Friday, July 31, 2009

Shooting a Train Track Drive-By: How Should I Ride This?

When people see the camera mounted on my handlebars, many of them ask, "is that for catching people who cut you off and stuff?" I always respond no, I'm not into taking pictures of everybody who ticks me off... if I were, I would be posting nothing but bad driver videos all the time.

No, the camera is there because you just never know what you'll see, and sometimes just leaving the video cam rolling captures neat or funny stuff, like freaking out girls, cutie pie road hogs and super heroes.

I'm posting this clip, however, because it shows that sometimes, bad situations will happen no matter what you do. This one happened while I was crossing multiple railroad tracks on Egerton Street, in close proximity to where Caleb Losier was killed in November 2008. As that incident makes abundantly clear, these train tracks are no place for riding to the right of traffic, so I didn't. Here's the video:

After reviewing the video, I can see that crossing the first two tracks at the correct angle took me just far enough to the right for the truck to think they could get by. I now approach these tracks on the left edge of the left tire track, so crossing those first two sets of tracks leaves me in the centre of the lane. When I am that far to the left though, I begin worrying about being passed on the right, which I welcome even less than the pass you just saw. It's kind of a no-win situation I guess.

The video doesn't look anywhere near as bad as it felt on the bike. I have a pretty high tolerance for close passing, but this felt way too close. Remembering that the camera is mounted on my handlebars, you can imagine that the stuff attached to the side of the truck came pretty darn close to my head. I was in the centre of the lane, and the driver must have known I had no interest in his squeezing by. To do it while we were crossing multiple train tracks was just stupid. I know that for the cyclists who visit this blog, stuff like this is nothing new; it happens all the time. I just wish it didn't.

If any of you cycling educators out there have opinions on how I could do this crossing more safely, let 'er rip. I am open to all suggestions other than walking the bike or riding on the sidewalk.

Keep it Upright,


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Captcha Results: A Surprise Ending

I will begin the way I planned to begin, by celebrating the deeply cool and truly moving spectacle that is $5 of Canadian Tire money displayed with style. For your information, $5 Canadian Tire (CT) money is not "cheap": the amount of it you get back varies from franchise to franchise, but let's say you are getting the maximum, 2% of purchases. My family spent at least $250 at CT to generate this prize!

If that view wasn't doing anything for you (as if!), how about that same money rolled up?

I know you're probably already freaking out with joy-joy madness after seeing that CT money in such alluring and attractive ways, but what if I threw in a beer in a freezer-coolie mug thing? What happens to your brain then, huh? Can you stand so much goodness in one photo?

If you thought that was just stupid, you should know that I was seriously considering taking pictures of the CT money with all kinds of different "Canadian" items, and was only stopped by the soothing, calming influence of my sweet wife. You should thank her.

Now, I naturally figured that the winner of this contest would be elated and as happy as Sandy McTire (yes, that's his name):

Instead, upon receiving e-mail about an imminent contest win, the "winner" decided to fess up to captcha contest "doping"! I am not in the business of character assassination, so I am going to make no effort to identify this person for you or get into the specifics of his performance enhancing technological drug choice. I have even scrubbed their contest entry out of the comments, for fear they might enjoy even negative attention. I thought I made it pretty clear in the contest "rules" that, and I quote, "If you are lame enough to cheat on a potentially very boring contest that has no prize other than something stupid and of no monetary value that I will dream up later, I and every other participant thinks you just plain suck. Go away; you're not welcome on RANTWICK." I wrote that before I came up with the prize, and in hindsight I am not surprised that the sexy visage of Sandy McTire pushed a contestant over to the dark side. I mean, look at that Scottish charmer again:

Since I should have known that the prize would have that kind of soul-twisting and ethics-bending power, I am not prepared to excommunicate this visitor altogether. They did, after all, confess what they had done and didn't blame a trainer, a doctor, or the other competitors in the process. I do not condone such behaviour, however, and should I run any more contests on this blog, this individual will be prohibited from participating. There is a zero tolerance doping policy on the Tour de RANTWICK.

Since our doper is disqualified, the entrant with the second most votes, and the winner of RANTWICK's first and last CAPTCHA contest is Rollz, with the most excellent captcha "spipbra"! Although we have never met in person, I happen to know that Rollz is a local London bike commuter, and owner of the blog Bike Commuting London Ontario. I'm hoping you are still reading this blog Rollz, because I don't see an email address attached to your profile... comment please so I can hand over or mail out your prize!

