Showing posts with label bike. Show all posts
Showing posts with label bike. Show all posts

Monday, February 4, 2013

Encounters with Rantwick, episode Twenty Two: Taxi Driving Trash

The video says it all...

I can't recall ever having a problem with a taxi cab on the road. I also know a few people who drive (or drove) cab and they are all good people, so if you came here expecting me to say mean things about taxi drivers, you came to the wrong place. Of course my title made it seem like that might be the deal. What can I say? I enjoy misleading and disappointing people. Please come again! 

Yer Pal,

Friday, June 15, 2012

Encounters with Rantwick, episode Nineteen: Geese Are Cranky Jerks

Jerks are common enough, although in my experience most people aren't. Jerks, I mean. Then again, maybe we're all jerks. I mean, maybe the vast majority of us are nice, except for the rare moments when we act like jerks. There are just so many of us, though, that we experience somebody else's very rare jerky moment multiple times daily.

One thing I did not know was that Geese were cranky jerks. I mean, I had a hunch, but it was unproven. Until now.

I guess I should just cut that bird the same slack I did for humans in my opening musings, but I can't. With Geese, it's about even odds that if you get within earshot, they're gonna insult you. It's true and you know it. If you don't know it yet, you will. Oh yes, you will.

Have a jerk-free weekend, everyone!

Yer Pal,

Monday, June 11, 2012

Downtown Fixed Gear, RANTWICK Style

As some of you may know, my summer commuter (named Summer) is a fixed gear. Way back when I did a post about the unhip nature of its setup.

I had a nice ride in downtown traffic on that bike a few days ago. Upon reviewing the video, I realized I had now also made the antithesis of one of those exciting fixed gear films from places like New York.

Taking all the cool and/or hip out of a downtown fixed gear video is much easier than you might think: It is a simple matter of substitution!

Evil Peace
When I went ahead and made the requisite substitutions, I got this:

I hope I am now firmly established as the most publicly lame fixed gear weirdo in North America. When I showed that video to the rest of the Rantwick clan, they just shook their heads. I don't blame them. I don't know why I do such things.

Yer Pal,

Logo from my friends in the cool new indie band called "Evil Peace" You should follow the link and check them out.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Encounters with Rantwick, episode sixteen: Friends of the Freak

I mentioned in a recent post that I was gonna try my new camera on my helmet, where most would have in the first place. I must admit that I like that perspective best after all and since I edit all the video anyway, "head sweep" is not the problem I thought it would be.

Having had a camera mounted either on my bike or my person for a couple of years now, I was surprised at how much notice the new camera got. I suppose I shouldn't have been... it now sticks up off the top of my helmet in a conspicious, freakish way. London Ontario, while being a good sized city of 300K+, is not a metropolis where something odd surprises no one, and people have been reacting to the camera's presence.

Some people positively glower at me like they wish me dead. I'm not kidding. Those people, however, are not what this post is about, because I don't like them. I like the people who just shout out "hey, is that a camera?"

If I were participating in a bike race (yeah, right) or out on a MTB trail or something, I'm sure the cam would find greater acceptance and understanding. POV cams are for people who want to record their "recreational" exploits after all, right? Well, not always, and the fact that I'm recording others in the public space is interesting and exciting to some and simply pisses off others. I like the people that just shout out their curiosity rather than shooting me suspicious glances. I'm not trying to "catch" anybody doing anything. I swear.

Hey, Let Your Freak Flag Fly!

If you're like some of these good people and want a camera like mine, check out 

Buy GoPro HERO Camera at

Friday, September 24, 2010

Commuting by Bicycle: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Yesterday was an interesting commuting day. Here's a video that sums it up:

Yer Pal,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Miracle Bike Upgrade

John Romeo Alpha of One Speed: Go! just posted a little something I thought was pretty darn good, because you know, it is often the simple things that work best.

Another reason I'm posting this is that his blog is always interesting because it is sometimes a little artsy (in a good way) and even makes you think once in a while...

The "T" is for Thinker.

Enjoy your Weekend,


Thursday, September 16, 2010

An Observation on Chic Commuting by Bike

Being an online bike guy, I read lots and lots of stuff about bicycle commuting, and I'm getting kind of tired of one popular notion about commuting by bike. It is that it is feasible and/or easy to commute in the clothes you plan to wear all day.

When the weather is nice and the temperature just right, one can indeed commute to work and back without becoming a sweaty mess or a sopping wet one. That means that depending on where you live, you might be able to wear your regular work clothes quite a few times without incident. My concern is that people who plan to do it this way will inevitably get caught in the rain or get their clothes dirtier than planned sooner or later. That experience will suck, and they may be less inclined to ride next time.

