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.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

the 'wall'

Wednesday this week was one of those days that reminds me where all those glittering tourism photos of Vancouver come from. Since it was no night to be heading straight home from work to do chores inside, I detoured (and I mean really detoured) around the Stanley Park seawall for the first time in a few months.

I'm constantly recommending to people who have never ridden it to go on a weeknight. Avoid Saturday and Sunday afternoons at all cost, I tell them, because you will spend so much time trying to maneuvre around clumps of tourists and wandering pedestrians that you won't get the full impact of the route.

That night: full impact. The other cyclists out -- from racers to BMXers -- seemed to agree.

The tide was low and it smelled like seaweed. Mmmmmm. Olfactory sunshine. Memories of childhood summers on the sea.

I love the shadow that this empty bike rack cast.

(Don't worry. It won't be empty for much longer.)

Still cool enough for legwarmers and wool coat, though.

Oh oh oh! I'm getting so excited for the upcoming months. It's finally here.

purple flowers and sparkly blue paint

Spotted this lovely flower-bedecked bicycle outside of Finch's Tea House downtown yesterday, after picking up scrumptious baguettes with Melanie and eating them while wandering around in the glorious (and long-awaited) sunshine.

In other news, this month is my 2-years-of-bicycling-(again) anniversary. In March 2009 I bought a bicycle after a number of years of not riding and promptly fell in love with this beautiful mode of movement. I simultaneously feel like it was just yesterday and like I can no longer remember life without bicycles in it. Here's hoping for many, many more.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

pay it forward

I sat at the window of a coffee shop on Broadway, one hand wrapped around a warming cup of brew and the other flipping through the copy of Momentum magazine that I'd picked up* minutes earlier at The Bike Doctor a few doors down.

Suddenly I heard a rapping on the window in front of me. I looked up.

Is that yours? motioned the woman on the other side of the glass, silently pointing at my bicycle locked just a few feet away. I nodded to the affirmative. She responded with the international symbol for "hold on a moment" and went around to the front door.

She'd been in a nearby shop asking for a comfortable bike that wouldn't hurt her back and had been told that she needed a mountain bike. She knew enough to tell him no, that's not what she needed, but not much more. We chatted for a few minutes about my bike, upright bikes, the difference between cruisers and city bikes, and what nearby shops had staff that would be more helpful than mountain-bike-guy. She thanked me and we parted ways.

A few minutes later, my coffee cup empty and magazine thoroughly flipped, I headed outside, noticing that she'd gotten a coffee and was sitting at one of the outside tables. So I did the first thing that came to mind.

I gave her the copy of Momentum.

Conveniently, it had articles this month on "lifestyle" cycling and tips on how to buy a bicycle. Perfect timing. Pay it forward.

Do you subscribe to Momentum (North Americans) or any other cycling magazines? Have you ever passed on your copies to others?

(* Yes, I do have a subscription. But it hadn't arrived, I was worried it had expired, and I was getting impatient. It all worked out in the end.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

a new friend

I've made no secret of it that I've been searching for a new bike for over a year, in particular a step-through. Nothing seemed to quite fit the requirements.

Until now.

After having owned her for 3 rainy weeks that felt like an eternity of moist, oppressive grey, this past weekend finally offered enough of a reprieve for some serious bonding. (--and on Sunday, some serious sunshine.)

She's a Globe Daily 3 and her name is Greta.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

i can't live without holt renfrew's windows

Holt Renfrew wowed us with a bicycle in their holiday window display in December. Now they've gone and topped their own work with this fantastic "I can't live without..." series featuring not one but five colourful, practical beauties.

It's also notable that umbrellas and storm clouds feature positively alongside flowers and fashion. Yes, those all go together: we won't have the flowers without the rain, so we might as well embrace how many pretty colours umbrellas can come in.

The multi-window display features a variety of quotes from recognizable people, Holt Renfrew employees, and designers about the things they supposedly can't live without, paired with quirky object collections visualizing these "needs".

Many are fashion-centric, but others are cute.

Some are lovely.

