Monday, September 18, 2017

The Old leaf Under Yer Fender: A Natural Patience Tester

Riding in the Fall is the absolute best. One symptom of Autumn, of course, is falling leaves. I think just about everyone who rides a bike has had one such leaf sucked into some tight space (like under your fender) where it proceeds to make a high pitched rubbing noise. You know pretty much exactly where it is and what it is. You know it isn't doing any harm. You keep riding, hoping it will dislodge itself, knowing that every second it remains lessens the likelihood of it doing so.

Today's leaf was under my front fender, so I tried lifting my front wheel and smacking it back down a couple of times while I rode. No joy. I was running my video camera, so I was able to check after my ride; I lasted just over 4 minutes before I stopped and let the leaf fall out from under there.

pic from 2012

Mrs. Rantwick says I have a very annoying ability to block out and be unperturbed by abrasive sounds, like the seat belt dinger in the car or the dog barking at the TV. Indeed, on the very same ride as the leaf thing, a cell phone alarm that I had failed to dismiss properly started going off. I just let it. It went off over and over, in 3 predictable attempts. I didn't care. So what's the difference? An annoying sound is much less annoying when you know how long it will last. Uncertainty about how much longer you'll have to wait for relief makes all the difference, at least to me.

Anyway, back to the "leaf rub". What is your tolerance like? How long do you typically last before having to address the issue? In the end, I consider "leaf rub" a small price to pay for the glories of riding in Autumn, so bring it on, ya little bastards!



Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K

Monday, September 11, 2017

Strokie Joe Now Knows Mo - AVM

Some of my regulars would know that I had a stroke about a year and a half ago. That's why, especially when I'm being clumsy or dizzy or whatever, my family (myself included) calls me Strokie Joe. I still experience more fatigue and headaches than an un-stroked-out person, but otherwise I am back to normal. My bike rides are getting longer and more frequent; life in general is good.


The other Strokie Joe, in the Sno befo, but not no mo.


One thing that has always bugged us was that we had no clear reason for my stroke. Until now! The radiologists assigned to my case were not content to let clear MRIs even a year later dissuade them from looking harder, with an Angiogram. Wouldn't you know it, they found the cause of my stroke, an Ateriovenous Malformation, or AVM, in my cerebellum where the bleed causing my stroke was. An AVM is basically a congenital birth defect (not hereditary, thankfully) where you get Arteries dumping straight into Veins without the usual Capillaries in between. Sooner or later these things usually bleed, which was the cause of my stroke.

The bad news is that if left alone, my AVM could quite possibly bleed again and kill me. The good news is that it is quite operable and a neurosurgeon is going to take the sucker out. With a successful surgery, I will never have to worry about another stroke from this thing. The damage from my stroke will not be undone, but like I said, life is good so that's fine.

My surgery is currently scheduled for October 2. It is full blown day-long, knocked out, hole in yer skull kind of surgery involving a couple of months recovery time. Honestly, I can't wait. Just one hurdle and the Rantwick family can leave all this behind. The way I see it, I was lucky to live through my stroke, lucky to recover very well and now I'm lucky to have a permanent fix on the near horizon. Since I'm writing for an audience largely based in the States, I am also incredibly lucky to live in Canada, where questions of who's going to pay for this don't really come up. I'm scared, for sure, but feel way more lucky than anything else.

As I've stated before, I don't want this blog to be about stroke or AVMs, so my next post will be cycling related for sure. Cycling, particularly those longer rides when you fall into the joyjoy rhythm of the bike and feel like you could pedal forever, remains the best brain tonic available



When I stop posting for a bit come October, cross your fingers, say a prayer, howl at the moon or whatever the hell you like if you think it will help, and I will update everyone as soon as I am able. 

Yer Pal,



R A N T W I C K

PS - Yes, that is a heavily modified Homer head and yes, I am fully aware this gag is stolen.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Encounters with Rantwick, episode Twenty Five: The One

You know how in my last post I mentioned that my short-lived rear facing camera caught some pretty good stuff before it went kapput? This is some of that.

I encountered a truly amazing character on the street a while ago. Or was it just super nifty spookily fortunate timing? Either way it was cool. I think anyway. How about you be the judge: 






Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Looking Back: Goodbye To My Hero

How's that for a title to scare off just about anybody? If I saw that on some other blog I read regularly, I would sigh while following the link, wondering who died now and how depressed the author was gonna make me.

