Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Ride of 2011

With the temperature hovering near zero, there was nothing so pressing in my life that I couldn't go for a long bike ride.  The recent freezing rain left a glossy coating of ice on every surface but was no match for my studded tires.  Although I must confess that I almost lost it near the Antique Mall when I cut my front wheel too tightly to make way for a determined and focused shopper.
Shopper induced skid mark

The view of the emerald green water flowing underneath the High Level was a sight for sore eyes since the river is often the colour of a double double.  The fact that a subway train was stopped on the LRT bridge was just icing on the cake.
The view from up top

The bear bells were still attached to the pedals of my winter bike from the Jingle Ride and their sound seemed to upset every dog that I passed - especially the three I  in a scat and snow covered lawn.  I pass these dogs twice a day normally and they never let out a peep.
Excited by bear bells?

I take encouragement wherever I find it and when I passed an old dude whose lighted cigarette only deepened the nicotine stains on his already coloured moustache, his declaration of "YEAH - HAW!" helped send me on my way and seemed to portend that 2012 is going to be a year to remember.

Have a great New Years!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I Did It My Way

It was gratifying to open up the national weekend paper and find an article about cycle training in a very prominent place in the Sports section. Surely this means that cycling is becoming a much more recognized activity than it has been given in the past.
Having a swell time

The article in the paper described the training set-up and training routine of our national team in preparation for the Tour De France.  The team captain, a yellow jersey wearer himself and the rest of the team look like they are having a terrific time sitting on their stationary bikes and with loads of electrodes and wires and cables snaking from their fantastically fit bodies to sophisticated electronic monitors.
My way

As you can see from the photo, my set-up is somewhat less elaborate.  It still does the job of monitoring my heartrate, keeping me cool, timing me and the DVD player keeps me amused while exercising in the basement.  The other thing in the basement that keeps me amused is the trainer that I ride on.  It is simply made up of two rails that support three nylon rollers that the wheels of the bike fit snugly onto.  It takes numerous tries to determine the correct speed to begin pedaling.  Press too hard on the pedals and the bike flings itself off the rollers.  Don't press hard enough and you have no forward momentum to keep you upright.
One set of rollers

A fellow at United Cycle told me about how some bicycle trainers he knows can hop from one set of rollers to another, pedal for a while and then hop back to the first.  It is all I can do to stay upright and on the rollers.  When I lose concentration and my bike inevitably careens off the trainer, the entertainment unit that appeared so far away comes charging at me very quickly at 10 miles per hour!

Someone from up above will shout down the basement stairwell "We heard a lot of crashing and breaking sounds - are you alright?"

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas and Thank You!

Photo courtesy of

To all my faithful bicycle friends I want to extend my warmest wishes not only for this particular season but for the whole year.

I've appreciated you following my blogs and hopefully some of them have interested, informed or amused you throughout the year.

If you would care to send me your email address - I'll make arrangements to send you a little something to show my appreciation.

I can be contacted at:

Oh - and a Happy New Year to you as well!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Proctor Townsend

The new addition
A PT.  A Proctor Townsend.  Made in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.  By a Mr. Proctor and a Mr. Townsend (oddly enough).  I said goodbye to Mississippi 'Red this morning and took possession of this fine hand made bike.  It's not a lot different than Mississippi 'Red but it is a jazzed up version and has Proctor/Townsend logos all over it.  Call me neurotic, but if I'm going to be a proud owner/rider of a Proctor Townsend, then I want it plastered all over my bike.

Alex at Bikeworks did point out that the handle bars will need replacing since these ones are steel.  I'll want to take off the rat trap pedals and replace them with my SPD's.  The pink polka-dotted seat will have to go - I'll be putting on the Spiderflex when this baby hits the road in spring-time.  As well, I stripped the mid-line brakes levers off of Mississippi 'Red and will be putting them on what I think I'm going to call Mississippi Too.

