Monday, August 31, 2009

RANTWICK's Cycling School: Train Tracks

About a month ago I posted some video of being passed too closely while crossing some train tracks. Thanks to some experimentation and some good advice on how to ride that section of my commute in the comments, I believe I have arrived at the best way to handle them.

Well before that, in the comments on a different video scenario regarding using the big streets and the controls offered by big intersections, my online friend Keri of Commute Orlando said I was "becoming quite the educator"! I thought that was pretty cool of her to say, and it has inspired me to educate some more, the RANTWICK way...

Despite the silly aspects of that video, it remains perfectly true that zigzagging hard and signaling to the cars behind me has made that crossing way less dicey. Thanks for your input on the other post, everyone.

Woot, Woot! Grrr... Ayeeee!


Friday, August 28, 2009

Canadian Flashback

I would like to thank Saskboy for reminding me of and providing a link to the video below. This would have been at least a month ago, and I squirreled it away for use at a later date, which as it turns out, is today! At least a couple of generations of Canucks grew up with this little cartoon being played as filler on CBC and other stations... watching it makes me feel happy and old (read, nostalgic) all at once, and I figure others might like to feel that way too.

Hey, it's not one of my regular posting days! Log Driver's Waltz is being used as filler once again! Hurrah!


Monday, August 24, 2009

Dinosaur Head Submission!

Big Oak of Big Oak Bikes has sent me pictures of some of his neighbours sporting dinosaur heads! Be sure to click on them and see the large versions. Thanks Big Oak!

Yay! I want more!

PS - Moments after I posted this, I saw another dinosaur head here! This is awesome! Thanks Rollz!

The Perils of Cycling - Dinosaur Head

I keep my hair pretty short, and one benefit of that is that I don't get terrible "helmet head" most of the time. When I'm overdue for a haircut, however, I get what I and my kids call "dinosaur head".

For those of you who might prefer my online visage, it translates to this:

Pasting that hair onto my Rantwick face was really fun, so fun that I thought I would try it some more. How about dinosaur head Prime Minister Stephen Harper?

Or Nicolas Cage?

Or, (I hope he will forgive me) Chandra of GreenComotion?

I did about ten of these, but then thought to myself, "self, why not give the tools to others and see what happens? You know, give a man a fish, and he eats for a day. Give a man an image file to paste onto people, and he wastes a lifetime..." And so, you will find below a link to the dinosaur head cutout, in png format, which was one of the only ones that allowed me to keep the non-hair bits transparent. The file is pretty big, so that's why link instead of pic. Just right-click and choose Save Target As... in Windows, or do the similar for Mac (I don't know the exact language). Anyone who is so inclined should download it and paste it onto whoever they want. If you send me the finished product, I will post it ASAP and, of course, credit the creator. I've got a bad feeling no one will bother, but that's OK; nothing ventured, right?

Dinohead PNG file (1 MB)

Thanks for reading,

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Lucky Penny

This blog is the closest thing I've ever had to a journal, so here's something I just wanted to jot down. Yesterday my kids and I were out walking the dog, who was misbehaving in his puppyish way, when my 8 year old son found a penny on the sidewalk. I told him the old expression "find a penny, pick it up, and all the day you'll have good luck". Being an 8 year old boy, he managed to drop the penny about 5 steps later. His sister helped him look for it, but it wasn't to be found, and the dog was making it hard to stick around. I told him to leave it, and that at least having picked it up he would still get the good luck part. He promptly replied, "Dad, if I had gotten the good luck, I would have found it again".

Yer Pal,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Stormy Stuff

When it comes to bad weather, I am a completely irresponsible person. I love riding in it. Yesterday, a line of storms travelled across Southern Ontario. Multiple tornadoes touched down, thankfully not in London. I took a look at the weather radar before leaving work, and it looked bad. I read that there were tornado warnings. Unlike a rational person, I thought "oh, boy!" Mother nature did not disappoint...

The plastic covered camera didn't do the ride justice. I almost got knocked over by the wind a couple of times, and the thunder was sometimes super loud. It was great.

