Monday, December 21, 2009

Vancouver Courier Christmas Party 2009

I'll keep this brief, since this isn't really something most people will care about, but I just want to get this out. This evening was the Christmas party for Vancouver's bicycle messengers; the event included a potluck feast, a Pinata, and Messenger of the Year awards. All in all, a pretty solid party.

Think about this, though: How many Christmas parties can you think of that are held by/for an entire industry, rather than simply for employees of a single company? There are well over a dozen courier companies that employ bikers in Vancouver, and probably over a hundred people working as bicycle messengers. Come Christmas-time, all these people from all these different companies get together and have one big party, instead of the usual boring, hokey "office" party.

I guess I just think it's really damn cool. Solidarity, brothers.


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Bridge Battle 3: The Aftermath

Well, I just got home from Bridge Battle 3 - or more accurately, from the party that ensued at the end of Bridge Battle 3 - and am now ensconced in my couch, unlikely to emerge again for the next several hours. I had a blast, and look forward to participating again next year.

In previous years, the weather for this race has been nothing but dismal, but this year mother nature decided to cooperate a bit more. It was a reasonable temperature, with virtually no precipitation of any sort. As far as I know, everyone who started made it to the end, and there were no significant crashes. Bravo, racers, you survived!

The Results:

First place overall went to Cody and his hilarious pink wheels. He won some cash and first pick from the swag pile. Second place was out-of-town wildcard Mander, and rounding out the podium was Tim Wyatt in third.

First girl was Sarah, and James gets honorable mention for managing to rescue someone's stolen bike from the DTES, escort it to safety, and still finish the race in a position other than DFL.

A big thank you to all the checkpoint volunteers, especially Lyle for making those awesome checkpoint signs for the elusive Second Narrows checkpoint. And of course, a huuuge thank you to Haley, for putting this whole affair together, for the third year in a row. Hoorah!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

3rd Annual Bridge Battle! Yeeeeeah!

It's back, and it's as ball-busting as ever! All five bridges leaving the downtown core, all in one race! If it stays true to tradition, the weather will be horrendous! Wooooo!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gastown Sprints: New Month, New Location!

Treachery is afoot. The current Gastown Sprints location has been lost! This is because Pub 340 is undergoing some sort of renovation, and thus cannot host it. Fortunately, for the December edition of your favourite roller races, a new location has been obtained! Wednesday December 16th, Gastown Sprints will be back, but this time they're at the Astoria.

Show up! Bring your friends! Spin until your legs fall off!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Activate Winter Mode!

Well, the forecast is calling for the first snow of the year here in Vancouver, and that means it's time to winterize! We're fortunate here on the west coast; our winter is temperate enough that you can pretty much ride straight through it. However, if you intend to do so, it's a good idea to make a couple quick upgrades to your ride before hittin' the slushy streets.

1. Fenders!
Both the most imperative and the easiest of winter upgrades, fenders are a life-saver when the streets get nasty. A variety of different types are available, and what you should choose depends on what kind of bike you ride, and how much coverage you desire. If you just want enough to keep the road gunk off your butt, and like something quick and easy to install, something like this will do you just fine. They're cheap, fit on any kind of bike, and keep your butt dry.

If you're looking for something with more coverage - to keep your legs and the person behind you dry - you're probably better off with something like this. A bit more money, and a bit more labour-intensive to get installed correctly, but they'll provide better road goo protection than a clip-on. A word of warning about full fenders, though: they're usually wheel-size-specific, so make sure you get ones that are intended for your wheels size!

2. Bearings
If you've got a bicycle that was made in the last few years, you probably don't need to worry about this - this point is more for those of you riding vintage road bikes, or other older bikes. If you have an older bike, it's likely that you have loose ball bearings in your bottom bracket, and maybe even in your hubs. Riding these in wet weather will destroy them, and it will do so rather quickly. If you plan on riding an older bike this winter, take it into your favourite bike shop, and get them to replace your bottom bracket with the more modern sealed-bearing type. You'll be able to ride a sealed bottom bracket in whatever weather you can find, without having to worry about your bearings getting mangled.

3. Tires
If you're planning on riding a mountain bike this winter, you can pretty much ignore this section; your bike will likely already be equipped with wide tires that will give you a good contact patch in slippery weather. If you're riding a road or track bike, though, it might be time for some different tires. Those 23c slicks are great for fast rides on dry pavement, but once things get slippery, a wider contact patch is a good idea. Many people are under the impression that slippery conditions call for a tire with a chunky tread, but this is not true. What you want is a tire with a large amount of rubber meeting the road, which means something wide and fairly slick is the way to go. Tires with blocks of tread are designed for loose terrain, not wet or icy pavement. A good bet for winter road tires is something like a Shwalbe Marathon; they're wide, they're relatively slick, and they're thick enough to offer some puncture protection against the road debris that inevitably builds up during the winter months.

