Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Xmas triking

By December 25th the trike is normally in winter storage. The deleterious effects of road salt on the frame, parts, and electricals, not to mention just sliding around on slushy, icy streets, makes me put the machine into hibernation. But not this year! At least, not so far... We've been seeing continuous daily temps above freezing, where they should be 4 or 5C below. So there's been almost no road salt put down, and so with bare roads I thought why not trike over to my brother's place for Xmas? While I had presents and hockey sticks to bring, I didn't really need the trike, but heck, I rode it because I could. ;)

I only had a few presents to bring, but I put them in a spare Blue Box and wrapped that up to resemble one large gift, just so it looked more impressive in the cargo box (the big sheet of paper was later cut up and recycled for future gift-wrapping). Along the way I got some waves and calls of "Merry Christmas". The Santa hat probably helped... And if you want really quiet roads for cycling, Christmas Day is one of the best ones for that.

Hockey sticks were needed for the family's traditional Xmas Day road hockey game. Though it wasn't part of the trike's design, the sticks do fit quite nicely in the cargo box.

By the time I headed back home, snow was falling and the trike got a rare taste of the white stuff. And snow can really pile up on you when you're riding in a reclined position! Below, trike tracks, already getting covered over five minutes after getting home.

And of course Jett was waiting to greet me. The snow slowly accumulating on his back doesn't bother him one bit.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Another legend gone...

Dutch Mason, the Prime Minister of the Blues, and a true Canadian legend, died yesterday at the age of 68. Back '94 I did a summer tour of Ontario and Quebec with Dutchie (as part of the Drew Nelson Band), and he was a great guy to work with. And any time he came to town and I went to say Hi he remembered me and we had some great talks. He always made me laugh...

Dutch in '93, with Brian Magner on sax.

Dutchie, with Drew Nelson, at the Ottawa BlueFest in 2005.
(Both photos courtesy of Drew Nelson)

RIP, Dutchie - you showed so many of us how to play the Blues.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Bike funnies

Time to post a few fun bike-related pics.

On a cycling newsgroup there have been posts regarding squirrels getting caught in front wheels and causing accidents. Then the pics of other bike-beast encounters started coming in. The little guys below are quokkas.

Next up, one way to keep your butt warm during cold weather rides:

And if you want to make a tall-bike, this is probably the most basic way to do it. Though it looks like it might be rather flexy...

And finally, because I need to put this somewhere: crazy cats!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

ATWAS (all the world's a stage) #3

Well, it WAS winter for a little while, but right now it feels more like early November here in Ottawa, as the temps are above normal. Yesterday it was 8C, well above the average of -3C.

And yesterday the Steve Berndt Quartet had a noon-hour gig downtown at the Clarica Centre. The centre features live music every Wednesday, and I do this gig every couple of months. It's another reason that Kyoto works so well, because I can cycle right up to the door of the building and unload.

(Kyoto gets put away for winter hibernation once the roads get salted, but they received only a light dusting with that freezing rain we had, and regular rain has since washed most of it away.)

The gig takes place in the atrium of the centre that joins the two office towers together. There is a raised area with seating, and we just set up in one corner and play to the folks eating their lunch.

One feature is a waterfall that sensibly turns off right a noon so people can hear the music. It comes on automatically at 1:00pm, so if you're still playing that rippling noise is not the sound of mass applause...

The other feature is the presence of trees on the raised area. One of which is in the middle of where we set up. So this is my view of our bassist:

Just like my summer gig at the Metropolitan, I get leaves dropping on my kit...

Festive Cycling

Last Sunday the weather was above zero C, and since Tanya the crazybikerchick was visiting again we thought it'd be fun to got for a bike ride after HPVOoO's ritual Sunday dinner. RGB had some inverters, so with these new low-current LED Xmas lights and some 12-volt batteries we could dress up our bikes and ride for hours! Tanya and I rode the CCM tandem, outfitted with a string of blue lights, powered by Kyoto's battery. Tanya models the bike...

And here we are (only five of us went riding) at the foot of the Peace Tower of the Parliament Buildings:

Note Charles wearing the bowling pin helmet, created by Mike Watson.

I put my little Canon camera into video mode, and took some footage while we were stopped here, and then Tanya took more after we arrived in front of the Prime Minister's residence at 24 Sussex Drive (which is across the street from the Governor-General's residence at Rideau Hall). A few years ago a roundabout was built there, so we decided to ride in circles and see if we could draw the RCMP out of their gate-house. But they wisely ignored us...

