Monday, November 28, 2011

Record-Breaking Smackdown Entry!

My Autumn Tree Smackdown has officially hit new heights! Last year's contest garnered 12 entries including my own. Today's entry from PaddyAnne (last year's top legitimate vote getter) of Pedal Talk brings this year's tally to 13! Considering the fact that I've been less active on the blog lately, I think that's awesome.

I'm hoping somebody else (aka Steve A or Keri) will enter something so that odious number of entries won't bug me. Superstitions are silly in my opinion. I break mirrors for fun, our black cat crosses my path almost daily, I walk under ladders, and so on. I'm not so much superstitious as kind of OCD, which means that nagging little number will bug me like a valve stem without a cap if only because others (silly others) may not like it.

I hope PaddyAnne isn't superstitious because I just called her silly... here's her email message:

Hello Mr. Rantwick. I have just woken up from a long sleep, but I think still in time to submit my entry into this years Autumn Tree contest.

While last year I sent in a photo of the golden "Empress", this year I am submitting a photo of "Princeling".

Princeling is 7 years old. I bought him for $5.00 at the farmers market when he was just a twig about 9 inches high, with one side shoot. I planted him in a spot up at our cottage, and last year, at 6 years old, transplanted him into a new spot where he would not be so crowded. He survived the process, thank goodness. To keep him company this summer I planted my vegetable garden around him, so you can see some of my leeks and lettuce. And some weeds. Princeling is magnificent all year round, and all though small in stature, give him a few years and he'll be a real knockout. Perhaps I'm entering him a bit pre-maturely, but this year I was hankering to enter a red tree, since last years' was a golden colour. It was sort of a foggy day in October when this photo was taken.



Thanks PaddyAnne! It does my heart good to know that people have begun growing trees solely (hee hee!) for my contest.

Be good, everybody, and I'll see you soon. Figuratively, of course. I mean, I won't actually see you... although wouldn't that be cool (for me, at least)? Like, some sort of futuristic "reader viewer" where if you landed here I could watch you! Quick flashes of the image seekers. Longer views of the reading nose-pickers and belly-scratchers and comment typers. I would only want such technology if only I could use it. I sure as hell don't want all you people to be able to see me and my 12 inch Pikachu chest tattoo as I engage in my always shirtless blog reading and web snuffling. But I digress. Come back soon, and thanks for reading.

Yer Pal,

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

MEC London Ontario - Opening Non-Update

Disregard the following stuff, because London MEC is open as of Dec 1, 2011. Thanks to Mike M who left me a comment letting me know. If you want to check it out, you can click here for my info on location.

Hey there. Just a quick note to all you people who are landing here looking for info on the Mountain Equipment Coop opening... I called MEC and they still don't have a hard opening date for the store. The signs say "Late November" but I got the feeling from the guy I talked to that it may be postponed a little.

Staff are on site and inventory is going in but that is all the detail I could get for now. For every scrap of information I've posted so far, you can click here.

Important unconfirmed non-update update: Anonymous has commented that "the buzz is Sunday, Dec 4th". As of Dec 1, MEC is open! Thanks to Mike M in the comments for the heads-up.

Yer Pal,

Monday, November 21, 2011

Nostalgia Attack! In Search Of... A Cool Cycling Jersey

The title of this post (for those too young to know or others too smart to have watched) is an homage to the In Search Of... TV shows hosted by Leonard Nimoy, aka Spock from Star Trek. The show premiered when I was 7 years old and finished when I was 13. Here's a sample:

Those were some pretty formative TV viewing years, but thankfully I was the second youngest in an intelligent and completely cynical family of groovy monster and paranormal naysayers. Whew.

The thing is, cycling jerseys can be just as freaky. I don't even currently own a real cycling jersey; I've always opted for the cheaper, wicking, and  generic athletic shirts sold by gigantic cut-throat unethical big-box retailers because, well, I'm selfish and cheap.

What got me on to this topic was thinking about creating a RANTWICK shirt to wear when I go out collecting SARATS votes. I figure it would promote the blog with local readers and add some legitimacy to the freak asking people to look at tree photos out of the blue. So, which to choose: The more widely accessible and cheaper to produce cotton T-shirt, or the often visually striking and much more expensive to produce Cycling Jersey?

I personally wanna go cycling jersey, because they can look so damn cool. Trouble is, there are SO MANY that could trump anything I could come up with. I visited a major online retailer looking for inspiration, and man oh man...

Who wouldn't be into sporting a navel-sniffing (or is it grazing?) giraffe, or for that matter a giant giraffe butt mocking all those you overtake? The maker of this jersey also makes this intimidating item:

Whoa. You just don't mess with a tiger, especially one worn by people who appear to have time-travelled straight out of the 80's... they are hardcore, for sure.

Although I started my browsing with an eye for weird jerseys of any kind, I ended up finding several novelty cycling jerseys I really liked. When I look at the ones I chose to post about here, a theme has emerged... nostalgia. Perhaps it was the blast-from-the-past hairdos of the tiger wearers, or the "In Search Of..." thing I kicked off with... who knows? Nostalgia is a symptom of growing older, I guess, and I expect it will only get worse. Just the same, check it out; there's a cycling jersey for every stage of my young life, starting with pyjama-clad cartoon watching:

What can I say? Awesome. After some early-morning TV, I might well have been served something rather alarming for lunch...