Please do as I say, not as I do. Take cover in bad weather.

P.S. - I know I'm a broken record, but everything in my panniers remained completely dry.

Monday, August 17, 2009

One BAD Bike Lane

My kids recently attended a week long summer camp at the University of Western Ontario. I think, but am not entirely sure, that UWO has almost complete control of its roads and the markings on them. If I am wrong, please comment and correct me. Bike lanes appeared at UWO before they did anywhere else in London. They are sometimes sensible, sometimes not. But when I was driving my kids back and forth from this Sport Western camp (which was excellent, by the way), I saw and took some video of some truly ridiculous bike lane paint.

Just imagine what happens when to medium/big vehicles are in the car lanes. Can you say squish? I have to believe that cyclists faced with such a situation would just line up in the car lane the way they should, but paint can be a powerful influence, in this case one that will definitely create conflict, and quite likely create injury or worse. I got my degree from UWO, and think it's a great school. I also think this may be the worst bike paint I've ever seen!

My online friend and frequent commenter Keri from Orlando, who is a very knowledgeable vehicular cyclist, called parts of the Queens bike lanes "heinous". I wonder what she would call this?

Implicit trust of bike paint is hazardous! Keep using your good sense,


Friday, August 14, 2009

Kids Might Lick Any Flat Surface - Be Prepared

I've seen commercials lately for Juice that is formulated to enhance brain growth or immune systems in children. As a parent of two children, I understand that people want the best for their little ones, and are especially vulnerable to the suggestions of others when their kids are very young. I had my doubts about the science behind these juices, so I went to the web site dedicated to them. I found nothing conclusive there, but I did find out why people might need super juice for their youngsters. It's because these days kids will lick anything, including a stranger's computer screen from the inside. Who knew?

What you see above is part of an animation, one that I found kind of odd to say the least. When I find things odd, I like to share them. So here we are. If you would like to see the animation yourself, I encourage you to go to the web site too. I am not going to link to it, though, because I am afraid of multinational corporations. You'll just have to find it yourself. Some instructions for getting animations to load are found below.

Stay Healthy,


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This Is Not a Post - I'm just Excited

I just had to mention that I have found the foundation for a new highway tourer build, a lugged steel 1988 Trek 520. God knows I'll be writing about this some more, so I'll leave it there for now.

Since people always want to know... I paid $80 for it, but I'll need a new 27" rear wheel which may be hard to source, might switch out BB and crankset, but brakes, levers, derailleurs and shifters are all good. Frame is scratched but not rusted... will probably repaint.

Wish me luck on my obsessive journey,


Monday, August 10, 2009

RANTWICK Study Proves It: Driving Makes You Impotent!

There has been a long standing debate about whether cycling can cause impotence (Erectile Dysfunction). Men have been discouraged from cycling. Saddle designs have changed. Recumbents have become more popular, so much so that you may have seen one! I don't really care if there is a connection, because I recently undertook my own real world study of impotence, and have concluded that driving cars makes you at least somewhat impotent in every sense of the word!


I know that image is hard to read, but don't worry, we'll be going over each of the four definitions, so sit tight. The draft of a research study, which I intend to submit to all the best men's medical journals (including The Journal of Andrology, MAXIM and Field & Stream) follows. Remember, this is just a draft, so if any of you have suggestions for refining my thesis, please lay them on me in the comments.

The Driving of Motor Vehicles as it Relates to Impotence - A Real World Study

RANTWICK, et al.


In an effort to understand and categorize the common anecdotal feelings experienced by myself and other drivers of motor vehicles, the links between those experiences and resultant behaviours and the four main definitions of the English word "impotent" were analyzed. Results indicate a strong correlation between the operation of motor vehicles and the experience of impotence among not only males, but where possible, females as well.


This study was conceived using a "double blind" methodology, since the pounding headache experienced as I mentally prepared it while sitting at the wheel of my car caused me to squint both of my eyes instead of my customary one. Thankfully, being stuck in construction and traffic, there was no danger of an accident, since I wasn't going to be moving for some time.

