February 29, 2008

New E-zine

Dirt Rag announced the arrival of their DigiRag today. DigiRag is a Flash supported web-version of the Magazine, that enables web surfers to "read" (more on this later) the magazine and flip through the pages just as if they had bought it at their local bike shop. It's in there in it's entirety, including ads with active links. Maurice Tierney, one of Dirt Rag's founders, is quoted in the announcement: "Our goal is to bolster our online presence and to have the complete content of Dirt Rag, and the brand, available in as many formats that make sense." The Dirt Rag team benefits from the added exposure of ads by doing this and the readers benefit as well. It's a good step forward for Dirt Rag in my opinion, and it's cool that you can "read" (again, more on this later) the whole mag just by signing up. What is not cool is the fact that the necessary sign in info is a little too detailed for my peace of mind. Not that you can't fake your info, but just the fact that they ask you for your address and phone number, bothers me a little bit. The reason for this is that they use the same account for the DigiRag as their Merchandise account, in another suave marketing/income bolstering stunt. The print world is tough though, and you do what you can to survive. Power to them. The fatal flaw in the Digi Rag is that once you come across a page you'd like to read(yes now we'll get to it) , you have to zoom in to read it, and once you zoom in you cant move within the page. So what you get is a quarter of a page with no way of reading the rest, this is annoying beyond belief, and made my morning coffee bitter as hell. I'm sure they'll fix this, but at the time being, the DigiRag is useless.

February 27, 2008

bike to work if you can

I used to work at Mountain Equipment Co-op. The Victoria store has an interesting way to encourage bicycle commuting. Some companies will actually pay their employers to bike to work, but MEC does not spend the members money on that sort of "silliness." No! And it's not the great facilities that put the staff on their bikes, either. There are lockers and showers available, as well as a bike wall in the basement. This helps but it's not the reason for the avid collective commuting. So how do they do it you might ask. What incentive is there for the typical Mountain co-op staff member to bike to work? Well, it's simple really: Nowhere to park your car. You can park your bike in the basement, but if you intend on taking your car, you're screwed. Downtown Victoria has an immense, evil, army of meter maids with red hot ticketing machines that will burn a hole through your organic cotton jeans and merino whool underwear, especially if you're on a MEC salary. And even if you're a good monkey and pay for your parking at the local parkade, you're cutting deep into your profit margin. These simple facts, the central location of the store, and mild climate, all contribute to the staff's will to bike, walk, or bus to work. I worked there for the Christmas season, and biked to every shift I had in these three months, simply because it was the most convenient thing to do. So in light of that, one might think that getting your employees to bike to work is only as complicated as to provide safe bike parking, possibly at the cost of some of the car parking, provide showers and change rooms, and in return, get a more alert and awake workforce in better health. How can you go wrong with that? In the picture you can see Geoff's KHS, the Boss's Redline, Adele's Apollo, my Cannondale, Jim's Mongoose, and Scott's Surly. Good times, nothing beats being able to bike to work, so if you can, do it.

first bike, first post

I've been riding bikes since a very young age and this blog is supposed to be an outlet for bicycle related issues that I come across on the net, in the media or in my daily life. My aim is to have fun with this blog and use it as a tool, and an excuse to dive ever deeper into the swirling bottomless pool of bike culture. That's me on my first bike, a Schwinn Super De Luxe, convertible. I learned how to ride a bike on this one, starting out in the store with training wheels. This bike had a detachable top-tube so it could be sold as a boys or a girls bike. In my case this meant that I could ride it for a number of years, as the stand over hight was almost to high for me when I first got it, and this was even with the top tube off. The first few years I rode it without the top tube, and the last years with the top tube on and religiously keeping it there. I blocked it out of my mind that underneath it all this was really a girls bike. One day I felt like playing with wrenches and loosened the bolt that held the top tube in place... and voila! It was off, I remember being a little shocked and then quietly putting it back into place. Ingenious design, and tough as nails. The frame was built of lugged steel, single speed and coaster brake equipped. I think I remember tightening the chain on this bike once or twice and lubing it, but other than that it was virtually maintenance free. A bombproof ride and kind of cool looking too. Note the two bells on the chrome mustache bars; tres stylish. The springer seat is nice too, you could ride on that thing forever. The Schwinn lasted me a long time, but this was an era when BMX's were all the rage so I got on that wagon in my next step up the bicycle ladder. The next bike would be a BMX but I don't know what happened to the Schwinn. It was probably passed on to some friend of the family.