Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The weight is over. This year, less is more - more or less.

OMG! Where did the time go? I can't believe it's almost 2015. Seems like just yesterday we were down on the beach, hanging out in the sunshine!

I should really stay away from New Year's resolutions at all costs, cause they are nothing more than a recipe for failure.  The last couple of years I tried to quit swearing, but I just can't fucking do it. This year is different. This year I am joining the masses, as it were.  In 2015 I am going to shed a few pounds. Sure, almost everybody wants to lose a little weight. Every New Year, millions upon millions of people resolve to eat healthier, and to exercise more, and that's why the diet industry is worth billions of dollars. And even though I am not carrying a whole lot of fat round the middle, I do want to lose some weight. Five pounds. I want to lighten the load by five pounds.

It's not going to be easy. Or cheap. Some people say it costs as much as a thousand dollars a pound when you're dealing with a hefty, big boned frame like mine. 

Where to begin? The frame isn't going anywhere. Not yet, anyway. And I took care of the seat post last week. What about the crank? There's a few ounces in that baby, for sure. But it's soooooo pretty. I love my Campy crank... it looks like a flower.  See?

But it's metal, and that means it weighs more than crabon.  And this year I resolve to lighten up, so at least for the moment, it's gotta go.  Luckily for me, one very kind and generous soul happened to have a crabon fiber crank laying around in his parts bin, and he very generously donated it toward the lighten up babble project. Blessed be.

Zipp Speed Weaponry - truly a weapon of MASS destruction
It even has ceramic bearings.  How cool is that?! Never mind that until a few days ago I didn't even know that there was such a thing as ceramic bearings for a crank.

These ceramic babies have a lot of bearing on my overall weight.
My friend very kindly offered up some deep dish carbon wheels, too, though only the front wheel is compatible with my bike and its eleven speed Campagnolo groupset.

She's helping, too, only she's shedding hair instead of weight.

I need all the help I can get. I'd have passed on the wheel, but on January 1st, 2015, Escape Velocity is holding a two-up Time Trial on River Road, and as you should always begin the year as you mean to continue, I intend to go out there and give it my very best, bum knee n'all. They're giving teams with girls on them a handicap, and I have always avoided thinking of myself as someone with a handicap, but today I am happy to claim one.

Me and my handy cap.
I have always loved pretty things, too, and yet my precious Ti Baby has become a frankenbike for the sake of a ride which means nothing at all in the grand scheme of things, but matters to me as the best way to begin a brand new year.  What's become of me?!

Cat 1? Naaah. One Cat.
Never would have guessed in a million years that I'd care about shaving weight off a bike. I don't even weigh myself! My bathroom scales have siezed up, so rarely do I use them, and when I bought Ti Baby I chose titanium because other than the odd Gran Fondo, I planned to use the bike to do some touring in the summer. I chose something light but sturdy. Now I dream of riding one of those fifteen pound Fred Chariots, and I hardly recognise the person I see looking back at me from the mirror.

I have become everything that my hero Snobi Wan despises.  I am a stravaddicted weight weenie who loves nothing more than the Saturday club ride, and the Tuesday night criteriums. Yet the one thing I know for certain is that happiness is never 'out there' somewhere. It always comes from acceptance, especially self acceptance, and from finding peace in the moment. So in the end, who cares what people think of me? Lol!! In fact, maybe they should all take a page out of my book and lighten up a little. :D

But who knows? Maybe I'm just being lb foolish.  I'll let you know how tomorrow's race goes.
Thanks for joining me on this beautiful journey, peeps. I hope you enjoy the happiest of new years!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

The year of living dangerously.

What. A year. As always you'll have found me mugging it up for the camera throughout. It was a big one, 2014, and scary at times, too.

January started off with a bang when I went into sinus arrest and found myself in the Cardiac Unit at VGH after drinking some tea which disagreed with me.

In June, I crashed and burned on the Vets' Ride in Richmond, destroying both my scapula and my clavicle in one fell swoop.

The spectacle
It was way past time to bone up on my skillz, so I shouldered on and joined the guys at Escape Velocity, once I'd spent the summer healing up, that is.

