My bike love story is probably like many others…a love that started in childhood and evolved with age. I still feel like a child on my bike. I love the feeling of taking flight and am addicted to speed. Add in the need for mobility and my personal love of long distance physical activity, and that’s the magic of riding for this “avid cyclist”.
It’s hard to be original about this love story, though. So many of us ride, for different reasons and on different types of bikes. Therefore, I’m just going to tell you about each bike in my life. Remembering them is my act of love!
I still remember the day I rode without training wheels for the first time. Later, I remember biking all over the neighbourhood with my siblings and friends. I also remember falling a lot on this hill in front of our house (it was not a big hill!).
Then my high school days turned practical – I bought a new Motobecane road bike to deliver papers. It was a classy pistachio green. We lived in an ex-urban neighbourhood. Sadly, there were no safe options for riding and no clubs to encourage cycling.
In my early 20s, I got hooked on mountain biking. This was the early 1990s so it was just becoming a thing. I bought my next new bike – a Norco – the day before I flew to Europe. I enjoyed some great biking that year, taking my bike around by train. So awesome!
Back in Lake Louise, I continued mountain biking and eventually moved to Calgary where I bought another mountain bike, this time an Oryx. It was a step up but still a hardtail. I rode aggressively in Kananaskis – weeknights and weekends. What an amazing place to ride.
I then decided to move to Ottawa. I also got this idea that I should start road biking…not sure where that came from…and that is the first year I also started bike commuting. Prior to that, I always walked to work. I bought a Devinci aluminum frame road bike.
Thus began my love affair with bike commuting… freedom, exercise and mobility all tied up in one…and road biking. I now own another road bike – now carbon. I have my old Devinci on my trainer for the winter (yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of that over the years too). It has also been used by my sons, when I’ve been able to cajole them into riding in Gatineau Park
For the last 20 years, I have been biking to work in Ottawa, most of which on my “green machine”, a Bianchi that I bought second-hand. My colleague said it is called “celeste green”. This trusty bike has been overhauled more times than I’d like to count. I’m thinking of trading her in for a new commuter bike post-pandemic, but it’s hard to part.
Last in my long list of beloved bikes is my fat bike. In 2019, with the opening of the LRT, I had to change my winter routine. It was always hard in the fall to make the transition – I biked for as long as I could. The first day it snowed that fall, I tried catching the bus but my mind just couldn’t handle it. Desperate, I jumped on an old mountain bike. It got me through to Christmas when I bought a new fat bike from Moose Bicycle.
What a thrill it was to replace my 45-minute bus commute with a 45-minute bike ride! I rationalized the cost by calculating that it would take only 2 winters to pay it off. I was blessed to be able to ride the beautiful groomed Kichi Sibi Winter Trail. It is fun looking like a Storm Trooper in minus 20 and pushing those 4” knobby tires is work. I love when the little kids point at me. I always imagine they wish they were me. I don’t care if anyone thinks it’s just a silly fad, I love it!
I’m not sure what else my bike future has in store for me. I’m praying for continued good health to just keep going for as long as I possibly can. I’m also dreaming of a better storage solution for our collection (9 in total). I love riding for errands, but I’m dreaming of a trailer for more haulage.
We all ride for whatever reason(s) make us happy. I’m just hoping that more people will discover both the joy and practicality of the bicycle. We need more and better connected infrastructure to do this safely, which is why I started volunteering with the Bike Ottawa Advocacy Working Group. Let’s make 2022 the year we ride more, and encourage others around us to do the same!