Sunday, February 27, 2011

a family of bicycles

Last weekend's visit with my family could have been considered a bike-themed weekend. Having returned from a 3-week trip to Arizona where they thoroughly enjoyed riding a pair of mountain bikes that they'd rented for the duration, my parents were now in the market to buy their own and start exploring the Victoria region on 2 wheels. Along with my sister, who was less determined to find a bicycle right away but also putting her feelers out, we zig-zagged (carpool-style!) through the city to the major shops that carried the brands they were interested in.

I tagged along, snapping photos and learning from all the questions that my dad was asking the salespeople.

The MEC in Victoria doesn't have the same built-in overhang as the one here in Vancouver does, so they popped up this shelter -- like a giant bus stop -- on an enlarged sidewalk out front. With those designs on the glass, I find it quite pretty.

In recent years, the city has been planting these bike racks all over the downtown area. Like Vancouver's newest rack style, they have a 2-bicycle capacity, a small footprint, and fit well into the streetscape without standing out too much. In fact, I don't think anyone in my family realized what they were until I pointed them out a few months ago. Unlike Vancouver's, they're not as wide and have a variety of designs in the centre instead of the single ubiquitous "bike vancouver" logo that we have. I didn't notice it at the time, but these I photographed are located in Chinatown and the designs in the middle appear to be Chinese characters...? Also, those in other areas of downtown are painted other colours.

We picked up a cycling map of the city for $4.50. From what I've researched on the web, there doesn't seem to be a free map like we have here. Victoria's cycling network isn't as well-connected as Vancouver's, yet-- the city isn't very gridded so using residential streets to create cycling corridors doesn't seem as plausible. I haven't looked much into what is happening with regards to the city's cycling plan or advocacy in Victoria, but curiousity may lead me in that direction one day. At the moment I just want to figure out how to navigate the areas around my parents' and sisters' houses comfortably by bike.

In one parkade, someone immediately spotted a Victoria Car Share Co-Op vehicle.

Dad goes for a test ride in the alley behind Mac's!

Epilogue: later this week, they all made their decisions and purchased bicycles. (My sister fell in love with a white Norco City Glide and I couldn't be happier for her!) With my vintage Harriet for running errands and another donated hybrid for when I'm joining them on adventures this summer, our stable seems to be complete. This one is cycling spring and summer that I think we're all very much looking forward to...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

a new life, part 2

One of my favourite bicycle shops in Victoria (where I visit my family about once every 4-6 weeks) is the North Park Bike Shop. They carry both Electra and Pashley bicycles as well as a usual range of comfort/hybrid/mountain bikes. However, they also profess their love for vintage bikes and are happy to help you fix yours up.

Which they helped me do. Last weekend, when I was (duh) visiting my family.

Last summer I did some cosmetic fix-up on the red BRC Harrier that had been sitting in my parents' garage for the past 20 years. It was originally bought for my Mom in the 70s but she doesn't remember riding it much. Then we dug up some photos of myself, my sister, and my Dad with our bikes when I was elementary-school age, and my Dad was riding this bike. So it seems to have gotten a bit more use in the early 90s.

Anyway, I didn't want to ride it around too much without knowing whether it was actually road-worthy. So last weekend we took it down to North Park for a tune-up. They were admiring of its good condition (except for the fender rust and sawdust-covered chain) and sparkly red handgrips.

They also sell used bikes and on the way out after dropping of the bike I noticed this gem. Upon checking their website it was identified as a 1985 Pashley Princess 5-speed, selling for $700.

A few hours later, I got a call: my bike was ready! Wow, that was fast!

We picked it up the next morning after a tasty breakfast at Pluto's restaurant (which is a converted gas station-- very cool and one of my family's favourite breakfast haunts). Once at home, I took it for a ride up and down the street and practiced taking panda photos.

Still needs practice.

In searching for more info about the bike on the internet, I came across this thread on where someone already looked into it. Apparently BRC was based out of New Westminster/Coquitlam and closed down around 1990. Interesting.

Now that's she's all ready to be ridden, I think this lovely bicycle needs a name. A BRC Harrier...hmm... it's really a no-brainer.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

rain and leftovers

This is a good example of what I've been wearing to ride to and from work in the rain recently. The jacket resists water up to about a medium shower, after which I start to feel a bit damp in the inside of my elbow.

This jacket has a liner to make it warmer in the winter, but I must admit I do miss my wool jackets whenever I'm wearing it. More layers have to be added underneath and I feel kind of like I'm bundled up without good cause to be bundled up, considering that it's above zero. Is it weird that I'm a bit jealous of all those cities that have spent all winter under a few feet of snow?

After stopping for dinner at a tiny Mexican restaurant in my neighbourhood (truly Mexican, as in Mexican proprietors and tasty non-Taco-Bell eats) I hung the leftovers on my handlebars for the remaining few blocks home.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

archive adventures, part 4

Bicycles are quite common in logos. It seems to me that they often show older-looking bicycles, perhaps for their simplicity and mental association with a rosy past and/or "the sweet life". In fact, I'd go as far as to say that there is a disconnect between the bicycles we're used to seeing as iconography and the majority of actual bicycles seen on the road today (i.e. road bikes, mountain bikes, and hybrids). This discrepancy doesn't seem to register in our minds.

(Then again, our minds are perfectly capable of subconciously remembering that the numeric keypad on a computer is entirely upside down from the numeric keypad on a telephone and allowing us to use them both with little difference. Minds are sneaky things.)

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Not enough has happened recently for a post on a single topic, so I'll just round up all the miscellaneous items.

~ On the same morning, riding to work, I saw a woman on an aqua blue loop frame wearing a very lovely headscarf and a woman wearing a fabulous black & white patterened skirt and black heels. I was all, "Way to go ladies! We can totally do this." In my head.

~ A good friend texted me to say that when he had ridden to work after moving house to near the Drive area (ending up closer to his work and within easier riding distance), he had seen a bunch of "cycle chic" riders out and about. Score!

~ They were doing construction and had a parked a van on the Hornby bike lane two days in row. (Which is, um, a fail from one perspective, but I certainly hope they were doing something *useful*, even if I don't know what it was.) So I had to take to the car lane. Discovery? Cars go stop-go-stop so much that I kept up with traffic and didn't hold up a single vehicle. In fact, the car in front of me was holding me up.

~ It was raining last night when I was about to head home from work, so I detoured to Trees Organic Coffee (highly recommended) on Granville for some live music. By the time I left about 40 minutes later, the rain had stopped. Rain strategy #2: flexibility.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

archive adventures, part 3

Every time I see a bicycle shown in a not-exclusively-sporty way in a magazine, I try to remember to clip it out. Here's a few that I've been collecting over the past few months (from my unwanted but uncancelled subscription to Glamour).