Stylocycle’s Blog

I don’t normally go in for fund-raisers but…
January 3, 2011, 5:17 pm
Filed under: Get outta town!

A former student and current FB friend is joining the Ride to Conquer Cancer. Both her parents were diagnosed with cancer in 2009.

Not only is Melissa riding for the cancer fund-raiser, she’s also riding as part of a response to Rob Ford’s insistence that roads belong to cars. (Tell that to the Romans, Rob).

If you feel like donating, have a look-see at Melissa’s participant page, which you will find here:
Melissa’s Ride


Photos — This was Barcelona.
July 19, 2010, 3:55 pm
Filed under: Get outta town!

Magic Fountains at the Plaça Espanya

Look, Driver! There are dads playing football with their kids in this residential area with the wildly winding streets. Slow down!

C'mon kids! Let's go to the beach! (complemenary bikes for hotel guests in Sitjes)

Ancient wall, ancient sea.

I have terrace envy.

The two of us with a friend on our own terrace in Barcelona.

Gaudí, you are both a madman and a genius.

poached egg, caulifower foam, crisped and deep-fried garlic... tapas from thr 20th wedding anniversary dinner.

Freshly squeezed tomatoes make for the world's most wonderful Bloody Marys

Catching up
July 16, 2010, 9:11 pm
Filed under: commute by bike, Get outta town!

So… Barcelona was lovely… so lovely that Dear Spouse has been converted to the merits of Spain, or, more precisely: to the merits of Catalunya. The weather was fantastic, so we were out and about in the city every day… and the best way to see is city is on foot (which means that sadly I’ve biked in very few cities that I’ve visited as a tourist). We ate well, and cheaply, our apartment was lovely and convenient, and we had good company in his colleagues from the conference he was attending. We managed two day trips, one to Montserrat, and one to Sitjes. I’d wanted to see Sitjes on my last trip to Barcelona in 2007, but hadn’t had the chance. I’m very glad we took the trip this time. Sitjes is situated about 20k down the coast from Barcelona, but its hills slope more immediately into the sea than those of Barcelona, and so the town is all very much more compact. One exits from the central train and is at the beach in a matter of minutes. One of the guide books in our apartment said on the issue of whether going to Sitjes is worth the effort: “Do not try to convince yourself that the beaches in Barcelona are pretty; they are not. Go to Sitjes.” So we went, and yes, the beauty of Sitjes’ coastline is remarkable. Barcelona’s seafront charm is all about the quality of the restaurants and nightclubs (for beautiful people to get fleeced in), but not about a more organic charm.

Loads of people are cycling around Barcelona these days and the Bicing programme seemed much busier and more well-established than on my last trip. We did wish on a few times that the bicing programme wasn’t only for residents of the city. It would be nice, as a visitor, to be able to bike to places for dinner in the evening, or, as in our case, to a conference site.

I’ve been madly busy these past 10 days since getting home because it’s registration time at school, but I’ve still managed to go to the little farmer’s market that sets up on Thursday afternoons in Uptown Waterloo Square. Rainbow chard and scapes! Hoorah! Also managed a week-end out of town, in central Ontario’s cottage country where I did very little for two days. I did learn to perfect the Bramble cocktail (gin, lemon juice, blackberry liqueur, simple syrup, shaken over ice….mmmmmmm), and spent a fair amount of time in the water, went on long walks with my friend and her dog… I can’t complain.

All of this slowing down on week-ends means, however, that my weeks are way busier. I may have to go back to working on week-ends more in order to maintain my sense that each day is manageable.

Meanwhile, I ran across a link today that my cycling community friends may find interesting:

Just photos from San Franciso
April 18, 2010, 7:37 pm
Filed under: Get outta town!

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VIA ma bicyclette
January 27, 2010, 2:11 am
Filed under: around town, commute by bike, Get outta town!

I recently had to make a jaunt into Toronto for business. Because I have a fondness for the train, and because we live less than a kilometer from the train station, and because I get a corporate rate on train travel, I decided that the engine whistles were singing out to me to ride the rails for a day.

I rode my bike to the station where, rather like a Nederlander, I locked up my bike and hopped aboard. It is possible to take your bike on the train for some destinations (as, apparently, with the run down to Niagara-on-the-Lake where there do bike tours of the local wineries), but I had no ambition to ride at the other end, so I just locked the Blue Beauty and went on my merry way.

