Raleigh Twenty winter bike-to-be

Week before last, via Kijiji, I bought this slightly scruffy Raleigh Twenty folder for the very fair price of $160:

Grande Mocha

I believe it’s already made an appearance on the Raving Bike Field’s blog this spring, when he did work for its prior owner – I suspect he’s behind the sensible addition of KoolStop brake pads at the rear. It rides very nicely, with only the usual complaints that come with vintage steel three-speeds (weight, brake mushiness).

Ride Report: June 2014 Critical Lass to LIVINGbridge

We lucked out on June 25th. It had rained all day, but the skies cleared in time for Critical Lass.

We took a group photo before the ride began.

We took a group photo before the ride began.

We rode across the (reopened!) West side of High Level Bridge, up the separated path west of 109th Street, then through downtown on 102nd Ave.

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…past the Works Festival in Churchill Square.

We stopped to check out this moving art installation by Holly Newman one block up from the Boyle Street Plaza:

Each tag is an invitation to share your night fears.

Each tag is an invitation to share your night fears.

My moth for sharing my night fear (death by right hook).

My moth for sharing my fear (death by right hook).

It's on the site of the demolished York Hotel.

It’s on the site of the demolished York Hotel.

There are also postcards for the project on a nearby lamppost.

There are also postcards for the project on a nearby lamppost.

Next we checked out how the LIVINGbridge is looking so far. (You’ll remember we also visited last summer, later in summer when street bench entries and more plants were in place; their website is here.) Organizers had suggested that we come ready to plant, so I’d brought my gloves and a couple of trowels. Nobody was around to give us direction, so we did some weeding, and picked an empty looking bed and ringed it with some of the annuals waiting to be planted.

Just after this photo was taken, Coreen and I pulled out my wrenches, and she attempted to pull by rear wheel back a bit, to get rid of the chain case scrape and weird shifting. Isn't she the best? I'll need to bring it in to Bikeworks to repeat the process on a proper stand.

Just after this photo was taken, Coreen and I pulled out my wrenches, and she attempted to pull Sparta’s rear wheel back a bit, to get rid of the chain case scrape & weird shifting. Isn’t she the best? I need to bring it in to Bikeworks to try again on a proper stand.

We worked mostly on beds 23 and 24.

We worked mostly on beds 23 and 24.

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We wrapped up quickly and left when some guys who were hanging out there started hassling us – in particular, one native gent seemed upset by our presence. We headed back downtown and had a long wide-ranging chat at Remedy. I completely forgot to take photos.

On the way home, they were testing the newly-installed lights on High Level Bridge:

Of course we all had to take photos.

Of course we all had to take photos.

There were other colours too, but my photos from the red part of the cycle turned out best.

There were other colours too, but my photos from the red part of the cycle turned out best.

You can almost see the individual lamps in this shot. I was happy to see how unobtrusive the installation is.

You can almost see the individual lamps in this shot. I was impressed by the unobtrusiveness of the installation.

While we were taking photos, we met a 53-year-old res school survivor in distress, and walked him the rest of the length of the High Level Bridge to make sure he was okay. He had a lot of profound lessons for us (as elders and survivors do), which I’ll share in a blog post eventually. He taught us a phrase, pronounced cha-oon-day, that was his prayer to the Creator for a better day tomorrow. He faced the sunset as he was praying, and traced the horizon with his hands. (If anyone can teach me the proper spelling I’d be grateful. I’m not sure if it’s Cree or Dene.)

Sunset shot.

Sunset shot. Taken roughly 11:15pm.

Catbus street art on the sidewalk.

Catbus street art on the sidewalk.

Let’s all send a wish into the universe / to the Creator / good vibes to him, wherever he is now, for a thousand better tomorrows, and consider donating to organizations who work with homeless people or the urban aboriginal community so people in his situation feel less alone and hopeless.

2014 Critical Lass & Kidical Mass schedule and notes

I’m pleased to announce the 2014 dates for Critical Lass Edmonton and Edmonton Kidical Mass:

Sunday, June 15th, 1pm – Kidical Mass Bikeology ride, in Highlands meeting at Borden Park

Wednesday, June 25th, 7pm – Critical Lass, Bikeology edition, across the High Level Bridge to LIVINGbridge and a downtown patio – ride report here

Sunday, July 20th, 4pm (changed from 1pm to accommodate the Community Gardens Bike Tour!) – Critical Lass, #31DaysOfYEG splash park ride

Saturday, August 2nd, 1pm – Kidical Mass, at a splash park and playground (exact location TBA)

Sunday, August 31st, 1pm – Critical Lass, south-side tour de cafe to Under The High Wheel, Mikes Bike & Bean, and Cafe Bicyclette

Sunday, Sept 28th, 1pm – Critical Lass, leaf viewing river valley ride

Sunday, October 26th, 1pm – Hallowe’en Kidical Mass in costume

As the Facebook event pages are created, I’ll link them above. We may add dates as well, so watch this post, our Facebook groups (linked above), and the #yegbike hashtag on Twitter.