Don't get me wrong; I don't think everybody needs to get all bike-specific with their commuting clothes (although bike clothes do dry more easily while you work). Keeping your work clothes dry and clean on the way in or leaving enough clothes at work on the weekend or whatever will prevent the aforementioned nasty experiences and make you more likely to keep it up.

Another bonus of commute clothes vs. work clothes is that you are more likely to ride harder and/or have more fun. Yes, you may sweat more, but some deodorant and a towel are enough to be fresh and pretty after you change for lots of people, at least the ones who shower every day. I don't know about you, but I commute by bike mainly for the sheer fun of it. Different clothes = more fun. That means that even fair weather only riders could be having more fun too.

I know some people are into this cycle chic thing, but I just don't get it. I mean, many of their bicycle choices are driven by the fact that they will be wearing "lovely shoes and trousers/skirt" (see the fenders section)... are these chic people really going to remain regular bike commuters in the long term? Not after the rain and sweat and dirt of commuting makes them look un-chic at work a few times. C'mon, chic people, instead of reducing the fun of cycling in order to increase the fun of wearing stuff, including your bicycle, just drop the high style and let your bike sing! A dutch city bike just looks like a depressed pack mule to me. That is what happens when you make a beautiful machine a mere servant of your clothes. Even if you really like that style of bike, why not do it some justice and ride the hell out of it instead of using it as an accessory?

You know what? Who am I to tell you what to do? Get your kicks however you like. Might I suggest, however, that a set of clothes separate from those you intend to wear at work all day would allow you to 1) ride more days of the year and 2) offer the opportunity to wear TWO fabulous outfits every day! The healthy glow and relaxed good nature that really commuting for fun will give you, combined with your awesome clothes, will make you even more attractive, I promise!

Yer Pal,

PS - Rain gear only makes your work clothes that much more hot and uncomfortable to ride in. Please feel free to argue with this or any of my points in the comments.

PPS - Counter-point comments of reasonable depth have been coming in... I invite you to read them, because cycling starts with balance.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Lazily Industrious

I am nothing if not a lazy man. I hate the hassles of storing my bike in a secure location, kind of like how some people hate making their beds (I among them). I mean, why bring your bike all the way inside or into a shed only to take it out again the next morning? Sadly, I don't have a garage I could just roll into and close the door on. That would be awesome.

The good news is that I am fortunate enough to live in a house with a nice front porch. Being lazy, I would often leave my bike on the porch unlocked and sometimes lay it down so thieves wouldn't spot it in the wee hours. I must admit that I sometimes enjoyed imagining the drunken joy rider variety of thief unknowingly hopping on a fixed gear with only one brake lever for the front that is mounted on the "wrong" side. Despite that fact, this approach was causing me stress since I really do love my bike and somebody with an eye for better bike components might "case" it sooner or later. It was time for a porch lockup.

My LHS (local hardware store) is called Tuckey's Home Hardware, located in Wortley village. I like going there as do many people in Old South, because it is a good old all-purpose decidedly non-big box kind of operation. The good people there provided me with a good beefy chain and a very sturdy padlock. The best hitching ring they had was somewhat less beefy, but I figured it would do...

See how the bracket isn't exactly level? That's because while I was drilling the pilot holes in the brick my head was cocked sideways like a perplexed dog...

You see, for the lazy man, such industrious activities are a bit of a head scratcher. I find it somewhat ironic that one of the few times I got around to doing something around the house, it was because I wanted to be more lazy. In any case, the job got done, and here's my bike in porch lockup:

See those tools and bits of chain? Those are there because I work on my bike on the porch too. I do that because my perfectly good basement tool room / workbench is a terrible mess, so terrible that I can't work comfortably in it. Rather than clean it up, I work on the porch. I am a lazy man.

I know this kind of lockup wouldn't do the trick in some places, but it is plenty where I live, I think. As it happened I had just finished using Boeshield to treat my Trek 520 frame at the time, so I hosed down the chain and ring with it. The waxy feel of dry Boeshield on the chain makes me happy, because I know it probably won't rust for some time.

I know this is a boring post, but that brings to mind another paradox or irony or whatever. When I look at my web statistics (which I have a bespectacled forensic webologist study quarterly in the hopes of boosting my web traffic) it would seem that my visitors prefer my "boring" posts over my "funny" ones... I'm afraid that might mean that what I consider funny is boring and vice versa. To be honest, I don't really care why people come visit me here... I'm just glad you bother at all. Thanks!

