Obituary for a 2009 Giant Bowery ’72
February 24 2017 // Canada & The USA
The damage came about an hour earlier on a test drive, and not more than three blocks North of To Wheels. On Talbot St. and Dufferin Ave., a car in the left lane of traffic sideswiped me on this shiny new Bowery ’72 and I had to bail.
I went down in standard Superman fashion—arms outstretched above my head—in order to use the largest surface area of my torso to take the fall and not break anything. I’ve done this before, and many times since. It’s okay, I’m a professional bike-on-car diver. We are close to getting the sport considered for Tokyo in 2020. You basically just lay down, in traffic, with a car’s rear bumper all but over top of you, as you slide underneath, but do it without injury.
Needless to say, before I even owned this bike, it got a glimpse of it’s tough life ahead. Scraped up and bleeding on my knee and upper calf, I finished up my test ride and returned to To Wheels to claim my new bike.
Total Cost: $945.65
$919.99 – $30.00 (remove pedals) + $12 for bar tape because I bitched the bar tape in the wipe out on the test ride + GST. It’s common for accidents to happen on test rides.
I will initially own this bike for 1 month and 1 day. Yeah, I can’t make this shit up. On April 23, 2010, my good friend Monique and I are studying at the Downtown library when the Bowery is stolen from the bike rack out front on Dundas St.. Side note—friends don’t let friends use cable locks.
Watching the instant replay on a security camera less than 45 minutes after it is stolen is the highlight. I speak with the police officer who responds to the call a few hours later after he interviewed three of the people shown in the video clearly aiding in the bike being stolen, but he can’t do anything because they were simply standing there and didn’t actually steal the bike.
The same police officer is kind enough to let me know that there is little he can do, and if I am to see the bike I should likely “do something about it.”
— Me in an email to Monique referring to the Market that Saturday morning
I need to shower but I can try to catch you there.
Almost home from a morning at the market, I mumble something to the effect of “here, hold this…it shouldn’t take long”, as I fluidly add a brisk pace to my walk pulling away from Mel and Monique. I clear my mind and prepare for the encounter about to take place.
By grabbing the seat from behind nearly jerking the bike out of his hands, I startle him. I immediately jump into a measured pace of speech with a calm—stern—tone on how he can say whatever he wants, but it doesn’t matter. This is my bike which was stolen a week ago downtown. A bike that he likely didn’t steal. I’m not upset with him, I merely want my bike back…and there are easy ways, and hard ways to resolve this.
Another piece of advice the police officer mentions is to keep the receipt with me in my wallet should I see the bike. “Makes things easy” the officer says. So I tell the guy holding my bike that we can wave a police officer over and match the serial number on the receipt in my wallet, to the bottom bracket that he is likely too stupid to have filed off . He can then discuss the possession of stolen property with the police officer.
Or…he can “take his hand off my fucking bike”.
He sputters out some story about buying it for $30 from “a friend”, then he looks at me in a manner that halfheartedly expects he might be reimbursed for his purchase.
A brief pause to mull over the clearly one sided options I laid out for him, and I am walking back towards Monique and Mel, again in possession of my Bowery ’72. Eight days after thinking I saw this bike for the last time as it was being stolen on a security monitor at the public library, I am riding it home.
You see, this is just the type of life this bike has endured. In fact, that very evening, life for the Bowery is about to escalate.
The Mayday Alleycat race is that Saturday night—7 hours after I regain possession of my Bowery ’72.
What, am I not going to head to Victoria Park in downtown London, ON and race the stolen bike I just recovered?
I place 2nd behind a fast as hell Patrick Kannman through the streets of London, ON. We end the race at the old Victoria Tavern—colloquially known as the Bucket of Blood. The route is a little hazy as I pick Patrick to do well at the park because he looked fast, and just try to hang on to his rear wheel. I recall at one point pulling out in-between the two oncoming lanes of traffic on Adelaide St. heading South through the Oxford St. intersection. Patrick is ahead and beat the light. I can’t lose him on Oxford as I have no idea where we need to turn off. So while two or three cars whiz past me on each elbow, I throw my front tire to the left and squeak through two cars in the right lane that are still accelerating from the stop light having still not registered that I am dancing the wrong way between lanes of traffic.
