Three more interviews this week, and as always these were all well worth recording.
My first interview this week came as a result of a bike I’d carded at Harbourfront Centre back in April, when I was singing with the Complaints Choir. Busy schedules prevented us getting together until now. The bike’s owner is now working at a design company in the junction. This artistic woman is exceptionally good at bridging antithetical worlds on her bike. She has bridged two cultures, and has managed to combine both urban and rural lifestyles on her bike in a way that can only be described as winsome. She rides this terrific Gary Fischer.
The office where she is employed is a story in itself. When you walk into Overdrive Design, you are met by a herd of bicycles at the front counter. I counted: the ratio of bikes to employees is 1:1. It was refreshing to walk into an office where bike souls greet you directly, even before people do.
The owner of Overdrive Design, James Wilson, insists the office observe environmentalism principles when possible. The phrase ‘when possible’ is the key to James’s bike stories. For one thing, he feels it is important to lead by example, so he rides in from Oakville every day. That would be 40KM. One way. Ten months of the year. For the interview, he had planned to ride in on his LandShark steel frame tandem, unaccompanied. That was Thursday, when the temperature skyrocketed into the 40s with the humidity. Neither of us rode to the interview that day. Still, he sent me this shot of the bike.
James has also endured some pretty spectacular accidents (most of them no-fault). He’s sort of a “fall down, get up, keep goin’” kind of cyclist. His is what I like to call an OMG story.
Oh yeah. So, you know how I love Rocky Mountain bikes, mine being one? You’re familiar with the Rocky Mountain logo, the triple peaks in the red circle? Yep, that was James, the designer. Yeah. OMG!
My final interviewee this week had a tale that has been begging to be told. This man works with CultureLink, a program that helps newcomers settle into Canada. One of this man’s goals is to encourage immigrants to perceive cycling—one of their sustainable habits back home—as a viable transportation option here in Toronto. CultureLink makes presentations in schools and they work in neighbourhoods to break down cultural “cocoons”. This astute man, who immigrated from Sri Lanka as an adult, has also partnered CultureLink with the Toronto Bike Union to encourage cycling as a lifestyle rather than a recreational option, targeting both the mainstream population and new Canadians. As he explained it to me, bikes should not be considered a cheap investment. “Bikes are something you do for life.” What does he ride, you ask? It’s a spectacularly functional Batavus Diva. Photo to follow (It’s with the photographer! Really!)
There is one final story I want to share with you. It was in an email I received yesterday. I’ve been negotiating for an interview with someone whose bike I carded in the late winter. As you know, I typically go into these interviews blind, never sure what kind of story I will hear. Sometimes, the person emails me to say they doubt their story will be of interest. In her email, this woman tells me she has been following this blog and that the stories recorded here are “going to be a wonderful read” (see? I told you people would enjoy reading this book!) Then, she goes on to tell me she prefers riding between 2AM and sunrise, and that she has witnessed some breathtaking things during those hours. That she has a friend in his mid-’70s who delivers papers on his bike, and that she has watched a neighbour haul loads of parcels balanced on his head, while riding a bike. She has never owned a driver’s license, so for her “cycling represents freedom, convenience… and adventure”. She’s 58 years old. What do you think? Shall I interview her?!
She ends her email the way several of my conversations have ended recently.
“Whether I’m interviewed or not, I’d like to buy your book when it comes out.”
Thanks for making such an extraordinary mark on the cycling community and for representing this magnificent city so honourably. I am, as always, deeply humbled and absolutely inspired.
Well done, everyone.