You can see the video here, and Richard took photos as well.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It is winter (Part 2)

Since I was heading to the re-Cycles shop to get my winter bike ready, there were some donations to pick up and deliver to the shop as well. First stop, RGB's place:

As you can see, the bike received a nice helping of winter moisture...

Then on to RealGrouchy's, were a decent old road bike was waiting. This next photo shows Kyoto loaded with these two bikes, plus one I had, some assorted wheels, and my winter bike.

One lesson I learned - when you think you put your winter bike away properly, check again! I thought I had cleaned the chain, etc. last Spring, but the rusty brown coating told me otherwise. But it was still flexible, so I took a wire brush and scrubbed all four sides, then gave a liberal application of motor oil. The chain is now just fine, and given that it operates an internally-geared hub, the chainline stays straight and so no extra wear on it.

Friday, December 01, 2006

It is winter...

... here in Ottawa, on the first day of December. We have a thin layer of snow, topped with a lovely coating freezing rain, and high winds. Yuck. Glad I'm not commuting by bike, but some of my friends have to...

Looking into the back yard, with 1-speed bike and trailer getting covered.

Front porch, and hybrid bike:

The front yard cedar and apple trees are getting coated with ice:

I had planned to take my winter bike to the re-Cycles shop on Sunday afternoon (fun when you have your own keys) and make sure it's ready for the seasonal weather. Looks like that idea is a few days late...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

trailer failure!

(try saying that title five times quickly!)

So after seven years of 4-season cycling I had the trailer fall apart!

I was on my way to my regular dance class accompaniment gig, which meant the trailer had about $500 worth of gear in it. I was crossing an intersection, heard a noise, and looked back to see the trailer skidding across the road! Looking down I saw that the hitch arm was still attached to the bike, and had snapped off right where it bolts to the other frame tube. I was very lucky, in that no cars were approaching, and the trailer just slid to a halt against the sidewalk. If a car had smashed into it there would have been a real mess, financially and otherwise...

So there I was with a problem!

I still had to get to that class, and had to figure how to get the trailer hooked back up again. I pulled it as close to the bike as I could, and pulled the hitch arm over the end stubs of the frame and wrapped it up with bungee cords. It took four separate tries to get the bungees tight enough to keep that connection from moving, because if it did move then the trailer would pull sideways into the side of the rear wheel. Not fun... But I did finally get it together, and was able to get to the gig, 20 minutes late. Pedaling too quickly or going downhill meant the trailer started to wobble, which was no fun at all, so a steady pace was needed.

Once back home I had to make a proper repair, and this was done by sleeving a section of 1" conduit over the broken 3/4" pieces, and drilling and bolting through. Not pretty, but the only other option was replacing that entire side tube, and that would've also meant having to drill and remount the axle plates, as well as the rear mount for the inner wheel housing tube. No thanks! ;)

One thing I did do was rectify an oversight in the original build. The other tube that parallels the hitch arm crushed a bit when it was first bolted, because its end was open with nothing inside to keep it round. In the larger cargo trailer I built I used a piece of dowel, but having none this time I used a sawed-off piece of drumstick! Not a perfect fit, but it'll keep the pipe from getting worse. And I'll also cover the sleeve openings with electrical tape to help keep moisture out. The trailer now runs as smoothly as it did before.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

a pilgrimage to the Guru (of crazybiking)

aka "drumbent visits the crazybikerchick". ;)

Crazybikerchick is the name of a very popular blog written by Tanya, a Toronto-based cyclist. It's so popular that Toronto's Now Magazine recently voted it "Best Personal Blog"! I don't know how many websites and blogs I've come across that link to hers, but suffice to say that she has struck a positive chord with cyclists from all over. She reports on her experiences of biking around the city, challenging herself to do her first century ride, and even a 200km randonneuring event! There are also updates on her knitting projects, as well as tales (tails?) of her two cats, Princess and Abby. I can't recall how I originally found her blog, but after reading a few posts, especially the one about renting a large bike trailer to bring stuff home from Ikea, I knew I had found a kindred spirit!

