Monday, February 28, 2011

March Break

Since I have been too busy to post or even read anything bike related online lately, I thought I would make it official and take a little hiatus from writing here while I catch up with my real life.

I am going to take a true March Break, like for the whole month of March. If you are a regular visitor, I fully expect that you will find the break as refreshing as I do. I hope it isn't too refreshing, like never come back refreshing, but that is a risk I will just have to take.

Spring approaches! Ride your bikes all over the place! Enjoy some Maple Syrup!

Yer Pal,

PS - This post from RTP means I can take my break worry-free because the FARATS prizes have all arrived at their destinations. Thanks all who participated. I look forward to the SARATS this Fall. This time, a single Grand Prize will be awarded based on a new and super-creative judging method!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Driving Is Bad For Me

No, no, this time I'm not referring to the impotence.

I, like many cyclists, drive quite a lot too. In my case though, I almost never drive to work. Being a regular bike commuter allowed our family to go down from two cars to one and that has been a bonus. My sister is out of town this week and she gave me her vehicle, a small Land Rover, to drive while she was gone. Various circumstances including the fact that I have not yet replaced the broken blue tub and hate wearing a backpack have made it more convenient to drive in to work the last couple of days and the flexibility, ridiculous comfort and ease of driving a car again has been nice, but I find that I just don't feel right, particularly at work.

I must have become accustomed to the endorphin rush related to my morning exercise and commute, because I get to work and still feel almost as groggy as when I rolled out of bed, despite having had a shower and everything. I feel strangely full and unhealthy and almost depressed and there is no return home commute to snap me out of it. I'm pretty sure I'm not sick or anything, so all I can surmise is that driving to work (or, more accurately, not cycling to work) is now officially bad for me. That's cool for now because I love to ride.

What if I become too old or sick or both to do it (particularly in the winter) any more? I might just drop dead! I'm thinking I had better come up with some indoor alternative to cycling, you know, so I don't like, die if I have to stop for some reason. That will be tough, because I hate exercising. I like cycling, which just happens to be exercise by happy coincidence.

I know people, myself included, miss the bike when they can't ride for one reason or another, but this is the first time that I've experienced physical and mental blahs due to just missing a couple of days! I have a replacement tub waiting at home. It will be installed tonight, come hell or high water. This damn luxury and convenience is killing me.

Yer Pal,

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

UK Cycling PSA - Bank Job

Quite a long time ago I posted this Awareness Test, a PSA from Transport for London that I thought was pretty cool. Well, today I ran across some more spots from the same people, the video below among them. I really like these PSAs because they are effective and fun without resorting to the shock tactics that can really put people off.

I like this one almost as much as the awareness test. There are more clips that are pretty good too and they can all be found here.

A final note: don't read the comments on the video's youtube page. It will just make you think the planet is stuffed full of chronically stupid people if you didn't think it already. Why is it that morons are to comment sections as moths are to flames? Please comment in the section below.

Yer Pal,

Monday, February 14, 2011

On Love

When it comes to the heady subject of love, many are searching for answers. How do I find it? How can I keep it? What is it? If you are one of these searchers and your quest has brought you here, I pity you. Nonetheless, I have a perspective to offer and as the banner of this blog proclaims, I just can't seem to shut up.

Love, of course, defies definition. We know what it is deep in our guts when we feel it. We know the lucky among us find it, while the less lucky find it only to lose it. As young people we fear that we will never find it and hunger for it always. Thankfully, love has a way of happening to many in one form another.

The love one feels as a teenager is not the same as the love one feels as a committed adult. My guess is that some people are addicted to the rush associated with young love and so move from one new relationship to another their whole lives. Others, like me, settle in to a longer lasting love that runs deeper and more quietly.

Love manifests itself in many different ways. It can sustain and protect you on even your darkest days. It can also result in somebody buying you wine on a day that has been less than stellar.

- second, unrelated text from Mrs. R omitted -

Oh yeah. Now that's what I'm talkin' about. Here's to Love!

