Sunday, 30 May 2010

Breakfast with Friends

We planned to meet friends for breakfast at Stella's on Sherbrook. With all the rain we had yesterday, we had water in the basement, twice, and the Jublilee underpass was closed last night. Since that is the most direct route, and we didn't want to drive the long way around, we took the bikes down Jubilee and rode on the sidewalk through that underpass (which now had very little water).

The Geek stopped and pulled a fallen tree branch off the path and we continued on our way.
We dressed for the fickle weather; the Geek wore her sunshine yellow boots and I was in my 'great pumpkin' cape. I bought the rain cape in Holland last year, and while I have worn it many times since, this was its maiden voyage on the bike. It was less windy today so I thought I would try it. Even if there had been as much water on the roads today as Friday, my seat (or rather both seats) would have stayed dry.The Geek practices her trackstands at stoplights, while I coast up slowly and try to gauge when the light will change.We had a lovely breakfast at Stella's and they were very busy; perhaps it is always that way on a Sunday morning.

I hope the weather changes soon. It is much nicer for Summer Games when it is warm.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Dressing for a Downpour

It rained last night and started raining again this morning. The streets were wet and there were many puddles.

Normally if we are having a rain shower, I may put on a jacket, but basically it is business-as-usual.

This morning, because I knew the roads were already soggy, I dressed a little differently. A waterproof jacket, quick drying trousers and rubber boots. I packed my stuff in my backpack because it has a raincover and my panniers do not. The panniers don't even pretend to be remotely water repellent, as I found out in a heavy rain last year.

The boots were fine for the smaller puddles, but I did ride through some very deep lakes and the wake from the front wheel washed over the boot tops; soggy socks. Oh well.
I could have driven (and I am already starting to question my decision in the picture). My truck was at the garage having the battery replaced, and I could have taken the Geek's car, but it seemed too much hassle to try to get two cars home again. Putting Eselin in the back of the truck for the trip home just made sense.
The only really bad part: the front of my jacket drained water onto the nose of my saddle, which then ran across the top of the seat. The one part of me I thought would be dry for sure, was not.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Price of Distraction

A young woman riding on Portage Avenue near Polo Park was hit by a car yesterday afternoon.

Witnesses say she was rode out from a side street infront of a car travelling in the curb lane. Bad enough she didn't check for cars, she was apparently listening to something with earbuds in both ears.

She has apparently suffered some lacerations to her head and I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if she had spinal cord injuries as well. I hope I am wrong and that she is fine.

I was thinking of this as I rode to work this morning and the thought made me shudder. I hate all that noise so close to my brain, and the thought of anything like that interfering with traffic noises is frightening. "Don't young people know better," I thought to myself? Then one of my co-workers (who turned 57 on Tuesday) rode up beside me, and guess what he had in his ears?

I am occasionally a little too judgemental about 'young' people.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Priming for Paint

Sunday afternoon after we came home from Narcisse, N2 insisted the Geek work on his bike. She ended up putting him, as well as his brothers and his dad to work on sanding the frame and wheels so she could put on the paint.
Later, she hung all the pieces from the clothes line and primed them.
N2 has asked for a red bike. The final results are pending.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Rigging a Jig

The Geek has been thinking for some time of a way to bend the fork to make the front end of N2's chopper bike lower. She even considered running over the forks with a car, but decided that was not a reliable method.

So, on Saturday, she came up with a jig.
The 2-ton jack is sitting in a notch cut out of an old piece of 2X8 with a bolt holding the pivot points in place, and another bolt holding the front dropouts in place.

After jacking the cylinder to the full length, the forks bent a little but she found the bolts were bending instead of the forks; she found a bigger bolt.

She put it on the bike to see how it looked,

and tried again. The forks bent some more, and then the jig suffered a critical failure.

Thankfully the Geek was satisfied with the results

and the bike is ready for painting.

However, later that night, N2 called the Geek and asked if she could put gears on this bike. She tried to persuade him that chopper bikes don't have gears, but he was unconvinced. We are now on the search for an in-hub gear to build into a smaller wheel; a derailleur would be safe that close to the ground.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Pretty but Reckless

The young woman on the pretty bike I mentioned yesterday rode by again today. She was waiting again at the lights where I saw her yesterday.
And at the end of the day, I saw her again. I was about to cross this same intersection to where Eselin was locked to a post but had stopped when the light turned red. She came zipping up on the sidewalk behind me and darted through the red light, making dismissive gestures to those motorists who honked. I would have thought that even if she was gave little consideration to the integrity of her own skin, she would not want to scratch the paint on her bike.
(~sigh~) Cyclists like that give us all a bad name.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

No Jacket Required

This morning was lovely and warm and I left home, for the first time this year, without a jacket.
I went out at lunch to run some errands and a lovely girl on a very pretty white cruiser with apple-green fenders stopped at the light. I complimented her on her bicycle (she seemed very surprised). I then remembered that Trisha and Dottie's Summer Games have started, but between the bicycle lock and keys in my hands, I couldn't get my camera out in time, so no shot of that gorgeous machine.
I was a little more alert on the way home.
This fellow is one of the few people I have seen riding in regular clothes. We chatted about the weather, as Winnipeggers do, before the light changed and he zoomed off.

