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The future I used to have is back?!?

I use to post entries to my online diary from my Palm, while I was riding the metro. Looks like I can do that again, thanks to some LiveJournal app! Although I do not ride the metro much, these days... And hopefully, my iPod touch will be spared the untimely demise(s) of my Palms!

(Almost) Got a New Bike

Today, I apparently felt very optimistic.

You see, Monday I went to Cycle Technique and asked them if they had some used bikes, having in mind of getting a rain/winter bike. Turned out they did, their summer rental bikes, they were pretty nice, and (allegedly) they had a large one that would fit me. I figured I'd give it a thought, then decided it was a good idea, and went on the Tuesday. I figured I'd walk there, pick up the bike, then ride to work. Except that large was actually a medium. So I walked to work instead.

Today, I figured I'd head over to Beaudry metro, check out Vélo Espresso and Revolution Montreal, for sure I should be able to get a decent used ride between the two of those, right? Well, no. Well, maybe. But mainly no. I had forgotten that Revolution mainly does custom built bikes, meaning that, no, they did not have anything for sale right there. Vélo Espresso had a used bike, but while it could have done, it was quite used. On their main floor, they had this rather weird bike, a Norco VFR 3 Internal. It's a fairly sporty frame, although not too aggressive, and it actually has space and lugs for fenders and racks (although I hear that it's not always the best fit ever), but it has an internal hub and a chain cover. An internal hub and a chain cover, but no fenders? I keep seeing utility bikes that have fenders, racks and lights, but no chain cover nor internal hub, and this bike has the reverse? Well, uh, it so happens that this is the exact set of things that you can't add, so I guess that's cool? I tried it out around a few blocks, and while it's not nearly an upright riding position, it's still surprisingly relaxed. It also comes with clipless pedals and clip-on platforms like those I already have?!? What a weird bike!

After that, I went to ABC Cycles & Sports, but it was closed (only on Wednesdays, argh!). I stopped by Brakeless, since it was just down from it, but they only had the one fixie, it seems more trendy than a place I'd actually want to get a bike from. I then headed over to Le Yéti, where I had a rather informative chat, and saw a ridiculously fancy German bike (I think? don't remember the make/model), which, while complying with pretty much all my requirements, and piling on disc brakes on top (because I really like brakes that work well), is also almost three grands, although it's now on sale at a bit past two grands. Uh, tempting as it is, I'll have to pass.

After that, La Bicycletterie JR, Sport Dépôt, and Pignon sur Roues. The latter had an interesting bike, the Louis Garneau Cityzen One, but is oddly missing just a chain cover (even though a blurb about the bike in Vélo Mag claims there's one?). Why is there almost no bike with chain covers?

I ended up going back to Sport Dépôt, and after some pondering, getting a Marin Belvedere. I had already spotted that bike from some research on the web, and while I knew they had Marin bikes there, turns out they pretty much only had this one, 20% off, so it was a happy coincidence. But... Their mechanic was off today, so they couldn't prep the bike, so I did not ride to work, once more.

Tomorrow, I shall ride home on my new ride! There's no stopping me! They may try, and Jeff might try to jinx me (I beat his Space Invaders high score to ward it off), but I'll be riding back tomorrow, rain or shine, and there'll be no stripe down my back if it's raining!

No Nick Cave and a Cycling Problem

Damn! I wanted to see Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, coming to the Metropolis in October, but it's sold out! Oh well, I'll be trying to go to more small shows, I think. It's been too long I have been to La Sala Rossa, for example, and places like Zoobizarre merit being visited again. Oh, and going to see Miss Kittin & The Hacker on the 27th at SAT! Awesome!

All those shows, I'd like to bike to them, but I've been finding my quest for fenders to put on my bike rather frustrating. It's a weird bike, rather easy to ride with its straight handlebars, but the rest is done in a racing style. Which means that there's basically no clearance anywhere between the tires, the frame, the fork, and the brakes, not a lug in sight for anything (well, except water bottles), and so on...

I'm also pondering a winter bike, as I'd like to try (to some degree, I always have my CAM in my bag!) to ride for at least part of the winter. I'm pondering what to do, as there are many parameters...

