Sunday, February 26, 2006


Mardigras in the snow!

It seems odd but there was a Mardigras celebration in North Vancouver.
We bundled up and braved the cold. It was snowing and all the volunteers were frozen.
The Cleveland Dam was decorated with streamers and flags -- all made out of mylar-- and then was lit with multi coloured lights. There were flowers and designs, hanging art and all sorts of wonderfully imaginative things. It was very bohemian
There were giant spiders, Brer rabbit on stilts, Ravens stealing the sun, and Monkeys.

It was the monkeys that did T in. The two that she came close to both scared her so much that she bolted in both cases. Poor kid, scared to death.

Ah, death was there too -- on a tall bike no less. A and T enjoyed the tall bikes. Both of them got a chance to ride them. I think this was the best part of the festival for them. They both rode across the dam on the tall bikes, A by himself and T with some help. A was so enthusiastic about the tall bike that he wants to make one now. I have seen Pedal Play around, maybe it's time to check them out. Could be a good project for us

It was a great afternoon, frozen but enriched. Art in North Van. I can hardly wait until next year.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Outdoor show

Yesterday my brothers-in-law and I took the older kids to the Outdoor/Golf show.

The cousins love to see the dirt jumpers and I love to see all the new bike swag. Not that I am interested in the consumerism of the whole thing, I just love bikes.

I have some highlights.
Huuk bikes, a new North Van company making free ride bikes, was there with a couple of his new bikes. What I thought was cool was he also brought 5 or 6 bikes from his "museum." A bunch of old cruisers.

Haro bikes had a kids bmx race bike that looked really fast. I just looked for it on their website and couldn't find it though.

What was odd is that I seemed to be drawn not to the big mountain bikes, but to the commuter bikes. It is astounding that a few years ago when I got my Dr. Dew, Kona was the only company that made "high performance" commuters. Now it seems everyone is.
Norco has some really high end commuters that are over 2 grand. Nice, but no disk brakes. Here is the one that would be good in Vancouver. With all the rain it sure is nice having disks.

Along the high performance commuter line I also saw from Brodie a couple of good looking offerings, the Telsa is only 23lbs with disk brakes! A more affordable brodie might be the Energy at under a thousand dollars, still with disks.

The kids got tired of the dirt jumping so we went to the golf side of the show. What a cultural contrast. There were cyclists and outoorsy types at BC Place to see the Outdoor show, and on the other side of the football field was the better dressed, older golf types. The groups were only separated by a thin curtain. The two groups seemed to co-exist, with only a scant few venturing to the others"turf"

The BCPGA was building golf clubs for free for kids, all the cousins were fit for a club. I think we all left with 7 irons. All the kids teeth are still in place. We even tested the clubs at the driving range they had. There were golf pros helping out. My kid has now had more golf instruction than I have. One of A's cousins has the best "Happy Gilmore" stance I have ever seen, and at 5, hit every ball into the net 25 feet away. He had all the golf pros around him cooing. It was hilarious.

So we all left happy. The kids had all the posters, stickers and clubs they could carry. The dads had a couple of hours of talking swag and hanging out.

The only problem, it was a beautifully sunny day outside.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Respect for Peds

I have been on this respect thing for a little while. I know I have only written one entry about it, but I have been thinking about it a lot lately.

Riding to work this morning I saw a couple of things that got me thinking about respect for pedestrians.

The first incident occurred as I was coming down Mountain Highway this morning. This road has a side walk on only one side of the street (typical of North Vancouver). The road is set up in such a way that if you are walking up or down the hill there is no way to see the construction until it is too late to change your route. There are signs for traffic warning of construction ahead, but nothing for pedestrians.

At the construction site the workers were "polite" enough not to block traffic by parking on the road, instead they all parked on the sidewalk. For pedestrians it was impossible to pass. Again there seems only to be respect for automobiles.

The second incident has taken a bit longer to get me annoyed. Close to my work the city has decided that crossing the road for pedestrians is far too dangerous, so they have decided to install curb extensions into the road and a median so that pedestrians have a safe place to stand and wait for traffic to stop. First of all as a cyclist I am not in favour of curb extensions in general. In the particular location I am referring to here they are particularly dangerous as two lanes are merging into one at the curb extension -- even more dangerous for cyclists. It is the construction of the curb extensions that I was amazed at however. In constructing them the city workers closed both sidewalks and didn't provide alternate arrangements for pedestrians -- other than walking through someone's yard. What were they thinking -- would people stop walking? Would children stop going to school? Again another example of a lack of respect for anyone other than a motorist.

I sent an email to the DNV about the sidewalk closure on Mountain Highway. I wonder If I'll get a response.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Monsoon Update

This is a follow up to a previous post about the record breaking rainfall. I don't want to be obsessed about this, but it has been quite astonishing. Here is an article from the local newspaper stating the obvious -- The North Shore got 2-3 X's the amount of rain the airport got (where the rain gage is). Almost a meter in some places!!

Although the snow line rises and falls quickly, we have been able to ride in the mountains every weekend. Rain isn't all bad!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Commute by Bike

A big thanks to the welcoming committee at Commute by Bike. I've been lurking on their site for a while now, but lately I had to comment on some of the posts. There were two posts in particular that hit pretty close to home. One was high on the nostalgia meter and the other was high on the current content meter.

