Of Bike Paths and Snacks

31 12 2011

It’s slippery out there, folks! So, please be careful, no matter what form of transportation you’re rocking!

Better salty like a pretzel...

...than glazed like a donut...

...though sprinkles make icing OK.

Winter riding sure works up the appetite.

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Brown Xmas

27 12 2011

With temperatures on Xmas morning at 7C and rising, I loaded up my bike for the journey to my parents’ place, who live outside of the city. Though I often ride out there, this would be the first time I’d try it during “winter.” (Though there was that time I got caught in a snow storm on Mother’s Day…)

Gifts for my parents, brothers, and sister in law - check. Vegan main dish and snacks for the only non-carnivore in the family - check. Sleigh bells to alert me to load slippage and to act as talisman against highway grinches - check.

There’s no bike infrastructure connecting E-ville with my folks’ town, so my route choices are: freeway, highway through stinky industrial area known as refinery row, super-busy highway and freeway that doesn’t directly connect but spits you out on shoulderless country roads where people drive like it’s a freeway. I took option  #1 – the direct freeway. At least the shoulders were wide, there wasn’t much sand and ice, and the holiday traffic was light. It’s not exactly the scenic route, though.

Expansive scenic views from the freeway.

Funny how the closest I got to a white bikey Xmas this year was a pic on a gift card.

After I stopped to take the above picture, my gloves were so soaked with perspiration that I had trouble getting them back on. Thinking temperatures would drop as I left the city, I had completely overdressed, and was so sweaty when I arrived that my mom asked if I needed a shower.

It was difficult enough to not let the parents insist upon picking me up instead of me riding out for Xmas, and I knew that my worried mom would not let me ride home after dark. Once it started raining, there was no question, so at the end of the evening we loaded the bike into the freshly washed pickup (first time dad’s ever washed the truck on Xmas!), and my mom drove me home through the Xmas rain.

P.S. My dad would like to claim responsibility for the unseasonably warm weather, as he bought a new snowblower after the first (and only) cold snap we’ve had so far this winter. By this logic, he is also responsible for the rain, being caused by the washing of the truck.

Back at home, Squeeks amused herself with the bells on Porta-Bike.





Darkness

21 12 2011

Combine the unseasonably warm weather with one of the longest nights of the year and you have a recipe for a dark ride through the river valley.

The rain made the wooden bridge shine.

It started to rain just as I left (and December rain in E-Ville is always freezing rain), which soon turned to sleet, which greased up any exposed asphalt and made me second guess whether I should be joy riding in the valley (on a single speed foldie no less) on such a night.

Things started getting dicey after this picture was taken.

I’ve said it many times – freezing rain is my least favorite riding condition – specifically, when freezing rain forms a very thin but effective coating on hard surfaces that renders tire studs useless. As I rolled over the black roads and paths, I could feel my back tire slipping back and forth, and hoped I wouldn’t have to try to stop, because I doubted if I could and still remain upright.

Once I got into the shaded ravine where the trees protected the last snow we had from disappearing, the freezing precipitation formed a hard crust that my studded tires easily bit into, creating perfect traction. If I had been walking, it would’ve been a much different story.

The sepia glow of darkness in a city lit with sodium streetlights.

Through the night, the rain turned to  snow, and I awakened on the shortest day to the sun reflecting off a blinding white landscape. And even though the worst of winter still lays ahead, I can at least look forward to every day being a little bit brighter.





The Jingle Ride Cometh

14 12 2011

I know planning group rides in the winter can be a bit of a crap shoot, but I like riding with people, and I miss riding with friends now that winter has made it so much less appealing to be outside on a bike. Know what else I like? Shiny things, coloured lights, the pleasant tinkling of bells, and skating! Combine all these together and you get:

Jingle Ride!

Wednesday December 14th

It starts at 6:00 at EBC (10043 – 80 Ave – back alley entrance) with a quick winter cycling skillshare, then at 6:30 we leave for a fairly easy ride to check out some notable Xmas light displays.

You can be sure this house is on the must-see list.

We’ll make several stops, and eventually end up at the legislative grounds to go for a little skate. Holiday cheer (especially in warm beverage form) and bicycle decorations are encouraged, and I’m totally jumping on this opportunity to legitimately light my bike up like an Xmas tree and deck it out so the rattling of potholes turns into sleigh bell music.

Porta-Bike will be at the ride, with bells on!

Alas, my bike awaits the rest of the decorations in my living room. My parents were here last night and thought I’d flipped, decorating a bike instead of a tree. Of course, Porta-Bike’s a working bike, and won’t stay inside for long. But now that I think about it, I wasn’t planning on getting a tree anyway, and since I’ve got other bikes that won’t be doing anything ’til spring anyway, maybe decorating a bike for the holidays isn’t the craziest idea in the world…