My brother asked me if owning this bike makes me a Proctologist?*&^%$#@!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Jingle All the Way (Part Two)

Candy Ass Ride
Wow!  Look at that bike!  Incredibly decorated! 

I'd like to say that a number of brave souls showed up but with the weather being so mild, it didn't take bravery to join the "Jingle Ride".  Coreen who organized the ride expected some winter cycling newbies to join us, but all of us were winter riders.  So without much ado, we filed out of BikeWorks under the glare of CITY TV's television lights.  They planned to broadcast a story about the ride on today's Breakfast Television.

Our first stop was not far away in a residential area on the southside.  The display of lights surrounding the whole house was so over-the-top that we felt sorry for all the neighbours whose fine displays would have garnered accolades under normal circumstances, but paled in comparison to this one house.  Neon palm trees, Santa's doffing hats, reindeer twirling above the garage, arches made from candy canes and too many other colourful radiance's to mention.

Coreen's handlebars
Kim's pannier
Candy Candy Candy
It was terrific fun to ride across the High Level Bridge, along Jasper Ave.,  ride to the top of a downtown parkade (and zoom down as well), and race through the library's underground parking lot where a disgruntled security guard shouted for us to stop (which we roundly ignored) as we ripped through the warm underground structure.

Most of the group had packed skates along with their gear and it was with welcome relief that we all warmed up in the skating shack at the Legislature and munched on Christmas candy and power bars while Alex and Brett marvelled at the heated outhouses that had been installed around the rink.  With heated seats no less!

The Legislature rink

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Jingle All the Way

Anticipation for jumping on our bikes and doing the "Jingle Ride" is mounting (no pun intended).  It is a long wait until spring when the next "Tweed Ride" is scheduled so when another special ride is announced, the excitement builds quickly.

I heard from a contact of mine that Coreen of the fine bicycle blog "Breaking Chains and Taking Lanes" has organized a winter ride to enjoy some of the more spectacular Christmas lights strung up in our fair city.  She even plans a half hour seminar on winter cycling to give fair weather riders a chance to experience winter pedaling.

While at "BikeWorks" yesterday, I tried to come up with a practical method of lighting my bike with Xmas lights.  I asked Brett who is always in the shop if he had any ideas and he suggested that I contact Chris Chan who for sure will have his bike decked out in holiday lighting.  Chris is the wizard of bike lighting and gives a course at "BikeWorks" on two wheel chariot illumination.

I did manage to come up with the "Jingle" part of the ride.  I remembered riding my Trek mountain bike within the bowels of the Bulldog Tunnel on the Kettle Valley Railway and coming across a cyclist who had strapped bear bells to his pedals so that they made a constant ringing/jingling sound as he laboured uphill to the summit at the "Paulson" .  I figured I could take the two bear bells off of Furry Lewis and attach them to my winter bike pedals and at least make some sort of effort to celebrate Xmas cycling.

I went to the dollar store to find those illumination sticks, bracelets or necklaces.  You know - the ones that glow in the dark.  I couldn't find any - they must be out of season.  Why they would only be for sale in the summer when the days here are longest is beyond moi.  But I did discover an idea for decorating my bike - turning it into a candy cane by wrapping white paper or cloth around the frame and then running a long red ribbon around that.  I'll let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I've got a Crush

It never seems to fail that when you're on the bicycle trail that the thought of one particular food or drink takes hold.  On this year's trip it was pie (see Sept.7th blog) from the Copper Eagle Cafe in Greenwood B.C.  On this same trip when we met Butch Cassidy and he described a beer, burger and fries for 10 bucks (see August 12th blog) we couldn't wait to get to Christina Lake and chow down on that delicious sounding food.
Special Edition Crushmobile

I had to laugh when I found an abandoned orange bike in my neighbourhood and upon closer inspection discovered that it was a Hires Root Beer bike and Orange Crush labelled bike.  Now this is an older Raleigh mountain bike and it weighs a ton.  While it is in good shape, I discounted it as a winter bike since the 19" frame is too big for my stubby inseam.
Found abandoned

What made me laugh was the Orange Crush decal (as some people say dee-cal) which reminded me of one of our Kettle Valley Railway bike tours where my friend Roy and I got the image of an orange crush stuck in our heads.  It was undoubtably hot as Roy loves to cycle in hot weather.  The idea of an ice cold, sweet carbonated drink burning the back of our throats took hold of our imaginations and with each pedal stroke that took us closer to Chute Lake where we anticipated rewarding ourselves with such a fine concoction the notion lodged more firmly in our minds.