All blind studies require the use of two groups, and this study is no exception. Among motorized vehicle operators, there is a seemingly natural "control group", who maintain strict control of their vehicles using methods like hyper-vigilance and steering wheel clenching. These motorists, believing that controlling their vehicle gives them certain rights, are more likely to express anger by using the only tool they have in traffic situations, the vehicle itself.

The second group used in this blind study is the "lack of control group", comprised mainly of distracted individuals who are attempting to fully live their business and personal lives while driving. While the members of this group also experience anger, they typically only express it post-accident or incident.

The two groups (control and lack of control) were observed directly in my imagination while I had my eyes closed in a double-blind fashion, and their behaviours and feelings noted for use in the following word definition linkage analysis.

Analysis & Results

The four definitions in question and the corresponding observations and analysis will now be reviewed.

Physical strength and vigor are directly linked to physical activity. It stands to reason, then, that any time spent sitting still (at the wheel of a motor vehicle, for example) adds to ones weakness level. Although some subjects in both groups were found to combat this weakness by scheduling other time for exercise, many did not. One offshoot of this study is that the following visual formula was developed:

Driving * Time = The Strength of your Weakness

This meaning of the word impotent is what launched me along this line of study. I drove to work every day last week, attempting to rest an injured arm that was refusing to heal. I generally enjoy driving, but it would seem that regular cycle commuting has left me with no tolerance for the construction riddled, slow to stopped traffic involved with driving during rush hour(s). When I'm on the bike there's often something I can do about bad traffic:

When sitting in a car, stopping repeatedly for what seems like forever, I felt completely helpless to do anything about it, and what was worse, I was trapped in the vehicle and could not just leave it behind and walk. Despite being in control of a powerful machine, I was powerless to do anything with it; I was impotent! In observing drivers from both the control group and the lack of control group, the lack of control group felt less frustration and anger, because they were distracted from their lack of motion by their texting and talking activity. Both groups, however, experience increased feelings of frustration and anger thanks to vehicular impotence. When I am delayed on the bike, at least I get to release my frustrations with physical activity when I get moving again. Motorists, however, simply race ahead to the next opportunity to be exasperated without dealing with the last. This can lead to the third, and best known meaning of impotence:

Driven to distraction by vehicular impotence and the attendant frustration and feelings of inadequacy, members of both groups may experience an inability to perform sexually upon eventually arriving at their personal dwellings. It is well documented that a state of relaxation and low stress is conducive to enhanced sexual ability. In lay person's terms, people experiencing the after-effects of vehicular impotence are less likely to be able to "get it up" for their significant others.

There is one remaining definition of "impotent":

In observing both the control and lack of control groups, ample evidence of a "lack of restraint" was found, bringing into question's "Obsolete" note on this definition. Much has been made in recent years of "road rage". Road rage is simply the natural extension of vehicular impotence and the emotional instability it creates, and should in fact be identified as an "impotent rage".

Conclusions & Recommendations:
Operating a motor vehicle makes all people, to one extent or another, impotent, which often results in rage. Most participants in the study refused to acknowledge that their rage was based in their operating a motor vehicle, but instead insisted that other drivers were the cause. As such, it is this study's main recommendation that the term "road rage" be replaced with "impotent rage against the machine" in all mainstream media, in an effort to begin solving the problem by first identifying it more accurately.
Well, that's it. Like I said, all scientific and academic comments aimed at improving it are welcome, and I will be happy to list you as a contributor to this cutting edge, exciting analysis. I would especially welcome submissions of replacement phrases for "impotent rage against the machine" since it kind of sounds bad for one of my favourite bands:

Impotent Rage Against the Machine
You are the best. Keep It Up!


Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thousands Living Strong - the Legacy of Susan Nelson

For those of you who don't already know, Susan Nelson passed away last night. Susan was the wife of blogger Elden "Fat Cyclist" Nelson. Others are already saying what an inspiration they have both been much better than I could. I am sad, but thanks to them we can all aspire to "Fight Like Susan".