Happy Valentine's Day Everybody,

Friday, February 11, 2011

Snow Face Friday

I've been trying to post more frequently lately, but Friday has arrived and I find I don't really have anything to say. That, of course, doesn't mean I won't post something anyway... you're reading it right now.

As I have done before, I'll just post some pictures I haven't used. I'm kind of short on cycling related photos, though. Ah well. Who doesn't like a puppy? Here are a few pics of Snow Face when he was really little, before we even brought him home.

You know, it just isn't fair. How come dogs and cats always get all the attention? Here's a picture of my sweet little girl's snake, Allie, who is probably three times the size now:

And if Allie gets online, I can't leave out the Fish!

Now, please go have a Great Weekend.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Something Important That Has Always Bugged Me

Writing a blog on a regular basis can really change the way one thinks and acts. Normal people go through life being somewhat annoyed by this or that and then moving on. I, however, have a place to piss and moan about everything and anything my heart desires. I suppose I might carry around less anger because I let it out on a regular basis here. That's good. But I also whipped out my phone to take pictures of a deli meat package while making the kids' lunches this morning. That's just weird. I was already weird enough and it would seem that maintaining this blog is making me more so. Ah well, what's a weirdo to do? Roll with it, I guess.

Anyway, here's what has bugged me for a very long time:

You know these types of lunch meat packages that say "resealable" on one difficult-to-peel corner? I have NEVER been able to get that corner to truly re-seal. It will kind of stick back closed, but it invariably lets go again soon after.

Has anyone, ever, gotten one of the packages to do what they say they can do? I highly doubt it. Let me know if you have. Now that plastic zipper bag technology is widely available, why do packagers still use this method? So you waste more food and have to buy more? Maybe, I guess.

Wow. I am so sorry for wasting precious seconds of your life with this. I'll get back to wonderful bikes and cycling and leaves and trees ASAP, I promise.


I don't know why, but I get extreme satisfaction from seeing pictures of my contest prizes on other people's blogs.


That is all.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cast Away A Canuck! Help London's Chris Ellison Get On CBS' Survivor

Despite the way I often bash TV, I still watch quite a bit of it. I am particularly fond of The Office (US version) and much to my chagrin, Survivor.

I heard a snippet on CBC Radio this morning highlighting the efforts of a London Ontario man to get on Survivor as a contestant / castaway. Thus far there has been an "Americans only" policy in selecting people for the show. Anyway this guy Chris Ellison really wants on and is petitioning CBS and Mark Burnett to try to get there. When I heard him on the radio he seemed a well-spoken, good natured, non-crackpot Canadian and I wanted to do my part to help if I could.

His petition site will no doubt get lots of support from locals and other Canadians, but I am posting this because most of my readers are Americans and my hope is that if the show is catering to American viewing appetites (naturally), votes from people in the US might be extra helpful. So if you have a spare moment, check out the main web site here and if you are so inclined, fill out the online petition here. I mean, can you think of any situation, real, reality-themed, surreal or whatever kind of real you want that wouldn't be improved by adding a Canadian to the mix? I can't.

See? This guy is totally Survivor material.

Good luck, Mr. Ellison! I know you can do it. Eye of the Tiger man, Eye of the Tiger.

Thanks, as always, for reading my blog.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

OPD - Ortlieb Pannier Disorder

Some of you may know this already, but I have something of an unhealthy obsession with Ortlieb Panniers. I have blogged at each stage of what I now consider my Ortlieb Pannier Disorder.

It began with researching Ortlieb Pannier fabrics and their relative merits and environmental implications...

Then I got all freaked out about their different pricing in various countries...

Then, once I had the panniers, I began obsessing about properly closing them leaving no creases without the shoulder strap, so much so that I developed a hack in order to do so and used up 2 posts worth of your precious time telling you about it:

After writing that post I knew I was getting WAY too interested in the tiny details of simply using a bicycle saddle bag. I mean, who cares, right? Well apparently I do, because yesterday I followed a link on bikesnobNYC that went to pedal strap maker Hold Fast's web site.

