Friday, October 31, 2014

The Seat Post: you can't saddle me with the blues.

Wow.  What a big week in the news!  Sure, Canada suffered its very own terrorist attack in Ottawa, and yes, the CBC's biggest star is definitely not the great guy he seemed to be, but I am talking really BIG news here. Seriously. Did you hear? Washington State has shrunk its ferry capacity to reflect American weight gains. That's right. And what's more, Crash Test Dummies are Getting Fatter to match American drivers. Gone are the fit crash test dummies of old, weighing in at 169 lbs.

(from the CBC)
Today's crash test dummy weighs 270 lbs, and that has THIS crash test dummy worried. "Why?" you might wonder...


Earlier this spring, when I started racing, Bill Yearwood (President of the BC Masters Cycling Association, and Investigator-in-Charge of the Transportation Safety Board) lifted Ti Baby and laughed, saying "no wonder you're so strong!" because my bike weighs almost six pounds more than his. So I looked into what it would take to bring my bike in line, and it didn't take long (even for my tiny brain) to figure out that it would be much more cost effective to drop a few pounds round my middle than it would to make Ti Baby a few pounds lighter.  


But nothing appears to be getting any lighter, not this crash test dummy, and not her faithful steed, either.  


Back then, Ti Baby weighed 19.5 pounds, but today, fully winterized, it tips the scales at a hefty 21.8 pounds!


 And me? Bloody hell, all geared up for winter, I don't even want to know.

Escape Velocity's Saturday Club ride - so civilized - here we are, waiting while someone changed a flat.
What I DO know is that poor Bea bike's saddle was looking a little worse for wear, all sway-backed and sagging in the middle.  When I'm riding with the fast boys up there, I like to stay in the drops as much as possible, but I'm not such a big fan of riding in the droops. I prefer that my rides have some serious rigidity.


It was distressing that the saddle is so distressed. It's less than a year old, and yet the tension adjustment bolt was completely maxed out.


Meh. As if anybody needed further evidence that I am hard-on things.

I was fit to be tied, which was fitting, all things considered. I'm not just old, you know, I am a bit old fashioned, too, and so I like to apply old school solutions whenever it works. Long before Brooks employed the saddle adjustment bolt, they used a hole different system.


And you know how I aspire to holiness, (you've gotta be holy if you want to be the pope!) so it was definitely time to swiss cheese the saddle.


I decided to give it the corset treatment...


 y'know, a little bit of leather and lace. Might not be the way that Jian likes it, but it suits me just fine.


So fine, in fact, that I gave it the babble on seal of approval. 


This little fella was dozing in the Horseshoe Bay marina last week when some of those fat ferry passengers walked by and woke him up, poor little mite.


He was just hanging out, waiting for the fish to wander by, alongside his fine feathered friend, blue heron.


The whole week was tinted blue, wasn't it, from beginning to end, starting with a murderous madman at the tomb of the unknown soldier, 


and coloured crazy with a beloved national icon's dramatic fall from grace.


But we're in this thing together, and blue is still beautiful...


And every day above ground is a good day, especailly when you get on a bike.  Nothing else is guaranteed to put a smile on your face quite so quickly, save maybe sobberdooders up there.  Sure, Vancouver caught the remnants of a hurricane that just missed Hawaii, a system which turned the roads into rivers for much of  Bike to Work Week, but even in the pouring rain there's no better way to get around. Call me crazy (you won't be the first) but I can give you a million good reasons...

Just like YOU've given me a million good reasons to keep writing about it!  



Yeowza! Thank you ever so kindly for making this endeavour more than worth my while. The week might have gotten off to a dark and terrible start, but thanks to you, I am sitting here wearing a great big smile.  :D xo xo

Monday, October 20, 2014

Simply read: hacking and huing.

I'm a simple person, and so naturally I like simple things.  


Like bikes. I love bikes.  What an elegant design, the bicycle, so efficient, and beautiful, and such a simple transportation solution, too.  