4. Lights
This bit is mostly common sense, but I'll mention it anyways. It gets dark earlier in the winter! This means that your 5pm commute home will probably take place in low light conditions for the next couple months. Invest in a couple blinkies, at the very least. These can be had at almost any bike shop, for under $10, and will keep you visible during your twilight commutes. Some people opt for larger, more powerful (and of course, more expensive) lights, but it's my opinion that these aren't really necessary when riding in a well-lit urban environment.

Well, that's all for now. Hopefully this post will help at least a couple Vancouverites keep on commuting all year 'round. If you have any more winter preparation tips, we'd love to hear them! Drop us a line at districtxii at gmail dot com.

Ride safe,

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Return of a Bad Idea! Alleycat + Movie Premiere!

This coming sunday, there's all sorts of mayhem afoot!

First, starting at 6pm, there's an alleycat of stupendous riskiness. A "figure eight" course through the streets of Vancouver has been devised, and the race will be run in a "miss and out" format, which means the last place rider at the end of each lap gets eliminated, until only one remains! The risky part? No brakes allowed! Brakeless fixed-gears only!

Shortly after this, starting at 9:30pm, the premiere of Vancouver-centric bicycle film "The Revival" will be taking place at the Rickshaw Theatre.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Back for more! It's Gastown Sprints time again!

This coming Wednesday is the next installment of the legendary Gastown Sprints. Same bat time, same bat channel. Be there!

(for the uninitiated, "same bat time, same bat channel" means 8:30pm at Pub 340.)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Halloween Hellstorm!

There's an alleycat race brewin' this coming Hallow's Eve! Registration will begin at Crab Park at 5pm, and racing should be underway by 6. Ten bucks to enter...bring your hammerin' legs!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gastown Sprints: October Edition

Your favourite roller races are back for another round. Oct 7th at the usual spot, get there at 8pm to register.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Flow: An Art Exhibition About North Shore Mountain Biking

Right now, up until August 2nd, there's an exhibition on at Presentation House Gallery revolving around mountain biking on the North Shore. Not only have they called in some fantastic photographers to show their goods, but they've also built some serious terrain...inside the gallery! The best part is, all the terrain is fully ride-able! It look like a great show, and I'll definitely be heading up there to check it out myself.

There's a ton of photos of the construction of the indoor terrain features on this here blog. Super cool stuff!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One Week Until Gastown Sprints 2!

Seven days from now, on the 8th of July, it will be time to duke it out on the rollers again. The Gastown Sprints organizers have informed us that all the technical difficulties have been worked out, and that races will begin on time this time around.

Races will begin at 9:30pm, so be there by 9 if you want to race. As always, Gastown Sprints will take place at Pub 340. Be there!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Burrard Bridge Bikes Lanes: Open For Business July 13th

The city has announced a date for the opening of the Burrard bridge trial bike lanes. After choosing the design of these bike lanes several weeks ago, the city has put the chosen plan into action. As of July 13th, bike lanes will be in full affect.

I encourage everyone to make use of these lanes if you do any north-south commuting over False Creek. Even if you would usually take Cambie bridge, make the slight detour for the three weeks of the trial period. The city will be monitoring bike traffic closely during this period, and it would benefit all of us if the numbers they count are high.

Thanks in advance,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Dispatch From This Weekend's "eatART" Festivities

This past weekend, alternative energy activists eatART threw a big ol' party on the Vancouver Art Gallery's lawn. DXII was lucky enough to have a friend on-site for the event. Guest contributor and journalist extraordinaire Melissa Baril has shot a run-down our way. Without further ado, here it is!


One thing I’ve noticed since moving to Vancouver just under two years ago is that where you find cycling events, you usually find hippies. This time, the “one less car” set pedaled stationary bikes attached to generators to demo an alternative energy source at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Sunday.

The event was organized by eatART, a group that makes really neat industrial art to promote energy awareness. Check out their giant solar-powered tricycle, which made an appearance on Sunday, and is apparently wheeled around Burning Man every year. What a trip.

Arranged across the VAG lawn, each of the energy-generating cycles’ back wheels was hooked up to a battery, which powered a couple of laptops, the water cooler, and the sound system (donated by the good folks at OCB), which in turn powered a pretty happening party.

