Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Small Biker Gang Invades Supermarket

A few days ago I made some macaroni casserole and when that was in the oven, I was feeling creative, and I had a ache in my sweet tooth, so I decided to bake a cake. Except I was short of some ingredients, aka eggs I had just used in the casserole. I had to rush into the shop to get eggs while the casserole was still in the oven. Take too long and the casserole might get too dry and burn, then the smoke alarms would alert the neighbours and the firemen would use the axe to open my door, I would be evicted and be forced to sleep outside in the snow, all because of two eggs!

In a very short time (as the trip is only about 2 km and on excellent bikeways I don't even have to ride fast to make it a short time) I arrived at the supermarket, and spotted this cute little bike:

It was so cute I had to take a picture before entering the shop. A little basket and all. After a quick walk through the shop to get the things I needed and a short but fast cashier queue I came back to my bike and noticed there was now two little bikes:

After I packed my camera away and unlocked my bike, I turned around to leave and what do I see! A third small bike! It wasn't there when I got there!

Luckily I got away before more members of the Small Bike Gang arrived and blockaded me completely!

The whole trip took about 22 minutes, and the mac was fine when I got back.  and the blueberry cake I made was delicious. Somehow I ran out of the cake faster than the casserole...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Bear Hunting Trip

I've told about the picture scavenger hunt. Last week, I went on a different kind of hunting trip. In Finland, about 5% of the population is registered hunters, as in they've paid license fees etc. With lots of forests and lakes, there's both water fowl, forest birds and all kinds of animals to hunt.

Hunting small animals and birds can be done alone, as one person is enough to carry the prey home. For big animals like the elk, a team of hunters is needed. A more challenging prey is the bear. Not very many licenses are given each year, as they are rare, and they are evasive animals. Normally, you don't see them and can't find them without a good hunting dog.

However, stories of bears seen here or there are common in July and August. The reasons for that are twofold. First, the mushrooms and berries are ready for harvesting, and a lot of people will go into the forests looking for them and to pick them up. (By the 'freedom to roam' rules anyone is allowed to pick wild berries and mushrooms for non-commercial uses.) The bears are also eating the berries trying to get fat for the winter. Sometimes they both find the same berry bush, and so the bear is seen.

The other reason is a bit funny. There are vast forests everywhere, but not all are good for berries. And sometimes there is a dry spell or a cold night which damages the plants in some areas so there is no berries at all in certain locations, but somewhere else the plants are fine. In ancient times, good hunting and berry locations were kept secret to protect them from outsiders. There's still a little of that mentality around, even though they're not vital to our survival anymore.

A berry picker who finds a good location will tell his family where the berries are, but will be vague about it when talking with others. Let them walk around in the forests and swamps to find their own berries. And maybe sometimes they tell stories about hungry bears they saw to scare others away. On the other hand, others may think that the bear is eating berries there, so it must be a good spot.

On my trip I scouted for good locations for later trips and also picked some berries. I found three kinds of berries ready for harvest. Some berries, like the lingonberry is not ripe yet, but will be in a few weeks.

At first I found some arctic raspberries. Just a few. I didn't bring any home, I ate them all! :-) These berries are deep in my memories from my childhood, even more than strawberries. These grow wild in the edges of fields, especially on the banks of ditches. When I was a kid when we were cutting hay for the winter I used to go eat these berries. So these are my candidate for LGRAB's Summer games. Although I have to take my own photo of them. Too bad I ate them all, now I must go back to find some so I can take a photo.
Edit: I did.
Arctic raspberry, half done. Green means it's not ripe yet.
I found a good blueberry patch. I picked some of them before I continued my scouting trip. Enough blueberries for a blueberry pie. Or maybe a berry soup...
Heathers were blooming, too. Very nice colors, but no berries here.

Ah, what is this? A sure sign there is a bunch of bloodthirsty bears around: Cloudberries. They grow in swamps and are pretty rare. They're very labor intensive to pick and thus expensive. I walked around for a hour or two in the swamp trying to find a good spot, but found only a few berries. But these are the berries with most bears around. I'm sure I heard them growling...