Yer Pal,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bike Paint Man Makes a Statement

I have this cool sister-in-law who sends me links she thinks I may find interesting. Not being a rabid cycling web surfer, she often finds stuff I haven't seen in my own online stumblings.

I have no desire to restart the ever-smoldering debate on helmets and helmet laws on this web site. Do what you want. Preach what you want. Quote whatever statistics you want. I don't care. Since even mentioning helmets seems to restart cranky debates, please know that if you must opine about it in the comments, knock yourself out, but I am staying out of this one. My sister simply found this interesting and so do I, so here's a link or you could also click the image below to go to the article.

I haven't been meeting many Monday deadlines over the past couple of months. Life and family trumps blog, which is as it should be, I know. Just the same, I hope to be getting my blogging groove back soon.

Does Bike Paint Man Speak to You? What does he say?


Monday, May 24, 2010

Encounters With Rantwick, episode eleven: I Pass Something Annoying

It's wasn't a kidney stone, but oh, the pain!

I don't know about you, but when I pass another cyclist, I make a point of dropping them pretty quickly if I can. I do this because I hate it when somebody deems it necessary to pass me only to slow down and block my progress once they have done so. Sometimes when I'm kind of pumped up in the middle of a ride, I'll pass somebody going almost as fast as me. That is the worst, because then I feel obligated to kill myself rather than take a breather and allow them to pass me back. I get more exercise, but I always feel a bit stupid for caring whether I get overtaken by them. I mean, who cares, really?

This espisode of Encounters With Rantwick is all about a pass gone horribly wrong...

Any 2 wheels trump 4. Always, near as I can figure.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Encounters with Rantwick, episode nine: I Couldn't Scare a Squirrel

Squirrels are smart in their own squirrely way. The squirrel you will see here has an excellent sense of the relative dangers posed by an automobile and a bicycle.

Maybe he would have been afraid of me if I had been sporting my new Mo... difficult to say.
Being squirrely is terribly underrated.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Clearing Snow in London Ontario: Should They Do The Pathways?

Source: - Chronicle file photo/Ken Stevens

London City Council, as part of its transportation master plan, is looking at whether to maintain pathways in winter, and if so, which ones. As much as I love riding the path in winter, I am undecided on this one. Recent winters have included some very heavy snowfalls, and everybody has an opinion on this stuff. I ride all winter long, and the number of other cyclists I see doing the same is growing. As it stands right now, as soon as the snow stays for a while and people walk on the paths, they become very difficult to ride a bike or even walk on because they develop an icy, dimpled surface that really knocks you around.

When the City is struggling to get snow cleared, however, I know I can ride on the street, and I often choose the street for speed reasons anyway. People who are disabled need the sidewalks cleared in order to get out, and certainly trump my desire to ride on the path.

So, let's assume the City has its priorities right, and clears sidewalks before pathways. It then becomes a question of whether the money spent to clear the paths benefits enough people (whether they cycle or not) to justify the cost. I guess it is worth a study, because I have no idea.

I was home sick last week, and watched a little city Council on TV. It seemed to me that Ward 4 Councillor Stephen Orser thinks winter cycling is stupid, and the City is stupid for even thinking about helping people do it on the paths.

The gist of his comments were "who the hell rides their bike in the winter anyway? We're thinking about spending money on this?" He has chosen to focus solely on the cycling aspect of cleared paths, when there are other benefits for pedestrians and joggers and who knows who else. I have determined that Stephen Orser and I should probably never go out for a few drinks.

He's totally put me in the mood for every winter's letters to the editor suggesting bicycles be banned in winter. I love those. They are like the seasons themselves, in that you can count on them pretty much every year, just as you can count on a bunch of cyclists attacking the author in the comments. I never engage in that way, but I do enjoy reading that stuff. It used to make me angry, but these days it just gives me a chuckle as I suit up and ride on.

Agreeing to disagree is totally acceptable, and I do it a lot.


Monday, September 28, 2009

If You Were Riding the Bicycle #2

Sometimes it seems like no two cyclists will approach a situation the same way. In this scenario, you'll see several different approaches to a situation, and I would like your feedback on what you would do. Here's some lead-up:

In London Ontario there's a spot where the MUP (Multi-Use Pathway) joins York Street at Wortley Road. Lots of commuters and other cyclists hit that point after work each day. It's always interesting negotiating with traffic at this spot, but this time there was just one car in play.