My shoulder is much more stable now, but this body is nothing if not unpredictable, and for the last month I have been struggling with a very painful knee. The doctors even kept talking about trying to save the joint.  !!
They say cannabis makes for great pain relief, but this is NOT my idea of a swell joint!
It looks as if the doctors succeeded in their mission, fingers crossed, cause most of the tissue swelling is gone now, blessed be. But the bones themselves are still enlarged. Who knew bones could swell?! Er... never mind! That kind swelling is strictly on a a knee-d to know basis.

It's funny. Even though it hurts something fierce sometimes, and even though I was lucky just to have survived the 2014, I really do love my life.  Seriously. What a gift!! I've been blessed with two gorgeous, kind, sweet, bright sons; I have a remarkably tolerant family; beautiful, wonderful, paitent friends; and the coolest job. Ever. And even though this crazy old body is unbelievably mutarded, it has taught me how to live well, and the pain involved has even made me into a decent athlete. See?  I'm a very lucky woman.  Aaaaaaand, if you ask me what Santa brought for Christmas, I'll smile and tell you it is long and hard, with a knob on top, and  that you can sit on it. Mmmmmm.  That's happy making. :)

You might be a little bit surprised to learn that it's shorter and narrower than the one that it's replacing, and that I'm good with that.

I was surprised to discover that of all of the many the things that happened this year, and of all of the stuff I did, handling the shim was likely amongst the most dangerous of them all.  Really! What, you don't believe me? See for yourself:

You see?  It might look harmless enough, but it's practically a lethal weapon, the shim. 

Cycling can be dangerous, and failure to heed those strident warnings up there "may result in very serious injury or death!"  Even just handling said shim can cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm!  Good thing I've already had my kids.  Poor boys share my defective genes - the last thing they need is some life threatening shim messing things up. And wouldn't you know it? Whilst installing the bloody thing, I didn't wear my hazmat suit. It was at the cleaners.

What a risk taker!
Cycling can be dangerous they say. That's why I like to wear safety shoes as often as possible. When I used to teach kids how to ride horses - now there's a safe sport - we always insisted that they wear a heel so that their foot wouldn't slip through the stirrup, so I like to wear a proper heel to ensure my foot doesn't slip off the pedal.

Safety shoes - they're good for the sole.
Cycling can be dangerous... In this, the year of living dangerously, I couldn't help but notice just how many people driving vehicles were running red lights. Almost every day, I see at least one person in a car run a red, but the real hazard is Vancouver's bus drivers.  In the last month alone, I saw nine separate bus drivers honk their horn, speed up, and run a red - not a stale yellow!!- light.  I kept track of the bus numbers, the times and the routes of the vehicles involved, and after the first two, I wrote to Translink to let them know about what I've seen, and their response was to ask me to keep the details of thier private investigation private.  They asked me not to talk about it. I asked them to ensure that it doesn't happen again, and then I saw seven more drivers do the exact same thing - within a few weeks!  So I'm talking about it. Loudly. In this city living dangerously can mean something as simple as walking across the street with the walk signal. So please, the next time you see some crazy-assed, determined cyclist out there on the roads, trying to get to work and back, please just suspend your judgement for a minute, think about the big picture, and slow down a little.  Cycling can indeed be dangerous, but it doesn't have to be.  Just stop for the lights, and stick to the speed limits, please and thank you.  Cause, y'know what the sticker says... failure to heed these warnings may result in serious injury or death.

Plenty of people think that cycling is a dangerous pastime, even without riding a roadbike, or joining a race team, and sadly, maybe as things stand it actually is. I like the idea of riding safely off into the sunset to live a healthy life - happily ever after...

but humanity is a long, long way from a healthy happy anything. The small boy wanted a snowboard for Christmas, so Santa -mummy indulged him. Only he can't use it yet, because there isn't any snow on the hills. Nothing. None.  De Nada.

Ironic, isn't it?  Sandbags for rising sea levels, and no snow on the mountains. 
But we continue blithely on, consuming without any thought for tomorrow, with cities full of motorists commuting daily, and driving everywhere, all the time. Worse, much of the time it's one person per massive SUV, whilst the tides rise higher and higher around us. Last month the king tide caused damage throughout the lower mainland, and now sandbags seem to be a permanent feature down at Jericho beach. 

