Saturday, March 9, 2013

Proper spring

I was out looking for photos for the
Centretown BUZZ. Found this.
Today was probably the first taste of proper spring. It's gritty and wet (my back fender fell off a couple of days ago, because the zip tie holding it on broke: left the house without it today and regretted it within five minutes when I had a soggy, gritty patch on my ass.)

Oh, but, but...Gritty, wet, sure, but it was above freezing. I could wear my helmet without a toque underneath it. There were patches of dirty snow creeping out into and across the bike lanes, but I rode along, way out in the lane to avoid the potholes and puddles, taking up my space like a boss and thinking, "There's hope for the universe yet."

Spring always does that to me. Somehow riding your bike when you're not bundled up, head and torso immobilized by coat and scarf and hat and shoulders hunched up against the chill - riding when you can loosen up and let down the defenses against the elements - the first day you really get to do that in the spring is so liberating. It's like you have so much more room, control, grace, power. You're not carrying around a ton of tension, prepared for black ice, slippery slush, that hidden pothole, the car bearing down from behind, and shrunk into yourself because it's -20 out there beyond your eyelids... nope. Not anymore. Now you're a lane-taking, curb-hopping, pedal-cranking machine, with your head on a swivel just because it finally can be.

Or maybe it's just me.

Long live the first yawns and stretches of spring.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Jaw dropped, for two reasons

Out of the internet ether comes this crazy bike fact: 

There was once a bike that went 127 miles an hour. 

It looked like this:

And it went like snot. It was ridden in 1962, in Germany, by a crazy bastard named José Meiffret. It's worth reading the full story, which I stumbled upon via ThumbShift and Everything about this bike and the ride strikes me as having a sort of inspired, delirious madness about it. 

And while we're marveling at inspired craziness from the past, here's some from the present: I was on the way home tonight when I heard CBC's As It Happens running a story about Boris Johnson's cycling initiatives, announced this morning. Boris Johnson, in case you don't know, is the mayor of London, England. I've posted a video on this blog of him riding a "Boris bike" with Arnold Schwarzenegger when they got instated (incidentally, the Boris bikes are actually the Bixi bikeshare system, bought from Canada). I knew he was a cycling supporter. 

But to the tune of 913 million pounds? That's how much he'll be spending on infrastructure to prioritize bikes, get more people cycling and relieve traffic, according to the Guardian. There will be a 15-mile "crossroad for cyclists" - a fully segregated bike freeway, co-opting parts of existing motorways. There will be three "mini Hollands" in the suburbs - areas where bikes will supplant cars for internal transportation almost entirely.

As Jeff Douglas said on the show, "If you're a regular cyclist in a Canadian city, you might want to plug your ears and hum loudly for the next few minutes. Because this story may make you a tiny bit envious. Or unbelievably, unbearably envious."

Yeah, Jeff. You nailed it.