The Perils of Cycling Fashionably: Montreal Winter Edition

Not intended to be worn anywhere other than the comfort of your own home.

 

Not intended to be worn anywhere other than the comfort of your own home.

 

When I first moved to Quebec, I was met with two main responses: 

“Sweet! The drinking age is 18.”

“You’re going to be so cold, gain 20 lbs.”

    While both statements were probably true, I only really cared about what was behind door number one. No more fake IDs. But it seems like door number two has flung open. It is freezing here. And I am so terribly unprepared for such weather.

    I’ve been cycling recently as I would in the first couple weeks of autumn; hoodies, skinnies, and beyond the point of disheveled high tops. However, this year I seem to have omitted a key part of my autumn attire, the infamous “skinny-white-kid-love-handles”, I haven’t put on an ounce. While I’m stoked about this, because shoot, girl, I’m lookin’ so fly. I am also going to have no teeth left by the time spring comes because they will have chattered off. 

    “Don’t worry baby, I don’t bite.” Is not sexy when you actually don’t have teeth. Seriously.

    But, if you will refer back to the title, you will note that “perils” is present. The answer is not simply bundle up. No, because we want to cycle fashionably. I could, quite easily, put on a balaclava, neon neck warmer, ski goggles, a cycling cap with ear flaps, plus my helmet in order to stay warm. But warm would not be the only thing I would be staying if I were dressed like that. I would also be staying, listen closely now, single and celibate.

    So how does one win? Get the girl and hold her in your frostbite-free arms? Well, I don’t know. But let’s brainstorm, maybe I’ll figure it out by the time I publish this blog.

Exhibit A) All that bicycle-moving motion warms you up, so you don’t have to look like eskimo Joe. Layers seems to be key. 

Exhibit B) Because you’re just so darn fast, you risk wind burn, so you need to cover your face, neck, arms, and eyes. Coverage seems to be key here. 

Exhibit C) Shoes with holes allow in air. Get some new shoes, boots just aren’t fashionable (see part about celibacy).

    Okay, so what will I be wearing this winter, given the facts? My attire will mainly be comprised of:

Multi-functional hoodies, kitschy shop glassesGay Pride pipe gloves, and the vegan version of these half cabs. And for a wind breaker, I think I’ll just sport a nice clear plastic garbage bag, as not to cover up my skeleton hoodie, of course.

[ First posted: 22/10/08 ]

Dispelling myths: bar tape

I’ve never come across anyone in my many days on this earth (not counting those spent in Etobicoke, because really, those don’t count), not a single person who could tell me they loved taping their bars. Granted, if you bought your bike at Canadian Tire, you’d probably think that was a ridiculous question, and that rules out a fair portion of the polling pool. But I digress, yesterday I pulled myself together and wrapped my bars. Actually, it was fun. The bar tape I picked up, Soma Thick n’ Zesty, I think it was, didn’t merit rave reviews, mind you. The double sided sticky tape came off many a time, and at a width of .5 cm, it barely held on my cheater strips. But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, they gave me more than enough bar tape to work with. A whole 20 cm.

    This is where I dispel yet another myth, taping your bars will not leave to spontaneous, all in good fun, drag. Yes, with that extra spare bar tape, in bright red, I got, admittedly, a little carried away:

Lauren Pettigrew Bar tape drag

    It would seem that this week’s theme really is have your cake and eat it too. Or rather, have your tape and wear it too.

[ First posted: 22/09/08 ]

Frequently asked questions

I guess saying "that's what she said" would be inappropriate, eh?

I guess saying "that's what she said" would be inappropriate, eh?

As a die-hard cyclist, I am asked many a question pertaining to cycling on a daily basis. Today, I am here to answer these questions on a public forum, in hopes that I will no longer be asked them. Here goes.

“Are you stupid?!” – No, actually I’m on my way home from the university, which I attend on a regular basis in order to further my knowledge and so I may contribute to the economy later in my adult life.

