Friday, 29 March 2013

Do I really suck? The truth is hard to swallow... a blow by blow narrative.

Good day.  Good Friday

What a week. Well, maybe for you it's been easy-peasy.  With luck, you've had one long, wide, smooth open road with no unexpected turns, potholes, bumps or obstacles to slow your ride.  I hope so, because momentum is good.  It's efficient, and more importantly, it's fun.  My week wasn't like that. On Tuesday's commute, Bea bike stopped in her tracks the moment the cable snapped in the gear selector housing. You'd think that would simply leave me with one gear to pedal, but for some reason the hub just wouldn't engage at all, and pedal as I might Bea bike went no-where, so I hoofed it eight blocks to work in these boots:

People ask how I ride in high heels.  All I can tell you is that it's much easier than running in them.  On the way in to work on Tuesday I deeply appreciated just how much I love my bike. And on Wednesday I appreciated how lucky I am that the man is so handy.

The Amsterdam is fiddly at the best of times.  Left to my own devices, I'd have been stuffed. I totally suck at bike maintenance.  I can change a flat, but sometimes I forget a step.  I can make minor adjustments and tighten a nut, but that's about it, and on the Amsterdam I can't even do that much. Without the man, that snapped cable would have meant a couple of trips to the LBS for sure.
 Blessed be he doesn't suck the way I do.

I'm also pretty lucky it didn't happen on the trip just previous to Tuesday's morning commute, when I had a very small kitten in the basket, with a net over top, and the small boy cruising along in my back-draft, too.  That would have proved more challenging.  The snapped cable snafu turned out alright in the end, thanks to the man, but I encountered another stumbling block this week, something much more difficult to get over.

 I rode smack dab into a mirror of sorts, and I'm still smarting from the experience.  I caught a glimpse of myself through the eyes of others and was surprised and a little taken aback to discover that I am not very popular at all. People in the big wide world don't seem to like me much.

Needless to say, my ego doesn't like that.

Mum's nodding knowingly. 

Admittedly, those of my friends and family who still have anything to do with me are all remarkably tolerant and open minded individuals, bless 'em. They have to be, really, because I have almost all of the personality flaws there are.  You might even say I'm gifted that way. I can be super daft on occasion, too, which is always awkward at the most unexpected moments.

No, judgemental people don't tend to stick around me for long, which is a pretty big clue that I push some buttons, right?  Maybe its a kind of social turrets or something; I can't help but put my foot in it every time I open my mouth. Or login.

"What IS she going on about?" You're probably wondering.

"Oh no.  What's she said now?" my friend is thinking.

Reddit.  I tried Reddit this week.   


Look at this:

Zero Points. 3 up votes, 8 down votes,  27% approval rating... oh dear.

Look... it's that disembodied head in the sky!
Listen. You can hear Snob's voice admonishing...
You Suck At Life
It's true.  I suck.
I suck at all sorts of things.
It's embarrassing, but it's who I am.  I own it.
Happily, not all of the things I suck (at) are bad  things.
I suck pretty good wheel, for example, though not quite like this guy:

Redditor muffinmanx1

I can do it well enough, but in truth I even sort of suck at sucking wheel.  (Don't tell me how badly I do it, though. Telling me how I suck at sucking would be a low blow.) My little guy rides just a few inches off the back as naturally as breathing, but for me it's always a bit of a love/hate thing.  I love the lure of that pocket, its refuge from the wind barrier, but it's always a bit of a tense exercise in trust and acceptance, especially if there's any kind of real speed involved.

Mmmm...speed.  There's nothing quite like it, is there? It's a beautiful thing, hurtling through space on two wheels, an exhilarating, exciting, wonderful thing, and the desire to ride more miles faster than ever before draws me back into that alluring, wheel sucking love/hate pocket time and time again. 

That's ok, though.  I don't care if I suck. There are worse things.  I own it, this being good at sucking business.  It suits me. You might even say I love it.  I'm passionate about it, sucking.  How do I suck?  I'd give you a blow by blow, but you already know how it goes.

It doesn't matter how I suck, anyway, because I love to ride my bike, and that's not about to change anytime soon.  I love to ride far and I love to ride fast.  I would rather ride my bike than drive a car, because riding my bike makes me happy and I like to feel good.

There are other by-products from riding a bike, too, like legs.

