Sunday 26 April 2009

Cell Phone Retrieval Over Lions Gate

Yesterday, I went to a 50th birthday party for a dear friend (Happy Birthday, Stew) and prior to the party, went shopping at the Park Royal Mall in West Vancouver. I found, to my dismay, that I had last my cell phone in the mall - mind you, it didn't stop me from having an excellent time at the party....

When I returned home, there was a message on the answering machine saying that the phone had been found. Today, I retrieved the phone. Unfortunately, my camera is with my daughter who is on a band trip so the photos for today are from a variety of sources.

It was a perfect day - sunny, slight breeze and I had lots of time. I left Maple Ridge, went through Pitt Meadows and crossed the old Pitt River Bridge - the new one is being built so my crossings on the old swing bridge are numbered. I then went through Coquitlam, Port Moody and onto the Barnet Highway. It's always shady on the Barnet but it wasn't that chilly today. I then headed up Hastings through Burnaby into Vancouver.

I went through downtown and then approached my favourite bridge, the Lions Gate. Built by the Guinness family (yes, that Guinness family) in 1938, it is a beautiful bridge and has breath-taking views of Burrard Inlet, especially when you are sitting on a scooter. I looked around when I had the opportunity and enjoyed the fantastic view.

After picking up my cell phone at the mall I headed back over the bridge. At the Vancouver end of the bridge, I took a detour through Stanley Park, a huge treed park connected to downtown Vancouver. There is still considerable damage to the park caused by a huge windstorm in 2006. It was a slow, shady ride through green trees beside windy beaches and it was very good for my well being.

The way home was fairly uneventful until, in Burnaby, on Hastings, a motorist decided to change lanes into me. Luckily, I was able to maneuver out of the way but I didn't even have a chance to honk my horn (although I was able to flip the bird a minute later).

An unfortunate moment, but I didn't let it interfere with the extremely enjoyable day.

Friday 10 April 2009

Is Bigger Better?

I spent part of the morning doing research on Motorcycle Driving Schools. Why? Because I am still trying to decide whether to go to a bigger scooter or to stay with my 50ccs. I went so far as to take my learner's at the end of last summer but have not taken the skills test or any course yet.

The skills test was going to be a no-brainer because you used to be able to take a 50cc scoot for the test but now you need one that is over 50ccs. So I haven't taken the test yet.

Now I'm looking at a Motorcycle course that would give me my skills test and help prepare me for the license test.

There are several advantages to getting my motorcycle's license...
  • more speed - no more pulling over to the side or having cars line up behind me as I go up a hill
  • distance - I could go a lot farther - Seattle would just be a rest stop
  • passengers - right now my girls are just too damned big to safely go anywhere on a 50cc scoot - especially since I'm a big guy
  • motorcycle course - probably wouldn't hurt to improve my skills
  • durability - I'm not sure how long my LX50 will last as I twist-all-the-way-and-go most of the time

However (there's always a however) there's some definite cons...
  • expense - it will cost more to buy one - new, maybe $6500 taxes incl. for an LX150, over $8000 for a GTS - and I could probably only get about $3000 for my LX50 (with 11,000 clicks).
  • insurance - I pay less than $500 a year for insurance - it would cost over $1000 just to go to a 150.
  • more speed - I am a very conservative rider with my current scoot because I have no choice - if I had more power, I would probably not stay in the right lane all the time (I certainly don't with my car) and that would put me at risk
  • challenge - despite the hassles, I really do like facing the challenge of taking my little scooter all over the place - including long distances
  • motorcycle course - there's another $750 cost that I don't fell I need right now with my current scoot

So there it is - I am stuck trying to decide between being Big Guy Small Scooter to being Big Guy Medium Scooter. What to do, what to do.....

Sunday 5 April 2009

Pacific Populaire

This weekend was one of the best in recent memory. The sun was shining and it was actually around 20° C. today. What great scootering weather - but I didn't scoot at all.

Why not?

Two words - Pacific Populaire.

My friend, Stew (whose photos grace the blog entry today) asked me if I wanted to join him and a friend a few weeks ago. I said that I would probably go but actually waited until the last possible moment so I could check the weather forecast. As it turned out, the weather was perfect.

I drove into Vancouver with my bike on my carrier and parked at Stew's house. Stew and I were joined by his friend, Lana, who had come over the night before from Vancouver Island. After a quick cup of tea, we headed out on our bikes to the Pacific Populaire.

The event is put on by the BC randonneurs which is a long distance cycling group. This particular event was just for fun so it attracted everyone from the serious hard-core cyclist to, well, us. There was a choice between 25, 50 or 100 km so we went up the middle and chose 50 km.

When we arrived, there was a huge lineup for registration - obviously the good weather had brought out a lot of last minute participants. Luckily we had pre-registered so we didn't have to lineup for an hour.

There were so many people registering that the ride was delayed by half an hour. Then we were off!

As usual when I'm starting of on a long ride, I went to fast and did not find my own pace until about 5 km. After that I slowed down a bit and found a pack of cyclists at my own speed. The ride starts in Vancouver at a place called Riley Park and goes along streets that have dedicated bike lanes. We headed south and eventually crossed the bridge over the Fraser River and went by Vancouver Airport. We then ended up cycling in Richmond.

The Richmond part of the ride was very enjoyable as it was relatively flat and there wasn't too much traffic.

At around the 20 km mark, we stopped for a quick coffee at a coffee shop. It was a nice break as we watched the other cyclists whizz by but eventually the sweeper of the 50 km ride stopped by and we decided it was time to press on!

We made good time on the 5 km to the halfway mark and then got our control cards stamped.

Happily there was a nice variety of food including bananas, cookies and cakes.

We had a quick rest and then got back on the bikes as we didn't want to stay at the back of the pack....

I felt really good for the next several kilometres. We made good time as the roads were smooth and the headwind eventually dissipated. We continued on until we crossed the bridge back into Vancouver. Then began the hill back up to the start. Although I slowed a bit on the hills, I still made pretty good time.

Finally, we rode into Riley Park and received a pin to commemorate our ride. We finished the 50 km ride in 3 hours and 24 minutes but that included the 30 minute stop for coffee. After having a couple more cookies and a celebratory photo, we headed to another coffee shop for a quick latte. A very enjoyable ride, but I don't know if I'll be up to the 100 km next year!