Proof that sunny winter weather is not a myth in Vancouver … just a rarity.
Charming. Original. Home Grown.
I’ve just returned from a very soggy ride home. While I normally love winter riding, where all the puddle splashing makes me feel like a gleeful five-year old, I find myself craving a little sunshine reprieve today. Perhaps it’s my upcoming NZ bike trip that has me all summer dreamin’ like. Or maybe it’s the daunting list of work to-dos required anon. Either way, I’m in need of some lazy dazy bike riding in big form.
As I rode home I found my mind flashing back to some beautiful pictures I came across not too long ago by local clothing designer Downtown Betty – pictures that immediately had me whisked away to moments of carefree riding from summers past. Perfectly capturing the sunny abandonment and romantic beauty of warm weather biking, the pictures showcase a series of Downtown Betty’s spectacularly hand-detailed bikes.
Sold at local bike shop Ride On (the geniuses that have helped Hubs and me with Frank’s epic overhaul), each of Downtown Betty’s bikes have been reclaimed and restyled for a new life of West Coast riding bliss. Like her buoyant and entertaining tweets, Downtown Betty’s bikes fill my heart with sparkly warmth. Additional shots of her bikes can be viewed on her Facebook page.
For anyone interested in seeing her clothing crafts firsthand, Downtown Betty will be showcasing at Vancouver’s much anticipated One of a Kind show this upcoming Thursday through Sunday.
What: Herman Miller’s ‘We Care’ Event
I spent yesterday afternoon immersed in a world of crafting fun at Herman Miller’s annual ‘We Care’ event. Now in its ninth year in Vancouver, We Care is a day of holiday craft making which brings local design teams together with kids in need. Throughout the event, kids rotated through a variety of craft stations (hosted by the design teams) where they made gifts for their family, friends and teachers.
Along with several of my colleagues, we helped the munchkins craft some charming kitschy magnets. Being the greenies we are, our magnets were made of 100% recycled content drawn from our in-house library of supplies as well as donations from our office mates. This year’s event was hosted at the Frog Hollow Community Centre, where some 230 kids from East Vancouver amused us with their uncanny kid humour and innocent wonder.
Mad love to the kidlets, my fellow volunteers and of course Herman Miller for putting on such an amazing event.
Just Call Me Dirty.
With the roaring twenties, and all its glory and fumbling lessons behind me, it was time to ring in a new decade with an evening of trademark flair and silliness. Choosing to leave both Frank and Kika at home (I was wearing a MOST fab ensemble that felt very shy to the heavy winter rains), Hubs and I rolled via a Yellow chariot to the Raw Canvas bistro for much nosh and painting mayhem with friends and fam.
For the next several hours we found ourselves immersed in a warm glow of riotous merriment, superb vino sipping, and tantalizing tapa tasting.
Several bottles later, my somewhat sodden crew and I headed to the bistro’s painting area where we engaged in hours of five year old acrylic painting hysterics. There we discovered some of us possessed skills a tad more evolved than others ….
Throughout the affair, Raw’s resident painter Enoch offered us tips with good humour and patience as we continued to fumble and make a mockery of his chosen craft ….
Night of the Transcendentally Creepy Rider
Having our fill of painting, the crew and I decided to step our chic down a notch for some good pub antics at the local brew pub. Once inside I was greeted by more loving friends, including the ever beautiful Gen and Kev and my beloved music master girl, Tracey. Over the course of the evening many a high kick (and jump) were raised my way …
Like most nights out, my cool factor unfolded with inverse correlation to my increased alcohol consumption … which rolled out in a three stage attack on my friends and fellow drink consumers:
Stage 1: Jump around like a maniacal Muppet making all sorts of incomprehensible muppety noises …
Stage 2: Discover that alcohol makes me extra super flexy resulting in an instant need to make surrounding patrons turn and “loooook at how bendy I am!”
Stage 3: Stand all creepy like in the back of pub, cupping knee caps as only gesture of communication manageable in my blurry eyed state.
Golden Arches and F-Stop Heartache
When the witching hour final made its debut, we decided to head over to the land of golden arches for some necessary trans-fat carnage before carting my sodden self to bed.
Upon our arrival I felt it my Happy & the Bike blog duty to capture the inner workings of the famed grease mill by dark – a scene clamoring with many a Saturday night vamp each frenetically recounting the antics and glory of the night just lived while eagerly awaiting their McFood. So with camera in hand I began snapping shots of my fellow late nighters where many offered me slow … moving … blinks and happy smirks in return.
