Stylocycle’s Blog

Saturday cycling
May 31, 2009, 2:50 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Today we did the urban cyclist’s equivalent of a Sunday drive. My sweetie had been away since last Sunday and we hadn’t really had any time for communications other than the grumpy-and-it’s-past-my-bedtime Skype sessions for the whole week. Lacking an espresso machine in the house could have been the proverbial straw… but instead we woke up and Dear Spouse made us a press carafe of brewed coffee and we then set out to ride around town by using a combination of streets and the Iron Horse Trail that runs the entire North-South route of the twin cities. When we made it as far south as we had intended, we stopped into our favourite deli-cafe: Nougat, and had lovey lattes and a wee bit of lunch. We also picked up some deli goodies for dinner (home made ‘subs’ with grilled chicken, capicolo, salami, artichoke caponata, tomatoes, tapenade and grilled zuchini on rosemary focaccia). From there we headed west to look for house that I wanted to see because it is for sale… but I had the street name wrong, so we didn’t see it. Oops. We did, however, greatly admire the street we were on.

We then headed back North again and went to our favourite purveyor of fine Italian products, Vincenzo’s. We were out of olive oil so we needed to get some, and we also needed to get some other basics, like coffee, tomatoes and whatnot. Two more lattes were also on the menu there, and we sat out in the sun on their patio thinking about what a very fine day it was, and how nice to be able to share it.

We made it home just before the skies shifted from their lovely blue to a dark coal colour and emptied their contents like one giant, cosmological vomit. Our total trip was probably about 16 km today, and by the time we arrived home we had two paniers and a backpack of stuff. Some of it was heavy stuff, too. Things like tins of olive oil, a jar of pickles… boxes of juice…. And yet riding home, neighter of us felt like a pack mule, nor as though we were out doing the thankless errands.

And so here’s my big observation for the day. When we drive to do the thankless errands, there is no pleasure in the journey. We see all the time the drivers who are aggravated in traffic, who are aggravated in the parking lots, who aggravate others with their last-minute deranged decisions to cross three lanes of traffic and bull-nose to make an exit instead of going one light past and taking things in stride…. But when we get on our bikes to do the errands, the travelling becomes part of the pleasure.

On our ride today we saw 4 ducklings who were cuddled together taking in the sun on the bank of a stream. When we dismounted to observe them, they very cleverly beat it into the brown grasses in the stream, making their way to cover just as their momma would have told them they ought to do. When we were making the approach to our first stop we noticed that the houses beside the iron-horse trail had the most remarkably loooooong back yards, and thought about how nice it might be to move to a house in the South end (more and more a thought to which we are becoming quite committed). And because we were committed to our meandering ride, we discovered today some neighbourhoods that we had not previously (in 9 years of living here) known existed.

Tonight we are very tired, but I also feel as though we took a little holiday today, and did it without leaving town, and without spending any more money than we would have anyway in picking up our groceries.

Yes, today was a very good day. I want many more like it.


Dammit, dude! You need a horn-ectomy.
May 29, 2009, 5:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Since my espresso machine shorted out this past week, I’ve been riding down the road to the local ‘bux for my mid-morning latte, and it’s mostly an uneventful little ride of no more than 750 metres. But lately, even with lovely spring skies that ought to make anyone feel sunny, there have been some aggressive wankers overly attached both to their gas pedals and their horns. It never occurs to them that I might be going plenty fast enough at about 36 km/ph, or that I might be entitled to my vehicular position, or that maybe I might want to hit the left-turn lane in just another 30 metres or so….

Nope. Buddy (whoever it is that day) has to honk at me.

And you know, I *know* I’m supposed to be an embassador for slow cycling, and behave nicely, sweetly etc. but frankly, that just goes against my nature. And these days I’m missing the old me who would have smacked buddy’s trunk with my massive kryptonite lock. What this means is that a few aggressive asses have been saluted by my middle finger this week.

Am I proud? Not especially. But neither am I penitent.

When boys forget to be surly
May 26, 2009, 1:59 pm
Filed under: comments around town, Overheard

Yesterday afternoon I had a little party to attend for a friend’s birthday, and even though I really have not been feeling very sociable recently, I decided to pull myself together and go.

Riding down one of the residential side-streets, I passed two boys about 16-17 years old and also out riding their bikes (hybrids, of course). As I passed by one boy said to the other, “Whoa! I gotta get one-a those!”

I smiled to myself because my own teen-aged boy is torn between embarrassment and pride about my bike. He has occasionally sneaked it out for his own use, and his friends all think it’s really cool (especially the leather seat), but to my face he’s pretty jerky about it. Underneath the jerk, though, I figure that he actually thinks that it would be cool to have a nice, big, stylish commuter bike for himself. Maybe in his 20s he’ll get one of his own to get to and fro in his day-to-day life. At 6’2″ already, he’s unlikely to ride a bmx forever. Right? Right??

