Man's Greatest Invention

When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man's convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man's brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. - Elizabeth West

Purpose and Mission

To share our experience and to encourage and inspire others to use a bicycle as a form of year round recreation and transportation. To be an example of living car-free and to help others to make the transition to having a car-light or car-free life style.

Our bodies is the engine that moves us.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

SS Downhill

I had my own winter sporting event today:  The Single Speed Downhill.

The course had great snow conditions for the event.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Commute at 20 k.p.h.? Hell No!

This is long overdue.

Ald. Ric McIver is bringing forward a notice of motion at Monday’s council meeting seeking a review on the posted speeds on multi-use pathways to ensure public safety.

Cyclists riding on city pathways are limited to a speed of 20 km/h, and violating that can result in a $50 fine.

McIver said he heard from hundreds of cyclists that the speed limit is too low and they should be able to go faster when the path is clear.

“That seems perfectly reasonable,” he said.

Perfectly reasonable is right! And the 20 k.p.h. bylaw is perfectly unreasonable.  Just one more deterrent against commuting by bicycle in this city (same with bridges that require cyclists to dismount to cross, bike paths that remain uncleared of snow and so on).

Obviously going more than 20 k.p.h. on the Eau Claire promenade at lunch hour is a bad idea. But on the Nose Creek pathway where there are hardly any people, you'd be a fool to keep your speed at 20 clicks, especially if you're commuting to downtown. The existing rule is a joke and everyone knows it.  It's completely unreasonable and impractical.

I know this comes as a news flash to some people, but many cyclists, myself included, aren't pedaling around town just to enjoy ourselves (although it can be enjoyable, assuming you're not getting run off the road by some meatheaded asshole). We bike for the same reasons motorists drive: to get somewhere, to go from point A to point B. To go to work, meetings, wherever we have to be.

Imagine a 20 k.p.h. speed limit on the Deerfoot. It wouldn't fly, even though vehicle traffic on the Deerfoot is way more dangerous than cyclists on the pathways. Yet the city is more or less asking cyclists who live in areas like Beddington to crawl the long distance to work downtown, even when the pathways are clear and it's safe to let 'er rip. No wonder people leave the bike in the garage and just drive instead.

It's frustrating.  City Hall has a tendency to talk up positive choices like cycling while putting up all kinds of barriers to deter people from actually riding their bikes to work. In the "Plan It" blueprint for the city's growth, cycling is supposedly a priority means of transportation, above cars even. Looks nice on paper, but we have yet to see it in practice. Reviewing this ill-conceived bylaw seems like a small but necessary step in turning a good idea into reality.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Was Just Riding Along

Every bike shop in the world has heard the JRA (just riding along) story many times.  I was just riding along and my deraileur broke.  I was just riding along and my chain snapped.  I was just riding along and my frame broke in half.  There are many more.  Well, I have to tell ya, that I was JRA and I came around the corner and this is what I saw...

There were around ten horses in the field right next to the fence.  I ride the path in Calgary because I come across scenes like this.  This photo was taken during a ride around the reservoir  yesterday.  Where else, but in Calgary, could this happen?  I'm feeling a bit like Kevin Costner in an "Open Range", "Brokeback Mountain" kind of way, as I'm still within the city. 

This is what makes Calgary's pathway system so much fun.  I've had to stop to let a family of ducks cross the path during a wet spring, to coming upon some deer grazing next to the path.  My bike allows me to get closer to nature.  This does not happen from the seat of a car.  Giddy Up.

Monday, February 15, 2010

GREENDAY aka Family Day

I've changed the name of today's provincial holiday to 'GREENDAY' in my household.  What could be greener than using pedal power to haul recycling to the recycling drop off depot? 

When we moved to Calgary from Vancouver in 1999, we were quite shocked to learn that there was no blue box program here.  Even apartment dwellers had access to blue boxes within their building in Vancouver.  It is my understanding that it will be another 10 years before Calgary has the system in place for apartment and condo residents.  This seems totally backwards to me.  The downtown core has the highest density of population.  Would it not make sense to service the most people in the smallest amount of space?  People that live in the suburbs most likely own a vehicle which makes it easier to haul their recycling to the depot when they do other tasks like grocery shopping, for instance.  Many people that live in the core do not own a vehicle, so hauling recycling can be quite a chore. 


I get another chance to go for a bike ride.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What Stops You...?

With the short summers that we experience here in Calgary, I've often looked for ways to make my commute longer; like taking the long scenic way home. Commuting simply became another opportunity to ride my bike.  I was able to combine commuting with pleasure riding.  Commuting between the core and Westhills Shopping Center, I would take a route that would have me pass through the Glenmore area and around the south side of the reservoir before coming out at Weaselhead Park, then onto 37th St S.W. and then head N.W. into the Westhills area.  When I arrived at my work place, I had the ability to bring my bike indoors.  I could then look forward to the ride home.

The view from the entrance to the park @ 37th St. S.W.

Two of the most often stated obstacles preventing cyclists from commuting on their bikes are the lack of secure parking and the inability to shower and change before walking into the office.  Are you one of those people?  Would you use a different bike to commute with if you knew for certain your bike would be there when you came to retrieve it?  Would you find a shower facility in close proximity to your parking spot useful?  How would you feel if this was within a few minutes walk to the office?  What would you be willing to pay for this kind of convenience and security?  Would you use your bike more if these services were available to you?