Camping was kinda wet but big fun, and I did some singletrack riding in deep forest for the first time in years. Now, I'm glad to be back and look forward to making little sense again on Friday! Yer Pal,


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Carnivore Light - I Need a Vacation

We're going camping for a few days starting this coming weekend, and I'm really looking forward to it. I know I've been mentioning Canadian Tire an awful lot lately... and now it would seem I'm gonna do it some more. I was looking for power inverters and crank radios and stuff for our trip on the Canadian Tire web site, and stumbled across something unexpected; a carnivore light! Before I could read up on this intriguing item, I saw that it was a flashlight:

I didn't understand. Was the flashlight a carnivore? In that case I really didn't want one. Was the flashlight for carnivores? What kind of carnivores use flashlights?


The grandaddy of them all, the mighty T-Rex?

Perhaps Venus Flytrap?

And what carnivore other than Venus Flytrap would have $80 for a flashlight anyway?

Well, I gave my head a shake and stopped thinking such crazy thoughts and read about the flashlight. Turns out it is a "blood tracking" flashlight that can help illuminate blood traces, helping hunters to find game that has been wounded. I went deer hunting once with a friend and his Dad as a teenager, and found that I couldn't pull the trigger. Still, I have no problem with responsible hunters. Some of you may find that kind of gross, but to my mind wounded game is better off found than left to suffer off in the bush somewhere. Still, "carnivore?" Gerber, the maker of the light, also sell an "omnivore" model that doesn't have the blood tracking lights. Going with that logic, I think they should introduce the "herbivore" or "vegan" or maybe the "Veggie Lite", a flashlight for wildlife photographers.

Some of you may be thinking, "what the hell is Rantwick writing about this stupid flashlight for? This has nothing to do with cycling!" There are two points I would like to make in this regard. Firstly, the beauty of writing a blog, whether it appears to have a theme or not, is that I can write about whatever I please. The blog isn't called "cycling stuff", it's called RANTWICK, which means I can be as selfish and random with my subject matter as I wish. I really like that, and my hope is that other people enjoy a change of pace now and then too. Second of all, hunting and cycling sometimes do go together.

image source:

And I thought I was a utility cyclist! With carnivores like this around, deer will try anything to get away...

Like I said, I'm going camping and we're leaving Friday morning. That means that there's a ton to do over the next few days that doesn't include blogging. Going by this post, perhaps a little blog break will be a good thing! Anyway, I'm gonna vanish from this space for about a week.

I'll be back next Wednesday to announce the winner of the Captcha contest! Until then, ride your bikes all over the place. Yer Pal,

Note: in case you were considering the carnivore for your blood tracking needs, you should know that it is powered by 4 AA batteries, so it isn't nearly as big as it looks in some of my photoshopped pictures.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hot Cyclist Pic

Sorry, as you can see the post title was a trick. I just want more people to vote for the CAPTCHA contest.

The CAPTCHA contest poll was overshadowed somewhat by the post on the Ottawa cyclists, and although my stats show plenty of visits, few seem to be voting on a favourite CAPTCHA.

Remember, $5 of cold hard Canadian Tire money hangs in the balance, so if you haven't already done so, go vote now!

Thanks for putting up with me and my deceitful nature,


Monday, July 20, 2009

5 Ottawa Cyclists Mown Down - So Don't Ride A Bike Unless You Are Insane.

A group of 5 cyclists were run over in our nation's capitol over the weekend. Tragedies like this happen from time to time, all over the world. What I want to comment upon is the news coverage I saw last night on CTV.

News clip #1

Half of the coverage is about how dangerous it is to ride your bike. As bad as this single incident is, cycling is not a dangerous activity.

News Clip #2

This time there is at least some focus on car speed. But what burns is the "despite there being a bike lane" reference. Bike lanes rarely make cyclists more safe. Follow these links to see what I mean:

Many thanks to ChipSeal for providing me with these links. He also wrote some stuff in an email to me that I am confident he would be OK with me posting in public:

In the USA, we have about 800 people on bicycles killed every year, and naturally the majority of them happen in the warmer months when there are more cyclists out. Given that, we ought to expect at least two bicycle deaths a day, on average. And they all make the news because it is unusual. The 43,000 (117 a day) deaths of motorists is so common it rarely makes news unless there is a celebrity or scandal involved. Kids are no longer allowed outside to play because of hysteria over child abductions, which are extremely rare. Every year we are warned to avoid receiving fruit in Halloween excursions for fear of razor-blade sabotage..... an event that has never (That is; Not even once.) been officially recorded by any law enforcement agency in the whole of the United States. These are media generated hysteria! We are losing freedoms because of irresponsible media outlets breathless headlines to garner a bigger audience. Just turn them off and you will be a lot happier!

