Friday, November 10, 2006

Weather Madness!

Have you ever had a day when, when you get out on the road, it's like everything is trying to kill you? I had one of those days on my way to the Cape Breton Island Film Series last night...

It was raining heavily and the wind was incredibly high: SSE 45 km/h, gusting to 71. Fortunately, that was mostly behind me biking back into town from work so it was, for the most part, a tailwind. However, the slight wind out of the east created a bit of a crosswind from time to time, so some of the gusts would push me around a bit. However, with the roads reasonably clear, it didn't seem dangerous, and it wasn't... at least until I hit downtown...

Upon turning east from the Esplanade onto Townsend, between there and Empire Studio 10, I had three incidents in rapid succession:

1. As I approached the intersection of Bentick and Townsend streets, a car started to enter the intersection. If I hadn't blasted my Air Zound, he would have cut right in front of me and I would have went over the hood. I had the right of way and I have a very bright light on my helmet. There's no way he didn't see me, even in the rain. He apparently just didn't realize how fast a bicycle can go...
2. At the intersection of Johnstone and Prince streets, a pedestrian was crossing in the crosswalk. Well, maybe he was a Ninja. Certainly seemed like it, dressed completely in black as he was. I didn't see him until I was less than three seconds away and, given the way none of the traffic was even slowing down for him, I don't think anyone else saw him, either. I came literally within centimeters of hitting this "invisible man." Good thing I pay close attention to my line of travel...
3. About 150 meters further, at the concrete divider next to Sobeys, I encountered a shopping cart in my lane. Apparently, it had been blown out of the Sobeys parking lot and into the street. There was no time to stop. I was in the left lane preparing for the turn into Prince Street Plaza and there was traffic in the right lane. All I could do was move over in the lane a bit. Fortunately, this was enough. I hit it, but at an angle so I just deflected it away instead of going over the bars.

I was never so glad to get off the road as I was then.

Wind and weather last night were nuts. :(

Friday, October 27, 2006

Road Rage Incident

Today, I had an encounter with a road rager on Kings Road on my way home. Here's what happened:

I got passed by a junky old car less than four centimeters from my handlebars. I blasted him with my Air Zound and he didn't even so much as look back. I was going to let it go, but then I saw him turn right into some narrow side streets. I knew I could catch him there, so I signaled and followed him in. I was carrying copies of Crazy Biker Chick's Things a non-cyclist might not understand. I hand that out to drivers in situations like this. It also includes my contact information on the last page in case the receiver has any questions about it.

Anyway, I pulled up alongside and called to him. He ignored me and pulled away. About a block further, he got caught in a lineup at a stop sign. He glanced back and saw me approaching. He opened his door and called back: "Get away from my car, bye!" I called back that I just wanted to give him one of my fliers and held it up for him to see. He just repeated, "Get away from my car!" and slammed his door. Bear in mind, at this point, I was simply behind him in the normal flow of traffic.

Since he couldn't go anywhere, I seized the opportunity to pull up alongside him and knock on his window. I held up the flier again. He ignored me. I knocked again. I couldn't make out exactly what he was saying, but it was pretty clear he didn't intend to roll down the window. So I rolled forward a meter and lifted his windshield wiper to put the flier underneath. He opened the door, jumped out and said: "Get away from my car or I'll knock your f*BEEP*ing head off!"

Well, this guy was pretty old and fat, so I figured, even if he did attack me, it would be him, not me, that would catch the worst of it, so I wasn't particularly intimidated. So, I just calmly proceeded to put the flier under his wiper and pedaled away. I figured, in the mood he was in, there wasn't much I could have said to him, anyway. I just hoped that he'd go home, read my flier and maybe give me a call to talk when he'd regained some sense.

I didn't look back to see what he did with the flier. Most likely, he just threw it away. Still, I'm almost hoping he does call. I'd be interested to hear what was going through his mind during our encounter...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Reconnecting with Old Friends

Lately, I've been trying really hard to reconnect with my past. After my grandmother passed away, I just started feeling a need to go back and remember happier times when I lived with her and my uncle out in Coxheath. This is one of the reasons I decided to look up my old friend Evan Perry. "Ev" was one of the best friends I ever had back then, but we kind of drifted apart. We'd touch base once in a while but we pretty much went our separate ways when I moved from Coxheath into Sydney in the summer of 1999.

Recently, he mentioned that he had been at my grandmother's funeral. I was genuinely moved to find out that he had been there. I didn't know. I was so out of it that day, the whole day barely even felt real. Recalling it now, it almost feels like a dream (if only it was :(). The only people I was fully aware of were my uncle, my sister, and my mother. My uncle had asked me to keep my composure and not start crying and it took every ounce of my concentration and effort to honor his request. So, I really didn't know who was there aside from my immediate family.