From 7 o’c’ock in the a.m., teams of 4 took turns pedaling ghetto-rigged stationary bicycles to try to beat all the other teams’, not times, but kilowatt hour generation.

Pedaling with the fightin’ 36ers was alternative energy-producing heavyweight, and “eatART Powers the VAG” organizer, Adrian Sinclair, along with yours truly. Naturally, we came in… second? To the 37ers?! Man, they sure one-upped us. But to quote my teammate Tom Wynn, “Let's get something straight: the ONLY reason the 37ers did better than the 36ers was because, when we handed the bikes over to them, the wheels were still spinning so fast, it was like going down an hour-long hill.” Too true.


Event photos can be found here. Thanks go to Melissa B for her journalistic endeavors, and photo credits belong to Leigh Christie.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Gastown Sprints: The Evidence

Travis has kindly posted up some of his pictures from the festivities. The full Flickr album can be found here. Here's a few of my favourites:

Naked dudes galore!


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Gastown Sprints!

So for those who haven't heard, some guys and gals have started up a racing series called Gastown Sprints. Once a month, they'll be running roller races inside Pub 340. The inaugural race was this very night!

Upon arriving, I was greeted by one of the most impressive examples of bike parking I've ever seen. Bikes were locked to every post, tree, parking meter and fence within a block of 340; the closest poles had bikes piled five deep, and up to three high. Taking this as a sign of a good turnout, I was not disappointed when I got inside.

The official racer tally was fifty-two. With all the spectators on top of this, there must have been well over a hundred people in attendance. Racing got started shortly before 10pm, and the first few heats were plagued by technical difficulties. Of the four bikes hooked up to the rollers, one was broken for a couple heats, and one worked intermittently. After three or four heats, however, all the kinks were worked out of the system, and the real racing began.

Everyone ran in groups of four, but how you did against the other three people in your heat was irrelevant to your placing, because qualification was based entirely on your 500m time. Top qualifiers came in under the 23 second mark (I ran a 23.83, netting myself the 5th spot).

Once everyone ran their qualifying heat, it was time for head-to-head, sudden death tournament racing! The top 8 qualifiers were paired up and pitted against each other, until only one remained. This one happened to be underage dynamo Travis aka. HustleJr, who walked away with some prize money and some champion status.

All in all it was a successful evening. I had a blast, and I think almost everyone else did, too. Thanks to all the dudes and ladies who threw this, with particular thanks to Moses, who seems to be the mastermind of the operation. Thanks also to Pub 340 for letting us fill their establishment with sweaty cyclists.

The next Gastown Sprint will be on July 8th. Same time same place. Be there!

ps: If anyone has pictures from tonight, send them to districtxii at gmail dot com. I will post them up for everyone's ogling pleasure.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Bomont Bridge Session, from Vincent Allard

This guy always has cool videos of the MTB action in Montreal. This one is hot off the press, and is no exception to the rule.

Check out the rest of his stuff here.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Burrard Bridge Bike Lane Proposal: The Verdict

A decision has been reached on the burrard bridge bike lane issue. Of the three options available, city council has chosen the mediocre one. Only one lane will be closed to motorists; the west curbside lane will be southbound bike-only, the east sidewalk will be northbound bike-only, and the west sidewalk with have two-way pedestrian travel.

As cyclists, this works out decently for us. Not as well as the first option, which has two full lanes being closed to motorists, but not as terribly as the second option, which would have us biking amongst pedestrians when heading north.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Burrard Bridge Bike Lane Proposal: Back From The Dead?

As some seasoned Vancouverites may remember, there was a test conducted on the Burrard bridge back in 1996, in which lanes were closed to motorists and converted into bike lanes. Well, it seems the city council has decided to give it another go.

Obviously, this is great news for cyclists in general, and cyclo-commuters in particular. There is no question this will make life easier for those of us who commute into downtown from the south side of False Creek. However, there are some concerns that definitely need to be raised.

The current proposal contains three different options for the lane closures. One of them is great for cyclists, one is decent, and one is complete rubbish. They are as follows:

1. Close both curbside lanes, resulting in a dedicated bike lane in each direction. Motorists are relegated to the middle four lanes, pedestrians to the sidewalk.

2. Close only the west curbside lane, making this a southbound bike-only lane. Motorists get five lanes, southbound pedestrians get the sidewalk, and northbound cyclists share the sidewalk with pedestrians.

3. Close only the west curbside lane, making this a southbound bike-only lane. Motorists again get five lanes, pedestrians going both ways are allowed only on the west sidewalk, and the east sidewalk becomes the northbound bike-only lane.