I'd like to have a city bike, that would fill in the role a car does for most people. It would have to be practical, something I'd be able to ride day in and day out. It shouldn't be a hassle to ride all the time. I do not want to be hardcore. I'd like to just dress normally, as if I had a car, and arrive maybe a bit rained on at best, as if I was parked a bit far, but not drenched, and no wet line along my back! It could be aluminium, to keep the weight (and the rust) down, but it wouldn't try to be super-light. I think an internal hub might be good, to minimize maintenance as much as possible. Chain cover, to protect my pants. Everything bolted on, so that locking it is easy and quick. Lights, possibly with a generator (but it shouldn't be awful like those against-the-wheel generators).

One of the problems I'm having in this quest is that most bikes fulfilling these criteria (that I can find here) tend to go for a vintage look and have some of the features I listed only because most bikes in the fifties had them, not because they're sensible bikes. One bike having all those items also had things like a seat with big springs (heavy if it useful, sure, but those are heavy and useless!), and a back wheel cover (so that my longcoat doesn't get stuck in the spokes). Stylish, yes, but practical? I live just at the foot of the hill between René-Levesque and St-Antoine, if my first experience when I take out the bike is consistently having this feeling that I'm going to die, well, uh, I don't think that'll be encouraging!

Batavus seems to have some interesting models, and while I haven't seen much of them in Montreal, they have a Canadian site, and there are some resellers in Montreal (I've been there before, but I don't remember seeing them, I guess they can order them, in the worst case). Some details are a bit off still, like the integrated horseshoe locks, which are pretty nice, but require replacing all the inhabitants of Montreal with Danish people first, so it's a bit impractical.

Another thing that's causing me some grief is the parking space. I don't think I want to give up my fast FCR for this hypothetical new bike, you see? On nice days, I don't see why I would deprive myself from the fun of zipping down Ste-Catherine at almost 40 kph! But at the moment, my spot in the basement is just big enough for one bike, maybe two if I could hang then (but it's a temporary setup, and I can't). And maybe I'll be wanting a crappier bike for the winter. And after trying out phython's fixie, I'm still longing for one myself (soooo smooooth!). Where am I going to put all of this bikery? I have my eyes on the mezzanine at home, but it's not very practical, so it might be good to put the winter bike in the summer and vice-versa, but getting stuff up and down there is rather annoying.

Ah, what to do, what to do...

I think I'll deal with the winter first, and get myself one of those cheap-ish Marin hybrid/commuter bikes...

Where is Mike Holmes When You Need Him?

So last Saturday, we embarked on a bit of painting. You see, the paint in our apartment is some sort of "priming basic paint", which isn't totally awful to look at (unlike primer), but isn't quite awesome either, it's prime quality being that it's easy to paint over. After we recently discovered that this quality also made it a fairly hospitable surface for mold, we decided we'd paint the bathrooms with a more appropriate type of paint. While we were there, we also wanted to paint some of the doors a darker shade, a bit like the cupboards.

Unfortunately, after sleeping at azrhey's parents and going to liberation_now and tygrbabe's brunchwarming (where several attempts to make us explode with delicious food were made!), we came back and saw that there was actually a number of screw-ups we hadn't noticed the day before that piled up to make it downright disastrous.

So there has been episodes of peeling off misapplied paint, sanding down some defects, putting in some spackle in places, and repainting some insufficiently covered areas. The bathrooms are more or less back under control, although the doors still need work.

That's combined with finally getting the delivery (albeit a bit later, and taking longer than expected) of the custom wall unit we had ordered a while back for the living room. It's very nice, although it has some of the warts of a one-off, such has just about zero cable routing and the very stylish smoked glass door apparently messing with the PVR's remote control. There was a small mistake in the design, but we actually like it better than what we wanted originally, so there (we'll be able to have a small bar in it!). Still, a fine piece of furniture. Now we just need to get more DVDs to stuff in its gigantic drawers!