I felt bad that I missed seeing Ev because I was genuinely moved when I found out he was there at what was the lowest point of my life so far. It made me think that maybe I've been neglecting my friends, and not just Ev. I hardly ever talked to Robert Martell, either, and he's been my closest and most loyal friend since high school. My excuse had always been "I can't afford the long distance," but the truth is I could have found a better long distance deal if I wanted to. It was nothing more than apathy. I have no excuse.

So, ever since my grandmother's passing, I've been making a point to reconnect with these old friends. Exploring my feelings, I've discovered they're all still as important to me as they've always been, and everything that's happened has made me realize that they might not always be there. I can't keep saying "I'll get in touch with them tomorrow." If you wait too long, you eventually run out of tomorrows...

I'm sorry, guys. It's time I made it up to you.

As soon as Eastlink's telephone service became available here, I switched to them immediately. Their long distance deal is impressive, and I've been using it to call Rob weekly. Rob is also coming to Sydney for a visit this coming week. I have two vacation days Thursday and Friday of this week I originally took to attend the Cape Breton Island Film Series 100th film celebration. Now I'm thinking those vacation days might better be spent with friends.

At the same time, I'm also looking up Ev again. Fortunately, although I couldn't find his phone number, I did still have his E-mail address. When we finally touched base, I got a pleasant surprise: Ev's a dad! I knew he had a girlfriend, but I had no idea she was pregnant!

Ev's son, Joseph Evan Perry, was born October 11, 2006 at 5:43am:

He weighed in at 9 pounds, 1 ounce at birth. :)

Here's the proud father holding his new son:

As I haven't been in touch with Ev for so long, I've never actually met his girlfriend Lyndsey. I have to assume this is her:

She certainly has a beautiful smile. I look forward to meeting her. :)

I guess I missed out on a lot of Ev's life, and Rob's for that matter. I should have stood with Rob on his wedding day, but I wasn't able to get to Bedford for the day. I just couldn't afford it (Rob has since moved and lives in Sackville now). I still feel bad about that to this day. Now, I almost missed out on what was undoubtedly one of the happiest days of Evan's life, too. I guess it was just fate that I got back in touch with him in time to see this little miracle happen.

Enough feeling sorry for myself. Enough apathy. I still have some good friends. It's time to reconnect with them while we still have plenty of good years left.

Time to make up for lost time.

Rob, I'm looking forward to seeing you when you come down this week. Oh, and happy birthday, buddy! ;)

Congratulations, Ev. He's beautiful.

With luck, maybe we can all get together some time this week?

See you guys soon.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Goodbye, Sweet Fuzzy Girl :(

Please click the above title and read Riin's farewell to her beautiful angora bunny Frida. :(

I've been feeling profoundly sad since I found out yesterday. I'd always hoped I'd have a chance to meet Frida some day when Riin moves here. Now I never will.

Riin says she's going to make me something from Frida's fur (she still has two pounds of it). I'm hoping she'll knit me a little bunny I can display somewhere, in Frida's memory.

Sorry I didn't get to meeet you, sweet fuzzy girl. Riin used to talk about you all the time. I felt like I knew you.

I think I'll miss you almost as much as she does. :(

Extreme Pita No More

Crap. :(

I've been going to The Extreme Pita for lunch every day for the past year. I just found out yesterday that The Extreme Pita closest to my work is closing as of the end of this week.

Looks like it's back to Subway come Monday... :/

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Woman bicyclist critically hurt in collision with van

Click this entry's title for the full article.

I almost had this happen to me once not too long ago. Some drivers do have an unfortunate tendency to underestimate how fast a bicycle can go...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Adventures of Crazy Biker Chick

The above article on blogger (click on the title to read it), posted to Chainguard yesterday, is probably the best article I've ever seen on the problems faced by cyclists interacting with motorists on the road.

I'm going to get this printed out so I can have a few copies on me to hand out to motorists, as appropriate. ;)

Check it out!

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Back Seat Cyclists

We've all heard of the "back seat driver." You know. The annoying passenger who makes no bones about telling you exactly what you're doing wrong when you're driving and insists on tell you how they would do it if they were driving. Well, when I decided to start biking instead of driving, I was convinced I'd never have to deal with that foolishness.

Boy, was I wrong.

I have discovered a phenomenon which I like to call the "Back Seat Cyclist." Unlike his "driver" counterpart, of course, he can't sit behind you the whole time and chastise your riding technique, but he can yell out to you from his car window, stop on the road next to you to offer his pearls of wisdom or, worst of all, if he's a co-worker or someone in the neighborhood, he can stop you on the street or in the hall and lecture you about what you're allowed and not allowed to do on the road.