Turns out the cycling circles she travelled in included my friends Vic and Jen in Toronto, and after some comments made on each other's blog posts, and a few emails back and forth we got to know each other a bit. This past weekend I had to go to Toronto for some family matters, so Tanya and I thought it would be fun to finally meet in person.

The plan was to help her with some bike repair, since she had mentioned that she had been struggling with re-padding the canti brakes on her old hybrid. And if we had time we also hoped to get into creating some Bike Art. Alas, setting up those old post-style brakes is indeed a pain, especially when the only wrench available was a small adjustable one! (I had brought my Topeak multi-tool, but it does not have sockets or wrenches.) So it took far too long, and once done we used those nicely adjusted brakes to act as guides in truing the rear wheel. Well, after much futzing about I realized the rim had taken a hit at some point and was dented a bit, with no way to make it much better than it was. So, time to back off the brakes a tad, and in the end it all worked out OK.

And since so much time had been spent we realized it was getting way past dinnertime, and so we headed out for a fabbo Indian buffet. Upon returning we had a look at her Raleigh Twenty folding bike, and very nice touring bike. The Twenty is in great original shape, given its age, and just needed the headset adjusted. The touring bike was a little off in the shifting department, but I believe we got it all dialed back in OK. As soon as I got back to Ottawa I got a note from Tanya saying the hybrid's brakes worked very well indeed, and had already been put to an emergency test! After the hours of bike repair fun we decided to just sit and yak, instead of getting caught up in the Bike Art idea.

Here's Tanya, trying to stuff Abby into the handlebar bag of her tourer:

And here's Abby, getting her revenge by clawing on the tires:

and chewing on the derailer cable:

It was funny to watch Abby scratch at the tires, since Tanya had posted a comment about finding small punctures in her tubes and figuring out the culprit...

So it was very nice visit, and it looks like Tanya will be coming to Ottawa this weekend to join HPVOoO for its annual appearance in the local Santa Toy Parade, where she'll get to experience Ottawa's own crazybikerpeople! ;)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

ATWAS (all the world's a stage) #2

This series would have more entries if I'd remember to bring my camera with me to the gigs!

Friday night saw the Jivewires performing across the river at La Maison de la Culture in Gatineau, Que. It's a very nice theatre, we were well received, and hope to appear there again. But yeah, no photos from moi.

Last night (Sat.) the band was at the National Arts Centre, where the Governor-General's Performing Arts Awards were taking place. Celebrities included Lorne Michaels (creator of Saturday Night Live), Robbie Roberstson (the Band), Buffy Ste. Marie, and Paul Schaffer (musical director for David Letterman) - all Canadian-born. For the fourth year in a row we played the after-show reception, when everyone comes out of the hall and into the lobby, where champagne and snacks are served. Quite a few of them feel like dancing after sitting on their butts for a few hours.

Since we had to set up in the lobby, I parked Kyoto right at the main door, beside the Red Carpet. Gotta love how the reflecto bits respond to the flash!

The friendly doorman was quite happy to hold the door for me as I made my trips, after we determined that security would probably not like me rolling the trike right inside. ;)

Setting up.

Food and drinks are put in place, and waiting musicians descend upon them. Above, Sandy, Rick, and Chris are thrilled with their morsels. We make sure to leave some for the patrons, of course!

Steve echoes my sentiments regarding the plates of pure chocolate cookies (a few of which made their way home with me. No whole plates of course, but certainly whole cookies).

At the end of the evening, Kyoto, having being locked to the nearby bike stand, is pulled over to the main doors. Straggling patrons are making their way to the waiting limos, while the drummer loads out.

I didn't take any crowd action photos, but you can get an idea of the fun from last year's pictures.

Monday, October 30, 2006

All the World's a Stage

As a working musician I find myself setting up my drums in some interesting spaces. Anywhere from jammed into a tight corner of a restaurant, to a festival stage where my drum riser is the size of my living room, and the nearest musician is 25 feet away! I thought it would be fun to take some photos of such places, so this is the first installment of "where I work", aka "all the world's a stage".

This past Saturday saw the Custums playing a fundraiser at the Aviation Musuem. This was our third year in a row for this event, and this year was special because they actually had a stage for us (last year we set up under the wing of one of the planes!). So the actual performance area was quite ordinary, but the setting was interesting with all the aircraft in close proximity. I took a few photos...

setting up the stage

a cool gyrocopter

An experimental plane. The outline on the left arm of the 'A' reads "cut here in an emergency"

a much larger 'copter, with rear view into the interior

This was on a smaller one. I'll bet you learn to duck... :P

Speaking of ducking, this is the wing we played under last year.