Except… as you will see in the photo below, our mostly desolate train station has no bike racks. There is a skinny parking lot with no appropriate place for a bike, and no visibility to the station’s interior offices. There is a large portico on the east side, and it would be perfect for bike racks, but there are none; instead, there are a few lonely newspaper boxes. So… I locked the Blue Beauty to herself with both the internal wheel lock and my steel bike cable. The Old Dutch is heavy enough to deter someone from trying to walk off with her, and I decided to park her on the wide platform, in front of a window with a sight-line to the interior ticketing office, but I admit that I did worry a little about vandalism if not about theft. I’ve had my bike tires slashed in the past.

When I returned in the late evening, my bike was exactly as I had left it. I am curious about how many people in passing trains wondered about the massive blue bike parked on the train platform with no accompanying rider in sight.

In addition to finding my bike in one piece, I was met by my dear spouse who had ridden down on his bike to meet me. How romantic!

Kitchener VIA station: you need bike racks!

Glorious — readying for winter
November 27, 2009, 9:30 pm
Filed under: around town, Get outta town!, winter riding

It’s been a good week.

I’ve stayed on top of the work rather than racing to be a step behind and I’ve even managed some down-time too.

On Monday my grad students impressed my socks off with their great research paper proposals. I’m really keen on the end of term reading I’ll receive from them.

Tuesday found me in Toronto to visit a dear friend who was over from Bristol. I actually landed at the central bus terminal right at the point when the local SPCA was rescuing a deer that had wandered into downtown Toronto and found herself disoriented and endangered. Though the take-down wasn’t pretty, she is apparently resting and under veterinary care and doing fine. Much better than had she been hit by a car. Certainly we are not accustomed to finding deer at Dundas and Bay, but on that morning we heard from many sources that the deer from both valleys that run N-S through Toronto can find themselves in the centre of the city because the roads are still pretty quiet in the wee hours, and in the fall when the deer are on the move all it takes is a little thick fog for them to wander right into the centre of things.

Anyway, my friend, Nath, who now lives in the UK picked me up at the terminal and we trotted all over town. Ezra’s Pound for coffee in the annex; Fragipane for some ginger molasses cookie treats for my boy (who recognized the bag on the counter when he came home late Tuesday night and took it upstairs for himself with a knowing grin; Curbside cycle to look at bikes for my honey for Christmas (he thinks he wants TWO new bikes — one similar to mine for commuting, and a road bike for I’m-not-sure-what) and to pick up a new front-mount basket for the blue beauty; the AGO to see the Tutankhamen exhibit (which was disappointing) and then a tromp back to the terminal to ride home on the Greyhound. Along the way, Nath and I shared many stories, good laughs, the comfort of an old, established friendship and the excitement of two folks who don’t get to see each other much.

My Wednesday wasn’t so exciting… just academic advising and other administrivia, and a tumble on my steps in the day meant that my walk to the speciality store for Montreal style bagels took about double the expected time. The bagels, however, were worth it, and it was a pleasant walk. The evening was glistening from earlier fog and rain, so the lights sparkled and reflected off pavement and windows in a cheerful way.

Yesterday was a grant reading day. OK… so that’s not so much fun. I like readng the proposals, but I hate knowing that there isn’t enough money to fund everything. That means that I end up feeling like I’m working in a triage unit. Thankfully, none of these decisions is ever taken alone, but I hate making my priority list. I find it often comes down to a question of whether $$ denied would mean a project in process would be aborted, in which case the entirely worthy and excellent proposal for new work must be denied. Arg.

Today I went out on the Blue Beauty to run some errands. There’s great buzz about a California wine (and I’ll grant that when Napa and Sonoma get it right, they REALLY get it right), and my dear spouse consumed a bottle with his brother in Toronto last night at some swanky advertising affair (yes, it’s really like Mad Men and I’m glad it’s my brother-in-law who works in it, not my spouse). So…. I went to see if I could get us some for less than the $100+ per bottle they were charging at the steakhouse in T.O. Short answer: yes. Two bottles purchased and tossed into the front basket.

Thus I found myself uptown, so I took my bike in for a little servicing. The rear lamp isn’t working. My bike repair guy could not figure out why. Anyone else had difficulty with the rear lamp on a dynamo on their Old Dutch???

While the bike was being serviced, I picked up a winter coat ON SALE — down filled, with a faux fur collar, removable hood…. $49! Woot! I also picked up some winter boot/trainers from Puma. They are like a trainer that goes 2/3 up the calf. Lined, winter-worthy, and with great grips for riding through the winter. Very pleased! And while I was out I found jeans and a knit -t-shirt for the boy. I’m so proud of the way he’s been handling himself lately…

Let me throw in some pics… and wish you all an excellent week-end.

ps: I’m hating the new image insertion feature on word-press. I really didn’t mean to have 2 copies of me reading files… I just want to get this post up and done so I can head out on the blue beauty to runa  few errands before night falls.

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.