Saturday, 30 May 2009

A New Wire Donkey

I have been referring to the garage as the stable and to the bikes inside as 'steel ponies'.

After my mountain bike was run over in 2001, I replaced it with another Giant mountain bike. After awhile though, my neck started to bother me. So in 2006, Ruzter raised the handlebars for me by about 3 inches. I rode around with that modification for awhile, but my neck still bothered me, and my wrists, elbows and shoulders were not very happy.

I bought a Specialized cruiser-type bike in 2007 and that bike helped my wrists and my neck, but for some reason, when riding it, my knees started to hurt badly. The Geek and I measured the seat/pedal/ground angle and found the Giant's seat was three degrees less upright than the Specialized. I went back to the Giant as my neck and wrists hurt less on that bike than my knees did on the Specialized.

Then on Thursday, Dea, my athletic therapist, told me my sore wrists were in fact carpal tunnel. I decided then that I couldn't use the Giant anymore, even tho' I did ride it to work on Friday.
Luckily for me, The Geek stopped by Natural Cycle to pick up some cable and said their stable of Batavus bikes had been replenished.
I had been test driving a Batavus off and on for about a year both at Natural Cycle and at Red Bike in Edmonton. (The folks at Natural Cycle were starting to tease me about 'visiting my bike' whenever I came in.) Today I went and bought this one. Be a tightwad, I wasn't ready to spend the money on a truly upright bike, but I figured it would be cheaper than extensive therapy or possibly surgery on my wrists.
The Geek and I haven't measured the seat angle, but it feels considerably less steep than the Giant.

Oh, and in Germany, bicycles are colloquially called Drahtesel. Wire Donkey. I think that is so cute!

Friday, 29 May 2009

In The Netherlands, Cycling is For Families

While in The Netherlands earlier this year, I was amazed how the bicycle seems to be the preferred mode of transportation. The bicycle shops have all sorts of things that make it easier to take the whole family along.

This cargo bicycle can hold up to three children

and these were just a few of the many seats available.
I am kicking myself for not getting a picture of the carrier for very young babies. It was basically a tray with sides lined with what looked like fake fur. I think it had straps to hold the baby in place and was then attached onto the rack on the back of the bike.

One can only admire the cycling is for everyone attitude that is prevalent in Europe. I hope that attitude makes it here soon!

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

I am Invisible

The internal combustion engine and a cellular telephone, when being operated by the same person, create some incredible special effects, like a cone of invisibility around the average cyclist.
This is particularly well demonstrated when a motorist is backing their vehicle out of their driveway as a cyclist goes by. The unwary cyclist is in grave danger of being crushed by the offending contraption unless they swerve wildly across the road to avoid a collision. The same effect is evidenced as a cyclist crosses an intersection as a car approaches a stop sign. Since the cyclist is invisible, the motorist does not feel compelled to stop, given that all too frequently drivers feel stop signs are suggestions, rather than directives.
I frequently wish I had a way to deal with automobiles that pass me so closely I can check my teeth in their mirrors. Nothing permanent or that causes lasting harm, of course, just a bit of inconvenience. I'll have to see what comes to mind.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Red Bike is Cool

We are in Bon Accord visiting friends, Ruzter and K, who were kind enough to take us to Edmonton to do some shopping on Thursday. Ikea is always a destination of choice when there is one nearby.

I also wanted to visit Red Bike and United Cycle since they were mention by Sarah, of Girls and Bicycles fame. United Cycle was interesting, but I really liked Red Bike. For one thing, I prefer small independent stores and this one was near a residential neighbourhood, not a commercial strip. The gentleman I spoke to was very patient and tho' I think he knew I wasn't ready to buy anything, he was happy to send me off to test drive a Pashley and a Batavus.

Since I never change gears now on my 21-speed bike, the single-speed Batavus was the one I would have bought, tho' the Pashley was lovely too.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Vintage on Display

These two bicycles are hanging in the stairwell of the Old House Revival Company.
They look like they were well loved before they were retired to this display.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

For Those Commuters With Parking Issues

Woodcock Cycle had this cute little bike tucked away in the clothing section. It is a PortaBike and does indeed look like it will fold up into a compact little bundle to keep by your desk.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Bike Dump

