Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Pedal strikes

Pedal strikes occur when you are pedalling through a turn.

You need to be going at a pretty good clip, you need to be pedalling or to have the pedal at its lowest reach, and the turn needs to be sharp enough so that the bike leans to the point where your pedal strikes the ground on its rotation.

That happened TWICE on the P2 loop this morning.

What is a pedal strike like?

Well, each time it instantly lit up my neurons in a way that I can only describe as both unwelcome and scary.

Fortunately that's all that happened.

My fear is that the pedal could lift the bike when it hits the ground (in this case concrete) throwing it off balance and causing a crash.

That has never happened to me, thank heavens, so I can only imagine what that crash would be like. But it would be in a turn, at a pretty brisk speed. It makes me cringe thinking about it.

Of course the prudent things to do would be a) to slow down, b) make sure that the pedal inside the turn is fully raised, in this case, it's a right-hand curve, so it's the right-hand pedal, and c) watch those tight corners.

I suspect that the actual risk of a crash is less than I fear. I have seen Vespa motor scooters being ridden at ridiculous speeds along tight and winding roads with showers of sparks when the center stand or side-stand scrapes the pavement. Vespas seem unperturbed and un-inclined to crash.

Speaking of Vespas, I have had my side-stand scrape the ground on a tight left turn. It feels just as awful as a pedal strike.

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

February 2023

😀 Well-past 2,100 Brompton kilometres since November 30, 2021

😍 Valentine's Day (today)!

👍 Washed my Mini with a mop! Surprisingly successful. Drove with the top down for a bit on Sunday.

😐 Still working full-time, pushing 71!

😳 Forecast calling for 14C/57F tomorrow. WTF?!?! IT'S FEBRUARY! Growing up, my Mom started warning of frigid February in December.

Happy Valentines Day to all!

Time to get back to work.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

Bicycle Man

 This week I logged the kilometres that took my total distance recorded to over 2,000 kilometres.

I started tracking of my daily routines exactly 500 days ago today. That count of days is a coincidence, truly. I was pleasantly surprised when the count in my spreadsheet yielded that nice, precise, round number this morning. Tracking my activities began about a year after I read James Clear's Atomic Habits. That's an average of four kilometres a day. I find that a little difficult to grasp to be honest. I don't typically ride on weekends, but for the past year I do ride every week day, except when other priorities intrude, like vacations.

During the winter I ride indoors down in our condo garage on what I like to call the P2 Loop. I posted a video of what that looks like when we first got our Brompton bicycles. You can see that here if you skip to the 12 minute mark.

When you do something like that regularly, at roughly the same time each day, you get to know a tiny bit about other folks as they come and go when you are down there looping away. 

There is a mother with two young daughters I often see. To say that the daughters are adorably cute is an understatement. As I ride by them I smile and do a little wave. Yesterday they giggled and I heard their mother as she glanced in my direction say "yes it's bicycle man!" 

It's those little things that add happiness to my routine, and help to set the tone for my day. 

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Raising kids

 My parents relied on Dr. Spock. No… not Mr. Spock, Dr. Spock.

My mother had a dog-eared, tea-stained, well beaten-up, paperback bible from the good doctor aptly titled Baby and Child Care. I see in the Wikipedia entry that Benjamin McLane Spock was not merely a pediatrician but also a left-wing activist. Can that account for my progressive political inclinations? Unlikely, because I’m pretty sure that most of the parents of my conservative-inclined peers were also slaves to that seminal book on post-war child-rearing.

I spent the best years of my childhood in the early 1960’s in a brand-spanking-new Montreal suburb with a ton of other kids. For grades three and four I walked one-and-a-quarter miles back and forth to school, often solo, four times daily. The path was along the shoulder of a country highway. The destination was a quaint, modest, very retro, 19th century, two-story, four-room, red-brick schoolhouse. It had a bell in a gable on the roof with a cord that dangled in the ground floor hallway. Lucky kids got to ring it. That was before the new, closer to home, mid-century modern elementary school was built.

My friends and I spent our summers ranging all over the former rural landscape on our bikes, hunting frogs, digging in sand pits, climbing trees, building forts, slogging along creeks in our billy-boots often mired in deep mud and getting “soakers”. We often collected empty soft-drink soda bottles from residential construction sites. We trucked hundred of bottles home in our wagons, rinsed off the mud in our driveways, then took them to the grocery store a couple of miles away to collect the deposits. As soon as we pocketed the cash, we headed down the mall to Woolworth’s to buy plastic model cars and WWII fighter planes, glue and paint. 

We did all that as 9 to 12 year olds, all on our own. No cell-phones. No parents. Most often miles from home. We’d set out for hours at a time. Our mothers had absolutely no idea where we were, or what we were doing. I never recall any motherly-angst, from any of our mothers. 

In the evenings we’d gather in front of a TV and watch some shows, on a rainy day maybe Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, Marvin the Martian and that crazy gang.

It was wonderful.

Leap forward 20-30 years, and we were raising our own kids. TV played a much bigger role. Our two or three year-old daughter memorized Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. Team sports like soccer and hockey were also a big deal. Bikes, much less. Foraging in fields and forests, not at all. Our kids didn’t roam like I did. Never. There was no Dr. Spock. We bought diapers in boxes, and baby bottles were plastic. As a parent I don’t recall being stressed out. Sure there was an occasional trip to the ER, some head-scratching moments at parent-teacher nights. But overall, I wouldn’t say any of it was a challenge we felt we couldn’t comfortably handle.

Fast-forward another 20-30 years. We have grandkids. They request an iPhone from mom or dad and at three and four years old, they swipe through photos and videos on the phone with what I can only call great skill and confidence, easily finding their favorites from among hundreds and hundreds of tiny thumbnails, with an ease that sparks a certain envy on my part.

And that’s where the looming challenge lies for our kids as parents. It’s as scary as a leopard stalking unseen in tall grass. When do their kids get their own phones? Obviously not now, but almost certainly that day will come all too soon. And with that phone, come games, messages, email, and SOCIAL MEDIA.

There is no doubt whatsoever that social media is poisoning public discourse and infecting society. That’s the least of it. Much too often it is proving to be lethal among children and teenagers. Truly deadly. Often suicide, lately spawning swarming by kids who commit assaults, and here in Toronto, a recent random murder.

How do you raise children to become confident, resourceful, socially mature, responsible, and capable adults when there is a truly threatening, ubiquitous, and poisonous environment, constantly present that’s impossible to see or apprehend and neutralize?

Ban cell phones, computers and tablets? No that’s not really an option. The schools are increasingly requiring those devices as part of the curriculum.

That means that  the worst aspects of social media are inevitable in the near future for our grandchildren. Likes and dislikes,  misinformation, inappropriate selfies, virtual cliques and gangs, bullying, extortion, blackmail… 

I wish this was an unreasonable overreaction on my part, an irrational delusion, my unreasonable fear, or my paranoid delusion. 

Unfortunately I truly believe, very regrettably, that it is a not-too distant reality.

I find myself asking what I would do as a parent? Where would I turn for reliable guidance? Where is the Dr. Spock for today’s parents? 

Is the answer to be found in just a few clicks on the internet? It’s a sea of information, and there is no Dr. Spock dominating the digital horizon, offering wise advice to spare. There is no shortage of advice, but where is the good, effective, reliable advice?

I don’t know.

Do you have any insights or guidance you can share? 

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.