Saturday, February 13, 2010

Fun and Winter Games

Tonight we ventured forth into the freezing night to attend the somethingth-annual Icycle event at the beautiful Dufferin Grove Park. Icycle, for the uninformed, is an event where tough bike men and bike women ride their bikes on a hockey rink, racing for bragging rights and augemented toughness skills.

The event itself doesn't sounds like it's all that amazing. I mean, ice rinks aren't really all that sexy, and winter biking tends to be the domain of the spandexed or the crusty. However, when I saw those dudes whipping around a corner that is by definition pure ice, at speeds faster than I would travel on a dry May day, I'm impressed. The bikes are kitted out with studded tires, enabling a higher grippiness than can usually be tapped by a bike tire, but the skill is evident.

The highlight of the event was the so-called "rubber race," which is done on street bikes sans studded tires. Two of the competitors bravely stripped down to their skivvies and raced in the nearly altogether. Did they crash? Oh yes they did. To be fair, everyone crashed, including the racer we dubbed L'apostrophe: the unbelievably cute and bearded cyclist whose bent-over posture and skintight black racing suit made him look like a wiggly comma. Sigh.

At one point, I turned to my friend Liz and told her that small towns could eat it: cities are where it's at. She looked at me strangely but agreed that cities do offer the chance to raise your kids in a place with events that sort of defy the imagination. There were little kids in attendance, despite the high number of probably-drunk and definitely less-than-fully-toothed spectators in attendance. I think that's nice. Exposing your kids to wackjobs in a fun, safe environment is a cornerstone of good parenting.

The event provided a nice contrast to the Olympics that are currently dominating the airwaves/columns/national imagination. I will totally cop to the fact that watching the opening ceremonies last night made me feel very rah-rah Canada. I watched them in a bar, surrounded with friends and other Canucks, with the sound off and the Talking Heads blasting. It was the best way to watch 'em, really. Even though we're hosting the games, though, the Olympics aren't really about sports; rather, they're about watching sports on TV, which isn't really an activity I indulge in, like, ever. I liked seeing how we think of ourselves translated into song, dance, graphics and atmosphere, and was pleased to note that the program didn't focus exclusively on Native culture and the Canadian Shield. In fact, spoken word artist Shane Koyczan capped off the pageant with a bombastic poem while an urban nightscape shimmered around him. That was cool, and felt very honestly Canadian.

We'll see how much my friends and I end up watching; I'll probably check out some of the bigger moments, like hockey and figure skating. I tend to identify more with events like Icycle: accessible, a little irreverent, thrillingly athletic and definitely not for the faint of heart.


  1. I was sorry to miss this event - busy packing for Montreal. I'm glad it went well! I will try to make it out next year.

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  3. I have been debating internally, overwhelmed with boredom as I've been during these games, whether winter sports are actually objectively shitter than the summer ones, generally speaking, or that I'm simply biased, having grown up in a warm climate. I can't decide. Nonetheless, it has not alleviated my boredom unfortunately. Even when that poor fellow died.