In the interest of total accuracy (which is of paramount importance in a blog post of such gravity) I must make a couple of notes here. First, although I believe Spam was available on Canadian store shelves, it was more likely that I would receive a Canadian equivalent called Klik.

Secondly, my Mom wouldn't normally put a slab of the stuff in a sandwich, but rather create a "ham salad" kind of mixture with it and do the sandwich that way.

Moving from cartoon and mystery meat nostalgia to the musical, this jersey really took me back...

The album cover art from Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd is imprinted on many people's brains. In my case, it was featured on a big poster that graced the wall of the bedroom that I shared with my two older brothers when I was a kid. That bedroom was in the house I wrote about in a different nostalgic post over a year ago. Sigh. Those were good times. As I grew older, the band providing the soundtrack for my life became...

Every guy I hung out with was into RUSH, the extraordinary Canadian power trio that featured three remarkably talented individual musicians all in one band; Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart are widely regarded as among the very best at what they do. They also wrote songs that appealed to my adolescent brain. Though it sounds kind of childish to me now, I still get pumped listening to "Red Barchetta" in particular. Strangely, I have never met a girl or woman who liked RUSH, even a little. If you happen to be such a woman, don't tell me, because I might have to visit you in person just to confirm that you are for real.

Soon after those teenage years, my memories become somewhat more fractured and clouded. I can't imagine why.

When I emerged from the haze, I found I was a fully formed old man, well ahead of literal old man status:

So there you have it; my life as told by cycling jerseys. I started this post meaning to write mostly about RANTWICK shirt design considerations, but this blast-from-the-past tangent has already hijacked your time for long enough. I'll write about my RANTWICK shirt production planning and woes another time, for which you will no doubt be waiting in a state of breathless anticipation because it is just so fascinating. All I can say is...

Keep Yer Shirt On!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Snow Will Come. I Am Totally Unprepared.

It is a minor miracle that we have not yet seen any snow here in London Ontario. Yet, despite the fact that I am excited to once again ride in winter, I am woefully unprepared. Mutant Winter has seized cables/brakes plus two broken spokes in the rear wheel. Whether they let go due to corrosion or pothole or both I am uncertain, but the wheel looks quite truable (new word there, I think). I have been procrastinating since I put the bike away in that deplorable condition last Spring.

Speaking of procrastinating, the space I would like to use to work on the bike looks like this:

I can hardly believe that I am considered a grown-up. I mean, who lets this kind of thing just sit there, month after month? I do, it would seem. I'm hoping to clean up that room well enough to use it tonight. Wish me luck.

On the brighter side, I've received another SARATS entry, this one coming from JAT in Seattle. JAT makes this observation in his email:

It's amazing to me how geographically disparate your entries are, since (having grown up in soggy Doug Fir land but having gone to school "back east") I think of colorful trees as being the province (no pun intended) of the "northeast" not sure how Canadians relate to USofAians perceptions of northliness, obviously for you Northeast would probably start at Torngat Mountains Nat Pk...).

Yes, I love the way the trees that come in are from all over the place. The Internet has this "everywhere" element to it that makes one feel connected to people and places never seen in person. I really like it. Here's some more of JATS email:

Attached please find my entry to the SARATS extravaganza.  I took this photo with my almost smart phone on my way to retrieve my car and offspring from crew practice (my car doesn't row, but my kid decided he wants to, so I dropped him off (in the car) at morning Jazz Band practice before school, then drove to the boathouse, parked and rode in to work.  Anyway on my way to the I-90 Mt Baker Bike Pedestrian Tunnel (known as the echo tunnel during the Trail-a-bike days hence known as the mugging tunnel) the light was just right.  We generally don't get great trees for fall - not enough deciduous / too much sort of warm green followed by too much kinda cooler rain but (until today) it's been a dry (ish) Autumn.

The light was indeed just right. Thanks JAT, it is a beauty! He even included a link to a map to show the area he was talking about. I followed the link, took a screenshot and then made my best guess about which tree it was based on the background in his entry...

I'm thinking JAT will set me straight if I was wrong with a comment. Have a great week everybody!

Yer Pal, R A N T W I C K

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tired of Trucks and Tragedy

I was alerted to another tragic cyclist death by this post on Waterloo Bikes today. The author, Rob, is really angry about the angle taken by CBC's coverage. Sadly, one-sided and ill-founded assertions always seem to abound when stuff like this happens. I agree with Rob, but have become weary of commenting on the fear-mongering that always comes along with such events.

What I think is likely about how the accident went down is not any more relevant than anyone else's assertions. When somebody dies on a bicycle or in any other way, it isn't about who was right or who acted stupidly. It is about profound loss and what might be learned from it. When police officers, reporters and yes, Internet bloggers and commenters use such events to start pointing fingers or advance their own agendas it just leaves me feeling sad and tired.

