Friday, March 24, 2006

Single Parents

I have friends that are single parents.

I have always thought it is the toughest job in the world.

I have a wife and two kids. We can distribute the work.

Single parents can't

This week I have been a single parent. E. is on a business trip

She is excited about it. I am excited for her.

I was also excited because I get to spend uninterrupted time with the kids.

I had a plan, drive them to daycare and then ride the rest of the way to work.

I could get a few days of riding in, I'd be happier at night with a little exercise in me.

Only one day to heavily plan, Saturday.

Then one got sick.

All h*** broke out.

I had to miss a couple of days of work. Appointments to be rescheduled.

I was at home -- we were going stir crazy.

No riding -- I was getting anxious.

And then I realised "how often do I get to spend uninterrupted time with my son?"

Work will be there tomorrow, or the next day.

We have had some fun. Lots of puzzles. He's getting the hang of reading.

I haven't had much riding this week, but there will be other weeks.

I have always been told by parents of older kids "enjoy these days, while your kids are young"

I'm trying.

But I do have even more respect for the difficulties single parents have.

Thursday, March 23, 2006


The other night T and I set about to have some fun. We got out a bunch of toys and started to play.

Then my feet got too hot.

It's those darn Thorlo light hikers.

T picked up the sock and decided it was a puppet.

We decorated the puppet, put on some ear rings, hair clips, necklaces and
Voila, an awesome toy.

We had spent half an hour making this art sock.

Time well spent.

Then I remembered that this wasn't the first time the Thorlo's have been used.

A quick and dirty hobby horse.

It's life was meant to have been short, but he is still kicking 8 months later.

Hours of fun has been had.

Who would have thought kids could have so much fun with socks!

I guess they did Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Today I'm at home with my eldest. There seems to be a nasty virus going around daycare, so I'm at home nursing him back to health hoping that I don't miss two days of work. My wife is away on business, so it's just me and the kids.

We've had a great day. Some puzzles -- a lot of puzzles, some reading, I got a bit of work done -- thank goodness for VPN's.

As I was puzzling with A, I was remembering an odd discussion I had yesterday. At work our Maintenance guy and my receptionist were in my office at the same time. They got to talking about how I ride my bike in all the time and how pretty much offends them. The conversation started out jovial enough, "ha, ha, I can't believe you ride everyday with all those bad drivers around." this is fine I deal with this on a regular basis. I would usually say some thing to the effect that "it's not that bad, drivers are generally courteous to cyclists, blah, blah, blah". But then the conversation started down the path of "when I see a cyclist on the road I ...(insert some way of maiming here)". This is the part I became uncomfortable with. At work I am above them on the "food" chain, and yet as soon as I am "labeled" a cyclist I somehow drop down to something akin to road kill -- which is where the conversation was going.

So I guess it comes back to the respect notion that I have been discussing. Cyclists don't get any
respect. I finally had to interject and say, "Actually I do own the road. I do have a right to space on the road and just because I am going slower than you doesn't mean I should get less respect." It is funny I do like to maintain a friendly attitude with our staff, but when it gets to the point of racism it is difficult. I guess I really should have said "get the h*** out of my office!" But I didn't.

So I'm puzzled -- how does a person get like this -- are they jealous that I am fitter and happier than them? Are they upset because I save umpteen thousand dollars a year on commuting expenses? Or are they just stupid?

But the puzzlement continues -- how many more think like them? How can we change these "bigots" attitudes towards cyclists?

It's a puzzle.


Sunday, March 19, 2006

An Excellent Day

Today on our weekly boys ride we had a bit of an epic. One of the reasons we moved to the Shore was to ride and partake in all the outdoor activities that this part of Vancouver has to offer, without always relying on a car to get us to the trailhead. Today was one of those perfect days.

When organising the ride we realised that there was too much snow on Mt. Fromme to ride up and have a decent outing, so we decided to ride over to Seymour for a bit of a longer ride. It started out well intentioned enough, an easy pedal over to Park Gate to meet some of the other guys. A pedal up Old Buck and then, as the plan went, down Ned's Atomic Dustbin and back home. We all decided, however, that we wanted a bit more of a challenge than just Ned's, so the epic began. We had already been riding for an hour and a half but we decided to do Corkscrew, Pingu, Team Pangour and then ride across Bridal Path to Twin Bridges and then back home.

Corkscrew, and Pingu went well, as did Team Pangour. But then we had to ride across Bridal Path. None of us had any food, some of us were on 40lb + downhill bikes, and others were on sub 35lb "All mountain" bikes. I was one of the lucky ones and had a "light" bike so I had a whole lot of fun on the whole ride. Others on the DH bikes paid a heavy toll. The uphills, after all we had done, proved bonk material. One mechanical didn't help either.

In the end though our 4 hour epic ride was perfect. We rode form our homes, had a wonderful time in the sun and the snow. Had a long ride that most only ever dream of. And then I got to spend the rest of the afternoon with my kids. Thank God I moved to the Shore. All in all it was about 30 km and there was about 600m of vertical covered (how do you measure this? We went up and down and up and down, but out lowest point was about Sea Level and our highest point was about 600m, hmm), it was sunny and the company was good. What more could you ask for?

Friday, March 10, 2006


I've been thinking a lot lately about why I ride.
It keeps me fit -- body and mind.
It keeps me in touch with my community.
It is social -- I get to see my friends again (something I missed after having kids)
but I think most of all I love cycling because of it's purity.

