Wednesday, 29 July 2009

This Bike Has Bling

This bike was advertised on the local Kijiji with the following description.
"Chrome steel cruiser bike with gold accents all over, 26" wheels with 144 spokes, springer fork whitewall tires, a real head turner and pleasure to ride. "

I'm speechless.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Garage Sales by Bike

We rode the bikes to garage sales today. Bikes are actually the preferred method of transportation for these outings as you can park really close and therefore cover more ground.

One of the three vices the Geek bought for her workshop came home clamped to the rack of the Giant. The handlebars on the Giant have been raised about three inches, which makes it better to ride, even tho' it is not as yet optimal.
We went to six garage sales and found a vice at three of them.

The Geek pulls the cart with the rest of the useful loot, including one instrument of mayhem.
The trick to riding your bike to garage sales is to park your bike close enough that no one helps themselves to your stuff, but far enough away that the bikes aren't considered a part of the offerings.
And one more funny sign. The Geek wants to make one that says Stop Smoking!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Rough Water, Volatile Sky

On days when the wind comes out of the northwest it creates waves as it blows against the current. When the wind is from another direction, it seems to go with the current and you would hardly notice at all.

When you row, you face the stern of the boat and you can never be sure what is ahead of you. So today was one of the days where you don’t realize the waves have whitecaps until you are past the curve of the river and right in the thick of it.

I heard the crest of a wave rolling along the bow. I waited, with the same breathless anticipation one has wading into a cool lake, knowing a wave is going to hit the bottom of your bathing suit before you are ready. The wave came, slapping me on the bottom before breaking over the decking on the stern of my scull, temporarily turning the decking to silver. The next wave came and broke against the bow stays, before rolling into the cockpit.

At this point, things were very turbulent, so we decided to turn around. As we sculled northeast along the Red, we could see clouds boiling along in the east. It looked as tho’ a huge storm was brewing, but the clouds did not spread from the eastern sky.

Perhaps growing up on the Prairies has given me an appreciation of the ever changing sky and I wonder if I would even notice the infinite variety if I grew up in the mountains.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Mushroom Risotto

The one benefit of driving to work is I can range further afield on my lunch hour. In this case, I found the ingredients for this luscious risotto recipe I got from my prairie-boy friend.

I didn't use the chicken and I used shitake, crimini, portobello and button mushrooms. It was great!

The recipe, in his words....

Olive oil
2 Chicken thighs (or not, this one can be meatless)
Mushrooms (go nuts. I use button, shantrell, and oyster)
6 to 10 shallots
1 onion
Green onion
4 tbsp butter ((only butter, not margarine, not unsalted butter, just real full-fat salted butter)
1 cup carnarolli or arborio rice
Chicken stock
Nutty Sherry ie Amontillado
Black pepper
Crushed walnut
Chevre (I confess, I put this on a lot of things that I don't need to)

Heat the olive oil, then add the meat, shallots, and onion. Burn it to the bottom of the pan. This, by the way is why you just can't use cast iron. It doesn't work.
Add the sherry and spices. The smell is going to get you all worked up, but concentrate. Add the mushrooms, butter, green onion.. I'm not going to tell you how much to use, but in large enough quantities nutmeg is an hallucinogenic (bet you didn't know that).
Drop the lid on those little 'shrooms and let them enjoy a short schvitz.
Lift the lid, and add the rice; stir it in and let it sit. You want to shock the rice with the heat. Now get it moving. Keep the rice moving round and round the pan. Add a little stock. It should look like the stock comes up under the rice, but doesn't drown it. Keep it moving.
As the stock cooks off, the consistency of the risotto thickens. Actually it's more like the “viscosity” increases. When it starts to look like molten lava filling the space your stick leaves, add more stock.
You need to sample the rice periodically. When it no longer crunches between your teeth, it's just about ready. Stop adding stock and cook off the excess. Just like before, keep stirring until it's got the viscosity of molten lava.
It's ready to serve. You've done all that work cooking it, so don't blow the presentation. FLAT PLATE ONLY. Yep, that's right, you want to put it in a big comfy bowl, but resist. Resist! Lay it out on a big flat plate. Crumble a little goat cheese on top, and the walnuts and serve only to people that you really like. If you don't like them, undercook the rice, they won't come back.