“What is your fucking problem, asshole?” – Well, I have poor knees, which makes life a little bit difficult sometimes. I also give up on the sudoku in the back of the A Section of The Globe & Mail on a regular basis.

“Why don’t you just get a job?” – I feel as if an occupation, at this point in my post-secondary schooling endeavours, would impede on my study time, however I will contribute to the economy when I get the chance.

“Do you always run reds?” – Most of the time I do, but only when I know I won’t get hit. Sometimes speed and mortality clash like that.

“…If I were to rape you here today, you’d need witnesses to testify that you weren’t consenting!” -Oops, this one wasn’t posed to me, it was posed to Samira Laouni on radio. How silly of me, putting that in here. Jeez.

As a cyclist, I am bombarded with these questions all the time, in both French and English, with the exception of the latter, that is. It’s no secret that I speak minimal French, but when a jaywalking senior citizen told me “tu es une idiote!”, I knew what she meant. That bitch. And while I value each and every opinion, sometimes we don’t have time to exchange numbers, or emails, so I hope I cleared things up for all of you.

[ First posted: 24/09/08 ]

What to do with the hybrid

 

 

Even my dog knows...

Even my dog knows...

Back to the topic at hand, today I am definitely going to Brakeless, and I know I’ve talked about this before, but, really now. I can’t wait for my fixie to be done to go there, I need things from there now. Like a seat post for my fixie, and I think a seat post, correct me if I’m wrong here, is kind of integral to the the bike. I would have used the stock seat post, but the issue with that was that the seat post was so short that at maximum length, my seat wouldn’t sit higher than my handlebars. And that just won’t do on a road bike. The sizing was all off, is what I’m saying. I also need a new seat, because I remember that when I took the seat off the bike when I first got it, I felt as if I were caught in the second coming of some sort of biblical plague. Earwigs came out of there like it wasn’t anybody’s business. I feel as if that was a good enough reason to get rid of it.

 

    So, Brakeless. I will be parking my Marin a block away, but still walking in with my helmet attached to my bag. I think that will cover me at least until I get my fixie up and running. I need to ask their opinion, or advice, really. Because yesterday, after buying a toolset, I removed all the bolts from my cranks, because I want to keep the original Sugino’s, but there’s two chainrings, both of which are not the size I’d like them to be. So I need to take off the cranks, then remove the chainrings, put on a new chainring, and reattach them. Simple, right? Well the issue is that after I removed the bolts holding the cranks on, which is really hard to do without a work stand, and no real upper body strength. 

    The upside of working on a bike yourself though, is that you accumulate all these tools. I mean, I have this one closet which would have been a total pain had I not accumulated all these tools.  The closet is in my living room, but it is at the back of the living room, so it’s not for coats, or boots, or anything like that, it’s just generally ill placed. Now, it’s my tool closet. With snowboarding season approaching, and my need for a new (or a used) board growing, my snowboarding tools are going to increase too. Because I’m close to Tremblant, and St Anne, too, So I have no excuse, especially with 4 day weekends, to not be out in the parks. But preparing a board, especially if it’s a new one, for the park is a pain. I have to bevel and sand down and I should probably dent-proof my tip and tail for chairlift lines, and then there’s the whole stop pad choosing thing, which will take me eons I’m sure. Getting my stance just perfect will be another thing too. I need a work table. That is the answer. 

    I’m sorry that I keep giving you all my shopping lists as blogs, really. I should probably plan out what I’m going to say before hand, just to keep chaos to a minimum. I will try later. And there may be a new vlog in the works! It should be up on Tuesday, or sooner if I give in and go to Starbucks. We shall see, I guess.

