It’s Sorta Like Flying…

30 06 2011

A little street art spotted on campus:


Here’s to bike commutes that make you feel like Superman (but without actually pulling a Superman).

Critical Lass – Summer Solstice Edition

28 06 2011

On an unsettled summer evening, a group of classy lasses set out on their bicycles for a little fun, food, and camaraderie. There had already been some storms that afternoon, and I suspect that the threat of rain prevented more folks from coming out, but the small group turned out to be just right.

Waiting to cross a huge suburban thouroughfare.

For this ride, we started at Bicycle Bottleneck and headed south towards Whitemud crossing.

Selen and Deb on their classic steeds.

We checked out the new paths adjacent to the LRT, which were pretty nice, except where they suddenly ended and we had to detour through suburban streets.

Miss Sarah, looking poised and stylish as usual yet still completely prepared for the weather.

Because of the threat of rain, raincoats and trenchcoats were de rigeur.

Geneva's ensemble was jaw droppingly awesome, never mind that her bike and bag were scavanged.

I ended up coming to the ride straight from work, and decided that getting poutine (I was famished) was more important than going home to change bikes. Except for Marilyn on her Brompton, I was the only one riding a modern style bike, but I don’t think anyone was too bothered. I had been caught in a downpour earlier in the day, and was very glad to be riding the Transend with its disc brakes, mud flaps and chain guard.

This is what my hair looks like after being caught in the rain.

We rode to a south side Japanese restaurant, where we crammed into a private booth and loaded up on sushi and had a great session of girl talk. As I said before, the size of the group was just right for a good conversation that everyone could engage in. The food was quite good, except I didn’t explain to the waitress about my dietary restrictions and inadvertently ordered a veggie cone with a mayo bomb in it – sigh – it’s sometimes difficult to strike a balance between not being “that annoying vegan” and asserting my lifestyle choices. Geneva said it was also pretty tasty though.

Riding into the sunset. Though the clouds looked threatening all night, rain never materialized.

After supper, with full bellies, we split up and headed our separate ways, which included going to the LRT station for some, and taking a joyride down the hill in Mount Pleasant cemetery for others.

Selene rolling down Mount Pleasant.

Whenever I pass it and have a few minutes to spare, I always like to ride up to the top of Mount Pleasant and roll down the winding roads. It’s one of my favourite rides in the city – it’s quiet, the view is spectacular, and it’s one of the only non- river valley hills in town. And maybe it’s just me, but the extra degree of creepiness of it being a graveyard adds to the excitement. Anyway, it was the cherry on top of an absolutely lovely evening of hanging out with other fab cycling ladies. Hope to see y’all July 24th, if not sooner! ❤

Also, check out more Critical Lass pics on Girls and Bicycles and Loop Frame Love!

Bicycles in the Midnight Hour

15 06 2011

To truly appreciate the short nights and short season that is a northern summer, you need to experience the long dark winter, as it’s the same instincts that encourage us to hibernate in the winter that drive us to insomnia in the summer. That’s the only explanation I can offer as to why a group of relatively sane all-weather cyclists would head out on a midnight joyride, straight into a drenching prairie thunderstorm. It was our first group midnight ride of the year, and we had waited so long that we wouldn’t wait out the storm.

Rushing through the rain soaked midnight streets.

For the occasion, Chris constructed a bicycle mounted sound system for his already ridiculous (I mean that in the best way) light bike.

Chris, not letting the rain ruin this parade.

The sound system turned into a life saver. The sky really opened up with torrents of water after we left our meeting place, and it washed something (conditioner? moisturizer?)  into my eyes and blinded me. I couldn’t see the road, the curb, cars, or the eight other people I was riding with, and after much yelling, a dramatic stop and a wipe of my eyes to restore minimal vision, I oriented myself by following the music and lights of Chris’s bike.

There's some good tunes coming from that general direction.

Soaked to the bone, we made stops at both the Pride and postie dance parties, but didn’t stay as we wanted to ride and no one wanted to dance with someone who’d drip on them. So we hit the streets for adventure, mischief and a few unexpected lessons.

Strange things astride in the witching hour.

For example, this would be the night we learned that if someone ties a lit road flare to their rack, you should not ride directly behind them. This would also be the night that we dried out, drinking wine, in the warmest, craziest, underground spot you’ve never heard of.

Much like these photos, the night went by in a blur. There’s something magical about the so-called witching hour, how the dark of night can somehow lift the confines of what’s realistically possible. I don’t know how best to explain it, and can only recommend that you poke around for yourself behind the curtains of night, and not be afraid of what you might find.

Out of the storm and into the night.

The night ended early the next morning, working on projects at the local bike co-op, where the crazy weekend of all-nighters was only beginning.

Sparklers have become a midnight ride tradition, though the big puddles prevented the ones in our spokes from burning for long on this night.

Every year during bike month, EBC hosts the 24 Hour Repair-A-Thon, where it’s open 28 hours straight and the mechanics wrench until they’re crazy or drop. I did the sometimes slow but never a bore overnight shift, and while the shop was still full at 2AM, by 4AM it had mostly cleared out and we could finally work on our own projects in the early dawn light.

Keith working on his Moulden, in his PJ's, in the middle of the night.

I’m still sore from last weekend, and I’m sure Keith is in much much worse shape than I am, and it makes me wonder, why flout hypothermia by going out in the cold rain or why risk chronic pain for a marathon repair session? These aren’t choices that most people make, though I guess if I really cared about making the same choices as other people I wouldn’t ride a bike. I do find joy and meaning in challenging myself and pushing my physical limits, and in a world where you no longer have to necessarily exert your body to survive, it’s not every day you find an uncontrolled opportunity to meet your mettle.

Hauling Stuff

8 06 2011

I have been working what seems like a tonne of events all over the city with Edmonton Bicycle Commuters lately, doing free mechanical checks on bikes. Sometimes, this also involves getting all the tools, stands, signs, supplies and propaganda to the site on an EBC trailer.

Marjory is easily up to the task of hauling 50 pounds on a 5 foot trailer.

Now that it’s Bike Month, the frenetic pace of events has increased for everybody associated with the utilitarian cycling scene in E-town, scenes like the one above will be repeated almost daily.

Meanwhile, to thank Marjory for all her hard work, I’ve got her a special treat: a set of white wall Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. Pictures coming soon!

May Critical Mass

3 06 2011

Wow, it’s June already, which means it Bike Month, which means my doing bikey stuff to writing about bikey stuff ratio is going up, up up, and I’ve fallen behind on my blog posts. So much to write about, so little time.

To fill the void, here’s some pictures from last week’s Critical Mass.

Laughing and rolling. Rolling and laughing.

Kim on the bridge.

Turning left.

Micah don't need a car, or a car dealership.

What's more fun and more attention getting than a shiny new auto? Brett's freaky art bikes!

CJ was flashing me a peace sign, but my camera was too slow to catch it.

Adrian, aka Bikewriter, aka EBC mechanic, aka professional cameraman, was waiting for us on the hill at the end of the bridge.

Another reason bikes are awesome: If you're a kid in a chariot and you see your fave aunt riding behind you, you can say hi and chat.

After the ride, it's time to play around on other people's bikes in Gazebo park.