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VCB eNews, Volume 12, #19 All My Blue Bicycles are Green

Volume 12, Issue 19: All My Blue Bicycles are Green
Shelley Porter, Editor
Editorial: All My Blue Bicycles are Green
Rides Captain Report: Introduction, Part 8
Notices of Rides and Events
Loose Chain Links
Bike Buy & Sell
About That Funny


“My two favourite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.”
  • Peter Golkin

I arrived at the meeting with my thesis supervisor uncomfortably damp, with a brutal migraine triggered by serial atmospheric low pressure systems. It was July, 1985, pouring rain for the 8th straight day in a row, and I was watching my opportunities to do field work wash down University Avenue right out into the mud of Wolfville Harbour. Dr. Tom Herman responded to my discouragement with a wry smile, looked out the window at the sheets of rain and said, “Ah, yes, this is how it will be: more precipitation and more of it as rain”. He was talking about climate change, something I had barely heard of, something not even on the radar of the public at that time. Now climate change is in the news almost every day. We see storm surges, snowstorms, floods, erosion, droughts, and displaced wildlife resulting from it.
One of my cycling mentors stated recently that the climate change we might prevent or slow by riding our bicycles as transportation is “a drop in the bucket” compared to what needs to be done. It’s discouraging to me personally to be riding my bicycle to do a job, braving cold temperatures and hurricane force winds, only to note every other house has a large SUV idling in the yard because the owner doesn’t want to take a few minutes to scrape the windows or sit on a cold seat. Idling does not help to warm up your car engine for better performance, either. Moving warms up your car engine: when you first start driving, avoid quick starts or revving. Let the engine parts and oil warm up slowly. No need to let it stand running in the driveway, burning more gas than it would if it were actually taking you somewhere. Even better than that: ride your bicycle to work or do errands whenever you can. Many drops can fill a bucket.
Three of my five bicycles are blue, but they are all “green”. I consider those purchased used or refurbished the most green, since they didn’t require new materials, just a new owner. Bicycles, with proper care, can be incredibly long-lived machines. My second road bike was a steel-framed Raleigh. I had it for 30 years, and went through many chains, tubes, tires, and three different cassettes. Still, all the parts and annual tune-ups were much cheaper to me and the Earth than creating a new bicycle out of new materials. I sold it to a new rider when I needed room for . . . another “new to me” bicycle. Just this week, Halifax Cycles, a “city” bicycle shop, advertised their mechanic was refurbishing a 100 year old tandem bicycle, which came to them well-used but in excellent shape. It shows just how durable the design and parts of our favourite simple machine can be.
Manufacturing uses energy (usually from fossil fuels), and water. Mining for fossil fuels, metals, and many other materials that go into manufacturing new items uses water. Water is a finite resource, and we use it for everything from food production to recreation.
In September of 2012, I sat in University Hall at Acadia University for my son’s matriculation ceremony. I listened as my former thesis supervisor, no longer a young associate professor but the Vice-President Academic of the institution, delivered an address to the incoming class with his customary wit, passion, and humility. After the ceremony we had an opportunity to chat, and as I introduced my son I mentioned his career might include international law. Dr. Herman smiled wryly and said, “Ah, an interesting field! Conflicts in the future won’t be over control of oil, they’ll be over control of water.” 
One of the things Dr. Herman always exhorted his students to do is to look at “the big picture”. Our actions may seem small, “drops in a bucket”, but all of our choices - our drops - add up. Will you choose new or recycled/used?  An SUV or a bicycle? In the big picture, what will your drops add up to? When my son starts his law career, will he be negotiating fair trade deals or will he be negotiating the terms of a war for water?
1984 Raleigh Challenger, aged 30, still in good working order. Leather seat scavenged from a junked 1975 Japanese racing bicycle purchased at a charity auction (Shelley Porter, photo).
A Calopteryx amata or “Superb Jewelwing” damselfly, the species studied by the editor for her Honours thesis. They are rare in Nova Scotia, and dependent on clean, flowing water. (Shelley Porter, photo)
 While I didn't get to experience even a small earthquake while in California I did get an interesting answer to a question I asked while in the Napa Valley. We were touring the storage area of a winery whose caves had been dug into the base of a mountain. There were literally 
millions of bottles in the process of aging and I asked the tour guide, given that California is a quake region, how many bottles they had ever lost due to earthquakes. Surprisingly the answer was not many. The reason is how the energy of an earthquake is dissipated. When an earthquake hits the mountain, the energy continues up the mountain to the top and it is the top of the mountain that sways, thereby releasing the energy, with the base staying fairly stable. Of course, if the really big one hits then all bets are off. So what does that have to do with cycling? Other than being a rather convoluted way of introducing the topic of energy conversion, I don't know if there is one. And energy conversion is what you are doing when you ride a bike. You are transferring your energy (stored fat and carbs etc.) into the forward motion of your bike. The really nice thing about bikes nowadays is they are multi-geared whether or not you have 3 ,10, or 27, that makes energy conversion more efficient, making it easier for you to tackle those hills and making it easier to go farther with the same energy expenditure you used on those old single speed bikes we all rode at one time or another. Learning to shift at the right time and into the right gear for the task at hand, be it going uphill, downhill, straight out, fast or slow will make the riding experience even more enjoyable. And don't worry, no-one ever got it right the first time. Good riding everyone. You can reach me at 
 The Central Cape Breton Community Health Board and the Community Sector Council of Nova Scotia are holding a special session “Taking care of ourselves while we take care of our community” on March 23 from 9:30 am to 2 pm, at the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation in Sydney. Learn strategies and best practices to manage compassion fatigue. Features an update on the 211 system by Mike Myette, an interactive session with to teach you to recognize the signs of compassion fatigue by Debbie Lawrence of Abundant Living, and a free lunch. To register and for more information contact Tanya Andrews at 902-595-0520,
Records set monthly:
Car-centric dies hard:
DIY, lightweight bike reflection:
Three women who changed the course of history on bicycles:
Appropriate for any sport:
They used HALIFAX for this. Was proud for a minute; then embarrassed:
Safer cycling:
Gotta love this headline:
FOR SALE: Two mountain bikes, one Giant Rincon 6061 aluxx, frame size 14 in., $300; one Norco XFR, frame size 15, $300. Both about 4 years old, rarely used, stored inside. Will sell together for $500. Contact Heather at
Science Exam answers: 

Q: Name the four seasons. 
A: Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar. 

Q: Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink. 
A: Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists. 

Q: How is dew formed? 
A: The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire. 

Q: How can you delay milk turning sour? (brilliant, love this!) 
A: Keep it in the cow. 

Q: What causes the tides in the oceans? 
A: The tides are a fight between the Earth and the Moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature hates a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins in this fight. 

Q: What are steroids? 
A: Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs. 

Q: What happens to your body as you age? 
A: When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental. 

Q: What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty? 
A: He says good-bye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery 

Q: Name a major disease associated with cigarettes. 
A: Premature death

Q: How are the main parts of the body categorized? ( e.g., abdomen) 
A: The body is consisted into three parts -- the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain; the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels A, E, I, O, and U. 

Q: What is the fibula? 
A: A small lie. 

Q: What does 'varicose' mean? (I do love this one...) 
A: Nearby. 

Q: Give the meaning of the term 'Caesarian Section.' 
A: The Caesarian Section is a district in Rome 

Q: What does the word 'benign' mean?' 
A: Benign is what you will be after you be eight.

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