29 April 2010

Wind and inflatable sharks

School was out so after a 3 to 1 vote and some bribery involving sweets we headed for the beach. (Superman was on the TV and he is much in favour with my 9 year old at the moment.) The objective was to see if the sea was warm enough to swim. The sun has been back with vengence this week so the odds were looking good from our front garden viewpoint. Chains were lubed, paniers stuffed with swiming gear, including 2 inflatable sharks, beach blanket, spades, buckets picnic etc... Tires were pumped up and we wheeled out into the sunshine.

A nice cooling breeze picked up.

We managed a long picnic break in a park. A coffee & loo break in a village café. The closer we got to the coast however the stronger the headwind got.

When we finally mounted the dune at the end of the cycle path and hit the sand the kids hid behind the bikes or lay flat to avoid being sand blasted to the bone by the lashing wind. I made the executive decision to head back inland towards the windfree park straight away and the inflatable sharks never even made it to the water. Oh well you can't win every time.

What was good was that someone has been busy building links on the cyclepath system so we had chanced a new left turn at one point and hooked up to a new car free path to this new beach a few miles up from where we normally go. There is now the possiblity of cycling to the beach 99% car free which is pretty fantastic. After doing 40 km, half of which was against a headwind in the sun with a fully loaded Yuba Mundo I am frazzled but feeling good. I was surprised by the drop in noise and better gear shifting I noticed after oiling my chain before this ride. Oops must do that more often, but the Yuba Mundo, although being the bike I use the most is also the bike I touch the less mechanically. Almost never infact, apart from pumping up the tires once a week. The moving parts although simple and not particularly lust-worthy are proving to be pretty tough.

11 April 2010

Yuba Mundo brakes

I was thinking about my weeks riding this morning over my toast and coffee, and one thing kept standing out - the outstanding performance of the Yuba Mundo brakes. My green V2 Yuba Mundo's brakes work very well, which is just as well. Riding loaded with two little girls zigging and zagging around me on the cycle path, at 14 km an hour, our kiddie cruise speed, I can stop almost instantly. The extra long armed V brakes (tandem ones I suspect) are really powerful. I also had a 5 year old boy randomly wobble into my path head on too and I came to a stop on a dime. At several places I found myself on steep slopes, loaded up, rolling slowly downwards, controlling perfectly and with ease with two fingers on the levers. I have not touched my set up in about a thousand miles too....
I have put in an order for a V3 frame which I will be building up for my wife (Ok, for me too) with lighter parts, and I will be putting Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes on it. It will be interesting to see who can stop faster. Another positive point I discovered yesterday was when I was being pushed off the cyclepath at a low speed by a car (who shouldn't be there) and jammed the front wheel in a hole by the side of the path, you don't go over the handlebars. The big ballon tires absorb the shock, the rest of the bike is tough enough and heavy at the back enough to stay put. Always a bonus !

10 April 2010

GM foods and Yuba Mundo in the sun

Our opinions concur... but who cares.

We went down on the Yuba Mundo to the farmer's market like every Saturday morning and ran into a Greenpeace stand asking for signatures against GM foods. Unlike the majority of the rest of the western world, 85% of the population here has remained deaf to the agro-industry's arguments and the attempts by the government and the media to promote this stuff. Call it self-interest, cultural difference, a respect for nature and people's freedom, whatever you want, GM foods just don't wash here. I listened again to the pros and cons today and reinforced my view that GM foods are a very very bad thing... The thing is though, that my opinion (are those still allowed in the face of big money ?) and the opinion of the other 52 million people here who think the same, is clearly of no importance. Despite widespread active public opposition, GM foods are now omnipresent, are on the shelves and there is no way of knowing what is GM and what is not GM. I have a tendancy to vote with my Eurodollar, and I believe in the power of choice and the free market when the state caves in to business, but how to tell now ? I was informed by Greenpeace (they were giving out samples of GM free French cheeses that my kids ate faster than they could serve) that my favourite AOC Camembert now contains GM products. Great, I would rather eat my socks now (same smell), but what do I know anyway... Obviously I should just bow down to corporate interests and munch on this stuff... and forget what it might do to my health, the environment and poor farmers across the world. If you think GM foods are a good thing, perhaps you should investigate deeper. I did and didn't like what I found...

GM Camembert free we head for the beach.

We managed to have a great time by the sea playing in the sand and summer is getting closer. I have cycled a total of 132 kms (82 miles) this week, have only eaten GM free cheese. Feeling good !

Wow two "Green" blog posts in reaction to events in my neighbourhood in the space of a week...

5 April 2010

Green fun down town

Electric /diesel bus & pedal taxis

From a municipality usually not too concerned with the greener side of things came an amazing ecology fest this Easter weekend. We didn't even see all of it, there were stands all over the historical centre. We wandered into town to do some shoping on Saturday to find this mini revolution going on. I wonder if it had anything to do with the "Europe Ecologie" Party surge in the recent nationwide polls, or are the times achanging ? Mind blowing in such a usually conservative town...

Somebody brave at townhall had got their chequebook out !

We saw quite a few confused citizens, sadly alot of people are openley anti-ecology here (like much of Europe 15-20% of the vote is fascist) and will not have liked/understood this... Perhaps minds are evolving and people are realising/seeing that climate change will/is effecting them too, and not just poor people on the other side of the planet ?
A guy from town hall was doing his best with a megaphone to get people intrested and even gave away three new bikes at one point in a free prize draw. (We didn't win... my wife said just as well, with all the bikes we have...) And for once we did not look out of place !

There was a great Dutch guy Marc who has set up a courier business with an alloy box bike that comes in at 22 kg (48 pounds) he said, I wish him the best of luck. The kids climbed on bord and compared it to the Yuba. A very flash bike, capable, comfortable, really high end, and a thing of beauty in itself. Perfect for his activity... but his mouth did drop open when I told him the price of the Yuba...


There were also 2 electric assisted trike bubble taxi bikes subsidized by a local bank that puts its name on the trikes and supplies free rides around town to shoppers. As far as I can see this is a new form of advertising (for "green" bank loans ?!?) and a fun idea. The guy said they come in at 150 kg ! (330 pounds)

The kids went for a free ride and got some free sweets too !

Bye bye kiddies !

Old faithful !

Fun outing, a refreshing breath of air and quite a surprise. If it can happen here it can happen anywhere ! The kids also had fun on a free pedal car stand too, not easy to tear them away...

The pedal powered ecology theme continues !

The theme of the stand was recycling. There was a race where you had to grab some recyclable packaging (plastic bottle etc) put it in the little straw basket on the side of your pedal car, rush down the track as fast as your little ecowarrior legs can pedal and slam dunk the trash into a recycling bin. Great idea. Obligatory household recycling with truck pickup has not yet made it to our neighbourhood. Although we do haul as a family all our recyclables by Yuba to volontary collection points each week, I think we are a minority example here.

I hope this isn't another one day wonder aimed at pacifying unhappy voters with no follow through, but rather truely a sign that people in power are waking up to green issues.

We will see...

More pics of the day here http://www.bicicolis.com/actualites.html - on Marc's new boxbike courier website.