Autumn Critical Lass and Bridge Musings

14 10 2013

I’m sure I’ve said it before that fall is the best time of year in these parts, what better time for a ride?

While it’s true that there was snow on the ground by this date last year, this fall has been comparatively kind with many sunny days and minimal wind but still not too warm. On a late day Critical Lass ride we could bask in the golden glow of the last of the leaves and the setting sun.

Looking over the river valley, enjoying the last light.

Looking over the river valley, enjoying the last light.

Crossing the High Level Bridge was the highlight of this ride.

Crossing the High Level Bridge was the highlight of this ride.

The High Level Bridge is part of my regular stomping grounds, so I somewhat take for granted what a monumentally huge, vertigo inducing piece of century old engineering it is. On this ride, however, there was a young rider making her first trip over the bridge who reacted much the same as I did on my first time crossing the bridge outside of a car at approximately twice her age..

First bridge crossing.

First bridge crossing.

Which is to say, she got a little freaked out. Enough that riding down the hill to the LRT Bridge and up the killer switchbacks to the University was looking like a reasonable alternative for returning to the south side.

Another lass crosses the bridge.

Another lass crosses the bridge.

I remembered the time when I was a teenager that I was with a freind and we were walking downtown from Whyte Ave. When we got to the bridge, she expressed her fear, and me and the other folks we were with convinced her that she could cross. She ended up having a panic attack after we’d barely started over the span, and it took three of us to get her back up the hill and onto a northbound bus.

I was really glad our young companion wasn’t as freaked out as that. She and her mom ended up taking the train back across the river while the rest of us cycled back across the bridge in the crisp fall evening air.

For more on Critical Lass, check out Loop Frame Love.

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Slowing Down a Little with Some Bikey Books

6 06 2013

The last couple of weeks have not been pleasant thanks to an unknown digestive tract invader. There were several days that I was too ill to leave the house, so I curled up on the couch with a cat and some books. Even if I was too sick to cycle, I could still read about riding.

The first book was found in the recycling bin of the local bike co-op. How anybody could toss such a gem as “Bike Tripping” by Tom Cuthbertson is beyond me.

Bike Tripping, and a cat.

Bike Tripping, and a cat. Also, what is that floating clown putting in tambourine penny farthing dude’s mouth?

Featuring amazing illustrations by Rick Morrall that scream “I was made in 1972,” this book is a snapshot in time to when cyclists were more on the fringe than they are today, and the ten speed was the latest and greatest thing in the bike world. And it’s a really entertaining read.

Meet Freddy Sprocketooth

Meet Freddy Sprocketooth

How to get out of sticky situations, from aggressive dogs to drunken gun nuts taking pot shots out of their pickups (thankfully, we have so evolved here on the prairie since the 70’s that we no longer have to fear guns on the road since the DB’s have switched to paintball) is tackled with straight talk and humor.

Not gonna lie, I've fantasized abou this after riding through hermitage park, though I suspect that something aimed at the irresponsible dog owners would be more  successful in the long run.

Not gonna lie, I’ve fantasized about this after riding through Hermitage park, though I suspect that something aimed at the irresponsible dog owners would be more successful in the long run.

The best illustration of a dooring I've ever seen.

The best illustration of a dooring I’ve ever seen.

I'd say saddle technology has advanced since 1972, yet somehow the leather saddle is still the epitome of comfort (grumbles the vegan).

I’d say saddle technology has advanced since 1972, yet somehow the leather saddle is still the epitome of comfort (grumbles the vegan).

“Many people are thinking and talking about cycling trips these days, not only because they are attracted to the sport itself, but also because they are getting turned off by other trips which have had their day and gone sour.”

There’s a seriously groovy tone throughout. Suddenly the 70’s bike boom makes sense in context to all the burned out survivors of the sixties.

“Ride out to the country. Expand your consciousness a little, and turn on to good old Mother Nature, before she starts turning on us.”

Then again, he said it better than I ever did, which reminds me, now that I’m feeling better I ought to start planning some serious rides of the rural persuasion.

Switching into an urban cycling gear, I read “The Immortal Class: Bike Messengers and the Cult of Human Power” by Travis Hugh Culley.

Memoirs of a courier.

Memoirs of a courier.

This is a well written, fast paced memoir following the author’s exploits as a bike messenger and the happenings of the the Chicago bike scene in the late nineties. Alley cats, Critical Mass, crazed drivers, secret underground shortcuts, fast riding in traffic, cryptic messenger lingo; this book has it all. This was one ride I didn’t want to stop, and it may or may not have encouraged some courier like cycling behavior. Highly recommended.

In a time when cycling is becoming increasingly mainstream, both of these books are reminders of the days when bikes were for outlaws and outliers. While I think this rebel cache may once have been used to help sell bikes to the masses, I wonder if the normalization of cycling will also mean the decline of distinct cycling subcultures. I’d hate to lose one of my (secret) favourite things about riding – the cheeky yet harmless bad-assery.





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.