This recipe doesn't specify any definite amounts for the ingredients. Does that make you nervous when you are cooking?

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

I Miss the Batavus

Eselin is in the hospital right now.

There was a slight ‘wobble’ when I pedalled so maybe the chain has become a little stretched. And since it is prime time for bicycle use in Winnipeg, and the shop is busy, I may not get her back until the 29th.

I tried to ride the Giant to work today. As I rolled it out of the garage I could not get over how small it is. The Batavus is a tank. A beautiful tank, but a tank nonetheless. I rode less than half a block and I had a pain between my shoulder blades and my neck was starting to kink.

I drove to work.

It is going to be a long week.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Kids of Steel

Eselin and the Geek's recumbent relax in the shade while we help at the Kids of Steel Triathlon in Carman.
My niece, Miss S, and two of my nephews, N1 and N2 competed in the event but I was unable to get their pictures as they went by.

I was very impressed with two wee girls who accidentally rode 5km instead of the 1.5 km their age category was to do. And they did it on these bikes.
They were both leaning quite heavily on their training wheels on the way out but not on the way back. I suspect they may be done with the 'accessories' now.
These girls will be a force to be reckoned with when they are older.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

A Flatlander Cycles in San Francisco

I received this e-mail a while back from my friend, a prairie boy, presently living in Victoria.

(ring ring) I like the bell. These straight bars are going to be a bit of a pain, and I'm sitting up higher than I want to, but as rentals go I could do a lot worse. This is the monologue that ran through my head as I pulled away from the Blazing Saddles bike rental kiosk at Pier 39 in San Francisco. "Blazing saddles" huh? The way I feel now, after seven hours on that bike the seat might as well have been on fire.

This morning I left at seven. I walked the length of the Embarkadero. I had a cup of coffee at Pier 39. I rented a bike at Blazing Saddles, and set out to see as much of San Francisco as my legs would allow in a single day. (Oooooooow! We interupt this e-mail to bring you the cramp you knew was coming... dummy.) Back to my story. The bike was what they call a hybrid. It had narrow tires like a road bike, but they were knobby on the sides to handle a little gravel. The seat was cushy (for a while). The handlebars were straight like a mountain bike, and it had a bell. I liked the bell. I liked it so much I rang it at everyone I passed as I peddled toward the Presideo, and beyond to the Golden Gate Bridge. I rang it at people walking, I rang it at people cycling. I rang it at this old guy doing tai chi. I rode along ringing my bell with a big goofy grin on my face knowing that the little Canadian flag on my backpack would protect me from scorn. People would just think, "Oh, he's Canadian. They're so polite." I passed the aquatic park where people swim in the ocean in the shadow of Frisco's great span. I'd grown tired of my bell by then so I didn't ring it at the swimmers. But I rang it at a woman walking her dog. Dirty look. No more ringing the bell.

The approach to the golden gate bridge is a pretty good climb. It's got to be about a hundred metres vertical from the Presideo to the bridge. It was hard work, but as I crested the top I was feeling very confident. I had conquered the climb to the bridge, and nothing would be nearly as challenging as that. The rest of the day would be a nice light cruise on this reasonably comfortable contraption. Store that away for later, as always I will refer back to it later in my story.

The bridge is amazing. It's impossible to take it all in except at a distance, and when you're on it, it makes you feel a little insignificant. In the morning I couldn't see the city from the bridge because of the fog. I could barely see the water. It was like flying above the clouds in an airplane. The bridge has it's own fog signals. They're a deep base horn, and they seem to make the whole bridge resonate. There are call boxes at regular intervals. They have blue plastic placards with a message written in a soothing font. "Crisis line. You're not alone, we can help you." I don't imagine they were in the original design. People were having they're pictures taken beside the call boxes. We are a morbid society.

