I’m a Truck!

8 03 2013

Living car free can pose a challenge when it comes to moving big heavy stuff. Actually, even living with a car still won’t help you move a couch. For a job like that, you need a truck, or an appropriate bike trailer.

Nice parallel parking job, eh?

Nice parallel parking job, eh?

Luckily, you can rent an 8 foot long cargo trailer from EBC. Also, luckily, there was a break in the winter weather the week the bf bought the couch.

This is how you move a couch.

This is how you move a couch. Always place the center of gravity over the trailer wheels, and use a tonne of bungees.

I'm a truck rollin' down Whyte Ave!

I’m a truck rollin’ down Whyte Ave!

The hardest part of the day was carrying the couch up the stairs from the basement shop where we bought it. Hauling it by bike was a breeze, though when you’re pulling a large piece of furniture on a bike trailer, you discover your seemingly flat neighbourhood isn’t so flat after all.

The residents settle in on the new furniture.

The residents settle in on the new furniture.

Post script: it took less than a week for the two legged, two wheeled residents to get bike grease on the couch. Luckily, a solution of washing soda got it out. Sodium carbonate FTW!

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Only at a Community Bike Shop

6 10 2012

Last week, someone cut open the fence at BikeWorks North in the dark of night and made off with some bikes. It being a community bike shop run by a not for profit society, there isn’t much extra cash floating around for fence repairs.

Yes, those are spokes.





Plenty of Bikes

15 04 2012

It’s obvious why any cyclist would be excited with the arrival of warmer weather (though it’s snowing again as I write this, but it’s a warm snow storm). Spring is doubly sweet for me because I finally get to deploy the Sustain SU bikes that I’ve been working on all winter. The Sustain SU Bike Library lends out bikes to U of A students & staff for a month at a time, and nobody ever walks away sad after getting a bike with only a $40 deposit.

The bike library after a crazy busy rental day.

I wanted to get a picture of the whole fleet, but I didn’t have time before half of them went out the door. Oh well, with such a small space I can only pull so many bikes off their hangers at any given time, even after I’ve cleared out all the scrap rubber & metal.

A season's worth of scrap metal & rubber: three bins of rubber, one of metal, a box of cables & housing, and a bunch more wheels, tires & frames on top, all headed off via bicycle power for recycling. I'm a truck. This is what I was up to when I broke my fender stay.

While I’ve been turning wrenches and generating scrap rubber, the Campus Sustainability Volunteers have been working on profiling all the bikes for Plenty of Bikes, our new approach to matching people with bicycles. And now (drumroll please!), I’m proud to share the brand new Plenty of Bikes video!

I cannot understate how giddy this makes me. The volunteers did a fantastic job!





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.





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!





Hunting by Bike

13 10 2010

On a sunny (Canadian) Thanksgiving day, I headed out on the new bike to my parents’ place outside of town, for a rather uneventful ride (no pictures because I was running really late).

After dinner, my Dad invited me into the garage to see his new hunting bike.

 

So if you don't know, that brown thing is a rifle scabbard. He has also affixed sticky backed foam to the top tube to prevent the stock of the rifle or shotgun from hitting the top tube.

 

In one of his favorite areas to hunt, where motor vehicles are not permitted beyond the staging areas, riding a bike allows him to quietly cover lots of ground and find isolated hunting spots. He had been riding a too small ten speed with upturned bars for years (complete with “saddle bags” and rifle scabbard) and also constructed a trailer from kids bikes parts to transport his kills (mainly deer) out of the bush, to his truck. A relative gave him his first mountain bike last month, and after just one hunting trip, I think it’s safe to say he’ll never get back on the old ten speed again, especially in the muddy back country where the deer & elk roam.





Hauling Foliage

28 06 2010

Marjory Stewart Baxter, my 30 year old Raleigh, has become my bicycle of choice whenever I need to carry anything bigger than my purse. It’s not because she’s a great cargo bike, but because my Bike Bins don’t fit on my new bike’s rack, and I haven’t bothered taking the studded tire off of Ol’ Nelli (my way-more-suitable-for-hauling-shit winter bike), Marjory’s become my default workhorse for groceries and whatnot.

Today, I rode out to the the Home Despot to find some sale priced plants to fill out my garden (especially for where my landlord mowed my perennial herb & flower bed – jerk) and pick up a couple of things for ECOS.

 

Right bin - small veggies & edible flowers tucked safely inside. I wouldn't put plants inside just any pannier.

 

It turned out that tropical plants were on sale as well, so I picked up a couple that will hopefully be cat proof, but it left me with more to carry than I had originally intended. Still, I managed fine. I put the smaller plants in the left bin and closed it, then bungeed the ECOS tool hooks on top, hooking one bungee cord so that it was holding the left bin open, where I put the taller plants. I dangled the remaining plants from my handlebars, in a maneuver that I perfected long before I ever knew what a pannier was. (Tip: if you ever have to carry something this way, tie the bag as tight as possible and hang the knot over the handlebar. The higher the bag hangs, the less it will swing and the the less likely it will hit your feet or the front wheel. I used to do all my grocery shopping this way.)

 

Bungees hold my other purchase as well as holding the left bin open so the larger plants aren't crushed.

 

I get a lot of comments about my Bike Bins, and overall I like them quite a bit. They are the best way to carry stuff I have ever used, but I still can only make a qualified recommendation about them. The pair I have is mismatched because one of the original pair broke, and I have scrounged every usable part off the broken one to replace broken parts on the other two. At $60 each for a chunk of plastic that might last 2 years if you’re lucky, you could get much better value spending a little more on something that’ll last you a decade, or could DIY something out of buckets or other large plastic containers.

But I didn’t pay full price for them. Altogether I’ve spent $60 on all three (two from EBC, one on clearance at MEC) and I’d say I’ve got my money’s worth (even though only one in three has a working lock). They’ve survived daily use through Edmonton winters and remained perfectly waterproof (which is awesome squared, unless you pack ’em too tightly and puncture a can of pop). Additional benefits include a flat surface on top you can strap even more stuff to, rigid sides that protect delicate cargo (like plants) while asserting your space on the road, and an audible warning system when they’re empty and it’s just the pump & tire levers rattling around in there.

I would love to see a second generation Bike Bin with more durable components. If I could count on them to last for, say, twice as long, I wouldn’t bat an eyelash at paying full price and wholeheartedly recommending them.

This post is an entry in the Let’s Go Ride A Bike Summer Games, in the carry a load on your bike event.