All the while I was walking around the swamp I hear the distant thunder. It was getting closer and closer, but I was too eager to find more cloudberries. When I finally decided to start heading home the cloud front was closing. Unfortunately, I was too late and I got caught in the rain anyway. Then I got lost in the suburbs when I tried to find a new shortcut in the rain. Who knew there was so many bikeways and streets going all directions. Luckily the sun came out so I saw which way was south and which was north and eventually found my way home.

Following the true secretive berry picker tradition I've not given you any clues where to find the berries. I'll only tell you I went there by bike. How far and which direction, that's a secret. And, look out, there's hungry bears in the forests! :-P )

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Weekly Carnage:

It's been a while since I last posted. On my ride today I saw something that gave me the excuse to steal a topic from another blog. Here's my tongue-in-cheek version, with maybe a bad sense of humor.

The Weekly Carnage

Fatal crashes: 1 (1 pedestrian killed in a hit-and-run)
Crashes: 2
Property damage: 1

Someone's property was damaged when the pedal fell off the bike. The pedal looks like it has suffered damage earlier and now just broke totally. The axle may be in working condition, and the owner will be able to continue cycling. Wearing shoes with thick soles recommended.

These two cyclists had their own private demolition derby. Or maybe they were pizza delivery guys working for competing companies and the competition got physical. Both bikes were on the same street, but I could not see where the collision/fight happened. There was no blood stains on the road or any other signs of a crash.
This pedestrian was killed while crossing the bikeway at an unmarked crossing. The other party is not known. Most likely it was a bicycle, as this happened on a bikeway with heavy traffic. The fact that the pedestrian did not have hi-viz clothes or blinking lights did not help the rider detect him.

The two bikes looked like someone had thrown out while cleaning the garage. Most likely there was a metal junk collection on that street soon. 

The story of a real life pedestrian is shocking. She got 36 months, and the driver got 6 months?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Thunderstorm Damages The Picnic Arena

The Picnic Arena is a new fancy thing they came up to liven up the downtown. Usually they have all kinds of events and festivals at the pedestrian street Rotuaari at the very center of the downtown area. But at the moment Rotuaari looks like this:
 and the repairs will last whole summer. They're building a new stage for performers and installing new street lights and steet furniture and what not.

The next best place for the events is the market square. For the Picnic Arena they built a huge 'castle' out of scaffolding and cloth. I think the concerts and other events are kept inside the cage. Anyway, look at those walls covered with cloth. That makes them huge sails, catching the wind. Well, the first thunderstorm gust came and one of the walls started to collapse. You can see two tilted rows of the wall below the crane. I think they had already dismantled most of the bent wall. And they had taken all the 'sails' down.  There was rolls of cloth laying on the ground, but they're not visible in the photos.

 A photo from the opposite side shows that the legs on the inside of the wall buckled under the weight of the wind. The legs are strong enough to keep the structure up, but when the wind pushed the whole wall sideways the legs could not hold.
 On the day I took those photos there was another thunder storm about to start. On the sea side of the sky the sun was shining, inland were huge cloud formations growing. The weather has hot and humid, with not much of a wind. Typical pre-thunder weather. On the way back, the wind started to pick up, although it could have been because my route was closer to the coast. I managed to get home about 15 minutes before it started to rain.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Midnight Snack for friends

The lamp on the parking lot is on- it's on timer or the light detector is in a dark place, because it's...
still light enough to play tennis outside. The tennis court is in surrounded by trees from all directions, so sunlight can't get there when the sun is low on the sky. These guys were playing after midnight!

The sun is below horizon, but the sky is bright and the light reflects from the clouds above.
The last photo was taken facing north, that is where the sun is. While taking the photos above, I met a friend. She was hungry so I gave her a snack...

Once she had her tummy full, I gave her a smack. I hope she enjoyed the Last Meal she ever got. Mwah-hah-hah-haa! (evil laugh)

Interesting things I saw

Some heavy machine has cracked the edge of the asphalt, and punched a pothole from hell to the other side of the bikeway. The hole is almost half the path wide!

