Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Canadian Bike Filler

Oh man. I tried and I tried and I tried to get AstroWeek Part 3 up by this morning, but I crashed last night- busy week.

Orion Tangent: The thing is, Orion is such a cool constellation, and has so much going on, it’s just totally unreal. It’s a tough one to blog about because it’s got like a thousand weird details and quirks and tangents to suck you in. Anyway, I’ll get it posted by tomorrow. Promise.

Side Note: BTW, This morning just after 6AM I spotted 47 Ursae Majoris, the star I blogged about Tuesday with the cool, similar-to-our-own, multiplanet solar system with a pair of 10 x 42 binoculars, right here in light-polluted Salt Lake Valley. If you live away from city lights, you should be able to find it no problem, maybe even with naked eye. Use the diagram I included from that astro-site; it's spot on.

wwwlogo3 But Thursday’s always a big reader day so I thought I’d better post some filler, and fortunately I’ve got great filler this morning. One of yesterday’s Watchersticker-winners- let’s call her maggie- told me where she’s putting her sticker. And in fact it’s a place I hadn’t considered- her bike.

people and dogs Even better, maggie was kind enough to send me a photo of her bike. You know how they always say people’s dogs look like them? I have this hunch that people’s bikes look like them. Not like their bodies, but like their minds. You know what I mean. Some bikes are quick and nimble, some a bit slower but reliable and steady. Some are rigid and inflexible*, others smooth and forgiving. Some are maintained with care and attention, others neglected and creaking. And some are just… different. Here’s maggie’s bike.

*Sorry, could not resist the dig at rigid singlespeeds.

maggiebike I don’t know maggie, but I can tell by her bike that she is Way Cool*. I like to think that the best minds are those that continue to grow and develop over a lifetime, that always keep learning and expanding their perspective of the world. maggie was kind enough to send me a link to this gallery detailing the evolution and development of her bike.

*Although I can also tell that she’s a secret alien visitor from another planet. All fixie-riders are from another planet, sent to observe us and report to the Home Planet.

Tangent: maggie also gets coolness points for being Canadian. Like most Americans, I secretly wish I were Canadian. Whenever I go up there (usually for work) after a day or two I find myself thinking, “Hey this place is really cool. It’s like America* except the people are nice and the country has its shit together**…” But like most Americans, I’m way too much of a Cold-Pussy to actually emigrate.

*And, equally importantly, it is like America in that they like stickers. Unlike, say, Australia, as I was informed yesterday. (Crikey!)

**I suspect that’s Canada’s National Slogan- “We’re like America, but we have our shit together”- but that they’re too polite to actually say it to our faces or put it on buildings or such places where we might see it when visiting.

Nested Tangent: Clean Colin is Canadian*. One time on a Gooseberry weekend, around the campfire after several beers, OCRick, Coryalis, Rainbow-Spirit-Paul, Fast Jimmy and I cajoled him into teaching us the words to Oh Canada. Alas we’ve all forgotten the words, except I remember that in one part “thee” rhymes with “free.”

*And now that I think about it, he really is like my nicest friend…

Maggie’s panda-bike is about to get even cooler. She plans to place the Watchsersticker on the downtube, between the phasmid and the dragonfly. Keep an eye out for it next time you’re in Toronto.


maggie said...


I'm really not an alien (unless they've gone and erased all my alien memories and implanted human ones, or unless I come from a long line of earth-dwelling aliens - actually, that might explain a lot), it's just that fixies are so USEFUL in a nice flat, wet, slushy city like this one. I like to think of my Stupid Panda Bike as the perfect union of practical and ridiculous. I never have to do any maintenance (besides the application of new stickers and a bit of air in the tires from time to time) and no one wants to steal it, because hey, stupid bike. See? Perfect.

In closing, "eh?".

Ski Bike Junkie said...

When we lived in Michigan, Rachel and I used to make smuggling runs to Canada. We'd bring back potato chips, chocolate, and Claritin. This was back before Claritin was OTC in the US, and it somehow seemed easier to smuggle it from Canada than to go to the doctor and get a prescription.

Now I can get industrial-sized bottles of Claritin at Costco. The chocolate and potato chip situations have gotten better in the US as well, but we won't even get started on healthcare...

KanyonKris said...

At least that fixie has a brake.

I can kind of see the draw of single speed, but I don't see why it's good to ditch the freewheel.

maggie said...

Well KanyonKris, I totally understand the gear thing, and I get the SS coaster thing, but there are actually advantages to running fixed, under certain circumstances. It can also be a massive disadvantage under other circumstances, so I don't recommend it for everyone :D

Maintenance: there is virtually nothing that can go wrong with a fixed drive train, provided it has been installed correctly. A freewheel can get gunked up and degrade over time. An expensive one might last a lot of years, but a fixed will still outlast it.

Safety: believe it or not, there can be a safety advantage to a fixed gear over a rear rim brake in snow and slush. You control the speed by controlling your legs, so you're not relying on a rim brake that can turn into a block of ice and stop functioning altogether. This only applies in snow, and only versus rim brakes. Disc brakes still beat both (but involve more maintenance and expense).

Cost: you can build a decent fixed gear bike for $300 if you know what you're doing, and it will last you forever and be virtually indestructible. This does not apply if you are a hipster who needs all the fanciest matching anodized parts. I built this bike specifically to ride to classes year-round, so it needed to be cheap, ugly and bomb-proof.

Momentum: on short hills the pedal kicks your back foot up, so if you're a lazy rider, you don't end up losing half your energy to the drag of that lazy back leg. It gets thrown right into position and is ready for the next stroke. This is awesome on short hills. Long hills are not fixie territory :)

I don't want anyone to think I'm proselytizing - I'm just a big old fan of bikes in all their glorious variety, and I can find an excuse to ride any of them :D My last beater bike was a 1974 CCM with a 3-speed Sturmey Archer hub, all original parts. I'd still be riding it if some dreadful person hadn't stolen it from my shed >:\

Enel said...

Every time I go to Canada I get pissed at the bad driving and lack of road signs. This was in Ontario. I liked Alberta though:)

My Watcher sticker is going on my bike as well.

My full suspension Single Speed coasting type bike.

Watcher said...

Fixie, SS, suspended, rigid- I like any bike with a Watchersticker.

Kori said...

I'm going on a business trip to Canada in a few weeks, and my family is deeply concerned that I'm just going to stay there.
O Canada! Our home and native land! True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
(all together now!)
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

(I've been practising, eh)

Watcher said...

Thanks Kori. I'm actually going camping with Clean Colin next weekend, and will re-commit to learning a full verse by then.