You also need to check out the new Family Biking Edmonton group on Facebook, Revolution Cycles’ womens’ ride tomorrow, and this year’s Bikeology Festival calendar for all the cool things happening in June, including EBC’s annual Bike To The Symphony next week.

I also suspect there will be a special Critical Mass ride today (always held last Friday of the month, meeting 5:30 pm at City Hall) to mark the tragic death of Wendee Hockney in a classic right-hook accident at an intersection many of us ride often as a marked bike route into downtown.

Quick reminder: bike thefts have been epidemic this spring! I have one friend whose bicycle was stolen within three days of purchase. Sadly, I think Edmonton might be turning into a two-lock town – check out Edmonton Bicycle Commuters’ bike registry and review of proper locking technique.

Critical Lass 11 May 2014

Thanks to all who came out to our May 11th CycloFemme ride! (More info about CycloFemme here.)It was great to see you, if briefly. I was so disappointed to have to bail and take my daughter home – turned out she wasn’t feeling well (so overreacted to having trouble shifting gears), was running a fever by the time we got back to the car, and by evening everyone in my household was feeling under the weather. It sounds like everyone had a wonderful time riding down to Gracious Goods Cafe in Belgravia, socializing, then carrying on to get a preview of the gorgeous new Bikeworks South shop. New participant Tammie posted a ride report on her blog (Thanks Tammie! She’s fundraising for the ride supporting the Alberta Cancer Foundation, so if you don’t already have a friend riding, send a pledge her way.).

Critical Lass Oct 2013 group photo sunset during Oct CL me on LRT after Oct CL

We also did an evening ride in early October, at which I learned that my daughter is absolutely terrified of heights. She was so excited to be riding with the grownups, and did great getting across the High Level Bridge – then melted down when she got to the other side, poor sweetheart, and we ended up taking the LRT home. Coreen wrote eloquently about how easily we forget these things can be scary when we don’t do them daily in her ride report – thanks, Coreen. We’ll make sure that we note when we’ll be crossing the High Level in our route info from now on, and plan some rides that don’t (like the July tour de bike cafe).

 

 

 

September Critical Lass and upcoming dates

On September 15th, we met up as usual at the Garneau lamppost and rode south to check out the new bike lane on 40th Avenue. Our next two Critical Lass rides will be Monday evenings, October 14th (tomorrow! to help us burn off all that turkey and pumpkin pie) and November 18th, meeting at 6pm in the usual spot. We also have a Kidical Mass coming up: October 27th, meeting 1 pm, location TBA. Wear your Hallowe’en costumes! (Update: Kidical Mass was foiled by the early snowstorm that day! We’ll try again in Spring.)

Here are a few of the photos I took last ride – the full Flikr set can be viewed here.

Keith came along this time, with his fabulous fatbike, and his gorgeous wife Donna and daughter Dani. That Raleigh Twenty that Dani is riding is deceptively fast – she sped ahead of us for much of the ride.

Keith adjusting Anna’s seat.

Shamin and Mandy and her daughter. For being so little, she is always ridiculously well-behaved on these rides.

We rode through the residential streets east of the U of A to the LRT MUP,

over the pedestrian overpass to U of A’s South Campus and continuing on the MUP (past a guy on a cool trike) until we reached Lendrum. Somehow we missed the turnoff into the neighborhood (maybe the CoE needs to add a wayfinding sign here?) and found ourselves on the sidewalk of busy 111th Street.

This is the landmark where we turned in Lendrum – the “castle” (which used to be a daycare centre IIRC) near the strip mall with Sunterra in it on 111th Street. This took us back into the residential streets in search of the actual bike path (which we knew was in there somewhere) and the pedestrian overpass over the Whitemud Freeway.

Eventually we found it. This is the corner of 51 Ave and 115 St.

The view of the Whitemud from the pedestrian overpass.

We stopped to admire the view, take some photos, and rehydrate – but you can tell Dani is impatient with the delay.

 

The on-street bike lane south of the freeway.

We found it! This is the brand-new bike lane on repaved 40th Avenue (you can see Petrolia Mall, the site of the lemonade stand pop-upthis summer, in the background). Hey, this paint still looks wet!