It seems like I'm the worst bike mechanic in the world. For a few days now, I was hearing a bit of a metallic noise when I was going over potholes and cracks in the pavement, as if a screw was loose and a washer was bouncing around on it. I tried to locate the origin of the sound, grabbing my cables, derailleurs, and various other mechanical parts, all the while going along Notre-Dame (not the safest plan, by the way). No luck. So I stopped by Belleville Cycle Co-op on the way to work, worried that this might lead eventually to something more serious, like a broken chain or whatnot, and the guy there put me to shame. One of the unused bottle cage screws was loose, and the spacing washer was bouncing around on it. Duh! I swear I checked those guys, but there's four of them, and I as I was doing that while riding, I guess I skipped the culprit... Argh.

azrhey and I took a small break today to go to the Akoha, uh, thing. We've both left wondering a bit about where the money is going to be coming from (but you have to admit that you get to wonder about that for most of what you see on the Internet, and yet, it's there!), but it's a pretty cool and generally positive idea. I'll try to do well as a tester. :-)

Coming back from there, I saw a pretty sweet bike locked on St-Laurent, a Specialized Langster Seattle. I guess that for a fixie, getting it all done like that is kind of cheating, and I'm not entirely sure of what I want yet in a fixie anyway, but it looks damned nice (the Chicago colour is very nice, but the Seattle handlebars are more to my liking). The Seattle one has a coffee cup holder? Uh, anyway...


Of Pride, Biking, and Rain

Went to the Montreal Pride Parade last Sunday, which wasn't all that much to speak of, this year, in my opinion. There were some good floats, but they were few and far between, and there's a lot of ads, it seems. Some of them have a decent float, like that bank one, but some were so utterly boring and out of place, it was stunning. There was a juice ad, and really, there's no other way to call it, that was just one of those trucks with ads on the sides. That's it. Nobody walking along with it giving out samples or flyers, or even just waving, and, you know, being alive. Nope, just a guy driving a truck with big signs on the side. Nice. Thankfully, the company was much nicer, and liberation_now led us through some very nice alleys, good to know!

I also found out that my awesome new mini U-lock is only bare millimetres too small for those parking markers that replaced parking meters. The problem seems to be that plastic covering. Argh. But I think this is still vastly good in its lightweightness and ability to fit easily in my mini-messenger bag (or my jeans back pocket, in a pinch). It works just fine with "no parking" signposts, and there's no shortage of those around Montreal. ;-)

The after-parade barbecue at archdiva was much more fun than the parade itself, in fact. Met some fun people from as far as England, and apparently managed to have a conversation about where Ubuntu is going these days. The latter doesn't sound very surprising for me, but considering the locale, it was rather unexpected. There was burgers, and as per archdiva's requirement, big fat sausages.

I spent most of Monday cursing at the sky for being so sunny when I had left my bike home because of severe rainstorm warnings, but no worries, I got the rainstorm all right by the end of the day, just as I had to walk home with a heavy piece of hardware. How convenient!

But the weather was good yesterday (even took some detours, blazing down University and taking in the view along the Lachine Canal), and it looks very promising today as well!

Biking Frenzy

Tour de Fat
Originally uploaded by Pierre Phaneuf.
After my recent trip to San Francisco, which included attending Tour de Fat (I won't say "participate", because neither morethanreal or I could wake up early enough for the ride proper), I've been re-energized about cycling. Going up the Wiggle in the middle of a foggy night, and still having other people riding the same route, seeing all of those fixies and also the pretty city bikes, it's quite the sight.

So when I came back, I decided to reconfigure my bike slightly, to make it more practical. I got safety skewers to replace the quick-release ones, so that I wouldn't have to disassemble my bike anymore, got myself a mini U-lock that is just enough, small enough to easily fit in my bag, and lighter than my big one. I want to get fenders, but apparently, that's rather tricky for my bike. In any case, the point is that I want to remove any friction to my bike being a day-to-day vehicle. And I think it's going well.

I did get a flat by accidentally riding on broken glass on Ste-Catherine Friday, which I got fixed at Belleville Cycle Co-op, and after getting that fixed, I figured that I'd go check out Revolution Montréal. On my way there, on Maisonneuve at the corner of Aylmer, a mother and her daughter were crossing on a red, not paying attention to either cars nor bikes, while I was going on a streak of green lights at 40 kph. I braked hard enough that my rear brake cable snapped (I think it was iffy already), after having left a good deal of rubber on the pavement already. Stopping about six inches from the daughter, the only casualties were thankfully only my right ring finger and the cable, of course.

I should get myself a cycling icon... :-)

And, finally but not least, we celebrated ayria's birthday and triumphant return to Montreal! It was quite fun, although it is weird observing my own behaviour. I seem to be much less expressive about my feelings (not just with ayria, but in general) than I used to be. I think I might have said this before, but being away for a while seems to have hardened me in a way that I don't really like. Maybe I was too expressive before, I don't know, but this is certainly too much the other way. In any case, I did enjoy myself a great deal, even if someone's definition of "footsie" seems to be "stomping on my toes vigorously"!

