Sunday, June 2, 2013

Capital Velo Fest 2013

I headed to City Hall to catch Capital Vélo Fest on Saturday afternoon. It's the festival's third year, and although I couldn't make it to the Tour La Nuit in the evening (and I'm betting it was rained on rather heavily) the afternoon was fun too. 

On the pavement on the way in someone had drawn a line and written "Do you know how far you should be from parked cars and the curb?" and there was also a car parked on the pavement with the door open and a sign inviting drivers to come in and test their bike-wise-ness. Citizens for Safe Cycling had a space right by the door, there was a helmet-fitting table and a ton of information for cyclists and drivers.

As expected, there were a bunch of cool bikes there, being ridden and on display:

Vintage: dates from 1947. I'm in love.

CKCU-FM was there, playing tunes, and there was a game of bike polo going on, on a temporary playing field:

Not to mention the water-balloon fight that started up with a bunch of kids, the free bike taxis circling the plaza honking their horns, and all the stands set up by sports stores, entrepreneurs, cycling groups, and Ottawa Public Health. I roamed for a bit. At the Citizens for Safe Cycling table I stopped and grabbed a "safe cycling guide" and a copy of their newsletter, and then bumped into Hans Moor, the president, who I know from the online community only. But, seeing a tall guy walk up and hearing a Dutch accent, I said, "You must be Hans," and then added, "I'm Kathryn Hunt, I'm on Twitter and I've got a blog..." He recognized me, and since my dad had let me know that Hans had just done a presentation in Fredericton, we talked for a while about the nascent cycling community in Fredericton and the problems and possibilities there. It was nice to finally have a face to put to the name.

I checked out some of the other tables too: there was a woman named Jenny-Lynn Manzo who makes jewelry out of recycled inner tubes.

I took a better picture of this one, but sadly I deleted it by accident. I thought the patch was a cute touch. 
There was also a young guy with a stand, doing quick tuneups and adjustments for free:

I was checking out a table surrounded by vintage and custom bikes and ran into a guy named Michael who was riding a fat bike he'd built himself out of a $200 Wal-Mart cruiser frame and a pair of absolutely enormous rims he bought/built. The tires were 3.75" in the front and 4" in the back, and super squooshy. He said you could ride over just about anything on them. . . and he let me, and a couple of other people, have a go.

Michael on the right. The big tires attracted attention.
Me taking it out for a spin. It was about the most comfortable ride I've had on a bike. All cushy.
But the real surprise for me was that Governor General David Johnston was there. All set in a Canadian Army Spandex shirt and a pair of shorts, and good-naturedly taking on a couple of events in the "bike rodeo" they had set up.
The goal was to pop the balloons with a stick he's got in his right hand.
He and his wife also headed to the stand where you could blend up your own smoothie (a "SMOOCH") with a bike-powered blender. 

And chatted to a bunch of people afterward. 

As the afternoon wore on, I bought a couple of tire valve lights - blue and purple - that I haven't had a chance to try out yet, because I couldn't be at Tour La Nuit, and found myself standing next to a guy at the table who was asking what was going on. He was up from Georgia on a business trip, saw all the bikes, and decided to check it out. When I left the table he was talking to a couple of the volunteers about the possibility of renting a bike - or checking out a Bixi - so he could come along.

I also got a free T-shirt and a random conversation with a couple of older folks - in their 70s I'd say - who publish a bike touring guide of Ontario and had some great stories about long-distance bike touring through the back roads that got me thinking, again, about taking some time out and going for some really long rides.

All in all - a great afternoon, and a really diverse bunch of people, from bike hackers and mechanics to commuters and road bikers. There was Spandex and blue jeans, young and old, clunkers and $2,000 road bikes. Definitely a "biking is for everyone" vibe. I was glad I made it out.


  1. Great pics. I'm impressed that the GG was there during the day.

    Also, I did Tour la Nuit and I'm happy to report that the rain had already passed before it began. It was a great ride!

  2. "Free bike-taxis?"

    I thought I had the market cornered with the Bells Corners FREE Bike-taxi!

    I wish we had a whole fleet of free bike-taxis - not just for dignitaries and tourists, for EVERYONE!

    A social enterprise would be best, but maybe OC Transpo or the NCC would be interested?

    A small amount of funding would be necessary (about $2000 per commercial bike-taxi?) but I bet you could easily find low-income people who would train to be bike-taxi pilots and work for the minimum wage.


  3. Bike-taxis are popular in Montreal.

  4. Helpful information. Now I require some time to digest it.This bike looks super cool I want one for myself.I hope your daughter finds it helpful …she seems to be enjoying herself a great deal that’s for sure