Not all occupants were impressed by my documentarian self though as shortly after my shooting began I felt several swift and firm taps on my shoulder accompanied by a strange voice bellowing from behind which warned that “filming in McDonald’s IS NoOoOT ALLllLOOoWWwEedDD”. Curious to find the source of such aggressive undulation I turned and was met by one anger ball of a McGuard who was evidently none too impressed by my TMZ ways. After some earnest calm talking and blinky blinking his way, I managed to talk the guard (whom I believe is evidential proof that McDonald’s does indeed dabble in paramilitary operations) down long enough to order my grub.
When our grease stained paper bag order finally arrived, we chose at last to bid adieu to the Golden Arches and headed home to Kits. But not before I snapped a picture of this guy ….
One very bizarre cab ride later we found ourselves back in Kits where Hubs felt it necessary to tuck one of our neighbourhood furries into bed before heading to bed ourselves….
Here’s to a fabulous and equally mind-opening 3rd decade of life!
MY bikes and YOUR refuse do not get along. Full stop.
Kika and I had a rough commute home this eve. What started off as happy victory cruise (I was feeling quite heroic for slaying another Monday with both finesse and humour), soon had me facing a near crash situation caused by an abrupt and angry mess of a chain jam. The culprit of said jam? A lazy litterbug’s dirty soils ….
While tempted, Rider feels all weird about giving lectures, so has asked Kika to illustrate her feelings on the situation …
Thanks to the ever resourceful mechanics of Hubs, brave Kika is ready for another round of Commuterdome cage fighting tomorrow.
What: Early Holiday Giggles & Tree Trimming
Feeling in quite the early festive mood, I decided to DOLL myself up, all plum like, for a little tree trimming fun at my friends Gen and Kev’s pad Saturday night. Never to be outdone, Frank the charmer also went and made himself all festive like with the knot of a dapper little bow tied around his ancient stem.
And while my sassy boots had me looking soooo cute, a last-minute wardrobe change saw me foregoing them for more practical footwear just before bounding out the door (despite my earnest Copenhagen efforts, Cycle Chic I will never be).
To the Land of Warm Cheer
A slightly frigid but brief ride later, I found myself welcomed into Gen and Kev’s cheery abode. Walking into their home is like entering a sleekly surreal version of Grandma’s – where warm comfort greets you head-on but instead of doilies, crystal squirrels and ancient candy dishes you find hand crafted light fixtures, gorgeous art and interesting furniture dazzling you at every turn. Think Dwell Magazine meets apple pie.
Gen and Kev also happen to be that rare breed of folk who’ve got it going on, both professionally and personally, with seemingly effortless flair. They spend their anniversaries rappelling down buildings for charity. They travel the globe for fair trade options to support their exquisite jewelery line (Kevin Hume Designs). Their dog is perfectly adorable. They volunteer. They’re witty and well read. And they’re goddamn gorgeous to boot.
In what would leave many teeming with pretension, remains lost on these two. And while their uber achievements should make me feel like a gross underachiever, their overwhelmingly kind and humble nature somehow keeps me from dwelling on the fact that I’ve forgotten to buy dog food for the third day running and that my dog is probably getting real sick of bagels by now. They also put up with my dirty trucker mouth and incurable foot-in-mouth ways; which, whether they like or not, have me determined to hold onto them for years to come.
The eve also found me happily catching up with another grad school pal, Kelly. Kel is the kind of friend you just wish you could keep in your pocket all day. With every third word out of her mouth guaranteed to have you in stitches, it would simply be grand to be able to pull her out whenever a good chuckle was needed. I’d really like to see more of this girl, but given her ‘choice’ to live in the boondocks and self-imposed 8pm curfew on school nights, I imagine it will be a while ’til I’m blissfully entertained by her again.
While the communal tree trimming never came to be (ok it did, but I showed up too late), the night had me feeling all warm and fuzzy in a way that only friends can provide.
Despite freezing my plum legged self on the ride home, I did muster up enough heat to happily sit through several sets of a very talented busking ginger playing along Granville…
Kika Helps Pay My Billzzzzz
Sunday had me heading into the office to complete some report graphics needed by the powers-that-be anon. While weekend working is never choice, I was glad to help the brainy but cool engineer I’ve been working with (who has been patiently putting up with my numerous attempts to make his graphs look ‘hot’) finish up a project that has been consuming his life for months. This Rider also has telephone billllzzzz to pay, so the extra hours are welcomed.