The dee-cal
And sure enough, when we arrived in Chute Lake they had ice cold cans of Orange Crush just waiting for us to quaff.  You see when we're on one of our extended bike tours, it doesn't really matter what we eat and drink.  Just climbing Anarchist Mountain required 5,000 calories so eating Rock Creek Cheese buns and drinking Orange Crush pop seemed a reasonable and delicious way to replace that burned up energy.

We didn't have to stop and think about buying a case of Orange Crush when we were grocery shopping for the return trip.  Stuffing the cans into a large cooler full of ice and glugging them down on the way back home gave us a constant reminder of our recent trip and a little walk down memory lane since both Roy and I drank this pop when we were kids growing up.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Sore A**

On the MS bike tour there is a team called "So and So and the Sore Arses" and after winter cycling on the crappy seat that came with my winter bike, I feel I could join that particular team. Within minutes of riding, I could feel pressure not on my man bits but a piece of anatomy my daughter tells me is the coccyx.


Trusty Spiderflex

Another view of a great seat

 I vowed that before my commute this morning, I would install my trusty Spiderflex seat that has easily 10,000 miles of comfortable riding under its belt (so to speak).

Crappy seat
And before you go - make a selection from the newly installed buttons down below:  FUNNY  INTERESTING   INFORMATIVE   MEH   ?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lycra Spandex

As hard as it is to believe, some cyclists don't like Lycra Spandex!  It is no stretch to say that there are two very distinct camps when it comes to cycle wear.  Personally, I love the stuff.  I'm not pulling your leg when I say that I have on occasion grossed out my co-workers when they've seen me wearing the stuff as I prepare to leave work.

It can be argued that Spandex has very practical applications - like how it helps the downward leg to flex down and spring back up during a pedal stroke.  Or on a long ride where loose, flapping shorts will chafe your legs from constantly rubbing against the skin whereas with Lycra Spandex that never happens.

Mark Beaumont, the man listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having cycled the world in record time, wore Lycra Spandex cycling shorts for his whole trip (he did wash them occasionally).  You see all the Tour de France riders wearing form-fitting cycle wear so there must be something to it.

However, the contingent of cyclists in this town who frown on wearing Lycra Spandex for cycling feel so strongly about not wearing this material that they have named a popular cycling/jogging trail "Lycra Lane".

Friday, November 25, 2011

Tire studding tips

The first shot of the video shows how I screw the studs (5/8" sheet metal screws) into the knobs of the tire from the outside first.  This accomplishes two things:  it creates the correct angle for the stud to protrude from the tire and it makes an easy-to-find starting hole for when you screw the stud into the knob from within the tire.

As you can see from the last shot, the studs, while not absolutely perfectly aligned, are for the most part, in two straight rows.

You may also note that I'm wearing mechanic's gloves to protect my hands from the very sharp points of the studs.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Expect the Unexpected

It was with the best intentions that I wanted to bring my summer commuting bike home from work.  The temperature hovered at minus 10, and for the most part the roads had been cleared of ice and snow.  Perfect conditions to ride a bike home that didn't have knobby tires.

Uh oh

Within half a block I discovered that my tires, which had been leaking air for some time, needed some more air.  I pulled out my handy compressed air pump and filled both tires which helped considerably.  Except for hitting some brown sugar near 109 Street, I felt I had made a clever decision to ride home on an out-of-season bike.