There’s a reason for that! Keith and I both excitedly parked our bikes so we could snap a few photos.

One of the stencils the city use to mark the lane with reflective paint.

The hard-working city staff who were painting the lane.

Thank you so much!!!

There was no bike rack outside the convenience store in the strip mall at the corner of 40th Ave and 119th Street, so we took shifts watching the bikes while we all grabbed slushy drinks from inside. The guy at the cash register seemed confused when I suggested they could call the city to arrange for one to be installed.

It was time to head back, so we turned north on 119th Street and headed for the overpass over the Whitemud.

There were a group of guys practicing cyclocross on a course on the other side of the road at this spot. Cool!

The view of the Whitemud at the north end of the overpass.

Continuing north on 122nd Street (the same road, it changes its’ name) past Michener Park. Look how adorable Keith and Donna are.

I love riding past the U of A experimental farm (which is part of South Campus). Here’s the view to the east,

and to the west. Pretty, eh? There’s also a windbreak of willows (I think) along part of it.

Of course we ignored the mad-cow-outbreak-era no-entry sign beside the open gate into the farm (everyone does).

People use this path all the time for walking, running, and cycling, and it’s both the prettiest and most convenient way to get back to the LRT MUP.

See? Much prettier than the perpetual snarl of traffic where 122nd Street turns into Belgravia Road.

There are even sheep grazing on the other side of the path in the livestock area.

 

The juxtaposition of the old barns and Livestock Pavilion with the new Saville Centre is really interesting, too.

Back over the overpass over Belgravia Road, and this time we rode through the residential neighborhoods south and west of the U of A and along the Saskatchewan Drive MUP, instead of along the LRT MUP,

and past Rutherford House then along the bike paths to our meeting spot at the Garneau lamppost as the sun dipped low.

A final photo of those who remained at ride’s end (taken by Keith with my camera) – Mandy had taken her little one home for a nap.

P.S. – Forgive me for the lateness of this ride report! The Local Good’s election coverage has been keeping me very busy, and one of my WordPress settings is refusing to allow me to upload photos of any size. This will get fixed soon, but in the meantime the extra step of uploading everything to flikr then embedding that takes all the fun out of blogging.

Ride The Trail For Elizabeth Sovis – Critical Lass Aug 2013 ride report

Just after postponing August’s Critical Lass ride to the following weekend, the message that this summer’s final leg of Ride The Trail For Elizabeth Sovis was the same day got passed along through social media. (You may remember that I mentioned her tragic, preventable death after being struck by a drunk driver on a PEI highway while cycling the Trans-Canada Trail in the Maritimes last year.) Elizabeth’s husband, Edmund Aunger, is riding the Trans-Canada Trail in five stages to promote its completion and improve the safety of its users, who currently are forced onto dangerous high-speed freeways at the incomplete and impassable sections. You can support the project by signing the petitions or visiting the Trans-Canada Trail Foundation’s website to learn more and donate.

So, naturally, we changed our route plans so we could support Elizabeth’s family and the completion of the Trans-Canada Trail. We met as usual at 1pm at the Garneau lamp-post at Bike Bottleneck, took a leisurely ride down Saskatchewan Drive to meet the ride as it crossed Hawrelak Footbridge at 2pm, then tagged along with the ride as it made its way through the river valley to the steps of the Alberta Legislature for a rally at 3pm. (The entire Flikr set can be viewed here.)

Mary adding some air to her Trek’s tires at our meeting spot before departure. Mary commutes 20 km daily in a dress on this bike, but later in the day was informed that “there’s a rule against riding a bike in a dress.” Really?

Mary, Mandy and her daughter, and me on the Saskatchewan Drive MUP near the University of Alberta. Love the shadows in this shot!

The group accompanying Edmund Aunger since the morning’s departure from Devon crossing the Hawrelak Footbridge, our designated meeting point.

Edmund is the gentleman riding the heavily-loaded touring bicycle. This summer he rode in stages through British Columbia and Alberta, stopping frequently to take notes on the condition of the Trans-Canada Trail route.

The group stopped to eat and rehydrate at the picnic area closest to the footbridge, and we had a chance to chat with a few of them. I counted about 30 riders, many of them on road bikes. Elizabeth’s son Richard was a gracious host, thanking us for coming, accepting our condolences, and chatting about how touched he was that Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society had spread the word.

Richard gave each of us one of these retroreflective stickers. They were also distributed later on at the rally.

