Saturday, June 30, 2007

Critical Mass

This evening I went to Critical Mass for the first time ever. We started at Churchill Park, just outside of city hall, and wound our way south of the river, via the High Level Bridge, and then turned east on Whyte Avenue. It was great to see so many bikes (probably around a hundred) take over the streets, stop automobile traffic, and receive so much support from the public. Drivers honked encouragement as they waited for us to pass, and we collected unaware cyclists as we rode on.

I have to say that crossing the bridge was the best part. I've crossed that bridge about a dozen times in the past week, always in the bike lane and always in the din of automobile traffic. Riding in the main lane was such a pleasure that most people unconsciously sped up to enjoy the ride, while others tried to remind us of the temporary privilege of being where we were by shouting out "Slow down!"

I am so seriously excited about doing Critical Mass in St. John's when I arrive there in September. It happens one day before the show opens at RCA, so it should be a fantastic week of bike activities!


I just wanted to thank everyone who made Edmonton such a memorable experience!

Thanks to the staff at Harcourt House - Vince, Terrena, Malina, Michelle, Roger, Mike, and Linda - for working so hard to make my exhibition possible. You folks did a really fantastic job!

Thanks to Edmund and the rest of the board of Harcourt House for inviting me to show here!

Thanks to all the artists at the Annex - Fran, Eileen, Margaret, Shelly, Linda, Beth and everyone else - for putting up with me working so messily in your space!

Thanks to Revolution Cycle for donating materials and tools for the cause!

Thanks to Mike and Raymond for buying me beer, to Jeff and Estheranna for inviting me into their home, to Joshua for the concert ticket, to the Meals on Wheels guy who insisted on bringing me lunch every day, to the guy who gave me the movie ticket, to Bill and Brian for helping out in the shop, to Terrena for the tour of the river valley, to Barb for the DVD, to Waylon and Sherry for turning back the clock ten years, to Robin for coming so far just to say hello, and of course to Colin who knows how to make a guy feel at home!

And most importantly, many, many, many thanks to the dozens of people - Molly, Andy, Ania, Amir, Chrissie, Daryl, Charlotte, Ruth-Anne, and everyone else - who brought in their bikes and participated in the project!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Leaving Edmonton

I am done. In more ways than one. The show at Harcourt House is over and I'm cleaning, packing and leaving tomorrow. Everything was fantastic - we had tons of people come out to take part in a bicycle advocacy project in the middle of oil country - a definite indicator of success.

I am also exhausted. I have a bunch of stories I'd like to pass along, but I think they might trickle out over the next few days. right now I'm going to sleep.

Good night.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Radio Interview

Just thought you might like to know you can hear an interview with me on CJSR - that's the University of Alberta radio station - today at 5pm Mountain Time.

here's a link to their stream:

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Another Article

Here's a link to another article, this one from the Edmonton Journal:

Monday, June 25, 2007

Old Friends

Readers of this blog may be pleased to know that I connected with a couple of old friends. Ruthanne French, a classmate from my earliest days in Regina, has been stopping by the gallery to make sure I have a steady stream of bikes to fix as well as Izze juice to drink. Ruthanne has been living in Edmonton since Regina and now teaches, works and volunteers with arts organizations around the city. She rented a studio here at Harcourt House for a while, which means that we are neighbours spacially if not temporally.

An even more amazing coincidence is that I've been able to meet up with Waylon Jennings, a very good friend from Stephenville who I haven't talked to since 1997 (ah, the magic of facebook). Waylon picked me up downtown and brought me out to his place where we drank beer, ate Doritos, told stories, did some illegal dumping, and listened to Pink Floyd all night. My face hurt from laughing so much. But the best thing about this meeting - and the reason we were listening to Floyd - is that both Waylon and I had tickets to the Roger Waters concert the very next night! Imagine: Mike Flaherty and Waylon Jennings at a Dark Side of the Moon concert!!!