This tiny thing was the first production rocket-powered plane. Apparently they had a nasty tendency of blowing up upon take-off or landing.

Happy to set up in front of a Canadian classic

Friday, October 20, 2006

How bicycles are built

A cool 10 minute video clip showing how your basic errand bike is put together. I'd heard of wheel-building machines, and finally got to see one in action. Isn't YouTube great?

Thanks to Otto_It for the link.

Also, Friday random link: Snake Bike

more music

In a two-week period I've been offered the drum chair for two local Big Bands! This is fun, because the music is great to play, and also a challenge, because the drummer is in the hot seat with these large groups. If you can't drive the band then it'll sound like poop no matter how good everyone else is! You have to keep the tempo, set up the shots, guide the dynamics, interact with the soloists, so there's lots to stay on top of.

The first group is the Bill Jupp Band, which has ben around Ottawa for many years, and plays original tunes and arrangements written by Bill. This is mainly a rehearsal band, but it meets once a week and keeps both my reading and swing chops together. The rehearsal space is barely a kilometre away, and I can leave my junky old practice kit there and just commute with sticks and cymbals.

The second band is Grey Jazz, run by Bob Cleall, and the band's name comes from the fact that it is based in a senior's facility, though none of the players reside there. ;) But the musicians are mostly over 50, so I'm definitely the youngest player, not to mention the least grey. :P The band swings well, and I've just completed my first gig with them (had to sight-read a few charts on the fly!), so it's a working group. We rehearse ever Friday morning at 9:30, and being the night owl that I am that's only doable because 1) they have a drumkit there, and 2) it's only four blocks from my house! So I just get up, scarf down some breakfast, and stagger my way there...

Thursday, October 12, 2006


My friend Wenna creates some fabulous and whimsical paintings. And now you can see a sampling of them online at her new website. I should commission something with a bicycle theme...

Monday, October 09, 2006

for you jazz fans...

I've got a gig that might interest some of you, this coming Saturday at the NAC's Fourth Stage:

Accompanied by:
J.P. Alain - Piano
Mark Rehder - Drums
Tom McMahon - Bass
Rick Rangno - Trumpet
Mike Tremblay - Tenor

I of course play with Steve's quartet, as does bassist Tom. Rick plays trumpet for the Jivewires, while J.P. and Mike are regulars on the scene. Should be a fine evening!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

media attention

My cargo trike is the subject of a cover story in the Fall issue of "Better Bicycling", published by local organization Citizens for Safe Cycling.

I've not done much in the way of promoting Kyoto, other than just riding it on city streets to do the jobs I built it for. So when CfSC contacted me for the story I was happy to oblige. Other than one slip-up ("it’s a single-wheel recumbent bicycle" should read "three-wheel") it seems to be a good read. What's next? Front page on the Ottawa Citizen, or how about the Globe and Mail? Maybe I should head straight for TV coverage - where's my agent?... :D

Thursday, October 05, 2006

current events

Thought I'd share some fave cartoons and a photo. Click on each one for the larger, more legible version.

Two from recent events:

An old "Bloom County" strip from its pre-Opus early days, about twenty years ago! The caricature is brilliant, and still quite relevant given that in U.S. politics "Liberal" has become a dirty word:

Snoozing lizard, found on someone's blog (sorry, forgot who!). Note its tiny rear feet wrapped around second spoke:

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

PABs finally legal in Ontario

Kyoto's electric-assist motor is now legal! The press release below was sent by Juergen.


October 4, 2006 (Toronto)
For Immediate Release

The Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa (EVCO) applauds today's announcement by Ontario Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield to permit electric-assist bicycles on Ontario roadways under a pilot project.

Electric-assist bicycles (officially called Power Assisted Bicycles or PABs) are bicycles with a small electric motor that are limited to a maximum speed of 32km/h and a maximum power of 500 Watts. Electric bicycles are zero-emission vehicles. Anyone in Ontario who is 16 years of age or older may ride an electric bike during the pilot project which is expected to last three years.

"Many Ontario citizens have been waiting eagerly to drive their electric bicycles legally or to acquire one" notes Etienne Gibeault, EVCO President. "We are thrilled that these electric vehicles are now legal."