I thought that was pretty well said. Thanks again ChipSeal.

Stuff like this is awful. Please use it as a reason to keep riding safely. Do not let it make you ride fearfully or not at all. That would be a terrible shame.

PS - I tried to find out how the cyclists were doing here.
PPS - Ocotber 2011 Driver Pleads Not Guilty here.

CAPTCHA Contest: Cast Your Vote!

As promised, I have collected and assembled the CAPTCHAs received from the entrants in my first (and last, I think) CAPTCHA contest. I have put them in alphabetical order, and left out who they belong to in the hopes that we will all vote for the CAPTCHA, not the person. Of course, if you must know who owns what, you can check the comments on the entry page.

Please vote only once, whether you are an entrant or not. Please also note that voting will conclude in about 8 days, so get your vote in now!

Here are the contenders. Vote for one!


The entrant with the winning CAPTCHA will receive $5 in Canadian Tire money! In the event of a tie, I will have to split up the jackpot! There are two entrants that got the same CAPTCHA. If it win, they will each receive $5 in Canadian Tire money. FYI, Canadian Tire is a long established store chain in Canada. It is much like a Wal Mart, without the evil. I will post on who won when the poll has closed, even though you'll be able to tell by visiting this page.

Have a fun week. I'll be back on Wednesday, barring incident or laziness or incident of laziness!


Friday, July 17, 2009

Why This Picture Sucks And I Hate Work

Firstly, I think this picture is actually kind of nice, and I quite like my work in a general sense. It is how they relate to last Tuesday afternoon that makes me dislike them so as I write this.

As I have mentioned before, I use a fairly cheap and old digital camera mounted on my handlebars to take video from my bike. I usually just decide to press record at some point and let it go until the memory card is full or the batteries run out. Trying to turn it on and off to catch funny or interesting stuff has proven futile; things happen too fast.

Last Tuesday, I got to work and at lunch time deleted the files from the memory card from the morning ride in, since nothing interesting had been captured. After lunch, I used the camera to take video for work reasons, recording the performance (or lack thereof) of some new stuff we're using, and moved those files off the card before heading home. On the way home, in the shade of the bridge on Wellington street, I noticed that the low battery light on the camera was blinking. Unusual, but understandable because of the extra work-related duties the camera had done previously in the day. I also noticed that the scene in front of me was kind of nice, so I stopped, took the camera off the bike, snapped a few shots of the river, and knowing it only had seconds to live anyway, turned it off and put it in my fanny pack.

The next ten minutes of my ride would present me with no less than four things I would have loved to catch on video, as I would have done if my batteries had lasted longer, which they would have if I hadn't used the camera for work stuff. The picture above only reminds me of the strange and interesting things I did not get on video. Therefore the picture sucks, and I hate work. You are not going to believe me, I don't think, about what happened once the camera had been put away. This stuff is true, I swear.

Missed Video Clip #1: Racing Dwarf

As I came down the hill just West of Carfrae on the bike path, behind Labatt's, there was a dwarf, a little person, coming towards me on the other side of the path. Upon seeing me, he turned around and ran as fast as he could beside me for several steps. He didn't say or do anything else. He couldn't keep it up for long because he was wearing flip flops. Why he did this I have no idea.

Missed Video Clip #2: Clean White Sock

Not far past the racing dwarf, there was a kid with two grownups walking on the path. As I approached, the kid, with a magician-like flourish, withdrew from his pocket a bright white sport sock, which he then carefully laid on the path in front of me, as though he wished me to run it over. The timing was close enough that one of the grownups grabbed his shoulders and pulled him up and away from the sock, which he was still carefully positioning. Again, why he did this I have no idea. I did not run over the sock.

