Okay dear cycling people, I need your input.

So grab your Timmy Ho’s and move a bit closer.

I read somewhere it takes 20-30 miles to get used to a trike.

Now having crashed twice, in the first three days probably isn’t helping my nervousness. Neither has being yelled at by irate drivers, being honked at or getting lost on Roncenvalles.  Skidding through huge potholes side streets and feeling like I’m going to tip over very soon are increasing my anxiety.

I remember cruising on a two-wheeler.

Wind flying, whizzing downhill, standing up on the pedals and leaping deep potholes in a single bound just like SuperCycler.  I was a very cautious cyclist but well, I’m sure you’re familiar with that feeling of utter abandon on a bike.

It’s not happening.

There’s no quick unlock, leap on, whip down the street, skid to a halt, lock up quickly then dash in for a quart of milk and a bag of Fritos.

It takes 10 minutes just to wriggle it out of the back room. Since I don’t have an electricity supply, every few days I have to wrangle it into the lobby like an obstreperous donkey, plug in and wait until it recharges. Then struggle it back out the front doors.

I bought the thing to overcome some physical disadvantages. I’m eating muscle relaxants just to deal with moving it around.

If anyone is considering buying one–consider those disadvantages.

Originally the idea was to park in the underground.  Out of the weather and electrical sources–no problem. However the incline is too great to get 100 lbs of trike up, thus my present dilemma. I had considered parking and had made agreements before I bought it. Obviously, one can’t plan for everything.

After all that money and planning. I’d just like to enjoy the beast.

Is that too much to ask?

Or should I just take two jelly donuts and call you in the morning?

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Okay, today I’m gonna have a bit of a whine so if you, dear reader,  have any Havarti cheese it would go nicely.

Now, yesterday I blogged about a small miracle in DaHood with neighbours actually caring about a ruckus.

Now I can’t get my trike out. Whoever smashed all the glass Friday night was told to clean it up because it’s a hazard to cars, dogs, people and bikes.

They didn’t do it.

Our superintendent  is a lovely lady but she wants them to take responsibility and clean it up. Obviously that’s not happening.

I can’t take my dog out the back because she’ll get glass in her paws. I can’t get my trike out because it’s parked in a small room that said, same lovely lady super, gave me the keys to, so it backs out on the parking lot.

The only way I’m going to get use of my space [and everyone else’s] is to go out there with my shop vac and vacuum up the glass for everyone’s safety as soon as the pavement dries up again.

Apparently, the ruckus made my little buddy down the hall cry because he was frightened by all the noise.

I know there’s eejits in the world but at least eejits could have some communal courtesy when they act like eejits and fix up their own mess.

Of course, then they wouldn’t BE eejits.

___________________

And my video editing program has completely failed. I spent all day yesterday trying to get it running. It hates my new cool video card and hard drive. Feh.

On Public Space

april-12th-2008-0171Now, last night a small miracle happened in Parkdale.

Usually, when it gets rowdy here, individuals just hide behind their doors and do nothing.

There was a woman screaming in the parking lot and glass smashing.

Parkdalians don’t call the cops because well, they usually don’t show up until there’s a body.

Last night I stuck my head off the balcony and there were all kinds of people with their heads over their railings yelling, “Are you okay? What’s going on? Do you need the police?”

I was thunderstruck. That never happens.

Now, one of my pet Parkdalian peeves is that they took all the public benches off the streets and hauled ’em up to some toney neighbourhood north of here, a few years ago.

Then, all the homeowners blocked off the alleyways so no one could ride through them on their bikes and avoid the treacherous roads. Nor did the kids have anywhere to play street hockey and such. The elderly and disabled were forced to walk all the way around instead of taking short cuts.

Supposedly this would cut down on crime.

Well, none of those manoeuvrings lessened the homelessness problem and it certainly didn’t lessen the crime rate. Having spent years in Little India at Coxwell and Gerrard,  where folks gather on the benches and socialize right on the street until 11pm or later,  I thought this isolationist gentrifying was the most idiotic attempt I’d ever seen to isolate the crime factor in public space.

If “normal” people aren’t riding through the alleys to get home, having barbecues and sitting around on garden furniture chatting, and regular citizens can’t sit down for a rest while shopping, it is going to increase the amount of violence and general mayhem in a neighbourhood, not decrease it.

Having good cycling areas, accepting cyclists and pedestrians instead of isolating people behind walls of brick, steel and glass where they don’t know their neighbours or what’s going on ten feet outside their door, makes a neighbourhood more dangerous.

