21 September 2010

Autumn Critical Lass, Sat Oct 2nd

We have chosen a date for the next Critical Lass ride!

We've moved it to a Saturday so that we're not competing with Edmonton Bicycle Commuters' AGM (1-3pm on Sun Oct 3rd).

The weather will probably be cool. This is a great opportunity to do a layered fall look with tall boots!

Next question is what route should we do? Comments?

14 September 2010

Inspiration boards and practical cycle chic

Today I played with Polyvore, and tried to recover from my cold. (Please don't ask how my #30daysofbiking is going. It's not. At all.)

Polyvore is basically a site where teenaged girls can make collages of fashionable outfits using images from shopping websites, then follow links through to shop for the items - or create I LOVE YOU NONTHREATENING HEARTTHOB! posters. I ran across it because it has some interior decor products available that you can collage as well - but not enough for my taste. Luckily, cycle chic is having a moment, so there are lots of photos one can use to create inspiration boards for outfits to ride in, especially if you are willing to dig past all the studded leather jackets and boots also labelled with the search term "bike".

The outfit above is essentially all from Anthropologie, with a skirt from the Gap and a Bern helmet. The bicycle is the first black loop-frame I found, which just happened to be the Hermes-branded one. The next collage was meant to be more of a vintage-style-girlbike-pron inspiration board, and the images also include some that came from various blogs:
Yes, that is a photo of Audrey Hepburn riding a bike while wearing a very shiny PVC suit - very practical for wet days. Heh. The eagle-eyed among you will notice the Yakkay helmets, Basil basket, Electra bell, and Brooks saddle, as well as cycles from Pashley, Electra, Republic Bike for Urban Outfitters, Gucci (in two colours) and Hermes. Oh, and three different vintage Schwinns.

The last thing I did was create this collection on Polyvore, which is basically meant as a quick visual guide to practical cycle chic to inspire the site's users to ride. I'd love your feedback on it!

(Also, via a photo of a hot boy on bicycle I found on Polyvore: famous men on bicycles. Mmm, beefcake and bicycles. You're welcome, ladies.)

09 September 2010

Bike seats for bigger kids? Part 2

Now that school has started for the year, my search for ways to bring the kids along without shelling out $3K for a cargo bike has resumed. 7-year-old Audrey can ride her bike, and 4-year-old Dom could ride in a trailer - but I have a feeling he wouldn't be happy being separated from the action. So a child bike seat seems like the way to go.

I'm sure you have all seen the post on Cycle Mumbreeze that shows bicycle child seats in the wild in Kawasaki, Japan. No? Go look right now. They're so. dang. cute!

See? Super cute. Via "Nemo's great uncle" on Flikr
under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license.

I have found a source that ships internationally for the white metal basket seat in the Cycle Mumbreeze post: Bicycle Hero. They also sell through their eBay store. The cost is about C$70 (including free shipping), and it comes with a three-point harness instead of just a lap belt - both wins over the Bobike option I was considering, IF it works. I also really like the big mesh leg protectors. We'll see how well it works for Dom when it arrives... it may get quickly inherited by Angel's toddler if he won't fit. =)

Meanwhile, here are some more Flikr photos of it in use, mostly showing only lap belts attached. It looks like it attaches to any rear rack, and like it ought to be big enough for my little guy... cross your fingers for me!

06 September 2010

Whoops! (Introducing.....)

Salmon Ella! (Ella for short)

Oopsie. I bought a mixte. 
It appears that I have a bicycle fetish, in addition to my shoe fetish. 
(At least she was only $30.)

The photos really don't do her paint colour justice. 
Where it has been scraped you can see the red undercoat under the pearlized salmon-pink topcoat.

Headbadge decal.

Decal on bottom tube.

Assembled In Canada decal. I wonder what the numbers mean?

The frame serial number is stamped into the rear fork.

The drop bars are stamped SAKAE CUSTOM JAPAN and ROAD CHAMPION.
Sakae Ringyo (or SR) are a Japanese parts-maker according to Sheldon Brown,
and their parts may allow me to find a date for this bike based on this article from Vintage Trek.

I added a huge, loud ding-dong bell (seen in the drop bar picture above)
while I was at EBC with my SIL replacing the brake pads:

Right now the bars are wrapped with cotton tape, which looks incredible
but I am not finding very comfortable, so I will need to test out alternatives then rewrap. 
The rubber hoods over the hand brakes are still pretty supple despite the cracks visible here.

The bottom bracket, chainwheel and pedal parts are stamped SAKAE as well, 
with CUSTOM-A stamped on the cranks (which are cotterless).

Shimano Altus derailleur

Rear cogs and rear derailleur also stamped Shimano.

CHANG-STAR U brakes.
Aluminum rear mudguard (the front one is missing).

Aren't the rims pretty? The tires are marked
28-630 ( 27 x 1 1/8 )

Vinyl spring mattress saddle.

So, my first trip on Ella was awkward but fun. Having (barely) ridden my SIL's very gorgeous Italion Fiori fancy & expensive road bike (another Kijiji find, we're just lucky :P), I was prepared for the angle and difference in feel of the bike when compared with Daisy or other "normal" bikes...what I was NOT prepared for though was the difference with the frame vs hers. My frame feels slightly more forgiving than a rigid road bike, and I'm going to guess that's probably not all in my head? After reading a few posts on Lovely Bicycle! about drop bars, racing bikes, etc, I'm totally enamoured with the different workout I get. On Saturday (a picnic party in a park!) I did roughly 5km (2 laps of Hawrelak park road which I've discovered is 2.4 km plus biking around and going over the bridge to the zoo) and definitely felt a new muscle "ache". I say ache because it wasn't really ache so much as a noticeable change in which muscles were used. It's GREAT!!