Instead of appreciating the nice bikes in the picture, my eyes were immediately drawn to the Ortlieb Pannier. The first thing I noticed was that it was done up very poorly (at least by my OPD standards). Second, it contained something sort of oddly "pokey".

Just for the record:

Now as far as the "pokey" nature of the pannier in question, it just makes me curious.

What could it be in there? A bong perhaps?

Author's Note: When faced with a mysterious object, I always guess "bong" first. They come in such a wide variety of shapes and sizes that it is never a bad guess. Also, it is just fun to say the word "bong".

A dreaded attack squirrel?

I could be anything! Except maybe a book or a loaf of bread. They don't have pokey bits. I welcome your guesses as to the contents of that bag. Whatever is in there, I like to think the bike and bag belong to this this guy:

That way it could be like a pannier version of pets looking like their owners! Umm, I think I had better stop now and take a nap or something. I hope I don't dream of pokey, poorly closed panniers...

Yer Pal,

Monday, February 7, 2011

There's A Hole in My Bucket. Goodbye, My Tubby Old Friend.

I have mentioned the blue plastic tub that resides behind the seat of Mutant Winter many times. Well, the 2nd best tub in town has bitten the dust.

The same snowy morning that snowblower man yelled at me, the tub snapped right off my bike. Being a good tub, it hung on as long as it could and let go just as I arrived at work. Considering the way it was attached (4 zip ties, directly to rack) and the abuse it took over the last few winters, it didn't owe me anything.

There's A Hole In My Bucket. Goodbye, My Tubby Old Friend.

I prefer a high-riding tub to panniers for winter cycling, because there is often so much muck flying around closer to the ground. Even waterproof panniers would get slammed and encrusted with icy slush, I think. If you use panniers in winter, let me know if that really happens or if it is a false assumption on my part.

Anyway, is this an opportunity to challenge Red Triumph for bicycle tub supremacy? Oh, I think so. Or should I try to go beyond this extruded polymer tub mentality and try for something even sexier? Your ideas, as always, are welcome.

For those of you who don't know what the hell I am talking about, watch this:

I will probably just use a backpack or do the weekend-car-clothing-run-to-work method for the rest of this winter and dream something up next Fall.

Keep Your Lids Snapped On Tight,

Saturday, February 5, 2011

NHL? Non, non, silly... TDF!

I read an article yesterday that got me pretty excited. Steve Bauer is putting together a mostly Canadian cycling team capable of competing at the highest levels, and he is quite ready to poach hockey players to do it. He was one, after all. He and the SpiderTech racing team, however, need big fat sponsors to get from where they are to where they want to be.

As a recreational and commuting cyclist of the non-club variety, I have never taken much of an interest in competitive cycling. The idea of luring hockey players into the kooky world of professional cycling, however, makes me want to. I mean, a Canadian team in the TDF? Holy crap! I would be all over that!

Can you imagine what kind of impact a pro cycling team composed of former hockey players could have on a sport that describes any kind of shoving or pushing or punching as "fisticuffs"? Don't get me wrong. I want to see a Canadian pro cycling team that plays by the rules and competes well. I would also like to see how free any of these dudes would be with their fists (or slapping hands, or whatever) if their opponent was a Canadian hockey player (retired).

I hereby need to see a top tier Canadian pro cycling team come to fruition and am writing emails to some bloggers who have actual audiences hoping they will help beat the drum. Wish us Canucks luck!

Yer Pal,

Friday, February 4, 2011

Are You #%^&1n' Kiddin' Me #5

Sometimes news coverage just makes me want to scream. I don't mind a little fluff or human interest stuff, but the chosen lead stories sometimes leave me really angry. Thankfully here in Canada we have the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). Far from perfect, at least CBC News usually leads off with something that might matter to thinking people.

Global News Toronto, on the other hand, often makes rather different calls. This was their lead story on the late news last night.