Good news! Nobody died! My original GoPro HD Hero (note lack of number) finally calved. I was very happy with that camera. It came with me on pretty much every bike ride and was tossed around for over 6 years without a whisper of trouble.  I must have been pretty tuned in to its physical state because I had replaced it with a Hero 4 Session just two weeks before! I had done that because the battery wasn't holding much of a charge and the lens had some scuffs on it that were visible in the video sometimes.

Once I had the new camera, I mounted the old one in a rear facing position on my bike rack:



I got some pretty good stuff out of it before it stopped working, too, some of which will show up here on the blog/youtube over the next little while. I shouldn't say it has stopped working though. I mean, yes, it will no longer record video, but it is still working pretty damn well at keeping cars off my back, literally. The GoPro in its little clear enclosure is pretty familiar to most people now, so I think most drivers clue in right away to what it is. This is good, because the way I've mounted the new Session it is not visible to drivers behind me; it doesn't stick up off the top of my head like the old one did.



I'm very happy with the Session so far; it is waterproof without a housing and the sound quality while riding is way better. It is also smaller and I like the flat surface over the lens, which is easier to clean and protect from damage (I'm using a clear sticker protector thing) than the rounded one on my old camera.

Well, wasn't that just fascinating? It's pretty bad when the best thing I can say about a post is that it wasn't about anybody dying, but there you have it.

Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K

PS - Full disclosure: I have not received a nickle or anything else for the nice things I just said about gopro cameras. Hmph.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Things People Say Fridays #17: It's Illegal for Cyclists to Ride in Tunnels!

Hey everybody, I hope your week hasn't been too much of a grind, but if it has, it is now Friday! For those who work on the weekend, I am so sorry. I would take my comments back if I could, but the backspace key is so far away and I'm so tired. Anyway, as the post title suggests, this writing marks the long awaited return of the "Things People Say Fridays" series here on R A N T W I C K. When I say long awaited, I am referring to myself, of course. Nobody "awaits" anything from me; if you do I'm afraid you need to get a life, my friend.

In this installment, I am informed of a law that does not exist, second hand from someone who should have been a traffic authority...





Now, there are undoubtedly some tunnels where it might be very dangerous to ride a bicycle. Dark, narrow,  and/or high-speed tunnels can be some of the scariest places in the world for a cyclist, and I would never recommend riding in them, technically legal or not. In some cases these tunnels may have signage declaring "no bicycles permitted", which indeed makes it illegal to ride there.

On the other hand, there are many tunnels and underpasses that are perfectly well suited to cycling, like the one I rode through. The speed limit is 50km/h. It is illegal to ride on the sidewalk in my city and the sidewalks in that area are busy with pedestrians. The only danger to anyone in that situation would have been if I rode to the right instead of controlling the lane.

This is just a theory, but I think cyclists are so unwelcome in tunnels because their presence may extend the amount of time a driver feels like they are underground; I think there is a natural subconscious desire to be in and out of a tunnel as quickly as possible.

I wish the dissemination of imaginary, often self-serving laws when it comes to cyclists were something new or different, but it ain't. I, like many cyclists, have been informed of such imaginary laws lots of times.

Using the logic that things we find inconvenient or annoying can be re-stated as laws is really going to be really liberating I think! I'll bet you've got some suggestions for new laws... lay 'em on me in the comments section, and have a super weekend!


Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K

PS - For a summary of cycling and laws governing it in Ontario, follow this link: http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/safety/pdfs/cycling-skills.pdf 

PPS - In an effort to cover my ass on this one I looked pretty hard for any legislation governing cyclists and tunnels in Ontario and found nothing at all. If you know of some stupid law that will prove me wrong, please point me to it and I will happily eat crow in a follow-up post.

PPS - If it is indeed illegal to ride through a tunnel where you live but not where I do, tell me about that too!

Monday, August 28, 2017

On Yer Left

I recently read an article from the Bikesnob in Outside magazine called "The Politics of Passing" in which he goes through the various ways in which a cyclist can alert pedestrians to their presence and ultimately the no-win situation we often face.

I rode another piece of the Thames Valley Parkway yesterday and captured the video I'll need to put together another tour; that will be coming sometime soon. This part of the TVP on a sunny Sunday is crowded with people on foot. It made me want to offer my two cents on this inexhaustible topic.


Waiting my turn on yesterday's ride



As much as people talk about bike bells being a happy sound, I think they take on an annoying, almost self-important character when repeatedly used by multiple cyclists navigating lots of people walking on a path. I have a bell, but I use it very rarely.