Dark Side of Edmonton

Tonight I went to see Roger Waters perform Dark Side of the Moon. How was it? Let's just say that I had goose bumps for ninety minutes straight.

I have never been a big Pink Floyd afficionado, but I have always appreciated their music as imaginative, intelligent, well-crafted, and just plain beautiful in an esoteric sense. And I've had a soft spot for Dark Side of the Moon ever since we did the Dark Side of Oz (you know, where you listen to Dark Side of the Moon and watch The Wizard of Oz simultaneously) in Regina a couple of years ago. I went into that experience as a total skeptic that anything was gonna happen, that it was all just stoner's folklore, but came out as a total believer. Anyways, I went to the concert tonight expecting to be entertained, and ended up being completely absolutely blown away.

First of all, the sound was perfect - I have never heard a concert that sounded so good. And it was not ear-splitting loud, but was still intense enough to make my sternum vibrate. Second, the on-stage ensemble was fantastically talented and did justice to the recorded version. All the musicians - especially the sax player - really did their parts well. Third, the visuals were downright outlandish - there were two projections of the band playing, a huge psychadelic projection, a flying inflatable graffitied pig, and a massive prism with a rotating laserish rainbow. What more could you want?

Well, how about an audience that was deeply, deeply emotionally affected by this whole spectacle? I was sitting in the nosebleed section, surrounded by the type of people who can't afford $150 a ticket. There were grown men there with mullets and baseball caps, lighters in the air, singing Wish you Were Here at the tops of their lungs, tears rolling down their faces. I had the fortune of having the great Waylon Jennings (not that one - the real one from Triton) near me during this event who also admitted to weeping a little. I have to say I was close at a couple moments as well.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Bikes Everywhere!

Edmonton is just plain bike crazy right now. Not only is this Bike Month in the city, there is also the bicycle festival Bikeology ( happening at this very moment. Some people from the local do-it-yourself bike shop, Edmonton Bicycle Commuters, stopped by Harcourt House earlier today to meet me, to hang out for a bit and chat. They also invited me to the festival tomorrow (of course everyone is welcome, even me) so I think I will skip out of the gallery a few minutes early tomorrow, bring my camera and check out the scene. I have no idea what to expect, but it should be fun. Of course I will report everything back here.

Bicycle Gallery

Friend and bicycle ally Jyelle Vogel's newest work, a bicycle gallery:

New Favourite Comic

Seen recently at the Harcourt House Annex:

Another Day Another Interview...

...or that's how it seems anyways. Since Victoria I have done 5 interviews (Brian in Victoria, Kevin in St. John's, Leah in Toronto, and Matthew and Gilbert in Edmonton), and I think there will be another one coming up soon. So far only one of these has made it into print and you can read it here:

Opening Night

Edmonton does not disappoint! Last night was the opening reception for Bicycle Rehabiliation Project, Stripped, and M:19 at Harcourt House, as well as the official kickoff for The Works Festival in the city. Tons of people (including this couple on a tandem) came out to the gallery to see all the great art, and yes, many of them brought their bikes along. I was busy the whole time, from open to close, fixing brakes and shifters, truing rims, and cleaning winter dust and grime from frames. Let's hope that we generate some momentum and the project keeps rolling!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Battlecycle Galactica

Speaking of satire, how about this idea:
A race of advanced, space faring, bicycle riding humanoids create a race of robotic "Carlons" to do their bidding for them. The Carlons (through an accident of artificial intelligence) become self-aware and begin to take revenge on their former masters by polluting their land, sea and air. The carlons massacre the humanoids, until a small group of survivors, led by the Battlecycle Galactica, escape and form a tenuous civilization of whiskey-fueled whiners. "Why did we make all those Carlons?" they ask themselves, and "What does it all mean, anyways?"

Grand Theft Bicycle

A video game installation by Steve Gibson, Jimmy Olsen and Justin Love
(This post is a couple of weeks late for several reasons I won't mention here, but I saw this piece in Victoria at Open Space.)