The nostalgia meter was peaked when I saw the tribute to RAD -- you know the BMX film of the '80's. I saw that film when it first came out in 1986. Who wasn't in love with Lori Loughlin, and of course the "rad" stunts? Anyway the big thing about RAD, aside for the great bike stunts, was the fact that it was filmed pretty much in my back yard in Calgary. We used train out near Cochrane when I used to bike race myself. Cochrane was the second venue for the filming. When I saw the clip of the film it took me back to those days in Calgary again.

The current content meter was set when Commute by bike posted a movie about the North Shore in Vancouver, where I live and ride now. There has been a rapid rise in the number of people riding the Shore mountains. There has been a great deal of support on a grass roots level from groups like the North Shore Mountain Bike Association to mitigate conflicts between local residents and the mountain bike community. It has been difficult. The municipal council has had supporters and detractors. Ernie Crist -- interviewed in this movie and a former councilor-- questioned how mountain biking could fit into the community and asked how the environment could be protected. I think the movie shows how the NSMBA and others are trying to create an environment that is healthy for mountain bikers, safe for the environment and maintain good community relations with those that don't mountain bike. A tall order for sure.

It was interesting seeing the two movies. In 1986 those kids were doing some pretty cool stunts on Hell Track in RAD. Well even though everyone would like to believe in the "new" style of free riding -- It hasn't changed that much, we just go into the woods to do the big drops, ladders and gap jumps now. And of course there was an over zealous, authority character in each of them.

Friday, February 03, 2006


This post probably won't be written the same way as I have been thinking about it since riding home from work yesterday.

I had had a frustrating day at work, it wasn't raining out, so I decided to take the long way home and ride around Stanley Park. This meant that I went through downtown, something that I really don't like. There is a lot of traffic and everyone is in a hurry.

Getting to downtown was nice, through some old neighbourhoods, along bike routes. Past BC Place was tricky, lots of construction, there were bike lanes closed and there was lots of desbris. As I was crossing Burrard it happened. A motorist looked me in the eye and then made a right turn into my lane -- or more precisely into me. I was able to brake in time, I had words for him. I was then accused of going through a red light and was threatened with physical violence.

Wow, that wrecked the mood.

It seems that all too often cyclists and pedestrians are treated as though they are some sort of second, or third, or fourth class citizen. For the rest of my ride I had to think about why someone would essentially ignore my presence. And then it all came clear, respect. In our society people have no respect for others anymore. Drivers have no respect for cyclists or pedestrians or for that matter other drivers. Now it is not just drivers it seems to be a general trend in business and in life. Everyone wants to get a head at the expense of not only the "little guy" but at the expense of everybody. "Get out of my way, I'm more important than you" is the attitude of our society.

This seems to be a common thread amongst cyclists and pedestrians. Vehicle drivers that are so focused on themselves that respect for anyone else is absent. Many of my friends commute to work by bike or at least ride a lot. When I think of the respect that they all demand and fetch in their work lives I wonder how someone in a car can not respect them while on a bike. I have friends that are CEO's and owners of multi-national companies, I have friends that are VP's of large investment houses. I have friends that are doctors. I have friends that are watchmakers. I have friends that are therapists. All of these people have respect of their peers and others in their professional lives, as soon as they are off their bikes. When they are on their bikes they are just like you and me, a cyclist, and all respect for them is lost.

As I neared the end of my ride yesterday I decided to test this respect theory. As I crossed Lion's Gate bridge I realised that one side of the bridge has been closed to cyclists and pedestrians for almost a year now. The cars in the lanes next to me have not been inconvenienced at all. The path that I was on was shared for two way traffic, and between bikes and pedestrians, when would this happen in the car world? The path I was on had blind spots and bumps and pipes hindering my progress, none such obstructions for the cars next to me. Obviously there is no respect for cyclists and pedestrians -- only for the almighty car.

My experiment continued as I returned to the road. On a narrow section of road one car stayed behind me and let me ride safely, I could hear the honks behind him though, I thanked him for his patients with a wave as he finally passed-- he respected me. The next car raced to pass me before a stop sign, and passed me with only inches to spare -- obviously no respect for me. There were many times when cars would race past with only inches to spare - I actually lost count of how many times this happened. I watched pedestrians fight to cross the streets, other cyclists fight to ride to their destinations, automobile drivers with no respect.

So how do we change this? I'm not sure. I'm going to try and teach my kids respect. I'm sure my friends will do the same with their kids as well. I think this is a start -- although it might be a bit long term. For the short term I'm beginning to believe that bike lanes might be the answer -- if someone would respect us enough to give us something just for cyclists. More on this later.

Let's try to repsect one another. Slow down, life is the ride.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

A Record We Can Be Proud Of

Finally something Vancouverites can be proud of. The wettest January on record.
29 of 31 days had some form of precipitation (rain).
In fact we also broke the previous rainfall record of 282mm in the month of January.
That's almost 30 cm of rain, 1 ft! In one month!
Where does it all go?
I guess on the upside we don't have to shovel it.
The grass is always green.
The crocus' are out.
There is a ton of snow in the mountains for skiing.
I still can commute to work on my bike and mountain bike of the weekends.

See it's not that bad!
Pray for sun.