What bugs me about these "back seat cyclists" is that, invariably, they're virtually always drivers who haven't ridden a bike in at least a decade, and even then have never ridden one in traffic. The last time they were on a bicycle was tooling through their neighborhoods like maniacs as kids.

So who the hell are these guys to tell me how to ride a bicycle in traffic?

When I got into work on Friday, one of my supervisors at work said that she heard I'd committed some kind of traffic violation on my bike. When I asked her what she was talking about, she directed me to one of my co-workers nearby who said he saw me signal a right turn by extending my right arm. He said that that wasn't the "proper signal." That the proper signal for a right hand turn was hand up, elbow bent. He also said that I ride too far out into the lane, that I'm supposed to stay to the far right at all times.

First of all, the right hand signal he describes is, in fact, a legitimate signal for right hand turn. However, cyclists in Nova Scotia have the option, if they wish, to simply extend their right arm out the same as they would extend their left arm for a left hand turn. Even the Nova Scotia Bicycle Safety pamphlet gives the extended right arm as a legitimate "Alternate Right Turn Signal" under the law. Yet, he insisted that my way of signaling was illegal.

His defense was that, according to The Nova Scotia Driver's Handbook, a cyclist must use that signal. Well, after doing a little research, I found out that this is, in fact, what it says. However, that's out of date. The Nova Scotia Bicycle Safety pamphlet was created as an insert for the Driver's Handbook to update that and it's since become a permanent part of current editions of the handbook. Yes, there was a time when the extended right arm wasn't recognized as a legitimate right turn signal for cyclists, but it is now.

Personally, I prefer the extended right turn signal for two reasons:
  1. A lot of drivers don't tend to recognize the old signal. They just think I'm waving at them.
  2. Using my right arm allows me to keep my left hand on my handlebars, and since most of my stopping power comes from my front brake, which is operated by the left lever, I prefer not to take that hand off the bars when I can avoid it.

So yes, buddy, it is legal and I have perfectly legitimate reasons for choosing it over the other signal.

As to his other objection, yes the Nova Scotia Driver's Handbook did have a reference about cyclists staying far to the right. Again, however, the Nova Scotia Bicycle Safety pamphlet updated that as well.

Here's a direct quote, taken from the pamphlet:
Make Room For Cyclists - Bicyclists need to ride at least 1 metre away from parked cars to avoid being hit if a door suddenly opens. Bicyclists also need to avoid potholes and debris, and to pass double-parked cars. Bicyclists may occupy as much of a traffic lane as their safety warrants.

On Kings Road, the road on which this guy saw me, the travel lanes are only about 3.5 meters wide. That's just barely enough to accommodate a motor coach or a tractor trailer rig. Simply, those lanes are too narrow for a cyclist and motorist to share safely. Therefore, for my safety, I must occupy the entire lane. To do otherwise is to encourage drivers behind me to share my lane, and there isn't enough room to do so.

Once again, I have the legal right to ride further out into the lane, and I do it so I don't get squeezed off the road.

Once, when I was making a left turn into Blockbuster on Prince Street, I was in the left turn lane and some guy pulled up beside me and said: "Somebody should tell you you're not driving a car." No, somebody should tell you that, as far as the law is concerned, I am considered a "driver." Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act, Section 85 (1):
Every person riding a bicycle or animal upon a highway and every person driving any animal shall be subject to the provisions of this Act applicable to a driver of a vehicle . . .

Obviously, he was in the wrong, but even if he hadn't been, I don't even get why the guy bothered to bug me. He wasn't even in my lane. I wasn't in his way at all. What was his problem, anyway?!

OK. In fairness, I must admit that I, too, have been a "back seat cyclist." I've been known to get after cyclists, particularly those who commit blatant infractions like riding on the sidewalk (which is strictly illegal under Section 171 (2) of the Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act). However, I am an experienced cyclist. I know what I'm talking about. I've studied the law regarding cycling.

If these guys who tell me how to ride actually rode bicycles themselves, or at least knew the law they were talking about, it wouldn't bother me so much. What irritates me is that these guys just talk out of their asses as if they know everything when they really have no clue whatsoever.

So. If you're going to try to educate someone on what the law says, more power to you. Just make you know what the law actually says first.

That's all I ask.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Rage Against the Chains

Have you ever had a night when you just can't sleep because you have too much stuff going on in your head?

Yup. This is one of those nights.

You know, I'm not even sure, after all this time, if I even still have an audience for this thing, or if I ever had one in the first place. Obviously, I have posted precious little here. At first, I thought maybe it was because I simply didn't have anything to say. Well, maybe that's part of it. I'm a fairly private person. Most of the stuff I really need to say I share only with my loved ones.

