Sunday, May 24, 2009

Still lacking in posts. I am in the final thesis push to complete my first draft and really lacking creative energy. I am also thinking of switching the direction of this blog. I started it during the OC Transpo transit strike here in Ottawa, which had wide reaching implications for even those of us in the city who don't take transit. Gridlock was unbelievable, snow removal wasn't happening (for unrelated reasons), cylists were abused by angry drivers looking for an easy target. I was frustrated a lot and wanted to vent. The thing is though that I am in love with the cycle chic movement and want to get away from the urban warrior concept of cycling. Be a person who rides a bike, not a cyclist. Judging by my previous posts, I enjoy focusing on local content and focus on being a female cyclist. I'm not sure what I will do, but I will definately have more time to plan and get creative once I am done writing. I definitely want to include more photos too.

Way more important than any of that self-indulgence is the fact that Sarah from Girls and Bicycles has had her water break and may be going into labour as I write this! We have never interacted, but her blog is one of my favourites and always inspiring. If she can cycle through the winter, while pregnant in Edmonton, I think I can handle Ottawa. I can only hope to look half as stylish as she does! What a lucky baby. Chauffeured around in style on a Pashley in the womb and well on the way to riding in a cargo bike or other baby friendly set up soon.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Urban Warrior Cycling Uniform

I don't know why, but I absolutely love seeing women cycling in hijab. I think it is because it is the greatest challenge to to the urban warrior bike culture that predominates in North America. I get enough comments when people see me riding in skirts and heels, I can only imagine what the reaction hijabi get when people see them on a bike. Most hijabi in Ottawa wear modest western dress with a headscarf, although I occasionally see a niqab. I think it would still be possible to wear one while riding a bike, as long as it had a step-through frame and substantial chain cover and skirt guard. I read once on Frum Satire that riding a bike in tzitzit can be difficult for observant Jews who want to partake in modern activities, including a riding a bike. His solution was riding faster in order to let the tzitziyot billow out behind the rider, which seems like a sensible solution for any long or loose manner of dress.

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Springtime is so beautiful in Ottawa. It has one of the harshest winters in the world for an urban area. I am also from Vancouver Island, which has a much more moderate climate. Spring also means more bikes on the road, and I keep hearing about something called the cycling "season." Sometimes I grumble about not being able to find parking, but I get a thrill from seeing other bikes and feel far less alone in my commute. I have also gotten some shots of interesting local bikes.

Here in Ottawa, there really is a sense of the bike season. It's officially April-October as far as city facilities go. That's when buses have bike racks, paths are maintained (although the Rideau Canal path has snow removal, no other paths do) and locking racks are available on the street. I haven't seen many bike racks out yet, even though it is late April. I am not sure why they are taken in for winter: salt, danger of vandalism, clutter.

The roads are much less challenging than in winter, but it is still necessary to be aware. Novist cyclists may not be familiar with traffic laws (please rectify this!), drivers are not used to seeing cyclists and everyone wants to be on the road more for a nice, sunny drive. I have had a couple of near misses with drivers not realizing one-way streets are not two-way, thinking a two-way street was one-way, and not noticing a cyclist advance at an intersection. Hi tourists! Enjoy your visit to Ottawa!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Cycling Wardrobe to Tone With

Ottawa weather is so bizarre. It was 15°C and sunny on Thursday before dropping to just above zero and stormy all weekend. I love the rain, but it was a bit of a shock. Cycled around Vanier for the annual maple sugar festival and to a drive in prayer grotto (?!). I don't mind the rain, and the sugar shack was serving hot maple related food and drinks. And now it is even colder and the rain hast turned to snow! Weird. It makes daily weather and traffic cam checks necessary, especially because my new-old cruiser is not outfitted for snow. Or the traffic generated by three days of Tamil demonstrations, although I soared by the riot cops and lines of cars attempting to get onto the freeway.

The usual amount of rain has necessitated a change in footwear while cycling, specificaly boots to keep my work clothes clear from splashbacks. Most of Ottawa's percipitation comes in the form of light, powdery snow that doesn't soak into your clothes. The typical winter temperatures also require something warm, so I wear snow boots that are apparently certified to -30°C. Luckily the temperature here usually doesn't go below -20°C in the winter, other than on terribly windy days. My rain cycling outfit of choice is a hooded jacket, long-sleeved shirt (depending on temperature), light knee-length and hooded coat, leggings, skirt and knee-high boots. I usually lose the legging and switch to heels when I get to work.

Right now my favourite flat boots are in need of resoling, so I have been wearing some with heels. Doesn't really affect my ride since I don't pedal with the heels. I can actually cycle better in heels than I can walk, which is why my pumps stay at the office. The one thing I do notice is that different muscles are sore at the end the of day. I normally feel it in my hamstrings, although my usually work-home route has long sinced been a challenge. Since I started cycling in these (low, wedge) heels, I feel the effects in my gluts. No science, just when I have noticed. Has this happened to anyone else?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pretty Gloves

Oh yes. Mine are actually white. I bought them to celebrate getting my work contract extended and because I only have fingerless and winter weight gloves. I wanted something which covered my entire hand but allowed me to feel through the material and not get too warm. There were no black pairs there and I didn't even realize that Fox offered black. I am not sure which I would prefer. I usually wear more black but the white will not get as warm in the bright Ottawa sun, although it will show more dirt. I have a white helmet right now too, so I match. At least until I get a Bern.

I got them at Fosters, as usual. 15% of for students with an ISIC. The province of Ontario does not charge taxes on many bike accessories. I am not sure if clothing counts. I need to find where I put my receipt!

Sunday, March 22, 2009


It is hard to motivate myself to update when I would rather be out riding in the spring weather. The change in temperature is also leading me to cover prettier cycling accessories. If I were a full-time functionary instead of a part-time functionnaire (we are bilingual here) and full-time grad student, I would purchase the following things:

- Pretty new bike from Ottawa's Tall Trees Cycles. I would get the "city" Kona Africa instead of the "womens" because then I would get specs rather than a heartwarming story, not to mention better grammar.

- Chic Bern Muse helmet. I am linking to the London Cycle Chic blog's shop because I love their blog and because Foster's

- Riding Pretty's helmet covers, although that would be better for winter as well as covering up my current, less attractive helmet. The Bern Muse would look fine on its own.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pretty Helmet Cover

I'm a day late to call this Wordless Wednesday. How about Thesis Thursday? As in, I need to frantically make things up rather than talk about cycling.

All I really have to say is that now that the weather is nice enough to ride in a skirt and now I have a beautiful ladies bike with a skirt guard and step-through frame that I coveted for so long. This has left me coveting something new, namely a helmet cover for maximum prettiness while riding.

I have been eying this one on one of my favourite women's cycling sites.