Stylocycle’s Blog


For the Pashley Riding Grad Student
April 27, 2010, 6:49 pm
Filed under: around town, comments around town, commute by bike

My dear spouse just phoned me from his office to find out if we would be riding home together after work. Nope! I have the freedom of doing my own thing and I’ll be stopping off, meeting a friend for coffee on my way home. I love having my own wheels!

Anyway, in the course of our conversation, DS told me that he’d met a grad student outside the campus library, and that Grad Student was riding a Pashley — probably the only Pashley in town. Hey, Grad Student: I’d love a photo of you riding your Pashley around town!

Anyway, I heard that Grad Student had had some trouble finding someone to properly service the Pashley gears. My understanding is that the folks at Braun Cycle can help you out.

Good luck!



Overheard
March 7, 2010, 3:48 am
Filed under: comments around town, Overheard

As I rode by 3 young guys who were working for the city clean-up crew:

[One to his buddies –>] “Dude! That’s a fucking cruiser!”

Yes. I was amused.



So many things…
November 24, 2009, 2:58 am
Filed under: comments around town, commute by bike, Get outta town!, Hop on the bus Gus

‘K. My month has been one long laundry list of stuff to do.

Read through and judge the merits of dozens and dozens of grant applications.

Assess a small boatload of graduate research proposals.

Deal with the sale of my grandmother’s house, the movement of her stuff out of the house, and (we hope) settling her into a nursing home in December if she survives to that point. She’s currently in hospital (where she has been since the 36-hour heart attack at the end of August).

Deal with the impending loss of my grandmother… about which I’m alternately accepting and enraged.

Join and participate in the campus cycling committee.

Take our ‘monthly’ trip to the St. Lawrence market for the first time since September.

Adopt and get my grandmother’s 11-year-old Siamese cat settled into our house.

Try to help my mother deal with all that is going on while her husband is on a 3-week long trip in the US with his family of origin.

Settle accounts on my research grant. I swear that next time I need to build in funds to pay a CPA. Arg.

And then there’s the continuing saga of settling into the new house. Let me sum up with this: may I *never* have to set foot in an Ikea again in my life.

But on my tag points let me say the following:

I’ve been getting loads of comments around town on the silk flowers I have woven into my bike basket. I’m not sure if they encourage drivers around me to relax, take a deep breath, and enjoy the day, but as I go about my business, running my errands hither and yon, the flowers and the basket do make people seem more cheery.

Commuting by bike is becoming popular enough on my campus that it seems we are slated to get a covered rack to park at least 20 bikes in a central location. That means that there are enough of us who ride in the snow to make the structure a feasible budget expense. We’ve also persuaded the physical plant people to stop dumping the ploughed snow onto the bike racks in winter.

Commuting by bike is always practical and made my life in the borderlands of town more bearable, but now that we live in a central location, I find that cycling brings me tons of joy. I’m on my bike now more than ever, not just to and from work. I can easily hit 4-6 places with a distance of a few kilometres between each, but nothing long, dull and lifeless like the ride that used to take me across the North end of UW campus where there was nothing but empty, bleak space, people’s back fences, and cars. Now, I regularly run into friends, and walk or ride part of the way home. It’s just really, really nice.

Getting outta town remains one of the ways the living here is still bearable. If I lived in a town that wasn’t within an easy VIA or bus ride to a major cultural centre, I’d go bonkers. Tomorrow I’m going to head into Toronto to meet with a friend who is over from the UK for a few days to take care of her mum post surgery. We’re going to sneak off for some time at the AGO, and do our bi-annual catching up.

But my favourite thing about this month is that my long-time friend of 31 years is going to come visit me on Thursday. She’s a surgeon in Toronto. People tend to think that surgeons drive fancy cars. My friend has a morning surgery to do and when she’s finished, she’s going to hop on the inter-city bus to come to visit me for the day. I can hardly wait, and I love that it just blew my 17-year-old son’s mind when I told him that my friend was coming and that she’d be taking the bus. Some day he (and the rest of the world) will wrap their heads around the fact that we don’t all want to isolate ourselves in cars, that we don’t measure our freedom by the ability to drive, and that we like public transit.



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??



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.



How I fell in love with the Blue Beauty. Why you might too.
November 13, 2008, 6:22 am
Filed under: comments around town, commute by bike

Welcome.

