Showing posts from 2008

Bringing the well to the thirsty

Wired Online has a story up called Study Says Cars Make Us Fat.

"Countries with the highest levels of active transportation generally had the lowest obesity rates," Bassett and Pucher conclude in the study published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. "Walking and bicycling are far more common in European countries than in the United States, Australia and Canada. Active transportation is inversely related to obesity in these countries."

Nowhere is this more obvious than the United States, where 12 percent of the population walks, rides a bike or takes mass transit, and as many as one in three people are obese.

Ever think that sometime in the 22nd or 23rd century (if we last that long) a primary school history teacher is going to tell their class about the 20th century and sprawlurbia and building cities that necessitated traveling in pollution emitting / natural resource consuming automobiles, and some cute kid is going to put up his or her hand …

The Land Ethic (or, are we screwed?)

I've been reading about Aldo Leopold, a conservationist, amateur philosopher, and one of the earliest of the modern day eco-warriors. In 1949 he wrote the first edition of the Sand County Almanac, and most notably within this book, his piece The Land Ethic, which was very much of a throwing-down of the environmental gauntlet.

What Leopold did was assert that the long held assumption that humans only had moral obligations towards other humans was wrong - that it didn't go far enough. There was no real thought within philosophy that along with humans, maybe plants, animals and ecosystems had rights as well. In the Land Ethic, Leopold says that humans, plants, animals, the entire ecosystem, should be considered one thing - a "biotic community". In considering what a moral action is, he wrote A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.

I basically agree with this, but nothing …

Plus ca change

I just read this story about the nearly finished bailout of the Detroit Three automakers.

I love these points:
- A breakthrough came when Democrats agreed to scrap language — which the White House had called a poison pill — that would have forced the carmakers to drop lawsuits challenging tough emissions limits in California and other states, said congressional aides.

- Environmentalists already were livid that the measure draws the emergency loans from an existing loan program to help carmakers retool their factories to make greener cars.

So are North American governments REALLY going to take this opportunity to force the big three to turn green? They haven't pulled enough crap over the last 80 some years, so we're just going to shrug and say "Hey - keep up your lawsuits against cleaner air measures?"

Once we got the tobacco companies in a headlock we kept the pressure on them, are we not going to do that with the car companies?

plus ca change, plus c'est la meme

Turn it into a sexy dance

More so than hell, I think the road to winter fitness is paved with good intentions. Though it has since fallen apart, I had a good start to my quest to get into shape this winter - allowing me to be a hill-climbing machine right out of the gate this spring.

I set my Trek up on my trainer, down in my basement, and with IPOD in my ears I felt fairly energized, and seemed, for about two weeks, not to be succumbing to that "holy crap, training in the basement is damned boring and depressing" bug that is associated with this type of training.

At the same time, and this is a project I'll be working on all winter, as money is saved to buy new parts, I've been working on my brother's old beater mountain bike.

When I picked it up, the chain and gears were rusted enough that they weren't even moving anymore. A firm believer in the theory that everyone needs a bare-bones, maintenance free, single-speed commuter, I'm turning the bike into a single-speed, as I've do…

who's gonna take the weight?

As is my usual pattern, in September when the students come back I have very little time for blogging.

But - here's the important thing - Orillia had its first ever bike rally!

Up to the last minute, we weren't sure what kind of turn out to expect. Through word of mouth, all of the serious cyclists in the area knew about the event, but how many "people with a bike in the garage" folks would come out, we weren't sure. In the end we had 100 people do an easy 10km loop through the city. Much to my relief, no one got hit by a car and the first bike rally wasn't marred by an accident.

I think it was a nice bit of bike activism, and we even had two federal political candidates do the ride (conservative and green party). Hopefully the rally, and an upcoming report on active transportation, will spur some movement in this town.

I didn't start work until 11:00a.m. today, so I did that ride I was doing in the summer, out to a town called Hawkestone and back. Beautiful …

the active transportation hurricane

To begin - anyone else think the guy leaving comments on this post is a little bit too angry about something?

During my life in Toronto, I took part in a few cycling events, and organized that petition, but never really got involved with cycling activism the way I thought I should. When I moved to Orillia, I wanted to get involved in city life and look into bike issues, and so I won a spot on a city committee that deals with trails in general (more commonly hiking / nature trails) and a small group of us from this committee have started promoting active transportation issues.

This is fun stuff. Orillia has had a strong recreational cycling culture for a while, but very little of a commuting cycling culture. Cycling infrastructure doesn't really exist here at all - there are next-to-no bike parking posts in this town, and no bike lanes which are useful for journeying to work/school etc (i.e. no bike lanes going through or across town).

So - we're trying to get something started he…

Orillia Team Tri wrap-up

On Sunday, my brother (in the middle), my partner Anna and I did the team relay at the Orillia triathlon. I biked, my brother ran, and Anna swam, and we came in 9th out of 21 teams.