Craziness in Frisco

So I went for a weekend in San Francisco... I was planning on that already, so I had packed a light raincoat and a few long-sleeved shirts, so I wouldn't look like a tourist, but as it turned out, I forgot them in Mountain View and looked like a tourist anyway! After obtaining a lender bike for the weekend (thanks Noé!) and deciding to leave my laptop at the office so I could travel light, I hopped on the Google shuttle and managed to get the wireless Internet they have onboard working on my iPod touch. This was already kind of cool, but I was totally amazed when I thought I would consult the map and I pressed the "go to my location" button, just for the heck of it, and it actually got it! I was then further amazed at how it seemed to do a kind of pseudo-tracking, updating my position every ten seconds or so... So I didn't feel quite as lost as I did the last time.

After getting together with morethanreal, dropping off my stuff at her place and inflating the bike's tires (I quickly found out that the brakes were not working well at all either, which was a bit worrying, considering how hilly San Francisco is!), we headed to some show she had heard was recommended that night. It was in a small but pretty cool art gallery, where they had a good number (maybe a hundred or so?) of speakers embedded in wooden sculptures, hanging by wires from the ceiling. The curator later told us that this is an art installation and that they are actually operational, seemed like this could be pretty cool in itself, but as it turns out, the main attraction of the night was a DJ. He was pretty competent, I have to say, and enjoyed his set, despite the fact that we had just missed a part of his performance where he donned a dinosaur suit and hugged everyone in the audience, I was a bit disappointed having missed that! It's funny how people recognize my accent, including in particular the bartender, whom I was asking for a beer. He pointed me at the menu with just two beers available (this was a temporary setup), and I told him that, well, I had no idea what either of those were. So he apologized quickly, asked me if I knew about Unibroue, to which I responded in the affirmative, and he then told me that I would find the first one horrible, and that the other one, well, wasn't nearly as good as Unibroue, but would probably not offend me too much. Heh!

After getting back to morethanreal's place, there was some inevitable discussion about music, of course, and I introduced her to the new Apple Remote application for her iPhone. She fell in love at first sight, it would seem, she even moved her iPhone dock to put it beside her bed! We were pretty tired, but she had put on Black Eyes's eponymous album, and it is quite good, we just had to finish it before going to sleep.

Tour de Fat
Originally uploaded by Pierre Phaneuf.
The next day, I wasn't feeling too sore from sleeping her couch, which was good, because we were heading out to Tour de Fat! There was a brief stop for chocolatines and cappuccinos, of course, it wouldn't have been civilized otherwise. There were crazy bikes, crazy bands, and crazy beer! Much fun was had, including bouncing around with (very) limited success on a pogo-stick. I then accompanied morethanreal to a tattooing session (hers, not mine!), which was pretty cool, including a pretty classic Californian laid back surfer artist. I then headed back with her to pick up my stuff, had some (spicy!) burrito on 16th, then headed to jbdeboer's place, where I elected to stay that night (thanks, by the way!). That place is up. Very, very up. Like, on top. Yowzer. I had some idea of taking a cab from there to the DNA Lounge, but I was too wiped and gave up (fail!).

On the upside of being at the top is the good view (hmm, there's the view to Lafayette Park, which can be interesting according to the "near here" feature of some random iPod Flickr app!), although it was a bit cloudy. Biking down Gough was mental, though! I realized at some point that with the intersections being flat, that I couldn't see past them! All of that while going upward of 40 kph, of course. That led me eventually to a nice breakfast at Cafe Petra, since there was too many people at Ritual (and I don't think they have food either). I biked around the Mission, dropped by Good Vibrations (got myself a book), then back up around Market and Stockton, where I resisted the siren call of the Apple Store. I managed to get some excellent coffee at Bluebottle Coffee, once more, and then eventually got lost in the Tenderloin without realizing it, while I was taking photos. It was very sketchy, especially with my big SLR camera hanging from my neck.

Monday, the excitement level was much lower as I went to Barefoot Coffee Roasters with a team-mate who is a fan of good coffee. It is also very good, although I preferred Bluebottle's. As it is customary in Mountain View, we were back home before 10pm.

