Category Archives: bicycles

Heather + Wet Metal Tracks = BOOM! (and a Hurty Neck)

Today was another cold, wet day here in Vancouver. After a couple of great meetings downtown in the morning, including having lunch with the crew of Momentum Magazine, I decided to use the rest of my last day to check out the famous public market at Granville Island.

Even before I got there, the nice pants I was wearing were getting pretty wet. There wasn’t any covered bike parking next to the market, so I settled for putting my homemade waterproof seat cover over my beautiful Brooks saddle before heading inside.

Oh boy, was it an awesome market. It’s too bad I had just eaten lunch, because I’m pretty sure I could eat a hole through the place under the right circumstances, much like Wakko Warner. Miniature cakes. Gelato. Fresh produce. Handmade bamboo baby hats. Like Portland’s Farmers Market, except every day of the week, and inside a building!

After enjoying a cup of jasmine tea, a dry peanut butter chocolate chunk cookie and drying off a bit, I decided to head back to my hosts’ house. I discovered my waterproof seat cover was leaking, threatening to endanger my beloved Brooks saddle, but wiped most of the wet and started riding off into the rainset.

As I navigated the island to find my way back to the seawall in the cold rain, heavier now than ever, I moved over on one of the narrow streets to let a car pass me. Looking down, I saw another set of rail tracks that had been mostly covered by asphalt–the few roads on the island seemed to be full of them.

Of course, rail tracks are a prime danger zone for cyclists. And wet metal is really slippery. And, my friend, I think you know what’s coming next–and not just because you read the title of this blog post. : )

I took a spill. My head hit the pavement but most of the hurt was in my neck. My knee got a little scraped, but I didn’t ruin the nice pants I was wearing, unlike the last time tracks swallowed my wheel and I tore through two decent layers of clothing (ask me to show you the scars!). I immediately got back up on my bike, with that weird post-fall bitter taste in my mouth.

Once on the seawall again, I discovered that my shifters had been knocked a little out of place, but I later adjusted them back to their rightful place. I used most of the rest of the ride home to grumble under my breath (tongue only partially in cheek) about the rain, and rail tracks. And the steep hill I had to climb to get home. And the weight of the extra stuff I took today in my bag.

And just about everything else. But mostly my fall and the rain. Once home and into a dry pair of pants, sipping a cup of warm tea, and checking in with the intertubes, things were right as rain again in Heatherland, despite having pain in other places in my back since that time.

Looking back, this is the third bike crash I’ve had, and the third that has only involved me–no cars. Two of the three have involved rail tracks, and to be fair, I had a near-crash in December involving the tracks in front of my office. If I was Stephen Colbert, rail tracks would definitely be going on the Threatdown.

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The Great White North

O Canada!
O Canada!

Tomorrow morning I leave for an extended weekend in Vancouver, British Columbia. Yippee!

I’ll be staying with some very friendly staff members from Momentum Magazine, meaning I’ll be getting a great bikey introduction to Vancouver. The plan is for me to drive up, park my car, take my bike out of the back, and not need my car again until it’s time to go home*.

Assuming that I have regular access to free wifi, I hope to be posting photos and blogging every day about my adventures over the next few days. Check this space out for the latest!

*=Incidentally, I’m really good at these flash-driving trips. Where I have to work until the day I leave, leaving me little time to prepare or get rest for an entire day’s drive; and then driving an entire day home and expecting myself to be at work on time the next morning. Note to self: start breaking this habit.

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My Little Sweetpea

Sweetpea Agate
Sweetpea Agate (NOT MINE!)

After many months of salivating and fantasizing, last May I decided to get on the waiting list for a Sweetpea Bicycle, lovingly handmade here in Portland by Natalie Ramsland. Natalie is one of only a few women framebuilders in the US, and one of only two that only make bikes specifically for women. Besides my desire to support a local woman builder, I had also agreed to be the guinea pig for my credit union’s bike loan program. In the end, both Sweetpea and Unitus got some good press out of the deal, and I didn’t do too poorly either.

As for my bike, as soon as I got on the list Natalie asked me to tell her about my hopes and dreams, and we continue to develop the vision every time I bump into her around town. Right now I’m hoping the bike will end up looking a little like an old school Raleigh cruiser, with upright bars and a luxurious Brooks saddle*. I’m hoping it will be dark purple, either sparkly or with a green candy coat, providing a little drama on sunny days. It will be outfitted for my serious commute, sturdy but swift, with racks. As for accessories, I see it with one of the beautiful brass bells from my collection, sweet hammered aluminum fenders, and capable of holding an on-bike sound system so I can listen to James Brown during my hour-long commute each way. Chris King components in a complementary color, of course, possibly green. 

A little something like Elly’s “Farmers Market,” and yet nothing like it at all.

At last estimate, it looks like I won’t be getting my bike until around August. Probably later. This is why they ask you to start practicing your zen calm as soon as possible.

I will keep you posted as things develop, but in the meantime you can check out some of the other bikes Natalie has made here.

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