 It doesn't take a Giant intellect to see the beauty of all things Simple.


I love the simple pleasure of replacing the chain on my bike, because the old one wears out so gradually that it's hardly noticable, and yet the difference in performance when you replace it is downright dramatic. Yup. Life is all about the simple things.  


You know what I'm talking about.  Like having dinner with good friends, or witnessing a gorgeous sunrise.  Or riding even before the break of dawn...



Mmm.  I love that.  And flowers.  I love flowers.  And puppies.  Who doesn't love puppies?  And babies.


I love babies, and I love kids, and I especially love to see kids on bikes. I love parents who come up with unique, and inspirational ways to introduce their kids to bikes. Creativity a beautiful thing, don't you think? Now there's a parent just full of great ideas... who'd have thought of it?


A fairing of all things!  Brilliant. I love it. Bet the babe who rides in that seat loves it, too. What's not to love about that? The simple joy of a ride in the sunshine. I love that. What else?  Pretty things. Keats said "Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That's all ye know in life and all ye need to know."


Ye gotta love the beauty all round this town.  As long as you know not to taste of everything beautiful.


That would simply be psylly.


You can expect to find all sorts of things in a temperate rainforest, but it's the unexpected that really lifts the heart. 



Like pretty girls riding in heels and dresses!


Or unicycle lanes...


or even wheely crazy assed camber. 
Whatever turns your crank...


even if it is full of pink slime and animal's unmentionables. Tell you what makes me happiest, though.  

Here's a snapshot of my pussy for you.... :)
Cuddles. I love cuddles. And friends. Nothing better than making new friends. Specially if they're fast friends.  I heard a quote the other day, and sorry, but I have no idea who said it:  "if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room." (I never have that problem!) And if you're the fastest rider in the paceline, well, you're in the wrong paceline, too. (I don't need to worry about that, either:)


I rode with the guys from Escape Velocity the other day, and it was awesome!  They are faster than I am, for sure, and that means I will definitely improve over the winter if I can keep up with them. I have been looking for a good club to join, and these gentlemen made me feel very welcome. Besides. Look! The kit is HOT PINK! I love pink. Love. It. All in all, it seems like a simple solution to my search.  I pink, therefore I am!! 


I can think of other pink things to love... can u?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Let's talk turkey: the mad gobble gobble has a firm grip on us.

Do you ever feel like you're spinning your wheels on the road to infinity? Don't worry. You're not alone. It probably happens to everybody at one time or another. 


 That's the best time to take a break, to surround yourself with a few of your favourite people and to celebrate with Thanksgiving the things you love most about your life. Earlier this week my heart sank after a conversation with someone who makes a killing mining for the energy sector here in Canada. He absolutely refuses to believe in climate change. His premise? He thinks that climate change is a farce because Al Gore is a hypocrite.  He takes exception to my opinion that our first world governments work harder for big business' bottom line than they do for the very citizens who elect them. He vehemently denied that the fossil fuel industry receives any subsidies whatsoever, (!) claiming that the subsidies all go to sustainable energy companies instead.  He then boasted that he makes a killing shorting those very companies on the stock markets. Even as my jaw hit the floor, he accused me of being naive, and ridiculous.

Sigh.  

Ok. I will admit that I am rather gullible at times, but really?! To deny climate change in this day and age seems absolute madness. I had heard that there were still a few stubbornly oblivious people out there, nay-saying the evidence, but didn't think I personally knew any of them, and I certainly didn't expect to find them amongst the leaders of industry. But it isn't really surprising, is it? Somebody elected our war-on-the-environment Prime Minister, and it follows that his greatest supporters should be the very people who gobble gobble up the planet's treasured resources, and profit most from his anti-environmental stance. 


It makes sense that Canada's energy industry, with its prehistoric policies, should be governed by a phalanx of human turkeys, fossils all... and it IS in keeping with Canadian history that a very few people should benefit from the destruction of a long-standing, balanced and healthy environment. I despair sometimes, to think of the price we are about to pay for such short-sighted thinking. But despair is not a good place to operate from. So what's a girl to do?