If we know all the financially disadvantaged folks, the people with mental health conditions, the disabled, the sex trade workers, the drug users, and those that struggle and we wave a cheery “hello” or include them in every daily life then we stop thinking of “us vs. them”. They are no longer “other”–they are Parkdalians, too.

Cycling is part of a street-based, public space culture.

The sooner we move that direction, the better we off our whole community will be.

Housekeeping

Okay fellow trikers and cyclers a bit of housekeeping.

  • Everything here is creative commons licensing. That means, you can use it so long as you quote me as the source unless I’m not the source. However, if YOU get paid, *I* get paid. Fair enough?
  • If you want to put a few triking blogs here, please comment in this section and I’ll add you. I won’t edit or delete unless you’re a complete git. Diverse voices are always needed.
  • I’m trying to get this hooked up to Twitter. It’s not working. I’m still trying. Will let you know when it’s fixed.
  • I tried to do a video RE: Critical Mass and “Yellow Bike” at the Revue. However my editing software is piffed at my new video card. Werkin’ on it. Will have pics and video then and those will be Creative Commons licensed.
  • If you have a useful link [like i bike toronto] I will add you. {complete git rule applying} so bring ’em on!

Lost in Space

I started out plenty early to get down to the Revue so I could film Critical Mass as they pulled up en masse whizzing, waving and bellringing down Roncesvalles. Whoa, said my video editing brain–gotta catch that footage. It will look tres coolers!

I actually left at 4:45 pm. Now, one would think I’d make it from Jameson and Queen in a few minutes.

Well, perhaps normal cyclists would.

The trike got stuck in the doorway getting it out. After 15 minutes of struggling it out, I safely packed video gear, tools and other assorted crap into the basket and bungy corded everything in tightly.

On the way, I stopped at a bike shop because my lock isn’t good and I bashed it up pretty badly when I had my driveway crash. My helmet was thrown in free with the trike so I wouldn’t get busted getting the trike home. It would easily be a winner in the “ugliest hockey helmet on the planet” catagory at the NHL. Plus, helmet instructions  always say that if you bang up, you must replace them.

I should be grateful to the head pot. When I wheelied on the driveway and skidded through the broken gravel it kept me from spilling my few working brain cells out on the pavement.

So……………….

I meander into the bike store. There were people running in and out picking up things and generally it was pretty busy. A nice fella, in between running back and forth managed to help me pick a helmet, decent lock and water bottle holder. All I need now, is a mirror. I just wasn’t up to that after spending what I knew to be too much time and money, fiddling about with the rest of the details.

[Note to self. NEVER, EVER try buy things at cycle shops on Friday night.]

Off I wander outside and run into an old friend. We have a chat. I  realize that I have no bag for any of the stuff I bought at the bike store. I figure out ways to pack it in the basket without anything sliding around with the potential to crunch my video gear, then peddle and throttle my way up Roncie.

There’s a film crew setting up.  If I ride around them I will be skidding through potholes driving into opposing traffic.  I get off, pull up on the sidewalk and begin shoving 100lbs+ of e-trike uphill on the sidewalk.

If anyone says e-trike are for the lazy again, I’m going to back over them several times at the next available incline. If they get back up I’ll consider conking them with 10lbs of bike lock.

At the first safe opportunity, I pull out from behind a parked car . A block later,  I skid sideways through the umpteenth pothole big enough to hide a Honda,  scaring the crap out of the driver who has been honking behind me riding my ass since I got back on the road.

He pulls ‘WAY over to the centre line. Justice has now been returned to my triking world.

I ride all the way to Bloor and realize, I’ve missed the cinema.

I turn back around and start wandering south. I see some cyclists. Whoo Hoo, cyclists! Honka honka! I nearly smash into a parked car because I need to move the horn closer to the handle grips so when I thumped over the sewer grate, I only had one hand on the handlebars–on the throttle side.

Boot braking in my Doc Martens, I save myself the embarrassment of crashing in front of a small crowd of athletic-looking cyclists. Now I know why they make the soles on boots that thick. I also know why the Tour De France crowd think the rest of us are lunatics and deserve to be de-wheeled.

The trike, being massive,  has nowhere to park with all the bikes around. I find a sign post half a block down the street from the cinema.

I take out my lovely new Fort Knox-busting lock. It has some ridiculous hunk of plastic attached that I can’t get off. I take out my Swiss army knife. Even that won’t cut the doo-dad off.

Why don’t they just make locks out of that stuff? It would be lighter and at this point I’m wondering if anyone could cut through it with industrial bolt-cutters and a blow torch. Oh yeah, and the lock has FIVE, count ’em, FIVE keys. None of which are of any use to me because I can’t get the plastic grip-tie off.

