On Family Day, I visited the Sauroren Market. That day we had about half a foot of snow on the ground and it was pretty darned cold out. There I chanced upon a woman loading groceries into a milk crate on her bike. I was attracted by the plastic flowers decorating the crate. She took my card. The very next week, we were having tea in her sunny kitchen. It turns out, she works as a home care nurse and uses her bike to visit her patients year round. She has gained a reputation as being reliable. So much so that when Toronto gets hit with a whopping storm, she often gets calls from other home care nurses who are stuck in their cars. Would she mind visiting their patient, on her bike? This woman is a strong cycling advocate. As a nurse, she feels everyone would benefit from the activity. I happen to agree with her.
That same week, I visited City Hall where I interviewed Joe Mihevc. Joe is my city councillor and I often see him toodling around the neighbourhood on an old beater. He dismisses the fact that he commutes on this thing as “no big deal”, yet in the three years I’ve lived in this neighbourhood, Joe has been a sincere and determined advocate for more bike lanes and shared roadways, for Bike First Friday Breakfasts, for Bixie Bikes, and for greater awareness on cycling infrastructure and safety needs.
Finally, I got a call-back about a business card I’d left on an intriguing bike I saw locked up on Spadina Street. Turns out, the bike belongs to a Ryerson student. Ever since moving to Toronto, this enterprising young lad has been “reclaiming” abandoned bikes and breathing new life into them. He tells me he is careful not to “lust after someone’s beloved bike” by choosing those with flat tires and missing parts: he selects frames that are begging to be rebuilt to their former glory. He sent me photos of the results.
The bikes are astoundingly beautiful. I wonder if this is a little like the joy a rescued animal demonstrates at being given a second chance.
This month, I visited the spring Bike Show. There, I was introduced to trick cycling, flatlander and mountain bike competitions. The events were entertaining and inspiring, and meeting some of the competitors was great fun. Here’s a shot of the judges for the trick riding competition who, apart from their age look exactly like the kids in the stands. The thing that gave them away as judges was the Apple laptop they were all furiously typing on after a trick.
Later, when I walked around the racks of bikes for sale, I was struck by how they all looked like ‘bikes with no souls‘, in limbo. After the event, I found myself walking behind a woman carrying a brand new bike to her car. She was wearing the same look a first-time mother gets when holding her newborn. As with Icycle, I wrote a story based on my experiences at this event.