Specifically, would you use your bike instead of driving your car and paying the high cost of parking in the core?  And would you use your bike instead of public transit?

Please feel free to comment, we want to hear from you.

Monday, February 8, 2010

We Support Local Artists

It is a pleasure to feature local artists that share our vision of building a cycling community.  Today I want to introduce you to a local Calgary artist: Charlotte Hegler.

Not only is she a very talented artist, her subject material is of interest to many sporting cyclists.  I will let her work do the talking.

 If you would like to see more of Charlotte's work, check out her website or get in touch with her via email . 

Her work is also going to be on display starting Febuary 13/10 during BikeBike's grand opening celebration.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Keep It Simple Superstar

The more basic your drivetrain is, the less it requires attention and maintenance.  For winter riding, you may want to consider a single speed set up.  Even the largest hills can be tackled with the proper selection of gearing.  An easy spinning gear ratio also has the benefit of allowing a higher cadence to help keep your body warm.  When the temperature really drops, wind chill becomes less of a factor at lower speeds.

This is your typical single speed drivetrain.

Notice the horizontal dropouts. Just slide the wheel back to keep the chain at the proper tension.

This bike was originally equipped with a geared deraileur system.  A single speed rear wheel was installed and I found what is called "the magic gear", meaning that a chain tensioner is not required.  The size of the front chain ring and rear cog just happen to work with the length of the chain.  If either one had even one less tooth, the chain would require some way to keep it tensioned to ensure it did not come off during rough riding conditions.

This bike was originally a geared bike but with this conversion, you can clearly see that a tensioner is being used in place of the deraileur.

This system has the benefit of using a much longer length of chain that allows the use of two front chainrings, making this bike essentially a two speed.  Notice in this photo that the chain is on the outer chainring and the tensioner's position has changed.  On this bike one gear ratio is used for trail work, the other gear is for road speed.

Winter riding on any of these setups requires that you only keep the chain clean and lubed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

She Ain't Pretty (She Just Looks That Way) - The Northern Pikes

A big concern for a lot of people is the worry of subjecting their nice bike to the harsh realities of winter riding.  Although most bikes are able to deal with these conditions, it's quite inexpensive to purpose-build a utility bike that requires almost no maintenance and is easy on the pocket book.

Typical hybrid from the 90's available from any bike co-op or local free advertising spots like Craig's List etc.

See how secure I am with my manhood?, I can ride a bike with a basket and not feel like a tool.

Basket rack for extra support hauling those heavy bulky items.

Easy spinning single speed drivetrain to keep things simple.  Keeping the chain clean and lubed is all the maintenence the drivetrain requires.

Well made shopping bag panniers add loads of carrying capacity.  They are just the right size to be able to slip in your reusable shopping bag. 

Six more weeks of winter, oh joy!

According to the most sophisticated weather forecasting technology known to man, groundhogs, we are looking at another 6 weeks of winter.  Don't let the weather keep you off your bike.  There are some very good recreational riding opportunities available in Calgary in the winter.  One of my favourites is Edworthy Park.  Wherever there are hikers, there are trails to ride.

This was Edworthy Park on Christmas day.

Riding a trail 18" wide just adds to the fun.

Stopping for a rest by the Bow River back in November.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Inspiration

This video was introduced to me by someone I consider a good friend.  I draw some of my inspiration from it.  It has truths for me on many different levels.

"We are what we repeated do.  Excellence then is not an act but a habit" - Aristole

Why we need an indoor velodrome

I saw this link over at the CBTL website today.  The video produced by the National Cycling Center of Hamilton is equally valid for Calgary.  Some of the most fun you'll ever experience on a fixed gear bike is spinning your legs as fast as you can at the velodrome.  There is nothing quite like being able to ride your bike to your full ability in a controlled and safe environment, whatever your level of capability is. 

The cool thing for beginners is the ability to use the track for the course of the summer a couple evenings a week to train before moving into racing, if they even choose to do so.  Riders use the facility on Monday and Tuesday evenings for training rides and as a fun way to get in a nice workout while riding around on a fixed gear track bike.  Ride on up to the track, remove your front brake and lever and hit the track for a couple of hours of fun and speed.  The track is operated by the CBTL and have intro courses every spring that run far into the summer.

 This is what Calgary's veldorome looked like Jan 24/10.

The Missing Link

I believe a crucial step is missing from initatives attempting to get people out of their cars and onto a bicycle for use as a form of daily transportation.

That step is simply selling cycling as pure fun. When we start off making someone a recreational rider first, there is a better chance that the new rider will fall in love with cycling, just like many of us have.  I think for a lot of people, the transition from car to bike without this step is unrealistic. Even if someone starts off with the intention of riding their bike only on the weekends, they may eventually find that they have fallen in love with cycling, and now, cannot get enough of the experience. People start looking for ways to spend more time on their bike; daily errands and even commuting become not a chore, but a way to have more pedal time.  This can potentially lead recreational cyclists to the transition of using their bikes as transportation.

Generally people that use a bicycle as their daily transportation, eased themselves into it.  Rarely does a new rider go from using an automobile directly to using a bicycle as a form of transportation.  People are looking for recreation. Once they become cyclists, the use of the bike for utility and commuting is a natural progression.

I believe for cycling to really move into the mainstream, the focus needs to be on providing cyclists places in which to have quality experiences. These experiences must be made available to cyclists all year long.