Oh, and also, better immune response, higher sex drive, faster reaction times, greater longevity and vitality... and you can feel good about every trip you don't take the petrol pumps.  Driving a car thickens your waist and thins your wallet.  Riding a bike trims your waist and fattens your wallet,
 unless your name is Fred, in which case your wallet is still skinny.
The list of bicycling benefits goes on and on, 
but riding my bike makes me happy,
and that's reason enough. 

Riding a bike is the best way to get around.
It's as plain as the nose on my face
so I don't even stop to think about it any more.

But Reddit is here to remind me that other people don't feel the same way.
I feel sad for them that they are addicted to their cars and their poisonous way of life,
and frustrated that they can't see how flawed is the thinking that brought them to the place where they believe that it's acceptable to drive everywhere they go.  

(As I gasp, sucking the exhaust from their poison-mobiles.)

It's no wonder my opinions are so unpopular, is it? I was sad and disappointed that Reddit took my satire at face value, too.  My ego wanted to believe I was a true wit. Fucking hell. I hate it when I have to reconcile my beliefs about who I am with the reflection I see in the mirror.  

I suck.

 Also, I am a big suck for a warm soft cuddly pussy.

Well, the good thing is it's Good Friday. Every day above ground is a good day, and I don't have to work today. I do have a tolerant family and at least one friend who loves me, and I have my bike.  The sun is out, the road is calling, and my heart is happy again.

Peace and love all.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Whiskers on kittens... how do you solve a problem like Korea?

When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when the Kim Jong-un threatens a pre-emptive strike.... humanity's precarious position on the precipice of extinction can be a bit of a downer, don't you think?  That's when it's time to make like Maria and 'simply remember your favourite things.'

Mmm shiny things... don't you just love shiny things?  I love the way they shimmer with movement and light. I went back to Kissing Crows this weekend to pick up my shiny, gold K-Edge chain catcher.

 I drop all kinds of things.  I drop names, I drop chains and sometimes I drop the ball.  This year I will at least do something about dropping chains. I ordered the black version with a skull on it, but that's no longer available, so instead clever clogs Joshua changed the order to gold.  It seems he picked up on my love of shiny things.The elders on Haida Gwaii said I'm of the Eagle clan, not Raven, but I swear there's an inner Magpie in here somewhere.... mmm... pretty, shiny things.

Imagine, then, my delight in discovering this little gem as I was perusing the shop.

Pretty in Pink. It's the best of both worlds, shiny and pink, and look!  Even the nipples are anodised pink.  Don't you just love that some girl out there is willing to spend $95 to anodise $15 worth of parts so she can sport shiny pink nipples on her spokes?

Isn't that ab fab? Brill. Josh and the guys do a smashing job at customising a sweet ride.  There are pretty bikes all over the place.  It makes me happy just being in the shop because everywhere you look there is something lovely to look at. 

 Pink pedals, pink hydrolic brake calipers, pink saddle, pink grips, pink pink pink.
Love it.  Dunno about you, but I feel better already.

 This is the kind of attention to detail only the true CDO (that's OCD spelled correctly) understands.
Look at the chain (er...belt) guard.

There's custom paint and pin-striping on the fender, too. 

Mmmm, pink... I love pretty bikes and I love pink.  What could be better than a bike dressed in pink?
The whole city is dressed in pink these days!
Almost a month later than last year, but here at last.

Shiny things, pink trees, spring time.
You've gotta love spring time... no more toe warmers on the Sidi's!! I love springtime, cause it means more weekends on my go-fast bike. I always have ambitious intentions, and this day was no different.  We planned to ride across the line at the Peace Arch Border so we could take the opportunity to emulate Snob and pee in the USA. Time has a funny way of ticking along when you aren't paying attention, though, so we put our American aspirations aside and rode south to the Fraser River and then east as far as the bike path took us.  It ends at Boundary, the border between Vancouver and Burnaby.

.  On the way back home again we stopped to sit in the sun for a bit.

I was admiring my bike from a few feet away (as you do) when the ever-so-lovely Judy Latoski, racer, coach, and women's cycling advocate, stopped to chat for a minute. I love ever-so-lovely women, too. (As you do:) She asked how I like my Linskey, and where I got it.  Unsurprisingly, I put my foot in it, though rather impressively, I didn't even have to open my mouth to do it.  I'm talented that way.  How did I do it? Look at my gear selection.  Nothing screams Nu-Fred quite like being on the two largest chain-rings, does it?

