Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vélivre: A Thread of English Road

In A Thread of English Road (1924), American Charles S. Brooks, author of numerous forgotten travel books and plays (including the strangely neglected Wappin’ Wharf: A Frightful Comedy of Pirates), travels quietly by bicycle around villages of southern England, with two companions, rambling along the back roads between London and Bath. Not much happens on the trip. They encounter neither “high excitement” nor “raw adventure.” In fact, “Our days were as tame as a kitten by the fire,” he admits on the second page. This volume is more of a mood piece; Brooks’s prose and Julia McCune Flory’s illustrations capture the quaint pace and gentle air of 1920s rural England. Although at times the book feels a little too tame (some readers may wish for a frightful pirate or two), it has its moments, stringing together some memorable beads on its “thread of road.”    

Friday, January 18, 2013

Tour of Alberta

Here in sunny Alberta, far from Oprah-land, we’re pretty excited about pro cycling these days, because of a major announcement made late last year: the creation of a new professional cycling stage race, the Tour of Alberta, which will take place September 3-8, 2013. According to the T of A website, this will be a UCI-sanctioned 2.1 (whatever that means) event, featuring 16 teams, including eight international teams. The race will start in Edmonton and cover about 850 km before finishing in Calgary; the route will include “open prairies, rolling foothills, and . . . majestic Rockies,” with most of the stages taking place in rural Alberta. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sandy McTire

When Gil and I decided to stud our own bike tires a while back, we set out for supplies (a box of 5/8”metal screws) to the most aptly named store I could think of: Canadian Tire. Those of you who live outside the Great White North may not be familiar with this nationwide retail chain. It’s long been as much a part of Canadian culture as Tim Hortons and maple syrup. For generations, at least prior to the big box revolution, Canadian Tire was the place Canadians went to for just about any cheap-to-mid-range thing you might need, from automotive supplies to garden tools to hardware to kitchenware to sporting goods and electronics.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Dumonde Tech G-10 Bio-Green Chain Lube Review

When the subject of chain lube comes up, I am generally a pure agnostic. A simple Google search will reveal a plethora of heated, perpetual, and simultaneously partisan and inconclusive discussions about which little bottle of oil is the right one.  My position, generally, is that your chain needs oil and as long as that oil shows up regularly, it doesn't really matter which oil you use. As a result of my not particularly caring about what oil I use, a lot of little bottles have come through my garage.  Given that background, I figure the bottle I grabbed for my trip from Vancouver to the Mexican border deserves a little write up.

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Mullet

The Squirrel Pelt. The Tennessee Top Hat. Hockey Hair. Call it what you will, no-one can possibly forget the mullet. The mission statement was simple but effective: Business in the front; party in the back.  It was the classic split-personality, Janus-faced (with emphasis on the “anus”) hairstyle of the 70s and 80s, adopted by rednecks, rock stars, and athletes alike. Think Macgyver or Paul McCartney (post-Beatles-breakup) or Jaromir Jagr. It may have fallen out of fashion of late and even been banned in the Islamic Republic of Iran, considered a dangerous and “decadent” Western hairstyle, but we all know the Camaro Cut will never completely die. It’s just too transgressive, too potent, too damn awesome.