I just wanted to point out that at time of writing the number of comments on Fat Cyclist's blog post about Susan's passing was 1,143. That's just the people who chose to leave a note and who have heard the sad news so far. The number of people she touched and inspired is absolutely staggering, as is the amount of money Elden and Team Fatty have raised for cancer research. The whole family should be insanely proud, and I wish them all the best in this difficult time.

Fight Like Susan.

PS - On Monday August 10, that comment number was up to 2402. Thousands indeed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ottawa Cyclists - Condition Update

As some of you may be aware, a group of 5 Ottawa cyclists were the victims of a hit and run recently. I have had trouble finding out how the 5 are doing, thanks to media that aren't really into following up. The main reason that I wanted to know was that when I looked at my site stats quite a lot of people were landing on RANTWICK after doing google searches on variations of "5 Ottawa Cyclists Killed".

One of my big concerns about incidents like this, beyond the recovery of the victims, is that people will see it as confirmation that cycling is dangerous. Statistics do not bear that out, but many people assume that if 5 cyclists got run over, 5 cyclists got killed.

The most recent information I have been able to find thus far is that 1 cyclist has been discharged from hospital, while 4 remain in. I do not know the extent of their injuries or how things look for them, but I wanted to point out that none of the five were killed, and we can all continue to hope and pray for them.

Thanks to Les Faber of for giving me at least this small bit of information.

Keep riding all over the place,

P.S. You smart-alecky types (you know who you are) who are about to point out that this is Wednesday instead of Monday, don't bother. Mondays will be for my long weird posts with pictures and video and nonsense and other stuff. This was just a quick update.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Slowing Down Again

After a great deal of posting and WAY too much time on the computer, I have determined that other parts of my life are not getting enough attention. Back down to once a week for me, my friends. I look forward to bothering you on Mondays only once more!

Thanks for your patience with my fickle ways! Yer Pal,


Monday, August 3, 2009

Bike Commuting with Clothes: Childish Mistakes

I carry the clothes I plan to wear on any given work day with me in my awesome panniers. I leave shoes and several pairs of pants at work, but I carry undies, socks and shirt with me each day. The panniers are just big enough to bring all the pants and my towel and stuff home on Fridays for a wash. It is a system that is working really well for me. Most of the time.

Because every morning is a mad rush, I usually grab these items from piles of recently folded and sorted but not yet put away laundry. This level of disorganization can result in my arriving at work with my son's clothing instead of my own. One day last week I unpacked my things to get changed and found that the pair of socks that looked OK rolled up actually belonged to my 8 year old son. The sock below has been pre-stretched by my putting it on before having the idea for this post. I then removed it and took this picture with my cycling shoe, to give you an idea of its size relative to my foot:

They were quite big for little guy socks, and pretty stretchy, so rather than wear the white sport socks I cycled in with black work shoes, I just stuffed my feet into them anyway. This resulted in somewhat comical ankle socks:

I still think this is better than the dreaded white socks with black shoes look (if you wear white socks with everything, my apologies; keep your own style goin' there, friend). Also please note that I wear long pants at work, so I wasn't laying any of that skin action on my co-workers. This was not the first time I had accidentally brought kid stuff instead of my stuff. When underpants are just lying in an unfolded pile (folding undies is madness, in my opinion), a pair of boy's jockeys look an awful lot like a pair of men's jockeys. Since I did a "scale comparison" with the sock, here's one with underpants!

I chose a pair of cycling shorts because believe it or not, I draw the line at posting pictures of my undies; although it would seem posting pictures of my son's jockeys doesn't bother me at all. It kind of makes sense; little boy undies can be seen as "cute"... something quite impossible for grown man underpants, I'm sure you'll agree.

Some of you may already know something about the size of my butt, so you'll understand when I say that there was no way I could pull anything like the preceding sock trick with these little suckers. Have you ever gone commando at work? I have. I didn't like it, not one little bit.

I will try to write about something more normal and less disturbingly personal next time. Please come back. I'll be normal, I promise!