The Hexacoto

Listening to the sound of one hand clapping

Month: August, 2014

We danced, we laughed, we skipped around. And then we were twenty-six.

 

 

I wish you good luck.

I wish you good luck.

Captain

We became friends, and we were friends, and then one day, friends no more.

What does one do when a friendship, whose tethers are time-worn and frayed, comes loose and slips away? Time ebbs, and the vessel departs, do I fling myself to reel it back?

Or do I set it alight and let it go, in a Viking’s funeral, remembering that it once burned, with the last memory of its light in sight?

And now that I find myself aware of all the ropes around me in varying stages of decay, do I darn them, mend them, let them be?

Lines

“Let it go,” it says. “Let it go. It is the way of life. Two parallel lines may never meet, but if they differ enough, will remain close enough that they merge for a really long time. But eventually, they will depart, and then it is time to go.”

“But why does it have to be that way?” I ask. “Our lives are not simple straight lines. We meet by circumstance, but it is by virtue of entanglement that we remain hurtling through space bound; entwined.”

“All things tend towards chaos,” it says. “And in chaos squared, tangled lines come unwound, and come free of each other. That is the very essence of life. A static line is a dead line.”

Inexorable

We must grow up, but must we grow apart? Perhaps part of growing up is learning to let go, perhaps part of letting go is to know — when to say hello; when to say good morrow; when to say good bye, and say no more.

Perhaps one day, I will hear from you again. Until then, fare thee well, I’ll keep these memories.

shaf

Unicorns on a unicycle at UNICON 17 Part 2

Previously, on Part 1 of Unicorns on a unicycle at UNICON 17…

I arrived in Montreal, went to a naked bike ride, attended some UNICON events, made some friends.

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What’s the point of bringing two unicycles into Montreal and not doing a ride, right? A long distance ride was in the cards, because I wrote “Long Distance Ride” on them.

I wanted to go to Habitat 67, because the last time I was in Montreal I got lost and did not make it there. Habitat 67 was my first introduction to Moshe Safdie and his works, and subsequent introduction to brutalism and architecture movements. The best I got previously was a blurry view of the site from a distance in the evening, because the island Habitat was situated on is incredibly confusing.

Anyway, I set off from my friend’s place, with whom I was staying, and realised it was a pretty straightforward ride. However, what was not so straightforward was riding on the roads. Because:

Montreal roads are utter shit.

Seriously, did they pave them out of sugar? Potholes, cracks, and dragons waiting to snare the unsuspecting (uni)cyclist to break their mothers’ backs. I must have broken mine many times, because I fell many times. According to my local friend Mike, this is a local wisdom:

montrealroads

This is how I unicycle in Montreal:

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I dropped an iced coffee while riding Montreal’s treacherous roads. It was half-full too! (Is it optimism if I drop a half-full cup of coffee or half-empty cup of coffee?) I bemoaned loudly my dismay (in French of course, because we’re in Montreal. Come on.) at the city’s lamentable roads.

Lost coffee aside, I did manage to eke out a 51 kilometre ride. Here’s the map of the route, click image for larger picture.

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Somewhere early in the ride, I hit a hidden pothole when I was going downhill and I flew forward really hard. I was really worried I was going to land on my bare knees and had to roll on the roads, but luckily I managed run out the momentum. I must have been going at 22km/h. While I was alright, my unicycle apparently bumped around and into the rear of a car, whose family was standing around. Then I had to worry if I damaged his car, but luckily there was no damage. After ascertaining that his car was fine, then he asked if I was OK which I said I was and sped off, albeit more cautiously this time.

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All that talk about getting to Habitat 67, I finally got there and took pictures like an architecture nerd. Sated, I cycled onto the islands of Parc Jean-Drapeau. I had fun riding around the F1 track and going “broom broom.”

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I thought I would be able to get out the other side and then find my way out by going north, but then I ran into this:

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A raising bridge was raised so some private yachts can pass through. Meanwhile, us non-1%-ers twiddled our bicycles (and unicycle) while we waited for the bridge to come back down. I didn’t wait long enough for it to come down, because 15 minutes later the bridge was still up. So I backtracked all the way I came — something I really hate to do — and made it back onto the mainland of Montreal.

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I had lunch at Beaudry, which was the gay district of Montreal. It was very pretty and gay. I had lunch at an A&W, something I hadn’t seen in years! It also had free wifi, which was great.

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I cycled back to the college, and then to the apartment where the other Singaporeans were staying, and then back to Mike’s. Here are the final stats of the trip.

Total elapsed time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Total moving time: 3 hours 16 minutes
Total stopped time: 1 hour 14 minutes
Maximum speed: 27.9 km/h
Total UPD’s: Frickin’ SEVEN. 4 times alone on that accursed Rue Sherbrooke. 1 time speeding downhill and unicycle bumped into a car.
Number of potholes dodged: Infinity
Number of iced coffee spilled: 1
Steps counted by the 3DS: About 21,000
Breaks taken: 4

 

Unicorns on a unicycle at UNICON 17 (Part 1)

unicorn

I went up to witness UNICON for the first time. For those who do not know what UNICON is, it is a unicycle convention, kind of like the equivalent of the Olympics for unicycling. For the first time, UNICON is held in a location that is financially accessible to me, and it would be remiss of me to miss it again.