It is on this night; this bonkers day that ends at the Victoria Tavern with a bunch of messenger dirt bags, bike geeks, and beer when—half drunk—someone makes the joke that I can’t ride the Bowery to Saskatchewan.
Well, not that night.
On May 31, 2010, the Bowery and I head out to Beamsville, ON to meet up with an Otesha group that was at a vineyard out there. Monique had been on the road with the group of 20’ish touring around Ontario for nearly a month, they are as far South as they would be, and I need a quick test ride with the hot mess that is my touring bike—the Bowery ’72. Yeah, look up at those photos. Tell me what that bike has zero of.
London, ON > Beamsville, ON > Hamilton, ON > London, ON
One gear. Zero brakes. When I say things in conversation like “I’m an idiot”, I am not being self deprecating. Rather, I’m merely stating facts. The evidence is directly above.
After a bit of adjustments to my gear, a couple days waiting out rain, and putting a front brake on the Bowery, I am off to Saskatoon Saskatchewan on June 9, 2010.
One night in Kincardine at the local tattoo shop owners farm after 156KMs in the rain, and then a night in a cold, wet, and empty Tobermory campground in order to catch the Chi-Cheemaun ferry in the the morning. To make a long story short, a broken pannier rack after bit of a jump on day 4 ended in Bruce Mines, ON, a quick bus ride, and lost day in Sault Ste. Marie. All fixed up, and ready to hit the road by noon on June 14, 2010 with 604KM’s in the saddle in the first 5 days with 1 rest day.
I was right on track of a 150KM/day pace, and with the first mini climbs coming off of Manitoulin Island behind me, it was smooth sailing ahead with my 46/20 gear.
Keith, Joyce, Carmella and I had a potluck at White River Provincial park, and the park ranger even brought us all a cold beer. It was glorious after a long day. There were a few folks going the opposite way, but no other night did I camp with anyone other than this night. Joyce and Carmella were heading East, where Keith and I were coming from.
The rest of Ontario was a nightmare for the Bowery. Stretches between Marathon, ON and Schreiber, ON were absolute hell. Constant 7-8 degree inclines with 3 degree “rest periods”. Climbing into Thunderbay on June 17, 2010 after just over 200KM’s in the saddle with 1316KM’s complete, is my halfway point. I treat myself to a hotel room to “air out”, and watch game 7 of the NBA Championships.
After Thunder Bay, a couple popped spokes close to Kenora that saw another short bus ride, the Bowery whistles across the prairies finishing up the 2721KM trip averaging 204KM/per day over the last 5 days including a 299KM day with a tail wind pushing me into Churchbridge, SK.
This bike had no business being out there. Climbing North over Lake Superior, fixed, with all that weight in the panniers over the rear tire. Getting across the prairies…for over 2700KM’s. Giant never intended, or imagined that one of their Bowery ’72s would tour a good chunk of Canada.
When I got to Saskatoon, I said I would never ride the Bowery on a tour again.
My Giant Bowery ’72 is my transportation for the rest of 2010, and right through 2011…and I transport a lot. From university classes, to work, to meetings on events, projects, photography, etc., the Bowery racks up hundred’s of KM’s a week—Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter.
The Bowery is at the first Parking(day) ever in London Ontario, in a parking stall bike rack I manned for the day on Dundas St.. I lead Bikeschool London bike rides on the Bowery, and during the great Snowmageddon of 2010, it is the Bowery that gets me home from campus after they shut it down—in a foot of fresh snow while cars pile up unable to move. I literally bike a block, stand the Bowery up in the snowbank on the corner, help push a few cars through the intersection, rinse and repeat, all the way home.
I have a ton of photos of the Bowery, because it is a big part of what I am. Whether ripping out to Praxair to fill up my 30L dewar with liquid nitrogen on a re-inforced Burley Flatbed trailer (weighing well in excess of a 150lbs), or 100KM early Spring rides out to rural Ontario, for lunch and a beer, the Bowery does everything I ask of it. Even a second tour.
In the Spring of 2012 starting in Port Angeles, Washington, the Bowery once again achieves the impossible and navigates the West coast climbs and declines while loaded up over the back tire. This trip isn’t without it’s issues however—mostly due to my ignorance.
