Edmonton is often coined the “Texas of Canada” by ignorant west coasters like myself. My last (and only) trip to Edmonton was just after my 10th birthday and it involved visitng the water slides at the west Edmonton mall – a massive tourist trap completely devoid of locals – and the Edmonton science center. It was a chubby 10-year-old geeks’ dream vacation, however, since then I haven’t had any reason to visit the city of hilllessness.
The stereotypes of a redneck, BBQ strewn, conservatist flatland slowly seeped into my brain over the years and I admittedly boarded the plane with a good dose of skepticism mixed with pessimism about the city (despite knowing several very cool people from there).
Tom from Norco must have sensed my west coast superiority complex via email because he had booked me a room in one of the nicest hotels on one of the funkiest streets in the city – Whyte Ave. I checked in just in time for the nightly complimentary wine and cheese reception…my icy anti-prairie heart begins to melt a little.
Post wine and cheese (well, water and cheese for me) we headed to Pedalheads bike shop for their weekly cruiser ride as part of the “kickstand circus”. The guys at the shop were hirarious and they set me up with a purple sparkly cruiser bike that I used to participate in the sporatic dirt parking lot crit races and curb jumping mania that went on on our way to Da Capo – home of the best gelato I’ve ever had. The de-icing continues…
The next morning Tom brought me to my autograph signing at United Cycle and I was immediately blown away by the magnitude of the store. You can buy a $10,000 or a $100 bike there, get it fitted by an ex Olympic cyclist, and buy a new squash raquet or curling broom at the same time. As chaotic as that might sound, don’t worry, they run like clockwork and while you are waiting for one of their 12 full time mechanics to tune your bike, you can go to their in-house cafe where a chef will make you lunch as you watch. It’s insane.
I spent most of my day signing posters, but the Edmonton Journal caught wind and came by to do an interview with me. As we were setting up a photo with some of the Norco bikes, this man (see pictures) decides that my vixa is a “very, very good bike” and that he must test ride it. Before we could tell him he was on a girls’ bike he was off. The poor dude exceeded the shock weight reccommendation by a good 100lbs and after his test ride, he insisted that the bike was made much too small. Bikes sure attract some different people don’t they?
Now, as I’m boarding my plane, I feel like I must apologize to all the Edmontonians that I’ve said “that’s too bad” to when they speak of their home. Edmonton, although I only saw two bike shops and one of your streets, all of which were fantastic and warrent another visit. My prairie slamming will now stop…for a little while at least 🙂