Monday, 22 June 2015

Another Midsummer's Night: A Two-wheeled Bicycle Dream Come True

                                           Modacity solstice
                                   2015 Solstice Ride final stop: Spanish Banks.
Vancouver might not have made it into Copenhagenize's Top Cycling Cities list this year, but as a community, we're sure growing in leaps and bounds. This city has come  a long way over the last several years, and it shows when you see the increasing number of people embracing cycling as a way of life. I absolutely love how many beautiful women I see out and about on bikes these days. When I began waaaaaaaay too many years ago to mention now, I was a rare thing, a woman on a bike on the city streets all year long, but that's changed. These days I see gorgeous girls on sweet rides All. The. Time.

Blessed be. The whole city has begun to embrace cycling in a way I hadn't even hoped for a few years ago, when animosity ruled the roads. Suddenly it has become much more social. I was riding up the Ontario bike route the other night when I noticed a group of people sitting on a lawn, enjoying a few frothy cold beverages. I stopped, exclaiming "Sweet! Is this a bike party?"

"Nope. It's a free beer party." Funny how the universe works. Only a few weeks ago, I was wishing that my city could match others I had heard of, where a cyclist might wander upon free voila! Ask and ye shall receive! Turns out Dave was celebrating the life of his dear friend Bill Reny who had just recently passed away, and he did so by sharing a keg of beer with the people he met out on his neighbourhood street. You've gotta love this city.

Speaking of our beloved city, its yearly celebration of all things bicycle related - Velopalooza - is in full swing, and I just wanted to take a  minute to share some of our recent cycling adventures with you.
                     dancing between the bridges
The weekend kicked off on Friday with the P.U.P. ride. Cyclists met in Strathcona park, and traveled around the city for a few hours, stopping occaisionally to take in Pop Up Performances staged in open areas around town.
The bikes alone are worth coming to check out, but that's always the case with a Vancruisers event.
You'll always see beautifully restored and maintained bikes from decades gone by, along with an assortment of comfortable steeds.
                               Modacity solstice e
Saturday saw the biggest cruiser ride of the year. Participants met in the parking lot of Pat's Pub before heading out on a tour of the city with several scenic stops along the way. This ride is always a wonder to behold.
                               Modacity solstice i
It's always a ton of fun, too, making your way through the city streets with so many fellow cyclsts! 
                                       Modacity solstice l
It never ceases to amaze me how positive a reception these rides always generate. Maybe it's the old-school bikes that make people smile, or perhaps it's the cast of characters grinning from ear to ear!
                           Modacity solstice j
iWhatever the reason, t's an event unlike any other, and it grows year after year after year.
                          Modacity solstice k
No matter where the cruiser rides start, they always end up somewhere beautiful to behold, and this ride was no exception.
                          Modacity solstice m
The pace is gentle and relaxed so that no-one gets left behind. It really is fun for the whole family.
                          Modacity solstice n
There are several stops along the way, so that even if you've not ridden your bike in years, you'll find yourself comfortable and in good company. These rides really are for everyone.
                          Modacity solstice o
If you don't come with friends, you'll certainly leave with a few, because everyone is welcoming and kind, and happy to see you.
                         Modacity solstice a
some photos courtesy of Modacity's Facebook album
At the end of the day, I can't think of a better way to celebrate the shortest night of the year. 

Thanks for reading spokeNscene, dear reader... I absolutely love that you're here. 

(Please ignore the text/font/photo irregularities. I am working in two somewhat incompatible systems, and trying to work out the kinks.)

Monday, 15 June 2015

Fighting for what's right. It's a midsummer knight's dream: no holds bard.

OMG can you believe it's the middle of June already?! Summer is already upon us, and solstice is on the horizon.
“Seek happy nights to happy days.” 
Remember when you were a kid, and the summer stretched out before you in a long, lazy, almost endless procession of days, full of sunshine and swimming pools? (You know you're getting older when that time and space between the end of winter and the heat of summer happens almost overnight. But happen it has.) I love summer. And summer loves bicycles. They go so well together, don't they? Like Anthony and Cleopatra, or Romeo and Juliet. It's a love affair for the ages.

