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I Am Skooter  So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
There are maybe 10 or 12 / things I could teach you / after that you're on your own
— A.C. Newman, There are Maybe 10 or 12
August 29, 2016
7 Story Cycling Centric Apartments

Over the last few months I’ve leaned on my car more than usual for a variety of reasons—all of them good. Over the next little while it looks like that’s going to continue.

This makes these Swedish bike oriented apartments all the more interesting to me. It would be nice to see a project like this in Vancouver, but I think it’s going to take a good long while.

Posted by skooter at 10:22 PM
Tags: Architecture, Cycling, Sweden

January 22, 2014
Bixi's Bankruptcy & Vancouver Bike Sharing

There’s been much in the news lately about Bixi filing for bankruptcy. The New York Times covers it well and has a vested interest, given that Bixi operates that city’s Citibike program.

Bankruptcy, of course, is not necessarily the end of anything. Bixi may come back as strong as they ever were. It’s not a good thing though, by any stretch of the imagination.

The fundamental question facing cities that have bike sharing in place is this: is bike sharing part of the public transit infrastructure of a modern urban environment or is it a business offering a service like any other?

I’d argue for the former: cycling is on the rise again and has become an essential part of the transportation matrix of any urban environment. Yes, it’s much more predominant in the summertime but even in the snowy winter you can see plenty of cyclist in Toronto or New York.

As part of public transit, bike sharing should receive public funds. I’m not suggesting that the service should be free but, like a subway or bus route, it shouldn’t be run on a 100% cost recovery basis either. Bixi’s bankruptcy, in this situation, could be a sign that we just haven’t gotten the balance right yet: it might be that memberships and hourly rates should cost more, or that government needs to commit more funds.

Either way, it won’t make a different in Vancouver. Vancouver’s very late to the bike sharing game and has had numerous false starts along the way. None of it will matter: Vancouver’s bike sharing program will fail because of the helmet law. I’m not particularly judgemental about that, I’m just saying that it will happen. It seems likely that the program will have to fail in order to effect any change with respect to the helmet law.

There’s still hope for Toronto, Montreal, New York and other similar locations. Keep your fingers crossed for Bixi, because it will be much harder to get going a second time. Vancouver seems likely to learn that lesson the hard way.

Posted by skooter at 6:10 PM
Tags: Bixi, Cycling, Politics, Vancouver

September 10, 2013
Bike Maintenance Lessons: Disc Brake Pads

BBB Disc Brake Pads

I offer up an ongoing series of lessons in bike maintenance based, primarily, on my own experience. Many of these, it seems, revolve around my ongoing love/hate relationship with the disc brakes on my Kona Sutra.

Basically, I love them when I’m stopping and I love them a lost less when it comes to maintenance. That includes changing the pads, in part because it means removing the wheels. Traditional brake pads can be swapped out quickly and easily in under five minutes front and back. Disc brakes are a bit of a more involved operation.

Still, today’s lesson is this: if your pads look like the ones above, you waited too long. That one on the bottom left from the rear wheel. The fact that the spring has corroded and broken probably explains quite a bit of drag on the rear wheel and the steady screeching I had for the last couple of weeks in which I was too lazy to do this.

Another fact of note: these were BBB replacement pads and I’ve hated every pair of aftermarket pads I’ve ever put on. Back to Avids, which cost about $3.00 more per side. Worth every penny.

Posted by skooter at 7:37 PM
Tags: Bike Maintenance, Disc Brakes

July 26, 2013
80mph on Human Powered Bicycle

Experiments in Speed from SpindleProductions on Vimeo.

So I’ve hit 73km on a downhill and it gets pretty scary. 80mph under your own power? I can’t even imagine.

A beautifully made film too.

Posted by skooter at 10:08 AM
Tags: Cycling, Speed

May 20, 2013
The Life of Cycle - Urban Cyclists in Berlin

The Life of Cycle - Urban Cyclists in Berlin from Gestalten on Vimeo.

A nice video that shows the diversity of cycling culture. Filmed in Berlin.

Posted by skooter at 9:23 AM
Tags: Berlin, cycling, German, Transportation, Videos

September 23, 2012
La Génesis de Mi Bici

La génesis de mi bici. from El Rayo Verde on Vimeo.

Bicycles have historically born of art, passion, and craftsmanship. A beautifully shot video that shows that.

Posted by skooter at 9:27 PM
Tags: cycling, Videos

July 13, 2011
West Vancouver vs. Vancouver: A Contrast on Two Wheels

A while ago, I moved to West Vancouver. For various reasons, when I first moved, the amount of cycling I was doing dropped dramatically and I used quite a bit more public transit. Along with the drop in cycling came a drop in my physical fitness, and I’ve been making a concentrated effort to cycle to work on a regular basis.

My daily commute is about 10km, a perfectly reasonable distance. About three of those kilometres are through West Vancouver to get to the Lions Gate Bridge. I head up and over the bridge and down through Stanley Park on the bike path (which is actually a sidewalk) before rejoining traffic on Georgia Street and heading to Gastown.

What I find most interesting is the rather stark difference between how cars in West Vancouver and Vancouver treat cyclists. It astonishes me every day actually.

The funny thing is, some of these drivers are probably the same people. When I merge on to Georgia Street I wind up in a bike lane on the side of the road that’s not physically separated from drivers but is clearly marked. The first right turn is at Denman and without fail when I get to that corner drivers wait and allow me to proceed straight before they make a right turn even when they’ve clearly signalled and I’m waiting for them to go. Given that this is the first right turn, these drivers have almost certainly come off the bridge from North or West Van.

My ride continues along city streets from there (the dedicated bike lanes don’t really help me, and I’m not particularly intimidated by traffic) and I find drivers generally wait to pass until they can provide adequate space. There’s definitely some who don’t but for the most part drivers allow me a safety zone on the road that I’m comfortable with.

West Vancouver, by comparison, is a place where I expect to either get honked at or brushed past at extremely close distances. There’s certainly no such thing as a bike lane on this side of the bridge, though there is a shared bike/pedestrian path from Ambleside to the bridge. If I lived much west of where I do I’d be obligated to use Marine Drive though; there’s still no bikes allowed on the West Vancouver seawall, and no equivalent path for cyclists.

Those pedestrians I have to share that path with, by the way? I think I’d rather deal with cars. Walking four abreast and obstructing the entire path, ignoring the bell I installed for their own safety, and walking their dogs without leashes I’m pretty sure they’re more dangerous than cars. That, though, may be another topic.

At the end of my commute I usually make a left turn from Hastings onto Cambie and to do this I move into the left lane. In West Vancouver this would get me honked at, yelled at, or just plain mowed down by a driver who didn’t see me. In Vancouver I’ve had cars wait patiently with me to make the turn.

Door prizes? In Vancouver I hardly ever see a door open if I’m approaching. In West Vancouver, I avoid parked cars like the plague and give them at least a half lane’s distance. It’s bleak over here.

It’s all rather nice, and rather than an interesting contrast between the suburban (which West Vancouver is, sort of) and the urban I think it’s the difference between a municipal government which has actively supported cycling and one which hasn’t.

There’s been a general rise in awareness in Vancouver of cyclists among drivers, and it shows. The vast majority of drivers in Vancouver are friendly and cooperative with respect to bikes. Sure there are exceptions, and when they happen they can range from annoying (not coming to a full stop) to disrespectful (pulling over and blocking a bike lane) to frightening (making a right turn without signaling in front of a bike) but they’re just that: exceptions.

Cyclists are just as bad. I watched a bike pull along the right hand side of a car that had clearly indicated it was turning from well back. Watching people blow through stop signs at full speed infuriates me, and it happens a lot.

Despite all of these things, drivers in Vancouver soldier on and work with the cyclists who do follow the rules and fairly well at that. I fear for my life quite a bit less over there than I do over here, and that’s saying something considering how many more cars there are.

The next time you’re riding in Vancouver and complaining about the traffic just remember: it could be a whole lot worst, none of us are perfect so that driver who cut you off may have just had a momentary lapse. Give them the benefit of the doubt, because we all need to share these spaces and most drivers are trying to do just that.

February 27, 2011
Why Protected Bike Lanes are Important

Safety is persistently cited as the biggest concern by people who don’t cycle. They often express concerns about interacting with traffic.

Leaving aside the politics of Critical Mass and any opinions on them, this video is as good a demonstration of why protected bike lanes are important in an urban environment. A single driver seriously injured a group of cyclists, at least one of whom remains in serious condition according to reports.

Cars are dangerous: most of the time they aren’t, but it doesn’t take much and a single driver can kill a cyclist, pedestrians, or even another driver without much risk to themselves.

Support Vancouver’s protected bike lanes. The cost is minimal and the long term benefits are huge.

August 27, 2010
Cycling to Salt Spring Island

Moonrise over Ruckle Park

I haven’t really been out of town much this summer, and I certainly haven’t been camping. This past week I hatched a fairly hasty plan to solve both of those problems and boy did it turn out well.

Salt Spring Island is the largest of the southern gulf islands located between Vancouver and Vancouver Island. Accessible by ferry from either Victoria or Vancouver, its geographic area of about 183 km2 is less than 10% the size of the Metro Vancouver area and its population fo 10,500 is less than 1% of Vancouver’s total and Ruckle Provincial Park on the island’s southern tip seemed like the perfect place to pitch a tent.

Oh yeah…I decided to do this all by bike. I’m all about the low carbon footprint these days, though I’m not sure how much lower I can get it.

Getting to Salt Spring

Getting to Salt Spring from Vancouver means taking a ferry from the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal which offers infrequent direct service to Long Harbour located on the Island’s north end, about a 22km ride from Ruckle Park. The alternative was to take a ferry from Tsawwassen to Victoria and then transfer to a smaller run from Victoria to Fulford Harbour: quite a bit closer to the park, but quite a bit longer in travel time. I opted for the direct route.

From my home to the Ferry is about a 35km ride, interrupted by the Massey Tunnel. Getting through the tunnel means taking a shuttle that runs hourly in the summertime (although hopping aboard a Translink bus is an option as well.) It took a bit more than an hour to get to the shuttle pick up point at Richmond’s 5th Avenue and Rice Mill Road.