I am Morgan Holmes, a mid-career academic at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. That is to say, my days of grad school post-punk grunge-wear and cycling to and from campus or anywhere else on an old, 18-speed Trek hybrid are long over.

When I first moved to Waterloo back in 2000, I was a freshly minted PhD, and still wore big boots and plaid skirts with cycling shorts underneath and a big biker jacket on top. My helmet, emblazoned with skulls was ironic, and spooky, and worked for me at the time.

But… my taste in boots changed. The length of my skirts became longer. My need to appear professional became more central… and about 3 years ago I realised I was no longer riding daily, that, in fact, my Trek spent most of its days in the garage while I took buses or taxis to work. I figured my life of cycling to and from work was over, outmoded by new needs (among them: not to drop my laptop or stacks of student papers into the road if I should ever take a header over the handlebars [again]).

I’ve never learned to drive… well, not a car anyway. And now that I’m officially ‘middle aged’, I think it’s safe to say that I’m not invested in learning how to drive. I just always see that there are better things to do with my money than sink it into gasoline, and car payments. Of course, we do have a car in the family,  and I do help to pay for it… but in the past year both I and my dear spouse have given up the car for daily use and taken back to our bikes.

So what happened?

In a nutshell: I went on sabbatical last year, lived completely without access to a car in Dublin for a few months, and had the pleasure of taking a research trip to Amsterdam where my host, the very charming and generous MvH, insisted that I learn to ride as the Dutch do. I spent three blissful days peddling around Amsterdam… to and from museums and cafes and little bars… and somewhere in that trip I had a realisation: we’re doing it ‘all wrong’ here in Canada.

I know I’m not alone in saying what follows; the folks at Curbside Cycle in Toronto have made a fantastic business out of changing the habits of city cyclists. It was riding around in Amsterdam, on an ancient but fabulously comfortable and easy-to-handle ‘Amsterdam bicycle’, that I realised I didn’t need to dress any differently to ride than to live the rest of my life. Seeing businessmen in fabulous suits and Todd Baker dress-shoes, professional women in lovely dresses and heels, and all combinations of friends and families riding double or even triple on their bikes just blew my mind!

So… when I came home, I started looking around for an Amsterdam bike. The first thing I found was the Electra, but reviews on it quickly convinced me that those bikes only looked like what I wanted, but were not actually what I needed. In short order, I discovered the Batavus, and a dealer not far away where I could get one. In to Toronto I went, and in early April of 2008, I picked up my small size Batavus ‘Old Dutch’ bike. I paid a little extra to get the three speed model with a front handbrake as well as the integrated pedal brake. That’s my very own ‘Blue Beauty’ in the header for the blog. When the weather isn’t too wet I carry the panier that you see on the back rack. I take that panier into work, and also into the grocery store; if I can’t fit the groceries in that panier, the likelihood is that I don’t really need them. Now, that particular basket is designed to hang on the front handlebars, but because I’m very short, I have my bars in the lowest position, so the basket interferes with the integrated headlamp. I find it works just fine to have it secured on the back rack. For the winter I bought a Basil brand saddle-bag that carries up to 35 litres of stuff — that’s a lot os student papers, plus my laptop and whatever else I want to throw in.

I’ve ridden at least 3 days a week since I got the bike, usually 4, and if work demands it, 5. Since April I’ve used only 5 bus tickets and taken a taxi only once.

This past week-end we had an unusually generous and early dump os snow. You can see some of it evidenced in the header. Today I rode the bike in the snow for the first time, and as promised, the weight of it cut right through the snow, no problem! Today is also the first time that I went out on the Blue Beauty looking more like my old-style cyclist and less like an everyday commuter who just happens to ride a bike. However, today I only had to go to the gym, so it didn’t seem to make sense to ‘dress up’ justto make a point. Besides, I wasn’t sure that I wouldn’t fall over, so I wanted a little ‘extra’ padding on. For the most part, though, I’m going to try to keep riding in winter in the clothes that I would wear if I were going to ride the bus, perhaps even a little lighter as I know I won’t have to wait an extra 10 minutes in the freezing cold because the bus is late *again*.

I hope this blog may inspire others to join me in the effort to reintegrate the bicycle as an everyday mode of transportation for the first time since we were kids.

Winter riding conditions for today.

Winter riding conditions for today.

Now, I’m going to go make myself a hot drink, and finish some reading for my graduate class tomorrow.