Capital VeloFest 2015 – Tour La Nuit

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Last year (2014) was the inaugural year for the event known as “Tour La Nuit” which was hosted by Capital VeloFest. Unfortunately, I missed it but promised myself that I would not miss the next one. Tour la Nuit is an annual evening bike event which is used to promote the mission of Capital VeloFest which is to inspire and educate people of all ages about the joys and benefits of biking. It also happens to be a lot of fun. A live band, food, drinks and a whole lot of bikers come together for an event that lasts about 5-6 hours.

Touted as Ontario’s only closed road night ride, I registered with a few friends of mine (Kevin and Emily) for a reasonable price of $15 per person. The three of us made our way down to city hall for about 7:00pm where we checked in, were given a free tire light and enjoyed some pre-ride music while we waited with the other 500ish people (ballpark figure) for the sunlight to take a hike. As soon as it was dark enough, the music ended and announcement was made telling us to head towards the start area to begin the ride. As we got underway, there was the usual bottleneck you would expect with a large number of people (of all ages and ability) all trying to go the same way. I was amazed that I saw no one wipe out over the entirety of the ride.

The ride begins

In preparation for the event, we were told to decorate our bikes with lights for fun (and safety). I took the fun part to heart and I ended up trying two things to achieve that goal. The first thing was a costume that lit up and I eventually came up with something pretty good (XL wire stickman costume). It didn’t hurt that it was going to double as a Halloween costume. The second idea I had was to use some LED lights on my tires. After a bit of research, I finally found and settled on a product called the M232 Monkey Light. I ordered a set of of them and once they came in, it took me about an hour to attach both Monkey Lights to my wheels and it worked like a charm. It is essentially a computerized board of LEDs that light up in different colours and sequences that take shape when your tire spins. It’s a very cool effect but was best seen when you are looking at the moving tire from a 90 degree angle (so those beside me go the best view).

I felt a bit dorky when we first showed up to the event as there was still a lot of daylight. There I stood, wearing all these wires along with a metal ring hanging around my face. I was hoping that it would all pan out and I’m glad that it did otherwise I would have looked like some poorly dressed Tron cosplayer.

The starting area was the top of Queen Elizabeth Drive and it was very slow at first. We gained speed as the bikers slowly divided into their natural positions/groups. Volunteers could be seen at every cross street to ensure that traffic would not pass the erected barriers and police officers were doing the same thing at intersections. We had the roads to ourselves. The evening air was a bit cool (10c) but the sky was clear of clouds. In other words, perfect night ride biking weather.

As we rode, I got separated from Kevin and Emily as there were lots of people on the road and it was hard to stay together. I started moving up when I saw open spots and eventually the pack thinned out enough to where I was able to freely move around on the road. As I moved in and out of the groups, I heard all sorts of comments about my wheels (kids in particular really liked it). I also found myself talking to a lot of different people which added to the open feel of the evening. As we neared the Experimental farm (the midway point), I was pleasantly surprised at how many families and young children were participating in the event.

Stickman is born

As we started to ride through the farm, I was quickly reminded that there were no street lights whatsoever. During my planning, I knew that my wheel lights were not sufficient to see in front of me but knew that the street lights would make up for the difference. Knowing this, I had neglected to put on forward facing light. As I rode through the dark on the farm, I ended up using the tail lights of the bikers ahead of me as guidance and also benefited from the other lights that the bikers were using. As I got close to the end of the farm, I figured it would be good to reunite with Kevin and Emily for the return ride downtown so I pulled over to the side of the road to wait for them. I turned off my wheel lights and stood there figuring I would get a few laughs out of my stickman costume.

That move turned out to be the highlight of my evening. With no other light source around, people quickly saw me and started laughing and cheering. At first I would just wave to them. I then started doing exaggerated movements and some cheesy dance moves which got kids and adults alike laughing even more. After about 10 minutes of this, Kevin and Emily called out my name as they rode by and pulled over to watch. I had the biggest grin on my face as I was doing what I love to do. Thinking back, it was the first time that I’ve felt normal and good about things since my father passed away 9 months ago. Kevin and Emily were good sports and hung out with me for another 10-15 minutes while the crowds went by shouting out various things. There were other enthusiastic cyclists as well who had put in a lot of effort to decorate their bikes (more so than I). Glow sticks, M232 Monkey Lights, EL Wire and even one individual who had a giant portable speaker that was belting out some trance music. I was asked many times what I was wearing and where I had bought it. It’s too bad I don’t get a referral bonus from the website I bought the EL wire from as I told about 10 people about it.

As the crowd thinned out, Kevin, Emily and I hopped on our bikes and we pushed to catch up with the main group. As we made our way back, I noticed a small four person band playing under the Bronson Bridge and they had lights all over them. I think they were playing some Jazz. I shouted out my appreciation as we passed by them and caught up with a large group of bikers. Zipping in and out of groups of cyclists, we made good time and were soon back to City Hall.

