I am a little late in getting to this post, but I wanted to share a couple of pictures I took the other morning when I rolled around my neighbourhood on the Paddywagon to survey the damage left by Irene as she passed through. I have to say, we got off very light indeed, and for that I am grateful. We had plenty of rain, plenty of wind, and a large tree that came down on Andy’s street, but outside of that it was largely branches, twigs and general debris. Certainly I did not hear of anyone getting hurt in our area, so thank goodness for that.
The calm after the storm. It was a glorious morning.
The tree that came down on Andy’s street was a freak accident that could have had dire consequences but fortunately did not. It is nothing short of a miracle that nobody was driving down that part of the street at the very moment the rotten-to-the-core tree decided that it had had enough of bracing itself against the wind and came crashing down. It brought with it a complete pilon as well as a couple of transformers and all the associated cables that usually provide power to the neighbouring homes. All of that coming down and landing on anything other than the tarmac would have spelled disaster. Andy and the boys witnessed the whole thing, and were entertained through the night.
Tree on the ground...most of it already removed but the wires are still hanging down uselessly.
Hydro Quebec, the City of Dorval and numerous other crews were on site well into the night to remedy the situation. Each has their own specific role and don’t even suggest that they do something that is not in their precisely documented job description, but that’s all OK as long as the teams work well together. By the time they knocked off, the Hydro Quebec team that is, power was not yet restored, but not wanted to have to pay out overtime they called it a night. One of the crew had the nerve (or stupidity) to confess to Andy the next morning that had they just continued for a few more hours they would have had the power back already. But such is the way of the large monopoly-like conglomerate. Customer second.
Andy and the boys were out of power for over 24 hours. As we live only a few streets away we enjoyed their company for dinner and then for breakfast the next morning before school. Toast, peanut butter and chocolate flavoured cereal. You can’t go wrong with that.
We had lost power on the Sunday afternoon for about five hours. Not long enough to be a real pain, but short enough that we could enjoy the experience somewhat. Emma and her friend Christina set the living room up with candles and I got a fire going. We played Scrabble to rules that certainly are not described on the instruction sheet and at this point I am not even sure I remember who won. Wait, it must have been me.
Paddywagon leaning up against the cheese
The park has some bizarre sculptures, none more so than this giant plate complete with cheese (I think it’s a Swiss judging by the holes) and a fine French baguette. How brilliant though, don’t you think? I just love it. It’s quirky and that’s kind of what Montreal is all about in my opinion. You never know what you’re going to find just around the corner.
Dead straight forks on the Kona
This morning was all about spinning. Maintaining a good high cadence and working the legs. I didn’t practice any of the tricks as I wanted to have a completely uninterrupted ride, and save for two minutes off the bike to snap a couple of pictures that’s exactly what I got. We’re coming to the end of August but the mornings are still lovely and warm, around 16c now at 6.00 a.m., and we’ve got a couple more months of mild weather before the autumn picks up in earnest.
Once again I opted not to take the Edge 800. Rides like this I don’t need to know how fast I am going or which direction I am heading in. I know whether I feel good or not and it is pure fun to ride without those gizmos every now and then, especially on this bike. In fact, purists would lambast me for even occasionally putting on the computer. It’s just not cricket!
Full of inspiration and bravado having spent some time last night watching amateur enthusiasts such as myself perform their tricks on fixed gear bikes, I headed out to Parc Levesque this morning to emulate them. I did not anticipate it being so difficult, but then what was I thinking?
The skidding part is not so difficult. In my opinion, it is more a mind over matter thing. You simply have to convince yourself that you’re not going to fall off and let it happen. I was sensible in that I started my skidding practice on the slightly damp grass in the centre of the park. The first time was not so successful. Standing in the pedals I gave it some juice and built up some speed, well as much as the soft earth and lush grass would allow, and then, still standing so as to keep weight off the back wheel, I ‘thought’ i jammed my legs backwards to lock the wheel. Nothing really happened and I kept moving forward and my legs kept spinning.
