Thursday, 8 June 2017

On clueless prizes

Apart from one incident, this year's Tour de l'Île went very well up until Vélo-Québec awarded me a prize.

The day had been forecast as unfavourable with cloudy skies, cool and with a chance of rain for much of the week. However, the forecast got better on Saturday and in the event the weather was near perfect. Sunny yet cool (high of 21). Indeed, I made the mistake of heading to the event in long trousers. I was again a volunteer mobile bike mechanic. Again like last year, I left my place early for th Chalet in Lafontaine park to pick up my Bénévélo kit and that of my friend J.-P..  There was a sign on the outside wall saying beware of the mother duck.  Low and behold, there was indeed a mother mallard who had made a nest in one of the big planters next to the wall. She was keeping a close eye on anyone who came close to her. A pair of duckling poked their fluffy heads out from under her and I had the impression that there were more under her.
 After picking up the kits, I headed over to J.-P.'s for breakfast. His family has grown by one since last year. Chloé is now a big sister to Estelle who is just starting to locomote. Both very cute. After breakfast, J.-P. and I headed to the start to await our orders to roll and to seek out people who needed their tires inflated. Our team was in fact sought out by a woman who had found a young girl who had lost her mother. J.-P. and a couple of policemen looked after her.
 The one seriously untoward incident came when Montreal's fat  and evil slob of a mayor got on the public address system and made a blatantly vote seeking speech which touched on his needlessly expensive Montreal 375 party which he implicitly contrasted with the previous night's terrorist attack in London and made empty promises about bike paths. (This, by the way, is the first time I have heard a mayor speak at the Tour de l'Île.)  I would have thrown a mushy banana at him, but pity stayed my hand: it was a pity I wasn't near enough to see where he was.
After a while, J.-P. and I set off, but a few blocks later, we stopped to greet Marie-France, daughters and Felix, his nephew. The latter had been put in charge of pulling the elder daughter in the Tour in a trailer! What with one thing and another, J.-P. and I were separated before we left Parc Avenue. My services were called for in order to help someone with a flat tire and possible seat handlebar interface problems which would be tedious to related but not so tedious as to endure, to borrow a phrase from Douglas Adams. The one good thing was that I got to say "Shalom" to passing Hasidic Jews who pointedly ignored me.

The Tour de l'Île generates an amount of surprising and potentially dangerous litter. I make it a point to pick up as much of it as I can. This year, I picked up one full biking water bottle, two Gatorade bottoms (one full and one empty), a velcro LED visibility strap, a pair of biking gloves (whose owner I found) and a new inner tube, still in its box (size 700x35-42 Schrader valve).

My observation is that people who are participating in the Tour are either trending towards the better equipped or are opting for Bixis. The former require less intervention from Bénévélos and the latter are of less concern as if something goes wrong we can't really help them given the way Bixis are designed. All this to say that I didn't have whole lot of business from cyclists. Discounting inflating tires at the start, I would say that I escorted more "civillians" across the road than I helped cyclists!

Once back at Fletcher's Field, I found the volunteers' tent where I enquired where I was to return my unused inner tubes. One of my fellow volunteers told me it had been cunningly located at the opposite corner of the field. I went over and dropped off my unused inner tubes as well as the one I had found as I have no use for  Schrader valved inner tube.

Around lunchtime today, I got a "Thank you" e-mail from Vélo-Québec which reminded volunteers that there was a "happy, jolly" thank you party this evening and that the following volunteers had won a prize. I was surprised to see my name on list and J.-P.s!  The party was to be held at the Musée Grévin. So I headed there after work.  My path was blocked by the f***ing street party on Crescent street for the f***ing F1.

The Musée Grévin is, in essence, a Québécois knock-off of Madame Tussaud's. It is located in a former movie theatre in the Eaton's Centre in former years I saw such movies as Cutthroat Island and Interview with a Vampire. As you start the tour, you first confronted with number of Québécois celebrities, before encountering people most non-Québécois are likely to have heard of. The effect is really rather cheesy. One room was laid out like the shower from Psycho with Alfred Hitchcock sitting down and reading a script. However, if you looked behind the curtain, there was no Janet Leigh, nor even a bottle of chocolate syrup! Also, the accuracy of at least one of historical figures was farcical: depicting General Wolfe with a musket on his back is monumentally wrong.

That didn't stop me from taking a few selfies.
I was surprised at how tall he was.
I was also surprised that they didn't have one of his son.

I would have love to have taken a selfie with her husband.


After making my way through the maze, I came the table where I could claim my prize.  Oh joy.  Oh rapture.  A year's free Bixi usage.

Do the clowns at Vélo-Québec even try to think these things through? I mean, chances are a "bénévélo" is bound to already own a bicycle. And those that do and who happen to use Bixis (all three of them) have probably already yearly passes. To boot, this "prize" is only really useful to those who live in the Bixi area and those who live further away from downtown would might view it as a pretty empty prize. Then you have the not insignificant percentage of the population who view Bixis as a poorly thought out waste of taxpayer's money and a serious drain on the biking budget.

Sorry Vélo-Québec, while the Tour de l'Île might be better than the Five Boroughs, a prize of "free" Bixi usage is not a suitable thank you gift. It is an insult.

1 comment:

Margo and Chris said...

Wonderful to read you first post in quite a while. You seem to be in excellent writing form, Daniel! Write on!!
Last week I did three volunteering stints for BIke to Work Week. I did NOT win a year's membership to Mobi bikes, which is probably just as well as it about as dumb a prize as a Bixi membership for Tour de l'Ile volunteers. Still, I might have given it to Jude .....but what on earth are they thinking?