Monday, September 25, 2017

Extreme Safety

Attention, hyper-cycling safety fans! London Ontario is the new centre for cutting edge safety signage! This gem can be found where the TVP ends and Kiwanis Park begins; this is a favourite construction project of mine, but I'm afraid I've been disobeying this sign for some time.

The Only Safe Bicycle is no longer a Bicycle.

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,

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,


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,

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,

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,

PS - For a summary of cycling and laws governing it in Ontario, follow this link: 

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!