Still, there was a time when I had plenty to say about a lot of different subjects. I used to rant about a wide variety of things. Ethical issues. Moral issues. Cyclists' issues. Computers. Films. Writing. There used to be a veritable plethora of things I used to like to talk about in public forums, but lately I just haven't felt like saying much. I'm not sure why. I know I've been depressed, but I've been depressed before and I haven't neglected my online activities, at least not for this long.

It's not just this blog I've been neglecting, either. Check out my E-mail:

As you can see, the first message has been sitting in my inbox since June 4th. I just couldn't be bothered with writing replies lately. Except for announcements of what movies I'm going to on the weekend and the occasional private E-mail, I have hardly touched my E-mail since June. Heck, before I weeded through the messages recently to eliminate anything I didn't want to reply to, there was well in excess of 700 messages in there. Lately, I just haven't felt much like being on the computer. I guess I've had too much on my mind.

Tonight, I found myself tossing and turning in bed, mind racing with a cacophony of worries and frustrations. Anyone who knows me knows I worry about the people I love in my life, and I worry often. Lately, I've been frustrated by the fact that there are now several people in my life, all of whom I love and all of whom have problems that I cannot help with. I hate that feeling, when I know someone I love is in pain and there's nothing I can do about it. I just makes me feel so helpless, like I'm chained down.

That's when an image started to come to me. Me chained against the wall, watching person after person I love getting hurt and not being able to do anything about it.

Whenever I get an image like that in my mind, I know a poem is coming on. So I dashed out to the computer, fired up AppleWorks, and wrote down the first words that came to me: "Rage Against the Chains." That became my title. From there, I just focused on the images in my mind and the feelings in my heart, pounding them into they keyboard until I came up with this:

That pretty much encapsulates the feeling that's been keeping me up tonight.

Now that I've got that out, maybe I can finally get some sleep. A few hours at least.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Yes, trust me, I am going to do more posting in here. When?

Well... at least not until these doughnuts I just ate settle... oy... :P

Monday, August 07, 2006

Still Here

I don't know if anyone has even seen this blog yet (aside from Riin). However, in case I have people waiting for something to happen here, just letting you know I haven't forgotten about this thing. I've just been busy getting ready for Riin's visit at the end of this month. ;)

Stay tuned! I'll find something to say sooner or later... ;)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

My First Blog

I must admit, until recently, I've never seen much point in having a blog. Even now as I create it, I have to wonder what exactly I'm going to do with this thing. I don't like to splash a lot of the personal details of my life all over the web so, at first, I really didn't see any point to one of these.

However, I have noticed that every morning when I pick up the paper, there's almost always an article there that somehow irritates me. Most recently, it's been all the bull that's been slung around here lately over the issue of Sunday shopping. Past issues that have irritated me have included the condition of the roads around here and same sex marriage. Now, sometimes I write letters to the editor to the paper, but by and large most of the thoughts I have on issues end up going unexpressed because, if I said everything I wanted to say, I'd be publishing a letter to the editor several times a month.

Occasionally, particularly when out cycling, I get irritated by personal experiences as well. Drivers who aren't watching for me cutting me off, or idiots who yell at me to get off the road or tell me that "I don't have to go around bicycles." Yes, some driver actually said those exact words to me. Well, what are you supposed to do? Run the cyclist over?! Then, of course, there's all the damage my bike has sustained on the disgraceful road surfaces around here.

Since the recent death of my grandmother Frances Archibald (who raised me from childhood so, to me, it's more like losing a mother than a grandmother), my emotions have been on raw edge. Things that just mildly annoyed me before are just sticking right in my craw now. I've been trying to find a way to let this pressure off without driving my loved ones nuts. Lately, those closest to me have absorbed a considerable amount of frustration, anger, grief and just plain confusion from me because of everything I've been going through.

So, I think that's what I'm ultimately going to use this blog for in the early going. Not so much talk about my personal life, which I prefer to keep private, but to sound off on all the stupid stuff that POs me about the society in which we live. From what I've seen lately, that should provide plenty of material to work with. Plus, I may talk from time to time about my personal belief system which, over the years, has evolved into something almost entirely unlike the belief system of anyone else I know.

Of course, I also have GOOD experiences. Nice stories of heroism or generosity in the paper or a driver on the road that went out of his or her way to treat me with respect cycling on the road. In situations like that, I often wish I could go and find the person responsible so can thank them for how good they made me feel. Most of the time when stuff like that happens, I never see the person again. Still, I can at least talk about it in here. Who knows? Maybe the person I'm talking about might even see it some day. ;)

Anyway, I don't know where this is going to go... but keep checking back and we'll see where the blogging journey takes us.

Welcome to The Pedaling Prince's Web Blog!