Forget bike racing. That's living dangerously. Sit back a minute, and contemplate the big picture. We really are all in this together, and your choices absolutely do make a difference - every single day.

Have hope. The times, they are a changing. This week, a judge awarded a cyclist $100,000 after a confrontation with an angry truck driver who used his vehicle to threaten the men on bikes caused a cyclist to crash. That might not give YOU hope, but it cheers me up immensely. But there's all sorts of evidence that humanity is slowly but surely changing course, if you look closely. Take Medicine Hat, for example. This is a city in Alberta with a history in the natural gas industry dating back over a century, and yet they are facing the future, and embracing renewables. They have installed wind turbines, and even Canada's first solar thermal capture plant in an effort to achieve their 2025 target of supplying 25% of electricity from renewable resources. And even better yet, Toyota has promised to mass produce a hydrogen fuel cell car by 2015.

Who knows? Maybe there's hope for us yet. With any luck... well, and with the courage to make a few unpopular decisions, we can turn this mess around, so that we won't be living quite so dangerously in a few years time.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

The day of rack-oning: is your city bike friendly?

Hey... hello! 

How have you  been? I've been looking for the breast rack. No, I am not drunk, though I am into my cups. Bike Snob has mentioned David Byrne's pretentious racks a couple of times, but anyone who appreciates the intimate link between function and form will likely find them irritating

Have you ever noticed how beautiful a round rack is? I'm quite partial to a nice full set, personally, and judging from the chatter you find all over the interwebs, I am most definitely not alone in that regard.

So I've been racking my brain for some time now, trying to think of a way to make bicycles more mainstream. If you lived in Vancouver, and you heard people talking about bike lanes

you could almost believe that cyclists are finally making some headway, but paint on the roads can be deceiving. Plenty of people are in a real fuhrer over the whole thing. 

You might fool yourself into thinking that society as a whole has come to accept us, but you'd be lulling yourself into a false sense of security. Car is still king, and cyclists are still an anomaly, still just one election away from a "Give the streets back to the cars" Robba the Fordian transportation policy. Even so. It is important to celebrate success as it happens, and in this town, those of us who choose to travel on two wheels are making a small inroads.

You can tell by the cute little lanes on the roads set aside for cyclists which drivers tend to ignore at will.

and by the stenciled bicycles (and unicycles!) in those lanes, telling the sometimes illiterate drivers just who the itty bitty lanes are actually meant for.

Just as a home reflects its inhabitants, so does a city reflect its citizens, and if you take a tour around Vancouver, you'll see a growing if oft resented reflection of a city with a commitment to a two-wheeled way of life. People who know me well know I totally buy the Hermetic Creed:  As above, so below, as within, so without. And so it is that any city with a determined population of cyclists will eventually show signs and symptoms of that way of life. These days, many of the office towers downtown have bike parking in the underground garages, and above ground you'll find a few creative places to leave your bicycle, too.

Not everywhere, of course. Most of the racks in town are standard fare, but every so often someone plays with a sense of humour or creativity,

or experiments with scale. And as with everything else, often the simplest solutions are the most effective, beautiful, and elegant.

And sometimes they play with simplicity itself, though as ever and always, without function, even an elegant form loses its appeal.

The arts are a litmus paper; taken together they indicate a society's state of mind.  And while music, sculpture, and painting are the most obvious outlets for the creative human spirit, artistic expression is all around us- it's in everything we do, from a sense of style in fashion and a gift for creating fine food food to an appreciation of a gorgeous garden path or even an exquisite turn of phrase.

Alex Colville - Cyclist and Crow
Remember what that clever cookie Keats taught us, that beauty is truth.  Just as form and function are married, so to are art and architecture. In my simple mind, the pinnacle of human achievement is when function, form, art and architecture converge, and that's what makes the bicycle so incredibly beautiful. And so any city which openly embraces bike culture expresses the epitome of civilization.

And that's the naked truth