The Streets of Fernie

By December 16, 2008 No Comments

The Streets of Fernie
I live in a town where a skateboard is considered a reasonable and viable form of transportation.  In the summer and on warm fall days, long boards share the road with mountain bikes, townies, the occasional road bike, SUV’s and a small smattering of ‘normal’ cars. Normal in the sense of cars most of North America buys but the sort that really will not work in a town receiving 11 metres of now every winter.
The skateboards run in two sorts.  Long boards preferred for the move around mode.  Two and a half feet to four feet long, these fairly stiff boards are stable platforms for moving fast and quickly around town. Hills are their forte.  Long, fast hills.
One of the earliest proponents of long boards was Jim Bowdin of Breckenridge.  In the late 70’s, a Summit County Sheriff busted Jim going 55 in a 25 mph zone down Buffalo Road, operating a toy on a public highway and several other equally absurd charges.  The Judge Tucker, simply amazed Jim survived, tossed the whole deal.
The other boards are shorter and more at home in the skate park than barreling down a hill or down the highway.  With turned up ends, relatively flexible, they bank off planters, curbs and the occasional bench.  And still they find their way into the street and weave between the SUV’s and bikes.
On any warm day in Fernie, it is common to find a couple boards standing in the line-up at Freshies waiting for a coffee or chai.
Our bikes are another story.  Commonly, your mountain bike is worth more than your car. Easy.  So it’s not wasted rolling around town on simple errands.  At the end of a ride, you might end up at the Brick, locking your mountain bike to the rail, but for the most part, for around town, you ride a townie.
Townies come in a wide variety of flavors.  Old beater mountain bikes are common. Better yet, classic pristine early mountain bikes.  Old balloon tire likes are a premium and seriously sought after. Any 30-year-old bike holds high status as a townie.  For those without the patience to search out a classic townie, there are retro townies spouting up left and right.  A combination of classic styling and modern lightweight construction, the retro’s are becoming the bike of choice for swinging into Overweightea’s for a quick bag of groceries or dropping downtown for a beer late in the day.  Baskets and saddlebags make them serve a dual purpose as transportion and haulers.
I know winter is close when walking downtown, a dreadlocked Quebecois skates quickly by, on her long board.  Waving in passing, she is chased by her black lab mix with two white toed feet. Tiny, maybe 5 foot 2, and slender, she’s a seasonal cat driver on the mountain.  We’ve walked downtown together in snow storms and walked toward our homes after shopping at Overweightea’s talking about the conditions, news and whatever comes up.  I still don’t know her name.  Simply that she’s my harbinger of winter and the snows to come.
And any day now, she’ll be walking, her dog carrying his leash in his mouth as the falling snow hides the mountains surrounding our valley.