With Frank currently getting his pre-NZ trip repairs on, yesterday’s ride-in had me going by way of my outdoorsy gal Kika.
While Kika’s knobby tires made riding on our city’s new layer of ice a breeze, they (plus her heavier frame) also made for a slow-go and had us seeing many a fixie riding hipster zoom past us as we crossed False Creek. And while the sight would have left hipster-hungry Frank MORTIFIED, the ever cool Kika seemed to take it in stride as she graciously escorted me to work.
What: Dollicious Dollhouse Drag Show
Where: Celebrities – Vancouver, BC
Seester: Things are about to get WEIRD
Rider: Yay! Weird how? (in seester vocab, ‘weird’ equates to DEFINITE FUN)
Rider: Whaaaa?!!!! When?! Where?!!!!
Seester: Tonight. Celebrities. Curious?
I looked up from my text string to survey the scene before me – that of Hubs and Chris engaged in an EPIC jousting match on the Black Frog’s coveted 90′s arcade machine.
hmmm….spend the remaining night watching my boys battle for the jousting crown or go see drag queen LEGEND?
While a conundrum TO BE SURE, my sequined and glittery heart had made its choice …
Rider: I’M IN!!!!!
So with a swift adieu to the jousting wizards, I hopped on Frank and bound out of Gastown for some giggles in FABTOWN. Once there I rolled up to the Sandman where my seester and some visiting kiddies, Chris (purveyor of timepieces), Shane (future communications SUPASTAR) and Chris’ delightful sister Mckinley, were getting up to all sorts of delight in their room and warmly invited Frank and me in to play.
Giddy about the sparkly show we were about to see, I asked the kiddies if they too were soooooo excited to see THE RU.
*sparkly glances and smirks between kiddies*
Followed by MUCH GUFFAW
“Not RuPaul silly” the kiddies giggled. “We’re going to see one of RuPaul’s girls!!!”
Frank, who had been watching our shenans from his cozy perch in the kitchen, was visibly HEART BROKEN. Yes, it seems my clever seester had made a minor reporting error in her invite.
Once the shock released, I asked the kiddies about this so called NuPaul. Who as it turns out is non-other than former RuPaul Drag Race contestant JuJuBee. Excitement back on!
So after a couple more giggling exchanges, the kiddies, girls and I packed ourselves up and headed for the glittery world that is CELEBRITIES!
With Frank bravely keeping guard outside (bikes too, face discrimination at times), the gaggle and I headed inside where we found ourselves blissfully transported into a land of shimmery and sassy dragging delight (I defy anyone not to find their heart singing during the Dollhouse Show). Throughout the night we were gifted with all sorts of talent and costume fab as some of BC’s best dolls (including Iona Whipp and Tyra Bangmi) sashayed and lip-belted power tunes to their adoring audience.
Soldier Shout Out – Doll Style
After several more acts, one of the Dolls (whose name I didn’t catch due to my frenetic muppet like dancing) came to the stage to announce “it’s 12:02pm and officially Remembrance Day”. An announcement which caused the gorgeous sea of men before me to erupt into a riotous cheer of gratitude (and best display of veteran love I have EVER seen).
Clearly wanting some silence, the announcer – with a fierce cock of the hip and glistening hair fling – gave us all a sassy scolding to “show some respect and SHUT THE FAAAAAACCCKKK UP!” And so, with the cheering simmered, the announcer proceeded to give a short but powerful shout out to our much deserving veterans and soldiers.
Mind On My Vets
Today my mind is firmly planted on three important men in my life (Grandpa and my cousins Anthony and Patrick). Three men, amongst the countless many, who have and continue to give it their all so that folks like me – and you – can enjoy our daily freedoms. Without their sacrifices, the simple pleasures I so often take for granted (like biking) would likely be non-existent.
My Grandpa (Warren), who passed several years ago was a WWII vet whose harrowing tales continue to leave me in awe. My cousins (two brave men I grew up so trying to impress and earn their respect) have each dedicated enormous portions of their lives to the Canadian military with repeated tours through Bosnia and Afghanistan – each has or continues to serve with the much honoured Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. I love you boys beyond words.