I told her I got the bike from Ed at Mighty Riders. I was babbling on about my wheels as blithely as can be, and the whole time, my bike was speaking volumes about me. Loud and clear. That's what the man calls the contrary nature of life.  I consoled myself with the beauty of the ride as we made our way along the banks of the north arm of the mighty Fraser River just above its delta.     

Rides along the river are another one of my favourite things. 
Yellow is the ride out, green the ride home, and orange our crossing-the-Fraser-on-the-Canada-Line-Bridge-video-detour.  

We did it just for you.
  And because we'd never crossed that bridge before, and we always say we'll cross that bridge when we get there. It's good that there's cover if you need it.

Which cat can I race in?
Raindrops on roses may not solve all of the world's problems, but whiskers on kittens and long rides in the sun definitely cheer me up.

Maybe for today that's enough.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Pumping up the pressure: has City Hall aired again?

Oh here we go again. CTV news and the Province newspaper decided to wind the city's angry, frustrated, deluded motorists up tight, and then set them free on cyclists.  Not that this is in any way unusual. It's their favourite sport.  They used the classic bully tactic, too, of accusing their prey of having the very characteristics they themselves possess.  They are claiming that two bike pumps are the "latest bit of profligate nonsense from the activists who have seized control of Vancouver's $1.1B city budget."

photo stolen from UBC
OK. So for sure if you lived in Toronto and you elected some florid nutbar for Mayor and he stuck his foot in it at every turn, even running afoul of the law... just as the corruption inquiry in Quebec starts sniffing the stink in the winds from its next door neighbour to the west... erm....well then you might have an actual reason to complain that someone with dark intent had somehow seized control of the city coffers, but puh-leeeeeeeeeeease.  This is Mayor Robertson's second mandate. And besides, Vancouver's commitment to being a progressive, live-able and sustainable city runs deeper than any single mayor, anyway, and that's unlikely to change any time soon.  Why would you want it to?!

Which brings me to the point.  The cold, hard truth is that the real, dangerous and scary "seizing of control" is happening on a global scale by energy and finance interests which have nothing at all to do with humanity's best interests.  It's a sad, sorry reflection of how smart we're not that we remain oblivious to the grand larceny we  daily bear witness to, and resolutely blind to the error of our ways.

And our illustrious media are certainly complicit in the deception, the hypnosis of the masses, if you will.  If you believe otherwise, honey, it's well past time to wake up. has the scoop, along with a collection of the twitterati's contribution to the debate.  Thankfully, it's not as nasty as the comments raging over on the CTV...

Cyclists aren't subsidized by taxpayers. Motorists are.  You don't believe me? Here's a helpful infographic from Rob Baxter of the twitterati:

The spending on bicycles is so small it doesn't even register.  (This diagram is true to scale.)

 As someone who has chosen bikes over cars for twenty-five years, I've put a helluva lot more into automotive culture than any motorist out there has ever, ever put into cycling infrastructure.  The next time some dumbass driver wants to complain that they're subsidising my cycling infrastructure...

 well, they can just step right up and lick my pink canoe.  

As if any cyclist anywhere has ever endangered the way of life of a motorist, any motorist, anywhere. 
As.  If. 
No how, no way, Jose. 

Fer fooksake. 

And it's not as if I'm attached to those great gleaming pumps, either.  

Snobber doodle doo sez "Lob helps those who pump themselves," and of course he's right.

Really... I mean, what's the likelihood that you'll get a flat convenient to one of two city-wide pumps? If you just want to top up a low pressure tire, chances are pretty good you have a pump at home, right?  And if you're a serious cyclist, you probably carry your own.  Having said that, when we arrived at the pumps the other day, some guy was changing a flat there, so apparently it does happen at least once in a while... yeah, yeah... no photo, no proof it happened. You'll have to take my word for it.

Even if I never ever need one of those pumps, I'm still happy that they're there.  Anything which removes barriers to, and raises awareness and acceptance of cycling is a good thing.  The health benefits and cost savings to society when someone takes up cycling are significant and measurable  but more importantly, the price we're all going to pay for this blind, deluded devotion to cars is astronomical.

And that`s not just some pumped up rhetoric designed to sell newspapers and appease the powers that be, either.  Here's something to think about:  How about if for the next three decades or so we reverse the trend, so that every dollar we now put into supporting automotive culture is instead invested into cycling infrastructure, education and support, and everything we normally invest into cycling will now be earmarked for the automotive industry?