Being eager to get this bike home (the Schwinn MOAB), I wasn't fully prepared for the windchill that assaulted my hands as I had forgotten my mitts at home.  The thin pair of full fingered mountain bike gloves I was wearing offered little protection.  I figured I could make it to Mountain Equipment Co-op and warm up in their lobby where I could also pull out a pair of gloves from my backpack.  I hadn't pulled them out earlier because I had discovered that they were both right-handed.
Ta Da! Instant left-handed glove!

With a lot of finagling, which warmed up my fingers, I managed to turn one of the gloves inside out to wear on my left hand.  MEC is used to having bikes in their lobby so I didn't stand out too much.

Crossing a bridge over a ravine, I could feel that my rear tire had gone flat and after pushing the bike to the end of the bridge where a streetlight cast an orange glow, I pulled out the compressed air pump and filled the tire once again.  Within half a block it was flat again and I knew my ride home was pooched.  I could have put the bike on the bike rack of a #1 bus, but I figured that I would still need to walk the bike home from the mall as the 109 bus doesn't have a bike rack.

I also ruined a fine pair of Sugoi bike shoe booties...

An hour and a half from when I started, I pulled back into the parking garage at work and vowed to be more prepared for winter commuting:
1.  Make sure you have all the proper clothing.
2.  If you tires have been going flat - fix them!
3.  Ride the proper bike for each season.
4.  Don't walk for great lengths wearing bike shoe booties


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Cycle reading


As a volunteer at our local library I get first crack at books and audio visual materials that need to be sorted for the next book sale.  The box I have set aside for choice finds is overflowing with cycling books about epic cycling adventures like the fastest cycle around the world or cycling in search of the perfect meal.  My latest find is a book called Smart Cycling and just skimming through a few random pages, I found a simple explanation for setting up a rear derailleur.  Or is that derailler?

To me, winter cycling is more about getting from place A to place B, so I find myself delving into the written word about cycling trips (usually in hot sunny places).  It was with a lot of joy that I strutted back from the mailbox the other day when I discovered curled up in my pigeon hole the latest copy of Adventure Cyclist magazine.  Splashed throughout its pages were colourful photos of cyclists enjoying the fall colours in rural USofA.  I going to do some curling up myself.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Man Who Cycled the World

The Man Who Cycled the World
Mark Beaumont
Bantam Press 2009
419 pages

"After only 10km, I was exhausted.  My legs were fresh but my head dropped and my eyelids started slow-blinking.  The surge of adrenalin at the start had passed, and I felt shattered.  The last few weeks had been a series of ridiculous and unsustainable routines that had left me completely void of energy at the outset of my 18,000 mile cycle."

So begins the tale of Mark Beaumont, a Scottish adventurist who has decided to break the Guinness World record of cycling the world which at the time stood at 276 days.  As Mr. Beaumont explains "...I would have to cycle 18,000 miles, start and finish in the same place, go in one direction, and pass through two points on opposite sides of the world, among other criteria" (which included using the same bike).

Making the story even more interesting is the fact that the author has never been obsessed with cycling.  His younger passions included horseback riding and skiing.  It is never satisfactorily explained why he chose this particular epic and novel journey and it should be pointed out that this bike trip is a race.  Which means the author never has much opportunity to stay for very long in any one place.

With his head down and eyes focused on the route in front of him, the reader never gets the impression of reading a travel book by the likes of Bill Bryson or Paul Theroux.  Like Theroux portions are a repetitive litany of stats: "90m ascent, 179km, 32 degrees.  7.30 start, 8 and a half hours cycling in 11 hours and 5 mins...Really tough day.  So low on energy and left calf really sore.  Shit lunch and breakfast.  Shouted at police escort."