From today's Winnipeg Free Press

Getting people on wheels
Bike Dump volunteers help riders with repairs
By: Geoff Kirbyson
6/05/2009 1:00 AM
At first glance, the Bike Dump appears to be the most accurately named operation in town.
The courtyard behind its small Main Street location is littered with bicycle frames, twisted wheels and various other bike parts. The scene is similar to the setting on Sanford & Son, the 1970s sitcom that starred the late comedian Redd Foxx as a junkyard dealer.
A line snakes out the back door as a greeter takes names to monitor the traffic inside. Maybe the Bike Dump is a new dance club?
But once inside, you see what the place is all about -- fixing bicycles for primarily inner-city residents and often giving away rebuilt bikes to underprivileged kids, all for free.
"We try to get people on wheels who otherwise can't get on wheels for social or economic reasons," said a veteran bike mechanic, a man known to everybody simply as "Cowboy."
Unlike other cycling shops in town, the repair stations are front and centre so the Bike Dump's volunteers can teach their customers how to get their two-wheeler back on the road. Kids without a bike to call their own can pick out a partial version either hanging from the ceiling or leaning up against a wall -- provided they come in with an adult -- and have it built up with spare parts until it's ride-worthy.
Essentially, the Bike Dump's 18 regular volunteers and 20 part-timers are modern-day Dr. Frankensteins who spend their days creating unique road monsters. (Massive jolts of electricity not required.)
"We encourage the kids to take part in the repair so they're getting an education in bike repair and maintenance. Hopefully, the sweat equity will encourage them to keep a better eye on their bikes, not leave them lying around, not abuse them and (make sure to) lock them up," Cowboy said.
"We prefer they work on it a bit so they say, 'this is my bike' and they'll treat it like a possession."
The Bike Dump was started four years ago by eight bicycle enthusiasts who believed everybody deserves the right to feel the wind in their hair on the open road or winding trail, no matter their economic situation. Anywhere from four to eight bikes can be worked on at a time -- there are only four bike hoists but turning a bike upside down works, too -- and repairs include changing pedals, repacking bearings, changing brakes, adjusting derailers, aligning wheels and patching flat tires. But because it's volunteer-run, it has limited hours -- three hours at a time on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Sunday afternoons.
Thirteen-year-old Thomas Habte waited in line for nearly an hour before he was able to wheel his broken-down mountain bike -- complete with a flat tire, a disconnected brake cable and a broken chain -- through the door. He listened intently as Tyler Markowsky, a computer consultant by day, described the type of pedal that needed to be found in the parts area and then bounded off into the next room. Nearby, another young customer sat at a table and diligently scrubbed a chain with a toothbrush and degreaser until he could almost see his reflection.
Returning with a piece he hoped would fit, the General Wolfe School student offered a simple opinion of the Bike Dump.
"It's cool," said the boy, who moved here with his family a year ago from their native Sudan. "This is the best place to get bikes fixed."
Markowsky, who developed his skills by repairing bikes around the neighbourhood, said he started volunteering a month ago because he felt it was the right thing to do.
The Bike Dump survives on donations, sales of rebuilt bikes and volunteerism.

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Another Blue First-Bike

The Brainy Geek found this little bicycle someone had discarded. My youngest nephew (N3) does not have a bike, so the Geek painted it blue. And, since he is too young to know how to pedal, she removed the crank to make it a push-bike. The rims were left magenta, the bike's original colour, to give it some pizazz.With two full-sized wheels, N3 could not touch the ground, so the Geek made the first modification.
It was still too big so she replaced the front wheel as well.
Now that N3 can touch the ground, it won't be long before he is zooming around!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The New Brain Bucket

I have been long overdue for a new helmet. My current one is older than my first nephew, and he will be eight in a few weeks.
My problem? I didn't just want any old helmet. I wanted something a little more understated, and that wouldn't look odd when worn with a skirt. I liked the style that equestrian riders use. My friend Ruzter made the synapes click when he told me to then buy a riding helmet. I don't know why that didn't occur to me on my own. It is generally alot farther to fall from a horse than a bike so their standards must be pretty high.
The Brainy Geek had control of the computer at that time so she googled equestrian helmets. I liked the look of the Troxel helmets, so I went over to Greenhawk, a supplier nearby and I now have one. (Greenhawk by the way is a very nice smelling store; leather always smells good. Lumberyards also smell very nice.)
And just in time. The padding decided to fall out of the current one on Friday.
Here are a couple of links to some other cool helmets, Yakkay and Tail-Wags, neither of which are sold in Manitoba-yet.