Big Blue Has the Blues

A couple of weeks ago cruising  up to the big No Frills, when I gunned her into traffic [okay 12mph is “gunning” to her] up the hill at Dundas.  Then poor Big Blue started chugging.

Now Blue is usually very quiet. She hardly makes any noise at all except for the odd fender rattle through potholes or her merry honka! honka!

I took her down to the shop but the bike mechanic couldn’t hear the noise no matter how much I tried to tell him she only made that noise going uphill at full throttle.

So I brought her home and worried. She seemed to be drooping.

Well, within a week poor Blue was making retching sounds every time I hit her throttle. She still puttered along but she seemed too nauseated to hit her usual cruising speed.

Today I took her back to the shop.

She obviously has a cracked [it’s visible now] axel housing  [I think that’s what it’s called, it covers the piece of axel between the motor and the wheel] on one side and I don’t know what else. The shop mechanic wanted me to bring her Monday but I couldn’t bear to part with her until Tuesday since I have something to do Monday she would have to stay overnight.

So I begged to take her in on Tuesday so I could pick her up at and bring her home to rest after surgery.

Funny how I’m starting to view her as my father viewed his cars. He saw them as mechanical horses. He actually called them “Nellie”–the name of his favorite horse. I tend to see my computer the same way.  As if it was fussy some days and makes weird noises if unhappy. My computer is not fond of windows and likes his secondary linux system better. Perhaps he has a Penguin soul.

Anyhoo, I have to pedal Blue until she has her operation.

I suppose it’s over-the-top to buy her a get well card or perhaps a rubber flower to cheer her up, attached to her basket?

Honka!_moan_Honka!

Honka!_moan_Honka!

Grocery Land

So I finally took the big plunge for groceries.

As I locked up,  I met a lovely elderly Italian Trikerster! He had put together a huge cargo trike with a welding torch and old bicycle parts he found in the garbage. He’d attached a big aluminum cargo holder on the back and was hauling off at least 100lbs of groceries between the back boot and a big box bungy corded between his legs on the frame.

He told me he has 3 car batteries and a motor rig ready to hook up this summer because the arthritis in his knees is becoming too painful for him to pedal uphill anymore.

I tried to catch his name so I could put it here but he pedalled off before I could catch it.

I was embarrassed really. Here was my n00b-looking trike and he had this spiffy, decrepit, well-loved trike that looked like it would be at home in the backwoods attached to a donkey. He’d even built a special piece to “roll” off the boot full of groceries straight into his house.

Here’s to human ingenuity!

A Toast to Ingenuity

A Toast to Ingenuity

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!

Happy Trails To You

How are you getting home today?

How are you getting home today?

Okay, let’s get down to it, shall we?

Pull up your coffee and donuts and let’s have a bit of a quiet chat here, shall we?

Now, BBP [big beautiful people], smokers, arthritics and out-of-shape mature people get picked on everywhere. We don’t get to go to the gym or dojo as we age because seeing us in spandex would blind the Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolie’s of this world.

Yet, health-wise, these are the catagories of people who need to do something physical the most.

One of the fervent complaints I hear a great deal about e-assist is that it’s for “lazy people”. Yet, it is e-assist that’s most conducive to getting the disabled, smokers, large people and such out and about in the sunshine to exercise.

The more we get out and ride–the better shape we’ll be in. That’s good for everyone.

So doesn’t it make more sense to encourage everyone, no matter what their abilities and bad habits to get those butts moving around?

HONKA HONKA!

Natural Born Eejits

Is it just me are some motorists born to irritate cyclists?

There I am, the only place to pull out is onto a one way the wrong way, safely due to traffic construction on the opposite side of a parking lot.

Even the cars have to pull out this way or risk a crash.

A woman I know, who hasn’t seen a bike since she was ten, and drives her car less than two miles to work–starts yabbling about how I’m a “motorized vehicle”.  Uh, hello? E-assist is “a motorized vehicle”–you mean like that gaz guzzling, air polluting ton of steel that you are screaming out the window of? THAT kind of “motorized vehicle”?

Do you know anything about cycling at all?

I think she’s just piffed because she got stuck behind me for a whole quarter of a block on her way home a few days ago.

Now yesterday, the same dimwit, standing where I am parking my trike, lectures me for 20 minutes about how much I must upset couriers since I take up half a lane.

Actually, couriers tend to smile and wave since they see I could haul cargo at my speedy rate of 12 mph. It’s not *me* polluting their air as they whiz along trying to make a living.

Besides, couriers realize that no driver that doesn’t want to knock their door right off the hinges is going to try the “gee whiz, I didn’t see you” when they deliberately whang open their door into the oncoming path of 100lbs of e-trike. Heck the trike wouldn’t even tip so the intimation factor is vanquished.

You know, in the past week most folks have been uber-cool as I trike along. Some motorists and cyclists kind of grin or point. A few motorists get piffed and honk.

So for those of you who *are* courteous and getting a kick out of it all–a big HONKA HONKA! to you