Amazingly, all 5 cyclists aim to ride on the street, southbound on Wortley Road. The Private Drive I use runs next to a Law Office and a small apartment house. One of my questions is whether I should use it or not. It is marked Private Drive, but it also puts me in what I consider the best spot for crossing the intersection. The other 4 cyclists used the pathway, which is part of the reason they were piled up on the sidewalk in various spots.

So, here's the video showing what we all did:

What would you do if you were riding the bicycle?


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Brooks Saddles - Worth It?

Some quick comments on my last post about Brooks saddles have given me the idea of pumping my readers for information. You are few but mighty, and I want your help deciding some stuff.

Brooks saddles are legendary in the cycling world (among others), but I've been reluctant to fork out the money. As you may or may not know, I'm in the beginning stages of building a light touring bike on a 1988/89 Trek 520 frame. Since this is the bike I am most likely to spend long hours on, I'm thinking my choice is a little more important than on other bikes I've built.

I'm writing this in an effort to collect unbiased feedback from "normal" people, rather than just buying one, regardless of cost, because they're "the best". If you have never had a Brooks saddle, please refrain from commenting on them, since what I'm after here is first-hand experience rather than "common knowledge". If you've got a different touring saddle you love, though, bring it on! I'm guessing this stuff has been discussed ad nauseam on lots of bike forums, but frankly, I'm not as interested in the opinions of total strangers. I've come to learn a lot about how and where and for how long many of you ride, and I trust you more. There's that, and of course I am afraid of falling back into Cycling Forum Hell. It took me forever to recover last time, and I never want to write a post that long again.

Some questions I've got:

Are there any other saddles that come awful close at half the price?

Are there particular models well suited to a "speedy touring" style? I hope to remove the racks and panniers sometimes and ride this bike fast once in a while. I don't see myself investing in a full-out road bike, so this one will probably be it.

If one accepts that Brooks saddles are way better, are they so much better that their cost is warranted?

One last note: Please just go full out with your own opinions; boss me around! I'll make up my own mind, but I'm not interested in diplomacy. I don't want to end up with a bunch of comments that contain "I am sure you would be happy with your choice..." or "It really depends on your personal preference". I know that. I want to hear about your preference, and why.

If you are in a position to comment, please accept my thanks in advance. I really appreciate your help in this matter.

Three cheers for the Hive-Mind! Rah! Rah! Rahhh!


Friday, September 11, 2009

Getting Left

A post at DFW point-to-point inspired me to make a quick post of my own using some video of a nice smooth "getting left" I had yesterday. The more I do this, the smoother it gets. There are always jerks who must pass although you obviously need to get over, but that's no different than in your car. As I note in the video, I think I'm more likely to be allowed my lane change on the bike!

I'm a Lefty. I wonder if that helps somehow?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I Find Dignity in World Naked Bike Rides

WARNING: The following content contains a text link to a video that may not be safe for work or children, depending on where you work and what kind of children you've got. I don't think it's so bad, but I'm just one person, and so you have been warned just in case.

If you're into cycling stuff, there is a good chance you have heard of the Naked Bike Rides that appear to be gaining in popularity around the globe. For me, riding naked just sounds painful, and as someone who can't handle exposing even a hint of butt crack, I can't get into the idea myself. That said, I have no problem with others who might get a thrill from getting naked in public; whatever floats your boat, you know? I can also appreciate that many people want to protest the dominance of cars and reliance on oil. What leaves me scratching my head is how the two could be related. Since I'm always up for a little enlightenment, I googled up the World Naked Bike Ride web site:

Sadly, the road to enlightement can be a confusing one. The mission-statement-like blurb in the centre of the main page left me as puzzled as ever. Perhaps in reviewing it you, my intelligent reader, can help me understand. First, the answer to my primary question, "why naked"?

So the naked bike rides are all about defending ones dignity! What? Maybe the guy in this youtube video could explain.

What could be more dignified and natural than naked roadside bicycle repair? Well, lots of things I can think of, but to each his own, I guess. All I can say is that maybe the logo found on the WNBR web site doesn't mean what I thought it did... it looks different to me now somehow...

So, anyway, we left off at "We face automobile traffic with our naked bodies as the best way of defending our dignity". And?

I'm just guessing here, but I think they are really only exposing the unique dangers faced by naked cyclists and pedestrians. The dangers faced by clothed cyclists and pedestrians aren't unique in the same way, I don't think... I must be missing something. There has got to be an "as well as" to this phenomenon...

So the nudity is a way of exposing the negative consequences we all face due to dependence on oil? What? How? Huh?