Helmut und VeronaOn the shuttle I met Helmut and Verena from the Black Forest region of Germany. The two had spent the weekend in Vancouver and were on the first day of a trip to San Diego by bicycle. We cycled together to the ferry where they caught the next one to Swartz Bay while I had a couple of hours to wait until the next Long Harbour Departure of the day.

After an hour and a half ferry ride to Long Harbour I was well rested and ready to tackle the island. Salt Spring, like most of these islands, has a fairly substantial peak at the centre—in this case Mt. Maxwell. The 22km ride to Ruckle Park would take me through the Island’s largest village (Ganges) and up a steady climb before descending on the other side.

Loaded with gear, the ride took somewhere between an hour and a half and two hours in total. Ruckle Park was (as I’d been banking on) fairly empty and by 18:00hrs I had my tent pitched on the edge of the ocean and was boiling water for dinner. All told the day was a nice one of travel at a more human pace than the disconnect that cars can sometimes create.

Shortly after arriving I was joined at the neighbouring site by John, who had been on the same ferry as I. He was towing a trailer and took a more leisurely route than I which included a stop for dinner on the way. With both of our tents pitched and lanterns lit, the stars—each one a setting sun—revealed themselves overhead and we dozed off in our respective tents.

Monday: Salt Spring Cheese and Fulford Harbour

Salt Spring Island CheeseI had a stove and John had coffee so the next morning started with John and I having coffee together. He was packing up to head back to Seattle and I joined him on his ride out of the park with the intention of stopping at the Salt Spring Island Cheese company on the way. Of all the decisions I’ve made this summer, this may be the single smartest one.

The cheese company was an oasis of sorts for us, offering not only samples but free coffee as well. With friendly staff, friendly dogs and good food on hand we could have stayed all day—and very nearly did. It took about two hours to pry ourselves away from the sunny patio but eventually we did, both laden with the weight of purchased cheese. There are many more photos on my Flickr photostream of the cheese facility with notes from the self guided tour they offer. Don’t miss this place if you wind up over here, and don’t forget to bring some cheese home.
Salt Spring Island CheeseSalt Spring Island CheeseSalt Spring Island CheeseSalt Spring Island CheeseSalt Spring Island Cheese

John and I said our goodbyes just around the corner of Beaver Point Road and Stewart Road where he headed for Long Harbour and I continued towards Fulford. John’s trip to Long Harbour was good and included a stop at Mt. Maxwell to hike it and a quick lunch in Ganges.

Debra from the Morningside CafeI spent the day in Fulford exploring the Morningside Cafe and chatting with the lovely Deborah, shopping for books (my constant weakness,) sitting on the swings and more or less waiting for the Fulford Inn to open so that I could grab a bite to eat. After an early dinner it was about a 45 minute bike ride back to camp and a sunset spent reading and dining on a baguette and soft goat cheese. Life was pretty good.

Tuesday: Ganges

On Tuesday, I decided to cycle into Ganges and explore the town a bit. The ride took about and hour and a half each way without just my single pannier. Ganges itself has plenty of small town charm: the Salt Spring Coffee Company cafe offers some of the best coffee to be had anywhere including a well made latte, the Treehouse Cafe has live music every night (although it was closed for a staff party the night I was there,) bookstores abound. A small farmer’s market was taking place while in the United Church’s yard, offering a range of fresh local produce for purchase.

After a latte I headed to Black Bond Books where I picked up a copy of Susan Orleans’ The Orchid Thief to read on the ferry ride home. The book store itself felt rather like home: I’d read about 3/4 of the books on their staff picks shelf already. There’s nothing quite like a good bookstore to make a town for me.

Swarz Bay Ferry Passes Ruckle Provincial ParkI headed to the Coast Guard dock to grab some fish & chips for lunch—tasty, though not nearly as good as the food at Vancouver’s Go Fish—before heading back to camp over the Stewart Road route.

Since I hadn’t had a shower for a couple of days I figured I’d see what the ocean offered. A five minute dip was about all the refreshment I could handle. The Island offers 11 lakes for swimming as well as a public swimming pool in Ganges, and in future it would be wiser to choose any of these options. Swimming in the ocean is pretty special though.

Satisfied with my day I looked forward to yet another beautiful sunset with a couple of books to finish. The Island didn’t disappoint, and after a couple of hours of reading I faded gently into as good a sleep as a 3/4” thick Therm-a-Rest can provide.

Wednesday: Homeward Bound

Wednesday morning dawned sunny and warm and though I had little desire to leave the park reports of an imminent change in the weather brought thoughts of home. I packed gear into panniers, said my farewell’s to the coast and headed towards Fulford.

Before leaving the park I visited the Ruckle Heritage Farm, rumoured to be the province’s oldest family owned farm. The farm is still in use and though the heritage buildings are maintained as an exhibition space the farm animals roam the entire area freely.
Ruckle Heritage Farm, Salt Spring IslandRuckle Heritage Farm, Salt Spring IslandRuckle Heritage Farm, Salt Spring IslandRuckle Heritage Farm, Salt Spring IslandRuckle Heritage Farm, Salt Spring Island

Naturally I stopped at the Salt Spring Island Cheese company again. I needed to stock up my fridge.

The ride home was shorter than the ride here, and the Fulford ferries are well scheduled to allow transfers to the Victoria-Tsawwassen route so the journey takes just slightly more than two hours. The volume of traffic on the Tsawwassen causeway was overwhelming compared to what I’d been dealing with for the last four days, but, but the shoulder on the road was wider. The trip from the ferry to the Massey tunnel shuttle took just slightly more than a half hour. A serious accident had obstructed the northbound on-ramp which meant waiting for about an hour with the driver. I was in no rush, and the flat ride through Richmond was reasonably pleasant—although the city of Richmond really needs to update its cycling route signage to make the new Cambie Line bridge easier to find.

Final Thoughts

This was my first time on Salt Spring Island, and my first really successful bike tour as well (an earlier attempt at the Kettle Valley Railway Trail ended when I got not one but two flat tires on the first day. I was quite happy with the trip.

My Kona Sutra held up well and was reliable, but special thanks go to Ed at Mighty Riders for finally finding me a front rack that fits this thing (and a very nice one at that.) The disc brakes on the Kona have made this a challenge, and it was nice to finally have confidence in those front panniers. I will upgrade the rear rack as well. I’d still like to replace the bike with a Surly Long Haul Trucker equipped with Campagnolo Veloce triple gearing, but that will have to wait a bit longer.

The North Face Slickrock tent that I’ve travelled with more than any other tent I own—and I own three—was as nice as always. The short poles fit in panniers easily and make it a good choice for cycle touring, which was one of the reasons I bought it. Putting the tent body on one side and the poles on the other does a fairly nice job of balancing the load. I still have a lot to learn about packing panniers.

My Coleman Exponent Expedition stove is on its last legs, having been discontinued by Coleman. The whole system uses a specialized fuel and I love the lantern but its useful life is roughly equal to the amount of fuel I have. It takes up a fair amount of space, and I may in the future switch to a SnowPeak butane stove that fits inside my titanium cooking pot to save space. I will be sad to see the end of life for the Coleman equipment, but that’s what you get for developing a proprietary fuel.

The complete library of photos is below and you can click through to see the images on Flickr.

Don’t worry Salt Spring Island: I’ll be back. A lovely time was had by all.

August 13, 2010
A Day in Vancouver

Sometimes, it’s perfectly reasonable to just walk around with your camera for a bit.

Somewhere in there I attended a good old fashioned rock and roll concert. Photos of Cotton Jones and the Parson Red Heads are on Guttersnipe.

Posted by skooter at 5:40 AM
Tags: City Hall, cycling, Jericho Beach, Sunset, Vancouver

July 18, 2010
On Bike Maintenance

Avid Juicy Brake Pads due to be changed Avid Juicy Brake Pads due to be changed Avid Juicy Brake Pads due to be changed I’m taking a little break from the Vancouver Folk Festival to chill out a bit for the morning and have lunch at home before heading down. According to Twitter this means I’m missing some great morning performances, but the afternoon and evening should more than make up for it. My photos from Day One and Two are here on Flickr and I’ll organize a few of them and post them here tomorrow. Between getting them on Flickr and daily articles for Beyond Robson time is scarce.

I need to do a little bike maintenance: one of the pads on my rear brake fell out on the road last night. I may just take a different bike down to the fest today, but I feel compelled to note that it seems like a fundamental design flaw if a disc brake pad is even capable of falling out of its caliper. Changing disc brake pads is a pain, so I tend to delay the change as long as I can. Just a little advice for those of you who do this sort of thing: if your brake pads look like the ones above, it probably means you waited just a little bit too long.

July 12, 2010
Tour de France Doping in the New York Times

It’s very telling how bad the doping problem has been in professional cycling that the New York Times is running its annual story on the topic, despite the fact that not a single cyclist has tested positive in this year’s Tour de France. (There is, of course, an implied Yet… at the end of that sentence.)

The notion that falling times on alpine climbs are as honest an indication of a reduction of doping as anything else is a good one. As the article points out it’s a remarkable event which produces remarkable performances, so any such measurements are a guideline only. If it helps avoid having this article appear again next year I say measure away.

Cyclists’ Alpine Times May Hint at Past Doping

“In and of itself, these racers are doing amazing, unbelievable things on a daily basis because they are already a tiny part of the population, a very small percentage of the world,” Lim said. “They are already different. It’s when a rider has no history of good performances, then has massive changes. Now that’s when you should raise a red flag.”

There have been some discussions among exercise physiologists of testing individual athletes’ peak performances to determine each one’s peak power output and use it as a baseline to determine possible doping. Any future performances above that output would raise a red flag.

But some say that would never work. The reasons behind amazing performances cannot necessarily be proved, they said. Sometimes, they just happen.

Lance Armstrong lost 12 minutes in a crash yesterday, knocking him out of contention in what he’s said is his final Tour de France. It’s a shame: it would have been nice to see Lance—who’s done more for cycling in North America than any other athlete—on the podium but this is how these things go. It’s a long race, with plenty of opportunities for problems and incidents.

No matter where he winds up and who wins this year’s race, there’s really only one thing to say about a remarkable ride of successes: Well played, Lance. Well played.