At 419 pages, the book does offer a nice long, winter read, curled up in your favourite spot and dreaming of cycling adventures of your own. Cycling around the world is a remarkable achievement and for those who have made long distance cycling trips, Mr. Beaumont's journey will astound you and you will be left shaking your head in amazement that he did in fact break the Guinness World record.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Lock It or Lose It

Dig it
It drives my bicycle camping friends crazy, but I lock everything up - even when we are deep in the woods as far as fifty miles from the nearest habitation.  My thinking is that some backwoods jaloonie may very well mess us up by stealthily stealing our bikes while we peacefully snore the night away.  As much as it disgusts us when we meet a motorized vehicle on the trail, we make sure not to hassle the drivers and anger them.  They might very well live in the area and return to raid our camp.

To save weight when we're bicycle camping, I use a seven foot length of aircraft cable which I have looped at either end and then fasten the cable with a light lock.  My idea being that this method, if nothing else will slow down the perps.  I go so far as to hide a bear bell amongst the cable and bikes so that no matter how quiet the creeps are if they try to steal from us, the bell will ring and alert us to the potential calamity.

Cable from Home Despot

Even in my garage, I lock my bikes up using this same cable to thwart an opportunistic thief who might dash into the garage while we are working around the yard.  Again, it will slow the jerk down and give pause to trying to steal one of my bikes.
Two potential winter bikes locked up in the garage

As much as my cycle camping friends scoff at the idea of locking the bikes out in the woods, I notice that they make no fuss when, after all the gear has been removed, I suggest that it is time to lock up the bikes as it is getting dark and becoming difficult to see fine work.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Studly Do-Right

As the days shorten, it is only a matter of time before the snow flies and ice begins to form on our streets which means it is time to stud a pair of tires to use on this winter's commutes.  And you'll find that with a minimum of mechanical expertise, it is easy to do.

The knobbier the better

The first step is to use a pair of knobby tires - the bigger the knobs the better.  Using a drill, you'll want to screw 5/8"sheet metal screws into the inside of the tire.  With a bit of luck, you'll end up placing the screw right into the center of one of the knobs.  50 screws per tire will do the job.

With self-tapping screws, drilling is easy

Alternate the knobs that you put the screws into otherwise you'll find that your tire will go bump,bump,bump as you ride.  The ends of the screws are very sharp so handle the tires carefully.  Through riding on pavement, the screws will eventually wear down to a smaller size and lose some of their sharpness.  Don't worry - that wearing down won't affect their performance.

You can also use 1/2" screws
Next: Part Two - Lining the tire and mounting

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Where Is That Stuff?

"Furry Lewis" stripped down for MTB'ing
When the cycling season changes and we head into winter, I often find myself in the predicament of finding all my cycling gear.  Have you ever found yourself in a rush to head out the door but you can't find your long fingered biking gloves?  Or "Where is that helmet cover?"

What complicates things is having five bikes, two different sets of panniers, three pairs of cycling shorts, three bike tools, two compressed air inflaters, two pairs of short fingered bike gloves, one neck tube, one balaclava and...

Add to that the fact that most of the bikes are configured differently.  Two mountain bikes (the MOAB and Furry Lewis) have pannier racks, but the road bike (Mississippi 'Red) and the folding bike (Foldey Hawn) don't have any kind of rack.  The 1963 Triumph and the tandem both have a rack on the back but the panniers don't fit them.

So it easy to understand how I can be stumbling around the house in the morning dark trying to find my helmet cover or my winter mitts to put over my cycling gloves.  I will have already looked at the outside temperature station to determine what I need to wear and if it is cold enough, I will begin my search for missing items.

I tell myself that when I get home from work, first thing I'll do is organize my stuff for the morrow but then I discover that my daughter and her boyfriend are staying for dinner and nothing has been started.  My own hunger from my commute will propel me into the kitchen where I'll be grabbing vegetables and trying to find the rice since our guests are vegetarians. While I'm cooking, I tell myself that after supper I'll gather everything together but after dinner Roy calls and we spend the rest of the evening planning next year's bicycle camping trip and then...

