Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Fat Bike Vow

I, Jasper Gates, do solemnly swear that in purchasing this brand spanking new On One Fat Bike, hereafter referred to as “FB” (and which is, apparently, to be delivered to me some time in the next 6 days, possibly even by Christmas!), I will

Strive, at all times, to remember that I am an adult, with obligations and responsibilities, and cannot spend all my free time riding the aforementioned FB, even though riding a FB has a way of making me feel like a kid on Christmas morning;

Not allow said FB to interfere with my pursuit of other wintery leisure activities, especially those I enjoy doing with my spousal unit, to wit, cross-country skiing and skating and walking;

Not cause my spousal unit to become a fat-bike widow, whose husband disappears into the river valley for hours on end after every snowfall;

Occasionally allow the car to also be parked in the garage along with the FB;

Not neglect the other bicycles in my garage, that I will continue to love them equally in each’s own special way, even though the FB will obviously be my favorite, at least for the foreseeable future; 

Not scoff at bicycle tires less than 3.8” wide;

Allow, on special occasions, my teenage son Gil to ride said FB, though only under certain very carefully controlled conditions;

Remember that there are fun, meaningful, fulfilling activities in life other than riding my new FB.

Dated December 18, 2013 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Vélivre: A Bike Ride: 12000 Miles around the World

I love the modest title of Anne Mustoe’s 1991 cycle-travel classic. “A Bike Ride” suggests a jaunt, a lark, a spin maybe—so even with the much more impressive-sounding subtitle, we know we’re in the hands of a writer who, despite her impressive accomplishments, doesn’t take herself too seriously. It’s an endearingly British thing, this self-deprecation.

Mustoe’s story really is inspiring: at age 54, a widow with grown up step-sons, she left her job as headmistress of a girls’ boarding school in England and decided to head off around the world on her bicycle. She was, by her own admission, “not athletic”; in fact, she was “overweight, out of condition.” Although a seasoned traveler, she had never been “a keen cyclist.” Yet she got the idea in her head one day that cycling was the perfect way to go, offering the freedom and simplicity she was yearning for: “I should be breaking free, not only from my responsibilities but from life’s clutter.” Her goal? Simply to “dawdle in beautiful places.” It’s a narrative angle many of us can appreciate, if not emulate. To her credit, Mustoe soft-pedals the “personal journey of discovery” bit and simply gives us her informed, thoughtful, witty observations on her extremely long “bike ride.”