Saturday, 30 April 2011

On a certain royal wedding gift

I didn't watch the Royal Wedding. It was far too early and anyway, there is far too much hype surrounding it. The extremes people have gone to are almost beyond belief. According to the Montreal Gazette, you can buy "Crown Jewels condoms of distinction William and Catherine Royal wedding souvenir".

Closer to home and more in keeping with the theme of this blog, the Bixi company and the mayor of London have given a special tandem Bixi to the royal couple as a wedding present. This is a bit of really shameless self-promotion as I doubt the couple will be able to get much use out of it, though maybe they will tool around Windsor Park or something other large Royal Estate.

I also wonder if there was any consideration given to Prince William's height. He is 6'3", more than an inch taller than me. When I tried a Bixi, I found the tallest seat height too short for comfort. Did Devinci think about this or did they apply the "one-size-fits-most" philosophy of the standard Bixis?

Friday, 29 April 2011

On how I shall upgrade my pannier bags

The MEC has come out with a new version of the Cordura bike panniers I and many others have been using for years. I am not wild about the new colour schemes they offer: they are rather bland in my opinion. (Unfortuantely, this is my opinion about many MEC products of late: the colour palate is much too subdued for my taste.) The new features that did intrigue me were that they now come with a better handle (for hauling the bags into your room) and, best of all, plastic attachment points for attaching a shoulder strap.

I have been using my panniers in a similar fashion, only using some of the webbing loops to attach a shoulder strap I took from another MEC product. This wasn't an optimal arrangement, but it did the trick. Now that I have seen the new panniers, I think I will get some suitable bits of hardware and sew them onto one of my rear panniers. Come to think of it, I have some old bag bits that could be adapted to give the bags a better carrying handle.

Of course, now I have to decide which pannier bag gets the upgrade: left one with a Canadian flag or the right one which is the more accessible as I usually leave the right (chain) side exposed!

Friday, 22 April 2011

On the new niece, the nephew and bike trip dates, update

On the new niece
Mummy is now in Gander giving Anna her first visit from a relative, and doubtlessly giving much desired motherly advice on mothering to Alice. I met Mummy at the bus station and we went to Chinatown for lunch at the No.1 Cristal Restaurant, a quick and tasty Vietnamese place I quite like. I gave Mummy bagels and Chinese barbecue pork buns for Alice and Mark, a onesie for Anna and a DVD of the King's Speech for Mummy for her birthday, which was yesterday. After lunch, Mummy caught the 747 bus to the airport.

On the nephew
At long last, Margaret has posted a new batch of photos on Picasa. See them here.

On bike trip dates
I received confirmation from my superior for my vacation dates. Newfoundland will be the second and third weeks of August. I have worked out a very tentative, and approximative breakdown of roughly where we are likely to get to on any particular day. There is ample room for change as there is about 3 days unused (not including rest days) at the end assuming I am on the Rock for the absolutely longest possible period of time. I don't see this as a problem, just an indication that Margo, Chris and I will have time to spare. I had known that the trip was a relaxed two weeks. Now, I know just how relaxed it will be.

The Oz trip will be starting the third week of October. I started looking more carefully at how I would get to either of my proposed starting points (Kalgoorlie and Broken Hill). Unfortunately, while both are rail accessible, their rail services both have frustrating prohibitions on them. Kalgoorlie has wonderful high-speed rail service from Perth, only bikes aren't allowed on board as apparently the high-speed train doesn't have a baggage car. Broken Hill has three trains a week from Sydney. Two are Indian-Pacific services which arrive in Broken Hill early on Thursday and Sunday morning (too late and far to early). The other is the Outback Explorer which leaves Sydney early Monday morning, i.e. just before I would arrive in Sydney, assuming I leave Montreal on Saturday. Of course, I could theoretically leave Friday, get to Sydney on Sunday, and get on the train on Monday, though that might be pushing it. Then again, I could just fly into Broken Hill or Kalgoorlie, but that almost seems like cheating.

Plenty o' time to think about it.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

On a fascinating choice about how to get to Australia

I was poking around the Internet last night, looking at various options for getting to and around Australia. Expedia showed an interesting price on a ticket from Montreal to Sydney via Air Canada so I went to the Air Canada website to get more details. As expected, there was no direct flights from Montreal to Sydney (quelle surprise). However, there was only one change of plane required. I poked a little further before I was taken aback during the flight selection process as there seemed to be a glitch with the second of two flights needed to get to Oz. Even though the flight number was the same (33), some of my options said it had no stops, but others said it had 1 stop. It took me a few minutes to figure out why: Air Canada flight 33 leaves from Toronto, lands in Vancouver where it takes on more fuel and passengers before making the trans-Pac hop to Oz. The Air Canada website was giving me the option of joining the flight in Toronto or in Vancouver and I hadn't noticed the difference in transfer points or times! ;-)

Having had the time to think about it, I think that given the price is the same, I would opt to change planes in Vancouver for a number of reasons. The best reason is that with an artful selection of flights, I could probably score enough to time to briefly see Margo, Chris and/or other West Coast relatives. Another reason would be to limit the amount of time spent in the same fricking aircraft. Flight times are liable to be more or less the same, but the amount of time spent in the trans-Pac hopper will be the less. I believe I have mentioned in past posts that I am not a happy flier for all my knowledge about and enthusiasm for aviation. This contradiction perplexes me, but I am much happier for knowing about it. Now that I think about it, an hour or two with relatives in Vancouver would probably be a very welcome release of stress. Yet another reason to select Vancouver as a transfer point.

This is, however, a hypothetical exercise at this point. I have yet to have my vacation choice approved, let alone decided where in Australia I will be biking. For all I know, the Air Canada fares to Sydney will skyrocket by the time I decide and I will end up flying with Quantas out of Los Angeles or San Francisco. I must also confess, I had kind of pictured myself flying in one of Quantas' Airbus 380 super-jumbos rather than an Air Canada Boeing 777. Come to think of it, 4 engines are more comforting on a trans-Pac flight than 2!

Thursday, 14 April 2011

On a new niece

There was a message on my answering machine when I got home this evening. My only sister has just had a baby girl! No name as yet. My sister is reportedly exhausted (with good reason). Details will follow at some point!!!! Congratulations, Alice and Mark!!!!

15/4/2011
Update from Granny: 7 lbs 3 1/2 oz, probably Anna.

late on 15/4/2011
Update from Alice: Anna Gabrielle Walton.

16/4/2011
Alice phoned me and I got to hear "AW"! (as in Anna Walton and as in "Aw, how sweet!" :-) ) . I had wanted to speak to Alice, but was afraid of disturbing them. Everyone seems to be fine.

18/4/2011
Photos here.

20/4/2011
Photos and a video here. Yes, some are the same as I posted.

Monday, 11 April 2011

On another sympton of being a devout cyclist

A while ago I started a list on this blog along the lines of "You know you are a devout cyclist when..." or something like it.

So anyway, as pretty much every one of my readers knows, Canada is in the midst of a federal election. My major reaction, aside from a resigned shudder of disgust at having to vote against a party rather than for a party, has been one of "Hmm, come May 3rd, I could easily score some primo free corroplast for reinforcing bike boxes, by taking down and, err, recycling some of the election posters!"

And people call me a cynic.