As I mentioned below, on Saturday my Trek road bike, which I haven't ridden much this summer, was shifting terribly. The front derailleur was throwing the chain over the big ring onto the crank arm every time I tried shifting from the small to the big ring. A choice I considered for a while was shifting my road wheels onto my Jamis cross-bike. This ended however when I picked up the cross-bike right after picking up the Trek, and noticed the 6 pound difference between the two bikes. So, I said "screw it" and decided just to ride the whole race in the big chain ring.

This obviously isn't ideal, but it all turned out fine actually. I did a bunch of training rides on the race route prior to the race, and knew exactly how all the hills worked (and how all the downhills worked, i.e. where I had …

damned derailleurs and farmers

So - regarding the below mentioned triathlon that I'm participating in tomorrow, I have a spot of bother. I haven't actually ridden the carbon Trek in ages, and ever since I bought it the bike has had front derailleur issues. I tried riding it around today and the derailleur kept throwing the chain over the big chain ring, no matter what I did with the limit screw.

I almost decided to put my road wheels onto my Jamis cross bike today, switching over the cassette, but in the process of lifting the Jamis and the Trek, with the Jamis weighing... I don't know... 6 pounds more than the Trek... I couldn't bring myself to do it. So screw it. I'm riding the Trek tomorrow and I'm not going to use the smaller chainring at all. I'll let you know how this goes.

Another dumb thing I did today - the day before a race - was ride 50 km (on the Jamis). I tried to go Friday afternoon (had the day off) but right when I was set to go, thunder started rumbling in the distance, wi…

Orillia Triathlon & Tuco's bike collection

Although I can't claim to have ever been a "racer", from 2003 to 2005 I did lots of running races and several duathlons. Since moving to Orillia - where I walk most places and haven't been road riding much - I've completely fallen out of cycling shape. Not letting that deter me, I'm doing the cycling portion of a team tri this weekend - the annual Northern (Orillia) Triathlon.

Now, coincidentally, way before I moved to Orillia, I did the duathlon here twice, in 2003 and 2004, coming about middle of the pack in my age group both times, and doing the 33km bike portion in about 1:05 each time. Ironically, in 2003/04, when I was probably in the best shape I'll ever be in, I was riding the worst road bike I'll probably ever own. I mean, it was my first road bike and it did what entry level bikes are supposed to do (ie addict you to the sport) but it was a heavy chromo frame with low level Shimano Sora and whatever type of wheelset you get with a $500.00 bik…

We need a freeway, not a bikepath...

Newsweek has two stories up now that people might be interested in:

Why the government wants you to drive more discusses the subsidization of automobile culture by the federal government in the States. The writer calculates the the feds spend approximately $100 billion a year on driving related subsidies. What's the best news?
The Transportation Department reported that Americans drove 9.6 billion fewer miles in May 2008 than in May 2007, a 3.7 percent drop. The result: rising demand for mass transit and declining revenues for the Federal Highway Trust Fund, which is funded by gas taxes. The Bush administration's counterintuitive policy response, as the New York Times reported, has been for the Highway Trust Fund to borrow funds from the department's mass-transit account.

Yes - President Bush pulled money OUT of mass transit to put into the highway system.

And Pedal vs. Metal is about the growing popularity of cycling causing friction between motorists and cyclists, now that…

open letter to the guy who stole my bike wheel

Police in Toronto have recently recovered over 3000 stolen bicycles. An investigation into one notoriously shady bike shop owner has led them to all these bikes, and the "reuniting" process - owners coming in with proof of ownership - has gone very slowly.
I personally think that they're going to end up with at least 2500 bikes that they have to get rid of somehow. Traditionally, this would be done via a police auction, but even if they do this, I can't see them selling 2500 bikes.
Instead, I think that, in this age of active transportation, the cops should search for a good way to use these bikes, and my solution, despite the problem of annual costs, is for the province of Ontario to take these bikes and then hand them out to cities across the province to start up bike share programs. If municipalities balk at the ongoing costs, up the gasoline tax and give the revenue to the cities to cover the bike share program.

As the price of oil is sliding away from the $145.00 …

From Orillia to Coldwater on the Uhthoff Trail

Leading out from Orillia there are a few old rail trails that are fun to ride, especially if you have a cyclocross bike and can put the hammer down to ride at speed for a while.
You can click on all these photos to go to my Flickr page, and look at the large version of these photos if you like

This morning I went north out of Orillia and rode the Uhthoff Trail to a town called Coldwater, which is a 25km trip one way.

The ride is dead flat the entire way. It's also pretty much dead straight - so it isn't exactly the most interesting ride in the world. However, it is really nice to be cycling all alone through forests and past farmland for two hours.

In places the trail is a bit overgrown. It's a shame, but I don't think this trail gets used very much, not like the Oro-Medonte trail which goes between Barrie and Orillia. After turning around in Coldwater, and starting the ride back to Orillia, I passed two ladies on bikes who were going to give up with their ride - worried t…


To go along with this old classicCampy Batman panel, Macleans magazine here in Canada has given us another example of a Batman comic, which, in 2008, just makes you giggle (if, like me, you have a weakness for juvenile humour).

P.S. - You can click on this image to get a slightly bigger, more readable version (once on the Flickr page, click on the All Sizes link and view the Large version).