Posted by skooter at 3:42 PM
Tags: cycling, Lance Armstrong, Tour de France

July 11, 2010
Tour de Delta Ladner Criterium

Tour de Delta Ladner Criterium Tour de Delta Ladner Criterium Tour de Delta Ladner CriteriumTour de Delta Ladner CriteriumTour de Delta Ladner CriteriumTour de Delta Ladner CriteriumTour de Delta Ladner Criterium Tour de Delta Ladner Criterium

The 10th annual Tour de Delta runs all weekend, with the Ladner Criterium last night. I was personally disappointed that Team Jazz Apples wasn’t here again this year, but I suppose that’s the result of losing two out of four of the BC Superweek events that used to happen, including the Tour de Gastown which now seems certain to be gone for a while.

I will miss next week’s Tour de Whiterock, unfortunately, due to other commitments.

July 8, 2010
The Malahat Revue on the CBC Plaza

The Malahat Review at CBC Plaza The Malahat Review at CBC PlazaThe Malahat Review at CBC PlazaThe Malahat Review at CBC PlazaThe Malahat Review at CBC PlazaThe Malahat Review at CBC Plaza

The Malahat Revue is a collaboration between some of Vancouver’s best independent musicians. Hannah Georgas, Jeremy Fisher, Aidan Knight and Said the Whale are embarking on a tour of British Columbia by bicycle. Jeremy’s toured extensively by bike before, but never with a group this large.

To start the tour the gang gathered at CBC Plaza on Hamilton Street in Vancouver and put on a free show. With summer having finally arrive in Vancouver, it was a glorious day.

More photos from today’s set are on flickr.

The Malahat Revue Teaser from Jonathan Taggart on Vimeo.

June 26, 2010
Vancouver Critical Mass - June 2010

Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010 Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010Vancouver Critical Mass, June 2010

Posted by skooter at 4:24 PM
Tags: Critical Mass, Cycling

June 19, 2010
The One You Love Would Love a CCM

The One You Love Would Love a CCM

Posted by skooter at 5:14 PM
Tags: Advertisement, CCM, Cycling, Marketing

June 18, 2010
Eddy Merckx Made Me Do It

Today is Eddy Merckx’s 65th birthday. Even at 65, I’m reasonably certain that Eddy could kick my ass on the average bike ride. Such is life. I’m working on it.

Since I own a Merckx frame (kitted out with Campagnolo Centaur, of course) I figured I had to do something to celebrate, so in the afternoon I saddled up and headed to North Vancouver intent of riding to the top of Mt. Seymour for for the first time.

“Why Seymour” you ask? What… “Because it’s there” isn’t a good enough answer for you? No matter. There was a reason.

Last week I connected with a small group of cyclists and pedalled to the summit of Cypress Bowl for the first time. I’ve lived here ten years, but I’d just never gotten around to climbing that mountain on anything with less than a 750cc engine. I figured it was about time.

So…having knocked off Cypress, I figured it was time to hit Seymour. I may have been a bit cocky: Cypress seemed…easier than I expected it too. Maybe it was a good day. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t raining. Maybe it is easier. Whatever the reason, it was time to move on. No resting on personal laurels here.

Seymour definitely felt harder. The numbers paint a story of two different mountains. The Cypress Bowl road stars at a higher altitude, and it’s longer. At 15km in length road has an altitude gain of about 1200m, for an average grade of 8%. Though there are a couple of short steep sections, it’s a pretty steady grind and 8% isn’t steep.

Seymour is a 12.5km road, and the first 6km have about 600m of altitude gain for a grade of 10%. Now 10% is where we start to get steep. Those additional 2% make a noticeable difference. It might not seem like it to you, sitting at home reading this but trust me they do.

After that thing level off a bit, though there are still steep sections and the average grade doesn’t change much. The problem with things levelling off after that, of course, is that the relentless pull of gravity has already been working against you for 6km. Plus those steep sections…blurg.

It wasn’t particularly helpful that it started raining at about the 6km point either. Far be it from me to complain. Let’s just leave it at…it wasn’t particularly helpful. The visibility got so bad that I actually just took my glasses off at one point. I see reasonably well without them, and at 7km/h I was pretty confident that nothing was going to sneak up on me that quickly (from the front, anyway.)

The bigger problem with the weather is that it reduced the fun factor of the descent quite a bit. Slick roads and poor visibility meant I had to be cautious. Wet rims on Campagnolo Skeleton caliper brakes also reminded me of exactly why I like the disc brakes on my touring bike: man those things stop like you won’t believe. Again, far be it from me to complain…the skeletons were great. It’s just that compared to discs…blurg.

I froze on the descent, because it’s June and I refuse to wear a long sleeve wool jersey in June, Vancouver. Are you listening? I should have worn my arm warmers though. I wasn’t anticipating the rain, but they would have been good to have with me.

Towards the bottom, below the precipitation line, I was able to let go and fly. To give you an idea of how much difference that extra 2% of grade can make when I descended Cypress I just barely topped a speed of 70km/h, and that involved some top gear pedaling. Today I hit 74.65km/h with no pedalling, and with roads still damp and a corner approaching I wasn’t even in a full tuck.

So in the last two weeks, I’ve ascended both of Vancouver’s mountain climbs for the first time since I’ve lived here. Have no fear, my mountainous foes, for I shall return—but I might wait for a sunny day.

Thanks for the ride, Eddy. It was totally worth it. And Axel: next time you’re in town if you need a riding partner, drop me a note. Your dad will be there in spirit anyway.

June 15, 2010
Vancouver's Dunsmuir Separated Bike Lane Opens

The city has been busy installing a separated bike lane on Dunsmuir over the past few weeks (though the first step actually took place during the Olympics, when the Dusnmuir Viaduct bike lane was opened.) Today marked the bike lane’s official opening.

Mayor Gregor Robertson was joined by a group of cyclists for the inaugural ride, followed by obligatory speeches. Key points that were made:

It’s worth noting that while Dunsmuir is a one way street westbound the bike lane is a two way lane running on the north side of the street. This means that eastbound cyclists—normally accustomed to travelling on the south side of the street—will be immediately adjacent to vehicles. It can be a bit disconcerting at first, but once you get used to it it’s really no big deal. I’ve been told by city staff that Beatty Street is a good route for merging into the lane.

Posted by skooter at 7:59 PM
Tags: Cars, Cycling, Gregor Robertson, Vancouver

June 7, 2010
Parking Rates in Vancouver

Parking Meter in Vancouver It’s no secret that I don’t drive much, and lobby fairly seriously for people to cycle or take transit as much as they can. I’ve long argued that parking in downtown Vancouver was far too cheap and far too plentiful. Until about a year go there was such ample free parking outside the downtown Aquatic Centre (and near the ocean’s shore) that I never had to pay on the rare and inevitably rainy nights that I drove to swim. These spots were eliminated when parking meters were installed.

The rest of downtown still had meters whose cost paled in comparison to Toronto, but apparently things have changed a bit. I was downtown to pick up a friend from Germany and found a spot instead of continuing to loop around the block. You’d think $1 for 10 minutes would be sufficient to discourage people from parking, but the spots were full.

Now that I think about it, I wonder what a ticket costs? It might actually be cheaper to just leave your car here and get a ticket that it would be to pay for parking.

Now if only we started charging downtown residents more for their parking permits, which at $65 per year are ridiculously low in an area where private parking costs quite a bit more. People complain that the buildings don’t have parking spots but that’s sort of the point: if you live in a building that doesn’t provide parking, it’s not up to the rest of the city to subsidize you.

Of course the bigger problem is people who have private parking spots but continue to park on the road because its more convenient.

At least we’re taking steps in the right direction.

Posted by skooter at 3:17 AM
Tags: Cars, cycling, Environmentalism, Parking

May 23, 2010
Michael Enright on Bikes vs. Cars

Michael Enright’s Sunday Edition opened this morning with a monologue on the issue of cars vs. bikes.

Enright points out the deteriorating condition of our infrastructure and raises the spectre of the suburbs in a way that seems to praise the role the automobile had in the development of them.

Cycling is derided as not North American and environmental issues are completely ignored, while the recent economic bailouts are passed over as if their impact should never be considered.

In the end Enright (a motorcyclist as well) chooses his car with—it’s worth noting—some enthusiasm.

This isn’t a war. It’s not a matter of us vs. them. There isn’t much of a choice here: unless we stop using fossil fuels to power even the smallest of transportation tasks, the natural environment on which we depend will continue to decline. Quite simply, North American transportation habits are pumping too many greenhouse gasses into the air for the atmosphere to contend with.

Not everybody has to get out of a car. A minivan with eight people in may be a reasonable choice; the same minivan with a single person is not. If all we could achieve was the elimination of the single occupancy vehicle, too often used for short trips, it would be a major leap forward. I’d like to see more, but this would be a reasonable short term goal.

When the media fails to acknowledge this, and presents an argument so short sighted I’m not quite sure what to do with it. Enright’s show is presented as an opinion piece, and not the official editorial view of the CBC but few are likely to make the distinction. Enright is among the most senior and trusted voices on the radio, and it carries weight.

I’ve transcribed his monologue below.

This past week the World Wildlife Fund, the panda bear people, released the results of a survey a bit off their usual radar. They asked drivers across the country how they felt about their cars.

The results are noteworthy but not really surprising. 36% of us say we would give up junk food before giving up our cars; another 14% said they’d give up coffee; 6% television; and 2% said they’d forgo sex rather than hang up their keys.

We love our cars, almost beyond reason. But at the same time we car drivers feel under siege in the era of goodness and greenness. We’ve had the war on poverty, the war on cancer, the war on drugs, even the war on Christmas. Now drivers complain we are in the midst of a war on cars. We see the enemy everywhere. Everybody from the oil companies who gouge us at the pump to the government who taxes us.

But the greatest threat, the enemy we fear the most is the lowly bicycle. We are ever alert to the forays and incursions the bicycle is making into our sovereign territory. Take Montreal and Toronto for example. Every time some city department makes a suggestion to convert a lane of car traffic into a bike lane, the car fanatics go mad. Giving up an inch of turf to cyclists is an appeasement to the enemy beside which Munich pales.

Handing over an entire bike lane to granola crunching, Birkenstock wearing, latte sipping downtown tree hugging lefties would be like Custer trying to negotiate with the indians. And the odd thing is the war on cars is over…has been for a long time, and guess what? The car won. Our cities long ago were designed for the car, not for people. The suburbs owe their entire existence to the car. Drive into any small town in the country and the approach is the same everywhere. Long lines of American owned junk food franchises and car dealerships.