Missed Video Clip #3: Makeout Madness

Sometimes you see young couples kissing or snuggling or whatever on park benches or even under bridges along the path. These people are not usually captured in any useful way by my camera, since they are off to the side. That's fine with me; I have no interest in recording riverside romance. But as I came off the Horton Street bridge and got back on the path, I was presented with a makeout scene of epic proportions. They were an attractive pair, and this young couple was standing almost on the centre line of the path. Arms and hands and lips were flying all over the place, and fallen straps and bits of clothing were also in evidence. It was so over the top that perhaps they were just trying to freak me and others out... if so, it worked. Seemed pretty real to me though.

Missed Video Clip #4: Cruise Night Immunity

As I approached the barricade for Cruise Night on Wortley Road, I saw something that was interesting. A bad-ass looking man, about 35-40 years old, with a dark tan, a few tattoos and some pretty big arm muscles, was riding his mountain bike straight up the middle of the Northern Occupied Territory. Strangely, nobody said anything to him about the "no bike" rules. Go and figure!

Any one of these four events could have been the basis of an entire blog post if I had gotten video. But I didn't. So they aren't. All I have instead is this:

This picture sucks and I hate work. Now that I have vented my frustrations, I am prepared to become more philosophical about this whole thing. You know the expression "when God closes a door, he opens a window?" Well, when God denies you video of a racing dwarf, he gives you a potential muskrat sighting!

You see, while I was taking those snaps of the river, a nice dude with two off-leash dogs and fairly few teeth walked up to me and said, "the river is pretty this time of year, isn't it?" I agreed that it was. Then he said, "yeah, this is a great spot. There's a giant muskrat that lives right over there. Haven't seen him today, because the water's so low, but he's as big as an otter!" I asked the man if he was easy to spot when he was around, and he said yes, for sure. So now I have two things to look out for and try to catch on video this summer. The dwarf (because I know you don't believe me) and this giant muskrat. Wish me luck!

Here, take another look at the stupid pretty picture.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Blog Post Minimus

That post that went up yesterday about sunglasses was supposed to go up today... I published it by accident, and didn't want to remove it after doing so. As a result I have very little to say today, except that:

1 - I am so frustrated that I could cry. Some unbelievable things occurred while riding home on the bike path on Tuesday after work, and I didn't get any video. I'm planning a full post on it Friday, so that's all for now. You will not believe it, and that is the problem.

2 - Today is the last day to enter the CAPTCHA contest if you have not yet done so. Follow the preceding link for details.

3 - Here's a picture, posted as an attempt to atone for today's lack of content.

pic source:

Thanks for stopping by! Yer Pal,

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Cycling Eyewear - Finding The Perfect Glasses

If you ride a bike much at any speed, you quickly come to realize that some sort of glasses are necessary to keep the wind and bugs out of your eyes. In sub-zero temps, it becomes even more important, since you can really hurt your eyes with cold wind.

Just like bicycles, cycling glasses can cost just about as much as you are willing to spend.

The sunglasses shown above have some pretty impressive copy written for them, describing sunglass technology I didn't even know existed!

I am pretty rough on my sunglasses, so I have never had expensive ones like the ones pictured above. I bought a pair of knockoff $25 sunglasses at the drugstore about two years ago, and miraculously, I'm still wearing them as my summer glasses. The lenses are scratched and marked up, but I stay with them because of some customizations on them that I won't be able to find anywhere else.

My glasses originally had rubber nose rests that would slide a little sometimes. The earpieces and their rubber inserts never quite hugged just right either, and the glasses were a little heavy overall. Thanks to my customizer, however, my glasses have been perfect for the last month or so. Let me show you what he did:

By removing the rubber nose rests, he created micro sub-dermal insertion retaining posts. Just a gentle press, and those suckers stay put! No slip, no slide! He is a genius. Check this out:

The nano-abrasions act like tiny hooks that grab my skin and hair, and the wing ends have been reshaped to properly contact my asymmetrical and cauliflowered ears, minimizing slip and vibration! You can't get attention to detail like that off the shelf for any price. The removal of the soft rubber inserts allows the nano-abrasions to grasp on both the outer and inner surfaces of the ring, and shaves precious grams from the whole package. I am a very lucky fellow to have found my velo-optics customizer. Take a bow, super genius with the master craftsman's touch!

And to think you accomplished such fine high-end work using only your teeth! You are amazing, you sweet little bugger!

Hey, sorry I yanked your chain. Yer Pal,

P.S. - I really do still wear those glasses.

