Sunday, 5 September 2021

On facial recognition

Vélo-Quebec introduced something new this year with a photo section of the Tour de l'Île. It had employed a half-dozen or so photographers deployed along a section of street to take photographs of all the passing participants. All 30k+ of them are available here.  I knew about what time I had gone through the section so I "only" had about 4000 pictures to look through.

There was a feature that let you input a face so that facial recognition software could identify pictures in the set of a given individual. I didn't use it at first. Instead, I set about skimming through pictures looking for a figure in a red bénévélo-mechano t-shirt with a safety yellow helmet. It took quite some time, but I eventually found myself, as well as some of J.P. and family. Once I found one of myself, I clicked on my face to see if the facial recognition software really worked. It found three other shots of yours truly. It also generated a few false positives. All of them were of J.P.  I think the reason was that he was also wearing the same red t-shirt and also had a safety yellow helmet. In addition, he also has a short salt and pepper beard.


Sunday, 29 August 2021

On a humid and delayed Tour de Île

It was a bit like the Tokyo Olympics, really, if the bibs the participants wore is anything to go by. This example worn by my friend J.P.'s daughter C. is anything to go by. Note the editing done by her parents!

I saw another bib on which the wearer had crossed off the 2020 and written in below: "2021 or bust"!

J.P. is the one who first got me to participate in the Tour de l'Île as a volunteer bike mechanic, or bénévélo-méchano. He showed up at Lafontaine Park a shade late having misread his "heure de convocation." I hadn't seen him in nearly two years, so we spent much time chatting and catching up as we waited for the start. Our Mayoress was on hand to witness the start of the Tour. There was also the Federal culture minister and two provincial cabinet ministers, who barely count given the lack of Montrealers in the provincial cabinet.

Because of the need for social distancing, there were 8 starting location distributed around the 33 kilometer course. Thankfully, I had been assigned the one nearest to chez moi, at the aforementionned Lafontaine Park which not coincidentally, was next to the headquarters of Vélo-Québec.

While waiting, I assumed myself by placing my helmet on a traffic cone to show what a hard and dangerous life Montreal traffic cones live.
Once the start was given, well after it's planned start of 9 AM, J.P. and I set off to tend to our flock so to speak. I raised two seats, changed one inner tube, removed one mirror and assisted J.P. with an involved attempt to properly secure a "giraffe" to a bike to be towed. The fundamental problem was that the giraffe or towing bar wasn't really the right size for the fork of the bike to be towed. The familly had used it with another bike previously, but the kid had recently changed bikes and they hadn't used it before with that bike. A complication was that this was about mid-trip for them, the lad having biked the previous half. Also, they were about to face the climb up Berri Street. We managed to jobber something, using, among other things, a punctured inner tube! (Re-use, recyle.) 

J.P. and I met up with his significant other and their two daughters in Maisonneuve Park across from the Olympic Stadium. We then crossed under Sherbrooke Street using one of the classic routes of the Tour before doing something the Tour had never done before in my experience. We went through the Olympic Stadium!!!
You read that right: through the Olympic Stadium!  If you still doubt me, please examine the pictures!

J.P. and Family in the Olympic Stadium

A little later, I stopped to photograph a tandem Bixi. I had read about one that Boris Johnson had built as a self-promoting wedding present for William and Kate, but hadn't tought any more were made.
As we made the long climb up Berri Street, J.P. and I encourage C. (age 6) as she pedalled up by chanting her name.

The weather was cool, overcast and rather humid. Thankfully, it didn't rain.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

On a late start

 Victor von Fleddermoose was taken on a Défi for the first time today. What with Covid-19 and all, the Défi Métropolitain, usually held on the last Sunday in May, was held today. It was also my first Défi since 2019. 

I think I left my place at the right time to get to Châteauguay for my 8:30 departure, or least what should have been the right time. However, despite Google Maps, construction, bad luck and worse bureaucratic planning intervened. The plan was to take Autoroute 20 West, get on the 138 to cross the Mercier Bridge then turn left to get on the 132 Westbound. The first snag emerged when the access ramp from the 20 to the 138 was closed for construction/maintenance. This meant having to take a detour in order to make what amounted to a U-turn a few kilometers up beside the 20. 

Having all but crossed the Mercier Bridge, I found that I couldn't turn right because of construction, and so had to turn left onto the Eastbound 132 until the first intersection where I was to make a U-turn to head West.  Unfortunately, traffic was held up by the fact that a Kahnawake peacekeeper was moving traffic cones into position. Then a beat-up pickup from Alberta broke down in the "detour" lane!!!

Net result, I only got to the start after my parents had left.

It was a glorious day for biking with cool temperatures despite the sunshine and a moderate consistent wind out of the West. Unfortunately, I had a seat-pedal interface issue namely the fact that I am out of shape. That is not to say there weren't some bits. Just leaving the start, there was a stretch of slight downhill with a tailwind. I was pleased so see that I was doing about 35 km/h, and was then passed fairly snappily by fitter people on faster bikes!

The parents were taking a route that was roughly 20 kms shorter than mine before lunch. Together with their early departure, they arrived at the lunch place about an hour before me.

I had pondered taking the second extra bit as it looked like it might have been interesting. But I was unsure of my fitness level. As it was after lunch, I had theoretically left the decision until I got to the intersection, but in truth, I knew I wasn't going to take it before I got to the intersection. Among other reasons, I got mildly stung in my upper lip by an insect that collided with me.  Coming back, I benefitted from the consistent West wind. I arrived at the end about 20 or 30 minutes after the Parents. Unfortunately, they were a shade too impatient to wait. As I rode back to parking lot after getting my chocolate milk, I saw them leave, turning away from me. Had they gone the other way, they would have seen me.

