Thursday, November 23, 2006

Crazybikerchick Cycling in the Canuck Capital

Sorry for the unintended blogging hiatus. I just had not been feeling much like writing (but still riding of course!) Hopefully I'll get on a roll again.

Last weekend I ventured to Ottawa to hang out with the very cool eccentric bike folks from HPVOoO. 5 hours on a Greyhound bus was not that much fun. (I thought I had sworn off taking the bus ever again after taking the bus to the Yukon in my university days for a fun vacation) But all was well when I got to the bus station because my human-powered taxi awaited!

Mark came to pick me up in his homemade recumbent cargo trike he uses to transport his drums. (check out more information and full construction details of this very cool HPV)

The plan was to join the HPVOoOers as they cycled in the Ottawa Santa Claus Parade. Friday night was float construction time of the main mothership, which consisted of a decorated Christmas tree, couch for passengers, and just in time to coincide with the release of Happy Feet, a happy Santa penguin. Other festively decorated and crazy bikes would orbit the mothership during the parade. I initially was keen on riding Richard's BMX trike but after taking it for a trial run, I seemed to have some steering difficulties with it and it would frequently spin into the curb. I figured this was probably not a good thing to ride in a parade with hordes of small children lining the curbs.

I also tried out the rainbow chopper for fun, well wobbled around. I think someone made a comment about Hey crazy biker chick can't ride a crazy bike?! I have a confession to make here folks. I have a fairly crappy sense of balance. In fact when I first started biking again as an adult on my old 10-speed bike there seemed to be frequent contact between myself and the ground. (why I bought a helmet) I figured the skinny wheels were my curse and bought a mountain bike. Harder to topple over yes, but I still managed. So if you haven't figured it out by now the "crazy" part does not come from tricky wheelies and other fun to watch bike manouevers. The "crazy" part is about my perservance to cycling as a method of transportation no matter whether the general public thinks its rather odd to be pedalling happily through a snowstorm or hauling furniture from IKEA, or biking to visit family 120 km away when many people do not have a sense that a bike can go that far (of course to you the knowledgeable it will seem like a short jaunt!)

Anyway back to the topic at hand: the parade! Saturday morning being groggy and coffeeless I decided to opt for stoker of the mothership hauled by Richard's very cool Greenspeed tandem recumbent tricycle, captained by Brian. (I think a trike like this would be very cool to tour on especially since the stoker could easily be knitting while pedalling.)
Photo by rgb
While we were waiting for the parade to start, I defected from my seat to join crazy bike builder Mike Watson on his sociable tandem tricycle (complete with umbrella for weather-friendliness!) Pretty much all of the crazy bikes in the parade were creations by Mike. I figured Brian could pilot the main float by himself and the side-by-side would look really weird without a second person. Poor Brian did not realize I had defected, and the parade began at the bottom of a ramp. He hadn't figured out how the gearing worked on the trike yet and was yelling STOKE! STOKE! to no avail. Sorry Brian!

Here's a photo of me riding with Charles on the side-by-side:Photo by rgb
I also tried out the rainbow chopper in the parade (kicking my foot on the ground to corner), and the Xtracycle (initially seemed heavy and hard to steer until I figured out how to engage the electric assist)

Here's a few more shots - from left to right: Richard and tall bike (always a crowd favourite); Santa's elf; Mike Watson on the rainbow chopper (with crazy bowling helmet)

Richard has even more photos (impressively most taken while riding the tall bike)

Sunday I had a tour of downtown Ottawa and the relaxing oasis Gatineau Park just across the river in Quebec. The drivers in La Belle Province seemed insane! Here's a shot of me in front of Canada's parliament buildings.

Thanks to the gang at HPVOO for a great weekend!

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