Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Crossing Canada: Montreal to Kitchener

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After a great breakfast at Le Petit Prince Bed & Breakfast in Montreal, Evan and I said goodbye to Pam, the B&B's manager and set out to check out BIXI- the city's new bike share program.

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You go to one of the dozens of bicycle stations across the city, swipe a credit card, and walk away with a bike. It's free for the first half hour, and a few bucks if you want to check it out for longer. Or for $78, you can ride Bixi the whole year. It's a pretty nice bike too, with three gears and very solid construction. The program's only a few weeks old, but I saw a lot of people using the bikes already. We took a quick ride through the old town before heading to the Gare Central, aka the train station.

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Even before boarding the train, it became clear that riding Via Canada Rail is a very different experience from riding Amtrak. The lines were orderly, the boarding happened promptly, and we left the station at exactly the correct time. The train cars seemed pretty new with plugs at every seat, nice overhead baggage storage, fancy tables that flip out of your armrest, (so that they don't jostle around when the person in front of you adjusts their seat), and even free wireless internet. Even the other passengers seemed more polite. And all the conductors were bilingual!

We switched trains in Toronto, and around 7:30PM we pulled into Kitchener, Ontario. Brent, (of Bike Forest) and Mohrgan met us at the station with a tandem bike truck to haul our bags back to Brent's house.

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I rode in the truck with Mohrgan and Evan hopped on the tandem with Brent.

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We pedaled down the street, as all the nearby drivers honked and waved. Instead of being annoyed by our slow pace, everyone seemed amused by the giant yellow Hummer-like creation.

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If you think that bike's cool, just wait until tomorrow and the next day. Brent has designed and built dozens of amazing and unique bicycles and I'll be riding a lot of them. Tomorrow's rides include a penny farthing, a hula bike, and a four-person recumbent bike. Stay tuned...

2 comments:

Virtual Vivian said...

I just tried out a bixi bike this weekend! Only issue I had was an uphill stretch... w/ only 3 gears, I found it a bit of a slog. Glad to hear you enjoyed your train ride onboard VIA.

Boaz said...

I can see how it would be a bit limiting on a serious incline, but it's certainly an awesome program. Now they should get some electric bikes too!