Some make you smile. Doesn't that lemon pyramid look just about ready to come toppling down?

And some...

...some you just totally understand.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

alternative transportation: roller blades

The other morning I caught up to a rollerblader on Hornby. While waiting at a light, I asked him how it was using the lanes. "Pretty good," he replied. "The counters are..." and he shrugged. Given the thickness and distance -- about a foot, maybe? -- between the two parallel cables that track lane usage, I can see how it might be hard to step/glide over them. But he seemed to manage. He was a slower than me in general, but that made him fairly easy to pass. A block later, he caught up to me at the lights anyway (which I often do with cyclists who are faster than me).

I remember that when roller blades first became popular, they didn't seem to fit on either sidewalks or the street. If the bladers can contain their sideways strokes to the width of a bike lane or narrow them when being passed, separated lanes seem ripe for sharing. Considering that the lanes aren't exactly overflowing yet (but it's only March-- the best is yet to come) I'm all for a variety of alternate non-motorized transportation methods making use of them (yes, including skateboards).

Maybe we'll have to call them the people-powered lanes.

Monday, March 7, 2011

panda practice

Is it cheating if you're stationary? These side ones are hard.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

on the fringes of human transportation

While I'm admittedly somewhat bicycle-crazy, my overarching goal is actually to create and live a lifestyle that includes a variety of transportation methods. Embracing a mix means, to me....

1) From an environmental perspective, balancing low-impact methods frequently with high-impact methods infrequently but when necessary.

2) Being a happier person by avoiding the boredom of the same routes and methods. "Variety is the spice of life", right? It's good for our brains.

3) Taking a little bit longer ... but enjoying those extra moments. I think of them as a "bonus", not a cost, and perhaps spend less time surfing the internet randomly and more time being a part of the world.

Everyone likes to talk about public transit, cycling, and walking as the primary alternatives to private cars. Carpooling and car share also get talked about a lot. While I do use all of those, I want to keep my eyes on the fringe, too (and not that Fringe, although I am a fan) and explore even more options. Small ones, silly ones, sometimes impractical ones on a large scale. I want to ask: how else do we move ourselves?

I'll start with this little gem. It's perfect for me and completely irrelevant for many. Whenever I want to travel from my home in the West End to Granville Island but don't want to ride, I take a False Creek Ferry. It's $3.25 from the Aquatic Centre to the Island, runs probably at least every 15 minutes (I've never had to wait longer, even in the winter) and takes about 5 minutes to make the crossing. While 75 cents more expensive than a bus ticket, I avoid a transfer, a bridge, a few intersections, and plenty of traffic.

I get to see my city from a different perspective.

...and when you debark on the far side, perhaps you'll be serenaded by a sweet voiced Willie Nelson/Bob Dylan-playing busker on the wharf above.

If you're lucky.

How about you? Do you ever use any alterna-alternative transportation methods to move through your world?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

a bicycle built a long time ago for two

My friend Jen recently spotted this old tandem bicycle outside an apartment building in the West End. She snapped a pic and sent it along to me.

I've seen vintage/old bikes and tandem bikes but never the two in one! I wonder what it would be like to ride? (Once, um, the chain is returned to its rightful position.)

Certainly adds some flair to the neighbourhood. That is one loooooooooong chaingaurd!

Friday, March 4, 2011

a passion on display

My family is probably sick to death of my constant rambling about bicycles by now. Every visit, every phone call, and most emails have some two-wheeling content. But that's what makes them awesome, because despite that, my mom and my sister found this little beauty and immediately thought of me.

It has a chaingaurd...

...fenders and a practical rack...

...a basket and swept back handlebars...

...and is small enough that I can put it on display in my apartment, a symbol of my passion for cycling and a source of happiness every time I look at it.

They went all out and wrapped it up in a box and gave it to me as a present ... for no reason at all except that they thought I would love it (and had no birthday or gift-giving holiday opportunity impending anywhere near soon). I was so surprised! And I love it a tonne.

So to Mom and Shelley: thank you so much! You are fabulous. :)