Wouldn't that be fun?  Those pumps don't look extravagant any more, do they? If drivers had to carry the full costs of their poisonous habits you can bet you'd find a lot more of them smiling along with us in the bike lanes...
after all, life is better here.

Go on.  Get on your bike.  You know you wanna.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Dammed if you do, damned if you don't.

A little while ago we had a peek at supernatural Vancouver, British Columbia.  This time around let's have a gander at Super, Natural British Columbia® (brand. ... Please note:SuperNatural British Columbia is a registered trademark of the Province of ...)  


This is our local beach on Sunday morning.  St Patrick's day was cold, bright and windy, and after a really tough week, I couldn't wait to get out, climb some hills, and set my heart at ease.

We headed straight for the Cleaveland Dam.'ve gotta love the word Cleaveland. No. I'll probably never grow up. I do try to pretend I'm mature and responsible, but it's never very convincing.
The Lions after which the bridge is named. photo by panorimo
That's what it looks like in the summer. Mmmm summmmmer...  there's a lot more white in the picture this week, but you'll have to imagine that bit, since I didn't get a photo.  I did take another picture of my bike, though, because it has shiny gold wheels, and I love shiny things.

And if you look across the side my bike is leaning on, you'll see something like this, all shrouded in mist from the water plummeting to the ground hundreds of feet below:

It's much more impressive if you actually lean over and look down the steep incline, but my body has it's own opinion of heights, and so you'll also have to imagine that dizzying drop for yourself.

Down the road a little

 you'll find the fish hatchery.  Not a lot of salmon around this time of year, but sometimes, it's literally hopping with fish.

so pretty...

... oh, and the scenery is alright, too.

We rode through Stanley Park on the way home, and saw Great Heron nesting by the dozens.

Here's one of those great, big, noisy, prehistoric beasts landing as gracefully as you could wish:

Nearly home, on the way over the Burrard St Bridge, we saw one of the Kit's Point eagles by the nest in its tree.

We were on the road for just two hours, give or take, with numerous stops for my inept photography, and yet we were witness to more wilderness than most people see in a month, and as a result I ended my ride in a much better place than I began.  Where else on Earth can you ride out from the very heart of the city and yet find wilderness at every turn?

There's trouble brewing here in beautiful British Columbia, no small thanks to our Canadian legacy of less-than-transparent, less-than-trustworthy government, but it's always a good idea to take stock of your blessings, and in this city we are well and truly blessed with our access to super, natural beauty, to wild places and gorgeous outdoor spaces. You'd be a damned fool not to make the most of it.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Hip hip foray! A closer look at hipster culture.

It's wonderful living in Vancouver because you get to travel back in time without going anywhere at all.  Everyone knows this city was built in the middle of a great big rainforest, but very few people understand that it's also built on a wrinkle in time.  

You don't believe me, do you? That's alright.  I'm all for the scientific method. Question everything. Ask for answers. Then  sit back and observe time rippling before your eyes. It's always the same: first the movement happens.  Then it's over.  Then the movie comes out, and then suddenly Vancouver is all over it. Remember the movie Premium Rush? The curtain closed on that one almost before it opened, and yet...
right here, right now, today there is a casting call out for Real Hipsters of Vancouver.                                                     
Georgia Straight
A conspiracy theorist might see it as a plot to employ the purposefully unemployed, but no.  Occam's Razor says what you see is what you get. Science likes to keep it simple stupid, or KISS, too.  No, there's no conspiracy here. Someone out there actually believes that this show is a good idea.  Isn't that cute?  

It will take a little bit of creative chutzpah and an ironic twist of fate, or two, to pull this off in the very same province whose government chose to spend taxpayers' dosh on adverts like this one, seen plastered all over public transit in 2012:

That's right.  They chose to target their transit-riding twenty-something electorate for ridicule, instead of doing a good turn and offering the film industry a few temporary tax concessions to stop the exodus of work to points East, despite a strong, grass-roots petition.  

 Isn't that ironic? 

Consider how well suited to the film industry gainfully unemployed hipsters can be...

The casting call is for hipsters who are following their dream instead of taking the predictable path, and it's even a paying gig, and so what do you know?  The hipsters are coming out in droves. It's nothing more than a casting call at this stage, but it's creating quite a buzz.  

Says Marsha Lederman of the Globe and Mail

“We’re looking for young people that have maybe chosen to follow a dream other than necessarily graduating from college and doing a 9-to-5 [job], people that are paving their own way, whether it be their art or music or anything that says a lot about our generation and how people are doing things like that independently and on their own,” says Irvin, who has acted since she was 10, with TV credits including SmallvilleVand Little Men.

