Rainy Daze

23 05 2010

A little rain won’t stop the riding, just like several days straight of rain won’t stop the riding. Add fleece-lined tights, a hood,  gloves and gore-tex (not pictured) and it’s not so bad (at least until losing feeling in the fingers after stopping to take pictures).

Ducking out of the rain but not wind for a quick documentation of foul weather fashion.

The chilly rain refreshes and soothes the skin better than anything from a cosmetics counter, and the ride makes the whole body glow from within.

Then a friend calls up and asks for help making a film of people riding in unusual places, so why not?

Another one for the "it seemed like a good idea at the time" file. The video better be epic.

Aaahh, E-town’s characteristic light coloured mud-clay, still clinging after a long ride through tall wet grass in an attempt to get it off. So not looking forward to cleaning this up.





Work is What Happens In Between Bike Rides

3 05 2010

Hello spring!

A blue sky, a strong, warm wind, skin that hasn't seen the sun since 2009, bright stripey socks, red stubby riding gloves, bike shorts, a swift steed and a million dollar view. What else could a girl want?

Pausing at a bend in the path.

Sunshine after an April shower.

Goose over Walterdale.

Marjory in the pines (though I think they're actually spruce, but pines sounds better).

And at long last, a thoroughly soaking rain.





Back to our Regularly Scheduled Season

10 04 2010

Early April in E-town is more often a time of snow and chills than of anything most people would consider springlike. This year, the snow melted early and the sun has already started sucking what little moisture is left from the parched ground. The last decade has been among the driest on record, and years of drought are  beginning to do permanent damage to Edmonton’s urban forest. Knowing this makes it harder to embrace an earlier retirement of the long underwear for the season, as it comes at the expense of the trees that protect me from the summer sun and break the brutal winter wind.

So, a change in weather is welcomed, but not one involving gale force winds.

A dust cloud rises over downtown. This is taken from the same spot as one of the pictures in the previous post where you can see the skyline.

This is the type of wind that sandblasts you and everything around you with dirt and gravel and sticks and garbage. It’s the type of wind that, when it’s at your back, can blow you up a hill, accelerating without pedaling, and when it’s at your side it can blow you off balance. It’s the kind of wind that will leave you motionless, blind, and breathless should you be so unlucky to have to ride straight into it. It’s the type of wind that evaporates precipitation before it hits the ground and sublimates snow before it can melt and be absorbed by the soil. In short, it’s the last thing this thirsty burg needs.

Street art near bicycle bottleneck.

Having an errand to do, I arrived at EBC just as the first clumps of snow began blowing in horizontally. I was light headed from the wind but ecstatic about the prospect of precipitation that could actually stick. That’s when I saw this old girl that had appeared mysteriously in the yard overnight.

A vintage step-through frame with most of its parts but in very rough shape.

Perhaps it was the prospect of enough moisture to quell the dust storm mixed with the first flashes of fever from an impending flu that made me so infatuated I decided to start fixing her up on the spot. The impression I have is “farm bike,” used & abused for many years before being abandoned, overgrown and partially buried, then rescued, repainted but never given more “maintenance” than the occasional shots of WD-40. I was hoping to restore her into a stylin’ ride for EBC to sell to a very lucky someone, and eagerly began cleaning, sanding, and replacing spokes and bearings. However, everything I’ve taken apart so far has revealed major issues with this bike, including bent frame & forks, shot rims & worn down hubs, serious enough that it shouldn’t be resold. Still, I want more practice working on these old cruisers, so I’m going to see how far I can get with this one.

Hub crud - one of many reasons you should keep WD-40 away from your bikes.

The hub was encased in an unholy epoxy of balsam poplar sap (and buds) and WD-40. I had scraped off approximately 90% of it before taking the picture above, and was still left with a sticky gungy mess. When I finally did get things clean, I was greeted with a pitted hub and disintegrating cones.

This is what a cone should not look like.

All the poplar-cement (my new least favourite thing found in a hub) removal took a few hours, and I’ve still got much more to do. Here’s hoping for no sap in the bottom bracket. As the snow had started to collect on the bikes outside and the wind was forming it into icy drifts on the side streets, I ended my impromptu repair session to return home to curl up with the kitties and listen to the wind howl.

EBC yard bikes under a blanket of snow. Don't worry, petites bicyclettes, spring is coming and we'll find new homes for you soon.





Springtime in Alberta

24 03 2010

And I need to clean my bike, again.

I just keep reminding myself that more snow now means less drought later.