Our major cities are choked, gridlocked by car traffic. Our roads have descended to the level of those in Soviet Romania circa 1955.

Nevertheless we keep turning out cars by the hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year after year. That’s what I call winning the war. In fact, the victory for the car has been so stunning that we actually forked over war reparations in the form of auto company bailouts running to the tens of millions.

Of course, the car craze has suffered some minor retreats during the war. SUV sales for example are slipping. In fact, General Motors has cancelled the egregious Hummer, after trying to peddle the brand to the Chinese who were too canny to bite.

Incidentally I’ve always thought that men who bought the Hummer were trying to overcompensate for an inadequacy of their generative appendage, but that’s another another story.

Car drivers generally feel that if we cede any territory to the cyclists, we could wind up like Amsterdam—with bicycles everywhere. Cycling is somehow too…European. It lacks a certain element of North American robustness.

No, the war is over but we will still keep fighting to protect our turf. You can take away my junk food, my coffee, my TV watching and even my love life, but to get my car you’ll have to pry my dead cold hands from the steering wheel.

Posted by skooter at 5:16 PM
Tags: Cars, CBC, Cycling, Environmentalism, Urban Planning

May 20, 2010
Floyd Landis Admits to Using Banned Substances

Floyd Landis has finally admitted what was fairly obvious: that he used banned substances throughout his career, and in particular during his unbelievable Tour de France victory in 2006.

Unfortunately, Landis has demonstrated a lack of class and appears to be trying to take everybody else down with him.

Landis, Admitting Doping, Accuses Top U.S. Cyclists
By JULIET MACUR and MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, Published: May 20, 2010

VISALIA, Calif. — After four years of maintaining his innocence about doping charges that ruined his reputation and caused him to be stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, the American cyclist Floyd Landis has sent e-mail messages to several cycling officials in the United States and in Europe in which he admits using performance-enhancing drugs for most of his career.

In the messages, which were first reported by The Wall Street Journal, Landis accused other top American cyclists on the Postal Service team, including Armstrong, of using performance-enhancing drugs and methods. Other cyclists named were current United States road racing national champion George Hincapie, three-time Tour of California champion Levi Leipheimer and five-time United States time trial champion David Zabriskie.

The Toronto Star has coverage, ESPN has video but not the actual interview they conducted and VeloNews has the cycling community’s reaction to the news.

Lance’s official statement in response is after the jump.

RadioShack team leader responds to doping accusations

Lance Armstrong: Obviously everyone has questions about Floyd Landis and his allegations. I would say that I’m a little surprised, but I am not; this has been going on for a long time. The harassment and threats from Floyd started a few years ago and really, at that time, we largely ignored him. Johan can speak to what Floyd exactly wanted from us and the team. A year ago, I told him, ‘listen, you do what you have to do.’ We are not gonna, we have nothing to say and nothing to hide.

They started again with some consistency and energy about a month ago before this race when Floyd continued to text, email and harass myself, Johan, Dave Zabriskie, Levi [Leipheimer], Andrew Messick, the CEO of Amgen, right around the time that they [Ouch-Bahati Foundation Racing Team] was trying to get into this race. Floyd made pointed threats to Messick and to the leadership of Amgen that if he wasn’t let in the race he was going to say X, Y and Z about their product.

I would remind everyone that this is a man that, first of all, from our perspective and from what’s gone on at US Postal and Discovery and all of those Tours, we have nothing to hide. We have nothing to run from and if anyone has any questions we would be more than happy to answer them.

I would remind everyone that this is a man that has been under oath several times with a very different version. This is a man that wrote a book for profit that had a completely different version; this is somebody that took close to a million dollars from innocent people for his defence under a different premise and now when it’s all run out the story changes. So we are a little confused, maybe just as confused as you guys.

But with regard to the specific allegations and the specific claims, they are not even worth getting into. I’m not going to waste your time or my time. I think history speaks for itself here. We’ve all followed this case for the last four years. We’ve followed Floyd winning the Tour and we don’t know what he did or didn’t do when he was on that team [Phonak]. We can only speak about what he did when he was on our team. We followed the case, we followed all the drama with regard to the case and now we see something different. That is about it.

Did you ever pay the UCI [International Cycling Union] any money?

Absolutely not. No. That is the other thing, if you get into it. Obviously we’ve seen the email and that is not correct. But a lot of other things in the email, the timeline is off, if you go year by year.

Ultimately all of the other emails that have been sent around will come out. The emails to myself will come out. All of the emails to Andrew Messick will come out, to John Burke from Trek. For someone that says he is here to clear his conscience, why are you sending emails to other people’s sponsors, other people’s partners, to the organizer of the race, to the sponsors of the race? That has nothing to do with your conscience. So, eventually that will all come out. But, no, absolutely not.

Why did he pin-point you and Johan Bruyneel?

He didn’t. He pin-pointed a lot of people and I mean, let’s be honest. Obviously my name will be at the top of the story and my name will be in the headline. But, it goes from myself to Johan, to Levi, to Zabriskie, to Andy Rihs, to Jim Ochowicz to Michael Barry, to Matthew White, to Steve Johnson, to Pat McQuaid. At the end of the day, he pointed his finger at everyone still involved in cycling, everyone that is still enjoying the sport, everyone that still believes in the sport and everyone that still working in the sport was in the cross hairs.

I’m standing here with you guys because I won the Tour de France seven times. But, you have to keep in mind that the yellow jersey of this race [Dave Zabriskie] is also in the cross hairs and that is not by accident. Maybe that is a good strategy to get more attention but if I look at, I can use Allen Lim as an example, someone that I view has the highest standards and the highest ethics of anyone in this sport, the fact that he is thrown in there speaks volumes to the credibility of this and I think that’s, if I walk away with one word to sum this all up - credibility. Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago.

What do you think about all the details in the emails?

I think if anyone browses the internet or the news groups of anyone’s Wikipedia page, that time line is easy to put together. I could have made it even juicier. Some of it is off, obviously the timing and the dates are off again, if you saw the rest of the emails that we have it speaks volumes to his mental state, and, the time of the day that he sent it, I don’t need to fill you guys in on people’s habits or lifestyles.

Did you contact him after he was emailing you?

It started a couple of years ago and as texts and I wrote him back after a while. Johan can speak more about what he wanted from the team but after a few of them they got to be so annoying that I wrote him back and said, ‘Floyd leave me alone. Do what you have to do, I’m going to be fine, don’t worry about me but you have to stop texting me, annoying me, you have to stop harassing me.’

Did you see him at the Tour of the Gila?

I saw him every day at the Tour of the Gila. Not one word was said. It was ironic because not one word would be said to any of us during the race. We heard stories about him talking to himself. But we would get home and all of a sudden we would have these emails form him at night. Strange.

Why do you think he chose to send the emails now?

I think the timing of the race is obvious. As I mentioned, he didn’t get in the race. To be honest, I was surprised that it didn’t come up in Sacramento. We were all fully expecting it to come out then. These emails have been out for quite some time.

Will you be taking legal action?

No, my days of legal action are over. Legal action takes time energy and a lot of money. I have sued a few people in my day and have been successful there in proving my innocence. But, I don’t need to do that anymore. My energy needs to be devoted to the team, to Livestrong, to my kids. I’m not going to waste time on that.

Will you cooperate with a Federal Prosecutor if they investigate this?


Do you think this will affect the rest of the season, the Tour of California or the Tour de France?

It’s definitely news and juicy, but at the end of the day bike fans are going to see the people talked about here, myself, Levi, Zabriskie, George, Johan, they know the truth.

Will this do anything to change your plans for the Tour de France?

Absolutely not. We all know that Floyd won’t be in France telling the story.

What happens if ASO does not let the team into the Tour de France this year?

At the end of the day why would they do that? We have a person who has been under oath several times with a completely different version, written a book with a completely different version, someone that took money. He said he has no proof. It is his word verses ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility. I don’t think there is a lot of credibility on the other side so why would ASO think any differently. Keep in mind back in the day there was all this buzz that Floyd said he had pictures of a refrigerated motorcycle. Where is that? It’s all a bunch of bullshit and never existed.

What about the French prosecutors who have the medical waste deposits?

I have no idea what the story is there and I haven’t been asked about that or informed about that. Other people are aware of that.

You and Landis were close friends?

It is very sad. At one point or another, all of us implicated have cared about Floyd, that is one things that we have shared in common. We might be on different teams, come in different backgrounds or be at different places in our lives but at some point we share this bond that we all gave him ladder at some point in his life when he dug himself a hole. We gave him the ladder to dig out of the Mercury situation. Andy Rihs came on and gave him a ladder to dig out of that hole. People aren’t throwing him ladders anymore. I don’t want to make a personal attack on Landis. I don’t think he is a good guy or a bad guy, he certainly has some issues.

Can you comment on Floyd saying that Johan taught you and him how to dope?

Other than saying it is not true? We can only speak about what happened on our team. I can’t tell you what happened on Phonak and I can’t tell you how he won the 2006 Tour de France. The one thing that brought this about was him testing positive for the synthetic testosterone, that he still denies. We categorically deny Johan teaching anybody, forget about Floyd teaching anybody to do that.

How does this impact US cycling?

It is not a good story. This is a distraction. If you look at this race and the turn out I’d say things are strong. The sponsorship is strong and I feel that the teams here will be in the Tour this summer and I am optimistic that this will, it is something that we have to deal with.

May 13, 2010
Ace Rides Gently Into the Night

Ace Cycles on Broadway in Vancouver isn’t a store that I spend much time in, but it once would have been. It’s overrun by mass market mountain bikes of the sort that parents buy for their teenagers.

Once, though, they had a vintage 1980s Miele in the window with gold anodized rims and a gold chain. Now that’s a bike I would have loved to have.

Ace is a cycling legend in town, and he will be missed. He died at 88 years old.

Lorne Atkinson kept cycling alive in postwar Vancouver
Tom Hawthorn, Published on Wednesday, May. 12, 2010 8:21PM EDT

Lorne (Ace) Atkinson’s name is synonymous with cycling in Vancouver.

He raced at the Olympics, coached Canadian teams and organized international competitions in his hometown.

Atkinson, who has died at the age of 88, was proprietor of a popular bike shop, where he outfitted generations of cyclists, from world-class racers to weekend sightseers.

