Thursday, July 28, 2011

I am so awesome.

Earlier this month I went to a sewing workshop organised by a university club that I've been a member of since, well... University. It was meant to be a cloak making workshop, but you could make anything you liked, really.  So, I made a lining for my front basket!

This is the view from above.

This is from the back. I used twho ribbons to attach it to the hooks that go over my handlebars. The drawstring is theaded through the lining which folds over the top. Because the basket is narrower on the bottom, this will help keep the lining in place all around.

You can see here what I mean about it folding over. The drawstring is at the base of this flap. The shoe in the background isn't mine, by the way.

Of course, this being Winter, there's the slight issue of rain. I don't particularly want the contents of my basket getting soaked, nor do I want to risk it filling up with water. So, I decided that I need a lid, and I made one a few days later:

This is the view from the top. How pretty is that fabric! Got it on sale at Spotlight.

This is from the front, and those are my knees at the bottom of the picture. As you can see, the lid is made from fabric that is slightly wider than the top of the basket so it wraps around. I also used a drawstring to hold this one on:

So I now have two drawstrings at the back, and both the lid and the lining tie onto the hooks of the basket.

This is the view from the top, with the lid up. I used the same yellow fabric for the underside of the lid as I did for the bottom and outside of the lining, so it all matches nicely!

It's also waterproof! I did that by sewing a layer of tarp between the blue and yellow fabrics.

I did this without a pattern; I just used a measuring tape and my own genius brain ;-) And I now have a much prettier basket! My next project will be to make a matching lining for the basket on the back of my bike. That one will be a little bit tricker because of the shape. And yes, I will put up pics of my bike with the basket at some point. Once I've taken them :-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

What does "clipless" even mean??

When I started cycling regularly, I decided I should probably learn more about bikes and how they work. One thing that came up a few times was comments about a "Debate" over "clipped vs clipless" pedals. With no explanation.

I sort of ignored it.

Being winter, I've been figuring out just how much stuff I really need for cycling around. All you Americans and Europeans will laugh at me, but 5]C is actually quite cold! So I've bought ear warmers and gloves and leg warmers and thermal underwear... All in the interests of cycling as comfortably as possible.

I've also noticed that my foot slips off the pedal when it's wet. So if I stepped onto a moist road or grass before cycling off, I'll be dealing with not having grip between the pedal and my shoe. It's not fun and I've nearly lost my balance because of it a few times.

Now, I really don't want the kind of shoes and pedals that go together where you have to clip yourself in and the shoes are all specialist and expensive. What I want are those strappy, stirrupy things that attach to pedals at the front and keep your toe from going too far forward, or slipping off.

Now, a google search for "Strappy stirrupy pedal things" doesn't yield a great deal... But I eventually found out that the strappy stirrupy things are, in fact, toe clips. The funky shoe/pedal combos are "cleats".

So there you go, dear readers! You have now learned some cycling terminology that I took great pains to find out for you. Enjoy your new fun intellectuality :-)

And also, I now have pedals with toe clips, so my foot won't keep sliding off the pedal every time the sole of my shoe gets wet. It'll make a nice change!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Things People Get Wrong (Part 2)

There are two behaviours from people that I can't handle: Shouting about one thing when they're actually angry about something else or giving me the silent treatment. Seriously, few things make me more angry and frustrated and hurt (when it is directed at me) than these.

The main problem with them is that the thing you're actually angry about doesn't end up being resolved because you're going on about something completely different, or you're not talking about it at all! So it's pointless. It also confuses the person you're being angry at.

I had a lot of this from my mother (I'm thinking of renaming this blog as something like "A Tribute to Freud"). Her favourite thing thing to shout about was my lack of music practice. If she'd had a bad day, if she was tired and grumpy, if she needed a cigarette... You guessed it. She'd take it out on me, about the fact that I hadn't touched one of my instruments in a month and the other one in a lot longer.

She also had this habit of just not speaking to me. She'd go through all the motions (driving me to school etc), but she wouldn't talk to me or look at me. She'd just have this sour look on her face the whole time I was around. It was fucking awful to go through, and she could maintain it for over a week if she wanted to. 

It may have been a control thing, and that she knew she could make me do what she wanted to by either verbally beating me down in to submission. She could control me, even if she couldn't control whatever else she was feeling or whatever else was actually going on. It ultimately doesn't matter, because the end result was the same: I got confused and angry at her, I did what I was told to avoid having to go through the same thing again. The sad part is that I started to hate playing music because I always played it in anger, all because she wasn't able to talk openly about what was actually going on in her head.

So the next time you're angry about something, take a step back and think about what is really making you angry, and be angry about that. Not about your partner having left the towel on the floor or the plate on the table, or whatever. Figure out what is really bugging you before you get into a fight over something that is relatively inconsequential and not at all related.

Ask yourself: Is it really worth damaging the relationship for?

And please, don't ever do this to me because I'll probably cry.

Monday, July 18, 2011

So, you want to encourage cycling.

You hear a lot of ideas about why cycling isn't as popular as it should be and, specifically, why more people aren't encouraged to start cycling. Helmet laws are, in my experience, the #1 reason that people think is discouraging to new cyclist. I have a different theory, though. This is partly to do with my own personal experiences cycling on the road and also to do with the fact that my brain can't cope with the idea of people being so completely stupid that the 10 seconds it takes to put a helmet on would be enough to put them off.

I think the answer is, wherever possible, segregated bike lanes. Like the ones they have in China. I think these are a good idea for the same reason that slow lanes in swimming pools are a good idea. If you've ever been a slow swimmer who accidentally found yourself in the fast lane, you'll know what I'm talking about. It's intimidating.

See, cars are SCARY. Having a care overtake you, when you can't see them coming due to the lack of mirrors, is scary! It's frightening enough when it happens at under 50km/hr on a small suburban street, let alone at 60+km/hr on a main road. Add to that the complete lack of crumple zone and you've got a terrifying scenario.

Having cars cut you off, nearly hit you because they aren't giving way, beep loudly at you and drivers swear at you is alarming, particularly if you're only new, doing your best and obeying the road rules as best you can.

I'm fortunate enough to be as stubborn as I am, but anyone who is less timid than I would not like this cycling thing one little bit.

If new cyclists, the ones with no experience riding on the road, are to be encouraged, then they need to feel SAFE. The way to make them feel safe is to not make them feel like they are in the way of traffic and a danger to themselves and everyone else around them.

I think that infrastructure is the best possible answer to this, and I'm not the only one.