A Little Bit of Green

18 03 2010

It's the one day of year green corduroy is THE thing to wear.

I have an emerald corduroy jacket that’s is just a little bit too light to wear on it’s own on that mid March green wearing kind of pseudo holiday, except it was so unseasonably warm today I wore it. It would have worked out well if I didn’t have to work late and ride home after dark,  brrrr. Plus, one of Marjory’s cable stays took a bite out of my tights, so it’s been a fashion fail day all around. Even though every pair of pants I own have a hole in the inner right cuff, it’s been a long time since I’ve had a clothing/bike malfunction.

Marjory's also sporting a touch of green.

This little magnetic character has been tagging along on adventures since a friend stuck him to my bike (ah, steel frames) last year. I call him “Ding Thunk” after an incident last summer when I rode through some really thick bush (yes, on the cruiser) and thought I lost him and broke my bell. For two weeks he clung onto the bottom of the ding dong bell, completely out of sight, making the bell go “ding thunk” every time I rang it. I keep him on the center of the bell now, where he has a better view and doesn’t affect the quality of the ringing.





Breaking Out the Summer Bike

11 03 2010

Three years ago, a couple of friends rescued a rusty old Raleigh from a dumpster,  got her working, dubbed her Marjory Stewart Baxter and gave her a second life. Sadly, they moved away not long after, but left Marjory to me to take care of. I’m so thankful they did, because she’s become my favorite bicycle ever.

Marjory Stewart Baxter and me. From this angle the tires look flat. It's the angle, I swear. Bicycle fashion shots with flat tired bikes are a pet peeve of mine.

That summer, I took a 4 week bicycle mechanics course at EBC where I learned by overhauling every part of that bike, cleaning and regreasing each nook and cranny, replacing all the ball bearings and cables, adjusting and tightening every nut and bolt. I found six different types of (dead) insects in her bottom bracket, including wasps and moths. I spent hours sanding off rust and trying to get those rusty steel wheels true, and I had a pretty good ride to show for it, until I had to replace the tires and found out that her wheels were an oddball 26×1-3/8 (597 instead of 590 for the bike nerds) size that was only manufactured for a few brief years in Canada. This meant any new tires I put on her would not be perfectly round and feel like I was hitting a bump on every revolution of the wheel, not fun.

Eventually, I ordered in some modern cheap alloy 26×1-3/8 wheels. I had to switch out the cones and lock-nuts on the axles to match the dropout widths but is was so worth the hassle. She weighs half as much as before, brakes 10 times better, fits standard tires and with a little love will glide smooth as sorbet for thousands more miles.

So this week, I’m riding Marjory for the first time since fall. How I’ve missed sitting upright on a perfectly balanced bike with a soft cushy seat, the only resistance the wind in my hair as I zip past cyclists with gear more costly than cars. Her only weak point is that her matching pinstriped fenders that gracefully save me from the puddles fit so close they leave no room for winter studs and can completely clog up with snow or mud. I’ve rode her everywhere else possible though, from mountain bike trails (as long as they’re dry) to overnight trips into the countryside, in style.





A Fail Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

7 03 2010

This actually isn't the first time I've encountered cops driving or parking in a bike path, though this is first time it's been one emblazoned with "Think & Drive!" and "saferoads.com" blocking the lane.

So the cop noticed me snapping this flick. He backed up the old “think & drive” mobile & got out to talk to me. What transpired went something like this:

Cop: Why are you taking my picture?

Me: Don’t you think it’s ironic that a car that says “think & drive” is parked so it’s blocking the bike path?

Cop: (awkward silence)

Cop: Don’t you know what we’re doing here?

Me: (Trying to hold back the flood of smart-ass responses that question left an opening for) Um, no. What are you doing here?

Cop: We’re cracking down on seatbelt and restraint infractions (and something about it being crackdown on seatbelt infraction month, trying to make it sound all important like).

Me: Okay. Look, I know it’s early in the season…

Cop: (interrupts) it’s the beginning of a month long campaign.

Me: I meant the bicycling season, and there’s not as many of us cyclists out here as there are in the summer, but…

Cop: (interrupts again) Do you want me to move onto the street? There’s room there for me.

Me: (smiles & nods)

Cop: Get out of my way so I can move this car then.

Me: Thank you. Have a good evening.

And then I continued on my journey down the busiest bike path in E-town in my little bikey world as the cop took a break from protecting us from ourselves to back up the bike path and reposition himself next to the gridlock. The dude was the one of the least jerky cops I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with.








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