Jul 29, 2016

Friday File: Two wheel cool: Montreal style

Bixi in Montreal.
all photos: Cycling Art

Yesterday's trip back to exciting Montreal was long in coming. I haven't been in ten years and the city is as robust as it ever was. It was a re-union, getting back in touch with the city and it's incredible energy. I had my birthday lunch with our long time friend, Jean and I mentioned that Montreal is the type of city that can't be duplicated elsewhere. A city that has no doppelganger. There's neighborhoods that is the same, since I've been there, sprinkled with plenty of new development. It has a unique 70s/80s style architecture intermingled with bits of splashy contemporary look. I've notice one positive urban change... more and more people on bikes. No helmet laws here. Hey Vancouver are you listening? 

And, the urban Bixi cycles are here. Many riders use them to get to and from. There are stations peppered most everywhere and are very popular. The bikes have an ingenious front flashing light that is highly visible in daylight. We only had a few hours and what I saw was so many cyclists on the road, motorists are and should be keen to watch out for them. Added cool incentive to ride... Bixi is offering free service all day this July 31.

Our friend Jean's apartment is around the corner of the finish line of the GP Cyclistes de Montreal. It will be held this September 11 and I'm planning to be there.

Dressed for the hot 30C weather.

Outside a new favorite restaurant, L'Anecdote.
A retro diner serving excellent burgers.

Jul 27, 2016

The Eagle of Toledo: The suppleness of a flamenco dancer.

La Vuelta a Espana is August 20 - September 11.

"To the metronomic rhythm of his shoulders he accomplished his ascension at a sprint. Perhaps the most admirable aspect, ever more than the alternating play of his legs and their bulging muscles, was the movement of his body at the waist. He has the suppleness of a flamenco dancer, and, if truth be told, his cante condo (his "deep song") is for the mountains where, with frenzy, he can fully express himself."

- Michel Clare, L'Equipe, describing Federico Bahamontes.

He is the first cyclist to complete the career triple winning the King of the Mountains in all three Grand Tours.

Jul 25, 2016

Peas, fallen tree branch & flat roads

All photos: Cycling Art

Sunday I awoke at 5:30 AM to get ready for my inaugural Ottawa Valley ride. Actually I decided the night before tracing a route on my newly acquired map left to me by John and Joey. Those two roadies are closer to finishing their ride to Montreal. It's been close to 4 weeks off the bike and I'm itching to ride. One thing noticeably different from Vancouver is NO mountains or even substantial hills here in the Ottawa Valley. I hear the real hills are close by in Gatineau, Quebec (on my bucket list). For now, I may have to change my cassette back to 11-25T. 

There are so many picturesque towns separated by vast farmland especially corn fields. The Ottawa Valley is vast and so green. I jumped on Highway 44 south, a very smooth and quiet road. It’s the type of road used mainly by local farm traffic. The fun part is to discover the back roads and all I had was the map to guide me. I rode past a nearby winery, which will come in handy for Carolle and I to ‘visit’ in the near future. And, I even rode past a cyclist (with cycling kit) with an acknowledged wave. Moments later a cyclist (shirt and jeans on) also gave me a wave… the respect on the road law embraced. 

Then a surprise, ahead was a felled tree branch blocking part of the road. I meander gingerly around it and reached my turnaround point of Spencerville for the return. Past bucket seats and a used music cabinet for free and a lonely sign for 'PEAS' on a saw horse. Fun and quirky on my first ride here. 

Jul 22, 2016

Friday File: Living in the heat of Grahame's Bakery

Embracing Kemptville with the FRFuggitivi cap.
All photos: Cycling Art

I have arrived. My goal was to go east not really knowing where I’ll end up. Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa are the big three cities to suit the business. After a week of looking for a place to live, Carolle and I decided on Kemptville. A small community 40 kms south of Ottawa. The folks here are friendly. And, I’ve seen many cyclists riding especially in the searing humidity that climbs up to 40C. Kemptville is a small town, founded by a Mr. Cloutier and sons in the late 1800s. The old town is quaint with an old bridge, red brick buildings and churches. The old town respects the heritage but on the outside of town there’s growing new development. My sister in law was the first to tell us of how central Kemptville really is. She’s right. It’s only 30 minutes to Ottawa, 1 ½ hours to Montreal and 3 1/2 hours to Toronto.

 Inside one of Canada's oldest wood burning ovens, 1885.
Grahame's Bakery. It's 36C outside and inside even hotter...

I’m so busy settling the business I haven’t had the chance to climb on my bike or even follow the Tour de France. All I know Chris Froome is leading and looking likely to win. And, I’m looking forward to riding the back rural roads of the scenic Ottawa Valley.

Jul 14, 2016

Mont Ventoux... A testing place for heroes.

Happy Bastille Day!

The famous French philosopher, Roland Barthes wrote of Ventoux...

"Physically, the Ventoux is dreadful. Bald, it's the spirit of Dry: it's climate it is much more an essence of climate than a geographic place makes it a damned terrain, a testing place for heroes, something like a higher hell."
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