The sound of Evian flapping (Day 323)…

January 17, 2008


OK, so technically, I haven’t done this change, but I am trying to do it. Here’s the deal: I’ve been riding my bike through winter as much as possible, and thanks to global warming it hasn’t been so bad. In fact, there’s been more rain and sleet than there has snow. However, what sucks about this is that while Quentin has a basket on his rear end to protect my behind from getting slushy, Deni‘s got nothing. He needs a fender or some mudguards, stat.

I’ve been putting off buying any, though, mostly because I think they look kind of ugly, but also because a lot of them are plastic, which would mean going against my pledge. But then, as I was coming home the other night, I saw this bike locked outside my building with a funny improvised fender — it was basically one of those 1.5L plastic bottles of Evian, sliced vertically in half and fastened to the frame with an elastic.


So, this is what I’m trying to do. I don’t have any plastic water bottles, of course, but I rummaged through my recycling bin and found some other things I could use. I tried to cut an old plastic bottle of Cab-Sauv ’cause I thought that could be kind of wino-chic, but it was too tough. Nothing glass will do and my leftover vinegar bottle was too lopsided.

I was thinking of going a little rectangular and using one of my old Tetra Paks of soy milk, but part of me is also scared to slice any of them open, lest any stale soy odours come flying out — I really don’t need more dry heaving right now, thanks. So I might have to wait until another plastic container of something runs out.

My other problem is that I can’t see where I should attach this contraption — how does it not interfere with the back brake cables? I’d have to hook it up to the seat post or something, but that’s really high up.

Ideas? Suggestions? Help?

Recycling my cycling (Day 319)…

January 13, 2008

This is Mike, of Mike the Bike. I discovered his underground repair shop the other day while in Kensington — poor Deni was suffering from a squishy front brake and some rust spots, and I figured I should tend to these ailments now before the Springtime rush of tune-ups.

Now, I usually go to Sweet Pete’s for all my cycling needs because I love Pete and he knows what he’s doing. But his shop is also somewhat out of my way, so when I drop Deni off, it’s a long, lonely walk home. Mike, on the other hand, is right around the corner.

But more importantly, he specializes in recycling bikes, and has a whole wall full of used parts and equipment. Plus, he even gave me a loaner to keep overnight (it was single-speed, bright blue with red handlebars and back-pedal brakes — I felt like some sort of hipster Mary Poppins on it!).

Aaaand, get this: Turns out, he also has this delivery company, where for as little as $5 you can get your take-out food, laundry, office supplies, etc. dropped off right at your front door, courtesy of Mike and his custom-made bicycle with two honkin’ baskets on either end — so there’s no carbon guilt attached! (Well, except for the Styrofoam container holding your curry roti; you should definitely feel guilty about that).

Finally, you’re guaranteed service with a smile, maybe even a few jokes, too. When I got home yesterday, I looked at the bill he gave me, and instead of writing “half tune-up” as he said he was going to do, he had written “1/2 tuna” — cute!

So from now on, I’m greening my bike maintenance by only getting used parts and tune-ups from someone who understands the importance of recycling and refurbishing.

Photo courtesy of torontofotobug on Flickr

Another lube post (no, not THAT lube!) (Day 307)…

January 1, 2008

chainj bottle

Despite the fact that it’s winter in Canada, that on most days the weather falls below freezing and I get cold just walking the five steps from my apartment to the streetcar stop, I’m still trying to ride Deni as often as possible (my rule is that if the roads are dry and the wind isn’t howling, I’ll do it). This means, however, that extra care must go into ensuring my tires are inflated, my brakes are functioning and my chain is greased.

Back in the fall, I ran out of my wet and dry lube but hesitated buying more because it felt like such a direct supporting-the-oil-industry purchase.

But then my lovely assistant Eva came to the rescue, pointing me in the direction of this Treehugger post that talks about ChainJ, a biodegradable alternative made from 100% renewable resources, ie. rapeseed (canola) oil. Yes, it’s technically a monocrop, but it’s not soy or corn so I don’t feel that bad about it.

P.S. Happy New Year, greenies! May 2008 bring you lots of solar power, compost mulch and energy savings!

The other Green Team (Day 288)…

December 13, 2007

green courier

As I was searching for a greener way to send an urgent package, I came across the Greenteam — immediately I thought of this Green Team and began chuckling at the sight of Will Ferrell murdering some random car-driving dude in an act of insane environmentalism.

But then I began reading their website and realized these folks are quite different: 1) They don’t seem to be as funny; but 2) They are genuinely concerned about leaving a lighter footprint.

They’ve pulled 60 vehicles from Toronto’s downtown core to make way for more cyclists, walkers and public transit couriers (all other delivery companies within the GTA still use motorized vehicles) and are in the process of replacing their entire auto fleet with hybrids over the next couple years. Plus, they really like to plant trees.

There’s also the socially progressive and bicycle-oriented TurnAround Couriers, which employs at-risk youth, as well as A-Way, a transit-based courier company staffed by folks living with mental health issues.

Either way, as much as I appreciate the fact that Canada Post and other big names in the delivery biz are switching to hybrid vehicles, I’ll be giving my Oh-crap!-I-forgot-to-mail-this business to companies like those above.