Thursday, July 31, 2008

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 motorists are feeling their superiority on the roads being threatened.

Ah well, tough for them.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

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 / barrel mark, Business Week has an article about whether or not oil should be cheap.
Expensive energy, in many ways, is good. Why? When the price of oil goes up, people will use less, find substitutes, and develop new supplies. Those effects are just basic economics. Things are so painful now, many economists say, because of the past two decades of cheap oil. Prices stayed low in part because they didn't reflect the full cost of extras such as pollution, so there was little incentive to use energy more wisely. If those extras had been counted, the country would be better prepared for both today's soaring prices and the day that global oil production begins to decline.

I wasn't really in love with this year's tour, probably because I was simply too busy to pay much attention, but I loved Sastre's attack on Alpe-d'Huez. Stay quiet for two and a bit weeks, make sure no one is even talking about you, and then, on a 210km day which has three climbs so tough they can't even be categorized using pro cycling's classification system, simply explode on the last climb and gain enough time on everyone else to win the tour. Mountains rock.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

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 that there was actually a lot of poison ivy in the overgrown sections.
If there is poison ivy in there (and it's very possible), I might be immune because I got through without lots of scratching occurring later in the day. Actually, I also scared up a skunk this morning, which I was lucky to encounter when I was riding fast, and he didn't have time to spray me.
So, this trail isn't perfect, but it is worth doing. It's listed on the Huronia Trails and Greenways website, and I also found another gentleman talking about the trail on his website.

Friday, July 18, 2008


To go along with this old classic Campy 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!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

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 - over the last few weeks thousands of carp have been dying in the same body of water that the swim portion of the triathlon is being held in. Hopefully all the triathletes will come out of the water with the proper number of limbs.

Nashbar could really do me a favour by NOT having these amazing sales all the time, just to drive me crazy. As I'm about to blow all my money on a house and wedding, I'd rather they had a few months of "Sorry! We're jacking up all our prices!!" promotions.

This is my cat Owen. Our orange one, Clarence, is cuter, but Owen has more personality. This cereal box was lying on the floor, inspiring him to take a running leap/dive into it, break through the other side, and then propel himself around the floor in the box for a while.

Annalise's cousin Mary came to Orillia a little while back, and using her nifty digital recorder, we made a couple music videos. They're all here on YouTube if you're curious. Being the suckiest, I just did two, but Mary and Annalise have four up there I think.

P.S., we tried, but our videos are quite as good as those from Feist:

Monday, July 07, 2008

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..
old muskoka_front
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 clear blue skies from Friday to Sunday, and amazing music no matter what stage you plunked yourself down at.
I even ran into a guy I worked with around 2000 at Indigo Books in Toronto. I remember him being a full-on cyclist back when I knew him (when he closed the store at midnight he used to just fly around the city on his bike on the nighttime streets, enjoying having the streets to himself). Turns out he'd cycled up from Toronto to Orillia (not sure how far that is... but at least 120kim). Now this is obviously very doable, and every guy doing Sunday rides with his buddies probably does this... but my co-worker was carrying gear to camp for three nights... that ups the difficulty a bit.
Anyway, it was a great weekend, and for me the highlights include the following:
Seeing Joel Plaskett about three times, and finally understanding why he's taking the Canadian music world by storm (he performed Natural Disaster so powerfully at one point, that it left your heart in your throat)....
Seeing Jory Nash, J.P. Cormier, Pavlo, and Dala do a Gordon Lightfoot tribute set. Jory Nash is a great storyteller, and despite not having a powerful voice, he gets a lot of soul into his singing. Dala was great as well, but what was really wicked was hearing Cormier and Pavlo play together. Pavlo is a spanish guitarist, and Cormier is an eastcoast maritime player. Pavlo took some Lightfoot songs and played them acoustically with no vocal, and he'd nod at Cormier and the two of them would improvise long, amazing guitar riffs with each other.
And for a final note, it was really a revelation to discover Dala - two girls from Scarborough who have amazingly ethereal vocals, and a great sense of humour. I must have seen them perform with J.P. Cormier twice, because it wouldn't have been the Lightfoot set when they did a Neil Young cover, and when they finished, and their voices were still drifting over the crowd, Cormier said "I think I just saw God...... Jesus..... I hate crying during a set" (he was kind of joking, but still...).

Anyway - after a lot of lame weather, I think I finally feel like summer is here. Hope everyone is doing well out there in blogland!

P.S. did a lot of night cycling this weekend, and for anyone who rides at night the Firefly Supernovas from Road I.D. are awesome. I had one velcroed around my ankle, and we stuck one onto Anna's backpack, and just with these two you are so lit up that you look like a city maintenance truck with all its warning and hazard lights going.