Saturday, March 28, 2015

Bicycletiquette: Natural Breaks

Dear Bicycletiquette,

What is the proper protocol for peeing mid-ride? Is it okay to pee on the side of the road? Just how discreet should a cyclist be?

Pee Protocoler

Dear PP,

That depends on what kind of cyclist you are. Exactly how and where a cyclist pees reveals much.

In the 1950s, when the great Fausto Coppi was the padrone of the peloton, he had a pet peeve about the indelicacy of his fellow cyclists whizzing on the side of the road. It drove him bananas. European pro riders in those days felt like they owned the roads and, therefore, were entitled to mark their territory freely, letting ‘er fly while standing over their bike frames on the edge of the roadway. The surprisingly prudish Coppi saw such behavior as gauche, juvenile, really, and beneath the dignity of respectable professionals. He insisted that his team, at least, be more discreet, dismounting and seeking out some leafy privacy before heeding the call of nature.  

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Winter Gravel

A few weeks back, Val, Penn, and I fled the city on a Sunday morning and took to the gravel of the Glory Hills west of Edmonton.  We rolled our fat steeds along frozen back roads under a brilliant, cold sky. We encountered five cars and three deer in our 30 km. It was a glorious ride, indeed.

Now, we all know that gravel-road cycling is on the verge of becoming a thing—all the big manufacturers are putting out gravel bikes and gravel events are popping up like dust devils across the Midwest and elsewhere. The benefits of gravel riding have been extolled by me and others for some time—namely the lack of car traffic and the almost endless route possibilities. But winter gravel? Could it be a sub-thing of that gravel thing?

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Night Bridge

I’ve only got one rule for a night ride these days: it’s got to include a crossing of the night bridge.

That’s what I’ve taken to calling Edmonton’s High Level bridge since July 1, 2014, when 60000 LED lights fired up and the 100-year-old bridge was transformed into a spectacle of color. The Light the Bridge project was the result of a creative fund-raising campaign that saw no public money spent on the lights—citizens and businesses “bought” bulbs (though the city now pays for the electricity to keep them running.) The project led to a healthy discussion of the benefits of large-scale aesthetic projects like this—whether fancying up civic infrastructure, essentially transforming a utilitarian structure into a work of art, is a worthwhile undertaking.