About a week ago there was an article in the local newspaper how boaters and jetskiers were breaking the speedlimits on the river and being a nuisance. And guess what was going on a few days later? Two jetskiers sploshing about right next to the swimming beach. They were zigzagging, turning in circles and jumping their boats. Very nuicance-y.

A convicted murderer escaped from the prison last week. He had been working outside alone, when he climbed over the wall and disappeared. Did I manage to get a photo of the escape?

Nah, these were just regular climbers at the Hydro Plant.

Two videos: young cyclists and traffic lights

Here's two new videos from my rides last week.  Video about the Traffic lights at the southern end of the bridge over the River Oulu shows how the Dutch principles work in real life. There's only a few bridges over the river so they have a lot of traffic. Therefore putting the cyclists and pedestrians in a location where they are very visible to the drivers will improve the safety for a lot of people. In this case, the geometry of the 5-street intersection puts the cyclists about 10 meters in front of the cars. Definately not in a blind spot!

Another clip I posted on youtube shows some young cyclists around the town.

Bike week photo scavenger hunt

The national biking week was in May. The City of Oulu had a photo scavenger hunt, in which people were supposed to find locations shown in the photos. At the location you get a code word. Collect enough locations and you're in a raffle.  Most of the locations are well known and obvious, so anyone can easily get the required number of locations collected. A good way to get people on the bike.

There are four locations out of 12 locations that I've not found. Most likely they are in areas where I don't ride frequently, so I don't recognize them. Three of them are buildings. One is a tree, and I've not found the correct one yet. There is quite a lot of trees around here, so it might take a while. The correct results are available on the website and a quick search would tell me where they are, but that would ruin my fun. 

I had taken photos of four of the locations and most of them have been mentioned at the blog, too: a bike bridge, Hydro Dam Bridge, the combined heat and power plant, and the water tower (not sure if this has been on the blog?)

Recently I found the Sightseeing tower. Last week I took photos of the Chapel of St. Luke, a statue and Ouluhalli (an indoor sports arena). These were locations I knew and they're easy to find.

Now I have covered eight of the locations, with four to go. One building I think I can find, as the name of the building is on the wall. :-) I'm not sure if I can find any of the other locations left, as I have no means of looking at the photos provided as a clue. And I might not recognize the building if I'm looking from a different direction. I'll keep my eyes open, just in case.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Mayor of Toronto wants to remove bike lanes

The same guy who inspired me to start this blog is at it again. A post on Copenhagenize followed by another post with video about Jarvis street bikelane removal caught my attention.
Looking at the video, I'm not sure what Mr. Ford thinks he is going to achieve. Remove the bike lane and the drivers will get about 1 meter more of the road space. The other two car lanes do not look very wide to me, so I don't think they could squeeze in another lane for cars. A quick google search tells me there used to be a third, reversible lane before the sidewalks were widened, trees planted and the bikelanes were installed. Or at least that was the plan, I'm not sure if this really happened.

Of course, motorists do not want to sit in rush hour congestion, so some of them keep whining for the 3rd lane back. But there's congestion on streets with no bikelanes, too, so blaming the bikelane sounds pretty stupid to me. And removing a bike lane that was installed a year ago for no other reason than to "smooth traffic flow" as the saying goes, sounds monumentally stupid to me. Maybe the mayor wants to have his own monument so people will remember him.

The video asks "What's wrong with the bikelane?" To me, it looks too narrow and there's no protection from cars. Nothing has been done to the junction to make it safer for the cyclists. You hear me Mr. Mayor, you need to make that bike lane wider, not remove it!

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Ride into the sunset

A few weeks ago, around mid-June I rode to the beach to take the sunset photos. I actually made the trip on two nights, and on one of them I had the md80 video camera on my bike. I finally got it edited and uploaded it to Youtube.

The day had been warm, and despite it being late, around 11pm, there were a lot of people on the beach. The sunset was around midnight, so there was about an hour of tanning time left. Of course, the sun is so low that you catch more rays by standing up than by laying on a towel. :-)