As if the animated intro isn't enough - picture Cheney's, Bush's, bin Laden's, and Harper's likenesses (along with a host of others) grafted onto gun-brandishing computer-generated bodies - Grand Theft Bicycle also presents the viewer with a fully playable interactive video game environment. And not with just any regular user interface - the player must sit on an actual bicycle (the Borgcycle, the creators call it), spin the pedals, turn the handlebars, and pull the brake levers in order to play.

There are a couple different ways that viewers interact with this parody of the popular Grand Theft Auto video game franchise. First, you have to play it. I hopped into the saddle myself and blasted a few Gorbys, Thatchers and Hilarys. I'll come clean right now and admit that I enjoyed it - there is a certain satisfaction to be had by capping Ronny Reagan as he steps out of his tinted-windowed, road hogging SUV, all from the comfort of ones banana seat. But, like its progenitor, Grand Theft Bicycle is also a helluva game to watch. I've never really played Grand Theft Auto, but (here comes another admission) I have invested more than a few hours into the game as a spectator. Gibson, Olson and Love present GTB the way every game should be - as a large scale projection with theatrical seating for viewers.

Amidst all the novel technology and presentation, the troubling question one arrives at is whether this video game is just a game. Until I actually experienced it first hand I was a skeptic as well. But several notable details distinguish GTB from GTA. First, the protagonist cannot be killed - she or he is an invincible pedaling machine and the user is free to carry on with the gameplay as long as he or she chooses. Furthermore, the gameplay is pointless - there are no beginnings or ends, no rewards for good play and no penalties for bad. The very lack of objectives in this "game" poses the question of whether it is a game at all. As such, this work functions as a satire of the particular video game genre that spawned it, and of the combative car/bicycle culture it comments on.

To see more of Grand Theft Bicycle go here:

Monday, June 18, 2007

I have arrived!

I have arrived in Edmonton just minutes ahead of another thunderstorm. The weather has been a little wild, but it's supposed to clear up nicely in the next few days.

I stopped in at Harcourt House earlier today - it seems a pretty amazing place with tons of artist studios, a great galley space, and a cool neighbourhood. I was kinda worried that my space wouldn't be terribly accessible, but it has easy access to the road and will be good to work in. Hopefully there will be lots of drop in participants like there were in Victoria. It is only one block from a bike route which is a really good thing.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Playbug's Playmate of the Month for June - Miss Skeeto

Hometown: A brackish pool somewhere.
Age: 1 week as an egg, 2 weeks as a larva, 1 week as a pupa, and about 12 hours as an adult - so around a month all together.
Measurements: 0.002" - 0.001" - 0.003"
Eye colour: Black - all eight of them.
Hair: Black, bristly, and mostly concentrated around the thorax area.

Q and A:
Hobbies? "I used to spend a lot of time swimming, but now that I'm a little older I feel my tastes have become a little more refined and varied. I'm really into blood, sucking, and bloodsucking."
Turn-ons? "The half hour before sunset where all the exothermic mammals are trying to enjoy that last beautiful gasp of sunlight.
Ideal partner? "What I really look for in a mate is the ability to skim just over the surface of the water while fertilizing all 6 million of my eggs."
Ideal date? "Blood for dinner, followed by hovering around in a swarm for a bit, followed by sex-for-reproductive-purposes-only, followed by biologically necessitated death."
Describe yourself? "Well I'm just your average girl-next-door who needs to parasitize necessary procreative proteins from other animals. I don't necessarily expect everyone to understand that, but I think they should be able to accept it."

