Archive for the ‘Bicycles’ Category

Bici en Merida

Monday, December 5th, 2016

img_20161204_112908I am trudging down a back street in Merida, Yucatan, sucking a lime popsicle and dribbling sweat. I spot a handmade sign out front of a mom’pop storefront: Rentas Bicicletas. In the cool shade of the shop a family is stringing Christmas lights. I spy a sweet little wine-purple step-thru cruiser.  Papa Alejandro cranks the seat up a bit higher for me and I am sold. I rumble off down the cobblestones, cool breeze lifting the sweat from my skin. As if it could be any other way.

But in fact, I had actually almost resigned myself to navigating Merida on foot. Cycling in Merida looked terrifying. Buses and mini-buses, diesel-spewing trucks, cars, motorcycles, horsecarts, all crammed into the teeming downtown streets. Hibbledy-jibbledy pavement, potholes, cobblestones, random piles of trash. High curbs with no curb-cuts to the sidewalk, and treacherous foot-wide gutters alongside. Careening in and out between the buses and horse carts: bicycle cowboys on bmx’s and clunky mountainbikes, plus cargo-trike vendors loaded down with water jugs, baskets of fresh bread, loads of tomatoes and pineapples. Basically, chaos – in an unknown city, in a language i barely understand. (more…)

Angels on every corner

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

brianMy bike got nicked while I was running the door for PattiPow’s choir concert, at the Korean Hall at Hastings & Clark. The ol’ slippery pole trick got me. I locked my bike to a sign post with not-one-but-two heavy-duty U-locks, and even gave the pole a firm tug to ensure that it was solid before I walked away. The thief simply pulled out the bolt at the bottom of the post and slid it out. Bike vanished, U-locks and all.

PattiPow hugged me and said don’t worry chum, I’ll help you. Tomorrow we will go out and look for your bike. We’ve done this before and we’ll do it again. Conrad Schmidt was loading a/v gear into his van behind the Hall when I came trudging down the alley in the rain, feeling pathetic in my yellow bike jacket with my helmet on my arm like an empty shell. Quick, jump in the van, Conrad said. We’ll drive around and look for your bike. (more…)

Don’t lose your bike key

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

mutantbikeWhen I help a customer in the bike shop to choose a new lock, my standard spiel includes: “…and it comes with five identical keys. Don’t carry them all around together”.

So guess what I did?

Five days ago with the best of intentions, I finally reclaimed my old mountainbike from Red Sara’s crowded shed. This is a strange little brass-coloured mutant my brother Bennett bought for me at a Toronto auction maybe 15 years ago, which I brought back to Vancouver on the plane. It is a weird unlabeled prototype with fat aluminum tubing, high-quality components and fancy gold axles. (more…)

Dear Bike Lady

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

woman bike ad- freedom_1woman bike ad- freedom_1 butterfly bikerI  tossed off a rant called Stop Selling Shit Bikes to Women, two-and-a-half years back. It got posted to Reddit and went viral, getting 20,000+ views and hundreds of comments within a couple of days. The amazing thing is, I still regularly get emails based on that article. Most are from 40+ women who want to find bikes that are comfortable, durable and efficient. Many feel badly served and unrespected by bike retailers. They ask my advice and I give what I can. I didn’t apply for this job but apparently, I am The Bike Lady. (more…)

Never take this for granted

Tuesday, December 16th, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADaylight shreds through the clouds beyond the lagoon. For once, so rare, no rain. A clear cold morning, and today  Geshe Yongdong is giving a teaching on Quadra Island. It is a perfect day for a ride, and yet my grumpy mind finds resistance. My lower back stiff, my bed still warm. It is Sunday.

But then I dress and drink my coffee, stuff some snacks in my bag. Heading out I am creaky and slow. The thought of my warm bed lingers. But then I break out of the woods, hit the sweep of pavement, opening sky. Mist hangs low on the fields, shards of sunshine on Gunflint Lake. Swing onto Gorge Harbour Road toward the ferry on the roller-coaster ride, not a car to be seen. My lungs squeeze in and out, mind and body clear as I jet snot from each nostril. (more…)

Gears are for lazy people

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Shifting-GearsI got an Orions 10-speed for my 15th birthday—my first real grown-up bike. It was serpent-green and had curly drop bars. It looked way cool, but I was confused and intimidated by the dual shifters. I fumbled around and eventually chose one speed at random, deciding that one would do just fine. I rode that bike for close to a decade, and here is my true confession: I never learned how to use the gears. It wasn’t until I got my orange rocket with its sexy old-school Campagnolo downtube shifters that I finally learned how powerful a bicycle could be. (more…)

Its not me. Its the bike.

Friday, July 11th, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe next person who leans out a car window and gushes at me, ‘oh i really admire you it’s so amazing that you ride your bike all over the island‘ is gonna get popped in the head. Listen: Its not me. Its the bike.

I am a five-foot-nuthin 51-yr-old woman. I’m no athlete, and I’m also no masochist. I’m a lazyass. I ride my bike because its fun and because it is easier than walking. Easier?! Yes. Riding a bike is actually supposed to be easy. And here’s another shocker: it’s not supposed to hurt. (more…)

Carmen changes a tire

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

bicycle-tire-repair-kit-open_wm_2My sexy Panaracers were looking weary and scarred. Two years of assault by the thorns of New Mexico and the unpaved roads of Cortes Island meant the time had come to get me some new rubber.

Horny Gord at my bike shop recommended a pair of light and sturdy Continental Touring Plus tires. “They’re a little stiff,” he smirked. “Let me know if you have trouble getting them on.” I snorted. I’ve changed a million flats—and in the process, punctured a million tubes and sworn a million very bad words. I’m no mechanic, but my dignity would not permit me to let Horny Gord change my tires.

When I got home I turned the bike upside down, slid out the wheel, and popped in tire lever #1. Easy so far. Tire lever #2 sprang out and hit me in the face, but after fighting with it for awhile, I managed to pry the old tire off the rim. Then things got tricky. The new tire had a tight wire bead and every time I almost got it on, it would stretch tight and pop out the other side. I sweated (between hot flashes) as I tried to wedge it onto the rim. I cursed my ineptitude and typical female lack of training in simple mechanical tasks. I whined. My hands grew grimy and my sight grew dim. I was thinking I had to stop for the night. But then I had an idea: consult the Oracle. (more…)


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