She really ought to get on her bike and head out to spend some time with some conscious, fully evolved human beings, that's what. Last weekend, the wee small hours of Sunday morning found me in deep, dark Surrey, 45 km from home, celebrating a few birthdays with some lovely, dear, and (thankfully) switched-on friends. As I enjoyed their light-hearted banter, I couldn't help but marvel at how fortunate I am to have so many decent, kind, good people in my life. They are exactly the kind of people whom I would LIKE to see at the forefront of our biggest businesses, and they are most certainly the kind of people I would prefer to elect to public office.



What is it about power that corrupts so absolutely?  Why are such a large proportion of the rich and powerful so woefully lacking in moral fibre?  The man  I had that ever so depressing conversation with actually bragged to me that he paid $1.3 million in taxes last year, and went on to lament that fact, griping particularly about the amount of money paid to the first nations people.  Personally, I would rejoice to be earning enough income that my contribution to the economy was by necessity so large, but not him. He told me that he intends to sell his houses here, spend a fair few million on a swanky place in Singapore, and relocate there so that he never has to pay tax back into Canada ever again.  He was dead chuffed with himself and his cunning plan. And this is a man who was last year's "Man of the Year," according to the Canadian mining industry's flagship publication. I couldn't believe the things I'd heard, yet a recording of our conversation confirmed every sad and sorry word.

What on EARTH is wrong with us??

Bucky Fuller said that there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come, and the reason he is right is that civilization itself is an accurate portrayal of the sum of humanity's state of mind. So the beliefs we collectively hold are fully manifest in our cities and states.  Our energy policies reflect a bizarre belief that economies must continually grow in order to be deemed healthy, and that we should constantly, endlessly gobble gobble everything in sight. We are all operating under the mandate that we must consume, consume, consume. The fact that cyclists are almost universally held in contempt is a reflection of our collective belief that a car-centric society is actually a good thing, something to be prized, aspired to, and that somehow, ridiculously, the bicycle undermines it. Never mind that it really doesn't take a genius to figure out that communities built round cars create a perfect storm of obesity and disease.


Sometimes it's hard not to feel as if I'm caught in an endless loop of danger, judgment, and misunderstanding. Last summer, I was cycling up Spanish Banks hill on NW Marine drive, when a woman drove by me within a mere few inches of my bike, laying on the horn, startling, and scaring me. She was travelling well over the speed limit, and after she passed me, she did the very same thing to a cyclist riding a few hundred yards in front of me.  I called the police, because I felt threatened.  I thought that she had broken the law in refusing to allow me safe passage on the road. I gave her licence plate number to the officer who returned my call, and he later disclosed that he was very surprised when she freely admited to strafing me, hand on horn. The officer promised then me that she received a stern warning, and would be ticketed. I was satisfied, believing that no one else would suffer the terrifying effects of her road rage. A few weeks later, however, that officer's commander called me back again, and said that the woman would not be receiving a ticket, because I was supposed to be riding on the sidewalk on that stretch of road.

Barb Morris via the CBC
Ok,  So a few things come to mind, other than the obvious obscenities. In the first place, it is hard to even see that non-sensical sign, hidden as it is amongst the branches of the trees. Also, that particular path is heavily used by pedestrians, and on a bike, I am definitely NOT a pedestrian. I am a vehicle, and as such, represent a danger to pedestrians, children and dogs on the path.  Bikes are fast, and pedestrians are slow and unpredictable, and the two simply don't mix. It is a recipe for disaster. Pedestrians seem to hate cyclists even more than cars do, and they make it loud and abundantly clear that they resent my presence on any pathway they use. Besides, according to the BC Motor Vehicle Act, "a person operating a bicycle has the same rights and responsibilities as a driver of a motor vehicle." Furthermore, it's so narrow along that spot that many joggers, and even some walking pedestrians choose to use the road. Tell me: exactly where is everybody supposed to go?