Downside to Ella's mixte frame (I'm reaching for these):
  •  Her angles are definitely different from what I'm used to, so when I tried to step through...lets say it was weird. It's not impossible to doing a rolling dismount, it just will take practice.
  • Because of the double bars the width of the "top" bars is more than I was expecting, especially when having to hop off quickly because some idiot car cuts you off...you know? So I have a large (1" by 6") bruise on my inner thigh. It'll heal, and it's good for bragging rights :P
  • The tires are high pressure which means they absorb nothing. Which is fine so long as you lift up when going down the bumpiest/potholiest roads EVER. Lesson learned!
All in all I'm IN LOVE. Seriously, the difference in muscles used and the awesome speed completely justify the total of $40 invested thus far.

Things I need to think about:
  • new wrap on the bars, have you any suggestions? I had a sore palm after my first "big" ride but I think that was more new positions. I do know I need to lower my seat a bit and fix the angle properly so I'm not using my arms and hands as much.
  • new seat. This is an "eventually" since her seat is actually pretty decent. In a perfect world I think I'd be getting a Brooks...but that might be a save up and take my time to get.
  • front fender. I might just do away with it for the time being, I'd like something matching IF I were to put a fender on, so maybe I'll be looking to buy some pretty ones online...Ohhhh the possibilities!
I really think that's it, unless I'm missing something drastically needing replacement? Yikes?

I Fail At #30DaysOfBiking (Week 1)

I signed up for this cool thing that some nice people in Minnesota are organizing. The idea is that you ride your bicycle every day for 30 days, starting September 1st, and tweet about it using the #30DaysOfBiking hashtag, or blog about it, or otherwise discuss online. Doesn't that sound like terrific fun? And a nifty way to force yourself to bike that extra little bit, and blog that extra little bit? And don't you want to have spoke cards like theirs, and just generally be part of the awesomeness?

On Day 1, I tried out my coblogger Angel's new-to-her mixte Ella, while our boys had a playdate:

(Yes, this is another amazing Kijiji find. Angel knows how to score the good stuff. Full post to follow.)

This was my first time ever on a mixte, and my first time on a bike with dropped bars since about junior high and my crush on Duran Duran. So may I say, wow, it feels very different to ride leaning far forward and resting more on your pelvis and less on your tush. The bike itself is swift and light and shifts effortlessly between the gears. The step-through on the mixte frame isn't as low as I would prefer for carrying a load on the back, so I would use one for recreational rides, or commuting if I didn't have too much stuff to bring with me. I definitely want to borrow this bike for a longer ride (mine was under 5 minutes) and get a better feel for it.

For Day 2, I went on a twilight ride around the block with my 7-year-old daughter. I rode Mary Poppins, with the addition of some Knog lights I had purchased recently. A white 4-LED Skink went on Mary's basket, and I was surprised by how bright it actually was. For rides on brightly-lit streets it made a passable substitute for a proper headlight:

I also attached a 2-LED Beetle to the rear rack, and a 1-LED Frog for under the seat on Audrey's bike (you can see it in her photo above). The bendy silicone straps made them really easy to put on and take off, they hardly wiggled at all during the ride, and they were visible from a fair distance.

We got to see this lovely sunset view across the soccer field, and some rabbits that my phone camera was unable to show you:

On the morning of Day 3, Audrey rode her bicycle to and from her newly-opened elementary school. I got to pull her little brother in a wagon, since he can't keep up on his bike yet. I want a bakfiets, please.

I'm impressed with how much use the bicycle racks are getting, despite an atrociously-worded we-discourage-you-bringing-such-items-to-school-and-can-take-no-responsibility-if-they-get-stolen paragraph in the school handbook:

I got to admire the bikes of friends at a picnic in Hawrelak Park during the afternoon of Day 4. (I live far enough away that riding to the picnic with my kids in tow was not an option, sadly.)

However, non-cycling daytime plans with friends, a cold and a migraine and rainy weather, and the needs of my family and new 4-month-old puppy took precedence over solo bike rides on days 3-5. Lame sauce! Clearly I am going to need to be very proactive about scheduling in some solo riding time or getting hubby to watch my little guy (he's too big for most bike child seats) so I can ride with my little girl to her school in the mornings... or get myself that bakfiets so I can ride with both kids.

Despite my apparent slackerness, I am intending to get back on the horse and keep trying to ride daily. I hope my persistance will pay off!

Day 6 update: after supper tonight I took Audrey for a 45 minute ride around our neighborhood, on the Violet-plus-trailer-bike setup we used on the suburban Critical Lass ride. We swung past the community garden and the new elementary schools, then turned and headed south to explore the roads where houses have been built in the past couple of years (I love the way the exteriors of the duplexes recall the area around Dalhousie University in the south end of Halifax). We stopped and took some photos by a little park with a pretty pond just as the wind started to pick up (brr, it is starting to REALLY feel autumnal). As we rode home we were rewarded with amazing pinks and violets in the sunset.