Ace Cycles opened its doors in 1946 on West Broadway, where it remains a fixture of the Kitsilano neighbourhood. The owner lived in an apartment above a store in which he could often be seen doing repairs, his hands covered in oil and grease.

Posted by skooter at 3:20 PM
Tags: Cycling, Obituaries

April 26, 2010
Cycling is Mainstream Transportation

In the densely packed urban wilderness of New York City cycling is on the rise rapidly.

More Than 200,000 a Day Are Now Cycling
April 26, 2010, 5:05 AM, By J. DAVID GOODMAN

Build it and they will ride. That’s the message conveyed in the latest annual estimate of the number of bicyclists in New York City by Transportation Alternatives, which found roughly 236,000 New Yorkers riding each day in 2009, up 28 percent from 185,000 daily riders the year before.

“More and better designed bike lanes, that’s clearly what’s fueling this growth,” said Wiley Norvell, a spokesman for the bicycling and pedestrian advocacy group, which has conducted an annual cycling estimate for nearly two decades.

The estimate was extrapolated from cyclist counts performed by the city Department of Transportation at various downtown entry points — including East River bridge crossings, the Hudson Greenway and the Staten Island Ferry.

Posted by skooter at 2:01 PM
Tags: cycling, New York, Transportation

December 8, 2009
Cannondale Dutchess Concept Bike

Cannondale Dutchess Concept Bike North America needs more bikes like this. Badly. They are the difference between cycling as mainstream transportation and 3% of all trips being made by bicycle in the City of Vancouver.

Posted by skooter at 5:02 AM
Tags: Cannondale, Cycling, Design, Transportation

November 3, 2009
Road Rage Conviction in California

A long running trial in California ends with a driver being convicted of assault for rapidly applying his brakes in front of a pair of cyclists. It sounds well deserved. Hopefully the sentence isn’t too light. The denial of bail seems to indicate that the court is taking things seriously.

Road-rage verdict: victims speak
Judge denies bail as the prosecutor says no cyclist would feel safe with Thompson on the road
By Patrick Brady, Published: Nov. 3, 2009

The courtroom gallery was filled to capacity Monday as a jury of seven women and five men announced it had convicted former emergency room doctor Christopher Thomas Thompson of assaulting a pair of cyclists last year by abruptly stopping his car in front of them.

Posted by skooter at 9:24 PM
Tags: California, Cycling, Road Rage

Positive Reviews for the Burrard Bridge Bike Lane

The Burrard Bridge Bike Lane trial has been a hit, apparently, to no one’s surprise but a few who seem to think that anything done to support the use of anything other than a car for transportation is bad.

Burrard bike lanes win public support: city survey
_Last Updated: Monday, November 2, 2009, CBC News#

The temporary bike lanes on Vancouver’s Burrard Bridge could be here to stay after a city survey found bike traffic was up, accidents were down and supporters outnumbered opponents nearly two to one.

Personally it’s been wonderful, making crossing the Burrard Bridge a pleasure. I used to occasionally take the road instead of the narrow split sidewal bike lane: I’m no longer forced to make that choice.

The report to council is online as a PDF file. The survey sample is small, but it’s larger than the chorus of cranky individuals who speak out against such things.

So, it appears as if bike lanes are here to stay.

Posted by skooter at 1:17 PM
Tags: Bikes, Cycling, Vancouver

October 11, 2009
Commuting to Work for your Health

The first sentence of the article makes the key point here: even a minor increase in cycling as a mode of transportation can result in enormous gains in personal health. These personal health gains consequently lead to an economic reward for society as a whole through reduced health care and road infrastructure costs.

Research tells commuters: On your bike to lose weight
4:00AM Monday Oct 12, 2009
By Martin Johnston

If New Zealanders increased their cycling to the modest levels of the 1980s, they would burn off annually the amount of energy contained in 40 million cans of Coke.

And this is just commuter and local cycling at a relaxed pace - not a Hayden Roulston-style medal-winning sprint in lycra. Commuter cycling has collapsed since the 1980s and less than 2 per cent of people bike to work.

Posted by skooter at 8:14 PM
Tags: Commuting, Cycling, Health Care

September 17, 2009
Sharing The Road

One of the best articles about urban cycling I’ve read in quite a while. the last paragraph of this excerpt does a nice job of summarizing both the solution and the problem. The emphasis is mine.

“We want to encourage a culture in Santa Rosa where people ride their bikes for short trips around the city, but we want to make sure they do it in a safe manner,” said Rafael Rivero, a community outreach specialist with the Santa Rosa Police Department.

Roundabouts where four-way stops used to be, yield signs, and painted outlines of cyclists on the pavement are just a few of the changes aimed at putting cyclists on equal footing with motorists.

But it won’t work unless everyone — cyclists, motorists and pedestrians — respects one another, said Christine Culver, executive director of the Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.

Posted by skooter at 8:02 PM
Tags: America, Cycling, Safety, Transportation

September 2, 2009
I Can't Do Any of This

Posted by skooter at 1:38 AM
Tags: Cycling, German

August 25, 2009
University of Toronto Research on Cycling/Automobile Collisions

Professor Chris Cavacuit has done some research on the causes of collisions between cyclists and cars. It’s no surprise to me the research concludes that in most cases, fault remains with the driver.

The most common type of crash in this study involved a motorist entering an intersection and either failing to stop properly or proceeding before it was safe to do so. The second most common crash type involved a motorist overtaking unsafely. The third involved a motorist opening a door onto an oncoming cyclist. The study concluded that cyclists are the cause of less than 10 per cent of bike-car accidents in this study.

The available evidence suggests that collisions have far more to do with aggressive driving than aggressive cycling.

I do think the majority of drivers I see try to be polite and considerate. The whole system only works when everybody cooperates: that means cyclists need to behave safely, as well as drivers.

Posted by skooter at 6:41 AM
Tags: Accidents, Articles, Cycling, Research

July 13, 2009
Racing Against Cancer

Racing+Against+Cancer — powered by

Posted by skooter at 6:04 AM
Tags: Cycling, Lance Armstrong

July 8, 2009
Momentum's Field Guide to Vancouver Cyclists

I’m surprised I haven’t seen the Field Guide to Vancouver Specialists. I suppose I fit more than one category there.

Posted by skooter at 1:56 AM
Tags: Cycling, Vancouver

July 3, 2009
Burrard Bridge Merchant Whine On

In 10 days my town starts a trial that converts part of the Burrard Bridge into dedicated bike lanes. Of course the merchants nearby are whining…still. They need to get over it.

But this is the real solution: go Gregor!

When he was elected, I said I wanted to see a commitment for this. He’s suggesting a referendum which is, frankly, a cop out. Council needs to have the strength and commitment to see this through, regardless of the cost. It’s part of building the Vancouver of the future.

Posted by skooter at 1:41 PM
Tags: Cycling, Gregor Robertson, Vancouver

May 20, 2009
London's Cyclist Test

London does these great cycling tests. This is just part of a series.

Posted by skooter at 2:05 AM
Tags: Cars, Cycling, London

May 15, 2009
Montreal's Bixi Bike Sharing in the New York Times

The New York Times gives Montreal’s new Bixi program glowing coverage while Vancouver’s drivers continue to whine about the loss of a lane on the Burrard Bridge in favour of bikes.

Bike sharing programs are great, and it’s nice to see them being put in place in a hilly city like Montreal. From the article:

On a test ride, I found the bike to be stable and comfortable. The three gears, while widely spaced, included one low enough for climbing roads running up the extinct volcano which forms the island of Montreal.

Hills in Vancouver are the continuing red herring against a bike sharing program, along with the fiction that cycling is only good for people who are already fit. Hopefully we can get over this and get a program in place.

Posted by skooter at 6:18 PM
Tags: Bike Sharing, Montreal

May 13, 2009
Bike to Work Week: Share the Road Challenge

Share the Road Challenge from Diana Wilson on Vimeo.

It’s Bike to Work Week in Vancouver. My commute is actually about 10 minutes shorter when I drive, but it’s quite a bit less enjoyable.

Posted by skooter at 1:47 PM
Tags: Commuting, Cycling

May 8, 2009
Pushing the Envelope in Bike Design

The New York Times has an excellent article on the evolution of bike design and the impact of the UCI’s traditional view of bikes.

Professional cycling is in a heated struggle among its governing body, its teams and the companies that manufacture expensive equipment over what is a legal racing bike.

The International Cycling Union abruptly alerted teams at the start of this season that it intends to clarify and reinterpret its often oblique rules governing bicycle design through increased equipment inspections.

The announcement was an unwelcome surprise. Bicycles and accessories may be banned within weeks. That could leave teams scrambling to find new bikes for top riders, and the manufacturers could find it harder to sell their merchandise.

Posted by skooter at 5:02 AM
Tags: Cycling, Design

Making Cars a Lower Priority

The city of Vancouver today voted in favour of a trial to improve cycling on the Burrard Bridge. The bridge currently requires cyclists and pedestrians to share a narrow sidewalk, with only a curb to separate fast moving traffic. The speed limit is 50km/h, but traffic is moving much faster than that.

This is is a good move, and a forward thinking move. It’s a recognition that bicycles play a vital role in transportation strategy, especially in the densely populated downtown areas.

I still want a pedestrian and bicycle only crossing of False Creek. This is a baby step in that direction.

Meanwhile the now Seattle Post Intelligencer, now an online only publication, highlights a study that should be so obvious as to be unnecessary, although the quantification of the amounts involved is welcome. For what it’s worth, I spent CDN$18,035.98 on my car for the three calendar years 2006, 2007 and 2008, an average of $6012 a year That doesn’t include a monthly payment, and I don’t drive that much.

Ditching the car saves thousands, study says

A typical Seattle resident could save more than $10,000 a year by cutting out a car, according to a new study.

The American Public Transportation Association’s Transit Savings Report looked at the savings on gas, parking, maintenance, tires, insurance, registration, depreciation and finance charges if a household gave up a car and used transit.

Posted by skooter at 4:40 AM
Tags: Cars, Cycling, Economics, Politics, Seattle

April 20, 2009
Another Cool Bike Parking Solution

This is a slick solution to secure bike parking, similar to another proposal from Japan. The advantage of this is that it doesn’t require underground storage, though there is a slight decrease in the level of security provided as a result.

