one cyclist's adventures through the urban jungle

Saturday, March 24, 2007

if you have to ask

The weather in Vancouver continues to eat at the soul of its inhabitants. Thursday and Friday were particularily miserable with lots of wind, rain and chilly (for this time of the year) temperatures. I won't lie, I opted to NOT ride. I wasn't emotionally ready for it so I resorted to other means. Call it weakness, I call it spending quality time with my iPod on the bus.

A few months back in Dirt Rag, there was a wicked one-pager titled Bikakure: The Book of the Commuter. It states:

"The Way of the Commuter is found in riding. When the question is whether to ride or not, the answer is always to ride. The Way of the Commuter places emphasis on many qualities, including loyalty, self-sacrifice, justice, sense of shame, refined manners, purity, modesty, frugality, commuting spirit, honor and affection."

This online version of it seems to date back to 2005, I am glad they finally put it into print. Anyways on Thursday/Friday I didn't even ask myself whether or not to ride, I just said F it, and went on my way. I adopted the if you have to ask... policy in January, I like it. You just have to be weary about when you ask yourself whether or not to get on your bike cause it isn't always what you want to hear!

To make up for a few miserable days, I went out on a good ride today to blow some steam off and get some vitamin D from my friend the Sun. More on that ride later.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

It's a hard rain

It was damn cold today, considering spring is supposedly sprung. It was spitting rain on the ride home, except for the parts of my journey where it was &^%$ing hailing. It wasn't very big hail, I guess it was more like freezing rain. It stung though. damn.

Nothing to note during the ride yesterday unless you count the two dudes (I am assuming teenager, I am assuming mildly intoxicated) sitting on newspaper boxes at Granville and 10th who were waving to cars, trying to get big trucks to honk, by doing the proper hand motions, and belting out the lyrics to Sir Mix-a-Lot's Baby Got Back. That's right - All you other brothers can't deny. That was fitting, my mental iPod has been playing lots of rap and hip-hop during the rides. The Roots being the major plaver.

I have talked to a few more people about the group ride and started a draft email. I should get that out in a few days. I figure I'll do a write-up about a piece of gear that I like soon too (ideally to become a regular occurence) I teenk I'll start with my Chrome bag or my MEC wool longsleeve.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Weekend group ride

Over the past few days I have been talking to some people's about trying to set up a group ride for a bunch of us cyclist-types that are not affiliated with any serious riding clubs. Weeknights are usually packed for any one particular person so we have been thinking a weekend ride. Weekend rides can easily interfere with hangovers so I am thinking a ride a bit later in the morning, maybe 10:00ish, ride for a few hours (pace to be moderate), then hit up food (pints) afterwards. The routes will be decided on the fly, people can ride at their own pace, the night before can be sweat out. Yeah, something like that.

To be honest, unless I could think up a good title for a ride like this, I wouldn't even mention the idea here. I spent my entire ride home trying to think up something witty. What did I come up with? I am sort of thinking Tour De'toxification or as the Italians would say Giro De'toxification. If this ends up being the name, I fully expect someone to show up with detox in a bento box (triathletes I am pointing at you).

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

ready to come out

I am not sure that I am ready to open up about this. Posts so far aren't all that brilliant and aren't exactly plentiful. The layout has made leaps and bounds and is good enough for now, but looks only go so far. Maybe if I put the word out, I'll get some feedback, some "cool"s some "wtf"s. Will my non-bike-nerd friends understand? Will my bike-nerd friends care?

I have made attempts at blogs with friends before. We never made it that far but we talked about it a lot. For some time I have thought about starting a plain and simple, how-to-fix-your-bike when 'x' happens website - a directory of sorts, something to take the fear out of riding and maintaining your bicycle. I think I'll incorporate that idea into this blog, do some step-by-steps and when necessary provide links to those that have already done it and documented it (no doubt with more gusto than me). I also intend to share my stories of the daily grind and other bicycle related shenanigans. This is my soap box, complete with clipless pedals mounted to it. There will no doubt be posts about music and beer too. These items go hand in hand with cycling as it pertains to my life.

Cycling has been a major part of my life for some time and I believe that any bike that gets people out riding and allows people to enjoy the sport in any facet is a good thing. My take on cycling will be different from others, perhaps different from the norm and maybe occasionally beyond what you think is sane.

I think I can do this.

But I am not ready to tell my parents.