Monday, July 13, 2009

9 Bridges On A New Morning Ride

As some of you may know, I have recently tried out leaving the city and riding for longer trips through the country. Although I've only been out three times that way, I've really enjoyed it. My longest trip thus far has been 88km (54.7 miles) long. I know that for some cyclists that isn't all that far, but for me it is. I initially reported feeling fine after the rides - I was mainly concerned about muscle pain and general soreness, and in that sense it really wasn't too bad. What I have come to realize, however, is that at my current fitness level, I have been biting off a little more than I can chew. I have been too tired for too long after those rides, and I think a combination of too much weight (being somewhat fat) and not enough practice at shorter distances are the reasons why.

Riding only about 15km a day commuting isn't going to get me into the shape I would like, and piling all my exercise into a single weekend ride isn't the best way to proceed either. So, I've been getting up earlier and lengthening my morning commute ride to about 22km (13.7 miles). I figure a few of weeks of commuting 30km instead of 15 is a good start on getting into better shape. If I can just watch what I eat a little better, I might even lose some weight!

I'm not usually one for stopping and taking pictures, but lately I've been thinking about how much I like bridges and the views they offer a cyclist, whether in or out of the city. I also like the way some of the narrow walking bridges look on video from my handlebars. My "new" morning ride offers some of both, including some really nice views of the Thames River. Since I had bridges on the brain, I took video on every single bridge I crossed last Thursday morning, whether it was big or small, and stopped to take photos from many of them.

When I started preparing this video, I searched a little harder for good music I could use that wouldn't infringe copyright, and holy man did I get some great stuff. Listen well! Credits for the tunes are in the video.

Ride that Bike! Yer Pal,

Friday, July 10, 2009

Yeehaw! It's a CAPTCHA Contest!

Has anybody else found the security "word verification" words funny or strangely well suited to your comment or the post's content sometimes? I certainly have, and it has inspired me to try something...

Some of my more regular commenters may have noticed that I have turned CAPTCHAs back on. It's not for security reasons, it's so that I can run a CAPTCHA contest! I don't know if somebody else has done this before, so I am going to assume this is my very own invention until proven otherwise. Unless it sucks. Then somebody else thought it up.

Please comment on this post, but before hitting the "Publish" button, type the CAPTCHA you have been presented with in the comment box, enclosed in square brackets (eg: [monkey]) and then the appropriate word verification space. The brackets are just to clearly identify your captcha for me, since people somtimes just type weird things for no reason at all.

I will collect comment CAPTCHAs (on this post only) until midnight (Pacific Time) on Wednesday, July 15. Then, I will assemble the entries into an online poll that will go up on Monday, July 20, and we can all vote for the one we think is funniest. The poll will remain open for ten days, and the winner will be formally announced soon after the poll has closed.

Obviously, this whole thing will have to be based on the honour system. Every visitor to the poll, entrant or not, is permitted one vote only. Every entrant is permitted only one [CAPTCHA] comment on this post. Don't make up fake captchas; you have to live with the captcha you were dealt. If you are lame enough to cheat on a potentially very boring contest that has no prize other than something stupid and of no monetary value that I will dream up later, I and every other participant thinks you just plain suck. Go away; you're not welcome on RANTWICK.

Blog Authors are not presented with comment captchas on their own blogs, so I won't be one of the entrants.

If I have just confused the hell out of you, please ask for clarifications with a comment that does not contain a [square bracketed] contest entry...

Good luck to us all, this may be fun but may also be an utter failure! Yeehaw! I can't wait to see which!
Yer Pal,


PS - Wait! I just thought of the prize! If you win, I will send you $5 in assorted Canadian Tire money! How cool is that?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cruise Night: It Takes A Village, Idiot!

Please note: There are lots of pictures in this post. Most are clickable for larger versions.

---- ---- ---- ----

There is a Summer tradition that takes place near my house. It is called "Cruise Night", and it happens in Wortley Village on Wortley Road, just south of the bad pavement I photographed recently. Paradoxically, there is no "Cruising" involved, just the closing of a couple of blocks of the street and the parking of a whole bunch of beautiful classic cars, and God help you if you try to "Cruise" through on your bike. More on that later.

I love cars, especially classic cars. I have a real soft spot for old T-Birds in particular, like this '62 and '63 pair of beauties I saw at last night's Cruise Night:

Or this RED 1965 Thunderbird Convertible:

I like '56 and '57 T-Birds best of all, but I didn't see any last night. I did, however, see an awesome GTO. Check out the hood tach! I thought that was very, very cool.