Electric-assist bicycles are available, affordable and are as easy to use as a standard bicycle. The electric motor and battery pack provide cyclists with clean, quiet and non-polluting power -- ideal for hill climbing, extending one's range, assisting those with mobility impairments and reducing the effort associated with cycling (a bonus for those without shower facilities at work). Electric bike riders can get as much exercise as they choose without worrying about longer distances or over-exertion. Electric bikes allow the rider to pedal as much as desired while providing power-assist when required.

Electric bike riders are now able to do their part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality, and stay fit without having to worry about breaking the law. EVCO congratulates the Minister for taking this step and looks forward to a time when a variety of electric vehicles are
legal on Ontario roads.

"Relatively inexpensive electric vehicles are now within reach of the average consumer," says Etienne Gibeault. "This is a viable alternative for Ontarians who want something more than the traditional means of transportation."


EVCO is a voluntary, non-profit organization that promotes the use of electric vehicles in applications where they are appropriate. Electric vehicles are viable transportation alternatives that are ecological, economical, practical and available. EVCO has been campaigning for the
legalization of electric bicycles in Ontario for over 3 years.

Spokesperson: Juergen Weichert (613) 746-7685

The Electric Vehicle Council of Ottawa
P.O.Box 4044, Station "E"
Ottawa, ON, Canada
K1S 5B1

Monday, October 02, 2006

YouTube (and other) fun

Step right up! We've got humour, politics, music, cats - all courtesy of YouTube!

First off, a fabulous anti-war parody of "Tie a Yellow Ribbon..." (warning: naughty words, especially at the beginning!).

Next: Most have heard about Bill Clinton taking Fox interviewer Chris Wallace to task. And now this fabulous editorial from Keith Olberman. I couldn't quite believe it at first - here's a guy from the mainstream U.S. media (MSNBC) nailing Bush and his Administration to the wall! Well done, sir! And about time...

On the much lighter side: kitties! A compilation of feline goofiness.

And music:

Shredding: Heavy metal prog-rock accordion. Two Finnish musicians, along with the drummer and former bassist for King Crimson. If you're going to make a noise, this is a good one to make!

Sublime: my favourite female vocalist, Lisa Gerrard (formerly of Dead Can Dance). She has the most stunning and versatile voice I've ever heard.

And lastly, a non-Youtube link. Crazybikerchick Tanya has a fabulous "open letter to motorists who dislike cyclists". Check out the 90-plus comments!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

more bridge fun

A different one this time, and Kyoto's first trip across the interprovincial Champlain Bridge.

My friend Andrea recently moved into a house on the Quebec side, quite near the Ottawa river and the bridge. She had a surplus microwave oven for me, and I decided to fetch it. Now, the cargo trike was overkill for this trip (could've used the trailer), but I wanted to see what it was like using the bridge's bike lanes, as I had only ridden on them with my 2-wheel bikes.

Yes, could have moved a few microwaves, or a refrigerator!

Andrea exclaims "no, don't show my messy garage!" But she is still moving in, so she is forgiven. ;)

Heading home, and the bike lane is just wide enough for Kyoto. The bridge has three motor vehicle lanes, with the middle HOV lane switching directions depending on time of day.

Looking west on a cloudy Sept. day (railings will be in the way of these shots, as I took them while in motion)

Crossing over Bate Island, the east end of which is a fave launching area for kayakers, as the rapids make for a fun play spot. Above is a quiet inlet.

My little camera strained as far as it could to bring you this ill-defined shot. The river is quite shallow here, especially at this time of year, and someone planted a bird-shaped sculpture on one of the rocks!

My only challenge on this trip was at the Ottawa end of the bridge. The bike lane narrows down to the old standard of about a metre wide, and Island Park Drive is one lane each way. If I take the main lane I slow everyone down, so I stuffed myself into the bike lane, as I only had two blocks to go before turning left into the residential area and onto my cross-town route. I always wonder what the cars behind me think as I put on the turn signal from the bike lane and move into the main lane. And I don't wait for someone to let me in, as that route is busy and no one wants to stop, so I just wait for a gap and toss the trike into it. As usual, no grief from anyone, either because they're being nice, or that they can't quite figure out what the thing is and they probably shouldn't provoke it. hehe