I paused to reassess the situation. Why didn’t the wheel lock and the rear of the bike slide gracefully over the grass as I smoothly glided over the field like a graceful ballerina? Well, I don’t know, but I suspect it had something to do with the fact that I was not fully committed to the slide. I didn’t really ‘go for it‘, and that’s what you have to do. If you fall, you fall, but you can’t be afraid to fall.
My second attempt produced an incredible sense of euphoria as I did indeed successfully skid, locking the rear wheel and sliding, not so gracefully, across the grass for a short distance. WAHOO!! I was now ‘one of them‘. Well, they would no doubt beg to differ, but it felt good. I mucked about for another 15 minutes or so before heading back home, elated at having started my new career as a performance cyclist. I am not kidding myself though. I have a long way to go, but I will say that teaching yourself additional bike handling skills is never a bad thing, and anything I learn on the fixie will translate into a more skillful rider on the road bike as well, so I’ll keep plugging away at it.
If anyone has any suggestions for practicing techniques for the skid, or indeed for the simple act of balancing, drop me a line.
When I say I just made it, I literally mean it. I was about 1 km from home when the tell tale spattering of tiny droplets started making little dark dots on my grey shorts. It was so light that there was not even enough to stain the tarmac a darker hue, but I could see by checking my shorts every ten seconds or so that it was not stopping.When I turned the final corner for home, leaving only 750 metres between me and the dry indoors, the drops became a little more prominent and I could now see the colour change on the front tyre spinning in front of me. I reckoned I had only minutes before the skies opened.
How right I was. I had been inside not more than a couple of minutes when the rain came down hard and steady. Some days you are meant to get wet, and others you are not. Today, thankfully, was always meant to be a dry day. I had successfully cheated the rain and got in a 25 km ride in the only ninety minute window of dryness in the whole day. That felt good.
The Paddywagon at Parc Levesque. Time to get all artsy.
With the VR2 being out of commission for the next little while due to a spoke popping issue (you can read all about that on Charlie Bucket Cycles) I was left with no alternative but to take the Paddywagon out for a quick weekend ride. Normally the weekends are all about the road bike, as I get plenty of fixie riding on the commute to and from the campus, but today I was actually really looking forward to riding the bike without the 28lb back pack that I shared with you all last week.
So I packed my little shoulder pack with the Nikon D3100 and my spare tube, spanner and pump and off I went. I just love riding this bike. Today was no exception. The only thing that bothered me was that I forgot to lube the chain after the ride to work the other day where there was a lot of spray coming off the road. I then road home without lube as I don’t usually carry any with me, and now I was going out again without lubing it up. The net result was a little bit of a squeak which I never hear on my bikes.
Mercier Bridge in the background
I took a few shots down at Parc Levesque and then looking up at the sky I determined that I’d better hightail it back home. As I already described at the top of the page, I only just made it back in time. I did not have the Edge 800 with me today (I mean, sometimes you just gotta ride without knowing every single little stat) but I am sure I was pulling a good 31 – 32 km/h on the return leg. I didn’t let up the whole way back and fortunately the traffic played in my favour which allowed me to zoom through every stop sign without even slowing down.
As I write this it is pouring down outside. I am relaxing listening to the thunder outside and seeing the occasional flash of lightening through the curtains. We have a cool breeze coming in through the room and you just know it’s going to be a good night to sleep. Commute tomorrow morning, if the rain lets up. Ride safe.
That’s what my back pack weighs on any given day that I commute to the office. It may not sound like all that much, but when it’s strapped to your back and you have it there for the 25 km to work and then the 25 km back, you notice it. Having said that, as the season wears on it becomes less and less an encumbrance and more part of me.
Bike and bag: inseparable on the commute.
As much as I do enjoy the ride into and back from work, when I get to go out on the Kona without the backpack, it is an awesome experience. But I’ll save that for another entry. Today was all about schlepping the back pack to and from Nun’s Island, and the way back featured an interestingly annoying head wind. As I write this head wind has morphed into a mega thunderstorm, the likes of which only arrive a few times a year. I was supposed to be heading out with Andy for a couple of hours, but we’ve shelved that plan and have opted instead for an evening of beer and pizza. Well, come on, we had to come up with something.