Friday, September 22, 2006

Ottawa's new cycling / pedestrian bridge

One day before International Car-Free Day a car-free bridge was opened across the Rideau Canal! It has no name yet (that will apparently happen at an official dedication ceremony next Spring), and some work is still being done, like the last set of stairs and some landscaping. But it's open and lots of folks are using it! I took Kyoto over it today to attend the CFD event at the University of Ottawa campus, and I'm impressed with the work. The bridge looks nice, and it's quite wide enough for both bike and foot traffic, though so far nothing has been done to delineate lanes (I've heard that the walkways will be along the sides with bikes in the middle).

So I had to take a few photos as I made my way back from the event. And yes, Ottawa is completely f-ing lame when it comes to Car Free Day, as City Council, which can't be considered Green by any stretch of the imagination, won't allow closure of a single block of any main street, so events have to be held in parking lots or plazas. Oh well, at least we have our nice new bridge!

Looking north towards Chateau Laurier

Looking west. At left in the bike helmet is fellow HPVOoO-er Charles, who has done a thorough photo documentation of the bridge's construction progress.

out with the old, in with the even older.

The Linear recumbent's frame crack puts it out of action for the next while, as I doubt I'll attempt a solution before next year. In the meantime, my brother Mike has nicely loaned me his old Infinity long-wheelbase, as he now has a very nice Velotechnik Streetmachine to ride.

Mike built this up from a frameset in the early 90's. I had been curious about bents ever since first heard of the in the mid-80's, but never could afford the $$$$ pricetag. Mike and I had talked about them for a while, and he took the plunge ahead of me. It was great to have a chance to finally ride one and determine that yes, this was going to be a good choice, though I didn't buy my Linear until '97.

The Infinity is from the same design period as the Linear (1980's), and along with the Ryan these three were the triumvirate of LWB under-seat steering (USS) bents. The Easy Racers Tour Easy was the choice for those that wanted the handlebars above the seat. The Infinity, like the Linear, is made from non-heat treated aluminum, and had a reputation for cracked frames (the Linear has a reputation for creaking frames due to its foldability, but not cracked ones).

The manufacturer solved this with later models by adding a small tube (see above) running alongside the main bottom tube from the rear dropout to the bottom bracket shell. Note also that the steering is done by cables from the steering arm to the fork! You don't see that any more on bents, but it was used for years in the aircraft industry, so is not a flawed concept.

So it was snooze time for the Linear, and since it's a folding bike it was easy to take apart for storage:

Upside down and wheels off.

Tailbox off - first time since I built it in '98! (sniff...)

Rack taken off, rear end of frame removed (attaches via QR levers), seat folded forward. Rear brake unit and derailer left attached via their cables and stored in bag.

The front fork will also fold back, but then I'd have to remove the front fender, and the bike will store just fine without that. Another photo of the crack that put this bike to sleep for a while:

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


This fifth anniversary of the attacks causes a remembrance for me. I have a connection to the World Trade Center, because the Jivewires played a show there. We were in the Windows On The World restaurant and bar on the 106 floor of the North Tower. The date was Saturday, October 21, 2000.

Previously, the band had played other clubs in NYC (and also the now-defunct Sunday Swing Dances at Irving Plaza), but when this gig came through it was a much bigger deal. Normally when we play in the States we try to get a few gigs lined up, say for three or four days in Boston, Albany, Washington DC, etc.. (One time we had two dates in NYC, and were able to stay in an apartment on 4th St. that rents out to travelling groups. It was cool to have the afternoon to explore the city a bit. I remember bassist Kurt and I going for a walk to the WTC, and looking straight up at the two towers. The next day sax player Brian and I later walked all the way to 50th St. and back, which is a pretty good hike [92 blocks round-trip]!) But the WTC gig came on short notice, and we did not want to say No, even though we did not have time to line up other gigs. So we did it as a one-nighter, driving the 7.5 hours there, playing 3 sets of music, then turning around and drive back that night. That's the glamourous side of the biz... :P

We arrived around 7:00pm, and loaded our gear into the building. We fortunately did not have to find and use the loading dock and freight elevator, but came in right off the street. The restaurant had its own elevator, which was quite large (about 12'x8'), and we just rolled our stuff in first, then some customers got on. I think that elevator rose about as fast as it could without making you sick, and the floor number display kicked in around 90 and flew by, slowing down around 103. Upon exiting we got our gear into the bar, with the stage being in the SE corner of the building. After setting things up I had to check out the view.

