Stylocycle’s Blog

Cross-country and muscles unused for too long
February 28, 2010, 9:34 pm
Filed under: around town

In honour of work avoidance, the last day of the Olympics, and our one really good week of snowfall this year, I went out for a cross-country ski today at our local conservation area.

Boy! Not doing something for two years (last year we had *too much* snow and too much going on with the teen-aged boy) really demonstrates how much one needs to cross-train. It’s great that I go cycling and all, but the 5 k loop that we did this afternoon really brought me in touch with body parts that cycling just doesn’t work much.

I think that I’ll soon have to set up a better arrangement in our ‘mudroom’ so that I can actually do yoga regularly again — partly for some upper body strength, and partly to stretch *out* the muscles that can get kind of bunchy from cycling: the hamstrings and quads in particular. I also really need some work on the adductors because I think cycling isn’t really working that inner thigh area much at all.

When the spring roll around I’ll be able to throw my yoga mat out on our lovely back deck, but until then I need to figure out how to throw my mat down in the mudroom and find a space between about 12 pairs of boots, the rotary iron and the kitty litter…

Yeah, you can see my challenge. Eventually my office will do just fine, but for now I’m sharing that space with spouse — until Boy moves out on his own in about a year… at which point we’ll build a murphy bed into that room so he always has a place to return to while leaving my spouse a working office of his own.

Anyway, I’m glad I stole a few hours in the woods with friends and worked out some muscle groups that had gone into hiding. Shortly, I’ll run myself an epsom salts soaker tub and relax.

For now I’m enjoying a nice French press cup of coffee, reading over a really fabulous PhD dissertation that I’ll be the external examiner on in Utrecht in May, and am about to put on the beef for a slow cooked stew to be served with rapini and potato gnocchi.

By tomorrow there won’t be sufficient snow for any more skiing, and the season only opened last week, so I’m feeling really grateful for my stolen afternoon.


February 18, 2010, 2:39 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

But things will pick up. Mostly I’ve been working in the house for the past week, doing things like writing the new edition of the textbook. That is neither exciting to describe nor to watch, yet, oddly enough, it’s a pretty lively book in the finished product. Funny that, but it makes for poor blogging.

Dear Spouse is on a conference in the interior of BC. He texted me last night to tell me that it was 9 C. when he landed. Rotter!

I think I am going to dream of returning to my home province all the way to my retirement. That’s another two decades of dreaming for those who are counting.

The winter bicycle riding study planned for our region seems to have been shot to hell by the cancellation of the grants required for a cooperating institution to supply the GPS units. That means that here in town we have a student assistant who has been paid to co-ordinte the riders, go through the preliminary ethics clearance with each, and then watch a whole of nothing happen. As a professor in the social sciences, I can say that I really am glad not to be that student’s supervisor; it’s a boatload of disappointment when you have your problem, your population, your design… and then the whole thing stumbles on a technical problem.

I’m thinking we should go low-tech as riders and simply draw out maps of our preferred routes, most travelled routes, and ideas for improved routes, and send them in to the study group. It won’t track our real-time behaviours the way GPS studies would have done, but it would still accomplish the task — and we can assume that because it’s in our best interest as riders to be accurate that the degree of ‘pollution’ in results would be low.

What else have I been doing? I’ve written most of the eulogy that I’ll deliver at my grandmother’s memorial and interment in April. I am almost ready to write the closing — which has to do with my belief that the claim “people are complicated” is usually delivered in some weak effort to excuse the inexcusable, but that when I say my Gramma was ‘complex’, I’m thinking about all the layers of steadfastness, shyness, fortitude and fragility that combined to make her one of the softest, most gentle and fiercest supporters of friends and family that I will ever know. It would be a very good thing if all of us could aim for more of that complexity/depth and less of the “complicated”.

Anyway, errands beckon so it’s time to get on the road. Blue Beauty will usher me about town today, and I’m excited to have the reason and the time to ride all over town.

Loving the new Batavus
February 8, 2010, 8:10 pm
Filed under: commute by bike

It’s not so much that it’s a Batavus per se that makes me so happy. There are lots of sturdy, European-made bikes that would do as fine a job. For example, I think the Abici bikes are fantastic, and I’d love to have my own Pashley for fair-weather riding, but I’m thrilled that the Batavus Fryslan has proven to be such a great bike for Dear Spouse. Its price point was a little lower than some of the other bikes that Curbside carries, and because that dropped it below the provincial tax threshold the price difference translated into a final cost of about $500 less than some of the comparable models.
For his part, Dear Spouse has been a very easy convert. He loves the upright riding position, the effortlessness of the ride itself, the swiftness of the bike, and the fact that it’s really true that he can bike in his good clothes and not arrive at his destination in a sweat.
I love the fact that we can now cycle in time with each other. My bike ends up having a very similar wheel-base to his and my effort is about equal to his (unless I have my dynamo on at night) so we are often able to ride nearly side-by-side as we go.
He’s already found that lots of folks around town comment on his bike too, and the local hipster barrista with a Bianchi fixie pronounced the Batavus a very spiffy ride after taking it for a spin around the uptown core.
Dear Spouse is a big ol’ graphic novel fan so he’s named his shiny, black city bike the “Batavus-mobile”. Heh.

Meanwhile, when I’m not doing work-work I’ve been reading 3 books about cycling alongside each other. I’ll have comments to post soon, and I’ll be wondering what others think. I’ll say already that much as I like David Byrne’s premise about travelling with a bike being so much nicer than travelling any other way, I’m finding his Bicycle Diaries to be too much about his untrained sociological views. He’s not off the plot, but his fixation on the sociological questions can distract from the travel-by-bike premise and lead him into territory that he’s poorly equipped to analyse except in the most ‘armchair’ mode, and that’s too bad because it really does give the book a sedentary feel.