    On a totally random side note, yesterday was my sister’s birthday. My mother called me with this “great idea” of giving her a card with a cat on it, with $40 in it, and signing my name for me. How lame is that? A cat card? I’m the person at birthday parties, who has some sort of a reputation for giving terribly inappropriate cards, so people know to just open the present and open the card when their parents are not around. I don’t give cards with cats on them, unless it’s a joke about pussy. Then I would do so. Otherwise, no. So I’m going to make Sydney a “because I care” package, in which I will assemble some things which she needs, but she doesn’t realize she needs them just yet. I don’t think she reads this blog, but just incase, I won’t give it away. It’s going to be a pretty awesome care package, though.  I’m writing a list of things as I type this, actually, and it’s kind of depressing because I really don’t know what to get her half the time. I mean, I haven’t lived with her in years, and now I’m hundreds of kilometers away, and I sort of, kind of, feel bad. Aren’t people supposed to know something about their siblings? I think this is something I’ll have to work on. I want to catch up with everyone in my family, except my mother, who doesn’t really count because I’ve essentially disowned her, for the first time in my life. I used to think that I didn’t care about my family, and vice versa, but now I feel the need to connect with them. Is that weird?

    A part of me feels as if I’ve never really had a “family”, sure I have people I’m related to, but by the definition in my head of family, I’ve never really had one. My dad is the only family I have, as far as I’m concerned. Sure, he’s been absent, but I can understand why he has been. I went through, and I’m going through, a lot of the same things I imagine that he’s going through, or things that he’s overcame. But he doesn’t talk, his dad died when he was really young, and my Nana, though awesome now, was really hard on her kids. He calls me all the time now, though, so maybe this move was a good thing. I’m hoping I’ll get him to open up one of these days. Because the one good thing that came out of this divorce is the mostly unspoken bond him and I share. It’s different with us. When the separation was just beginning, and my mother took everything out on me, I moved in with him. I slept on the couch of his one bedroom apartment for many, many months. He bought us a townhouse, which my mother consequently took over. And then he bought me a loft down the hall from his, despite everything going on with him. He supports me, in his own way. If my dad wasn’t so supportive, I probably wouldn’t be here. My mother sent me to therapy for two years, in order to scare the resentment I have for her out of me, I guess. And my dad always stood up for me, my sister tried to, but my mother threatened her before every family session, as she told me later on, about putting her in foster care if she made her out to be an unfit parent. Essentially, my dad is awesome. I didn’t mean for this to be such a long post, but now you know a little bit more about who I am, and why I am who I am.

(First posted: 12/09/08)

Reaffirmed: I’m awesome.

I happened to fall - and skid along the asphalt - one day

I happened to fall - and skid along the asphalt - one day

Today, I’ve decided to implement a little bit of a challenge for myself. I know, “Lauren, why ever would you want to challenge yourself to a challenge?” Well, friends, stalkers, and noble country men and women, this is one of those challenges for personal gain. I came up with it today during a trip to the Puralator, which is 10 km away from where I live each way, and when I finally got back to my apartment, modem in hand, I felt awesome. Thus, 20k a day was born. Yup, 20k, everyday, regardless of weather, classes, mood and/or relationship status. I’m doing this not to beat myself up, I mean I live 7 km or so away from campus already, and I cycle there & back 3 days a week. Today I cycled 20 km already, plus if I ever get my DSL light to stay solid green, I’ll head over to Brakeless and finally pick up that messenger bag. And a hat too, because I feel the need to treat myself, for all that hard work I’ve been doing… 

    Anyways, so this is not me putting out a call to arms for people who read my blog, or even people who check my vlog (I will undoubtedly be putting this in a vlog some time), because I know most people will, maybe, if they have the time, cycle 20 km in a summer. And the hardcore cyclists who may read this, probably for shits and giggles because I’m new to this whole bike building scene, cycle 20 km like it ain’t no thing. However, I do encourage everyone to get out on their bikes, and later on I will be doing a series of posts on how to cycle on a budget. I’m talking super cheap, like around $200.00-CDN-super-cheap. Because if I can do it, most anyone can. I built a bike and I can’t do a push up off the floor. That’s saying something.