Wussed Out

Yeah, I wussed out tonight. I was riding into Wildwood as the sky absolutely exploded. It went from perfectly sunny to hail, lightning, and howling wind in about two minutes. This all happened at about the moment I passed the "Wildwood 1km" sign, and in that short length of time I got pounded, exhausted, frozen and soaked. So I'm in the Wildwood Hotel now enjoying a few luxuries I haven't had in a while, such as:
1) a bed - last time I had a whole bed to myself was in April (i was occasionally able to steal meghan's bed when she happened to be out of town).
2) television - last time I had an actual television was at Lee and Nikki's house in February.
3) a shower - haven't had a proper shower since Kamloops, just over a week ago. I did have a cold shower at a provincial park swimming pool in Clearwater, but that was just a painful tease.
4) electricity - I haven't had reasonable access to electricity (to power the electronics warehouse I'm carrying - telephone, camera, computer) since I left Victoria almost two weeks ago.


Not much to report today. Basically took the day off since I'm way ahead of schedule and desperately wanted to do laundry. Hung around Hinton all day and listened to the locals rev their engines, screech their tires, and scream "Wooo!". At least my sleeping bag doesn't smell so bad anymore.

Friendlier Varmints

Not every wildlife encounter I've had ends in tears of terror. Here are some friendly elk and sheep (goats?).


I'm not the type to make travel plans. I don't really engage in excursions. I just know where I have to go, and whatever happens in transit happens. It's kind of a fatalistic travel philosophy.

I didn't really plan any side trips for this point in the journey. However, a few weeks ago I did notice on my map that there was a hot spring just to the east of Jasper. I hadn't actually planned on going, but when I got to the junction my aching joints and muscles did a pretty good job of convincing me to make the turn. There was a restaurant at the turnoff, where I stopped to look for information about the ride. "17 kilometres," I was told, "straight up. I've never seen anyone go up there on a bicycle before."

It seemed a pretty desolate section of road, and it was a good distance off my intended route. But I've never been the type to be deterred by a little climbing. And hey, there was a hot spring waiting for me at the end. So off I went. They were right - it was pretty well straight up. But it wasn't something I could say was any more difficult than riding up out of Witless Bay. What I wasn't quite prepared for was how isolated it felt. The road was winding, meaning that I couldn't see any real distance ahead or behind me. The trees were right to the edge of the pavement, and in a lot of places hanging right out into the road. A few cars passed, about one every 5 to 10 minutes. I was a little nervous but I kept pumping the pedals thinking to myself that I'd be there in an hour, and that the ride out would be all downhill. Nonetheless, I kept my wheels on the yellow line in case I had to make a sudden evasive maneuver in either direction.

I passed the halfway point and the grade eased a little bit. I started feeling a little more confident, and a slight drizzle blew in to cool me off. I passed the three-quarter mark, and started the final ascent. I rounded a corner and the road stretched out long and wide in front of me. But what was that I saw at the end of that stretch? (You've probably guessed by now). A big jeezly black bear was standing in the middle of the road directly in front of me.

Again, I did not have the presence of mind to dig out my camera and create actual evidence of this encounter. Basically I turned without missing a beat, and within 15 seconds that bear had seen the last of me. My little excursion was a bust - so much for making plans. Whatever happens happens. There's just no way around it. I did at least have an exhilarating ride down.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Time Zones

I've just passed into Alberta and realized a few things:

1) I've never been so far north at this time of year, except perhaps in Labrador as a child. Also, I am in the very extreme western portion of the time zone. It is now 10:17pm and still sunny outside. Awesome!

2) Because I'm traveling east towards St. John's I am going to have a shorter summer than anyone else. For every kilometre that I travel the sun will go down a little earlier every day. In fact, for me a day is no longer 24 hours. If I had access to the internet right now I'd work it out exactly, but to estimate I'd say my average noon-to-noon time span is about 23h57m45s (4.5 hours lost over a period of 120 days). Dang. Of course that's only an estimate.

3) Although I've never been a big fan, Broken Social Scene is one of the few appropriate bands to listen to on your laptop while recording the meanderings of your mind as you are huddled under the forest canopy in the shadow of the lofty Rocky Mountains. I believe that drinking Carling Black Label Ice may be completely inappropriate.