New bottom bracket, wheel set, a large number of flats, and tires are all consumed. But like the trip across the great Canadian North, the Bowery doesn’t let me down. At some point in Oregon, however, I do add a freewheel gear as it is evident the climbs are getting more intense, and as always, I have too big a gear. The only small gear Bike Newport has is a freewheel, so fixie no more.
The only time it’s entire life I ride the Bowery with a freewheel. The others on this trip are grateful to no longer see me having to unclip and hang my legs out to the side on downhills because I can coast. Apparently it is unnerving to watch pedals spin relentless out of control down a hill at 50KM/h+ with a rider on the seat…who knew.
Through the Redwood Forest, about 150 medium to large climbs, and a monster of a climb up and over Mt. Tamalpais State Park to get into San Francisco, the Bowery continues to push the limits of what an aluminum frame can handle with my beef cakey legs wrestling with the crank, mile after mile. At times I’m forced to switchback across the highway in order to climb the 14, 15, and 17% grades we face.
Our navigation skills are suspect at best, and I swear we purposely find the hardest route—with the steepest climbs.
It really is a joke when I think back to that trip. Everyone else in our group is on proper touring bikes, and me and the Bowery having to climb each hill with reckless abandon in order to keep a high enough cadence to literally not stall out. Every hill, I win the race to the top. Every. Single. One. Not out of competition, but out of necessity.
Before the summer of 2016, the Bowery lives a pretty pedestrian life in Edmonton with the most excitement it see’s being the odd rip out to Ikea to pick up a shelf or two.
That all changes when Andrea and Sophia from Lululemon ask the question, “can we even do that?”
At the time we have no idea if we can, but I hava a hunch the Bowery isn’t done giving. Before I have time to consult with my long time business partner, we agree to chasing runners through the Edmonton River Valley three times a week—just me and my Bowery.
The results are spectacular. Early mornings on Tuesday and Saturday chasing River City Runners (RCR), and Wednesday night with the Run Collective crew becomes our life. And what a great life it is. Not only do I get in the best shape of my life, but the Bowery once again proves the ideal tool for the job. Light, agile, and ready to take a beating.
By riding alongside, amongst, in-front of, and every other proximity to runners, I’m able to amass a volume of images we never thought imaginable. And not just volume, but quality. As the runners, routes, and I become familiar, I am able to venture off and document the groups from distances putting the river valley into context.
The Bowery is my secret weapon.
The new found freedom of utilizing the Bowery with work expands to other events. During the FISE World Tour stop in Edmonton, it is the Bowery that gives me the freedom to take off mid-event, and get a different vantage point. I guarantee you that no one else has this shot.
The final act of the Bowery’s life is not only dedicated to chasing runners through the Edmonton River Valley, no, it’s turned into something special…and by special I mean kind of ridiculous. What started as a simple question has taken over my ability for rational thought in regards to my personal time.
— A more energetic—more stupid—me
Can I take a photo of myself doing a track stand on my bike?
I’ve spent 19 1/2 hours—and counting—taking photos of myself doing track stands on the Bowery. I load up a trailer, or huge hiking pack with gear, and head out on the Bowery looking for spots that have some significance to me. Thus far, I’ve relied on spots of importance, or repetition, for photographing runners.
Setups are sometimes elaborate with multiple lights, or difficult with long distances between myself and the camera in order to get the angle—replicating some photos I’ve taken of runners. The results have been amazing. Either amazing in the end result, or amazing in what I’ve learned trying to pull the shot off.
What I thought was a fun little game, has resulted in the Bowery ’72 once again proving invaluable. I’ve learned so much about photography, lighting, modeling, and patience throughout this project. The Bowery simply won’t quit.
The reality is, I continue this selfie project as merely a way to extend the life of the Bowery ’72. This bike that has done so much for me.
When objects are instrumental tools in our daily lives, they take on a personality. We refer to them as part of the family, or with female or male pronouns. She, and he reference these objects. The Bowery is no different. Often referred to as Sheila. She has a name I will always associate with strength and finesse.
I suppose this obituarys goal is to point out the key role this Giant Bowery ’72 plays in my life, and I feel it does just that. With an estimated 15,000 KMs and multiple rebuilds, hanging the frame of my 2009 Giant Bowery ’72 up on a wall is going to be a surreal moment.