In Montreal for a cousin’s wedding, I decided to take a morning to explore the city — by bicycle of course. My uncle dropped me off at a subway station, where I picked up a map of the city and hopped on one of the Bixi bikes stationed outside. Renting the bike was a breeze. I stuck my credit card in the bike station, clicked through some menus in French (although there was English, I just didn’t notice how to change it until later). Voila! I got a receipt for a passcode and released a Bixi from its corral.
Montreal is an island in the St. Lawrence river, so navigation proved tricky at first. I naively thought — I’ll just bike towards the river! — but soon realized the river was on both the north AND south. Fortunately, I had the good sense to ride towards the more populated south-central district and ended up on the scenic Lachine Canal. I then headed for the Allez-Up rock gym, which conveniently had a Bixi station right next to it to return my bike.
After pulling some plastic with ripped French-Canadian rock climbers (be still my beating heart!), I checked out another Bixi and rode to meet my relatives for lunch in Vieux Port, the touristy Old Port district. I parked the bike right along the waterfront, at at the longest Bixi bike corral I had seen yet, .
After lunch, my cousins Fuman, Peter, Gabriel AND my dad all rented bikes and we took a ride around town! Dad started out really well — it has been over 30 years since he’s been on a bike. He even asked for rubber bands to tie up his pant cuffs like an old pro. Then he crashed twice — once going uphill and then again on gravel. After picking himself up and pedaling on resolutely, a thundershower hit us, with high heavy winds, as we crossed a busy bridge over the St. Lawrence River back to Old Port. Dad stopped on the bridge and, shaken and soaked, pulled out an umbrella. We made it back another half-mile, returned our bikes, and I bought him a hot tea. I might be able to get him on a bike again. Perhaps in our next lifetimes?