Hello bike bunnies
Today, we begin the journey into a wonderful community I discovered in the year 2011–cyclists in the Greater Toronto Area.
The whole thing started with me volunteering at Valet Bike Parking events. Valet Bike Parking events provide a penned-in area where volunteers babysit bicycles (for free) while the owner enjoys an event, like a farmer’s market. As I registered the bicycle, I’d often say, “Nice bike!”, at which point the owner would invariably treat me to a unique and inspiring story.
“Someone should be writing these down!” I thought. Well, here I am. After interviewing aproximately one hundred and fifty people in the GTA over the course of a single year, I have probably the best collection of bicycle stories known to mankind, all shared openly and genuinely. Every tale recounted here is a true story, and every last one is a love story in some way.
There are stories from all walks of life, all ages, both sexes. Happy stories, work-related stories, playful stories, recreational and competitive stories. Accident stories. Stories about death. Advocacy stories. My bike story is interwoven throughout, so you have something to hang your hat on. I believe anyone can enjoy this project. I started out very naive, but today I know more about bicycles than most people who ride, just because I was interested. These stories allow you to share that knowledge.
I have tried to remain true to the owner’s original story by letting them see it twice–when I first wrote up the facts presented, and again, after the editor and I had hammered out the kernel of the story. It mattered to me that they be proud of their contribution.
Not all stories could be included in the final book, for obvious reasons. However, I want to share them all, since I don’t know which will inspire you personally. With the interviewees’ permission, those that don’t go into the book are about to be shared here, on the blog, as openly and genuinely as if you were sitting beside me during the interview. These postings, which will occur regularly in the next few months, are intended as a precursor to the book launch.
The book follows the chronological sequence I took during the interviews. At first, the bike was the conduit. Because I’m shy and didn’t know the community, I’d place a business card on any bike that looked to me like it had a story. The owner would get back to me, flattered. We’d talk. They’d claim to have no bike stories (a big, fat untruth.) With time and confidence, I began to approach “big names”. I couldn’t possibly speak with everyone, but I tried for breadth and depth, and the sequence I follow in the book reflects my journey, meandering, curious, and always smitten.
The blog doesn’t follow that sequence, because my objective here is to get you excited about the book launch. Stories are completely out of order and you may not always understand how we got from A to B. But then, that’s a little like riding the streets of Toronto on an average day, isn’t it?
One last thing. As I’m getting the final edits back from interviewees, a cool thing is happening. Many of these people want to tell me what’s happening with their bike stories now. You see, my interest in their bike has caused them to realize just how inspiring what they do on a bicycle can be. Now they know they have bike stories. Even if this book is never published, good energy is flowing.
So, what are you waiting for? Go get your helmet and let’s set out together. Because as many Toronto street signs indicate, this road continues one block north.