Hello, Alberta - Police State: I Shit You Not

Between the BC/Alberta border and Jasper (25km, about 1 hour as the bike rolls) I saw no less than 4 vehicles being pulled over by the police. WTF??? Crackdown on illegal immigrants from BC? "We hear you folks have an ocean. We don't take kindly to oceans around these parts. Get'm, boys."

So Long, British Columbia

I'm sorry I have to leave so soon. I will never forget the three months that we spent together. Those playful days of bike rides, ultimate, and too much wasabi on my sushi. Those long steamy nights of wine, conversation and films until 4am. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for you. Look me up if you ever make it to the east coast.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Actual Real Bears

I've been wondering for a while what I would actually do if I saw actual bears on the road. Well today I found out. About 20km east of Mt Robson I was riding down the highway minding my own business when I suddenly noticed three shapes moving in the bushes on the side of the road. An adult and two cub black bears were rooting through the dirt only about 10 metres from me - I'm talking really really close. It happened so quick I didn't have time to think about anything. The bears hadn't noticed me yet, but I immediately swerved to cross the road. They were pretty distracted doing whatever they were doing, and they would never have seen me except that I swerved onto the feckin rumble strip and started making a hideous noise. Like I need another reason to hate rumble strips - I will add bear lure to the list. Anyways, they were very fortunately content to just sit and watch me roll by without doing a thing. I've always had a sneaking suspicion that I would meet my demise at the hands of a rumble strip, I just never thought it'd be because one had alerted a bear to my presence.

If I'd had my camera out I'd have done a photo, but as it was I was definitely not gonna stop and dig through my pannier looking for it. So you are just gonna have to believe me on this one.


Here are some travel photos, presented in chronological order:

Crossing the border into Washington:

Riding from Seattle to Port Angeles. They have the most beautiful bike trail that goes about half the distance:

The ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria. Note the snowy peaks of the Olympic Mountains in the background:

The Lochside Trail in Victoria which goes all the way from downtown to the ferry terminal in Sidney. Jyelle rode out there with me so I wouldn't be lonely.

The Fraser river valley, just east of Vancouver. They say that the Fraser is going through the worst flooding in 30 years:

The Thompson River, after it separates from the Fraser has an entirely different landscape. The transformation from lush forest to dry scrubland is astonishing:

Lake Kamloops. Kamploops is one of the sunniest cities in Canada, apparently. It rained while I was there:

North of Kamploops the country gets a little less arid. The North Thompson river valley is really awesome (notice the snow-capped peaks in the background):

Upon reaching the Rockies I left the river valleys behind and climbed through Red Pass. Here is Mount Robson, highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3954m. Too bad the sky wasn't a little more clear, but at least we can see it. A few moments later it disappeared completely:

From Mount Robson it was only about 50km to Alberta:


I like to think I'm a pretty tolerant individual. I don't discriminate based on colour, creed or lifestyle. Prejudice just isn't my thing. I even refuse to discriminate against prejudice. If you want to hate something or someone for whatever reason, or no reason at all, go right ahead. I'll be there supporting your right to be a hateful, terrible person.

But there's just one thing I won't have anymore. Animals that suck the blood of other animals. I mean, where the hell do they get off thinking that this is an ok thing to do? My body worked to hard to acquire (or fabricate) those precious nutrients, and put them there in that particularly vulnerable area just under my skin, and it did so because it is important to me. Then some animal comes along, grinning and stroking its proboscis, and proceeds to puncture my skin and withdraw my precious bodily fluids.

Well I say kill them all and don't think twice about it. Kill them with extreme prejudice. And make it painful and slow so they know they're dying and have time to reflect on their wrongdoings. God will know what to do with them after that.

Oh Dear...

Here is my bear story for the journey so far. My friend Keith has a similar one which I thought was really funny until it happened to me.

