Bye Bye Bonelli

26 03 2013

If you have read this blog since I began it 3 years ago, or have just read all the archived posts, you may remember a little bike called the Bonelli that really got around. It’s the bike in the banner picture of this blog but Bonelli hasn’t made an appearance for quite some time, mostly because I haven’t been riding her.

Ol' Neli, fresh from the basement.

Ol’ Neli, fresh from the basement.

I’ve probably put more miles on this bike than any other I’ve ever owned. It was my only ride for years, and it was integral to me learning bike mechanics. The only original part on this bike is the left shifter, every other part, cable, bearing has been overhauled or replaced, often repeatedly, by my own hands. She got me through every possible situation, from winter ice to summer trails, and took all the abuse I could give.

So, why haven’t I been riding her? Now that I have my own personal fleet of bikes, I have bikes that are specialized to do the things I used to do on Bonelli, only better, and more in synch with my personal style. This is a super utilitarian bike, but I’ve come to expect more of my bikes – I need them to be useful, cool and unique, so given the choice, I always ended up choosing another one of my bikes, until eventually Bonelli ended up in the basement collecting cobwebs.

I don’t have infinite storage for bikes, though, so with the addition of yet another bike to the fleet (the Fixte), I decided it was time to find Ol’ Neli a new home. I brought her down to the local community bike shop, where Tim cleaned her up and I gave her a complete tune-up to get her ready for her new home.

Now, she's waiting for her new rider down at BikeWorks South.

Now, she’s waiting for her new rider down at BikeWorks South.

It’s a common pattern amongst I’ve seen amongst women who really get into cycling: start on a hybrid that can do anything, though nothing particularly well, and then move on to more specialized bikes as you get a better idea of what kind of cycling you like to do (which can, of course, change, like who knew I would’ve been riding fixed?) and begin exploring different challenges and riding experiences. Eventually, the hybrid becomes redundant and unneeded.

I hope Bonelli finds a home with a bike commuter and gets put to work every day, because I know first hand that this bike is up for it.

In the meantime, I learned how to ride fixed during the biggest snowfall all winter.

A foot of fresh snow is good for two things: Canadian kickstands, and learning how to skid stop.

A foot of fresh snow is good for two things: Canadian kickstands, and learning how to skid stop.

I think I’ve caught a case of the fixie fixation. I’m having a blast on this bike, and am really enjoying how it challenges me in new ways physically and mentally. It’s also handled pretty well on the snow and ice – I’m glad I didn’t wait for better weather to start riding it.

Too bad I can’t wait for better weather for decent bike parking.

Here's what's going on in this picture. See the slant-lollipop style of bike rack? Of course not because it's almost completely buried in snow. To lock up, I had to hike to the top of that show pile then lean over low to get the lock on the rack. In the background, there is a limo and the cops. Because that's who's out on Whyte Ave during the worst storm of the year: a limo, the cops, and me.

Here’s what’s going on in this picture. See the slant-lollipop style of bike rack? Of course not because it’s almost completely buried in snow. To lock up, I had to hike to the top of that show pile then lean over low to get the lock on the rack. In the background, there is a limo and the cops. Because that’s who’s out on Whyte Ave in the middle of the night after the worst storm of the year: some limo, the cops, and me.

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!

Mourning a Fellow Cyclist

29 08 2012

On Monday morning, news of a tragic accident on Whyte Avenue sent Edmonton’s cycling community into shock. Isaak Kornelsen, age 21, fell under the wheels of a fully loaded cement truck after losing control of his bike while trying to dodge a large mirror sticking out from a large pickup truck that was parked more than a foot away from the curb.

Ghost bike on Whyte Ave in memory of Isaak Kornelson.

It didn’t take long for word to spread about what had happened and for glimpses of who this young man was to appear. At the University of Alberta, he was a track athlete and a student in philosophy. He worked at a local vegetarian restaurant. He rode a bright orange Masi. He had graduated valedictorian at a nearby high school. People who knew him spoke of respect and love for a talented, accomplished, but humble young man who was a true leader and inspiration. His family are also cyclists. He sounds like the kind of person that this world is sorely lacking, and I send my heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, and everyone else who is mourning his passing.

Mourners gather and light candles at the ghost bike memorial.

The accident happened only a couple of blocks from BikeWorks South, and there were many witnesses, including an EBC member, who went directly to BikeWorks and started working on a ghost bike with Chris, which was installed mere hours after the accident happened.

The police called it a freak accident, but that implies that it wasn’t preventable. While I can only speculate about exactly what happened, I ride that stretch of road several times a week, and from all the witness descriptions, I feel like Councillor Ben Henderson’s summation that everybody involved, the cyclist, the pickup driver, and the cement truck driver, were pushing the limits of safety, limits that are routinely pushed every day on the Avenue. I want to be clear that I’m not blaming anyone involved, but as cyclists there is a lesson we can learn. That lesson, simply put given the current infrastructure, is take the lane.

This accident has reignited calls for bike lanes on Whyte Ave, but along with lack of infrastructure, has also highlighted the lack of cyclist and driver education that allowed this to happen in the first place. On mainstream media sites (Global’s facebook page, I’m looking at you) I’ve wretched after reading some of the nasty, victim-blaming comments, and even more friendly voices have said things like “that’s why I always ride on the sidewalk” and “riding on Whyte Ave is suicide.” Well, until there’s proper bicycle infrastructure, I’m going to keep on riding on Whyte Ave, taking the lane. If drivers want to get annoyed & honk at me, I’ll be reassured, because I’ve got the right to be there, and because when they honk, it means they saw you. It’s still the fastest way to go, and believe it or not, is safer than the sidewalk where every intersection is another opportunity for a collision, or being squeezed in between a lane of traffic and a lane of parked cars. I know it sounds scary to a lot of people, and there is always the slower, less direct alternative of taking the side streets, but even if you don’t feel like you can assert yourself in a lane of traffic, or that you’re not ready, I hope that you’ll keep in mind that level of comfort as a goal.

This Friday, the monthly Critical Mass ride will be dedicated to Isaak’s memory, at the request of some of his friends. As usual, meet at City Hall, by the fountain, at 5:30. Wear yellow in honour of Isaak. Together, we’ll take back the streets, if only fleetingly. I expect we’ll alter the usual route to include an emotional visit to the scene of the accident.

News reports:

Class & Sass at the Mass

16 07 2010

I’m a little bit late posting photos from last month’s Critical Mass, mostly due to the sheer volume I had to wade through and edit out out of the many blog worthy pics. June’s Critical Mass is usually the largest of the year in E-Ville (’cause it’s bike month), and there were around 200 people in a mass a block long, in one of the biggest rides this town has ever seen.

This guy is really stoked!


Taking over the High Level Bridge is usually the best part of the ride.

A rare moment to enjoy the view, the breeze, the peacefulness of the ride while there are no cars on the bridge.

Jasper Ave, cyclists for a solid block.

These two had just pulled a bike switch-a-roo on their equally rockin' bikes on Whyte.

Who’s Streets?

2 05 2010

There hasn’t been much time for writing lately, between the mad rush for bikes and spring tune-ups at the co-op and the return of summery weather that has compelled me to take epic rides at any possible opportunity. I’ve got several posts worth of photos of fantastic riding and cycle oddities from the last couple of weeks that I have yet to upload, but I’ll start with this one from Friday’s Critical Mass Ride, which was a chipper affair.

I took this picture while riding, holding the camera above my head, pointed backwards, aiming blind.