The next day, we went for dinner on Castro (in Mountain View) at an Italian restaurant with a very colourful owner, who seems to be a big George Michael fan. Excellent service, though, setting up a table just for us (my other team-mates are known there, it would seem), and of course, singing at the table by the owner. There was some ice cream after, and some of us were rebellious and went home past 11pm!

Now, I'm about to be taken out to In-N-Out, which I'm told I just have to go to. Sounds questionable, but hey, I've done worse.
Thanks for everyone who came to my birthday party, last Friday! Yeah, I know, taking my sweet time, but better late than never... I got some gifts, but even though I'm grateful for those, I was very touched by how some people really worked hard to make it, in spite of distances, insane schedules and massive crowds, and that, wow, I'm quite flattered. Even some people that I don't see quite often and that I've often neglected in my being somewhat of an hermit did came. Thanks!

I'm now in Mountain View, about to head out for a day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, where I'm told the water might actually a bit too cold for going in, but that I'm sure I'll manage to have a good time. Again, the sheer insanity of actually being paid for this is mind-boggling. On the other hand, I am in Mountain View now. But not to worry, tonight I'll be paying San Francisco a visit, going to a show tonight (I've never heard of them! woohoo!) and to the Tour de Fat.

In other bits of random knowledge, did you know that Norwegian actually has two written forms? Argh.
So I went for a ride last Sunday with cpirate and dfcarney. I'm not sure fate didn't really want me too, with a series of bad lucks that culminating with the aluminium sole of one of my biking shoes to let go. But it was fun, ice cream was had, and it all ended up on the roof terrasse with a beer. :-)

Monday, as it was my birthday, the lady azrhey took me out to PortusCalle, which was quite nice! There was some white Port, some rosé, fine food, lovely fondant au chocolat, and, of course, a nice espresso. We then headed down to the Katacombes for a few drinks with liberation_now and tygrbabe.

Wednesday, azrhey, slajoie and I went to play some pools at iStori, followed by a demonstration of my awfulness at Rock Band. At least, I didn't sing, or else we'd have been in trouble with the police, I think.

Yesterday, slajoie and fuzzyila joined me to attend Nista and The Human Kind, at Zoobizarre, which is a pretty cool venue (it's kind of weird, a stone cellar on a second floor?!?). The bands were pretty good, I think, worth getting the CDs for, although Nista doesn't have a CD at the moment. There were a few of my co-workers (and their friends) there, as Nista's guitarist is also a Montreal Googler. There was a song about angst at the supermarket, allegedly inspired by the Super-C near my place, heh!

Tonight, the grand celebration for my birthday! There's a number of people who have been making special efforts in order to be there, so I'm quite flattered! It should be awesome. :-)

My God, It's Full Of Photos!

I'm going to go see Bran Van 3000 with Max-A-Million, Kim Bingham and John Kastner tonight, at the Jazz Fest. Who wants to go? Get in touch with me, we'll go together!

My laptop seems a little bit unhappy this morning. On top of the battery being on its last leg (it keeps only about 30-45 minutes worth of charge now), when I opened it up this morning, it was just off (I only closed the lid yesterday evening, it should have been suspended), and it had lost the time! Wacky.

I finally, after much procrastination, organized my photos sensibly. I have more than seven thousands photos in there, which always surprises me a little bit, because I'm both not very constant with my shooting (reminds me, I should take my camera bag tonight!), and having started out with film, I often end up shooting not too much (although I'm "better" now).

It struck me recently that while I don't feel all that depressed, I'm really having a bad case of being a shut-in, and it's not a very good sign. I think I changed in some ways I don't entirely like, while I was in France. For some things, I think it was for the better, but for others, not so much! I feel like I'm permanently out of the loop, somehow. One thing I miss is the Tuesdays at Grumpy's, it was a nice, mixed crowd, friendly, and was a regular thing, so it was the perfect time to go "hey, so-and-so, there's this thing Friday, wanna go?". Screw Facebook, that was the real thing! ;-)

Rode my bike around a bit yesterday, not so much in distance, but did a few silly things, like go up to the top of Peel, then down (whee!).

Might be just spring, but I'm in a bit of a... "rawr" mood. This is very much unlike the same moment last year, but I was rather depressed at that time. Combined with Montreal being apparently built upon a very large deposit of hotgirlsonium, made the ride yesterday trying on my concentration. Yay for Montreal? I'm not depressed, so I'll die in a horrible traffic incident? Hey, that might just explain all those observations of bad driving!