Looking out the north windows, you had an unobstructed view of downtown Manhattan, the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building (my fave) and so on. Say what we want about skyscrapers, Big Business, etc., it was an impressive sight. I also thought of all the great music that happens in that city, and how it is (and has been) THE place for great jazz. Thinking of the Swing Era, with Benny Goodman and Duke Ellington and their great bands (they both played at the above-mentioned Irving Plaza), and later on people like Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, etc. all coming there to prove themselves and help take the music to new places. Moving to the west windows, looking out over the Hudson River, with New Jersey on the other side. Towards the SW corner, and looking down at the harbour and the Statue Of Liberty. Then moving to the south windows and woah! - there's the South tower! At that height you don't expect to see another building right beside you, even though you know it exists. I could see folks on the top floor observation deck, and looking down the towers were close enough to each other that they seemed to meet at the base.

My reverie was broken by the manager saying we could get some food in the employee cafeteria, one flight up. So he led us out a set of doors into the stairwells. We all paused for a moment, looking down the steps. I think we all shuddered a bit, imagining what it would be like to have to get down 106 floors if the elevators were broken. Comments were made along the lines of "wouldn't want to have to run down those in a hurry" etc. Then we walked upstairs and ate our free food. The gig was a lot of fun, and as we sped back home through the dark night we hoped we would get to play there again.

And we almost did. A booking for the following Spring did not materialize, and another for August 11 had to cancelled due to U.S. Immigration screwing up our work visas. So another date was set for October 20, then came 9/11. As I watched the events unfold on TV I thought of that top floor, with the staff and patrons most likely trapped, because I could not see how they could make their way down those stairs given the amount of damage.

We still had the other U.S. dates to do that October, so that weekend we played Boston, then drove across Manhattan to head south along the New Jersey Turnpike to Washington. And as we drove we realized we would pass the site with only the Hudson River separating us, and when someone asked where the WTC site was I pointed "over there", where you can see the smoke still rising". It was a rather sombre and reflective trip to our next destination...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Trike at work pt. 2

The past few weeks have be quite uneventful, so here are a few pics of the trike at work. This is at the outdoor plaza for the Metropolitan Restaurant and Cafe M, where I currently play every Sunday from 11:00am to 2:00pm, and Thursdays from 5:00 to 8:00. Since it's outdoors the gig will come to a natural end as soon as the customers stop wishing to eat outside, so we have perhaps a few weeks left.

As you can see in the above photo, I can cycle right onto the plaza and park right where my drums need to be set up. This is such a nice change from hauling them up stairs or down long hallways! Though it does mean riding on the wide sidewalk for about 100 feet, otherwise I'd have to stop in a right-turn lane and haul the heavy beast up onto the walk to get to the plaza entrance. Once I've unloaded I simply move the trike over to the perimeter where it can snooze in the sun. Leaving the plaza requires going uphill and around a corner, beginning on the sidewalk, but that is only for about 50 feet, then as I make the turn I get on the road. The sidewalk issue is interesting, because if I stick to the road near that entrance I'm just in everyone's way and it's also a no-stopping zone. Being a 3-wheeler the trike can go as slow as it needs if there are pedestrians afoot (heh), and since it's for such a short stretch it seems to be the best solution.

Long view back towards the Cafe (and awaiting the other two band members).

The patio.

The restaurant and cafe are owned by the same people, and they originally wanted us to play for the patio, so we set up facing that way. But when folks are eating they don't always pay much attenti0n to us, and we had our backs to the cafe customers, who seem more appreciative of our efforts. So on the third gig we set up in the current format and everyone's happy.

I just realized this is probably a rather boring post, but hey, notice over on the right sidebar of this page - categories! Unlike some other blog hosts, Blogger does not offer this feature, but hacks have been created, and I happily used one of them. So now I can just direct people to the bike links if that's all they might be interested in. And please note that there is no category (yet) for "Boring". ;o)