Cycling is simple. You get on and pedal. You can go anywhere, anytime, and feel exhilarated.

So then I got to thinking "how can you make cycling more pure?"

The single speed.
No cogs to clean, no derallieurs to adjust, no thumb shifters to get in the way.
Just you and a simple steed. How much better can it get?
So then I thought "well what about it?" and I started to investigate.
Now when I used to race it was all the rage to have a winter single speed -- more often than not it was a fixie as well. I rode many winters like this. Maybe it is time again.
So in my investigative travels I have seen some wonderful rides.

On the "low end" and sort of in my price range are the Surly Karate Monkey and the Redline 925 . The Karate Monkey appeals to me for it's 29'er single speed thing -- maybe I could ride the Shore on it? The Redline is pure and simple with wonderful moustache bars -- very nice.

And then there seemed to be a huge jump. This jump included the inspired A.N.T Major Taylor. Wow. What lines. How retro, but the price, ouch.

Then I realised, I live half way up a huge mountain, and I'm not getting any younger. Is it realistic or for that matter practical to get a single? Probably not.

So I did some more detective work.

I was a Different Bikes the other day and saw Jeff building up a Moots with a rohloff 14 speed internal hub as a cross country winter rig. It looked great and practical with that single speed look. But price -- again prohibitive -- frame and fork ~$4000.00 cdn for frame and hub -- really ouch.

But then if price were no object I think I would have to do, what I think, looks like the most beautiful bike around. The Merlin Roots

But then money is always part of the equation. So if I really want a single speed,maybe I should rig up my old Eddy Merckx track bike. Sure it was in a house fire, but a paint job and some new to me parts. Hmm this sounds like a good winter project. Next winter perhaps. This year I'll be happy with what I have, and enjoy cycling for it's purity -- regardless of the gears.

Rough Week for Cycling

Wow, this has been a bad week for riding.
I generally ride to work Tuesday to Friday, usually regardless of the weather.
There are a couple of weeks a year that I don't ride, usually in late November of December.
The main reason is snow.
Vancouver drivers are notoriously bad in the snow, we rarely see it and when we do we are often "caught off guard"(imagine, Canadians being "caught off guard" when it comes to snow).
When I ride and it is snowing,I generally fear for my life.
As I said this usually happens in November or December.
Well not this year.
Spring was here. Crocuses, daffodils and the heather were all blooming nicely.
The cherry blossoms were out on the trees.
The grass was green.
I rode Tuesday and had a great ride in and home, albeit wet -- it rains here almost constantly. Wednesday I had an early meeting at work, so I got up a bit early to prepare for the ride in. But then I heard a strange noise -- my neighbours shovelling their walk. I looked out the window and sure enough -- SNOW!
Again, I'm not afraid to ride in the snow -- I'm afraid of what others might do to me in the snow.
So I drove to work, thinking tomorrow would be better. Well it is Friday now and I didn't rid yesterday -- snow, and this morning all I see is white outside.

So much for spring.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Bicycle Advocacy

For the past couple of years I have been feeling an increasing need to become involved in some community advocacy. There are a number of things that I am interested in, but the one I think of the most is cycling. There are a number of groups in Vancouver that are interesting. North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA) advocates for mountain bikers needs and rights on the trails of the famed North Shore. I was a member of this group a number of years ago (well I had a membership), but was turned off because I felt the group was geared towards making the North Shore too difficult for the beginner. And, although I enjoy and ride all the expert trails on the Shore I have found that there are many that don't and that there isn't really anything for them. There need s to be more inclusion for all Mountain bikers.

Better Environmentally Sound Transportation (BEST), is another interesting group. They seem to be involved not only in cycling related issues, but also more general transportation related advocacy, like buses, carpooling and the environment.

Groups that have blossomed out of Best include Our Community Bikes and Pedal Power. Both of these off shoots look really cool, but are not necessarily what I want to focus my time on right now.

What I am interested in is the plight of the average cyclist on the roads of Vancouver. Most of my time riding for the past few years has been commuting. I have spent many hours on the road watching interactions between cyclists and other traffic, have seen how cyclists are marginalised by infrastructure and other users. So I think I have to do something that will help this group.

An organisation that seems to fit this bill is the Vancouver Cycling Coalition (VACC). Actually I have been a member for a couple of years now. It seems as though this group has been active in a number of projects in Vancouver (and area), including bike lanes and generally improving cyclists visibility in local government. The thing is though, they don't seem like very big. I have been to a couple of meetings now and there are only a few of us there (the AGM had maybe 35 people and the last North Shore Chapter meeting had 5 of us). Is this a big enough group to leverage meaningful change? Are the ideas of this group really what the "masses" of cyclist want? I'll have to see.

I guess all any of us can do is try to help and change things from within groups like these. As a group I think we are much more powerful than as individuals. I will try and help, in my own little way.

Our First Vacation

We just got back from three days in Whistler.
My Wife and I that is.
No kids.
This was our first vacation away from the kids.
It was oddly nice, although I missed them madly, it was great to get away.
We skied, downhill and skate.
We ate at nice restaurants.
We slept.
But generally we did what we wanted.
We didn't have kids asking us for stuff, complaining about who's is bigger or generally being "at us"
The skiing was great, Friday there was about 14 cm of powder and sun, sun, sun. I even had a couple of runs that remined me of why I like skiing.
Parents, leave your children or a few days and find yourself again.
I highly recommend it.