incorporate fashion. I call myself a "recovering frump". For years, I didn't dress very well. This isn't to say that there was anything wrong with the way I dressed but that it didn't make me feel very good about myself. I made clothing choices based on what I thought I should wear (or what I thought I wanted to wear). Now, I'm working on expressing on the outside a visual representation closer to what I feel like on the inside and dressing in a way that makes me feel great and confidant and ready to face the world every time I walk out the door.

I'm also not very good at posing for photos and not good at taking self-portraits, so put all these factors together and you get a self-portrait fashion & bicycles photo series. Be prepared for the same dusty mirror, red lamp, and wacky angles. Practice, practice, practice, they say!

Getting there. Far from the common image given of bicycling where you have to give up your visual identity in order to ride (case in point: the ubiquitous yellow/blue reflective rain jacket)... who knew you could start cycling and actually get more fashionable?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

uvic and gordon head

For the first time since my family and I started riding bicycles together (again-- as adults), we didn't ride the Galloping Goose.

Instead, we took a leisurely roll to UVic, where I spent my post-secondary years before graduating in 2005, and then around calm, suburban, flat, impeccably-paved Gordon Head. (Pothole? What's a "pothole"?)

UVic has made some serious bike rack investment since I was there. The "centre" of the University, a fountain/green area in front of the library, is now ringed with racks. And not those out-of-vogue squishy hanging triangle racks that waste space because you can only fit one bike in each "slot" and one misplaced speciman can cut the capacity in half... (deep breath)... but much more spacious models. Some covered. After all, if there's one thing a campus like this has, it's plenty of space.

All in all, it was great to travel by bicycle to places that I normally associated with car, bus, or foot travel. I did ride to UVic my first year there, but after one frustrating flat I just... stopped. Lost interest, I think. (My parents house is also at the top of a serious hill. And I mean serious. That might have had something to do with it.) Riding to a familiar place is like recalibrating the distance-memory in my brain; I begin to perceive that place in bicycle-terms instead of by other modes. I believe we all do this as we expand our "I've ridden there" vocabularies/mental maps, destination by destination, neighbourhood by neighbourhood. UVic, Gordon Head: check!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

kids and cargo on few wheels

I really enjoyed a recent post on Copenhagenize about the variety of "play" cargo trikes for kids, which incorporate either a bucket (for carting your toys, of course!) or an extra seat for your friend.

When I was a kid, my friends and I loved carting each other around in a wooden wagon, as shown here in this photo I've posted before:

There's something about kids transporting each other on wheels that I really love. I think there's a sense of achievement, competence, and collaboration in it. We're going somewhere together.

I highly recommended taking a look at the post-- it's mostly photos so a quick read but I guarantee you'll see some styles of bike that you've never seen before. Besides, they're mini and have rosy-cheeked little Danish kids on them. What's not to love?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

victoria day

Hm... how to spend Victoria Day?

How about brunch, a bike ride, and a trip to the garden store to start a window sill herb garden?

Yep, sounds good to me.

How did you spend your Victoria Day holiday? Did you get out on your bicycle?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

retro velo: retrovelo

I was taking a class with Emily Carr University's Continuing Studies department, recently. (Design for Social Change. Recommended. Check it out.)

Parked out front, one Tuesday evening, was a Retrovelo.

A Retrovelo @ Emily Carr

Leave it to an art/design student/teacher to have such a seriously stunning ride. Look at those fat white tires! The painted stem. The 3-tiered front fork. (I suppose there's probably a technical name for that. I just don't know it.) It's a lovely specimen of a bicycle. (And German, I believe.)

As of yet, I don't know of any shop in Vancouver that sells them, so perhaps it came from somewhere else? If anyone reading this knows of any importers in BC, do fill me in.

In other non-photographic news, I spotted:

- A Globe Live 2 Mixte, the other model I was considering before deciding to purchase my Globe Daily 3. There were fabric flowers strung festively around the front rack/basket.

