Dear Editor…

I ranted. It was suggested I write. I wrote. It was published.


The Bicycle Saga

I bought a new bicycle.

I was planning on waiting until after I finished school and had made some money, but things just happened and there is a new bicycle in my life.

The old one is still around, it is sitting in the garage with its flat rear tire. I’ll hang onto it for awhile I think. If I want to do any trail riding (which I don’t ever really do) or if we get another snow like the one a couple of weeks ago, it is pretty invaluable.

Flat rear tire. That is what precipitated the purchase of my new white speedster. Make no mistake, it was not a snap decision (not entirely anyway). I have been checking craigslist for the last few months now, monitoring the prices of road bikes and watching for any great deals, sending off a few questions here and there. Then we had that snow a few weeks ago and I was able to ride the faithful red bike around just hours after the snow had finished and the roads were marginally clear. Last week, I was cycling home from a group counselling session at a local elementary school when the heavens opened and this odd, and freezing cold, combination of large fluffy flakes and big raindrops descended upon me. By the time I got home, the lower half of my body was soaked to the skin. The rain/snow had been so fierce at times that I could not see where I was going. The edges of the road were still (and are still in many places) covered with all of the debris that accumulates after a week of snow. I had no choice but to cycle right through it.

When I got home, I thought nothing of parking my bicycle in the garage and rushing inside to clean up/dry off. The next evening however, when I took my bicycle out, the rear tire was completely flat. By that time, the stores were closed and I no longer had any patches in my patch kit. The tire was going to have to wait until the next day. Problem: the next day, Saturday, was a full day of work followed by company for dinner. There was no time to go downtown, buy a patch kit, and fix the tire before I needed the bicycle on Monday morning. Sunday? you ask. Nope. My local bike shop is closed. Solution: buy a new bicycle.

You may have seen it on Twitter and Facebook: “How to solve the problem of a flat bicycle tire? Buy a new bicycle.” Yes, that is what I did.

I had seen a good-looking bike on craigslist and sent off an inquiry. The owner lived only a few blocks from me, so I went over and checked it out in person. It rode well, shifted well, braked reasonably okay (nothing I can’t improve on), and, best of all, had new tires. I bought it.

Since then I’ve been riding it everywhere. I’ve taken bicycle commuting to a whole new level (for me) and have myself fairly well outfitted now. The most crucial piece I’ve added to the bike: full mudguards.

Faithful red? Well, she still sits in the garage. I made a valiant attempt to fix her rear tire the other day and it ended badly. After spending an inordinate amount of time removing/patching/and replacing the tube and tire, I re-inflated the tire only to hear air hissing out… Apparently I hadn’t found whatever had punctured the tire in the first place and it had re-punctured it. So I still have to remove everything and start all over, but I’m waiting until it gets a little warmer in the garage and I have a little more will-power. The last time was a little bit of a chore and I’m not looking to be swearing over that tire anytime again soon.

40 Days

Wednesdays are a crazy day in my world, especially yesterday Wednesday.

The cycle downtown from work to choir practice freaked me out yesterday. Four drivers who weren’t looking for bicycles nearly hit me. It is only a 7.5km ride, and it isn’t like I’m an obnoxious rider, yet these drivers managed to nearly hit me. Yes, I go quickly, but I obey traffic rules and try to be visible when I ride: I have multiple front and rear lights, wear a turquoise reflective jacket, have white bicycle and orange backpack. It isn’t like I blend into the road. Sadly though, this wasn’t the first time cars haven’t been paying attention to me and I’ve had near-misses before (weekly?). For a city that prides itself on having one of the highest amounts of bicycle commuters per capita in the country, there are a lot of drivers who are not paying attention to us. I guess that is what made the statement of Ash Wednesday even more poignant: Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return. We’re all just one event away from that dust.

We got some new choir music in rehearsal last evening. It was new liturgical music for the season of Lent that I’m excited to sing… altos have some wonderful parts and they are all nice and low and minor sounding. One of them, from the Iona Community, asks a simple question: O brother Jesus, where have we left you, Saviour and Lover of all? Where indeed? That line reached out and grabbed me as we sang it.

Lent is probably my favourite season of the church calendar. I like the expectation and anticipation of Advent but often find myself frustrated by the gross commercialism and crazy busy-ness of Christmas that envelops and overwhelms it. Lent on the other hand, often gets overlooked. Aside from pancakes on Shrove Tuesday and the constant question, “What are you giving up for Lent?”, the beginning of this season often goes unnoticed.

Which brings me back to our Lenten liturgical music: O brother Jesus, where have we left you? Am I giving something up for Lent? I am not sure yet. I’ll allow myself until the weekend to decide. On the other hand, I would much rather that I find Jesus during Lent. Find Jesus. Find God’s heart for the lost and poor and marginalized.

In closing, another song for this Sunday (also Iona Community):

Sent by the Lord am I; my hands are ready now to make the earth the place in which the kingdom comes. The angels cannot change a world of hurt and pain into a world of love, of justice and of peace. The task is mine to do, to set it really free. Oh, help me to obey; help me to do your will.