A bit of History

By | March 29, 2011

We’re under constant renovation here, and when dear hubby removed a bit of baseboard in what used to be the kitchen, he uncovered a stash of lost mail. I had to laugh out loud – with licensing being a bit of a hot topic right now.

So, there you go. In 1956 in Etobicoke, you had to pay fifty cents each year to license your bicycle. And what you got in return was a flimsy piece of carbon paper and a warning not to ride on the sidewalks.

ps. don’t let this get to city hall. I don’t think we want to remind them. :)

I made it through the winter!

By | March 14, 2011

Wow, I can’t believe it’s March already. I never thought I would make it!

It’s been a year, ONE WHOLE YEAR, since I sold my car. Can I get a pat on the back please?

I’m not going to lie, I still make use of the truck sometimes, but only on weekends, and only about once a week. Other than that, my daily commute has been on a bike. Through rain, snow, sleet, sun, wind… I’ve done it. I missed a few days here and there due to illness, but not once did I let the weather keep me off the bike.

To celebrate, I’m treating myself to an upgrade. YAY!

Those who have been reading for the last year know that I’ve been through several bikes. My first was an electric, and only lasted three weeks, before I found the long john. And while the long john served us well, I’ll be trading it in for something a little more slick: a Kona Ute with two child seats.

This decision was NOT made lightly. It’s been a point of contention between the hubby and I for months. But in the end, he won, or won me over rather, with the promise of a hub motor. You see, despite developing some pretty strong legs over the course of the year, I still cannot tackle the steep hills that take me north to Bloor Street. I haven’t been able to bike up to Bloor on my own since last spring, when I still had the pedal-assist. South-bound, I can manage, the hills are not too steep and far enough apart that I can catch my breath in between.But north? I miss north.

Now, you may wonder why I don’t just put a hub motor on the long john. I’m worried about the steering. At high speeds, the long john becomes more difficult to steer – the only time I ever got up to any decent speed (down a hill, with a tailwind) I wiped out. I have a lot more confidence in a ‘traditional’ bikes steering mechanism.

So, I’m selling the cargo bike. I don’t really want to, but like my husband keeps remind me, it’ll be an upgrade. I’ll be able to mount easier, so that’s a definite plus, and it’ll be a lighter bike (less frame), and it’ll be electric. And it’ll be new. I haven’t had a new bike since I was eleven. Pretty exciting.

 

One year. Congratulations to me!

:)

The Beater

By | December 8, 2010

I have retired the long john for the season. I really felt I had to after I saw the first salt truck on the road. This is the Raleigh I mentioned in an earlier post, the two dollar garage sale find. It’s in very good shape for its age – I didn’t need to put much work into it to make it roadworthy. First thing I did was borrow my brother’s car polish and chrome renew/polish – after an hour it almost looked new. I put int new tubes and the creme tires from the Galaxie – and then I didn’t touch it again till last week. I was riding solo and wasn’t bothered by the fact that the gears didn’t shift properly and only one brake worked. We went down to our LBS – Cycle Butik – and picked up the brake pads, a light and a bell (see third picture). I also had to order another trailer hitch – the last one was attached to my husbands bike when it got stolen.

I’m using the trailer again because it’s warmer for the little ones. I would have liked to put some kind of windscreen on the long john – but I just couldn’t think of an easy way to do it. However – I am happy that the long john is parked, safe and dry and salt-free. I will try to keep the Raleigh in good condition, but a little rust on a thirty-six year old bike is certainly nothing to get too upset about.

This beauty is a vintage child seat I purchased earlier in the year – it folds up flat when no one is sitting in it. There’s usually some argument over who gets to sit in the “signal seat” – I don’t know why, I’d rather sit in the trailer where there’s no wind.

Here’s my new bell. I was a little disappointed looking at the selection of bells at Cycle Butik at first – there weren’t any hanging up that had the right sound. I didn’t want a ‘ping’ or ‘bing’… I really wanted a ‘driiiiiing’. You know what I’m talking about. Well, when I stood at the counter I spotted the most lovely hand-painted bells under the glass. It really was a tough decision – I think if he’d had any left handed bells I might have walked out of there with two.

