Friday, 26 November 2010

On missing the B of BMW

As the forecast was for freezing rain this morning, I brought Floria in last night, on the grounds that only a real lunatic would bicycle in freezing rain. Instead of riding to work, I would BMW it. As most of my readers will know, BMW stands for Bus Metro Walk.

Walking was dicey as it was a bit icey, but manageable.

The Metro part went okay.

It was the Bus part that gave me trouble.

When I left the Metro at Plamandon station, there was longish line for the 161 bus, situation normal. Except, the bus didn't come, didn't come. Not only that, but there were no buses going in the other direction as well. After about 15 minutes and few unsuccessful attempts to get a cab, I decided to walk it. 35 minutes of slippery walking later I saw my first bus, going the other way, on a different route right in front of the Library. As my walk had followed the route of the 161, I had witnessed 50 minutes of 161 non-activity in both directions at rush hour.

Dear STM, if service is interrupted on a major bus route, would it be too much to ask for you actually try to inform people at major points?

Monday, 15 November 2010

On Australia becoming a little more real

About a week ago, my co-workers and I approved a new collective agreement that had been in the works for about three years. The start date, if you can believe it, of the contract is officially, July 1st 2006! The end date will be the 31st of December 2012. This means it is already more than half over and it is yet to be signed! The signing will take place in about 2 or 3 months meaning early in the new year, I should be looking a nice chunk of retroactive salary rises that may well be enough for a flight to Oz by themselves! All this to say that the trip seems that much more likely.

In addition, after some reading, about the exact definition of the Indian Ocean, I can add a new possible route to the mix. It seems that the seas West of Tasmania is considered the Indian Ocean. Therefore, by the "red desert" and Indian Ocean criteria, a Broken Hill to Melbourne run, via, say, Portland, would fit.

Reading recent entries in Margo and Chris' blog, I wonder what Margo's reaction would be to all of the very venomous snakes to be found in Australia, none of which have the rattlesnake's courtesy to warn people off! ;-)

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

On a possible narrowing down of places to bike in Oz

I finished reading Bill Bryson's A sunburned country on the weekend. From it, I drew a few ideas about where I might choose to go on my proposed trip Down Under. Not so much specific ideas as broad things that I would like to say I have seen.

One very broad thing, namely the Indian Ocean. The nearest I have been to said ocean is New Zealand. And the only oceanic swimming I did there was on the East Coast! That is to say, the far side of New Zealand from the Indian Ocean!

Another broad thing I would like to see on my trip would be what Bryson described as the red-baked desert clichéd image of Australia. Actually, this is a thing that has attracted me from the start.

In broad terms, to combine these two purposes I have two options as I see it. Option one is Alice Springs to Darwin. Option two would be to work out some sort of loop around Perth. Margo has pointed me at a bike touring website that proposes such as a loop.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

On biking to work in cold weather and my fitness level

Biking in cold weather
Late fall weather has been around for a couple of weeks. One of my co-workers asked me if it was tough biking to work through the cold. My response was "No, but I get ice-cream headaches" to which she added "Without the benefit of having eaten ice-cream!" I got a good chuckle out of that. I started using my polar fleece balaclava given to me by my sister many years ago. Thank you, Alice.

On my fitness level
Generally, I don't see myself as being particularly fit. I am not unfit, but on the other hand, I have a bit of a paunch and all.

However, yesterday I suddenly realised that I am fairly fit, if not rather fit. A somewhat rotund acquaintance of mine goes to the same gym as me. Our schedules are different and I only see her as she is leaving on Mondays as I arrive. The last couple of times, she has made comments to the effect that she is utterly tired after her session with her trainer (roughly an hour). Today, I had the thought, "Hey, you know, when I leave, I am tired but not wiped." From this, I conclude that either I am not putting enough effort into lifting weights, or I am actually pretty darn fit, all things considered. I prefer the second opinion.

Monday, 1 November 2010

On a very good improvement on my daily commute

I will start this entry with a message I sent to the City of Montreal this evening.

Revenant du travail cette après-midi (Nov. 1) j'ai eu la bonne surprise de voir que on a prolongé la piste cyclable de Grand Boulevard jusqu'à la rue deMaisonneuve. Ça fait des années que je pensais que ça serait une bonne idée de faire cela. Mes félicitations à qui le droit!

In English: "Coming home from work this afternoon (Nov. 1), I had the pleasant surprise to see that the Grand Boulevard Bike path has been extended to de Maisonneuve. For years, I have been thinking that it would be a good idea to do that. My thanks to whom it may concern!"

What I didn't say is that the new development means that I can now do legally what I had been doing illegally for a number of years. That is to say, ride against traffic for one, short block on Grand Boulevard in order to cross Sherbrooke Street at a light. In my defence, I always admitted to myself that what I was doing was illegal, and that if challenged I would offer no pretense of innocence, only the explanation that doing so was the safest of a number of poor options.

For the price of some paint and the time it took to paint it, the City of Montreal has thoroughly justified my faith in my ability to determine the best route on a bike. I don't often say it, but here's to the City of Montreal!