Friday, March 16, 2007

the (traffic) circle of commuting life

The city of Vancouver has a pretty big hard on for putting up traffic circles (aka mini-roundabouts) all over the place. They especially love them on bike routes. Personally, I appreciate them. I don't have to stop or blow through ye ol' stop sign if no cars are coming.

Where the madness begins is that people don't know how to use them. I firmly believe that most drivers haven't a clue about how to properly or safely use said traffic circle. In fact, I am more likely to see cars come to a complete stop in a traffic circle than I am at a stop sign, I see it all the time. At one traffic circle I routinely see gridlock (I just ride around the chaos). I have literally seen gridlock from a block away, ridden through the offending traffic circle (cheating I know) then ridden another full block before one single car has made it through. Absolute mayhem.

For those of you that are confused when using a traffic circle in BC:
• Slow down as you approach the circle.
• Yield to any traffic in the traffic circle. If another vehicle arrives at the traffic circle at the same time as you do, yield to the vehicle on your right.
• Go around the traffic circle to the right (i.e., in a counterclockwise direction).

I suppose that a lot of confusion is had when 2 vehicles arrive at nearly the same time. Generally there is a bit of a whizzing contest to get to the circle first to have the right of way. Just suck it up and give the vehicle on the right the right of way.

I am blown away by the number of people that make lefts by going the wrong way in the traffic circle too, but I cannot cure the stupid. That is another story, I'll stop before rant mode kicks in.

If you want to know more:
ICBC roadsense manual

Thursday, March 15, 2007

a good read

This comes from a Torontonian blog. I originally read it back in the fall and it has sat in my bookmarks folder waiting for a chance to brought out. It really is required reading for anyone that commutes to work via any means. We are all just trying to get somewhere, most of us to work - that ain't worth getting hurt for nor is hurting someone else in the process. Give it a read, it will make you think.
Things a non-cyclist might not understand

thank you time change

Gone are the days of riding to and from work in total darkness (can't escape total dorkness yet). Thank you daylight savings time. I can get by with much less lighting and get some very welcome personal photosynthesis which, in Vancouver, is a necessity during the first few spring days.

Next topic:
I haven't quite figured out how to present it yet, but I am going to start posting the soundtracks of my rides. I don't listen to music while I ride - that is a bit of a death trap if you ask me (illegal in some parts too) but I often have songs playing in my peabrain that keep me pedalling. Sometimes it is pretty sappy music, sometimes it is just a blast beat from a metal song. I suppose it depends on how hard it is getting up the hill.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Total Drivetrain Replacement

In the past few weeks I have replaced the entire drivetrain on my bike (real pics to follow someday). That is usually a daunting task, but not when you ride a singlespeed! One chainring, one freewheel and one chain - no problem. If you have all the parts it is about a 30 minute task with plenty of time for beers mid-process. My setup is a Surly 38T Stainless steel chainring, a SRAM PC-48 chain (no need for anything fancier on a bike that doesn't shift) and an el-cheapo Dicta 16T freewheel (not %100 on this purchase yet, but it works, so....).

Yesterday I also swapped out the brake pads on my Magura's and took a stab at truing my rear wheel. It's been years since I trued a wheel (a testament to how well my wheels were built) so I was a bit apprehensive. I remember teaching myself when I was in highschool - I really screwed up a few wheels learning. Yesterday I done good though [my blog, my grammar]. Patience is the key to getting it right, knowing how to do it properly gets you the rest of the way.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

lay out

Oh, boy! Time for some fun with layouts. Hopefully this template is not as - W I D E - as the last one. I suppose there will be a few tweaks as the blog matures.

rock on.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

It's not about riding with who you know...'s about riding with who you don't know. I ride past people all the time (yeah yeah, I get passed by a few too). Most of the time I give, at the very least, a 'hello'. Sometimes a comment about the weather or something else. Every now and then I will actually get talking to someone for long stretches of road.

Take today, for example. I rode with Johnny Biopace (I never asked for his name, but he was talking about his Biopace chainring) for about 15 minutes and he showed me an alternate route through the urban jungle. I'd talked to him before - about building singlespeeds, gear ratios etc. Today we talked city riding, detours because of the new Skytrain route, and mangled Aluminum cyclocross frames. Oh yeah, and Biopace chainrings and how they are probably a bad thing for singlespeeds, but worth a shot if you accidentally bought one.

Shooting the breeze with someone on the way home is great - it makes a great ride that much better. I have a few 'regulars' that I see every so often, but its the lone road warriors that you really only see once that really keep it interesting.