Here are the top stories, in order:

1) School Piercing Ban (long)

2) Man Dead In House Fire (very short)

3) Ottawa Relaxing Airport Security (Somewhat Longish)

4) Cairo / Egypt / Mubarak / Journalist Suppression (really long)

Perhaps they have a policy of starting with Local news, then National, then International. That's cool. But how and why does a girl getting kicked out of class for a dress code violation trump a fatal house fire, or anything else? How is that News? I mean, Are You #%^&1n' Kiddin' Me? Next I guess they will do a four part series on what some teenagers are hiding in their lockers. For the record, the four parts should cover booze, smokes, drugs and lurid bikini photos. Shocking. It's just shocking.

I guess I shouldn't expect much from a News Provider that puts issues up on Twitter and then reports on air what all the insightful people out on the Internets have to say about it. I guess it is just a natural extension of the "man on the street" interview, but those bug me too. Why the hell would I want the opinion of some joker who gets stopped on the street over an expert who might enlighten me in some way? If I wanted to hear people's personal and random and oh so human opinions, I would start a stupid blog or something or at least read other people's stupid blogs. I mean, sheesh!

Yer pal,

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Shipping News (No, not that Shipping News)

I took my packages to the post office last week and was informed that I would be charged extra to send those tubes. Apparently they are a pain because they roll off conveyors and stuff. So I didn't ship. I took my stuff back home and had a beer and thought about where I might have some suitable small boxes.

I drank beer and thought about that for several days, except when I was at work, of course. The prizes were finally shipped yesterday by the cheapest method available, so hurry up and wait, you lucky dogs!


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Would You Turn The Other Cheek?

I am a peaceful person. I don't really know how to fight and have never been in a "real" fist fight with a stranger. Before you get the wrong idea, I didn't get in a fight today either, but the potential was there. For the purposes of the following narrative, **** = the F word. Here's what happened.

London Ontario experienced a blizzard last night and through the early morning, with high winds and some decent snow accumulation, but nothing crazy like back in December. I knew it was going to be a tough slog in to work, so I left extra extra early hoping to see less car traffic. That worked OK, but thanks to backstreets being quite plugged I walked my bike quite a lot.

It was while I was doing this that I passed a man running a snowblower and clearing his driveway while his wife shovelled the steps. I was quite near them and obviously within earshot when he yelled to his wife, "Has this guy got ****ing rocks for brains?" I didn't like that. Had I been riding, I probably would have just kept going and shrugged it off. I was on foot, however, and that made it feel more personal somehow. I stopped walking, turned and looked straight at him for a few seconds and then resumed walking away.

At that point "****ing Idiot!" issued forth from behind me. I couldn't take it. I lay my bike down in the snow and walked back to snowblower man. I pulled my goggles under my chin so he could see my face and asked, "What the **** does it matter to you if I ride my bike today?" To which he replied "Hey man, in snow like this... it's dangerous... there are cars out there. I'm not worried about them, I'm worried about you..." Well, that made sense. I know that when I am concerned about a person, I always let them know by calling them a ****ing idiot.

As I play it back in my mind, of course there are all kinds of reasonable and informative things I wish I had said. As it was, however, I replied "How about I just take care of myself, OK?", to which he replied "Alright, whatever" or something like that. I returned to my bike and as I picked it up he yelled "It just seems crazy..." and then some unintelligible stuff to his wife.

The smart me knows that the guy could have been a total nutcase who was looking for a fight, but I just could not let his comments pass. It worked out OK, I guess, but I am curious what you might have done. I mean, would you just keep walking? Would you do what I did? Would you throw a snowball at him and run? Would you punch him for being so in your face?

I'm still pretty mad. I know some people think I'm an idiot or worse. That is truly OK, because I know that what I do looks pretty crazy. My question is, why do some people feel the need to yell it at me? Why can't they just shake their head and make fun of me over dinner or at the water cooler? I know I need to learn to just let go of these bad vibes. I am finding it difficult.