Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Friday night madness

On Friday evening, Bob and I returned from our jaunt to Steveston and headed straight to RideAwayMotors where we met up with Bob's scooter friends, whose names I can barely remember, including Gary, Mark, and Andrew.  I am ashamed that I can't summon more names.

What an amazing group.  I have never before had such a warm and friendly welcome.  As a complete stranger, it was very, very touching.

Before there was time to commit all the names to memory, we were saddling up and headed to something called the Richmond Summer Night Market.

I twisted the throttle to the stop and did my level best to keep up, flying over and around the elevated clover leaf at Granville and Marine Drive in a headlong rush that made me feel for fleeting moments that I was really a member of this incredible flying squad.

Bob's friends (Dar mysteriously refers to them as the "RTE Gang") have riding skills that showed me up for the newbie I really am.  If you think you know how to ride, ride with the pros... and try to keep up.  To say that their skills in the mad traffic headed to the night market were amazing is a serious disservice.

At one point, Andrew leaned in at a red light in an effort to coach me on the blocking strategy and group riding objectives.  I think I understood 10% of what I needed to know so as not to embarrass myself.

Bob had sent me a link, but it was impossible to understand this night market phenomenon without experiencing it first hand.

Mind blowing comes close.
Think one part outdoor Asian gourmet feast, one part insane flea market.  You can taste anything here, and buy anything here.

Are we talking standard street meat?  No, no, no, no, no.  The price is reasonable, because the portions are on the small side, so that you get to buy and taste, and buy and taste, and buy and taste.  I had pork dumplings (delicious), corn fresh off the cob (amazing), something called Takoyaki made with octopus (beyond words), and a Taiwan Bun (that was heaven).
Here is how those Takoyaki are prepared. I have never seen any cooking technique quite like this.
My mind and tastebuds were already reeling trying to comprehend this amazing place and my role in it, when Andrew blew me completely away.

You see Andrew and I were among the minority here who didn't have some kind of Asian roots.  Or so I thought.

Andrew took a look at my delicious Taiwan Bun and inquired what I was eating.

I groped in my bewildered mind searching for the name of this incredible delicacy and was very relieved when I finally remembered.

"Taiwan Bun" I said.  It was what Andrew said next that blew my mind.

"......................" he said, in what sounded to my numb brain like perfect Mandarin.  I did a cartoon-like head-swivelling quadruple-take.

"You speak Mandarin?!" I blurted out, incredulous.

Andrew shrugged his shoulders in an unassuming way and said "Yeah, I spent two-and-a-half years teaching English in Taiwan".

"And how did you learn Mandarin?" I said.

"Just picked it up on my own" came the very genuine and casual response.  Now I was well and truly humbled.

Bob managed to snap a picture a precious few minutes after that remarkable exchange.
Copyright - Bobskoot -
Copyright - Bobskoot -
 Bob capped the evening's festivities at the night market by introducing me to his wife who had driven to the market to meet him.

Later on, in his inimitable, devilishly humorous way, he gently coaxed me into posing holding up some some wild off-the-wall underwear from one of the flea-market stalls.

I think I'd better post that here, for fear of what Bob will do with it on his blog.
Copyright - Bobskoot -
Copyright - Bobskoot -
He purchased an iPhone case for himself that allows you to take pictures with your phone and convince others you are using an expensive vintage Leica, and he presented me with a shocking pink iPhone cable that nearly matches his trademark pink Crocs.
 "When you use this you will always think of me" he said, after offering me the unusual gift.

Thanks Bob, you know I always will.  [EDIT: to see the evening's festivities from Bob's perspective, click here.]

It was getting late.  We returned to the bikes to set off for home, or so I thought.  By now I should have known better.  Bob simply refuses to waste any time.

You see, somewhere in Richmond, there is a second night market.  Bob wanted to have a look for himself.  These markets only opened for the season the previous weekend and this new market was somewhat of an unknown.

We parked the bikes on a side road leading to the market.  The location of this second night market was on the shore of a body of water.  Bob and Andrew and I chatted while Andrew smoked a cigarette and Bob and I snapped some pictures.

Andrew mentioned that he had to get going.  Bob and I climbed on our bikes and set out once more.

Bob said that we had to stop by his house on the way back to the hotel.  Bob insisted on escorting me all the way back to the hotel.  I was still not quite wise to Bob's ways.

We parked outside his house and Bob asked me to wait while he went to get something.  A few moments later, he came out bearing gifts for me.

Bob had some great Vespa swag left over which he very kindly gave me along with a flashlight that I might use on my two-wheeled travels (I never asked, but I suspect that Bob was a boy scout, because like me, he is a firm believer in preparedness).  Then he proceeded to bungee strap a cardboard box to my bike saying I should open it at the hotel.  I did later on.  I won't say what was in the box, suffice to say that it will decorate my office when I get it home.

At this point in the day, I confess that I was getting tired.  Mercifully there is not much traffic left at 10:45 p.m. on a Friday night in Vancouver so we made light work of the trip towards the waterfront.

But wait, why spoil a jaunt to the waterfront by failing to take a breather on Granville Island.

We parked the bikes by the water at the public market courtyard, hard by the Granville street bridge that towers overhead.  This is a really pretty spot.  Bob snapped some pictures of us using his tripod, remote control for the camera and a long exposure to capture the scene.  Like in the early days of photography, we had to be very still not to spoil the shot.
Copyright - Bobskoot -
Copyright - Bobskoot -
We then sat on the bench and chatted about this and that for a good half hour before setting out once more for the hotel, that by now was only a few minutes away.

I thanked Bob for the most incredible evening I have had in recent memory and we parted after making plans to meet at the hotel at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning.

Stay tuned, there is still so much to share.


SonjaM said...

Dave, it is so much fun to read your post.
Group riding is an art and need lots of discipline of all members. I have mostly been on rides with a riding buddy (Roland or others) and have only limited experience myself.

Given that nobody got hurt during our ride I guess we all must have done a pretty good job.

Please continue soon.

Trobairitz said...

I still wonder what Bob does to get all of that energy. I can just see his excitement through your post.

If you think he is a fast driver through the streets of Vancouver, you should be in the car with him racing through Seattle, lol. He is a very good driver.

I am glad you got to meet Mrs. Skoot too. They are some of the best people you could ever meet.

Thanks for all the great pictures and telling the story of your adventures with Bobskoot. Looking forward to the next installment.

Unknown said...


you are too perceptive. You foiled my plans for "that" photo. My plan with your visit was not to spoil anyone's thunder by posting anything until you had posted, then I was going to add a few supplementary photos from my perspective. You forget that I am using 3 cameras, so I may have some photos you don't have. Plus I have a video to create.

I am glad that you had a good time and certainly the weather was on your side, perfect . . . not too cold, nor too hot.

Vancouver has very aggressive drivers, esp in Richmond where they don't know how to drive, nor follow the rules of the road. You can tell that this RTE group knows how to protect themselves. Even I had to block that aggressive Mercedes on the on ramp. Many times I had to straddle the right line to keep cars from butting in, we tried to keep you in the middle

Riding the Wet Coast
My Flickr // My YouTube

Anonymous said...

those Takoyaki are good, they have them on saint catherines at place des arts this week for the just for laughs festival.

The copyright in all text and photographs, except as noted, belongs to David Masse.