(David Dunnison)

Cyclist David Dunnison measured the sidewalk width to be 72 cm in some sections. Provincial guidelines state that a path with a concrete barrier and shared pedestrian-cycling traffic must be at least 2.5 metres wide. This particular path falls more than a little short, don't you think?  And that's the thing.  As long as we collectively agree that a motorist's right to speed with impunity supercedes everybody else's right to safe passage, we will continue to have conflicts on the road, and we will continue to see unnecessary fatalities.  On the day that woman threatened me with her car, there were dozens of pedestrians on the path, so that my presence there would not have been welcome, nor indeed even safe - for any of us.  There were certainly far fewer cars, and in fact, there were none coming down the hill when she chose to make her hatred known.  Instead of passing me safely, she indulged her road rage and endangered my life for no good reason whatsoever, and the police chose not to hold her accountable. Why?! And how many other cyclists have suffered terror at her hands?

Why do people behave like cars have a greater right to the road than anybody else?  Roads have been around since time immemorial, and bikes have certainly been here longer than motor cars.  Motorists are responsible for countless injuries and deaths all over the world, yet rarely are they called to task for the lives they ruin. Why not?  What is it in our collective consciousness which allows for such wholesale manslaughter? Good grief. If so many people died of any other singular cause, you know that we would stand together to make it stop.

Why? Is it merely an extension of our willfully blind energy policies and our capitalistic, grow at all costs economies? Or is it because we are all culpable?  I mean, really, who hasn't driven too fast on occasion? Who amongst us has never gotten behind the wheel when they were too tired to drive, or too distraught? Which one of us has never, ever opened their car door without shoulder checking first to ensure nobody was there?  But then again, maybe we are finally waking up. In Ontario, a motorist caught driving whilst on their cell phone faces a $1000 fine, though in BC, the fine is less than a fifth of that.  But it isn't really that hard to mandate safer driving habits, and to enforce the rules in such a way as to create safer streets. And deep down inside, you know that the time has come to make it so.


It's not just a pipe dream. Bucky nailed it - you know it's true. Once we agree upon a logical course of action, nothing can stop the march of progress - even if it does revolve around two beautiful wheels.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Oils well that ends well: riding for a cause.


I saw an old-school post the other day, one which inspired me to par-taaaay.


I loved seeing physical proof that I am not alone. While it's abundantly clear that humans are hard wired to ignore climate change, more and more people are definitely waking up to the undeniable fact that we simply can't continue on our present course of action without suffering undeniably dire consequences. Some people, like Leslie Askin, are shocked and dismayed to discover that as an environmental activist working to defend your beliefs in here in Canada, the Prime Minister's Office automatically considers you an enemy of the state , but it doesn't surprise me at all. 


I wasn't surprised, either, to discover that Victory Square was almost barren at the appointed hour. I had hoped to see thousands of bright, young millenials standing up to fight for their future, but apparently even they have other things to do on a sunny Saturday afternoon.


I WAS surprised to see that there were almost as many police as activists present as we waited to head out on a "Bikes, not Pipes!" protest ride. 

That's Marcus in white, one of two organisers of the day's events.
It may have been a small gathering, but everyone who came out for the ride holds the same vision: a planet sustainably powered, and a BC coastline free of a bitumen-filled pipeline, and the tankers needed to service it.


We inflated balloons the way Enbridge inflates profits. They do it for money, we do it for life.  Their actions are chock full of err. Ours are for the air.


Ready?  Set?  Let's rock and roll!


This was the beginning of the ride, and so we hadn't quite started chanting yet. It got better, and louder, as the ride moved along.  My favourite was "Use your ass, not gas!" but there were quite a few of them, dreamt up by Douglas Gook, all designed to let the general public know the purpose of our protest.  It was fun.  "Occupy Love!" I really enjoyed the look on many drivers' faces when they heard us singing "if you love your car, then set it free!"