I was camping on an abandoned farm just outside of a little town called Heffley Creek north of Kamloops. It was pretty idyllic location, just on the side of a hill, out of clear sight from the road. The weather was perfect - I was even able to leave my fly half open. I hadn't biked that much that day, but I fell asleep pretty quickly nonetheless (anyone who knows me knows that I have a special talent for sleeping).

At some point during the pitch black night I woke to a terrifying noise:
Being in bear country I was immediately gripped by the worst type of imaginings. As I laid there trying to determine what to do I could hear the beast shuffling towards me through the grass. My heart was pounding so hard I'm sure it was registering on a seismograph somewhere. There was nothing I could do - it was right outside my tent! I slowly pulled the sleeping bag away from my face and opened my eyes. Standing there, staring right back at me from no more than three feet away, was the brazenest deer I have ever encountered. Unbelievably relieved, I gently asked the deer to leave me alone. "Please go away," I said. It leaned in for a closer sniff and nudged my tent a little. Figuring I could take advantage of this opportunity, I slowly reached for my camera. The deer watched intently as I made my move, but its patience was tested when I tried peeling open the velcro case. It bolted, and I returned to my slumber in (possibly false) confidence that no deer would be hanging around a meadow if there was a bear anywhere nearby.

My Body

I have to say, I am impressed that my body is holding together so well. I'm not having any of the problems I've had on long tours in the past - sore wrists, ass and knees. Must be all that "training" I did in Vancouver before I started this. My only complaint so far is a sore neck. I don't think there is any way around that though, unless I get that recumbent I keep talking about.

Honkers are Wankers

Why, oh why, must you honk at me? I already know you are there - you are a car/truck/van - you make A LOT of noise. I am already as far to the right as I care to go. I will not go farther if you honk. What is likely to happen if you honk as you whiz past me at 100km per hour is that I will be startled. And when I get startled I sometimes jump. And if I jump while balancing 200 pounds on two skinny little wheels I am just a little more likely to end up as a red stain on the pavement, or possibly even on your automobile.

And if you are honking to show your support (and I know some of you are) I appreciate the sentiment, but please please please find another way to do so. Slow down, roll down your window and say hello. Wave at me as you pass. Just do not blast your horn in my ear from point blank range. Thanks.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Biking and Camping

I have had three of the best days of cycling and camping ever. The weather has been ok, lots of tail wind, cool, and a little damp. Great for riding.

Right now I'm in Cache Creek, just a half day ride from Kamploops. I'm making great time, which means that I'll probably be able to take a day off somewhere along the way. I've got some really great pictures too, that I'll post as soon as I can use my own computer somewhere.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Just wanted to extend a huge thankss to everyone on the west coast who made Bicycle Rehabilitation Project possible:

In Seattle:
and everyone else at Soil
as well as
Rachel, Lynn and Ruby who let me sleep on their couch.

In Victoria:
and everyone else involved with Open Space or Ministry of Casual Living
Steve, Jim and Adam (?) of Grand Theft Bicycle fame,
as well as Meghan, Emily, Jyelle, Adam and Lyle for entertaining, feeding, and showering me.

and all the peoplewho brought out their bikes and participated!


If you are a regular visitor to my website you've probably noticed a few minor changes. Well, in a few days those minor changes will be major - I'm in the midst of uploading all my photos thus far, so there will be tons of new things to see. I will be doing an emailout and a facebook announcement as soon as it is ready.


I finally feel like the tour has really begun. I've left Victoria behind, and now I have a little more than two weeks to reach Edmonton. Got out to a great start yesterday with a fun ride to the ferry in Sidney and met up with Haambe in Surrey. Then i got up too early this morning and biked all day. I'm in Agassiz right now, but I hope to make it to Hope by tonight. I'd be riding right now, but I'm waiting for a phone call from an art writer in Toronto. Hopefully that will turn into something.

Well, my internet access is going to be sporadic at best for the next little while, but I'm going to continue posting as much as I can.