Au Revoir Ottawa

On Sunday I packed up my bike (as well as all of my other worldly belongings), and hitched a ride to Montreal.  I will be staying in Canada’s most cyclist friendly city for the next year, at least.  Yes, life is tough.

See ya never, old furniture.

My new neighborhood is home to some interesting and hilarious sights.  Take for example, my new church.

Church on Sundays, poker on Mondays.

Now, I have never been one to go to church, but the neon sign (which is blinking, by the way), is just too godly to pass up.  On my way home from service, I can stop at my new hangout:

Members...Ha!

A country club in the middle of the city- what a novel idea!  To top the day off, I can take a stroll down St. Catherine’s, which is currently a pedestrian-only zone, complete with a billion tiny pink balloons.

Taken at 9am -not the busiest time of the day, apparently.

Finally, I can retire to my own semi-private back yard.  Smack in the middle of the city, this is what sold us me on the apartment.

Complete with fountains and occasional wildlife/the neighbor's cat.

Stay tuned for cycling adventures in the lovely Montreal.

New home.

Mountain biking and other cottage adventures.

Last week I spent five fabulous days cottaging in the Laurentians in a little place called Lac-du-Cerf.  When I wasn’t  by the water soaking up sunshine and forgetting about reality, I was either re-learning how to use a bar-B-Q or making another drink.   

Working hard.
 
I also swapped potholes for sandtraps and saddled up with this cute little number for my first-ever extreme mountain biking experience.
 
Cottage cycling
 
Just like street cycling, off-road biking comes with its own set of rules.  At the risk of sounding like a complete dweeby novice (which I am), I am going to share a few things I learned that will help you survive your first mountain biking trip.
 
Rule #1: Bugspray.
Do yourself a favor and bathe in the stuff before you trek out into the woods because you will soon have a million buzzing insect sucking your blood and flinging into your nose and eyeballs.   Better yet, bring a bug net, or a friend who is more tasty than you.  The only good thing about the bugs is they kept us cycling at break-neck speed to try to outrun the little buggers.
 
Here goes nothing.
 Rule #2: Don’t stop peddling
Not only does this tip help to keep black flies from nesting in your ears, it also helps keep you on your velo.  Loose rocks and sandy patches are everywhere and if you slow down at the wrong time you are inevitably going to have your tires slip out from under you.  It is worth mentioning her that sand patches are great skidding, whether intentionally or accidentally.
 
Rule #3: There are no rules
No stop signs, no traffic, no crosswalks, no hand signals, no roads and no bike lanes. Occasionally you run into a few obstacles (see below), but aside from that anything goes.
 
Occasional obstacle
 
Of course, mountain biking isn’t the only way to be your own fuel and travel sustainably at Deer Lake:
 
kayaking -like cycling, but for your arms.
 
Sometimes the wind is your friend.
 
 
Hiking last fall.

   

Rite of Passage

This morning I was cycling to work, thinking about my next blog post, when it hit me–in the form of four wheels, two doors and a windshield.  Yes, today I was involved in my first ever bike-car collision.  Don’t let me blow this out of proportion; it was a minor collision and I suffered no injuries.  My lunch-of-champions however (dried raman noodles) exploded on impact. 

I was traveling south down the Prince of Wales when I was car-tackled in the middle of the PoW/Fisher intersection by a driver turning left.  Granted, I was busting my butt through a stale light, but right-of-way was still on my side.  The driver was kind enough to stop and holler at me through her car window while I picked up my bike, panier and dignity off of the pavement (all three seemed to skid away in opposite directions).  Was I hurt? Did I want a drive to the hospital?

Not in your car, lady.

Not true–I was actually appreciative of her concern but unable to express it in my state of shock and bewilderment.  Did I just get slammed by a car at 8:15 in the morning?  I must have shook my head, maybe muttered something about her being more careful in the future, then I dragged my pathetic self out of the intersection.  Needless to say I made it to work with all of my parts in working, albeit shaky, order. 

Though not a pleasant experience, I feel being hit by a car has aged me at least two bike years, like some sort of rite of passage into the world of  better-than-amateur but cooler-than-pro cyclists.  It almost makes me want to buy a fixie and take up bike polo.

Kidding!

On a brighter note, here are a few winners making great use of our neighbourhood bike lanes:

Hey bros, smile for the camera.