Today helped me decide once and for all how I prefer to govern myself in overtaking situations. Here are the guidelines I currently use:

1) If it is a busy place where people pretty much expect to be passed by bicycles, I say nothing, use lots of caution and pass only when there is room to do so without anybody feeling like they've been "buzzed".

2) If it is a situation where I think people might be startled, I prefer to loudly say "Bike comin' up", sooner than one would think necessary. My phraseology here has evolved from "On yer left" to "Bike on yer left" to "Bike comin' up". My rationale is that when processing an unexpected message, people (myself included) kind of freeze up or even dart the wrong way when they need to quickly process the word "left" (wait, which left)? Adding Bike to the front of the phrase helped to quickly identify the "threat" and "Bike comin' up" seems like all the info I would want or need in order to react properly were I the one on foot.

3) Sometimes I just get a gut feeling that saying anything at all will cause a pedestrian freak out. In these cases I slow down and give as much room as feasible. When people startle anyway, I feel bad, but most times (and with most things, many of which are infinitely more important than bike path passing) trusting ones gut works out.

4) Runners are an exception. I may well say "on yer left" when approaching a runner or runners, because I think there's a good chance they invented it. In any case, they always respond quickly and well. I love runners; they get how the path works, or should work.

What works best for you? Rather than something like the ;^%$!#@ helmet debate, this is one topic I could talk about all day!


Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K


PS - One final note: I have zero tolerance for the pathletes who put people at risk or get pissed off or both in situations like the ones above. If you're chasing a Strava KOM or a personal best or need to train HARD, don't hit the multi-use pathway in prime time. Just don't. Idiots. I'm angry at them right now even thought I didn't see too many stupid moves yesterday. Grrrr.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Rantwick's London Ontario Bike Routes: Tweedsmuir Trail

I'm obviously going a little OCD on this bike routes thing, because I've produced another one! Much shorter, although probably no less boring. Ah well, the Rantwick head wants what the Rantwick head wants, no point in resisting no matter what kind of mind numbing sadness I inflict on those unfortunate enough to land here. It should be obvious by now that if readers are what I'm after, I'm actively sabotaging myself with knowingly poor efforts at being good at this. I never would have thought that Trump and I would ever have ANYTHING in common, but there you have it! 

I just considered doing a hilarious Venn diagram of the above concept, but people might enjoy that, which would create a bit of a conundrum, as you can imagine.

Here's the new video!




Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K

Monday, August 21, 2017

Thames Valley Parkway (TVP) Tour: South Branch

The Thames Valley Parkway (TVP) is a MUP here in London Ontario that most cyclists in town really like. Not always the best way to get where you're going, it is without question the nicest way if you're not willing or able to leave the city limits, and there's lots of it.

It's gotten into my head to do "tours" of it and some of my other favourite routes. Here on the blog and on youtube they will be labelled under "Rantwick's Routes". I hope somebody finds some value in them, because this first one was quite a bit of work! I don't expect anybody except locals to watch the whole thing, but check out 8:45 where I get a pleasant little surprise.

I recommend watching this one on youtube, but I've embedded it below too.






Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K

Monday, August 14, 2017

Coulda Shoulda Woulda: Not Very Good Riding

This is my second "Coulda Shoulda Woulda" post. These posts are all about those situations you wish you could do again; those times you say to yourself, "what I should have said was..."

Thanks to the magic of video editing, I'm getting to do that! It is super fun and kind of cathartic really. In this example, a driver decided to yell "not very good riding" as we left the line at an intersection. At the time I found this very perplexing, being more used to stuff like "get off the road" and "you're not a car". Was this person a cyclist too? Were they just a self-appointed judge of such things with less knowledge or experience than I? Were they, heaven forbid, correct and if so, how?

I almost made this a "if you were riding the bicycle" post because of these questions, but opted for the Coulda Woulda because it is way more fun. That said, I welcome any thoughts you have on where and how I was riding in the following clip!





Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Icing on the Icing on the Cake (or suitable equivalent)!

Like all cyclists, I have a deep love of fresh, smooth asphalt. In terms of public investment, I personally value it above all the bike infra in the world. I am in a minority on that one, but that's OK. I like bike infra too. This post is about both.

I have not been riding as much as I would like, being limited by several factors. As such I had not ridden as far as I could go on the Thames Valley Parkway (an extensive and wonderful London Ontario Multi Use Pathway) in quite some time. I knew they City was working on the South branch, but wow, is it ever nice now!