There were lots of other cool cars, including this 1947 taxi and an old Plymouth Satellite. We had a '73 or so Plymouth Satellite station wagon when I was a kid. It had a rear-facing bench seat at the back that allowed me and my brothers to do all kinds of fun stuff to the cars behind us... but enough about that.

Like I said, I love cars like these. But man oh man, do I hate Cruise Night. Going through last night to take these pictures was the first time I had passed through in two years. Let me tell you why.

Firstly, it closes my most direct route home after work. I am often tired after work, and I don't like having to detour around this thing so close to getting home. Secondly, Cruise Night occurs EVERY Tuesday of the summer. If this was a twice a summer or even a once a month thing, I would be a lot less cranky. But every damn week? My guess is that most locals have seen 90% of the cars after attending just one cruise night. I know people enjoy getting together with their cars, but if you want to do it EVERY week, why not find a field or a parking lot instead of closing my street? I have been told that the Cruise Night organizers have to pay the City to close the street like that. I don't know if that's true or not. If it is true, I have a beef with the City for allowing these dudes to be such persistent and regular street closers. I think I'll find out where Cruise Night's head organizer lives and pay my fees to close the street that goes to his house every Wednesday night of the summer for my "Groovy Bicycle Show"! I wonder how he would like it?

Last, but certainly not least, I had a run-in with the organizers two years ago. Because conflict is not my bag, I just go around Cruise Night now, muttering the whole way. Two summers ago, though, I was stopped at the barriers closing off the street and asked to dismount from my bicycle. I complied, walked a few steps, and seeing that there weren't any pedestrians to endanger, I got back on and very slowly started riding through. Now, the Cruise Night organizers always have a nice loud PA system set up so that various local bands can play fifties and other music at the event. That's cool with me. I am an amateur musician who gigs a few times a year myself. I'm all for people getting out, playing some tunes and having a good time. When that same PA system is used to yell at me in front of everyone on the block, I get a little pissed.

Here is how this little play went down:

Mr. Microphone (over loudspeakers): "You on the bike with the black helmet. Get off your bicycle. There is no riding allowed among the cars."

Rantwick, nowhere near any of the cars or any people, scowls, dismounts, walks his bicycle to the sidewalk and remounts. He resumes riding, very slowly.

Mr. Microphone (over loudspeakers): "It is illegal to ride your bike on the sidewalk, stop riding the bike".

Rantwick stops and looks over his shoulder at Mr. Microphone.

Rantwick (yelling, voice cracking like an adolescent boy's): YOU stop closing my street every week!

Rantwick resumes riding very slowly.

Mr. Microphone (over loudspeakers): I guess some people just think the law doesn't apply to them!

Rantwick rides slowly away, red-faced and muttering profanities. Fade to black mood that lasts for two years.


I was a 38 year old man riding his bike slowly and carefully through an event that wasn't really underway yet. Only about half of the cars had arrived, and there were very few people at that point. I should have gone back to Mr. Microphone and asked him who the hell he thought he was, power tripping and playing John Law with his sound system, and publicly "shaming" me in the process. Instead, I just rode away. My best guess is that Mr. Microphone never had the "Mr. Microphone" as a young man, and as a result never managed to use his convertible to its full potential.

This "amplification void" was left unfilled until this poor fellow became the grand poohbah of Cruise Night. Sadly, the mic came too late, for he was already too cranky and bitter to use it for good stuff like getting some action, and resorted to taking his frustrations out on me instead.

Of course, if I could have a do-over, I would have just walked my bike through as requested. It was late in the summer, and I was sick of going around this thing every week, and I suppose I was kind of asking for it. My beef is not really with the cruise night "no bike" rules - it is with whoever that jackass on the mic was. It makes me want to show up with a bullhorn to even up the score a little. I might want to opine loudly about what I think of people closing my street every week, complete with barricades and sentries and self-appointed legal authorities. You know what that sounds like to me? Occupation! Cruise Night "takes the village" on a weekly basis!

I never remember about Cruise Night until I see the barricades and sentries. All I can do is detour around it, muttering, "you know that Cruise Night Takes A Village, Idiot! You should have remembered and gone a different way!" Ah well, time heals all wounds. This stuff won't bother me a bit when I'm dead.

