Tuesday, 26 August 2014

If you want it, here it is... come and get it!

Everyone just wants to be happy, right?  Too bad life doesn't come with a manual, a set of instructions to help you get there. People do all sorts of interesting things in search of happiness. We spent an evening at Playland and the Pacific National Exhibition earlier this week, and I was struck by the throw-away nature of it all. Sure it has a rickety, old-school wooden roller coaster, (and matching rickety old-school bands like Trooper) but everything else about this venue is fleeting by nature.

It's not just that the entire place is designed to part you with your money, that every single item inside those walls costs three times what it would on the outside.  You see people walking out of there with all sorts of things, from stuffies to useless plastic blow-up toys and even various household goods, but everything that leaves the gates is destined for the landfills sooner than later, and that really bugs me.  When did people buy in to that bullshit maxim that more is better?  When did disposable everything  become okay?

Even the fun at playland is fleeting and fleeing.  It's loaded with hidden inflation, just like everything outside the gates. Sure, the seat still costs four tickets, but the ride is only half as long as it used to be... 

Subliminal indoctrination - laugh while you can, little one.  You're tethered. You will soon be spinning around on the socio-economic merry-go-round, too, chained to the banks and your interest payments along with the rest of us.
That was Friday night.  The rest of the weekend was its polar opposite in essence, blessed be.  We joined the Vancouver Wheelmen twice!  The Wheelmen are wonderful.  They have a mission: to make people realise that newer isn't always better. OMG how cool is THAT?

Saturday was August's monthly vintage ride.  We took full advantage of the sunshine and cruised around the seawall, starting at the Angry Birds in Olympic Village.

It's always worth your while to see who's come out to play when the Wheelmen roll through town. 

The bikes are poetry in motion.

Best of all?  A Vancruiser ride is always a lot of fun. Life should be fun, don't you think?  It's a bit awkward as a cyclist sometimes, because everybody hates us.  Motorists don't want us on the roads because we slow their mad dash from the queue at one red light to the one at the next, and pedestrians are scared silly of us, even though it's motorists, not cyclists, who are killing them by the thousands. 

I don't understand how so very many people can be so incredibly short sighted, but it always makes me feel better to discover that I am not alone. Enter the Wheelmen. They ride bikes just like I do, and that means that we share a lot of common experiences, understandings, and expectations. For years, I sought a community of like-minded individuals, and finally here in Vancouver, I've found a few of them. I love it. I never feel like quite so much of an alien when people understand me in a deep and fundamental way.  

Found a few friends? Well, that's always cause to celebrate!

And Saturday itself was a day well worthy of a toast, wasn't it?  It was smiles, sunshine, and unicorns all around. Well, I didn't actually spot any unicorn, but you sure didn't have to look hard to find a few Bronies.  What's that? You don't know what a Brony is? Fair enough. It's a man who is a fan of My Little Pony. That's right. Bro's go for My Little Pony. Don't laugh. They might be dudes with pink hair, but at least they aren't chopping people's heads off on some mad, sad jihad. They understand that friendship is magic.

I always make fast friends with people who appreciate a little sweet bike porn the way I do.

The Wheelmen roll out the magic red carpet whenever we get together, and sometimes they hold quite an event.  But no matter how big it is, whether hundreds of people show up, or just a few friendly faces, they'll always let you know that you are welcome on the ride.

Mmm flying.  If I'd found Alladin's lamp, I would wish for the ability to fly, and the ability to travel through time...

Time is all we have, the one true wealth in this world.  Every moment is precious, so there is a great fortune in a life well spent. Time's universal, or so it seems from this Earthly perch; it's the one thing we share.  I wish I could roll through the ages to look for smiling, friendly faces all throughout hisory, but I've yet to find that lamp.  At least I can ride through town on a piece of living history, making new friends in the here and now. 

After all, what could be better than sharing a sunny summer's day on the beach with a whole bunch of good friends?

Making new friends through your old ones, that's what. That's what they mean when you hear people talk about a Schwinn Schwinn situation.

Keates said "Beauty is truth, truth beauty.  That's all ye know in life, and all ye need to know."  All I know is that there are an enormous number of gorgeous souls in this town, young and old, and I am unbelievably fortunate in having made the acquaintence of a fair few of them. 

Have you noticed? So many of today's youth are super switched-on?  They're quite a generation: conscious, pro-active, healthy, and aware.  

Young pepole today give me hope for humanity, though we are passing along a deeply flawed world as their inheritance. I roped those two girls there into our ride even though they were on rentals and not vintage bikes.  Why? Well, because I am a bit nosey, and a little forward, and I absolutely love it when young people understand the joys of a life of bike-centric mobility -  I hoped that the Wheelmen (and women!) would influence the girls a little. I was so fortunate to be exposed to long distance cyciling as a youth, so that despite having  my license at 14, and a car soon after that, I managed to avoid car-indoctrination. Most people get sucked in, though so that they come to bikes later in life, if ever. I love it when I see young people raised on it, and I especially enjoy watching young people come to a bike-cycling life through the process of loving discovery- that is, by discovering how much they love to live it, because it feels so good to be healthy and fit.

And that's it, isn't it?  Life is all about feeling good. The goal of all other goals is happiness.  If all we have is time, then it becomes imperative to make the most of it.  Every moment you are miserable is a moment of happiness, of Heaven on Earth, which you have missed.  People who spend their time looking for reasons to be offended will ineviaably find them, and then they are stuck feeling miserable. But emotions are so much more than that, aren't they? They are a bio-chemical reality of their very own, and a very direct form of communication, and yet when I was growing up, we were all taught to suppress them. You know it's true. Heaven forbid you should get emotional. When did emotions become synonomous with weakness, anyway?  Probably round about the same time people decided desposable everything was ok, that businesses had to be growing to be healthy, and that more was always better.  