Now – if you are still in need of a present for a cyclist on your list – these bells are perfect! Here’s a little more info, and how you can get your hands on one:

www.dringdring.ca

http://www.etsy.com/shop/dringdring

Or you can drop by Cycle Butik on Lakeshore W. to pick one up in person. If you do go in though – hands off the red dutch in the window, I’m saving my pennies to buy it in the new year. :)

Appropriate Dress

By | October 15, 2010

It’s getting chilly out there. And I don’t have anything to wear.

Well, that’s not strictly true. Like any good Canuck I have my share of gloves and coats and earwarmers. Though it seems that none of them are terribly appropriate for biking. This seems to be an ongoing problem for me. Most of the summer I struggled with getting dressed in the morning – my love of skirts turned out to be problematic with a straight top-tube bike. Even now that I’m back into pants my wardrobe is failing me – I’m not very fond of these black streaks on my right pant leg.

But winter… sigh. I have car coats. Driving gloves. Ankle height books. And absolutely nothing to cover my face with. So it seems it’s time to start knitting.

I’m going to need some mittens. Probably several pairs, as I’m prone to losing stuff. And something to keep my nose and cheeks cozy. And legwarmers. The list goes on.

At least I’ve got the kids covered for now. The seat for the little one accommodates her ‘cozy-toes’, which is a waterproof, fleece lined foot muff. Her helmet is big enough so that the hood from her coat goes underneath. Big sister, who is also riding up front, is just wearing her winter coat for now, a couple more degrees cooler and she may have to start wearing her snowpants early. Mr. T is riding his own bike to school every day – so he’s keeping warm by pedaling. Coaster brakes mean regular snow mitts are just fine for him, but he may want his own helmet liner to match mine.

It still remains to be seen how long I’ll manage to keep the bike on the road this winter. I know I’ll be fine until the snow starts flying – but what about after that? Will I be able to ride in the snow with two kids in the front? What if the novelty of riding his own bike wears off and the big guy wants to ride with me again? Can I handle all three and wet conditions?

Well, one thing is for sure, I’m going to find out soon enough.

A question for you four-season cyclists: what’s the best piece of winter gear you own?

A Busy Summer

By | September 24, 2010

Well, posts have been sparse. I know. The reason: too much time outside, not enough time on the computer. I’m not apologizing.

summerrideWe’ve had a lot of fun this summer on our bikes. The kids especially – not a day goes by that they don’t ask to go for a ride. Once a week, or maybe more, I indulge their desire to explore the neighborhood and take them out on their bikes. I walk behind with little Miss S in the (now modified) bike trailer/stroller.

We go to the park, the “candy store”, the grocery store, anything within a 1 1/2 km radius – that’s about as far as they can manage. They get a real kick out of locking up their bikes in the bike rack at the No Frills with my lock.

They love their bikes so much that they want to take them everywhere. We had a neighborhood street party last weekend – took over the road for the afternoon – so what did the kids do? Ran home to get their bikes. What a thrill – riding on the road!

My bike, the long john, has suffered from so much use and abuse over the summer. I had to do some ‘fine tuning’ to the steering to keep it on the road – which involved a bungee cord and a liberal application of chain lube. I’ll post more about that another day.

The summer of riding also took it’s toll on Paul’s home-made eBike. The Giant rack we purchased to mount the battery pack to came apart at the welds, causing much chaos. Now we need a new rack, a new and improved mounting system, and a new rear tire. When the battery came loose the electrical box dropped a quarter inch onto the tire, and rubbed all the tread off the center of the tire before he could make it home for repairs.

I found, and purchased, a 1975 Raleigh Lenton in great condition for two dollars. Yes. Two. I subsequently ripped the tires off the Galaxie to put on the Lenton, and have been riding the “Red Rocket” all summer.

