“Eye in the Sky” by Viva Voce is the soundtrack to this post. It’s a cover of the APP classic. Press play god dammit.
Woke up fully nasally congested last Friday. I asked myself, do I ride, or do I brave the StinkTrain on parade day? Transit on Stampede Parade day is stuffed to overflowing with people who collectively smell like curry, pancake syrup, cucumber and Axe shower gel. Keep in mind I couldn’t actually smell anything, so it wasn’t as much of a no-brainer as it first appears to be. This decision was more about how I don’t like people touching me even more than I don’t like how they tend to smell. Approximately 300,000 people go downtown to watch the Stampede Parade. Most of them take the same train as me at the exact same time that I want to. I’ve tried leaving my house earlier, but there’s some sort of neighbourhood watch and they all sync their watches. They stink, but they’re organized.
Even if it hadn’t been parade day, I had some brand new go-fast tires that I wanted to try out. I behave like a little kid when I get new bike stuff…I have to road test it immediately. So there it was. Bike. The tires are 1.25″ Tioga City Slickers in case you care. $21 each at MEC. Put them on your mountain bike, pump them up to 85 psi and pretend you’re Lance Armstrong. Wheeeeee…..
Not only was it parade day, but freakin’ Will and freakin’ Kate were visiting. I was vaguely aware of that fact because I’d spent most of the previous two weeks trying to ignore the non-stop coverage by every “news” outlet in the northern hemisphere. I should have paid more attention. Turns out that Wulliam and his pretty new sandwich maker/baby oven were doing some sort of royally thing at a park that intersects my route to work. It’s at the end of a long stretch of bike path that is accessed by a new pedestrian bridge about 7 kilometers to the north of the park. The path has a moat on one side and a highway on the other, so once you’re on it there’s only two ways out.
When I got to end of the path, it was all blocked off by a temporary fence with razor wire on top of it. I looked for some way to break through, but there wasn’t one so I gave the finger to the fence and shook my fist at someone working inside who was so far away from me that all I know for sure about them is that they were wearing a white shirt. I had to turn around and ride 7 kilometers back the other way so I could detour around their royal hineynesses. This was a 7:15 AM, and the stupid royals weren’t even scheduled to be there until 12:45 PM. WTF? If the phrase “a royal pain in the ass” didn’t already exist, I would have invented it on this morning.
I finally got around the royal constipation, but I was now 7 minutes and 19 seconds behind schedule. Fortunately there was a slight tail wind and I was able to make up some time over the next 5 kilometers. I cross Deerfoot Trail on a pedestrian/bike bridge right by the Calgary Sun. Once on the west side, there’s a nice long downhill that runs parallel to Fox Hollow Golf Course. At the end of that hill is a railway crossing. There’s hardly ever a train there at that time of morning, so when there is one it doesn’t bother me that much. I can take a quick breather and check Facebook. This morning though, my mood once again soured because I had already been inconvenienced once. Twice was going to be a problem. There was no other option available…I had to call my buddy Tim Schutz. He always has the right answer. Or a beer. Usually, either one works equally as well.
Me: Tim…what the hell…a train…how do I deal with this?
Tim: Have you tried giving it the finger?
Me: Not yet. Hold on and let me try…nope, that didn’t work.
Tim: Do you want a beer?
Me: Yes…no…I can’t, I’m on my way to work. I guess I have to wait ’til later.
Tim: Now you’re just talking nonsense. I gotta go.
For me, one of the nice things about riding a bike is that road rage is less frequent and less intense and it goes away more quickly than it does if I’m in a car. Once the stupid train had passed, it was clear sailing all the way to work. That’s an intentional mixed metaphor, so feel free to not comment on it or point it out to me later.
South, past the new Telus World of Science to the Bow River. Past the east end of the zoo where the gigantic hairy thing with gigantic horns and giganticer testicles farts at me every morning. Across the Baines Bridge, through Freddie Mercury Park and into the Fort Calgary grounds and the East Village. That happens to be the staging area for the parade. I took a whole bunch of pictures of the floats and horses with the Calgary Tower and the Bow Building in the background. The were pretty good but I accidentally deleted them, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. From there, it’s a quick dash through Prince’s Island (bonus…I used the steaming piles of parade horse poop as slalom cones) and finally down 7th Street to the office.
I was happy again by the time I got there, proving that the royal family has no power over me and is an antiquated concept. They tried to mess up my day, but they failed.