You'll notice that the police gave us the right of way as we moved along, stopping traffic for the ride so that we didn't have to stop for lights, and ensuring our safety as we made our way through Chinatown, trying to raise awareness for the cause.  It makes for a beautiful contrast to the police presence in Hong Kong this week, don't you think?


The mother in me really appreciated that.  Most of the people we saw along the way smiled, waved and cheered us along, but one woman yelled "Get the F**K off the streets!" and had she been behind the wheel her anger would have scared me a little, at least with respect to the boys I'd brought with me.


But as it was, I felt good that the kids felt empowered to create change, to mold their own future the way they see fit.  Every child should understand that the future really does rest in their young yet capable hands.  It's serious business, the health of this planet.  The most important issue of all...


Most of today's parents are worried for their children's safety, so concerned that they never let them out of their sights, and for understandable reason. Yet don't we owe it to them to give them the tools to enable them to take responsibility for themselves?  After all, it's their future we are talking about here.  


The best teacher I had in grade school emphasized the fact that you really can't believe everything that you read, even if it is written in a text book.  For generations now, Canadians have been fed a bullshit version of history which conveniently left out the genocide of our indigenous peoples, and the eradication of their cultures.  I was a full grown adult before I was aware of the horrors many people suffered in the residential schools, and I was one of the few lucky ones who learned about it a couple of decades ago. Most Canadians are only now beginning to understand the truth.


And the real truth is that it will definitely serve our children well to question authority before they commit their allegence to anything in this day and age, especially with respect to our government and its dubious energy policies. When I was young, we were taught that government is by the people and for the people, but nowadays that's a joke. Government is nothing but the long arm of big business, and the health and wellness of the populace takes a back seat to profit. Every. Single. Time. 


Specially when it comes to pipelines.  The Hecate Strait is the third most dangerous body of water on Earth, and our damned fool Prime Minister is dead set on hauling millions of gallons of nasty crude bitumen through there.  It's not a question of whether there will be a big spill, but when, and where. And that is so not on.


If we're going to change things and create a better future - indeed, if we are to have any future whatsoever - it's time to stand up in solidarity.  It's time to stand up for life, liberty, and justice for all.

Our wee tiny party of protesters made its way through the city streets to a surprisingly welcome reception from the people we met along the way, until we joined up with a few more of our kind on Main and Kingsway. One of the officers pulled me aside once we stopped to congregate. to ask if we had any further road protest planned, and as I had absolutely no idea, I asked lovely young Marcus just what was going on. 


He was a bit miffed that they should asked me of all people, and how can you blame him? I was not the police liason. He sighed, turned, and walked over to them spell it out. He told them that yes indeed, we were going to take our protest down Main Street to let the city know what we think of our collective dependence on petrochemicals, and his passion lifted my spirits more than just a little.  


It won't take many people like him to make this world a better place and ensure the survival of the human race. He told the police we were going to take over Main Street, and take it over we did, at least for a minute or two...


I had no idea where we were headed, but the kids had an unusual plan. They had a serious point to make, and they wanted the petrochemical industry to listen to what they had to say. 


We marched down Main Street till we came to the Chevron Station on twelfth, and there we stayed to stop and play.

They roped off the site, and pumped up the sound, and then together we turned that poor proprietor's day upside down.


It really was a party against the pipeline, 


with music, drumming, 


 dancing and people galore, 


 in the hope that oil won't wash up on our shores.


It was a light-hearted event with serious intent.


Did our Premier Cristy Clark hear the drums beating?  Did Enbridge get the message?  Who knows?  Seriously. It still remains to be seen, but at least we did something to stop one of the biggest crimes against the planet today...


Since we're being crude: fuck that stinking pipeline.  It isn't going to happen. Not on my watch, and not if the kids who are awake today get the chance to have their say. Do you want to make a real difference, to be a hero?  Do you want to save the world? Then use your head.  Think about it, and then do like the kids said:  use your ass, not gas!