P.P.S. - if you look at the big version, at look at the newspaper in the Joker's hands, even the headline is funny... Chortle at the Joker's Boner!

And, from this page, here's why the Dutch are awesome - they even have trailside garbage bins designed for cyclists!

Naked, you are blue as a night in Cuba

Yeah, you have to love Pablo Neruda (supplier of my subject line up there).

Peak Oil is even becoming a popular topic in academic and college magazines! This article from the Chronicle mentions that within 10 years of the peak, if we are to come anywhere close to the type of living that we have right now, alternative fuels will have to be able to produce as much energy as Saudia Arabia currently produces, by far the world's largest oil producer. The article is mainly about how colleges and universities need to start reassessing their entire business model in preparation for the end of cheap oil.

I'm really loving my Jamis. You know when a bike stops being some bike that you bought, and becomes your best friend, or your brother or something? My Jamis has pretty much reached that point. I'm currently riding it in training for the Orillia triathlon. I'm only doing the cycling portion, in a relay with my brother and a friend. My friend who is swimming has the hardest job - o…

mariposa folk festival

Holy Cow, I have not been blogging very much. I do have some very valid reasons however... getting married in September, bought a house and moving in on July 31..

pretty busy at work, and busy with the trails for life committee that I'm on in Orillia, specifically helping write a report on Active Transportation that we're going to send to city council. I'll be drawing on some material from my active transportation articles for the report (mainly the calamitous health effects of automobile exhaust from article 2).

Enjoying the first "summery" thing I've done this year, we spent the weekend at the Mariposa Folk Festival. The festival is in Orillia, and we spent the weekend cycling from our house in the north part of the city, along the lake, to Tudhope Park where the festival is situated, mainly on that northward point of land which means that when you're walking around the festival there is water all around you.

My God, it was a gorgeous weekend, with crystal…

What you guys rebelling against?

A little while back I posted a question with a couple of groups in Facebook asking if anyone knew of any books about bicycle culture - especially the history of the recent explosion of bicycle activism. Nobody answered my posts, and I tucked the idea of writing my own book on this topic into my back pocket (I've also written to Bicycling Magazine asking if they'd consider publishing an article on bike bloggers. So far I've had no reply).
Well - it looks like a book on this has arrived. Chris Carlsson has written Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-Lot Gardeners are Inventing the Future Today.

This curious, multifaceted phenomenon constitutes an important arena of autonomous politics. The bicycle has become a cultural signifier that begins to unite people across economic and racial strata. It signals a sensibility that stands against oil wars and the environmental devastation wrought by the oil and chemical industries, the urban decay imposed by c…

Cycling with e.e. cummings

Up and on the bike early - rained hard all night but sun broke out nicely on a day meant to hit 30Celsius.

up into the silence the green
silence with a white earth in it

you will(kiss me)go

out into the morning the young
morning with a warm world in it

(kiss me)you will go

on into the sunlight the fine
sunlight with a firm day in it

you will go(kiss me

down into your memory and
a memory and memory

i)kiss me,(will go)

Say goodbye to suburban living

The June 9th issue of Macleans magazine has a good cover story titled After Cheap Oil.
I guess I'm mainly impressed because - finally - peak oil is in the mainstream media, and blurbs like You won't be able to eat, travel or live as you do now. Say goodbye to the age of plenty are appearing on the covers of national popular magazines.

Here are a few good passages:

Last week, the International Energy Agency said it will re-examine the oil supply in 400 major oil fields around the world - a sobering acknowledgement that there may be even less oil than once thought. Even industry insiders are waking to the idea that the world is nearing the supply wall. Last year, former U.S. energy secretary james Schlesinger declared the battle is over, the peakists have won.

Peak Oil theory...describes the point at which the supply of oil can no longer keep up with the world's growing demand... When supplies run short oil prices don't just go up, they skyrocket. A 2005 U.S. government repo…

Keep adding stones

I did much the same route as mentioned in the post below, but stopped at a couple different places to take some photos.

When I've been on these morning rides south of Orillia, I'm simply reveling in the joy of cycling through forests, past lakes, along country roads, with almost no traffic anywhere near me. It makes it very easy for me to believe that nature deficit disorder (wait for ad to clear and Enter Salon link to show in upper right corner) is a very real problem.

After a bit of a break, I'm doing the Becel Ride for the Heart this weekend. I'll be doing it on the new Trek, and it'll probably be the fifth different bike I've used for this ride.

I don't know if there's anything sweeter than being up early in the morning and riding a well tuned bike along a well paved country road. I love it when you're all alone, see a small hill coming up, attack it like you're breaking away from the peloton in the Tour, and after you crest the hill you see a…

As sweet as tupelo honey

At my last job, I was biking about 66km one way to get to work in the morning, passing through the strip malls and strip housing of Scarburbia.

This year, I can either walk straight to work in 20 minutes, or I can suit up and go for a long optional bike ride in the morning. It's pretty sweet. If you live in Orillia, and if you get up early, pack your bag and clip into the pedals on your Jamis, and follow this route out of town into the countryside, you see lots of farmland, four deer, and lots of waterfront.