Posted by skooter at 5:44 AM
Tags: Cycling, Urban Planning

April 18, 2009
Tyler Hamilton & Helmets

Two stories on Outside Magazine’s blog were interesting today. First comes the news that Tyler Hamilton has tested positive for a banned substance…again. He says he’s retiring from professional cycling. (Velonews has more detailed coverage, of course.)

Whether this test was due to a prescribed medication or not, Tyler should be smart enough to make sure that he doesn’t test positive again. His first positive test resulted in a ban which Tyler fought vigorously. As part of his defense he claimed that the genetic markers for the drug were the result of an unborn twin residing in his body. Ridiculous.

If Tyler had admitted fault and not put forward such a ridiculous defence, it might be possible to have sympathy at this point. It’s not.

Vail Resorts will be requiring its on mountain employees to wear helmets while working and skiing or snowboarding. This is a very good thing. As helmets become more common on ski hills, the ridiculous social stigma that prevents people from wearing them will disappear. It can’t happen soon enough for my taste.

Posted by skooter at 11:28 PM
Tags: Cycling, Helmets, Skiing

April 12, 2009
Portland Proposes a Cycling Tax

This is almost silly just on its face. When you consider the fact that the proposed registration fee is as expensive as vehicle registration it’s so ridiculous it’s almost sublime.

Oregon Proposes Bicycle Tax

Oregon’s spandex-clad cyclists are splitting at their seams in anti-establishment anger after Republican state Representative and non-hipster Wayne Krieger proposed a bill in the state’s House that would charge bike owners a $54 bike registration fee every two years. The bill proposes a handful of other small fees for licensing transfers or tampering with a bike’s serial number.

Posted by skooter at 4:47 PM
Tags: Cycling, Portland, Taxes

April 7, 2009
No Tour de Gastown for 2009

The good news here is that White Rock and Delta have both managed to hold great bike races year after year, over a variety of terrain. The bad news is that the urban cobblestone run Tour de Gastown with the hairpin turns is canceled.

It’s a fun event that draws a huge crowd, larger than the suburban ones. Here’s hoping it’s back next year.

Posted by skooter at 1:47 PM
Tags: Cycling, Vancouver

April 4, 2009
The Relentless Shift to Asian Manufacturing

A couple of years ago, Cannondale was acquired by a Canadian company. Cannondale had always been a proudly American company, and it was seen as a triumph of Canadian business. A relatively small manufacturer of frames, Cannondale had broadened from its history of pure aluminum to include other even lighter materials. They were hugely innovative, particularly in the area of front suspension. The Headshok system put the suspension mechanism in the headtube, eliminating leg flex and resulting in a lighter mechanism (albeit at the cost of custom, proprietary headsets); The Lefty system was even more radical, eliminating one half of the front fork altogether.

The road frames were beautiful too. They were light, and stiff, and strong. When Miguel Indurain retired and had to buy a bike he chose a Cannondale.

The only mountain bikes I’ve ever owned were Cannondales, and I used to beat the hell out of those things. I still have my last one, though it’s retired as I’ve moved back to the road. It’s in the garage, and basically gets used for neighbourhood cruising by others when they need it.

In a move that’s surprising only because it comes so long after the acquisition, Dorel Industries has announced that they’re shifting production of Cannondale frames to Asia. While this may be completely unsurprising, it’s sad. It’s what happens when a company built on passion becomes a company run for profit…a notch in a portfolio, a cog in a machine.

Posted by skooter at 3:49 PM
Tags: Cannondale, Cycling

March 24, 2009
Whatever You Have to Say About Lance...

It’s been a long time since cycling’s been covered in the New York Times, and an even longer time since any even outside of Le Tour has been mentioned (with the occasional North American event garnering coverage.)

Lance fell down and went boom.

Posted by skooter at 1:28 AM
Tags: Cycling, Lance Armstrong

March 7, 2009
David Byrne in Vancouver

The night David Byrne played in Vancouver I was at local hero A.C. Newman’s show at the Biltmore Cabaret. Loyalty and budget won out over fame.

Apparently, I should have been riding my bike around the city because that’s what David Byrne was doing.

Posted by skooter at 9:19 PM
Tags: Cycling, Music, Vancouver

February 24, 2009
Bike Parking in Japan

Posted by skooter at 5:07 AM
Tags: Cycling, Technology

February 18, 2009
Levi Leipheimer at the AMGEN Tour de California

Levi Leipheimer’s leading the race, and Velonews has an impressive sequence of photos showing his crash earlier today.

In other news Lance Armstrong’s bike was stolen which just seems stupid. Here’s hoping he had a lot of Kryptonite locks on that thing: it’s one of a kind probably worth a fortune.

Posted by skooter at 7:17 AM
Tags: Cycling, Lance Armstrong

December 23, 2008
A Modest Proposal (for Cycling)

It’s unfortunate, I think, that this article is not written in the sarcastic spirit of Jonathan Swift. A pitch for a $25 per year cycling registration fee in Seattle seems just ridiculous.

For starters, there’s not a jurisdiction in North America that funds road infrastructure purely from taxes paid by cars. Virtually every jurisdiction uses a portion of their general revenue to pay for automotive infrastructure, and in many cases various property taxes are applied as well. By extenstion cyclists—even those that don’t own cars—are paying for a road infrastructure that they’re not using as frequently as others.

Velonews’ Bob Mionske looks at other reasons in some depth.

I hope this is just a newspaper columnist trying to stir up some noise, because if it’s a serious proposal opposition needs to be built now.

Impose license fee on King County cyclists
By James F. Vesely
Times editorial page editor

Local government finances are so dire, it is time to consider — and enact — an annual fee on bicyclists.

A $25 annual fee for owning a bike is a natural outgrowth of the enormous amounts of trails, lanes and accommodations the region has made to cyclists. Those funds would be useful for local cities and King County. It would also make cyclists true members of the world of transportation, rather than free riders on the tax rolls.

Special licenses are not new. We license dogs, our cars, our boats, our motorcycles, our pleasures in hunting and fishing, as well as many other outdoor activities. Cyclists, known for their community spirit and exalted senses of self, should welcome this opportunity to help government support their activities.

Posted by skooter at 2:20 AM
Tags: Cycling, Seattle, Taxes, Transportation

November 26, 2008
Piave, Granville Island

Posted by skooter at 1:48 PM
Tags: Bikes, Granville Island

November 19, 2008
Toronto's Bike Routes

A long long time ago, Bicycling Magazine voted Toronto the best city for cycling in North America. It slipped in the rankings quit a bit following that, but moves like this are a good way of getting that rating back.

I used to ride the Martin Goodman Trail in the snow quite a bit, and have fond memories of pedaling along the lakeshore while snow gently wafted around me illuminated by only the lights long the trail and the headlight on my bike. It was glorious.

Toronto plans to clear snow off major cycling routes Sidewalks also to get special attention in pro-active strategy
November 19, 2008 at 4:50 AM EST

With up to four centimetres of snow expected to hit Toronto tomorrow morning, city officials - mindful of last season’s near-record snowfall - were quick to say yesterday that they are ready for winter and are even pledging to keep a pair of key cycling routes clear this year.

Councillors on the city’s parks committee will discuss a plan today to make special efforts to clear two east-west bike routes into the downtown, one along the “multi-use path” along Lake Shore Boulevard and Queens Quay from the east, and the other on the Queensway and King Street West.

The plan also calls for a study of how much it would cost to clear the waterfront Martin Goodman Trail for use by well-bundled cyclists all winter.

Parks committee chairwoman Paula Fletcher acknowledged that some residents of her downtown ward whose streets were left clogged with ice and snow last year might scratch their heads at the idea, but she said it is important to encourage all-season cycling.

Vancouver, incidentally, ignores cycling routes when it snows here. It doesn’t happen that often, and side streets in general seem to be ignored not just bike routes.

Posted by skooter at 1:36 PM
Tags: Cycling, Toronto, Winter

November 12, 2008
I Want My Own Damn Bridge

If this city is serious about increasing cycling, which also happens to be the best way to reduce greenhouse gas output, it needs investment. A single lane on the Burrard Bridge would be welcome, but ultimately there needs to be a dedicated bicycle and pedestrian crossing over False Creek to achieve the goal. Anything else is just a stopgap, even is BEST isn’t brave enough to say so.

If the city were smart, they would have had the developers of the (soon to be bankrupt) South East False Creek condos pay for the damn thing.

Vancouver cyclists pan Burrard Bridge proposals
Last Updated: Tuesday, November 11, 2008 | 6:34 PM ET

Vancouver bicycling advocates are once again slamming mayoral candidate Peter Ladner’s plans for the Burrard Bridge.

The chair of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, Lisa Slakov, said on Tuesday the best solution would be to dedicate one lane of the bridge in each direction for cyclists,

“The reason for it is because its cheap as borscht, it’s fantastic. We can put it up right away. We are looking at a reallocation trial, and that was planned a couple of years ago before the last government got in and nixed it,” said Slakov.

Posted by skooter at 3:13 AM
Tags: Commuting, Cycling, Vancouver

November 10, 2008
Europe's Bike-Sharing Programs

The New York Times discusses the rise of bike sharing programs in Europe.

Among the most notable comments:

Copenhagen and Amsterdam have had devoted bicycling commuters for many years. But the new programs have created the greatest transportation revolution in central and southern Europe, where warmer climates allow riders to ride comfortably year-round. The shared bicycles in Barcelona, Lyon and Paris are heavily used, logging about 10 rides a day, according to officials in these cities.

I’m hopeful we’ll see a program like this in Vancouver sometime in the next few years.

Posted by skooter at 5:00 AM
Tags: Bikes, Transportation, Vancouver

November 6, 2008
Think About This the Next Time You're Pumping

From VeloNews

The price of gas, which was running $11/gallon in Italy in September, even with a favorable Euro vs. dollar exchange rate, has produced a heightened interest in bicycle commuting.

11 Euros is CDN$16.63 according to the Bank of Canada. With 3.8 litres per gallon that translates to CDN$4.38 per litre. It might be time to stop complaining (though I wish we had Europe’s rail system.)

Posted by skooter at 4:14 PM
Tags: Cars, Cycling, Gas, Oil

October 3, 2008
Strida Folding Bikes

The Strida folding bicycle has been around for a while, and won an I.D. award a few years ago. I’ve considered ordering one on a few occasions, but ultimately decided not too. I think if my commute involved a mix of modes it would be ideal, but I cycle the whole distance and traditional touring bikes seem to do the job fairly well.