We modified the bike trailer (yet again) to make it convert into a stroller for winter walks – another of my preparations for my first winter without a car. For a purchase which at one time I thought frivolous – this hundred-dollar bike trailer has become worth its weight in gold.

I’m going to leave you with this today, a fun, and useful project for your bike. Maybe even a great excuse to learn how to sew. :)

From Eighteenth Century Agrarian Business:

ecabhttp://www.ecabonline.com/2010/09/diy-bike-pannier.html

A DIY pannier. With fabulous and clear instructions. Come on boys – impress me!

Now that’s a comfortable ride.

By | August 27, 2010

107218_27Aug10_tafe_project_bike_august_2010_006This was just too cool not to share. The other community I belong to on the internet is called Craftster – and I saw this pop up yesterday. It’s a bike, made entirely from fabric.

I’ll let the original post do the talking – click on over and have a look. You need to be a member to post comments there, but I’ll send her a link to this post so she can feel all the Biking Toronto love too. :)

(Hey Duncan, does this deserve a Covet title? :) )

Test Ride

By | August 4, 2010

I had the opportunity to test out a Nihola this morning – and I wanted to jot down my thoughts while they are still fresh.

nihola

Comfort: low top tube makes for easy mounting, comfortable saddle

Stability: this bike has got the long john beat hands down for stability – with three wheels it has to, right?

Visibility: with the rain hood attached I couldn’t see the kids as well as I can see them in the long john, however, I could see them well enough. The kids got a real kick out of the window in the cargo bay – they leaned right down so they could watch the pavement whizzing by.

Maneuverability: this is where the Nihola loses points. I didn’t like the huge turning radius – I can see it being problematic trying to fit in between street light poles and bollards and other tight squeezes.

Cargo: I’m not sure which bike could carry more… In the Nihola, the cargo goes up front. Though you could probably stack quite a bit in front of the kids, I would worry about grabby fingers and kicky feet. I carry 80-90% of my stuff behind and underneath the kids. However, I rely on bungee cords to keep my loads in the cargo bay, while the deep sides on the Nihola make that unnecessary.

Overall, a nice, stable, comfortable ride.

BUT… and it’s a big one: the woman who owns the bike has been riding it with a broken shifter for three months now – parts are hard to get and the retailer hasn’t been overly helpful. It’s stuck in high gear, which makes it really difficult to start up, impossible to take hills, and just frustrating in general.

I’ve got to say, I prefer the long john. Not just because I’m used to it now, but because it’s more maneuverable. It handles more like a regular bike. However, there was a pretty long period of adjustment for me – I had to learn how to ride the long john. You might compare it to learning to drive stick – I knew the basics, but there’s just more to it. Jumping on the Nihola was just, well, easier. I can see the attraction.

There’s some food for thought for any one out there looking at cargo bikes.

I’d love to test out a bakfiet next, I wonder how it compares… :)

Bixi!

By | July 30, 2010

Went downtown today – the market is full of fresh Ontario produce and I wanted to load up for the long weekend (mmmm peaches).

I got a pleasant surprise while walking along Front Street:

BixiStation

Excuse the terrible cell phone picture – but surely you recognize those bikes?

Didn’t have time to stop and chat, so I’m not sure what they were doing exactly. Is it a demo station? Are they trying to sign people up over the weekend? You’ll have to tell me.

So go have a look for yourself, they’re on the north side of Front across from the market. And while you’re there, buy PEACHES! Oh, how I love this time of year.

Wipeout!

By | June 30, 2010

I finally did it – I got over my fear of biking on the Queensway and took the kids on a leisurely ride to Sunnyside Park.

Before we left, I loaded up the long john with picnic blankets, food and drink and all the other stuff you need to leave the house for more than an hour with three kids (read: a lot). I checked my route one last time: Royal York, Queensway East, Humber River Trail to the MGT. And before I could chicken out, we were off. Now, as anyone who bikes in this fair city knows, towards the lake is generally downhill. That meant the ride to the park was fairly easy: I had a tailwind on my side too. That also means that I managed to build up a fair amount of speed, and when I got to the entrance to the Humber Trail on the Queensway I was going pretty fast.

