I like to bike, travel all around. I like to bike, feet off the ground. I like to bike, feel the wind in my hair. I like to bike, it’s freedom I declare!
(Blast from the Past Aquarian article from our Summer 2011 issue.)
I AM A CYCLIST!
This new identity surfaced last summer when I decided my dog needed a more effective workout beyond walking.
The pain, awkwardness and frustration of my first couple weeks on a bike paid off as my body and mind adjusted to riding once again after a 20-year hiatus. (See “Biking with my Dog” in the Spring 2011 Aquarian).
My first biking discovery this spring was a bent, wobbly back wheel due to a mishap in the fall between a pole, my dog and I. The second finding was the South Osborne Bike Hub (SOBH) at the Lord Robert’s Community Club only a few blocks from my home. I can fix my bike there while supporting a community initiative and donating to a great cause.
What’s the hubbub all about you may ask? Well, community bike shops, I learned, continue to pop up all over the city. For example, the SOBH was started by Jaret Olford, who bikes to work every day, all year round – a diehard cycling commuter. During the spring of 2010, when he had to use a short portion of sidewalk, an angry pedestrian attacked Jaret, knocking him off his bike, punching and screaming at him.
Jaret channeled his frustration at the event into a more positive outlet by jumping on the idea of starting the South Osborne Bike Hub shop. He hopes to get more people on the roads cycling, being able to fix their bikes and knowing more of the safety issues and environmental benefits.
The SOBH started in July 2010 as an initiative through the Community Led Emissions Reduction (CLER) program set up by the provincial government. CLER works in partnership with local governments and community organizations to assist in immediate reduction of green house gases. The Lord Roberts and Riverview Community Clubs banded together to participate. After consulting with the community, seven local improvement areas were identified including composting, building efficiency and active transportation.
As he was on the Lord Roberts board and passionate about cycling, Jaret volunteered to coordinate the project of a local bike shop. Lord Roberts CC donated the shop space while CLER funds went towards the purchase of tools and equipment. Now Jaret oversees 15 volunteers who keep the shop open through the week for repairing bikes, leading workshops and organizing community bike events.
Run on a donation basis (like most community bike shops), the South Osborne Bike Hub is always looking for bikes and parts, volunteers and cash to purchase more tools and work stations.
The Bike Dump boasts a well-organized, volunteer-run, bike education and repair centre tucked behind the old Occidental Hotel (now the Red Road Lodge) at the corner of Logan and Main.
Currently about 35 volunteers, fondly referred to as Dumplings, rotate their services and chug away at this well-greased machine of a bike shop. There are greeters at the door to organize the summer customers. People need to be matched with the bike mechanics ready to walk them through each step of bike repair or rebuild.
As well, the centre offers regular workshops such as bike trailer building and spring tune-ups. The shop is always looking for more people to join the team – no experience necessary – only a desire to help out and learn.
Lyndie, one of the volunteers I spoke with on a snowy Sunday afternoon in March, told me she arrived one day over five years ago to fix a flat tire. The mechanic handed her an inner tube, showed her how to patch it and left her to practice. After five patches she finally got it. Since then she volunteers as much as possible.
The Bike Dump accepts all donations of bicycles and parts; they even scrounge through the Brady Landfill on occasion to “fill the coffers.” Of course, The Bike Dump’s biggest need is volunteers!
A WRENCH thrown in
On a broader scale, The Winnipeg Repair, Education and Cycling Hub (WRENCH) has been created as a central, non-profit organization and resource centre to support the community bike shops. Originally set up as a non-profit entity to access grants, WRENCH also coordinates communication between the bike shops, fields public inquiries and promotes education by hooking up the shops with schools interested in bike repair programs.
WRENCH also assists in bike accumulation and distribution. Workshops offered include an eight-week Build A Bike Program (to orient people to the basic parts and processes of bikes); the Earn A Bike Program over 12 weeks (learn in-depth repair while building a bike for the shop and one for yourself) and a Bike Safety and Riding Skills workshop.
A Blast from The Aquarian Past – Kristi’s Kaleidoscope Summer 2011
Passionate about Biking
Chiro on Wheels
Riding gives me a sense of freedom and is usually very calming. Because of cycling I’ve gone to Europe and I’ve seen places in Manitoba I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I have a fantastic group of friends who are very healthy physically and emotionally and are an endless source of comedy. Getting involved in racing has taken me to an incredible level of fitness and I enjoy excellent health. But most of all, riding makes me feel like a kid and is a whole lot of fun!!!
Sanctuary on a Bike
It is a sanctuary on wheels… my bike. After a long day at work I get home, throw on my cycling clothes, grab my water, throw a snack into my backpack, MP3 player ready with my favorite tunes, sunglasses on, helmet on, check my bike tires, cycling gloves…ready…off I go.
I whiz through traffic heading for my favourite forest and as my bike tires hit the forest path I leave the city streets behind, breathing a sigh of relief. How long will I ride today? I never know but I feel good and inspired to go further each time.
On weekends, I like the coolness of cycling in the morning; the sun creates patterns across the path that are breathtaking. It is quiet. It is beautiful. It is grounding. I turn a corner and there are a doe and her fawn. I stop and stare at those elegant creatures amazed that they survive amongst the craziness of the city that has built up all around them. I wonder what they must think of me with my bug-like glasses and bright red helmet. I nod to acknowledge their presence and then we are all off on our separate ways.
Some days, I time my rides to track my progress, other times I just ride. It is moving the body through space that feels so good. It makes me feel strong, healthy and carefree. Back at home after a few hours. I am sweaty and my hair is a matted mess under my helmet but I don’t care because there is nothing like the endorphin rush and sense of well being after my ride is over.
A Kid Again
I started cycling like most folks, as a means to get around when I was a kid. Back then you didn’t think about it, you just jumped on your bike and went – total freedom!
Now that I’m older, I think that the freedom aspect appeals to me again. Although I’m on the road most times and do adhere to the laws of the road, there is still a sense of total freedom when cycling. It’s the feeling that I am fully responsible for powering the mode of transport, the feel of the wind, the full visibility – freedom.
Especially rewarding is taking a ride on a remote country road early in the morning in the warm summer sunshine. You can really experience the road and the nature surrounding it.
I love cycling on the open winding highways with a group of cyclists. I feel the pulse of the peloton, the power of the bodies moving together in synchronicity.
Now I am doing a mountain on a road bike: working it, feeling it. Every muscle contracted and heeding the demands of the climb, breathing slow, steady, head down, push it, pump it, EXHILARATION, peaking – speeding down the other side, wind blowing through the jersey, helmet. I rejoice, feeling the exhilaration, speed, independence, maneuvering, freedom, environment, healthy body, friends, and teamwork.