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.
I went out for some morning intervals in Parc Levesque, as I am want to do, and was horrified to see what had happened to the grounds of the park. The City of Lachine has sold out. Big time. I arrived at the park around 6.30 a.m. having warmed up nicely on the 10 km journey outbound. The 750 metre ‘entrance’ to the park is brilliant in the early morning as you have the sun directly behind you.
Riding tall into Parc Levesque
All seemed normal at this stage in the proceedings. But as I neared the park gates I could sense that something was up. I am not sure if it was the fifty ATVs that were parker neatly on a 45 degree angle that gave it away, or the glimpse of steel fence that seemed to surround the middle ‘island’ of the park, that tipped me off first, but this was going to be different.
Indeed, what I saw as I rode through the main entrance gates made me almost come right off the bike. The beautiful central island of Parc Levesque had been totally cordoned off with industrial grade 8′ high steel fencing. Inside the perimeter was a new landscape that included 18-wheeler trucks, tents of all shapes and sizes, and many more ATV-type vehicles on display stands. The grass leading through the temporary gates in the new fence was missing, replaced instead with the worn through muddy tracks that hundreds of repeat visits with a heavy vehicle will produce.
Now if this was not bad enough, as I rode down the north side of the loop and stared with utter disbelief at the mayhem on the inside, my eyes were treated to yet more shocking discoveries. A dirt track had been built through the arboretum and through the park, complete with mud hills, sharp corners and advertising hoardings and billboards. Where was the lush green grass that was here only a few days ago? Where was my park?
I don’t know how much money the City of Lachine sold out for, but I am hoping that part of the cost of this enterprise includes returning the park to its original state. I would hate to think that once the ATV circus has left we are going to have to stare at this mud bath for the next several months. Although I can’t imagine what it is going to take to return the lawn to its former lushness.
I can’t believe that I don’t have a picture of this madness to share with you all. I was so stunned that I didn’t think to take one, but I’ll be heading back there probably tomorrow morning and so if the madness is still in town I’ll document it.
Popped out for an hour again this morning. Same route. 10 km to Parc Levesque, five laps of the park, then the 10 km back. Another warm, dry morning that you just have to take advantage of and get out there ‘cos before we know it the ground is going to be frozen solid again and we’ll be pedalling indoors in front of a 17″ monitor.
Banish the thought! Still at least five more months of outdoor riding! So this morning. 31 km with an average speed of 31.7 kph. Slightly up on yesterday which is awesome. I think the headwind on the way out is slightly more advantageous. Just slightly.