Behind me I hear whooping and bells ringing. Drat! Here come the  Critical Mass riders, waving and peddling. I don’t even have my video camera out.  I can’t get the freaking lock on. I grab my cheap, beat up old lock and lock up.

Now I have 10lbs of superlock and nowhere to put it. I stash it in the camera bag. Now, where to put the water bottle holder? Into the camera bag.  I’m also now the proud owner of a funky blue helmet that matches the trike, but where oh where do I put the old pot top?

Ah hell. I leave it in the basket. If someone wants to steal it–they need it worse than I do.

I unpack my toolkit/light/emergency bag. My camera bag now weighs more than the trike. Pack mules in Andes would go on strike for being forced to wear this much baggage.

I am now not only without decent video footage. I am late for the film.

I wander up and down both sides of the streets getting photos of cool bikes, signs, the front of the cinema.

I go inside.

The staff are very friendly. I offer to “check-in” my video camera but they say it’s okay.  I’d buy popcorn but my poly-grip has worn off from all the nervous teeth clenching I did skidding through the Roncesvalles potholes.

There’s no seats left. I stand near the back doors where I’m getting evil looks from the people in the aisle seats because my reflective day-glo sweatshirt is blinding them. My cycle helmet, cinched to my waist pouch, keeps banging on the wall. My back is starting to ache from all the industrial steel stuffed in my camera bag.

I go out to the snack bar and buy a bottle of water. There’s a popcorn cup with a note that says, “If you don’t tip us, we’ll tell you the end of the movie.” I tip them and ask, “Okay, what’s the end?” Nobody knows because they haven’t seen the film. Somehow, I feel deeply offended by the false advertising.

I stand behind the door and try to watch the film through a small window, moving for those who need access to the washrooms and small children who are getting bored and want to play tag in the lobby.

I wait, hoping that I can get interesting  footage as people come out of the doorway, leaping wildly onto their bikes and zooming madly away.

People drift out, stand on the sidewalk talking and wander off for beer and coffee. It’s too dark for good video, anyway.

A nice man and his son talk to me for a bit. The younger man remembers my HONKA HONKA signature and wants to know if I’m going to the Earth ride tomorrow night.

I want to say, “yes” but after today’s adventure–I’m not sure I could make it as far as Bloor and Spadina without a horse tranquilizer.

I’m pretty sure if I take that much sedation, I won’t be triking anywhere soon.

Night Ride & Critical Mass

How much crazy crap would you cart on such an event? Here’s my list:

  • Okay, I’m juiced up.  I don’t mean on meth. Batteries. Check
  • Jerry-rigged pirate flag. Check
  • Huge super-tacky-anti-fashion-glow-in-the-dark reflector-sweatshirt. Check
  • Flashy blinding light for back. Check
  • Headlight. Check
  • Homely helmet that came free with Trike. Check
  • Tools for emergencies. Check
  • Video Gear:  Batteries/dvds/videocam/notebook. Check
  • Waist pouch full of regular crap. Check
  • Extra Polygrip in case I go really fast downhill and my dentures slip. Check

You know…I think I built a cabin with less gear.

_________________

Tonight is a 6pm Critical Mass ride. It sounds wonderful. It will be my first night ride.

Hmmmm.

I’m not sure my e-trike batteries will last all the way to the meeting point, back down and home since I haven’t yet tested their full capabilities and there’s no indicator to tell me how much juice is left.

I’ll top up the juice this afternoon, no matter what.

However, what I was thinking, is that I could barrel up Roncensvalles with my videocam and catch part of it if I left at the same time as the meet, I could place myself and cam to catch them whizzing by then jump in on the fun. That’s the great joy of cargo haulage on the trike.

Whatever I decide, I’ll be posting on my triking [and video, if I do so] adventures with Critical Mass.

See you at the Revue Cinema, either way.

Honka Honka!

Speed Turtling 101

Okay I did it. I finally did it.

I went full throttle up the hill on King Street at rush hour. Yes, ME doing a a whole 12 miles per hour with my bag of fruit and a second hand casserole dish in the back basket, flag waving, peddling madly.

Today, cyclists were catching on.

On my way to the market triking up a side street, a car was forced to pull over away from me instead of trying to shove me into the parking lane where I’d be pavement cheese.  A speedy cyclist coming the other direction waved wildly and yelled “I love it! ‘Way to go, lady!” So I HONKA HONKA-ed! at him. Several others waved as they passed me on by.

Hey, add a pair of waving deely boppers  and I bet I could make hundreds of otherwise  dour Torontonians, smile.

That’s going to be my next social experiment.

Oh, right after I ride at night…

HONKA HONKA!

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