I am also so very much grateful and in awe of my cousin Sylvie (Anthony’s wife) who, despite her self-pledge to not marry an enlisted man after growing up an army-brat, continues to bravely support my cousin throughout each of his challenging sojourns. Our boys, I am quite certain, are held together by the love of women and partners like her. I love you.
With today’s blustery weather coming through in BOLD FORM, it seems Old Man Winter is finally itching for a lil’ seasonal dancing along the streets of Vancity. And while the cooler temps may soon send the fair weather biker to public transit purgatory, there remain many cyclists (this Rider included) who will continue to go the way of the bike year round. Oh yes, the driver and cyclist waltz is still on!
So as we ready ourselves for a new season of road sharing – facing the added challenges of shorter days and reduced visibility – I thought it time we cyclists and drivers came to a wee meeting of the road minds …
Plea to Drivers
Most beloved drivers and road sharing besties, please consider the following:
- Cyclists are Squishy: Unlike auto fender benders, hitting a cyclist can have devastating outcomes. Please give us a bit of breathing room when passing – a good 3 feet at minimum is ideal.
- Ear Muffs!: Unless really REALLY necessary, please don’t get horn happy on the cyclists around you. Angry horn wailing can easily startle an unsuspecting cyclist and potentially set off a whole ugly series of panic induced disasters. Please slow down, wait your turn, the cyclist will eventually make way for you.
- Put Rachel Ray on Tivo and Slow Down: Unless your house, dog, self or baby is on fire, driving mach GAZILLION down our city streets seems a tad unnecessary, no?
- Bici Hand Jive: We cyclists chat in our own unique way … with our hands. Please familiarize yourself with cyclist hand signals: http://www.bikesense.bc.ca/ch4.htm
As a cyclist sharing your roads I promise you I will:
- Yield to all marked signs and signals
- Wear appropriate clothing and lighting devices to keep me visible to you
- Use correct hand signals
- Yield to your right-of-way
- Will not dodge dangerously into traffic
To my fellow cyclists, please ensure you do the same and follow the rules of the road. The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition also offers many great workshops year round if you have any reservations about winter riding.
Here’s to a season of safe driving AND biking.
What: Bike to Work Week – Vancouver,BC
When: Nov 1 – 7, 2010
Being a ‘newish’ transplant to Van, this was my first time participating in the city’s Bike to Work Week. Organized by the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC), Bike to Work Week is a semiannual event aimed at increasing ridership and elevating awareness that cycling is both a viable and enjoyable means of transport. Throughout the week, participants were tasked with logging their daily commutes online to track their distance traveled and amount of CO2 diverted via their riding.
And while Monday’s MONSTER bad weather may have had things off to a slow start, the remaining days brought sunny skies and saw all ‘walks’ of riders take to our streets. I rode with a small but eager group of colleagues who, as of 5pm today, had logged close to 500km and diverted some 90kg in CO2 emissions … while also burning more than 14,000 calories (beers and burgers were earned in big form!). Citywide, the VACC tallied a total of 170,370km biked and a whopping 35,473kg in CO2 savings. BAM!
Throughout the week it seemed as though there was a visible increase in ridership during my morning commute – particularly over the Burrard Bridge where I peddled amongst a steady stream of riders each day.
Sure, we have miles to go before rallying biking vanguard Coppenhagen for the urban cycling belt, but it seems Vancouver’s biking culture is cranking forward at steadily growing pace. And thanks to renewed hipster love for the 10-speed and the many initiatives of this city’s EAGER GREENIES – who, with the installation of new bike lanes, are literally paving the way to a more cycle friendly city – I am confident our happy trend will continue.
Yes our biking culture, for the vast majority, may not be as fashion-forward as our European counterparts, but it’s ours and I’m damn proud of it, rain wear and all. BIKOUVER is here to stay.
A huge thanks to the VACC and their sponsors/partners for keeping us riders warm and fed at the many commuter stations set up around town – each of you deserve the happiest of wheelies raised in your honour!
And a special nod to Whole Market Foods – who can be credited for afflicting me with my newest of addictions (energy bars have never tasted so good!).
NZ by Bike
A few weeks back, while creeping on ARC Magazine’s twitter feed, I stumbled upon a curious little tweet announcing a recently launched bike tour planning site for New Zealand. A website completely dedicated to cycling NZ, and it slipped past me? Horrified! Bike ears piqued, I clicked on the feed and soon found myself immersed in the AMAZING online world that is NZbybike.com (if Frank’s brain were of the bio-matter kind, I’m quite sure it would have EXPLODED all over me with excitement upon this grand discovery).
