Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Catching up!

Did you miss me? I didn't intend to disappear for so long. Just haven't felt inspired to write. But always inspired to keep on riding.

What's new?
  • I have a new homemade cargo trailer that my friend Mark helped me build. Its perfect for bulk kitty litter and cat food shopping. And garden supply buying in the spring! (okay so I may be dreamin' of spring about now) I'll post some construction photos later, but its a frame built of metal electrical conduit to hold a rubbermaid container. Here's the return from winter shopping, after carefully shovelling out a trailer width gap in the snowplow bank:

    Locking up for shopping is easy with a looped cable around the frame. Not so easy that bike racks are not generally dug out:

  • With the really destructive salty season (so far I have had seized brake arms, and my new chain and cassette are looking very worse for wear) I'm waiting to spring for any new bikey purchases. I'm eying the Bacchetta Giro 26 first as my new randonneuring and touring bike, hopefully as soon as the salty season vanishes.

    Photo by Steeker, shamelessly ripped off from the The Lazy Randonneur
  • What do you think of the new banners? I've put up some of my favourite bikey photos, and it randomizes so you'll get a new one each time.
  • I have discovered new joys in winter riding. I like it when the crappy snow plowing job ends up creating new motorist-keep-out lanes like seen here on Richmond:

  • Some winter cyclists are really adept at riding in slippery icy conditions. I am not one of them. I simply look ahead for what looks slippery and slalom my way through the clear spots. A good rearview mirror is a very helpful way to navigate the obstacle course. Almost always the ice pools up on the edges of the road - sometimes just in the gutters, but other times across the entire curb lane (note to city: are the no parking snow route signs just festive decorations?)

    I think often winter would have me bitching and moaning about what a crappy job the city did of clearing the snow. Not only are bike lanes non-existent, but on four lane roads several feet of the curb lane are snowy and parked cars are almost on top of streetcar tracks. But I've discovered something new...

    Just ride in the middle of the clear lane, wherever that happens to be. There's something kinda cool about just groovin' along with the rest of traffic on a main city street like Danforth or Adelaide. If the parked cars are too close to the streetcar tracks, just ride between the streetcar tracks. (for those not in Toronto, the streetcar lane also during non-rush hour is the only vehicle travel lane making public transit quite inefficient) In the summer, try riding between the streetcar tracks, even at the speed of traffic as an experiment. Pass by the next opportunity to make a left hand turn. Count 3,2,1... at that point all hell will start breaking loose with freaked out drivers. Winter is much nicer. Drivers generally won't question your right to take a curb lane that the snowbanks narrow too much to share safely. Never mind these same lanes aren't safe enough to share when they are clear either, but many drivers see that differently.
  • I love winter cycling. The invigoration of the cold air on rosy cheeks and a nice hot tea when getting inside. The aforementioned extra space. The whee feeling making a track through freshly falling snow and catching big snowflakes with my tongue. The feeling of conquering the elements after battling stormy cold headwinds. The fact its much quicker to warm up a bike engine (me!) than a car engine on a extremely cold day. Not having to worry about being snowed in.

    But shhhh I'll still let you in on a little secret. After our third blizzard in a week and a half, some days of slip sliding around and the rare time I decide its not worth the risk of falling in front of two tonne weapons, I am dreaming of when it will be spring. Winter is the season of clunky winter bike with wind/slush pants, a couple layers, a safety vest for extra visibility, a scarf, balaclava, bulky gloves, and aa helmet sometimes with a bright rain cap on top to block the cold wind. Dreaming of riding the Twenty with fresh flowers in the milk crate, in a bright flowery skirt and tank top with bare legs and sandals, and the wind in my hair. Ah to ride along Queen street feeling free...