Capital VeloFest opened Saturday at 11 a.m., right on time; but everyone, including the bike polo rink was rather wet. Merchants and organization volunteers huddled under many of the tents erected across the front lawn of the Ottawa City Hall. Within a half-hour, the rains stopped and activity began to pick up.
For kids, there was an obstacle course, a limbo pole and bike jousting, where you could pop balloons as you rode your bike with a simple lance. (Better to pop balloons than other bicyclists I suppose.)
Members of the Ottawa Bike Polo organization were there to give demonstrations of this fun sport. Speaking to a young, but very talented rider named Vicky; she explained that the city actually lets them use hockey rinks in town for their polo league. Every Monday night is beginner’s night where they will be happy to take on newbies and show them the sport. Once in the rink with your mallet, the idea is to never let your feet touch the ground. Oh yeah, the real goal is to make five goals before your opponent does.
A number of civic minded organizations were manning tents as well. Sandra from Bicycles for Humanity was there collecting funds to ship bikes over to two nations in Africa. Working, but no longer needed mountain and hybrid bikes are collected from Ottawans and shipped over to assist medical volunteers in remote countryside areas. With no affordable transportation, traveling any distance in those countries is a challenge. Having bikes makes the trip so much faster.
In addition, the metal shipping container becomes a bike shop once it arrives. Loaded with parts and bikes, 1 to 5 Africans are trained to do bike repairs and set up with a new local source of empowerment in their remote villages. Bicycles for Humanity has chapters across North America and you can connect with them on Facebook to learn more or to volunteer.
Just before noon, Ottawa’s mayor Jim Watson stopped by the Camino organic Fair Trade booth to try out their bicycle-powered blender. Mounted to the rear bike rack is a full size blender that spins only if you pedal fast enough. The blender was loaded with the right ingredients, including some of the Camino fruit juices, and when the mayor was done pedaling, he had himself a tasty fruit smoothie to take into his office. Camino works with over 35-thousand family farmers in their co-ops and invites people to learn more at www.tasteofcamino.com or connect on Facebook.
With talks, fashion shows and demonstrations all afternoon long, the wet but fun event seemed to bring out of good mix of young and old who love their bikes. That evening there was Tour La Nuit – “a ride under the stars without any cars.” See more about this annual event at their Website: www.capitalvelofest.ca.
If you took part this weekend, please tell us what you thought about this years event in the comments section below.
This was just part of my Ontario to Quebec trip during summer of 2012. Did you miss any of the other days of this Canadian VIA Rail bike adventure? The links are here if you did…