Now, here is the wipeout part of this story…

This is also the route my husband takes to work, and he warned me about the wheel eating potholes and ignorant truck drivers in front of the Food Terminal. I was preoccupied with watching for holes and other depressions when I tried to take the curb at the entrance to the trail. I turned my wheel too late, hit at a funny angle, and… crash. Wiped out going at least 25 kms/h with all the kids on board. As we were going down I saw the front wheel bending and thought for a second it was going to spin right around and shear off.

Good news: everyone is fine. I’ve got a nice bruise above my right knee where I landed, but otherwise no one seems to have been injured. Even though we were completely on our side, the harnesses kept the kids in their seats until I managed to right the bike and get them out.

Bad news: the excessive twisting on the wheel has loosened up the steering rod on the bike significantly and now the handling is very sloppy. We tinkered with it last night and I’m hoping that it’s fixed – giving it a good workout again today so we’ll see.

So after we picked ourselves up, with the help of five (five!) city workers who rushed to help us when they heard the crash, we were on our way again. Across Humber Bridge, along the lake, to the playground. That was definitely the best part of my day – the temperature was perfect, the sun was bright, the views of the lake awesome. And a lot of smiles and waves from fellow cyclists on the trail.IMG_6791

We played for a while, had our picnic, enjoyed the sunshine, and then headed home. I said earlier that the way there was mostly downhill, which made the trip home uphill. With a headwind. And sloppy steering. UGH. The ride home was brutal. I had to get off and push twice, and was going so slow on the Queensway that I got honked at twice. Side note: luxury car drivers honk louder and more often than other drivers. It’s true, isn’t it?

However, all that said, I DID enjoy the ride, and WILL attempt it again. I will have to alter my route for the ride home however – I’ll need to avoid the Queensway when I’m tired and slow.

Now – I need to go load up the bike for today’s adventure!

SCORE!

By | June 12, 2010

NO, I’m not a soccer fan. Read on.

There are two phrases which make my husband cringe. “I had an idea” and “Look what I found at the curb!”. This week, I had a find. And after the find, I got a gift.  Dear husband is not so happy, me… kid in a candy store.

Baby S’s first birthday was on Monday, so we went on an adventure – subway to High Park, followed by ice cream. Best kind of adventure for a kid. On the way back to the subway we were walking on the south side of Bloor when I spotted a pile of rubbish at the curb on the north side. I checked the traffic, scooped up Miss K and ran across the road to investigate the blue frame I thought I saw.

It’s a Supercycle, single speed, beach pedals, seemingly straight, undamaged and pretty much rust free. I grabbed it in one hand, held my little girls in the other, and dragged it home with me on the subway. Some people think that’s weird. Some people think it’s even weirder that the whole way home I was investigating the frame, looking for a serial number, playing with the brake levers. Bah. I’m weird.

IMG_6698

My neighbor across the road, saw me carrying the frame home and then placing it lovingly on the driveway and circling it a few times and came over to chat. He said something like “So you like old bike frames huh?” And I laughed and said yes. He said “I’ve got an old bike in my garage, do you want it?” I love my neighbors.

This one is a CCM Tourista? Tourisma? I’ve forgotten already. Road frame, partially converted with straight handle bars and one new shifter cable. New rubber, but no tubes. Original shifters are still mounted, but disconnected. I’m on the fence with this one – do I convert it fully to new shifters and keep the straight handle bar? Or put the old drop bar back on and restore it to it’s original vintage glory? Probably the latter… Oh, and the serial number makes it a ’72. Same year as the Galaxie. I’m thinking that it’s meant to be that I keep this bike as a companion to the Galaxie. :)

IMG_6697

One thing is for certain, I’m going to need to make friends with someone who sells vintage bike parts. Preferably someone who is willing to trade for baked goods and kind words. :)