Clearly option 1 is most favourable for cyclists. A lane each way all to ourselves is more than adequate for even peak-hour, fair-weather cyclo-commuting periods. However, reducing the number of motorist lanes by two will make motorists markedly displeased, so this one may encounter serious resistance when it goes before council.

Option 2 should be thrown out immediately and emphatically. Multiple studies have concluded that riding amongst pedestrians is considerably more likely to result in an accident than riding amongst cars.

Option 3 seem to be the happy medium. Motorists only lose one lane, and thus raise less of a fuss; cyclists get a "lane" to themselves in both directions, though one of these "lanes" is a repurposed sidewalk. Considering the low volume of pedestrians crossing the Burrard bridge, a single sidewalk will definitely suffice for pedestrian use.

The bottom line is that as cyclists, we should all be crossing our fingers and rooting for the first option; we should also be willing to accept the third. In the end, I think this issue will prove itself an effective measuring post with which to gauge how bike-friendly Vancouver really is.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

BMXin' in California

Long time no update. Oh well, quality over quantity, right? Speaking of quality, dudes in Long Beach clearly have some quality BMX skills. Exhibit A:

(via The Come Up)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This Just In: LA Drivers Insane; LA Cops

Apparently last friday morning at 2am, a Hummer ran over a cyclist, stopped, then ran over several more bikes and fled the scene. This would already be cause for alarm, but the craziness doesn't end there.

The cop who moments later pulled the hummer over - with a bike still lodged under it - allowed the driver to leave the scene without so much as a ticket. The officer purportedly said to the cyclists after allowing the driver to leave, "If it had been me with my family in that car, I’d have done the same thing, and I carry a gun in my car."

Remind never to bike in LA.

(via Fixed Vancouver)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009 polo!?!

Breaking news, folks. Bicycle polo is now an intercontinental phenomenon. Chances are this isn't actually breaking news...but now there's video proof!

On April 18th, the Shanghai Bike Polo League played their inaugural game. Take that, doubters of China's progressiveness and technological advancement!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Charge Bikes is ridin' dirty.

This might be old news to some, as they released this video in February, but it's new to me. The boys over at Charge Bikes are getting up to some UK-style tomfoolery on knobby-tire-clad fixed-gears. Looks like boatloads of fun.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Danish Cargo Bike Madness!

How fucking cool is this? These guys and/or gals are racing cargo bikes! Bikes! That carry shit! Fuck yeah!

(via BSNYC)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Seven Cycles shits bed on Earth Day

High-end bicycle manufacturer Seven Cycles has taken advantage of Earth Day to sucker eco-conscious yuppies into buying a $6000 bike. How? By releasing the Seven "Muse", aka the "Earth Day Bike".

The idea behind this bike is to minimize the environmental impact of it's production. Fair enough. Seven has gone to great lengths to do this, such as sandblasting the frame instead of using adhesive decals, which contain harmful chemicals. The bikes will even be shipped to their buyers in a reused box and packing materials.

Seven's marketing manager's explanation behind the bike's philosophy: "...we designed the bike to promote sustainability and responsible resource use on a daily basis. We're trying to add value for the rider who seeks not only fitness and convenience, but is environmentally conscious."

Sounds pretty admirable so far, doesn't it? Then we get to the part where the whole thing comes crashing down around Seven's ears. The product description contains the following information on the Muse's construction: "For US$5,900, you can be the proud owner of a 15-pound beauty, highlighted with Chris King components, Seven’s titanium Tiberius bar, titanium stem and new titanium seatpost..."

It also mentions later on that the Muse's frame is made of straight-guage titanium.


I guess no one told Seven that titanium refinement is horrendously bad for the environment, and unlike alternative frame materials like steel or aluminum, most of the world has no infrastructure in place to recycle titanium.

A bit more on titanium refinement, from the link above: "Since the early 1950s, titanium has been produced through the Kroll process. Manufacturers first make titanium chloride, which gets processed into titanium tetrachloride, and then mixed with magnesium, which draws out the titanium and produces chlorine gas. The result is a porous material, contaminated with magnesium salts, which requires further processing to remove the salts and make it usable for manufacturing. The process is so toxic that it's difficult to get the permits needed to build a new plant in order to expand production."

Well done, Seven. Well done.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dillon Lloyd BMX

Just saw this on the Brakeless blog…I don’t know how old this kid is, but he looks ridiculously young, and he’s jaw-droppingly good.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April Fool's in Miami!

Seems that the Miami guys and gals had themselves a pretty bangin’ race on April Fool’s Day.

As an aside, it seems Miami’s female messengers are way foxier than ours.