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.

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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…





The Most Difficult Thing About Winter Cycling

3 01 2011

It’s not the cold. It’s not the snow or the slush or the salt or the muck. It’s not the ice, even when you get right down to it (FTR, falling on ice > road rash). It’s not buying the perfect bike, or the right set of tires, or the right technical clothing. It’s not finding a light with batteries that aren’t affected by the cold or making your presence known to drivers who aren’t expecting you. And it’s certainly not the windchill.

The most difficult thing for me about winter cycling is the moments before I cross the threshold and leave the house.  The anticipation of the cold and the snow and the ever changing conditions is always worse than whatever the conditions of this frozen city actually are.

At the top of this parkade there is a giant pile of snow and a pretty cool view of snow and fog enveloping downtown.

Every morning brings a twinge of dread when I look out the window or check the forecast. Every morning, doubt worms its way into my head and tries to convince me that I can’t make it cross town under my own power on a two wheeled machine. Even though I know that I always feel better after a ride than before one. Even though I know that I’ll be warmer riding than waiting for a train or sitting on a bus. Even though I have never regretted a ride, but have certainly regretted not riding. A little momentum can take you to your goal, but the most difficult part is creating momentum when you start out with none. Everything gets easier after that.

This cool view doesn't have much to do with my post, except it wouldn't have happened had I not been riding like everyday was an adventure.

When people (outside of the bike scene) initially find out I ride all winter, I am pretty used to them thinking I’m crazy. I’ll often protest, “No, actually it’s pretty fun! And you’re moving so you stay warm. I don’t mind at all! It’s a great way to go, fast, cheap & good exercise. And my studded tires grip ice better than my boots…”

But as I peer out the window at my frozen bikes on a cold winter morning, I wonder, for a moment, if I really am crazy, and if this lifestyle actually is a bad choice. I’ve never counted, but I believe it takes me about 2 – 5 cranks of the chain (depending on how cold it is) to completely alleviate this doubt, at least until the next cold winter morning.

Empty streets, mysterious atmosphere, lights up 'til Orthodox Xmas, overall a fine night for parkade topping.

Maybe I am crazy, but it’s because I doubt doing something that’s always sure to put a smile on my face.





I’m Dreaming of a Bike Xmas

24 12 2010

Whether you celebrate it or not, here’s wishing you a joyful season.  May the new year bring you smooth roads, free of glass and wire.

LED wonderland.