Be careful what you wish for, supersized America! Vancouver is chock full of healthy, fit, enlightened individuals, a little bubble of beauty in the middle of a mad, mad world, and yet even here, rampant consumerism is a sickness sucking the soul out of our very source of vitality itself, planet Earth.  Even here, people cling to their cars as if their very lives depended upon them, when in fact, the opposite is true.

The very essence of a healthy lifestyle is founded upon mobility. Your body was built to move. The bicycle is just a wonderful miracle of imagination that lets you cheat. On a bicycle, you get to take a litte tiny bit of effort and translate it into a great big distance.  Vancouver has a fair few beaches, but the best ones are off the beaten path, away from the big parking lots, in places you actually have to work a little to get to. Third beach always has its fair shair of bikes.

I love it! I mean, come on. How often do you see as many bikes as there are people? It's pretty rare, even here...

But we're getting there!  I still can't believe that most people out there choose to get in a car all year long for a commute of less than five miles. Ideally, your body would like at least two hours of moderately strenuous activity a day, and a full day of activity, too. That is a far cry from how most of us live today, but why?

I love the simple things in life, like riding to my favourite beach, and spending the day with friends, old and new. Happiness is easy to find once you're on a bike.  Try it!  You might just like it.

Sunday was a whole 'nother kind of adventure, but you'll just have to come back for that.  :D


  1. In a week where ive watched my father pass on from (mostly preventable) health problems, and witnessed my grandmother moving into long term care with Alzheimer's, i have been very much in the same place as some of your points for this post. Bikes do bring happiness. My father has inspired me to take better care of himself and i have been enjoying the feel-good of the health benefits. My visit to my grandmother has solidified the urgent need to make this life count while i can. And in the midst of all this, my "therapy rides" seem to be keeping me sane and aiding me in my own emotional healing process. Thank you so much for writing in such an inspired and inspirational way.

    -A reader in car-centric Florida

    1. Oh bless... I am so sorry for your loss.
      I had a rather frank discussion with my mum the other day, because in her roundness, she never gets out and about, and it worries me to no end.
      Here's to staying vital and alive on two wheels! XX

  2. il Pirata es Mort27 August 2014 at 08:30

    A walking meditation has been known for eons and can easily be transcribed to include the bike. Occupy the conscious brain with footsteps and let the deeper organ do the heavy lifting during the distraction. Mobile prayer/mantra if you will.

    Filling every day with a noon time stroll at the job and late afternoon ride has delivered answers without asking the question.

    Stay on your path!

    1. Thank you! Yes, I love this life. For me, there is no other path...
      it is amazing how comforting, how grounding a good mantra can be.

      Om mani padme hum...

  3. Who is the photographer that follows you around everyplace? I'm picturing a gnome.

    1. OMG how did you KNOW?
      He is a good teacher, too, that gnome... I aspire to be as short and focused as he.

  4. Treehugger . com today has an article (by Lloyd Alter, himself a Canadiano) about Tim Horton's and the amount of Timmy trash found about the land.

    Schwinns! Schwing !

    I have a 1956 men's 26" Corvette 3 speed and a matching girl's 24" Corvette 3 speed. Flamboyant metallic Red BayBay ! The only color.
    I love the ballooners and demi-ballooners in the pix. Great colors too!
    The Brooklyn Velodrome Vintage Wheelmen I hang out with are vintage lightweight riders. I like (or can appreciate) a little of everything.

    I started kayaking around the marina. Totally love it. Borrowing a friend's, I can't get involved in another ob$$ession!

    Nice juicy easy on the eyes pix as always!


    1. That Tim Horton's/Burger King thing is nothing more than a tax inversion, which is just a legal way of accomplishing tax evasion!

      Oh maaaan! You would have fit right into the vintage ride! And I would have been happy to help you our with a little balast for your boat last night... too bad it's so far twixt here 'n' there.

      I love kayaking, and canoeing, too. They are very good for your core strength. Lucky you that you have such a kind and generous friend! Nobody is paddling in False Creek right now, because the e-coli levels are so dangerously high that it smells bad! You don't even want it on your hands... :S

      Thank you! My friendly photo gnome is awesome, isn't he? And the best thing is that it is starting to rub off! I took most of the photos coming up in the next post, and you can hardly tell the difference between his and mine! I might have a tiny brain, but with enough practice, I do eventually figure a thing or two out.

    2. Yes dammm corporations!!
      I am off for the next 2 weeks but I don't make enough Wall Street money to fly myself out there or fly you over here !
      It's funny I rarely ride in groups. Transportation Alternatives has a commuter party here under the Manhattan Bridge every May. It's interesting to see the normally solitary commuters make first contacts.
      Yes I can't wait to core out my core! It's in there someplace!

      Hand numbness... I think people must imagine I am waving to them or giving them some gesture when I stretch my hand under my messenger bag to get some blood going and release nerve pressure. Sometimes I let my hand ride on top of my midthigh for a few cranks and that helps the numbness go away too.

      Will get my PC back from the 'mechanic' soon so hopefully I can start posting pix again with wreckless abandon.
      Happy End of August!


  5. Is there any reason you couldn't join the wheelmen and ride with them?

    1. That's EXACTLY what we did! All weekend long...

  6. ...life can be a rickety roller coaster ride at times...

    ...sorry, that's the best I got...

    ...bwahahahaha !!!...

  7. I love seeing the older bikes still being ridden.
    I have a Kos Kruiser 26" BMX from about 1980 that I cruise around on and a few other 20" BMX's. I'm a bit old and too uncool to ride those very often though.
    Yes, pedestrians hate us even though it's the cars that kill them.