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Critical Miss

Maybe it was the near zero temperatures that kept most cyclists away, but when I showed up at Silly Hall there were only six other hardy cyclists there waiting for more people to show up to do the "Critical Mass".
Forgetting it was Halloween time, I was unprepared for some of the riders wearing costumes.  One guy (see photo) had Zombie makeup and his friend Steve had blackened his eyes (or maybe he'd been in an altercation) and Lee, who had recently ridden his bike here from NYC, shrugged on a clown suit that he had purchased for five bucks at Villue Vallage.

Mr. Zombie,Mr.South America and Steve with 2 black eyes

My experience in the past on these rides has been to ride near the front.  Reason being that if you ride right in the front, you have to make important decisions that affect everyone especially those riding in the rear.  Do we go through this red light?  Can we all make this advanced green?  When is the best time to change lanes so that it is safe for everyone?

If you ride in the very rear, then you might have to tolerate impatient drivers who are honking their horns or provocatively driving close to your rear tire.  As far as I'm concerned the best spot is close to the front where you can easily follow their lead.  If they decide to turn left on a yellow, you can put the pedal to the metal and charge after them.  If they suddenly decide to stop, then you can brake as well.

As we rode along Jasper Avenue, I reflected on something my friend Anne had mentioned about her last Critical Mass ride.  As she had pointed out, it is liberating to ride at a leisurely pace on a major traffic artery.  Waving to pedestrians rushing home from work, ringing our bells at the "Occupy" occupiers who shouted encouragement to us as we cycled past their camp.  It has been a long two years since I have ridden with this group and I found it to be quite  novel experience.


A quick vote was taken at the red light at 109 Street and we all decided to take the western lane of the High Level Bridge.  By the time we had reached that trestled structure, we were fifteen riders strong and had a terrific ride across the bridge.  I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.  When do you ever get to cross the High Level except by motorized transportation?

Riding down Whyte Ave elicited many hoots and whoo yoos from costumed revellers already into the Halloween spirit(s).  I found myself in the rear somehow and rationalized that it was important to ride in every position in the pack.

Before I spun away to head off to work, I enjoyed watching a black bearded, long haired clown holding up traffic and signalling us to make the left turn toward Gazebo Park. That sight made my Halloween for me.

Friday, October 28, 2011


In an effort to learn as much as I can about repairing bikes, I signed up for a wheel building course at "Bikeworks".  Gathered around me were seven other enthusiasts who seemed to grasp the very complicated instructions necessary to determine what parts are needed to build a wheel.

Oh sure, I  was okay at the beginning of the class when it came to asking questions like "In this example you're passing around, why is one nipple bigger than the other?"  Or "The longer it gets - the harder it gets?" - spokes that is.  But when our fine instructor Axel got down to the nitty-gritty of "SPOKE CALCULATION" that's when my eyes began to glaze over and I knew then that I shouldn't have dropped math as soon as I could in high school (grade eleven for those of you who care).

I looked around at the twenty-somethings and they were all nodding in understanding (except for the guy next to me who had fallen asleep and was snoring gently).  My friends Rob, Alex and Coreen were asking intelligent questions and making clever observations while I stared at my notebook and tried to make sense of my nearly illegible scrawl: on rims with a deep V-cross section, using hexagonal nipples, tensioning up to 2,000N can be carried out
Or this doozie: fewer spokes reduce weight and improve aerodynamic properties, but need to be given a higher tension, which on the other hand, require more, stable, and thus
heavier rims....
Glancing at my notes again, I couldn't fathom what I had written only moments before:

I'm so glad that Alex and Coreen were there to help my class partner Rob and I to do the actual spoke calculation for the wheels we were going to build.  In fact, the two of them seemd so non-plussed that I'm confident that with them at my side at next week's class I might just be able to build a wheel that won't collapse the moment someone climbs onto the bike that has my hand-made wheels.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bits and Pieces

As you are riding your bike you see them everywhere.  On the side of the road.  Wedged underneath a hedge.  Carelessly tossed to the curb.  Lying on a sidewalk.