“My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.” 
We've crossed that indefinable bridge between the seasons and up on the northern hemisphere, we've entered the brightest of them all. Welcome to the realm of  air conditioning and ice cream trucks, of bikinis and boats and convertables, richly redolent of the scent of roses and barbeques. But not barbequed roses. Summer is the perfect season in Vancouver, with a hot day maxing out at about twenty five degrees celsius. It's maybe not so pleasant a season in places like the Australian outback, where they've had to add a colour to the weather map legend with the new seasonal temperatures in the fifties. Yikes. That's actually sizzling hot. The roses are getting barbequed on the bush.

“Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.” 

Sigh... isn't it pretty? I love pretty bikes. That particular bike is enough to make this roadie's heart yearn for the feel of those fast, spinning wheels underneath her. But even if you don't have the bike of your dreams, the truth is any bike will do. After all... "Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast." Specially they that are crash test dummies. Besides. There's always another bike out there, and no matter how many bikes you own, you could always do with just... one... more.... Sometimes it's better to make do with the bike at hand.

If you don't have a bike of your own, you can always beg, borrow, or rent one, cause there's no better way to make the most of your day than to do it on two wheels.

“You are a lover (of bikes!). Borrow Cupid's wings
and soar with them above a common bound.” 
If you rent some bikes at the bottom of Denman St, you can make your way round the commons in Stanley Park to see what there is to see. Some people prefer to get around under another's horsepower, but two wheels always works best for me. It's amazing the people, places, and things you get to know well when you travel under your own steam, instead of sitting all tightly tucked away in a tin can of a car.

You never know what you might see if you keep your eyes open. This is the land of the furry beaver, after all, true, north strong and free.

You can cool down at the water park, running through the sprinklers in a childhood homage to those endless days of summer. “True, I talk of dreams; which are children of the idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy; which is as thin of substance as air and more inconstant than the wind.” Yep. I talk of dreams, whilst you walk through water.

It's all good, though. After all, “What must be shall be. You're in the park, you're on a bike, you're warmed by the summer sun. What more could a person ask for? 

One that lov'd not wisely but too well.” The perfect beach, that's what, and a good friend to share it with. One of the things I love best about Vancouver under a summer's sun is the plethora of beaches there are to choose from, and all of the beautiful people you get to enjoy them with. So grab your beach towel, hop on a bike, and find that perfect spot to chillax for a bit. The journey is half the joy in Stanley Park. The views alone make for a world class adventure.

“He that hath the steerage of my course,
Direct my sail.”
No matter which way you turn, you'll find a beach somewhere along your way, except along those rocky northern shores of the park, where cool, tall cliffs rule the day.

“How much salt water thrown away in waste
To season love, that of it doth not taste.” 
And whichever beach you end up sunning yourself on, you'll find yourself in the company of a few interesting folks, many of whom have also found their way through the park on their favourite bike.

Some of them are more interested in covering up their bits n bobs than others. Not surprising at Wreck beach, perhaps, but it's never unwelcome in Stanley Park, either. After all, in a just world, intelligent people agree that the nipple really ought to be free.

“In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond...” 
Too fond is a question of perspective, though, isn't it? After all, who doesn't love the divinely beautiful? “True, I talk of dreams; which are children of the idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy; which is as thin of substance as air and more inconstant than the wind.” But you might argue that in this world where there is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come, those wee, insubstantial dreams are the very seed from which the best of humanity is born. They are precicely the potent truth we might yet evolve to become if we dare to dream the greatest dream, if we dare to be all we can be.

Searching for truth: “Lord, what fools these mortals be!”
I defy you; I dare you. Dream big: don't let's be fortune's fools. We have it within us to choose something better, something greater than the sad, silly sorry path we're currently on.  “The course of true love never did run smooth.” It isn't going to be easy, but when is the easy path ever the best choice? It's a love affair with the planet, the bicycle, and as hard as it is, deep down inside you already know that it's well worth the battle we're waging for safe streets. “And where two raging fires meet together, they do consume the thing that feeds their fury.”  

“And yet,to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays.” Right?!? “I must be gone and live, or stay and die.” If we get on with it, there is still time, still hope for us. If we stay the course we're on? Madness. This midsummer's dream is a turning point. The tide has changed. Let go. Choose something better, something beautiful, something soul sustaining and planet regenerating. 

It's just the right thing to do; you know it's true.  “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind... and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.” You don't have to see it to believe it. Just do it. Grab a bike and feel the love. 

(Most of the quotes were lifted from Romeo and Juliet, a few from A Midsummer Night's Dream.)