And so it was a trek to Montreal to attend UNICON 17, where some other Singaporeans would also be attending. Going up would also mean that the Masticating Bunnies From Hell from Ride the Lobster would be reunited for the first time in six years.

However that reunion would be tardy because Jiahui, one of the team members, would be so exhaustively busy traipsing all around Montreal visiting friends while we friendless people huddle around and twiddle thumbs.

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I’m surprised my well-worn and falling apart bicycle bag has held it together for so long after all these years. It last saw use on my trip back to Singapore in January, and with each subsequent use, it falls apart bit by bit. A zipper pull fell out previously (the zipper itself was still intact) and I wonder what else would break on this trip to Montreal.

And of course, it had to rain on my way to Penn Station. I brought an umbrella along with me, and holding on to one bag of two unicycles, a plastic bag with some food to last the 11-hour train journey, an overstuffed backpack, and an umbrella should probably be a Cirque du Soleil act of its own.

I got to the train station an hour early and I was like “Great! Maybe I’ll get a chance to snag an early seat.” I totally forgot one had to check in luggage from States-side, and because I didn’t do so, when the train opened for boarding, I had to go check in, and ended up being the last to board.

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Thankfully there was a backward-facing wheelchair-reserved seat available. I was feeling pretty much handicapped by that point, and I had the right number of wheels (big ones, at least), and there were no real wheelchair people in need, so I took it. It wasn’t too bad, I got stretch out, as I hurtled backwards all the way towards Montreal.

So, I was supposed to meet some of the Singaporeans at the college, where some of the events are held. Interestingly, no one bothered to tell me the instructions on getting there, only providing me with a street address. Well, I don’t have wireless internet on my phone, but thank goodness for being old-fashioned, and I had to ask three people how to get there. The first older station attendant didn’t speak much English (why is he working at the information kiosk at the main train station then?) but I understood enough to get to Berri-Uqam. There, I asked a younger English-speaking lad who told me to get to Pie-IX (pronounced “pea-neuf”), which I retrospectively probably remember the older station attendant mentioning something like that, but “pea-neuf” and “Pie-IX” didn’t connect as being the same thing in my mind because je ne parle pas français. Anyway at Pie-IX some teenager told me to just go down a road, at which point I took out my 20″ unicycle, shouldered my 29″ uni, my backpack, and my umbrella, and finally made it to the college.

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I think UNICON 17 already kicked off two days ago. But on my first night, it was apparently Naked Bike Ride day, and the unicyclist were planning on crashing it. So many unicyclists went, it was a pleasant surprise. I believe the number of unicyclists matched the bicyclists head for head. Males also outnumbered females maybe four to one. And there were definitely more naked unicyclists than there were naked bicyclists, as a lot more bicyclists kept more pieces of clothing on. Perhaps as the UNICON attenders were from another country, they didn’t have to worry about maintaining some sort of professional credibility in Montreal as many of the bikers did. Or maybe Europeans just like getting naked a lot more.

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As I was not registered to participate competitively, there was very little I could actually do at UNICON. I felt like making friends was an uphill endeavour, when many already had their circles of friends either from having attended UNICON before, got to know each other by virtue of participating in the same event, or were basically from the same country.

One morning, I sat myself down at a random table, and introduced myself to the table. It comprised Americans, a Canadian, and some Germans. I eventually got to see them over the next couple days and even got to hang out with them once or twice.

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Some of them (the Canadian and the Germans) went up to Mont Royal, and I joined them. One of them played the piano while I unicycle-danced in the background. It was all fun and games, until the experts showed up. Then they proceeded to defy gravity and jumped all over the place, and us mere mortals of lesser skill just stopped.

I got to see the UNICON events, of course. I was mostly there for the freestyle, and it met my expectations of what I thought it to be. Slightly dismaying was to see six to nine year olds completely outclassing me with freestyle, as the leapt onto their unis with a stand-up leg-up glide like physics was optional.

Freestyle expert solo was OK, and the first place winner went to USA Matt Sindelar, who did a Western cowboy themed routine using that very well-known tune from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, gun sounds and all.

Japan’s freestyle male expert solo entry Kaito Shoji was slightly less than what I expected, compared to last year’s winner. But he was still pretty good, and had great synchronicity with the music at the beginning.

Thomas Tiercy from Switzerland had one of the more interesting routines, though he didn’t place in top three. Perhaps it was because his routine was less about unicycling and more about object manipulation, but I felt it deserved a place on the pedestal because it was so different from the rest. It was also more show-sy than the others, which I appreciated a lot.

Shoji’s pair entry with Natsume Yamamoto was definitely much better, and the performance was more enjoyable. It featured great chemistry between the unicyclists, and felt less like a run-through of tricks, and more like a performance.

Here are some of the photos from Freestyle Solo and Pair.

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While Street really isn’t my thing, here are also pictures from the competition. I have no idea who these people are, but the UNICON list says these people are: Christian Huriwai (New Zealand), Maxwell Schulze (USA), Raphael Pöham (Austria), Josef Sjönneby (Sweden), Jack Sebben (Canada), and Casper van Tielraden (Netherlands).

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I’m breaking up this post because it’s getting too long. More to come in part 2!