Monday, March 25, 2013

Springing Into Action

Judging from the amount of bikes ready for sale and stored upstairs in an office at BikeWorks, there is going to be a huge rush of customers when the weather finally breaks and spring arrives permanently.  In fact, I thought the onslaught might actually start during this shift at the bike shop.  There were two factors that I hadn't taken into account.  One was the three feet of snow that fell at the end of the week and the other factor was only discovered after the shop had been opened for two hours.

Ready and waiting
A patron came into the shop to ask what our hours were and when he spoke to our host Claire, it was revealed that the fellow came in to see if it really was "Women Only" day at the shop.  Inadvertantly I had placed the wrong sign out in the alley and my having done so may have scared away a good portion of our clientele.

Oops! (File photo)
With no one coming in needing help, I occupied my time counting spoke holes in hubs and then labelling the hubs.  Thinking my efforts were rather lame, I was gratified when Chris, a bike courier came into the shop to browse for parts and when he found my heap of hubs and noticed the spoke count was labelled on each one, he let out a whoop of joy that made me smile as I realized my efforts were not in vain.
Mound of joy
We have already had six months of winter and what with the huge dump of snow last week, I've had to rethink my decision not to bicycle commute in fresh snow.  We've had an inordinate number of days below minus 15 and that has kept me off my bike as well since I can't seem to stay warm enough during my 30 km. daily commute.
The first snowfall of winter - October 10th

I can only imagine that when it is warm and dry enough for the majority of cyclists to hit the road that there will be a huge pent up demand and not only will the roads and bicycle paths be busy but BikeWorks will be hopping whether it is "Everyone Day" or "Women and Trans Day".

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Bonking Boris and the Big Bucks

Just recently it was announced that the city of London is planning on spending over a billion pounds in an effort to make that world city more bicycle friendly.  I contrast that with the fact that adding 25 km. of cycling routes in my city created a huge controversy.

As my cousin calls him, "Bonking Boris", the mayor of London has a new vision for that great city and wants to take London to a new level and perhaps even rival Amsterdam as a city of bikes.  While in my city, on the same week that the "Bonker" made his announcement, it was decided that the plan for a third (8km.) of the proposed bike routes be sent back to the transportation department for further study.  Which I understand is a euphemism for cancelling the said route.

There could be another factor at play here.  When comparing the two mayors, how much they spend on cycling may be connected somehow to their hair.  The mayor who wants to increase cycling has copious amounts of hair and the mayor who doesn't want much cycling is pretty much bald.  Even with the expanded cycling infrastructure in London, maybe cycling there will stil be a hair-raising experience.

The Hairy Bonker
No Hair - Raising in my city

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


We're going to Portugal in a couple of months and of course while there, I'll want to cycle.  From what little research I've done, it would appear that Portugal is an excellent place to bicycle.  Although in my research I found a photo of a fellow riding his bike underwater.  Only in Portugal you say?

From what I can gather, Lisbon, where we're going looks hilly, rather like San Fransisco.  A good workout with all those inclines.  It's easy to picture flying downhill at tremendous speed and then hitting a small rise and zooming through the air just like BULLET.

What could happen is that I'll ride around the countryside where there is little traffic and a lot of rustic scenery to admire.  With my luck, my bike will be chased down some country road by a flock of rabid sheep - very much like another photo I found while researching:

In fact, the most likely scenario is that I'll be a weenie and rent a bike to cruise slowly through a touristy part of town.  Not very risky and I'll have the satisfaction of once again riding a bike wherever I travel.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Roadside Assistance

It is rather ironic that an automobile club offers roadside assistance to cyclists.  Expending all that gas to rescue a vehicle that doesn't use any outside energy source strikes me as being a bit odd.

I can imagine cycling along my favourite river valley trail and getting a flat.  Having forgotten my pump, it doesn't matter that I have patches and glue to fix the puncture.  Consulting the auto club sticker on my bike, I call the repair line and the conversation might go like this:

You've reached the AAA bike rescue hot line.  What is the problem and where are you located?
I have a flat and don't have a pump.  I'm not sure exactly where I am - I can see squirrels and chipmunks running around.
Sir, that doesn't tell us where you are!
Blah blah blah....

So what kind of vehicle comes to your rescue?  In my mind's eye, I can spot the flashing yellow light bar on top of a huge vehicle as it churns its way through the dense forest.  Squirrels and chipmunks scatter before the huge knobby tires can roll over them and Magpies squawk in consternation.

Or a repairman shows up riding one of those Dutch cargo bikes that are becoming more and more popular.  It has only taken the bike mechanic an hour and a half to reach me and by that time I could have walked the bike out of the river valley and to a service station.  But as they say, "Membership has its priviledges."  Besides, the hour and a half wait gave me the chance to ask a number of passing cyclists if they could lend me a pump.  Since no one was prepared to help, I was glad I had my AAA membership and matching frame sticker.
Speedy Gonzales

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Sideways B.C. Style

A magazine arrived the other day in the mail and within its glossy covers was an article encouraging readers to explore California wine country by bike and I thought why travel all the way to California when right next door is British Columbia and its scenic wine country?

Snail mail 

I can recall pedaling all day down to Oliver on one of our cycling expeditions, checking in at the campground to reserve a spot and then grinding uphill past row upon row of  heavily laden vines to the Quinta Ferreira Winery.  Roy and I sampled copious amounts of what my friend considers the best reds in the Okanagan and we ended up purchasing a fine Malbec that we planned to quaff that evening.

Our own Sonoma

What I had failed to consider was the judgement impairment that comes with sampling too many wines.  You see, the vintner John doesn't bother with accurate measuring of his samples.  He doles out what he thinks you need to make a judgement of his wines - it might be half an ounce it might be two ounces.  When we left clutching a bottle of the best, John was out on the patio watching us mount our bikes and encouraging us to come back soon.

Hooting and hollering to each other as we rode out the gates of Quinta Ferreira, it was the same steep hill we had soberly climbed numerous samples ago.  Except now we had some "Kikapoo Joy Juice" in us and that fueled our quick descent to where the winery's road meets what's called Black Sage Road.  Roy as usual was way ahead of me and had already crossed the road and was making a bee line for the campground.
A winery right on the Kettle Valley Railway
Worried that Roy would pop the cork on the Malbec without me, I failed to notice the vehicle approaching from the left as I barely came to a stop on the gravel at the intersection.  As though I was riding on top of ball bearings, my heavily laden bike began to buck and squirm as I tried to avoid slamming into the side of the car.  This particular time it was my rear wheel that I lost and my panniers flew off their rear rack, spewing socks, sandals, tent pegs, cooking pots and tonight's freeze dried supper into the path of oncoming traffic.

The car I felt sure I was going to hit turned without signalling onto the winery's road and an accident was avoided - unless you consider the contents of my panniers smacking into the road a collision.

After assessing that my scrapes and scuffs were not life threatening and having salvaged my camping gear from the oncoming traffic,  I gingerly pedaled to our camp where I discovered that in fact my buddy had already uncorked the bottle.  But only to let it breathe so that we could enjoy the delicate flavours that the Okanagan Valley and specifically the Black Sage Bench give to B.C. wines