At the finish, there was a campervan with an unusual front license plate. For one thing, it was what I think of as European format. The sight of such is not that rare. However, at first glance it looked Russian or Ukrainian. However, when looked at more carefully, it was in fact phonetic Québécois:

Où est-ce qu'on va?
The stats are: 4 hours, 39 minutes, 21 seconds of riding. 106.65 kms covered. Average of 22.9 km/h. Max speed, 36.8 km/h.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

On frustrations with Victor von Fleddermoose

 On Canada Day, I cleaned the chains of Justin Thyme and Victor von Fleddermoose. As well, I inflated their tires to their recommended PSI's. This was Victor's first day out this year, your humble correspondent having been quite lazy. After the TLC, I geared up, and headed off on Victor on a combined errand/exercise run. I was planning on going to work to pickup a pair of reading glasses I had left at work the day before, then heading to the Lachine Canal to Lachine, before coming back via the riverside bike path.

Somewhere in NDG, I noticed that my front tire was a shade underinflated. Then I as turned onto Cavendish, it gave completely out. As it had been a nice day, and Victor had just been serviced, I had decided to leave my tool bag at home. I walked the remaing distance to work, retrieved my reading glasses, then set to work trying to book a taxi to take Victor and I home. After more than half an hour and several phone calls, I realised that I was S.O.L. as far as taxis were concerned and set off on foot to the nearest Metro station, several kilometers away. As I passed one intersection, a young woman asked me how to get to the "Subway". After making sure she didn't mean the sandwich chain, I said that she should go to the bus stop across the street and catch the 161, getting off at the Plamondon station. She then asked if I was sure about that. I replied, possibly a bit testily, that I had been doing it on a regular basis to part of my commute for twenty years.

As I approached Plamondon pushing Victor, I became aware that I hadn't brought my Opus card with me, meaning that I would have to buy a ticket. It was just one more bit of frustration. That was Thursday.

On Saturday, I set about replacing the front inner tube with the usual grumbles. After inflating the front tire, I topped off the rear one as well. I then sat down at my computer to surf the internet. An hour or so later, I heard a pop followed by a hiss coming from Victor. The rear inner tube had given up the ghost. When I tried to diagnose the issue, it appeared that the valve was somehow compromised. With more grumbling, I replaced the rear inner tube. 

Today, I took Victor out for a successful trial run. I rewarded myself with my first draft beer since at least September. It was my local "biker bar", a.k.a. as the Terrasse St-Ambroise.

Friday, 30 April 2021

On the fate of my former front panniers

About ten years ago, I upgraded my front panniers from MEC Cordura bags to Ortleib waterproof bags. Since then, the old panniers have been hanging from a hook in my storage space. However, they have now gone to a better place. It emerged a month or two ago that Désirée wanted some small panniers, having borrowed some last summer for the trip to Quebec City. After some discrete negotiations, I was given the green light to give them to Désirée as birthday presents which I described as "pre-tested" along with some books she wanted.

That was at the start of the month. Strangely enough, last night I had a dream in which was arguing with Désirée's father (my brother Philip) about how that type of MEC bag hooked on. He had been insisting in his uninformed way that it wasn't a good system. (One piece of context here is that Philip does not own a bicycle. He's the black sheep of family in that respect.) I demonstrated how it was supposed to go on and pointed out that I have been using MEC bags which hooked on like that for years. There was an "oh" from my brother.

While I love my brother, I find he sometimes isn't as informed as he thinks he is. I remember one real discussion where he was insisting that "schmaltzy" had a meaning of "overly sweet". I had to point out to him that a better definition was "cloying", as "schmaltz" referred to chicken fat. It had to be pointed out to him that I had been working in a library serving a Jewish community for at least a decade at that point, so I was likely better informed than he was on the subject.

Monday, 19 April 2021

On finally configuring Justin Thyme to my satisfaction using a new bike tool

 I am often rather annoyed with Facebook ads. However, nothing comes for free and all that. Nonethless, a few weeks ago, I saw an ad on Facebook for a bike tool that promised to make it easier to put tires on rims without damaging the inner tube

More than a year ago, I was frustrated in my attempts to put my favourite tires on Justin Thyme. I tried several times, but I always ended up piercing the inner tube. Consequently, I had put the serviceable but not notably puncture resistant tires Justin came with back on.

While the tool did seem a shade expensive, it looked like a good idea, so I ordered one. I have bought more expensive and less useful things during the Pandemic. When I went out for a walk around the block this afternoon, it was in my mailbox. 

As the day was sunny and lousy weather is expected over the next three days, I decided to try the device after work.  Armed with tool bag, pump and tires, I made my way down the front stairs to the sidewalk. 

As luck would have it, a neighbour just setting off on a "whee" bike asked me if he might borrow my pump as he wanted to put an extra 15 PSI in his rear tire. As it was easy for me to do so while social distancing, I said: "Sure." While I was working, three of my fellow condo owners and the girlfriend of one of them came out and we chatted at appropriate distances in the warm afternoon sunshine.

Even with the tool, it was not easy to put the tires on the rim. It took a worrisome amount of force each time. However, after the last snap, the tire was on and the inner tube inflated. So, alls well. Justin Thyme now has the narrower, tougher tire that I like. *Touch wood.*

Sunday, 21 March 2021

On just how apt the naming of Justin Tyme was

This article on the CBC makes it very clear to me that my decision to buy Justin Tyme was extremely well timed. This in turn means that his name is also extremely apt.