We rode along the official Trans-Canada Trail route, on the gravel trails along the floor of the river valley. In places the trail was right at the river’s edge, with lots of erosion from our rainy summer evident. A couple of steep sections had enough loose gravel that it was necessary to get off and walk. We were astonished when one guy gave a woman on a road bike with tires a quarter the width of mine a hard time about unclipping and walking.

We crossed the river on the LRT bridge (officially, the Dudley B. Menzies Bridge), then went through the Royal Glenora and climbed to the top of the bank on the road below the Legislature. This is our view of the High Level Bridge from the LRT bridge.

Since we had nothing to prove and were in the back of the pack, we stopped to drink some water in the shade. It was a hot day, and by this time Mary and I were regretting our choices to wear vintage synthetic fabrics.

The view of the North Saskatchewan River, the High Level Bridge, and the LRT bridge from the road on the hill below the Alberta Legislature.

Edmund Aunger addressing the crowd (and a few television news cameras) on the steps of the Alberta Legislature. The text of his speech is at ridethetrail.ca on the blog.

View from the side of the crowd at the rally during Edmund Aunger’s speech.

Teenaged unicycle riders at the Leg after the speech.

Judy met us at the rally, and we carried on to Credo to chat over iced coffees after the rally ended. I took this quick panda shot while we were waiting at a red light en route.

A sun-drenched shot from our ride home over the High Level Bridge.

Our next ride is September 15th – follow the link for the Facebook event page. We’re planning to go explore some of the newly-installed bike lanes. Also mark your calendars for October 14th and November 18th – we’re making a switch to Monday evenings to see if we can improve the turnout, and to accommodate our upcoming Kidical Mass ride on Sunday October 20th (with Hallowe’en costumes!).

The “Women On A Roll” Report

(image from the League’s press release – click through to read it)

Last week, the venerable League of American Bicyclists released their Women On A Roll report with lots of great data about female cyclists’ needs and challenges. It’s great to see a report that backs up what many womens’ cycling blogs have been saying for the past five years with numbers. While there are many other bicycle blogs covering this story in great depth – notably Lady Fleur‘s and Bike Portland‘s – I thought I’d share my thoughts. I can’t speak for younger female riders – like the 60% of bicycling Millennials mentioned in the report – but I can reflect on what those bicyclists will be looking for as they transition into the next phase of their life.

Suburban and urban moms like me want to ride more with our kids, and feel safe doing it; if we can’t, we end up having to make car trips instead. This is a no-brainer, right?

So, we’re not only looking for bicycles that let us ride to work in our normal clothes, and clothes that fit us properly even if we haven’t gotten back our pre-baby figures yet (ahem, a plus size line of commuter-style clothes would be an instant hit, justsayin’). We’re looking for racks and panniers and baskets to make it easy to haul all our stuff. We’re looking for secure seats and trailers that fit kids who are no longer babies but aren’t quite ready to ride on their own. We’re looking for midtails and bakfiets and mamachari. We’d rather not have to import them from abroad ourselves. We have young families, so we need them to affordable, too.

We’re looking for shops that make it easy for us to find these things, instead of hiding them in the back, and salespeople who don’t assume they know more about what we need than we do, and don’t assume that every woman who walks in the shop is a new cyclist. We’re looking for mechanics who don’t talk down to us if we bring them in for routine maintenance because we’d rather delegate that job than do it ourselves while juggling our kids and work. If we go to our local bike kitchen to do the maintenance ourselves, we’re looking for helpful volunteers who are cool with us bringing our kids along. (I count myself lucky that all those resources exist in my city, and that I was able to find them without too much effort, because I know my experience in that regard is far from universal.)

We’re looking for separated infrastructure that actually will get us from home to the local school, grocery, public transit hubs, daycares, shops, and workplaces, and that we will feel safe riding with our kids. Here in Edmonton, that means not only working on introducing separated infrastructure in key parts of the city, but making sure that the multi-use paths being built in residential neighborhoods actually are making it possible and convenient to run local errands by bike, even in winter.

I read the report and I see a lot to feel optimistic about. There are more women on bicycles than there have been in years, and great resources that are teaching riding and repair skills, and an explosion of interest in women’s rides and riding groups (like Edmonton’s Critical Lass ride, which is happening on Saturday this month).

For me, it’s not just about closing the cycling gender gap. If we make it easy and comfortable for women to ride with their families, then the numbers of kids and teens using active transport rise too. It’s healthier, and better for the planet, and way more fun to be on a bike than stuck in a car. Everyone will benefit from being comfortable riding their bicycle!

What do you think? Any surprises for you in the Women On A Roll report?