Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Safety in Loudness

One of the very cool things about riding a fixed gear is that they can be almost perfectly silent. One of the reasons that Monday's post was so late was that I was doing an overdue chain replacement on my fixed gear bike in the early evening. A clean fixed gear with a new chain makes about as much noise as a whispering ghost on Valium, which I can assure you is very quiet indeed. You know how a perfectly tuned geared bicycle can be super quiet as you pedal along? Fixed gears can be even quieter since they have no derailleurs or freewheels of any kind. Thanks to this quietness, I need to take special care to announce myself as I come up behind people on a path, because otherwise I may startle them badly, and startled people jump around in sometimes unexpected ways:

The silence thing scares me when the silence is on the four wheeled side too. A world full of nearly silent electric cars may pose some new risks. I forget whose blog I read it on, but apparently in some parts of the world electric cars are being fitted with noisemakers of some kind for precisely this reason. I rely heavily on my ears when I ride and use my eyes for confirmation when it comes to overtaking traffic.

So far I have used my voice (or human honking) for all of my audible communication needs. I don't really like bells, not sure why. Some cyclists use whistles, but I don't want to ride around clenching anything between my teeth other than a bubble pipe.

Yes, the pipe thing just screams high society style, but unfortunately it doesn't make any noise. Those insanely loud air horns seem like "startle in a can" to me, which I don't want. Maybe I'll just hang some pots and pans from my handlebars...

image source

What freaks me out sometimes is that just about any nonsense I can think of has been photographed and posted online by somebody, somewhere. It reminds one of how many stinkin' people live on this planet. Let's hope we don't all honk at once.

Keep It Cranked,


Monday, June 7, 2010

Bad News - I Am Invain

Alright, it's late Monday, but it is still Monday. I hate posting nothing on Mondays so I am pleased to have something to write about, late or not.

I took last Friday off work to help Mrs. Rantwick get ready for an open air community market / carnival / concert / plant exchange called the Gathering On The Green being held in my neighbourhood the next day. Mrs. Rantwick makes silver jewellery (nice stuff, too) and was gonna set up a table and hawk her wares. Anyway, I had the day off and so did Mrs. Rantwick. She wanted to sleep in a little before we got to work, which was cool with me, because I wanted to take off for a bike ride.

Now, nothing short of a battle for my soul occurred during that ride, but that is for another post when I have more time to write and edit video and stuff. That will happen, hopefully this week, but for now I want to talk about yet another way in which my head is just not right.

Having had a nice (if philosophically demanding) ride, I found I was becoming thirsty. I have never installed a water bottle cage on my fixed gear commuter, because I rarely ride for more than an hour on it and don't really need water. In addition, I usually prefer to stop and drink like a camel rather than drinking while riding. Don't know why. On the odd occasion that I've taken that bike for a longer highway ride I have stashed bottles of water in the panniers for that purpose. So anyway, I pulled into one of those ubiquitous neighbourhood mini-malls that always has a convenience store to get some water, and found this:

apologies for the whacky angles... this was stolen from poorly taken video

A new bike shop I hadn't previously known about! Totally distracted from my water needs, I immediately went inside. It was small but well stocked and carries Salsa bicycles, which I'm not sure I've seen anywhere else in town. I chatted with some guy I presume was the owner, who seemed like a nice dude. Having pulled over for water, a cheap plastic bottle and cage hanging on the wall caught my eye and I bought it. After all, give a man a bottle of water and he drinks for an afternoon, but give a man a water bottle and cage and he searches for places to fill them up for a lifetime!

I departed the store with an empty water bottle and cage stowed in my panniers. I completely forgot to buy any water for my immediate needs and rode home. I guess a rest is as good as a drink.

New stuff being exciting always, I installed the new cage and bottle almost as soon as I got home. As I stepped back to admire my handiwork, I was struck by something:

That bottle and cage looks like it was made to match my built-from-scratch bike! I swear I did not think about that at all when I bought it. This is where the Invain part comes in. I have been riding that bike for about three years and never bothered to get a water bottle cage for it, despite countless opportunities. Then, pretty much on an impulse, I get one, and it turns out to be almost freakishly perfect for the bike.

When one acts without understanding one's motivations, some might classify one as Insane. When one unconsciously matches their water bottle and cage to the graphics and colours of one's bicycle frame, one should be classified as Invain. What is with me, man? Do I subconsciously care about something that minor and superficial? Geez, I hope not. I am a puzzle that I must struggle with daily. Saves me money on Rubik's cubes and crossword books, I guess. Sudoku sucks, by the way. I don't understand why people like it and I always mispronounce and misspell its name.

I had better go before I type any more. I do want you to come back.

PS - Outspokin Cycles is at 994 Huron Street, near Briarhill. They seem like a decent shop, with a focus on MTB. They don't know I wrote this and sure didn't give me any money or anything.
11:49 PM! Holy Cow, talk about cutting it close! It's still Monday, though!