Remember, grudges are like toads, so don't hold 'em for very long!


P.S. - It's a good thing very few Londoners read this blog. If Wortley Villlagers (or at least their business and community associations) did, they would probably try to piece together who I am and run me out of Old South for being a traitor to their quaint and kitschy ways and not loving every little thing about the precious Village. If you hate Cruise Night too, please, PLEASE leave me a comment! Anonymous will do fine! If you are a Cruise Night booster and this post has angered you, I welcome your comments too.

Monday, July 6, 2009

WTF Strikes Again.

I was reading a spirited blog comment discussion about how Orlando might proceed in improving a street I've never seen and will likely never ride the other day. I don't know why I do that. It would seem that I have been sucked into the vortex of commuter cyclist discussion online, and in some cases where you live just doesn't matter. Many of the questions are kind of universal, since most of North America's cities share similar design characteristics in one neighbourhood or another. Still, Orlando is an awful long way from here...

Anyway, I was reading those comments when a frequent visitor and commenter on this blog, Chipseal, said this in one of his entries regarding cement trucks: "whatever helps keep casual people on bikes from getting gummed up in the wheels can’t be too negative".

I laughed about it in the comments, suggesting it could be turned into a Public Service Announcement (PSA). That's when WHAM! I was struck once again with WTF, or Word-To-Form syndrome. When this happened last time, I likened it to an earworm, which is when a song gets stuck in your head and won't get out, except this is a mental image that won't go away. Comments on the post featuring my first bout of WTF, Captain Jack Sharrow, were very educational, and put a name to the strange thing I was experiencing. It was such a comfort to know that I was not alone in my affliction.

Anyway, a PSA poster-style image sprang to mind, and I know already that it is something that will not let me be until I let it out. It is well known that the only known cure/relief for WTF is actually creating the image and, ideally, posting it on the Internet. As with that stupid sharrow thing, I'm asking your forgiveness for what follows.

I am becoming more realistic about my struggle with WTF. It may happen again. If you are the kind of person who might follow this blog, please know that WTF may occur. I don't welcome it, but I must accept and deal with it.

As always, thank you for joining me on my journey. Yer Pal,


Friday, July 3, 2009

All I Want is Smooth Pavement

These pictures were taken on the north end of Wortley Road, between Victor and Askin. This is a tricky area for cyclists that I plan to look at later with a video discussing the difficulties associated with this 2 lane stretch of road. For now though, I want to talk about pavement.

  There is much discussion of bicycle infrastructure out there these days. Lots of people are supportive of separate bicycle facilities, whether they be painted bike lanes or elaborate divided lane systems with their own signal lights, etc.

There are other cyclists who would rather just be treated fairly under the law and by motorists when they ride a bicycle just as they would a motorcycle; they are typically referred to as vehicular cyclists. Although I'm not a 100% VC kind of rider, I like that approach better.

If the bicycle advocacy role were mine alone to play, I would ask for just one thing. Smoother pavement. If governments and city planners could provide me with smooth pavement, or even substantially better pavement, I would be content. If a road seems too narrow to be safely passed on, so be it. I will adjust my lane position. Just give me smooth pavement. If downtown traffic flow is confusing, pedestrians are frequently in my way or parking layout creates lots of door zones, that's OK. I will deal. Just give me smooth pavement. If there aren't many good places for me to lock up my bike, that's alright. I'll find a spot somewhere. Just give me smooth pavement. If you want to ticket me for riding through a stop sign, that's fine, just remember to also ticket sidewalk riders, and, of course, give me smooth pavement. If you want to legislate me into wearing a helmet, go for it, I already wear one anyway. Just give me smooth pavement. I could go on forever, but I think you get my drift.

helmet laws, bike racks on buses, sidepaths, bike monuments, big new bike racks,

bike blogs, 3' passing laws, bike boxes,

Other people care about these things. I'm not saying they shouldn't; some of these things are good ideas. All I'm saying is that if it were up to me, I would trade them all for smooth streets. Just give me smooth pavement, and I'll be happy to do the rest regarding my safety and access.
Hang on a second! I wouldn't trade "bike blogs"! That was a mistake, I like them too much! Give me bike blogs! And smooth pavement.

Postscript: If you're riding that bit of Wortley Road, please note that if the crummy road and the crazy cars fail to take you out, there's still the banana peel...