I love summer! Especially when it arrives in May.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Pixie BIkes

No better thrill on wheels, say pixie bikers

Kent Anthony rides his pixie bike Sunday afternoon on Garbage Hill.  Kent Anthony rides his pixie bike Sunday afternoon on Garbage Hill. (DAVID LIPNOWSKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

THEY'RE grown men on tiny bikes.

Not circus clowns, but daredevils who say they're young at heart.

Meet the pixie bike racers, the latest, weirdest and likely the most well-balanced breed of Winnipeg cyclist.

On Sunday, they raced full bore on their tiny homemade wheels down the steep grade of Garbage Hill, vying to be the first to make it between the pylons two feet apart at the foot of the hill.

They'd grab hold of the jersey on the person in front of them to slingshot ahead. The prize for the winner of the "death race"? Survival and the sheer fun of it.

Jean Madore, 42, has been organizing the races for two years, and wants to "take it big -- as much as BMX."

There are anywhere from a dozen to 22 pixie bike racers in Winnipeg, Madore figures. Most are male and many are bicycle mechanics.

The transplanted Quebecer is a proponent of the homemade novelty bike as well as being a mountain biking enthusiast. The tricky little pixie, though, is dearest to him.

"I'm like a kid again," said the Canadian Forces driver and driving instructor.

"I have no kids -- I'm the kid."

The bikes may look childish but require a high level of balance and co-ordination to operate without popping a wheelie or wiping out.

The pixie riders make it look easy.

Paul Dixon, 31, whips around the Garbage Hill course near Polo Park well-protected with a blue cape, shin pads and a full-face downhill helmet that says "Got Jesus?"

His bike is a hybrid of scavenged parts, including a pink L'il Princess handlebar and a boyish black banana seat.

Sometimes the bike mechanic will go for a spin down Broadway during the lunch hour.

"All the people looking grumpy see me coming and it makes them smile," said Dixon, who has a three-year-old daughter.

On top of Garbage Hill Sunday, the pixie bike racers warmed up on their "steeds."

"If you hit a gopher hole, you're gone," said KMO, a 27-year-old bike mechanic who wouldn't give his real name.

He said there are no real mountains or big hills in these parts, so to make the hills feel bigger, they make their bikes smaller.

The sport isn't for everyone, he said.

"It's for someone who doesn't take themselves too seriously."

Madore said they're planning more races later this summer with the dates and times posted on his Facebook wall.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 17, 2010 A5"

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Kissing Worms

Spring is in the air.
Warm breezes carry the smell of blossoming trees.

And then, too small to see, are the wretched canker worms. Later in the summer they have grown large from forging themselves on the the leaves from the trees. One can see them dangling from the branches by their silken cords, and dodge around them.

But not now. Tiny little horrors. I ride along and suddenly feel something against my lips. I sputter and ride down the street (phffttt, phfft) and no doubt people I pass wonder why I am riding a bike and making sounds like a motor.
I can only hope for a good frost.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Waiting for Spring

I had bought this CCM a few years ago but found it was a little small, so gave it to Semantique.
We went to visit Semantique a few weeks ago and found her loyal bike patiently waiting in the garage for the nice weather that, we hope, is just around the corner.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Bike Count

This morning Eselin and I camped out in front of the Bridge Drive Inn doing an Active Transportation count for Bike to the Future.
Everyone smiled as they went by; a few curious souls asked me what I was doing but I was largely left alone to count all the cyclists (and occasionaly pedestrian) that passed my spot.

What I noticed on this particular day?
-More men than women cycle.
-Men were more likely to ride on the street than women.
-Most people were wearing a helmet.
-And I was the only one riding in my work clothes.

I have to hurry to get my 'official' results in.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Museum Find

I have lived in St. Vital for about five years and I hadn't found out much about this part of the world.
This weekend we went on a couple of Jane's Walks and learned alot about St Vital as well as other parts of the city.
The St Vital Walk started and ended at the St Vital Museum.
The museum is maintained by the St Vital Historical Society and they are a very enthusiastic group.
They have a great collection of memorabilia from the neighbourhood.

A display of old cameras.
Woodworking tools.

Old bicycle license plates.The last St Vital fire truck.

And a very cool bike with nice lines.

A Wards Hawthorne, pre-World War II, tho' I may well be wrong about the exact time.
I was told this was the paper carriers bicycle.
This Hawthorne is not as tough looking as some of the other models but is very pleasing to the eye nontheless.