As a design exercise though, the Strida is phenomenal. The traditional double triangle bicycle shape is so entrenched that it’s a tough pattern to break out of. The Strida did that, and also replaced the chain with a teflon belt. The chain is cycling’s weakest link (pun intended) and a replacement on all bikes would be more than welcome.

The video below provides an overview of the design process. Well worth watching.

Posted by skooter at 4:22 AM
Tags: Bikes, Cycling, Design

September 22, 2008
Bike Sharing Comes to Canada - Again

The news that Montreal is starting a bike sharing program is welcome. Of course, Toronto tried this and it failed. the same thing has been proposed in Vancouver, and it’s been very succesful in Paris.

Theft is an issue, but Paris’ electronic tracking system has apparently minimized that problem. Here’s hoping Montreal’s experiment is a success, and encourages other Canadian cities to launch similar programs. It would be nice to see this in place by the time the Olympics arrive here.

September 21, 2008
Othello Tunnels, Coquihalla Canyon Park

Othello Tunnels, Coquihalla Canyon Taken with a Canon EF20mm lens inside tunnel for 1.5 minutes at f8. Located near Hope, the Coquihalla Canyon tunnels are ideal for cycling.

Posted by skooter at 7:08 AM
Tags: Cycling, Tunnels

September 19, 2008
Land of the Giants

The New York Times visits California’s Redwood National Forest, and sends my mind wandering to that golden, scenic coast.

Maybe next year. Maybe on a bicycle.

Posted by skooter at 1:36 PM
Tags: Articles, California, Travel

September 9, 2008
No PST on Bicycles and Parts in British Columbia

The things you learn when you pay attention.

It was time for the annual chain change on my daily commuter bike, and when I wondered why the bill seemed smaller than I thought it should be, I learned that in British Columbia:

You do not charge your customer PST when you sell replacement parts. 

which means I’m going to be paying closer attention to bills in the future. A nice little incentive provided by the Campbell government.

Posted by skooter at 3:10 AM
Tags: Cycling, Gordon Campbell, Politics, Taxes

August 28, 2008
Yay, New York City!

I’ve never ridden a bicycle in New York City, and I’ve been told it’s…challenging. I’m glad to see the greatest city on earth doing more to encourage cycling and, more importantly, to actively discourage driving.

August 27, 2008,  5:41 pm
Bike, Don’t Drive, City Tells Its Workers

The city has drastically cut the number of free parking permits it gives to city employees, including teachers. So how else are civil servants supposed to get to work?

On Wednesday, city officials said they would expand secure bicycle parking for employees at five municipal buildings in Lower Manhattan in the fall. Three existing bike parking facilities will be enlarged, going to 110 spaces from 46, and two others will be added, creating 24 new parking spaces.

While we’re at it, hurrah to both New York and the always interesting David Byrne for the most interesting bike racks I’ve seen in a long time.

Posted by skooter at 2:56 AM
Tags: Cycling, Music, New York

August 2, 2008
Shimano Dura-Ace 7970 Electronic Shifting

Velonews has more details on the new Shimano Dura-Ace 7970 electronic shifters. There’s enough information there to convince me that this is definitely different. No cables, self adjusting derailleurs, potential for more than a single set of shifters.

I’m not going to be jumping on this bandwagon very quickly, but I’m intrigued at least.

This is a fundamental shift in cycling technology that hasn’t been seen before. The basic mechanics of shifting have been the same since the 50s and 60s. Shift levers have changed to be sure, but in evolutionary ways. Still cables pulling on springs at heart, with a chain to tie it all together.

Old technologies have a habit of sticking around the longest. The book has been remarkably resilient, and the bike ha been extremely persistent. I suppose we’ll see what happens now.

Posted by skooter at 5:03 AM
Tags: Cycling, Dura-Ace, Shimano

Purple. Definitely Purple.

Spandex Velvet at Fabricana The marriage of spandex & velvet is surely the kind of unholy alliance that should be banned.

Posted by skooter at 3:38 AM
Tags: Cycling, Fashion

August 1, 2008
Tolls are Good

There’s more than one way to cross the Fraser. Some of those bridges should be tolled, and we might as well start with this one.

New, tolled Pattullo Bridge gets green light
Last Updated: Thursday, July 31, 2008 | 9:00 PM ET
CBC News

More than 79,000 vehicles travel over the Pattullo Bridge, which spans the Fraser River between New Westminster and Surrey, B.C., every day. (CBC)

TransLink has approved the construction of a new, tolled crossing to replace the 71-year-old Pattullo Bridge spanning the Fraser River between Surrey and New Westminster, B.C.

Posted by skooter at 6:09 AM
Tags: Cars, Roads, Transportation, Vancouver

Battery Operated Bikes

I confess to not quite understanding the point of electronic shifting but Shimano is apparently hitting the market next year.

Cables stretch, but are cheap and easy to replace. Perhaps the electronic version will remain snappier for a longer period of time, or perhaps forever. This article provides a bit more detail, but I want to see what Velonews has to say first.

I just don’t want my batteries to die when I’m on my way up Cypress Bowl.

Posted by skooter at 5:02 AM
Tags: Cycling, Shimano

July 29, 2008
New York Cop Smokes Cyclist and Loses his Badge

I have some political objections to Critical Mass (most notably, I’ve seen the flagrant breaking of traffic laws) but the New York City police department’s recent response to the event is just disgusting, and might be enough to make me start riding every month.

Posted by skooter at 7:25 PM
Tags: Critical Mass, Cycling, New York, Police

July 28, 2008
Nice to See the World Can be Changed

With stories of bike racks being overfull in communities around the continent, it’s nice to see someone trying to do something distinctive.

Contest picks best designs for Ballard bike racks

Later this year, Ballard cyclists could find themselves parking their bikes between two toes of a giant concrete foot.

Or maybe inside the rusted husk of a car sculpture, meant to symbolize the decay of the automobile and fossil fuel age.

Personally, these racks have long been my favourites, combining function with good visual design. The City of Toronto’s are also good, although the locking circle is affixed to the post by two bolts that can be removed which is a problem. I’ve never seen these ones at the ROM but I like the idea of doing something unique.

Posted by skooter at 2:09 PM
Tags: Bike Racks, Bikes, Cycling, Security, Transportation

May 8, 2008
Elusive Objects of Lust

Despite (or perhaps as a result of) the pure joy that my newly acquired Eddy Merckx Team Alu Mega bike provides for me, I would dearly love one of these.
Look 586 Mondrian

Posted by skooter at 11:48 PM
Tags: Bikes, Cycling, European, Frames

May 7, 2008
About Time in Toronto

According to the Globe and Mail, cycling in T-dot is picking up at a pretty good rate.

Cycle mania hits high gear; good luck getting tune-up
Soaring gas prices, bad traffic and the TTC strike are getting a lot of people back on their bikes
From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail May 7, 2008 at 5:43 AM EDT

For cycling enthusiasts in Toronto, it was the perfect storm.

Every year around this time, a stream of people bring their bikes in for tune-ups and repairs. Cycling is growing in popularity, and it’s not easy to find a good mechanic. But this year, high gas prices, nasty weather and a traffic-choked downtown core meant tune-ups were in high demand. And when the TTC strike hit in April, a flood of desperate customers descended on Toronto’s bike shops.

“The TTC strike just blew our minds. That was the busiest day of my life,” said Eric Kamphof, a manager at Curbside Cycle near Bloor and Bathurst Streets. Curbside was so busy that it had to reject repairs. “To reject bikes is a horrible thing to do, it’s nothing we want to do. But if you’re a mechanic, you want to protect your level of quality.

The truth is, weather aside, Toronto’s actually a pretty good city for cycling. The Don Valley Bike Path is a spectacular stretch of pavement with no cars that I used to use to get downtown from Scarborough. Streetcar tracks can be a bit of a challenge, but only on a few roads. The city is relatively flat (at least compared to Vancouver) and the Waterfront path provides a convenient way to move East=West along the Lakeshore through the Beach.

December is a whole different story, although I used to ride through the winter it would be harder to commute. Vancouver’s rain can be relentless, but it’s relatively…clean.

The biggest problem in Toronto is the seemingly endless sprawl. In a city where people have the longest commute on average in Canada, cycling is tough. Commutes less than 10 km are easy on a bike: commutes farther than 20 km are quite a bit harder.

Still, it’s good to see.

Posted by skooter at 1:35 PM
Tags: Commuting, Cycling, Public Transit, T-dot, Toronto

March 26, 2008
27.3 Kilometres

27.3 Kilometres is the length of a return trip on my new commute to work, largely along Vancouver’s Midtown bike route out to Boundary Road, crossing every major street in the city. It’s quite pleasant really, a bit hillier than I’d thought, but not too bad.

I pass a cemetery, several chinese restaurants, the Purdy’s Chocolate factory, the biggest liquor store in the city and the headquarters of Burnaby’s Electronic Arts Inc.

This is twice as long as my old commute, and it takes about twice as long to ride it (about an hour door to door, including time to get changed.) I’m not sure how it will feel when winter comes, with its relentless rain: new, more powerful, headlights might be a good idea but that’s a decision that can wait for a few months. Spring (with its promise of summer looming just around the corner), is a great time to change jobs for a bicycle commuter. It’s just nicer to ride with long days of sunshine (such as it is in Vancouver, of course.)

Tonight it rained on the way home, quite a bit as it turns out. I didn’t mind too much: at least I was on two wheels.

Posted by skooter at 2:01 AM
Tags: Commute, Cycling, Vancouver, Work

January 17, 2008
Ok Lance, We Get It...

You’re the man. Point taken.

Lance Armstrong to run in Boston Marathon
Associated Press / January 17, 2008

BOSTON — Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong plans to run the Boston Marathon in April to raise money for his foundation.
more stories like this

Armstrong, 36, qualified for Boston by finishing last year’s New York City Marathon in 2:46:43, good enough for 214th place among men. The Boston qualifying time for men ages 35-39 is 3:15.