Having none of my questions answered to my satisfaction, I was simply left standing naked in the men's department at enlightenment-mart, with only this new question to hide behind: If you think it would be empowering or a hoot or whatever to get a group together for a bike ride, why do you have to attach it to a form of protest? Why not just get naked and go? And then it hit me!

If it's not a protest, it's just a bunch of people getting naked because they feel like celebrating bikes and the human body, and in lots of places that'll get you arrested! Huh! That's pretty clever, I think. And who, you may ask, is the Clever Originator of these rides? A fellow Canadian from Vancouver BC by the name of Conrad Schmidt. Believe it or not, Conrad and I have more than our citizenship in common! I am a Clever Originator of something too!

Did you notice that "engergy" typo at the end of the central statement? I was going to get snarky about it, but then I thought, "hey wait, that may be some new word in the naked environmentalist's lexicon! You know..."

I tried googling it, and nothing came up. I checked the
online slang dictionary, no joy. That's good enough for me. I, Rantwick, hereby stake my claim as the Originator of the slang word "engergy", meaning energy sources used by combustion engines! Somehow, I feel more important now... almost... Dignified!

Thank you, Conrad Schmidt! Thank you, WNBR!

Yer Pal,

PS - After writing pretty much this whole thing I found another web page that contains a lot of answers to practical and other questions about naked bike ride events around the world. Nothing enlightening in the way I had been hoping, but better information than that main page anyway. That FAQ can be found here.

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!


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My First "BIG" Ride. New Respect, New Addiction?

Up until now I have been an urban rider, mostly commuting. When I have time I stretch my commute to about 16km (10 miles) each way, but I am often late and my shortest route to work is only about 4.5 miles. Sometimes I'll take a "long" ride on the bike paths on the weekend, maxing out around 30km (almost 19 miles). On those rides I get home feeling great and only somewhat tired, so I began thinking about hitting the highway. Last Saturday I grabbed a cycling route (one of the shortest they had) from a local cycling club's web site and set out. I posted recently about wanting to build a geared tourer, but since that bike is still only represented by a tiny jingle in my piggy bank, I took my fixed gear commuter. Despite being a commuter, it has many highway-worthy qualities.

I was pretty excited and a little nervous since I had never done such a thing before. The route summary said it was 55km long, and I was riding to and from the start/end point, so I figured I was in for about 60km (37 miles). I was careful to put water and food in my panniers for a mid-way break, made sure all my tools and tire/tube repair stuff was present and accounted for, and checked that my cell phone was fully charged.

About one third of the way into the ride I looked down the highway ahead of me thought, "wow, this is far". Everything was going really well, and I was thoroughly enjoying the solitude and overall lack of cars and noise. My bike was running beautifully and as near to silent as it gets.

Long story short, I got a little lost twice, which added some distance, and was slowed by a not-too-bad-but-nagging headwind on the second half of the trip. There weren't any hills big enough to make me walk as I had feared, so that was good. I was left sore (not too too bad; I rode with very little pain Monday morning) and happy and kind of disappointed that it took me three and a half hours to go, in the end, 71km (44 miles). It felt like I was riding faster... I don't use a cycling computer and had to use an online route mapping tool when I got home to see how far I had actually travelled.

I always thought highway touring cyclists were pretty cool. Now I am in awe, especially of those fully-loaded people you see in some wild and remote areas. I can only aspire to that kind of hardcore-ness. That distance was about as far as I think I care to go on a fixed gear. Until I can get this other bike together, I will probably do more trips just like this one, because it pushed me pretty hard, but didn't kill me. I do know that I'm already scheming about how to do it again this Saturday... I knew I wasn't obsessing about enough things lately.

Keep your eyes on the scenery, unless there's somebody coming; in that case maybe keep 'em on the road.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Encounters with Rantwick, episode four: Oblivious Road Hogs

Some road users are just beyond description, but I will attempt to try. Have you ever crossed paths with someone who does notice you, but proceeds just as though they hadn't? In this case I even got to overhear the twisted reasoning behind their actions as they waved their hand and explained some ridiculously false rules of the road to their passenger. My camera didn't pick it up thanks to vibration and rattle noise, but I definitely did, so I have captioned the following video.

I like and miss the oblivious alternate reality occupied by little kids... those two were great.

Don't Ever Change, Cutie-Pies!


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Encounters with Rantwick, episode three: Super Heroes

In my regular travels to and fro, I encounter all of the regular people you might expect. This episode of Encounters with Rantwick deals with other, less common people; Super Heroes! Known only by their super hero names, these two are rarely seen this clearly because of their super speed. Check this out:

And I didn't even get to thank them!

Remember, E-speed kills! Until next time,