Last week was a quiet week, given the time of year. The only interview I didn’t have to reschedule was on Sunday. I met with Laurie Featherstone, who uses her bike as a delivery service. Her very first customer was Forbes Wild Foods. Laurie very kindly met me between deliveries. Her business is called Featherstone Two Wheels Green Delivery and I found her manning a new booth at the Wychwood Barns Farmer’s Market, available for market deliveries.
Her bike hauls a side-hitch trailer that can handle 400 lbs (most trailers max out at 200 lbs). And what weighs that much, you might ask? Well, she delivers catered foods to day-care centres, sports camps and Food Share recipients, among other things. I admire her resourcefulness in finding a job she enjoys that gives so much to her city.
For more information on Laurie’s Featherstone Two Wheels Green Delivery service, visit www.twowheelsgreendelivery.com.
On Monday night, I was in Kensington Market recording the story of a bike accident. When a potential collision with a van forced her to deal with a series of horrific potholes, this woman “ate the pavement”. The result was that she lost four front teeth. Is she deterred from riding? Nope. She’s getting back in the saddle. It’s a very inspiring story and I am proud to call her my friend.
On Tuesday, it was time to interview the owner of a bike store. While I can’t be expected to talk to every bike store owner in town, I felt that story should be told. There are legion wonderful stores in Toronto, but in the end I spoke with Rob Bateman, of Bateman’s Bicycle Company. I found the store completely by accident nearly four years ago, when Rob had been opened less than a week. My bike needed emergency service and Rob happily obliged. Two weeks ago, the bike needed more emergency service, which was provided once again, just as happily and just as quickly as the first time. This sort of mentality is unusual in the bigger stores during the busy season, which surprises me. I mean, isn’t the whole point of a bike store to get people out on bikes?
For more information on just one of the many rockin’ bike stores in downtown Toronto, visit www.batemansbikeco.com. Bateman’s isn’t for everyone, but it is the one for me. We should all love our bike shops like I love mine.
On Thursday night, a friend invited me to dinner in Unionville. Before we sat down I spent an hour watching the bike traffic on Main Street. After dinner a street festival drew hundreds of people, many on bikes. And did I card those bikes and their owners? You betcha! Watch for some Unionville bike stories soon. It’s important that we understand what cyclists do in these outlying districts and why.
Friday found me at Joy Ride 150. Joy Ride is a 90,000 square foot facility where anyone with a bike can learn to ride. I spoke with Shannon Bentley—and a small herd of BMXers—about what riding a bike means to them. Want to learn to ride a mountain bike? Go on a road bike event? Practice BMX tricks and jumps? Never been on a bike at all? Go to Joy Ride and take a Learn to Ride. And once on a bike, they encourage you to try other cycling dynamics. I found the best Franken-bikes stored in the back room, waiting for an outing: road bikes with BMX elements. Go to Joy Ride, and find your joy.
On Saturday morning, I was surrounded by a family whose love of cycling is grounded in environmental sensibilities. The father works for the Conservation Council of Ontario, the mother for the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. The son is named for a beloved island on which the parents were cycling while she was pregnant. The daughter’s first bike was named “Love”. The family motto is ‘the art of living lightly’. They have recently had to retire a Buddy Bike because they wore it out.
Everyone cycles everywhere. Their stories are astonishing, tender, challenging, kind, and absolutely do-able.
Having been encouraged by two interviewees, I attended the event Trailblazing Festival 2011 at Kelso Conservation Area on Saturday afternoon. This event showcased all forms of mountain biking, offering skills sessions and clinics and rides across and down the escarpment. Organized by Mountain Bike Ontario (MTB ON), it was a true meeting of the minds, with such names in attendance as the Wild Bettys, IMBA, GORBA, Joy Ride 150, and Sacred Rides. I was so impressed with this first-ever effort in Ontario.
For more information, visit http://rusticscribe.posterous.com/trailblazing-at-kelso-conservation-area
And finally, my Sunday night was spent in the charming company of a young couple who use a three wheeler for transportation and exercise. Multiple sclerosis has temporarily reduced the wife’s mobility to walking slowly with a cane. Together, they attend her yoga classes, swim classes, and more recently, Tai Chi. These things certainly helped, but there were no dramatic improvements, until two weeks ago. Since they bought the bike, both she and her husband have noticed a marked improvement in her stair-climbing ability, her speed and her confidence. Her goal is to go back to cycling on a two wheeled bike. “No yet,” this lovely Mexican woman tells me. “But I will do.”
Kinda makes you want to get out there on a bike, doesn’t it? Do it!