Hey! That’s Morgan’s bike!
May 13, 2009, 9:32 pm
Filed under: around town, Overheard

So I heard through the doors of my favourite stationery shop in uptown Waterloo yesterday. *That* is how unusual a commuter bike is in this town (population 200,000 in K/W)– even though I’ll give you the fact that my bike is pretty unique with its leather touring seat and big panier on the back fender. I’ve only seen one other Batavus on the road here.
Anyway, hearing that my bike had been recognised by a friendly voice, I poked my head out of the shop and found my lovely grad student and her partner, and they were both enjoying the day out on their bikes. If only I had had my camera with me to capture what a happy and striking pair they were on their velos.

Also yesterday: the first of the ducklings were out on the little collection pond that I pass on my ride to and from work. Little things scooting and zipping across the water! They are absolutely adorable and I want no fewer than the four of them for playing with in the bathtub! I’ll take pictures next time I pass the pond. I was glad to see all four still there this afternoon as I also saw a coyote not 300 metres down the path from the pond. That was the second one out in broad daylight in a matter of two days.

Anyway, these lovely moments on my bike rides more than make up for the obnoxious car drivers who just have to honk at me when I’m riding in a lane instead of squished up beside a curb. How many drivers have no clue that they ought simply to pass a cyclist as they would any other car if they really feel the need for speed? After all, I was going about 36 km/ph at that point, was heading into a left-turn lane to stop off on an errand and we were about 100 metres from a just-turned red light.

I’m hoping that the blue silk hydrangeas I bought to adorn my basket will look cheery enough to discourage nasty, egomaniacal, gratuitous honking. …even if my teen-aged son is truly appalled by how ‘dorky’ the flowers-in-basket trope is.

That’s a great bike!
May 11, 2009, 3:04 pm
Filed under: comments around town

I was in a super funk the other day. It was a ‘mean reds’ kind of day and we lack a Tiffany’s Jeweler in this town, so that’s not available as an antidote.
I put my little basket on the back of the Blue Beauty and pedaled down the road to buy some white chocolate and sugar for some crazy ‘banana splits’ I was making. I also stopped in at my local Starbucks (which is the best coffee source we have in this part of town) to get a nice big Americano, and while I was locking my bike — using the super-handy integrated wheel-lock — a young woman walked up to me and said, “Wow! That’s a great bike!”

We talked at some length about the really super things about the Batavus:

The powder paint that makes it rust resistant.

The wheel lock that makes it so convenient to lock up for a quick stop.

The ability to ride with a straight-up posture.

The completely enclosed chain that avoids getting salt or sand or other yuck in the works.

Being able to ride with an ankle length skirt on if I want.

The generous rack on the back for storage.

The 3-speeds that make it great for commuting around a town more hilly than much of the Netherlands.

And the fact that the folks at Curbside will ship any bike here for anyone who can’t get in to Toronto to pick up one for him/herself.

At the end of our little chat I was no longer in the middle of a mean red funk. My outlook had turned to a sunny yellow, and the world seemed gentle again. No Tiffany’s required.

All things Apple┬« — for the bicycle.
May 9, 2009, 7:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

OK. I’ll never be quite geeky enough to do this for myself, but I do love my 3 ipods (the nano for when I go walking and want to keep track, and entertain myself at the same time; the touch wheel 20GB with voice recorder for qualitative interview recording and data storage; the touch for handheld communications and entertainment when I’m far from home or too lazy to get out of bed to read email), and we all know I adore my bicycle. However, because I don’t ride that much at night anymore, I don’t get as much use as I could from the dynamo lamp charger. Imagine my delight to find out that one could create a charger for one’s ipod and run it off the dynamo!

See here for the long details, including early failures, from an Amsterdam cyclist with a need to see what else his dynamo generator could do.

Classic bikes and Apple style: clearly meant for each other.

Of course, I still haven’t found a site that will tell me to what part of the apparatus I am supposed to connect that third wire that has come loose on the dynamo…..

Slow cycling and slow food
May 3, 2009, 10:27 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Sometimes when things are otherwise crazy and falling apart (hello: raising a teen-aged boy in the soulless suburbs). we stay centred by focussing on eating gently and well. Here are some recent creations:

Foie Gras en torchon. I bought the foie gras fresh and did the full 3-day preparation.

Foie Gras en torchon. I bought the foie gras fresh and did the full 3-day preparation.

Freshly picked and cleaned wild leeks

Freshly picked and cleaned wild leeks

Wild leek and new potato soup, with vegetable broth according to Keller

Wild leek and new potato soup, with vegetable broth according to Keller