    In other cycling-related news, my time has gone down for my Concordia journeys, by a whole minute! I would like to attribute that to tofu scrambles, and the lack of availability of course packs at the Loyola Bookstore.

    And I just got off the phone with Bell, and apparently my Internet could take anywhere from now to Tuesday to connect properly. Nice one, Bell. So you probably won’t be reading this until then. A word to the wise: don’t move into 100 year old buildings just because you like the atmosphere, because it will screw you, many times. And the last tenant was probably a painting obsessed weirdo. Not that I’m bitter, or anything. I’m going to go clean my kitchen. Get on your bike.

(First posted: 11/09/08)

There’s a four day weekend, every weekend!

Sorry that this wasn't a funny one... next time, I promise.

Sorry that this wasn't a funny one... next time, I promise.

Yes, I have inadvertently scheduled myself so that I get Thursday and Friday off until the beginning of next semester. While this may sound fine and dandy, it means I have no excuse for not doing things, which is not too good. I like at least having one foolproof excuse up my sleeve, you never know when something will come up. But I continue to look on the bright side, on this four day weekend of mine, I will become a pro Allen key turner, as I must assemble things from IKEA, I will also become a poor excuse for a fixed gear cyclist as I will be getting my rear wheel, finally. On top of everything, I must clean my whole apartment (yet again), and I must get this whole phone & internet thing set up. There’s a whole lot to be done, folks. And time is not on my side.

 

    Today I realized how much I hate everything other than my bicycle when it comes to transport. I took the bus to class again, because I still don’t have internet so I still don’t know where I’m going. And I hated every minute of it.  When this internet gets set up, I have a feeling many things will fall into place. Either that or my blind optimism will erode further and I will be forced to take up a skill trade.

     Anyways, back to my bicycle. I hate cycling Montreal, because some streets have separated bike lanes, which make me feel as if I should ride in them. But anyone with two legs and half a brain is in those lanes, and I don’t have enough weaving room to feel at home. I really do miss the hustle and bustle of riding right in traffic. I like to stay alert, I like to dart in and out, I enjoy racing in traffic. Which I know must sound like a death wish, but it’s a rush. I feel very dead when I’m in a separated bike lane, it’s too safe.

     There are other things I dislike about Montreal cycling infrastructure, as well, such as the places to lock bikes. While they are definitely plentiful, it is near impossible to lock your front wheel to your frame, locking your rear wheel without a cable is just impossible. Because there are so many not-so-savvy students in the downtown core, I’d assume there would be many a bike theft lurking. Heck, it is the perfect place to steal bikes. I saw a bike yesterday locked to a pole that stood maybe a meter and a half. There wasn’t anything on the pole, it was just that, a pole. You could lift that bike up and be off with it in 3 seconds flat. I mean, if you’re going to lock your bike to a pole, clearly you haven’t secured your wheels either.

    I have bikes on my mind because I went grocery shopping today, and I went on my bike with just my backpack, only to end up cycling home with one big bag of food and a backpack full of locks, rice, and beans. I was fine other than the one bag that I was carrying, as my leg would collide with the bag every time I pedalled. Thus, I am going to get a messenger bag, and I’m going to get it at Brakeless. Why? Brakeless is awesome, and I’ve been meaning to go there. I will figure out where it is when my internet returns to me, and I will get a messenger bag with a huge cavity so I can haul enough food for a couple of days home, instead of eroding my left knee cap for nothing more than a couple jars of organic jam & some soy milk.

    I’ve realized this post is all about things I need to do, but worry not, because I have gotten things done. For example, today I finally got my student card, I look like hell, but that doesn’t matter. I also found out where to get my pass key on Monday, and I picked up two of my necessary books. I also got groceries, and I’m making my way through some old vinyls Greg gave me. That’s right, I do have Olivia Newton John’s “Physical” now. In other news, I cleaned my entire bathroom, literally. My bedroom will be the next “fully clean” room on the list, but that’s an uphill battle if there ever was one. Anyways, I’m going back to reading this new book of mine. It’s Gender, Class, & Freedom in Modern Political Theory by Nancy J. Hirschmann. I’m not sure if I recommend it just yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

(First posted: 03/09/08)

Newly discovered: all cyclists say “jesus fuck!”

