Friday, January 31, 2014

January Orange

Check out the cassette on my winter commuting bike. We’re half-way through Edmonton’s endless winter, and the snow, slush, and snirt have done their seasonal business on my drivetrain. The chain, sprockets, and cassette—the whole meal deal—is now thoroughly oxidized, rusted to a startlingly bright orange. The chain, which I lube frequently in winter, doesn’t actually look too bad. But the rest of it? Flaming rings of fire, baby. Forget Kiev’s orange uprising. Cyclists only have to look down between their legs to see an orange revolution. Who needs fancy LED light on one’s spokes? In the right light, my sprockets glow like the elements in my toaster.

When I first started cycling through the winter, I was horrified by this rusting up. It made my drivetrain look so damaged, so neglected. It was embarrassing. But then I noticed that pretty much every winter bike I encountered had the same condition in its nether regions. There’s just not a lot you can do about it, at least not easily. I quickly just got used it, came to accept it as part of the winter cycling deal.

Now, in fact, I kind of love it. This time of year in Alberta we’re starved for color. Out my window, below the sky, it’s all whites and greys and browns. I’ll take any flashes of vivid brightness, thank you, wherever I can find them, whether it’s the orange snow fence in a field, a radioactive sunset, the parking pylons down the street, or the rotten pumpkin that’s emerging in my melting garden. Bring on the orange, any which way.

My rusty cassette looks organic somehow, and in this melty weather of late, the hues of orange seem to change each day, as if the fiery rings are some slowly evolving life form.

The orange drivetrain is an emblem of mid-winter for Edmonton cyclists, a badge of honor we should wear and ride proudly. Long live January orange!


  1. hi jasper
    i am still waiting for the final report on the fat bike!
    in the mean time....

    1. Thanks for the link. Strange weather here in January--melt, then cold, cold, so too slippery for the Fatty. I need to do some kind snow dance to win over the favor of the fatbike gods.

    2. same issues in calgary!
      there is a shop in Canmore that is selling studs at $1 each, seems cheap till you caculate you need about 140 of them and a few hours to install!
      i am guessing with a little homework a guy could fine a cheaper source.


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