- Abici bicycles (Italian) being sold at Gigi B in the Net Loft on Granville Island. Warning: if you like high-quality, classically-styled bicycles, these will leave you drooling.

And not spotted, but news to report...

- Rain City Bikes is now carrying Linus bicycles. With a variety of frame styles -- mixte, loop, diamond -- and speeds -- single, 3, 5, 8 -- all with internal hubs and many with chain guards and racks, these look like they would make great city bikes. I plan to check them out next time I'm in that neighbourhood.

And that's all for today from the "new practical and beautiful bicycles gracing our city" department.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

pack up

It's been a while since I posted a music video. This one has some serious cruisers, ape hangers and all.

Plus, it's catchy! And has public transportation. And rowboats. I like to put it on and dance around my apartment.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

easter ride

just around the bend

through the forest

Luxton Fairgrounds

parking lot

dark below and blue above

a blur of pink

waiting patiently

Look at my sandwich!

guys and bikes

Have a chariot day!

mid-ride picnic

I visited my family in Victoria for Easter weekend and we celebrated Spring by going for a bicycle ride along the Galloping Goose trail starting at Luxton Fairgrounds and riding as far as Roche Cove. The weather surprised us by being perfect. The trail, being an old rail line, is probably one of the flattest you'll find in the Victoria area. (Islands. That whole mountains-rising-from-the-sea thing. Sheesh.) This section of the trail passes through a variety of areas, including some farm areas, some dark, damp forested areas, and some of those open, rocky areas where you can smell the Arbutus trees and dried grasses. Another nice surprise was when we stumbled upon O, who works with my family (my dad, mom, and sister all work together), on a ride with his partner E and their 1-year-old baby E in a chariot. Despite the fact that they're more athletic about their riding than the rest of us, they'd also come a farther distance (and E was pulling the chariot) so joined us for the last leg. At the far end, we stopped for a short lunch before turning around to ride back. Despite the fact that it was deep into the most stressful time of year for most of the group (they're all in accounting), everyone seemed to agree that this was pretty great way to spend a Saturday.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

spring weekend(s)

I haven't had either of my bicycles out since Thursday.


On Friday I bussed it, because I met up with Melanie after work for dinner at Nuba and a showing of Bill Cunningham New York. In some situations, walking+transit is the most appropriate mode of transportation.

On Saturday, it poured! And I mean poured. The kind of rain that is more common in other places but not here in drizzle-land. It was fantastic to be sitting at the window of a coffee shop when the sky let go, watching everyone on the street run for cover and the gutters fill up like mini rivers. I hadn't been wearing my gumboots so got a bit soggy on the way home, but-- meh. It's not January, so I don't really mind. I don't melt.

On Sunday (today), I went clothes shopping, which I do rarely because I usually find it such a chore. (I do enjoy fashion and the preparation of an outfit, but for some reason dislike the process of filling my closet in the first place.) Instead of riding, I -- again -- walked+bussed. In the circumstances, it just make sense.

So those pictures above?

Yeah, they're from last weekend.

It seems I'm getting lazy.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

piecycle races are coming your way

I want to ride my piecycle
I want to ride my...



Friday is "treat day" in my department and yesterday it was my turn. I baked an apple pie and a mixed berry pie (only one with a from-scratch crust, though) and transported them to work the best way I know: by bicycle.

I took my older bike because it has the wider basket that was able to fit the containers. You can only see one of them in this photo; the second was in a flat box underneath that red towel.

The pies arrived at work completely unscathed. Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

on two feet

One of my favourite things to do on a gently rainy day is to go for a walk.

Puddle Picture

Crossing Blades

Empty Benches by the Lagoon

Sparkly Pink Leaves

Unfurling Ferns

The pace is always unashamedly slow, meandering in gumboots and raincoat. The smells of nature rise above the usual perfume of the city. I smell soaked cedar, soggy soil, and greenery disturbed by water.