On the north side of the bridge is Sausalito. It's a little like Victoria, except it has palm trees. I mean it has more palm trees. There are more trendy coffee shops than any other kind of business, and the most common car is made by BMW. I'm passed by about a hundred cyclists on my way into town. They all ride road bikes, and sport team racing outfits like you'd expect to see in the Tour-de-France. I see one at the side of the road. He's gone down. He has a tire in hand, and a line of snot connecting his face to the pump in his other hand. He's about seventy. I stop and ask him if he's alright, if he needs help. He smiles and lets out a little laugh, "No, no." he says in his French-Californian accent. "This too is part of the game. Thank you." I roll past.

As I enter Sausalito I remember reading about the Open Water Rowing Club. It's located on Liberty Ship Road. They rent shells out to visitors and casual users. I decide to try and locate them, and maybe take out a single. I stop at one of the prolific cafes and ask a trio of team racing outfits if they know of the club. One is Swiss. He knows where it is. Another is Italian, and he knows of another. So far everyone I've spoken to in Sausalito is European, belongs on a cycling team, and knows where a rowing club is. Well, that's not quite right. The French guy might have known where a rowing club was, but I hadn't thought to ask him. I follow the Swiss directions hoping I can identify the turn in the road he said would be obvious. I find it, and roll to a stop outside the Open Water Rowing Club on Liberty Ship Road.

I didn't get to row. I did get an invite back the next time I was in town. Had I called them just the day before i could have gone out with one of their crews, but as it was they were done for the day, and heading for an out-of-town regatta on Sunday. I chatted with the coach (whose name now escapes me), and said I would call ahead next time. Everyone is so friendly here.

Next stop, Mill Valley. Mill Valley is another small town, populated mostly by trendy coffee shops, and team racing outfits. It's also the place I made my mistake. I had taken along a map, provided by Blazing Saddles, with suggested routes, and approximate distances. Conspicuously absent was any indication of elevation. Anyway, the map had little bubbles indicating local attractions, on of which was Muir Woods. Muir Woods is a lot like Cathedral Grove. It's a stand of giant redwoods that have been preserved by making them a National Monument. The Mill Valley Grocery store is like something out of a Rockwell painting. There's fresh fruit lining the outside of the store, and what I take to be the manager is sitting in a chair by the door, white apron on, greeting customers. I roll up in front of him, and ask for directions. "Why?" This was his answer to, "How do I get to Muir Woods?" "Why? Why do you want directions to Muir Woods?" He realized i was confused by his reservation, and explained. "You know, it's quite a ride." I explained that I had already come from Pier 39, accross the Golden Gate, through Sausalito to meet him there in front of his store in Mill Valley. Muir Woods was just another 4 miles up the road... straight up. He was trying to tell me that the special kind of Hell I was biting off for myself was something that a guy on a Blazing Saddles rental bike should not be attempting, bell or no bell. I wouldn't listen. I had climbed the approach to the Golden Gate Bridge without even slipping into granny-gear (the lowest gear available). Surely I could make it up some hill between me and my giant redwoods. He sighed and reluctantly wrote out a set of very clear directions.

I don't remember the name of the mountain. It was Latin-American, but it just doesn't come to mind. It had an elevation of about a thousand metres. I might be way off, but I'll never know given that there were no elevations on my little map. (ring, ring) I rang my bell at the steep incline trying to prevent me from coming face to face with the world's tallest living things. It seemed to help. It made me smile. The pain that had settled in my hamstrings seemed to fade. (ring, ring) I was moving faster. (ring, ring) Whenever my mind started to tell me to turn around and go back down I rang my bell. At the top I surveyed the entire Bay area. San Francisco was like a model on the bookshelf, and Sausalito barely visible. Where were the trees? Oh. I had to go down the other side. I considered the possibilities. I could get to Muir Woods, and find out that I had a very delightful little ride out some back way that would end at the Golden Gate Bridge, returning me to San Francisco. I stopped considering possibilities. I had beaten the hardest climb I had ever undertaken on a bike. Surely I was up to this.