Posted by skooter at 6:41 PM
Tags: Cycling, Lance Armstrong, Sports

November 5, 2007
Cycling in Portland

Portland has long had a reputation for being an extremely bike friendly city—perhaps more so than any west coast city. San Francisco’s hills, it seems, plague it; Los Angeles’ traffic destroys all hope. Seattle and Vancouver have much in common with Portland (including the rain,) although the geography of both is bumpier.

The New York Times has an article on Portland’s cycling economy. What other city could have produced the phenomenal Full Wood Fenders from River City Bikes.

The cycling traffic jam I hit on the way home from work tonight was felt good, but they are rare here in Vancouver. Portland’s a great town.

Posted by skooter at 4:08 PM
Tags: Articles, Bikes, Cycling, Environmentalism, Portland

July 9, 2007
Oak & 37th

I pulled up to the corner of Oak and 37th, heading West…away from Toronto and towards home, in a manner of speaking. 37th is a major East/West bike route in Vancouver, although it’s a weird one for me to take—I’m not sure why I chose that route home tonight, but I did.

I slid in behind someone and, as I so often do, started examining his bike. It was red…a Vitali frame. Probably a few years old, judging the its construction: there was no carbon fibre at all, and the paint had chipped a bit.

Mostly what I looked at was the components. There were Campagnolo Veloce parts. Campagnolo components are rarer than my Shimano and have the beauty inherent in their Italian pedigree. Say what you want, but the Italians know something about machines that move…they are things of beauty that come from the heart first, and machines of efficiency and reliability second.

They guy on the bike in front of me turned around. He was older than I thought, or expected…probably about 60 or so, although it’s hard to judge. He smiled and said:

“You better go ahead. I’m recovering from chemotheraphy.”

It was such a pure moment of open disclosure I didn’t quite know what to say, but I told him I was admiring his bike and as I rode off I told him to have a nice ride.

It’s moments like that that I love about commuting on my bike.

Posted by skooter at 9:19 PM
Tags: Bikes, Vancouver

November 28, 2006
The Daily Grind

I’ve done smarter things in my life.

Vancouver was battered by snow yesterday. This doesn’t happen often, and this is certainly the worst I’ve seen in my 6 years of living here. Faced with the prospect of a fresh snowfall and horrible drivers, I took the bus to work for the first time in…months. I’ve driven a few times, but basically I’ve been cycling every day since March. It’s The Better Way™ to get to work.

Not today, though. Not today. I woke up determined to cycle today.

I’ve done smarter things in my life.

Vancouver’s street cleaning eqiupment is minimal at best, and when snow falls the side streets—meaning the streets that are normally bike routes—aren’t cleaned at all. This left me with a choice of Granville or Arbutus streets.

Arbutus has a horrible hill between 37th and 33rd, leaving me with the incredibly busy Granville street. It was a bit slushy but relatively ice free, and downhill on the way to work.

On the way home, I had to climb the Granville hill. Cars passed within inches until I pushed over to the left side of the lane, forcing cars to change lanes to pass me. I followed buses as much as possible, trusting in the safety of large vehicles driven by professionals.

The air was cold, and burned my lungs as I inhaled and exhaled. I turned the pedals in lower gears than normal in order to keep my cadence up. My body was warm despite the cold air, and I kept pedaling until I got home.

I made it home, safe and sound. I can take whatever tomorrow presents.

Posted by skooter at 4:44 PM
Tags: Cycling, Winter

September 22, 2006
New Wheels

2006 Kona Sutra

New wheels. Next year, finally time to ride the Kettle Valley Rail Trail to Midway.

Posted by skooter at 7:45 PM
Tags: Bikes, Touring, Travel

July 22, 2006
Tour de France 2006: An American In Paris

It’s old news by now that Floyd Landis has won today’s time trial, all but clinching victory in Paris tomorrow.

This has been the most exciting tour to watch since 1989, when Greg LeMond faced Laurent Fignon in the final time trial and snatched the closest victory ever: 8 seconds.

That Landis’ victory today came as much as a result of Oscar Pereiro’s failure as his own effort does not diminish from his achievement.

This was a great race.

Posted by skooter at 12:40 PM
Tags: Cycling, Tour de France

July 21, 2006
3 men, 57 km, 30 seconds

As expected, after one of the greatest days in the history of the tour, Floyd Landis and the other race leaders took it easy today and hung together in the Peloton.

Tomorrow’s penultimate stage is a 57km kilometre time trial. They call the time trial the race of truth — there is no hiding in the peloton, no group times assigned, no moments of rest to be found in the French heat.

3 men are separated by only 30 seconds, a difference so small that it will be impossible to know who has won this race until the last man crosses the finish line — barring major incident.

The evidence of yesterday’s ride suggest that Landis is able to dig deeper than most at moments that matter to find those extra precious seconds that separate those who have the will to win from those who have the desire to win.

All bets are off, but if I were a betting man I’d put my money on that will.

Posted by skooter at 8:16 AM
Tags: Cycling, Tour de France

July 20, 2006
Tour de France, Cote de Chatilon-sur-Cluses, July 19, 2006

Cote de Chatilon-sur-Cluses

Not taken by me, but by a friend.

One of the greatest tour days ever

Posted by skooter at 12:51 PM
Tags: Cycling, Floyd Landis, Tour de France

July 13, 2006
Le Maillot Jaune

George Hincapie has slid, as I expected, off the back of the peloton and into the history books of American cycling: Le Tour 2006 is not his to be had.

Instead, Floyd Landis sits in first by the thinnest of thin margins and takes his place at the vanguard of the future of the post-Lance era. His lead going into Bastille Day is only 8 seconds.

Of course, any devotee of the race will recognize that number and its significance. 8 seconds can be all it takes to win.

Posted by skooter at 12:38 PM
Tags: Cycling, Tour de France

June 17, 2005
Riding in the Rain

Sometimes in the morning I look outside my windows and see the rain, and I just can’t imagine wanting to get on my bike and ride to work.

But this is Vancouver, and if you’re going to let a little thing like rain drag you down, you’re living in the wrong city.

Today, I had to wake up early too and the idea of that tiny little 10km bike ride (downhill, for god’s sake) to work just seemed wrong.

But I did it anyway, and man was it fun. There are those of us who, believe it or not, actually enjoy the rain even if only in moderation.

Rain brings life; renewal; it gives the Earth a slightly shinier all around cleaner look.

But mostly it brings life.

Posted by skooter at 8:11 AM

October 17, 2004
Bike Fenders: Good

Although I’ve been cycling for well over 20 years, including sunny, rainy and Ontario winter days, I’ve never owned a set of bike fenders.

Having just slapped a pair of SKS Race Blade Road fenders on my Trek racing bike, and I can only say: what the hell have I been thinking?

I just got back from ride in the rain and I was, to a great extent, dry. These things are awesome. On in a snap, off just as easily and while they don’t provide 100% coverage, they certainly seem to provide enough.

Posted by skooter at 4:18 PM
Tags: Cycling, Fenders, Rain, Trek

September 6, 2004
Labour Day Weekend 2004

I always look like this when I get back from Bowen Island with my friends the Rogers’ and their family; this photo was taken by a little boy named Kai, and I couldn’t think of a better group of people or a better way to end the summer.

This trip was a little different though; it happened on two wheels and a new friend was thrown into the mix.

Vancouver and Stanley Park
My friend Marie has cycled quite a bit, including a seven week tour of New Zealand where her family is from. It was her idea to do this trip by bike, and I was more than willing to come along for the ride, as the saying goes.

Marie riding through downtown Vancouver

I haven’t done that much cycle touring - a little bit of it, but not much. I was a little surprised by the impact that loaded panniers had on my bike - my little used granny gear came in quite handy on this trip.

Crossing the Lion’s Gate Bridge

North Vancouver to Horseshoe Bay
After crossing the Lion’s Gate Bridge, we proceeded up Taylor Way and to the upper level’s highway (also known as Hwy. 1); this was tough going at first, but Upper Levels has the advantage of providing a long but gentle downward swing almost all the way from Cypress Bowl. Sometimes taking the tough hill in one shot is easier if it provides this kind of ride at the end.

Boarding the Bowen Island ferry is always fun, but this time it was also a nice rest. We weren’t far from home - only about 26km - but the hills here sap energy especially when combined with the extra weight.

And as a note to myself and others, knobby mountain bike tires are really bad touring equipment. I knew this, but have persistently refused to exchange mine for slicks.

From the Bowen Island ferry we were steadily moving uphill for about 7km. For about the first 4km of this the slope is gentle and rolling. The next 1.5km were not fun. Hitting 68.4km/h on the downhilll more than makes up for it though.

38km after leaving our door, we arrived shortly after Bronson’s birthday party kicked off, about 3 hours total after leaving home. Including the ferry ride, this is only about an hour more than the trip takes by car most of the time. With the party in full swing, the house was overrun with kids having the kind of fun that only kids can have.

Cowan Point Railway

The Cowan Point Railway is well known, and relatively world famous. The kids headed up towards, and Martin pulled one of his steamers out.

With my camera, I caught two movies - one of Martin intersecting Stephen & I on one of the electric engines:

and the other of Martin crossing a trestle (and maybe showing off a little bit.)

Back to Downhill

Kai & Lilly - best kids ever
Sunday was spent Downhill relaxing. Everybody expected Marie & I to be sore; neither one of us was, although I was certainly aware of my body in a way that only comes from solid exercise.

I handed my camera to Kai and provided some basic instruction. The two photos below are by him.

A game of bocce ended the day for Stephen, Bronson & Marie before an appropriately amazing dinner prepared by Val. This last night of informal summer couldn’t have been perfect, and couldn’t have possibly been spent with better people.

Heading Home

Downhill is appropriately named - the road is quite steep, and Martin convinced Marie that a drive to the top of the hill made sense. This took about half an hour off of the Bowen Island end of the trip: it was all downhill, and we cruised along at an average speed of 28km/h with Bronson in tow.

The best weekends in this province begin and end on BC Ferries. The 20 minute crossing from Bowen Island is no less pleasant than any other crossing just because its short.

Summer’s not officially over yet, but Labour Day always marks a transition even for those of us no longer in school. The ending of this one was perfect and the final 20km of the ride home flew past as we headed back towards Vancouver and home; at least until Marie got a flat tire on the Lions Gate bridge.

Fall is my favourite time of year, at least until it rains; I can’t wait for next summer though.

Posted by skooter at 8:40 PM
Tags: Bowen Island, Cycling, Trains

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