As we came in, we heard the live band playing again and the beer tent was happily being used. A local company called the Bicycle Craft Brewery was promoting their brews there that night and though tempted, we did not partake. Instead we stood around and did some people watching. Families trickled into from the ride, the band interacted with the crowd that had gathered in front of them and the beer tent was full of patrons enjoying a pint and some snacks. As we stood there, in the main square and talked about the ride, I had a few people come up and inquire about my costume. With the interest that was shown, I’m hoping that there will be a light show next year.

Wind down and final thoughts

We eventually got on our bikes and headed out to where we had parked our cars. As we traveled the streets, I got more than a few curious glances but finally decided to turn off the lights once the drunks started noticing me bit too much. Overall, it was a fantastic evening and the atmosphere that was in the air got me nostalgic for the days when I lived downtown. The vibe was very open, friendly and you could sense the feeling of community – it’s hard to explain. The suburbs ,where I’ve lived for more than a decade, have all had great neighbourhoods. Helpful people, street potlucks and park BBQs come to mind but there is something different about downtown living and it was nice to get a taste of it again. Think I’m going to find some more downtown events to attend over the next few months.

I will definitely go back next year and try to recruit more people to come out. A big thanks to the organizers of the event.

Worthy Quotes

If the lessons of history teach us anything it is that nobody learns the lessons that history teaches us.
To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.
Abraham Maslow
Trouble knocked at the door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away
Benjamin Franklin
The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.
Groucho Marx
Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not.
Virgil Garnett Thomson
Well begun is half done.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.
Benjamin Franklin
Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
Benjamin Franklin
Don't go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.
Mark Twain
History is written by the victors.
Winston Churchill
If I only had a little humility, I’d be perfect.
Ted Turner
Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.
Benjamin Franklin
The most interesting information comes from children, for they tell all they know and then stop.
Mark Twain
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
Harry Truman
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.
Winston Churchill
You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.
Wayne Gretzky
It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it.
Benjamin Franklin
You can do anything, but not everything.
David Allen
Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.
Kurt Vonnegut
We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.
Once in a while you will stumble upon the truth but most of us manage to pick ourselves up and hurry along as if nothing had happened.
Winston Churchill
A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Winston Churchill
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
Benjamin Franklin
Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
Benjamin Franklin
Well done is better than well said.
Benjamin Franklin
The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time.
Mark Twain
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence in society.
Mark Twain
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.
Mark Twain
Never ruin an apology with an excuse.
Benjamin Franklin
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.
The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.
William Arthur Ward
Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.
Benjamin Franklin
Adam and Eve had an ideal marriage. He didn't have to hear about all the men she could have married, and she didn't have to hear about the way his mother cooked.
Kimberley Broyles
Do, or do not. There is no 'try'.
Jedi Master
History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
Winston Churchill
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Maya Angelou
I never forget a face, but in your case I'll be glad to make an exception.
Groucho Marx
Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.
Erica Jong
Substitute 'damn' every time you're inclined to write 'very'; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
Mark Twain
Many people die at twenty five and aren't buried until they are seventy five.
Benjamin Franklin
He that lieth down with Dogs, shall rise up with Fleas.
Benjamin Franklin
It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog.
Mark Twain
Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
Poet (43 BCE - CE 17)
Never leave till tomorrow that which you can do today.
Benjamin Franklin
Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.
Albert Einstein
Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
Alfred A. Montapert
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Eleanor Roosevelt
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.
Will Rogers
Tis a great confidence in a friend to tell him your faults; greater to tell him his.
Benjamin Franklin
If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
Mark Twain
Computer games don't affect kids; I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive electronic music.
Kristian Wilson
Nintendo, Inc, 1989
The manager administers, The leader innovates. The manager maintains, the leader develops. The manager relies on systems, the leader relies on people. The manager counts on controls, the leader counts on trust. The manager does things right, the leader does the right thing.
Forbes Magazine
When the well is dry, we know the worth of water.
Benjamin Franklin
One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.
Don’t ever wrestle with a pig. You’ll both get dirty, but the pig will enjoy it.
Cale Yarborough
I am opposed to millionaires, but it would be dangerous to offer me the position.
Mark Twain
We learn something every day, and lots of times it’s that what we learned the day before was wrong.
Bill Vaughan
They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin
A Man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
Benjamin Franklin
If it's your job to eat a frog, it's best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it's your job to eat two frogs, it's best to eat the biggest one first.
Mark Twain
We’ve heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true.
Robert Wilensky
Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.
Oscar Wilde
There's a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.
Steven Wright
In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
Robert Frost
When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life in such a way that when you die the world cries and you rejoice.
Native American Proverb
Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.
Benjamin Franklin
People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.
Zig Ziglar
In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.
Thomas Jefferson
To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there's no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other.
Jack Handey
There are lies, damned lies and statistics.
Mark Twain
The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.
Mark Twain
We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing!
Benjamin Franklin
When a person can no longer laugh at himself, it is time for others to laugh at him.
Thomas Szasz
If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a big mistake.
Frank Wilczek
Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.
Mark Twain
Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.
Franklin P. Jones
A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.
Winston Churchill
The measure of a life is not what that life accomplishes,but rather the impact that life has on others.
Jackie Robinson
Laughing at our mistakes can lengthen our own life. Laughing at someone else’s can shorten it.
Cullen Hightower
Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.
Benjamin Franklin
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.
Albert Einstein


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