Punctuation may vary.

Punctuation may vary.

Yes, it’s true! People occasionally mock my vulgarity, but to them I say “go fuck yourself, you piece of shit, you.” And it has recently come to my attention that the term “jesus fuck!/?/…/.” has become a part of my everyday loop of degrading phrases. “Jesus fuck” came about when I was barreling through an intersection as quickly as someone can barrel on a hybrid, only to have someone left turn out of my way 2 inches in front of my front tire. To them, I said “jesus fuck, asshole! Learn how to drive!” he responded by continuing to text message what I could only assume was his internet girlfriend from inside his Corola. Lauren-1, Poor Unfortunate-0. And the phrase just stuck. Sometimes, “jesus fuck” is followed by a comma, and then a rude noun. Sometimes it stands alone. It is much like pasta in that way, you can have it as a main or a side, either way, pasta is yummy.

    Later on, I started to feel as if my mouth had been taken over by a very vocal and candid descendant of Satan, or Mel Gibson while drunk. Feeling like a lone wolf in a pack of lambs, I lost hope that I would ever find someone who would accept me for who I am, and what I blurt out while riding a bicycle. Today, I have found that person. And his name, er, his alias is BSNYC and I was browsing the archives when I found a mock screen play he has written in which it says:

Michael Ball [dropping to his knees]: Jesus Fuck!

    Yes, friends, it would seem I am not alone in the world. Which makes me happy, even though I was, quite honestly, enjoying my lone wolf status.

    I am now on the hunt for new, more vulgar, profanities. Which may mean that I will need to read the bible. If only to offend niche groups, like Christians, and late night Christ-show hosts. I think I may put my new “catch phrase” to a vote once I figure out what they will be. I hope the phrase catches on too, because we all know that I love nothing more than tarnishing someone’s, or anyone’s for that matter, purity. 

    As an update, I have recovered from my “you’re so gay” comment anger, and I have moved on to a new person to despise. She, who will also remain nameless out of “the goodness of my heart”, posted a Facebook profile picture which depicted her, her boyfriend, who is 10 years her senior, and a homeless man, presumably asking for change (or maybe he was just commenting on the fact that her boyfriend should date people born within the same decade as he was). She then Photoshop’d it to say “How would you feel? If you knew your tax money was going to (large red arrow pointing to homeless person) this homeless piece of shit.”

     I will not even comment on the fact that she clearly has no concept of the English language if she thought the appropriate place for that question mark was in the middle of the rhetorical question. Rather, I will take the high road. Making fun of homeless people is not cool, seeing as no one chooses to be homeless. I believe homelessness not be a problem with the actual homeless person, but more so with the society which allows them to go without shelter, and quite often, food. Maybe I am a crazy socialist, built on destroying the economy in order to save the environment and the “lower tiers” of the population, but I think that my hypothesis is both reasonable and valid. Had the dirty whore girl who posted this picture to Facebook been born into a different socio-economic bracket, or, if we take the scenic route (which is conveniently no longer on the high road), if she had not been an ignorant suburban fuck who believes her tax dollars have better places to go than the less fortunate, or if she realized that she was broadcasting her belief that people with mental illness or addiction should be persecuted and ignored by society simply because of their lack of capitol, she probably would have never been bashed by me on said blog.

     The long as short of it, is that no one chooses to live on the street, starve, and beg for a living. We would all like to go home at the end of the day to a bed, and some sort of foodstuffs (preferably vegan chocolate chip banana bread), and frankly, we all should be able to do so. Regardless of other factors, if we respect our rights as citizens, and more importantly as human beings, no one should be sleeping on the streets.

(First posted: 17/08/08)