Turns out Mill Valley isn't at sea level. In fact I had been gradually climbing the whole way there, before my ill considered ride to the top of ______ Mountain. As a result the other side was quite a bit longer. I stopped at Muir Woods, and locked up my silver steed. I paid the three-dollar entrance fee. I was disappointed. They're tall. They have nothing on our Sitka Spruce for pure majesty. No need to go to California, just zip up the road to Port Renfrew, or Tofino. After pooh-poohing the silent giants I remounted my Blazing Saddle, and continued on down the mountain to Muir Beach. I had it in my head to rent a surfboard, and hang-ten in California the way I had in Waikiki. No such luck. No surf. I road on. I've never faced a greater physical challenge than that hill. The ride up from Muir Beach put me at odds with every muscle fibre in my body. It was excruciating, and it wouldn't end. The road twisted and turned, and at every new corner I would tell myself, "just around the next bend is the top" before another bend would appear. I can run a marathon. I can do it next week if I want to. I've done a half. This hill was at least five times more demanding. It was a two-hour climb.

I had to walk the last four blocks to return my bike to the Blazing Saddles rental kiosk. I thought about stealing the bell. I thought about how I would recommend elevations be included on their maps. I thought about how my ass was never going to recover. The woman at the kiosk took out a marker when I told her where I had been. She traced the route on a map on the counter, counted, laughed. It had been quite a day.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Recycled Bicycle

The Geek found this bike in the trash, or at least the frame. She added a different seat and handlebars from ones we had hanging around and the tires are new. In the winter it is a fixed-gear but in the summer it has an Sturmey-Archer 5-speed internal hub. The cool thing is, unless you know what you are looking at, it looks like a beater bike, and therefore less tempting to thieves.
She decided to add some fenders made from an old bike tire.

She cut some metal supports from some stuff in the garage.

They are placed inside the tire to keep it from collapsing,

and they are then riveted in place.

Wires support the fender on the frame.
This fender also lends more credence to the 'beater-bike' appearance.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Sunshine Yellow

The last two days have been been dull and rainy. These two bright spots of colour, taken earlier in the week, remind me of the sunshine that we should be having.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Stiletto Sprint

The "Glamour Stiletto Run", a 100 m sprint wearing high heel shoes in Berlin on July 11, 2009. The heel of the shoes must be at least 7cm high and at most 1.5cm wide.
I can't even walk in heels that high so sprinting is pretty amazing.

But I guess it goes to show, if you can cycle in high heels, why not sprint in them as well.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Signs of Summer

While flowering plants aren't directly related to cycling, both are more likely to happen in the summer.
Last evening I was thrilled to find one male and one female flower on the zucchini plant. This morning, the flowers are both open and I am not 100% certain that the 'male' flower is indeed male. I didn't think this kind of gender confusion happened in the plant world. I'll have to see how this works out.

There are also some baby tomatoes hanging about. The bees are not terribly interested in the flower blossoms so most of these tomatoes came about because I was playing bee. (And you may rid yourself of the mental image of me in a bee costume; it is likely quite disturbing and in this case, it was not necessary.)

Monday, 6 July 2009

Eselin's Soul Sister

I have seen this woman riding by before, but today I managed to get a picture. I am just wondering where she bought the Gazelle. No one in Winnipeg sells them.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

The Sincerest Form Of Flattery

Is to blatantly steal this clip from Dottie and Trisha.
Thank you

Friday, 3 July 2009

Head Out on the Highway

But, unlike the Steppenwolf song, here you don't need your motors running...

I was on Highway 3 driving back from an appointment in Carman when I saw three cyclists on the shoulder. I managed to catch only two of them, and a somewhat blurry shot it is. I suspect they were working hard too, since the wind was gusting enough to toss my truck around.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Aids to Cycling

The Geek is very much into doing as much as she can on her bicycle.

She wired her bicycle helmet so that the light could be charged with tiny solar panels.

And last year she made this trailer to use, obviously, to haul things around. The kitchen sink is only in here for demonstration purposes.

Last weekend she wanted to deliver these cedar planters to the friends for whom they were made, but they wouldn't fit into the trailer.

As a result, she has decided that her next project will be a bike with a flat deck trailer, modelled after this Gazelle Cabby.