I have no statistics, but since starting this blog it feels like fatalities involving right-turning trucks have become a terrible recurring theme. It has had a direct impact on how I ride. Whether painted lines indicate I have a right to be somewhere or not, here's my own personal rule:

Where there is any opportunity on the road ahead for a truck (or any large vehicle) to turn right, I will not willingly ride beside one. Should a big truck overtake me anywhere near a right-turn opportunity, the driver has very likely seen me. Just the same, I will slow dramatically in an effort to put myself behind that vehicle.

Will this guarantee that a truck will never ever take me out turning right? Nope. My strong suspicion is that my personal policy will cut the odds deeply enough that it will never happen. I remain completely convinced that bicycling is as safe as just about any other activity you can name, with almost innumerable benefits to both self and society. As such, I have just this moment decided to stop posting anything about cycling tragedies. That news gets around so quickly and is so readily available that I think I'll leave that to others from now on. I'm gonna promote safe and effective cycling whenever I feel like it, but stick with the joy-joys angle from here on out. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Man, do I ever love Riding My Bike!

Monday, November 7, 2011


Biodiversity, most thinking people will concede, is important. Whether it is important to my SARATS might be debatable, but it is a good enough argument for me to include the following from John Romeo Alpha of One Speed: Go! 

JRA lives in Phoenix Arizona. I figure if people who live in the desert want to find a way to enter my Autumn Tree Smackdown, "Fall Colour" needs to be a flexible term. Thanks for the pic, JRA!

I also received a more foliage driven entry from Johnny of Johnny Trash Bike:

Nice work, Johnny. I dig the old stone building in the background. Johnny didn't tell me what City the tree was from... perhaps he'll let us know in the comments.

Yer Pal,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Unfortunate Word Choices

I don't usually buy newspapers, but I do read the articles online sometimes. On Monday I noticed this intriguing headline displayed in the London Free Press newspaper box:

Of course, several scenarios sprang to mind and these scenarios led to multiple WTF attacks. My struggle with Word To Form syndrome is well documented in these pages. You can learn more by visiting the link in the sidebar.

So, what kind of crack drives away protesters? Perhaps a great fearful fissure in the earth's crust!

pic sources here and here

Or Maybe it was Crack cocaine...

crack pic source here

Were they actually under threat of giant, looming Butt Crack?

butt pic source here

If you found that last one distasteful, well, sorry. If it is any comfort I chose a dainty lady butt instead of one of the multitude of way ugly big fat man butts that were more readily available.

Of course, the article wasn't referring to any of these types of crack, but rather possible divisions within the protest group. That doesn't make for much of a visual. Dear Headline authors: Please have mercy on this poor WTF syndrome sufferer. Please.

Yer Pal,

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

More SARATS Entries!

Hey all! The SARATS entries keep on comin', and I couldn't be more pleased. Steve A of DFW, point-to-point posted about a divine discovery inside a Tabernacle of all places... although he hasn't committed to making it his entry. That dude is determined and canny, I tells ya.

On top of that, I've received two new confirmed entries. First, here's most of Annie's email introducing her pic:

I took this photo last evening as I was hurrying to get home from a very cool and bone chilling ride. I could tell that we were going to get either some rain or snow overnight. The sun had already set, but the overcast sky bathed this beauty in stark contrast with the evergreens in front of the grand Sisters of Mercy building here in Burlington, Vermont. The other deciduous trees on that lawn were already in stick-mode, as you can see on the right side of the photo, which made this one all the more special. I fear the leaves will all be gone this weekend along Lake Champlain.

By the way, I'm entering the contest just because it's fun and not for the prize of maple syrup. I enjoy observing the awesome changes in our landscape. If truth be told, my husband consumes a gallon of syrup a month - he eats pancakes every morning. No kidding. And I thought my chocolate habit was expensive...

Foliage season here was very late and spotty, but also dragged on the SARATS viewing longer for all of us autumnal leaf connoisseurs. Here are more of my foliage posts:

Thank you for considering my photo in your contest.

No Annie, thank you. You are obviously a foliage freak, and for that I am grateful. If you win the prize, don't you dare let your husband just slurp up my super syrup. Jakeman's Extra Light ain't no garden variety pure maple syrup. It is the best of the best in my opinion, subtle and super light and utterly perfect.
Next comes an entry from a more Southern locale, submitted by Norm:

Here's an entry from down south in Huntsville, Alabama. It's taken awhile for the trees to turn and most just went from green to brown. This one caught my eye and is located at the Marshall Spaceflight Center. I enjoy reading your Blog.



Hey Norm, I dig that tree. Thanks for submitting it! Did you notice that Norm, like Kenny, enjoys reading my blog? Praise is always welcome, you know. It makes me happy. More praise please. Way more. I deserve every scrap of it, considering my unbelievable effort and commitment to writing random cycling crap and posting pictures of trees! I mean, who else is filling that void for you right now? Nobody, that's who. Me baby. It's all me.

Seriously though, I want to thank everybody who bothers to read this stuff. I get a great deal of pleasure from just writing my nonsense, but the fact that others bother to come here and read it is just awesome. 

Yer Pal,