Even at my slowest on a bicycle, I wouldn't get quite this much detail. I lean in with my camera, examining the individual droplets coating every leaf, petal, and stalk.

At the edge of Stanley Park, garden pathways invite, but there are still pockets of wild. Ferns unfurl in dark corners that rarely see sunlight. Moss creeps out across any available surface, glowing the bright green of new spring.

Love the rain. After all, if this wasn't city, it would be rainforest.

Monday, April 11, 2011

a "spring" ride

On Saturday, Melanie and I took our bicycles for a spring ride.

Slow versus Go

I'd had a metal shard removed from my rear brake by the bike shop that morning, so was eager to get out for a ride, as I'd been using my other bike for most of the week until I could get to the shop.

Monochrome Panda

Her bike is turquoise with a red seat and mine is red, so with much chromatic intention (read: none) we valiantly had an outdoor lunch on these appropriately-hued chairs. It was still a bit chilly, so our "picnic" was fairly short. Good thing we could continue to enjoy each others' company outdoors in another simple manner that kept us at a better temperature for this early spring day: riding.

Red & Turquoise

There were many sights to be seen, including this weird but wonderful overgrown shed with... um, wooden banister-things nailed to the side of it? Sure.

Odd & Overgrown

Regretably, the sun didn't make an appearance, but it didn't dampen our enjoyment of the ride any less. (Not figuratively OR literally.)


It was still pretty fun anway.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

not just a passing phase

Now that I've been riding for 2 years and am quite confident that it's not just a passing phase...

...I've made an investment.

A leather saddle by Brooks, model B72.

When it rains, I cover it in this nice shower cap purchased for less than $5 at the drugstore.

I bought it at the Denman Bike Shop, whose staff/owners were friendly, helpful and informative. They reviewed my bike and installed it right then and there with no delay. The thing I love about their shop is that form and functionality are considered equally important. In much of the bike world, form is secondary, but here they seem to be big believers that you can have your cake it eat it too-- or have bicycles, parts and accessories that you love to look at and know that they're still doing their job.

The breaking-in period for the saddle is going fine so far. The first few rides were a tad less comfortable than usual, but I started to notice improvement quite quickly and it's only getting better. Looking forward to many, many more.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

another family ride

Last weekend I was in Victoria visiting my family. As I mentioned recently, both my parents and my sister are all proud owners of new bicycles. Since that purchase, my parents haven't wasted a single weekend day and have already taken two-wheeled jaunts in every direction. For a single month that consisted of a 3:1 ratio of winter:spring, they've done pretty awesome.

Naturally, when I was in town, we planned a ride. Of course we did. (Coincidentally, brother-in-law is the only one without a new bicycle and the only one who didn't join the ride this time, due to the end-of-semester crunch at school.)

I didn't ride Harriet because we were concerned about her comfort level on a long-ish ride that included some gravel sections. Instead, I rode the latest "new-old" steed in the fleet, a grey-ish Giant diamond frame hybrid donated to my parents by some of their friends.

He's not particularly elegant, but does the job quite satisfactorily. (I've taken to calling him "George" in my head.) It did feel a bit unusual to be leaned over quite so much after being used to my upright bikes, but it wasn't quite as uncomfortable as some rentals I've ridden in the past.

My sister's bike come with a shiny bell!

Both my parents have added mirrors to theirs. I'm tempted to get one (for my bike(s) here in Vancouver, I mean), as I do a lot of shoulder-checking when I'm on the road.

Our destination was Mattick's Farm, where there are stickers on the wall instead of wallpaper.

It's the kind of place that's touristy in a Grandma sort of way but you love it anyways because it's always been there.

We managed to lock up four bikes with a single cable lock. (Not super-secure, I know, but it's not exactly a dodgy area and we were having hot chocolate just inside the doors.) That's George at the front.

I feel lucky that my family can enjoy such outings together even as adults. It's great to be able to share in something that gets us outdoors, active, and having fun.