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Thursday, June 09, 2011


the water from Jericho Beach

The five days in Vancouver, from Friday evening, June 3rd to Wednesday afternoon, the 8th, seemed to pass by lightning fast, as has been my experience with any trip to Terminal City. It would have been easy--too easy--to spend a few extra days, heck, an extra week there. (If not for nothing, it would have allowed us the opportunity to catch some cool Velopalooza rides.) But there are time restrictions on this tour. Yes, we do have an open-ended itinerary and we do plan on spending a few days in various cities along the way. But we can’t spend too much time in one place, otherwise it won’t feel like we’re “getting anywhere.” And I also feared losing momentum. The longer we stay at one place, the harder it would be to get going again. So five days was enough--for now.

In retrospect, this Vancouver adventure was quite different from the last time we were up here this past November. That trip was Vancouver specific, and as it was April’s first time in the city, a lot of it was spent sight-seeing and checking out things. This time it was more of an extended break on the tour, a chance to take a breath, get some bike work done, etc. Oh yeah, and enjoy Velopalooza! It wasn’t until Tuesday night that we realized that we hadn’t done a lot of the more “touristy” or just plain “go see stuff” types of things we had done on the previous trip. We managed to circumscribe Stanley Park’s fine seawall only once, and it was because we were in the ‘hood and had an hour to spare. We didn’t hit up downtown or Queen Elizabeth Park. We didn’t get to Wreck Beach like we had planned. We did manage to get to Jericho Beach, and that was only because we were staying at the hostel there for a couple nights. Heck, I only got to Commercial Drive once, on Saturday!

So what did we do? Well, I did manage to catch some Velopalooza action, but not as much as planned. I was hoping they would “front load” the event with good events, like an old Motown album was front-loaded with hits. But not so. Most of the more interesting rides were happening during the second weekend, when we’d be gone. ("Oh you should stick around until Saturday when xxx ride is happening" is something we got sick of hearing.)

Most of my Velopalooza fun occured on Saturday, when I stumbled out of bed early to talk at, er...with, six people who had gathered to hear me expound on bicycle touring for three hours. (Sometimes I can’t believe that I can actually talk that long!) Then I went out for lunch at Banditos with lovely Elaine. Then I high-tailed it to the start of the Freeway Revolt Ride, because I obviously love that type of stuff. Unfortunately on the way over I managed to snap off one of the bolts holding my rear rack! Amazing! After three years of that rack being on that bike, plus a full week of fully loaded touring, it breaks when I barely have any weight on it! I managed to get it fixed immediately because Jet Grrl Bike Studio was right around the corner from the start point. The ride was interesting, if a little light on the facts that I like in these types of things. Like Portland, Vancouver managed to battle successfully a freeway that would have cut through the heart of town in the 1970‘s. After the ride, I caught a bit of Tall-Bike Jousting at Strathcona Park.

Sunday was a day of Velopalooza misadventures. I had wanted to go on Meghan’s Deep Cove Doughnut Dive because the previous year’s ride sounded like heaps of fun. But it required getting to the start point at 8am (ugh.) I set my alarm for 7, then woke up and realized that a 30km ride wasn’t what I wanted to do so early. And why would I want to ride for riding’s sake, since I would be doing enough of that on tour! (Sorry, Meghan!) So April and I attempted to hit up Lee’s bike church ride, but we couldn’t get our act together to catch that either. But I managed to attend Gordon Price’s excellent False Creek post-war development ride. Gordon Price is a former Vancouver City Councillor who gets credit for starting the city’s successful network of low-traffic bicycle routes in the 1990‘s.The three hour tour was loaded with facts, and we got to see all the different facets of city planning along the waterfront from the 60‘s onward. Afterwards we retired to a waterfront pub for beers and conversation. (Lots of city planning nerds in attendance!)

One thing that I noticed about the Velopalooza events was how relatively smaller they were in comparison to Pedalpalooza events. The biggest ride I went on, Gordon Price’s ride, only had 15 participants at its peak. It reminded me of Pedalpaloozas of years past, before every ride had 80 peeps. It was nice to go on a ride and not be overwhelmed, though I have a feeling that give it a few years the rides will be just as big as they are in Portland!

What else did we do? Well, April got the stem issue taken care of. Pol from the Bike Doctor (whom we were staying with) replaced the Rube Goldergesque stem extender with a true extended stem. He also swapped out her rear cassette with something a bit larger (32 tooth vs 28) so April can tackle hills easier. Pol is a great guy who’s been supporting the Vancouver bicycle community through his store and in other ways for over 20 years. And now he’s getting married to his long-time girlfriend and former B:C:Clette Keltie! Go you two!

We hung out with Amy, one of the founders of Momentum Magazine. She’s editing a book, On Bicycles, that is a collection of essays on urban bicycling in North America. (I contributed a chapter about traveling with a bike, go figure!) She’s deep in the finalization of everything, but still had a moment, well, a day, to hang out. She also graciously let me use her Photoshop to finish up an art assignment I should have had finished before leaving town. (Oops!)

Amy gets "cargoed" by April

We also got to visit RusL, an old friend of mine who is currently building cargo bikes. We got to see his bakfiets-styled creation and I even took it for a test ride--with April as the cargo! RusL hopes to build these to order. And we caught lunch with another former B:C:Clette and Our Community Bikes mechanic Leanne, who helped me tension spokes on my rear wheel (the wheel I'm currently paranoid about.)

Oh Vancouver, how you tantalize.  I wish we had the time to be there longer. But I know I’ll be back soon.

1 comment:

  1. Shawn. Good to hear her stem lasted until the bike doctor could replace it. Did it take a lot of muscle to break free?


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