Launched this past August, NZbyBike was created to spread the GOOD WORD that, as they put it, “New Zealand is a bloody great place for biking”. Oh Kiwis, we’re gonna get along so well!
Loaded with extensive trip planning details, pics and accommodation recommendations, the site is an excellent resource for charting bike tours to suit all manner of taste and ability throughout the country’s cycling rich landscape.
As I’ll be abandoning Frank at various points throughout the trip for some mtn biking thrills, I for one will be checking back frequently to get tips on various bike rental shops on my route.
In other news…
Frank and I had a rough go in commuterdome today. At some point during the mystery hours of 9am-6pm, when Frank is getting up to all manner of mischief with his fellow two-wheelers in my office’s bike room, Frank went and got himself completely messed up resulting in one mega nightmare of a chain jam (jury is out on actual cause of the jam, but I suspect one of the sporty roadsters may have slipped him a lil’ GHB for kicks).
With no tools on hand, and with pitiful knowledge on how to actually fix Frank, we found ourselves stranded and facing certain death by zombies, vampires and the feared drunken hump day corporate celebrators along Granville’s nightly hedonistic parade. And so with mad frenzy, Frank and I decided to have our first go together on Vancouver’s fine public transportation system and *sigh* boarded a bus home – with me tucked warmly aboard and Frank mounted bravely on the bus’ front.
Not to worry though, thanks to the fine motor skills of the Hubs, Frank is now back in fine form and ready for a bold new day of riding anon!
Frank as bus hub cap
With the predicted rain a no show Saturday a.m., Kika and I decided to head for some thrills and spills over on Mt. Fromme (Frank remained warmly tucked in at home … there are some places the old boy just can’t go). The day started in fact with a brief encounter on Mt. Cypress, where Kika, the Hubs and I took in some lovely early morning views of Burrard Inlet before setting course on a miscalculated tour that found us lost a mere hour downhill.
Our (ill-fated) journey began with some happy exploring along a decent intermediate trail that bobbed its way across several slow bubbling creeks as it moved us down the misty woodland.
Then with little warning (admission, we weren’t in the most observant of spirits) our trail was brought to a halt via an intersecting access road that had our trail severed in two. Expecting to find the other half of our dismembered guide awaiting us yonder, we made our way across the road with Kika eagerly wheeling in tow. Alas, we discovered the other side of the road to be completely overgrown with nary a sign of the trail to be found.
Not to worry, we made our way down the access road surveying the ditches for sign of a new trail head – which eventually materialized as an unmarked but fairly easy looking track (or so we thought) cutting into the forest beyond. Unfortunately what started off as an intermediate delight quickly morphed itself into a black diamond MONSTER chock full of large drops and other maniacal looking Rider deathbeds. And while it had the Hubs frothing at his downhill bit, the trail had my head dancing with visions of lacerated limbs and so I opted – with biking tail between legs – to find my way back to the access road ….
…. an access road that had suddenly vaporized into the canopy above! Oh yes, at some point in the Rider’s mad deathbed dodging, we had completely lost track of the way out! What followed next was a laughable mess of moderate bushwhacking, befuddled head scratching and valiant Kika hoisting until we eventually found our way back to the road and onward to our awaiting gas guzzling chariot.
So after some necessary refueling, we decided to change course and headed over to the mtn biking legend that is Mt. Fromme!
For anyone coming to Vancouver, Fromme will have you working tenfold for each millisecond of riding bliss enjoyed (the only way up is by foot or bike). As the Hubs puts it, Fromme makes you ‘earn your ride’.
Indeed wise Hubs. Indeed.
But with great work, comes great reward, and Fromme aims to please. Our Fromme ride of choice this day was the delightfully smooth run that is Bobsled. Once a classic technical run, Bobsled was recently converted into a smooth fast track exploding with countless twists and berms to tickle all manners of rider.
Now, I don’t own a helmet cam of my own, but through the wonder of YOUTUBE was able to dig up this little viddy showing just how much fun this trail offers. These guys ride at a pace more akin to the Hubs’ speed (recall, I am the Precarious One) but it’ll give you a taste of the happy Bobsled in action.
I spent the remainder of the day crashing my way through another set of intermediate trails ….
and yet another accidental run in with a black diamond beast – this one charmingly named the IMMONATOR. Sounds inviting doesn’t it?