I'm talking about the many pieces of flotsam and jetsam that we see everyday yet ignore to such a degree that they hardly register in our minds.  This season (from last snow melt to first snowfall) I decided to pick up these various items and see what sort of collection I would have at the end.

For the most part, the hardhat and tools came from a training session for the MS Tour (see "It's a Goldmine!" - June 7th post).  The two toned golf shoe I picked up on a rainy ride down to the south side of the city to meet my wife for dinner. The blue plastic pedometer I found on swanky Ada Boulevard (see "The Flowers That Bloom in the Spring Tra-La" - May1st. post).  The peep-show SEX coin was discovered on a Saturday ride downtown - not far from the seedy part of the downtown core.

The creepy doll's head escapes my memory but the pink plastic monkey I distinctly recall finding in the sandy dirt at the overnight campsite that Perry and I chose in preparation for the Kettle Valley Railway (see "That Wasn't So Bad" - July 18th post).  The boxcutter was near a bus stop not far from my house and the dog tag I found at Terwilligar Park on one of the Fridays I took off so I could train for the MS Mountain Tour (see "Running of the Bulls" - August 26th post).

I suspect that this inclination I have to pick things up and bring them home stems from my misguided youth when I used to bring home (to my parents chagrin) all manner of junk that I had found.  The worst was finding a downed aircraft from WW2 while on a church camp hike and carting home a suitcase full of airplane parts.  Come to think of it - I still have a couple of pieces that I found at that camp.  If I could have found a way to strap a longboard skateboard that I found recently to my pannier rack, I'd have that to show you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Doing The City's Work

 Riding my 1963 Triumph on a recent Sunday, I was reminded once again that Saturday nights must get pretty wild in this town.  Judging from the number of broken liquor and beer bottles littering the road and presenting a hazard to cyclists and their thin tires.

On my next commute along with my two panniers, I want to strap on a broom and dustpan and a pair of garden shears to my back rack.  The broom and dustpan to sweep up the hazardous shards of glass and the shears to cut away the many branches especially on 102 Avenue near the museum that threaten to send cyclists careening into traffic as they whap the rider's face as they pass.

To be safe, I'll also need to pack some of those fluorescent traffic cones and a mesh vest with reflective stripes.  Of course I'll want a sturdy sign which I will place down the road a piece warning motorists that the lane ahead will narrow.
I imagine that the city will be quite pleased at the work I plan to do to make this a much safer city for all its citizens and I'm confident that all the motorists commuting west along 102 Avenue won't mind a short delay on their way home.  In fact, I'll call my favourite radio station and advise them of the impending lane narrowing and assure their listeners that the work is necessary and will be finished in enough time that they can still make the couch in time to watch their favourite TV shows.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Of Bikes and Men

  Our tour guide Abraham assured us that not many people ride bikes in Taipei because of the danger from other traffic (most notably scooters).  Yet I couldn't walk down a sidewalk anywhere in the city without some schlub pootling past on a pedal bike. Or a mother with her little one crammed in front of her grasping the handlebars or a father with a youngster clinging tightly to his back.
The jade market

What I really wanted to see was one of those bikes  that is stuffed to overflowing with plastic milk jugs or so covered in such an unbelievable load that you can't imagine how they can stay upright.  Pity the poor person carrying one of those loads on their bike and they get a flat.  I did pass one fellow with a flat pushing his bike quite a distance and I never saw anyone carrying a pump. 
Sort of what I was looking for

I'm not used to seeing anyone set up shop right on the street so I was surprised when I found the area where bikes are sold; a sidewalk  repair facility.  Quite busy too - a man and a woman working on one bike, a commuter connecting a compressed air hose to his bike and a man wearing a shop apron making adjustments to a new Giant.

On a per capita basis, maybe Abraham was right - not that many Taiwanese ride bikes.  During the countless subway rides we took, not once did I ever see someone with their bike in the subway car.  Yet when we stopped in San Francisco on the way back home and took the short jaunt into downtown from the airport and back, I made note of four bikes just in the two cars we travelled in.

San Fran subway