Resurrected Bottecchia found on a downtown dumpster.

I found myself drifting off, staring at the wall, wondering what it is, exactly, which defines a hipster.  Relativity holds true in all things, and so the definition of a hipster depends largely upon who is defining it, right?  Irvin reluctantly admits that she is a hipster, and what do you know?  Her view of what defines a hipster stands in stark contrast to that of the Government of British Columbia.

All of which leads me to the obvious question:

Does anybody actually know what a hipster is?

Urban Dictionary says hipsterism is a state of mind,
and hipsters are typically in their twenties and thirties, though according to Irvin "the ageing hipster is an interesting  sub-category.'  The man argued that it must be so.  He figures hipsters have been around for at least ten years, and some people must have started out young and carried on...  

And then it dawned on me.

I thought of the man and his passion for re-building bicycles,

 all things retro

simpler things and simpler times, when people fixed things instead of tossing them out.

It was one of those moments. Ah Ha.
That's what happened to him.
 I mentioned something about living fossils, but he was non-plussed.  Of course.  That's the thing about hipsters.  They will never admit to being one.  They can't.

If you've put out a casting call for hipsters, this might pose an issue.

Technically, anyone who willingly puts themselves forth as a hipster is by definition NOT a hipster.  They are a scenester, which is not at all the same thing at all.  The Real Hipsters of Vancouver will never go out to a casting call.  The Real Hipsters don't see themselves as hipsters at all.

I was pondering this paradox as we rode home, when someone called out the man's name.  It was Rod Kirkham and friends, and again...
an Ah Ha moment.


Rod and his enormous circle of friends were hipsters waaaaaay before such a thing existed.
They rode bikes before it was cool, not because they had to, but because they loved to. Still do. For them, it's not counter-culture, it's their culture, it's who they are, and because of them, we have progressive city planners embracing the development of a healthy transportation alternative.

It's not contrived reality tv, it's reality.  I'd like to nominate them all as the Real Hipsters of Vancouver..

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Your Lengthy Guide to Riding Seven Inches

I've never been one to shy away from attention seeking behaviour.  Can you tell? 
I am living proof that while you're only young once, you can remain immature indefinitely.

Never mind. It's another gorgeous day in Vancouver. 

It`s time to Pontificate,
 to babble on 
as I do.

As always, there's a degree of tunnel vision here on spoke'n'scene

at least when it comes to bikes, and sex, 
health, and happiness.

Let's talk about sex, baby.

And what DO you know?  

Drs Oz and Roisin claim that "Exercise stimulates the production of make-you-happy brain chemicals and increases your feelings of arousal.  That's right.  Couples who exercise together regularly report better and more frequent sex." You might  have read something else along those lines right here just last week...

Did I tell you, or did I tell you?

It gets better. Your new, healthy sex life means you will live longer. A man who has an orgasm a day lives about four years longer than your average man, who does it only once every four days, and yes, two orgasms a day gives you eight extra years, which in turn allows you 5,696 more orgasms.  Who knows?  Maybe you'll live forever if you just keep at it, and even if you don't, could there BE a better way to go? 

                                                 Hey! This means Cipo will be the next Methuselah!

                                                                   from cycling weekly:

"Who says too much of a good thing is bad for you?" Asks Dr Rob Hicks.
It's a no-brainer, anyway, that sex is good for you.  
How else could I have figured it out?? 

Everyone knows stress kills, so it doesn't take much to figure out that happiness heals, does it?  Laughing for one minute is equivalent to rowing for ten minutes.... laughter has all sorts of health benefits, but again, it isn't exactly rocket science, is it?  
Happiness Heals.
And in my books, happiness is heels.

I have a Fix Fix Fixation

on killer stilettos and cool bikes. A podiatrist might take exception, but honestly.
 Physician Heel thyself!

It's not a heavy cross to bear, this love of all things long and lovely, but it's mine and I own it.

It goes to show you don't have to be wealthy to be well heeled.

Last week I wondered, pondered and even meditated upon the question of whether or not it's possible to ride in seven inch heels. (That's an inch and a half longer than your average man's penis, you know!  Today I am here to happily report that not only is it possible, it's a whole lot easier to ride in them than walk!

You see?  It's that easy.
Aaaaaaand, after watching me ride, the man said he would like to screw...

...some SPD cleats onto the bottom of my boots.

Blessed be!