Friday, October 31, 2008

The view from the broomstick

Hallowe'en is always my favourite time of year to be on a bicycle. Dressed up in costume everyone around smiles, rather than the usual frazzled road moods about. Since my new recumbent looks like a giant broomstick I couldn't resist dressing up like a witch. Here I am in front of Community Bicycle Network:

If you live in Toronto, you should definitely drop by. Now is a great time of year to buy a secondhand bicycle so you don't salt up your pride and joy (oh but it won't snow this winter, no not at all...) You can also pay by the hour to make use of the repair stands and tools and learn how to fix your own bike. There are workshops, and believe me these are amazing if a spatially-challenged type like me can build a really good wheel (more on that later!)

So being that Hallowe'en fell on the last Friday of the month this year, I was a bit conflicted whether to hand out candy to little ghouls and goblins, or one big fun costumed bike parade. Dressed up cyclists won out (sorry kiddies!) Here's a small selection of the many amazing costumes:
Arrr ye mateys, pirate Tammy Thorne, editor of Toronto's new bike magazine, Dandyhorse.
A different kind of pirate: Toronto Cyclist Union assistant coordinator Yvonne Bambrick as a pirated CD collection
The gals of "Critical Sass" dressed up as police officers leading a lovely law-abiding cheer. There were dozens of folks dressed up as police officers on tonight's ride, some kindly blocking traffic to keep the mass together at intersections.
Derek Chadbourne, owner of the Bike Joint can doctor up your broken bicycle!
The postman delivers - rumored to be the last appearance of Martin de la Rue - did you get your telegram?
Thing One and Thing Two
Gerry the human moving pylon
More recumbent love! Fellow randonneur Mike and his skeletal stoker on a Rans Screamer
Tall bikes!
And around and around and around we go! The mass of cyclists entertaining the trick-or-treaters around Walmer Road circle.

I will now cast the spell of velo-love upon you all, and I'll be flying off into the night on my broomstick (much more fun than a car, although I was told "Get a car, witch!" as I flew past a late evening traffic jam)

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Crazy gets lazy

Yes it has been a long time since I have written. Never fear I'm still helplessly bike addicted, but it seemed to me that there wasn't a lot new to write about. Insert rant about crazy driver. Rave about how much fun I'm having on two wheels. Yadda yadda.

Well now there's something new to tell you about! Yet another new bicycle! (much to my cat's disgusted look from me to the bike, you are bringing ANOTHER bicycle-shaped object into the house?!) I finally decided to join the dark side (or the comfy one, depending on your perspective!) and get 'bent!

Really I just wanted to lie down and enjoy the ride while I pedal along. Having several 'bent friends, I was told I would be a speed demon and very aerodynamic. I find it unfair when I see other people coasting up hills I am pedaling furiously. However, the instant speed demon is all an illusion! So far I get passed by every weekend warrior on big squishy tires on the bike path. Apparently it takes time to develop something mysterious called "bent legs".

The bike is great for attracting attention and having people talk to you. However I find the questions and commentary a little odd.

How much did your bike cost? Note, no hi how are you, that's a pretty bike, or other banter, they just cut right to the point of what they want to know.

Can the bike climb? Hmm, you'll have to ask me later, as I just got it a week ago, and I haven't gotten used to climbing on it yet. Read: a masher must learn how to spin! I gleefully discovered I still can mash actually by pressing my back into the seat and pulling on the handlebars, but somehow this method does not seem to be a good thing for my knees.

Struggling to get up a short hill out of the Humber Valley in the granny gear does not bode well for the bike's intended purpose (read touring across the rocky mountains hauling all my camping gear) but I'm hoping that some smaller gears plus acquiring these mysterious "bent legs" will help with that.

Gee you must be really strong! Said while mashing my way up a small incline. Do I look like I'm disabled on this thing? (okay in fairness someone else was pushing bike on said incline)

Are you clipped in on that? Isn't that scary? Why no actually its scarier for you to be clipped in. I can unclip and put my foot on the ground without getting off the seat. Ah I like this being close to the ground thing.

Oh what a Bee-You-tee-ful bicycle!! Yes this commentary is better!

There's all kinds of new things to figure out. Hmm my jerseys have the pockets backwards. When its dusk and the bugs are out they swarm into your eyes much better than on a head-down bike. It feels much more vulnerable to have my face at mirror height in traffic than my shoulder, so I hate anyone passing too close, and am more likely to take the lane. I wonder why some of them turn right around me from the middle lane of the road, and then I figured out maybe they are trying to get a better view of the bike! Gear changing happens more often, my wrists are getting quite the workout from the grip shifters.

I can't wait to take it out in the country and bounce over some real rollers, because this thing is a whole ton of fun going downhill.... Whee!