There is beautiful smooth path all the way from Adelaide St to Meadowlily bridge, a ten minute ride for a slowpoke like me. This smoothness replaces all kinds of bumps and problems with many joyjoys. This, my friends, represents the Cake referred to in my title.



If you take the paved surface of the South branch of the TVP as far as you can, you come to a dead end. This dead end has had a sign in place for YEARS promising an extension that would overcome the obstacle of a rail line and connect it to the paths of Kiwanis Park in the east end of the city. It was beginning to look like it would never happen, but now there are new signs and honest to god shovels in the ground! Icing.



When I leave the dead end path and make my way to work on the streets, there was one bit of Hale Street that was in terrible repair. Again, it was that way for years. Now it has been repaired; nothing but sweet smooth asphalt in place of that ugliness. Icing on my Icing! Or, since I have no picture, let's revise that to Breadcrumbs on Juice! 



You may recall that this is not the first time I have reported

Thank you, oh multiple layers of government that contributed to the best ride to work in a long while! Thank you, London planners who sometimes come through big time! Cake! Icing! Icing! (Or, if you like, Cake! Breadcrumbs! Juice! Hurrah!)


Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lawn Signs and Rapid Transit in London Ontario

Some lawn signs annoy me. Especially the generic, preachy kind like this:


or even


I mean, really? This is just anonymous finger wagging in lawn sign form. I know when I am driving and I see these, I feel angry at being scolded for a crime somebody is presupposing I'm likely to commit. When I'm angry, I lose my sense of propriety and drive like a jerk. In fact I drive like NOTHING lives there, or more accurately like the inhabitants of the neighbourhood (pets included) all belong to the hordes of undead who live in my mind ever since zombies became so popular again. Just keep moving, I say to myself, praying that I won't have to squish any of them under my wheels... oh god, when will I be able to stop running, stop driving like a maniac, stop the carnage? But I digress. Let's get back to sunny days and brighter thoughts, shall we?

These signs have led me to one of my favourite conceits, that of getting a bunch of signs printed and planting them next to the preachy ones in the dead of night...




Mrs. Rantwick has forbidden me from taking any such action.

However, as with many annoying things, I'm guessing lawn sign messaging began in a well-meaning way, like communicating your support for this or that politician, or of course for advertising your yard sale:



I don't know what it is like where you live, but lawn signs in my city have begun to cover lots of individual political issues, as well. Here are some I've seen around town lately:


This post isn't about any of these issues, but my reaction to these, from left to right, are "OK I guess... Whatever", "Umm, why?" and "Hell no, I love those things!"

Thanks for staying this long into this post, btw. We're finally getting to the rapid transit part. Recently lawn signs about the City's plans for a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system have been springing up everywhere.




The pictures are so crummy (and accompanied by a clear graphic) because they are just grabbed out of my helmet cam video... I was to lazy to stop and take proper pictures.

Sadly, the green signs are badly outnumbered by the red ones. I say sadly because I am a big fan of big transit. I think it is probably more important to creating livable cities than (gasp) bicycles, and it saddens me to see so many fighting it. Some say that the push back is not so much against the idea, but the current plan. To that I say let the experts be the experts... planners don't always crush it, but they sure as hell know more about implementing such systems than I do. I'm guessing they also know more than the average lawn sign protester. For myself, I've put my name on the list to receive a green sign, and intend to participate in lawn sign democracy for the first time ever.


Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K

PS - When searching lawn sign images, I saw this. I really liked it, so maybe you will too:



PPS - At time of publication (May 3), a big RT public participation meeting is scheduled at 4 PM, Bud Gardens. You should go!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Dead-Eyed Santa Contest WINNER!

I threw a party and nobody came. Here's the single entry and, by extension, winner of my contest!




The good news is that this particular entry was a "winner" regardless; I have little doubt that it would have been in contention among lots of entries. Thank you John!

Just goes to show, though, that if you stop writing for your blog, people stop reading it! Go and figure. With the seemingly ever-increasing number of bloggers I like either slowing dramatically like me or stopping altogether, perhaps I should make a renewed effort to post more... there would be less competition!

Lastly, and vis-a-vis nothing at all, please enjoy this picture of my TV screen that I took on the day of the women's march in Washington. So direct... so mean... so pure. 




I must confess I've been saying this to Mrs. Rantwick, most often with no reason at all. She laughs and laughs. Thank-you, newly-minted President Trump!


Yer Pal,
R A N T W I C K