Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Biking in Montreal – not scary, but damn hard

Today I rode my bike up a hill. Well, yesterday now, actually.

With my bike now in Montreal, I thought it would be a good day to take it on a test drive, on a holiday, when ostensibly the traffic (both automotive and cycle) would be less than on a weekday. Montreal drivers having the reputation they do, I was wary at first to take it out on the road, lest I be flattened the first time out.

Now, my bike is not the average bike around here. It’s a mountain bike. A somewhat ugly, cheap mountain bike. One that I would only bring home to my mother to scare her.  It changes gears unexpectedly. It leaves grease stains on my pants no matter how hard I try to avoid it. It is still caked in mud from the last time I took off-road back home. I love it like Marsha loves hers, but I would make absolutely sure to use a rubber.

While the weather is still good, I hope to make a habit of taking her to and from the lab. I often rode to and from my old university and never had too much trouble. Note that my old university was in Southern Ontario. Flat Southern Ontario.

Now for a fun fact: The source of the name Montréal comes from the old French for Mount Royal – Mont Réal. That’s mount as in mountain*. While I’m in better shape than I have been in the past from making a habit of running around said “mountain”, the inclines on the way to the lab sure were not fun. I had been warned, but I did not heed the advice. Biking muscles are not the same as running muscles. I was dying by the time I made it to the lab. Things should be interesting with this bike.

Surprisingly, traffic was pretty forgiving to me on the bike, perhaps because there are many who ride bikes around that don’t ride the fastest, struggle figuring out their directions, and actually obey all the rules. Or maybe I just got lucky. Time will tell. But for now, the traffic aspect of city biking wasn’t too bad. The geography was what wrecked me.

Experiences with a bicycle in Germany last summer have made me somewhat confident riding a bike in the city, but also made me a little nervous, even for my beloved-yet-piece-of-crap bike. Sadly, a reality about city life is that it is not uncommon for bikes to just roll away when you’re not watching. Hence my lack of hurry to clean off the mud on my bike. Maybe I’ll try to count on the difficulty getting around on my piece of junk to be somewhat to a deterrent.

*mountain of a sort – more of a very large hill, but that’s not much consolation as you struggle up a 15º incline

1 comment:

marsha said...

Oh Shane, you made me lol for real.

I agree with keeping your bike dirty if you're riding it around everywhere - bike thieves are crafty folk. Me, I keep my good one locked safely in my basement unless my ass is firmly planted on the seat.Good luck riding up your mountain. 15° is pretty respectable.

How is your school going so far, now that you've properly started?