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Bicycling in 2011 – A Personal Reflection

Happy New Year everyone! Hopefully you’ll have many happy rides in 2012.

Yesterday (Dec. 31/11) was my 52nd birthday.

Growing older evokes different thoughts and emotions in different people. But most don’t feel older, they just one day realize they are. I think the adage is “inside every older person there’s a younger person saying ‘what the hell happened?!’”

For someone born on the last day of the year, the sixth of six children – always the youngest in class; in family; among my friends – “suddenly” being older is an adjustment.

Many hide or deny their ages, but there are undeniable truths about aging and being older. For the first time in your life, there are more years behind you than ahead. There are more people younger than you than older. Your body is not as responsive.But I ride a bike. And it helps me deny the years. And I love it.

Poster on Pharmacy Ave.

And in my 52nd year, I rode more than ever before.

I know the following stats are unremarkable and they are presented as much to say “if I can do it, anyone can” as for any other reason, but I have regularly commuted by bike for at least 12 years and these are all personal bests, all set in 2011.  From them I take great pleasure as they are tangible evidence that, with each passing year, bicycling becomes more enjoyable for me, makes more sense and plays a bigger role in my life.

(Each stat is recorded during my regular commutes to work, which is about 20 km round trip, or longer rides)

  • Earliest commute of the year: Feb. 16
  • Latest commute of the year: Dec. 22
  • Coldest temp.: -2c (Mar 15)
  • Hottest temp: 36c (Jul 21)
  • Most consecutive business days commuting: 26
  • Highest average speed for a one-way commute (10 kms): 29.5 km/h (Sep. 14)
  • Highest average speed for round trip commute: 27.2 km/h (Aug 19)
  • Highest average speed for all commutes to date: 24.1278 km/hr (on Sep. 26)
  • Longest distance in a one-day ride: 170 kms (Sep 17)
  • Most kms ridden in a year: 2,840.6 kms

Notable Rides:

June 21: First of two rides to protest the removal of the Birchmount/Pharmacy bike lanes
July 12: Ride from Don Mills & DVP to City Hall for the vote on the future of the Jarvis bike lanes
July 20: Ride from Don Mills & DVP to participate in the ride to protest the removal of the Jarvis bike lanes
Sep. 17: Toronto to Niagara Falls

Thanks for letting me share this with you.

No one knows what’s in store for 2012 – hopefully I’ll find layers enough for a January commute – but regardless of what’s ahead, I’m looking forward to cycling there. Again, have happy rides in 2012.



Posted: January 1st, 2012
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Filed under: Bike Commuting
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Do You Remember Your First?

Ever have a sight, sound or smell bring back a lost memory?  I love to check out bicycles as I walk or ride along, looking at the different brands, colours and types and thinking about the personalities who ride them.  Two weeks ago, one bike made me do a double-take.  It was something I hadn’t seen since about 1970.  Something I used to stare at for hours; that filled my chest with pride.  It was the near forgotten, but immediately familiar again logo of an Eaton’s Glider, soaring gull and all.  My first bike was a Glider.

Do you remember your first bike?Sturmey-Archer

Unlike the 3-speed model with the classic Sturmey-Archer thumb shifter that I saw the other week,  mine was a 23” coaster, but with similar fenders, seat and striping.

Shopping used to be so much easier before the internet.  In the days of catalogue shopping, to order a bike; you picked up the phone; dialed the Eaton’s order line (always answered – by a human); gave them a catalogue number and that weekend, when all your friends were about, the Eaton’s truck would appear on your street to deliver your new bike, assembled, to your door.

Or that’s how it should’ve happened.

The truth is that we took delivery of my green with white fenders Glider (I think the chrome fenders were a feature of the geared models) before the snow melted and its first weeks were spent propped against a basement wall.  That’s how I got so familiar with the gliding gull on the front badge – for weeks I could do little else than teeter on the bike and stare at the logo.

I know you’ve heard this a million times, but I really was always the last one picked for sports teams; couldn’t hit a ball, skate or run to save my life.  I was picked second-to-last once, when we played the pre-schoolers. With no budget for training wheels, prospects were dim for me learning to ride in a reasonable time.

Benny, a good friend of our family who is now in his 70s and still a very nifty guy, volunteered.  I started off ready for it to take hours, if not days. On my second pass I thought I was going a little fast for Ben to keep up and I turned slightly to check on him, but he wasn’t there.  I can’t remember ever learning anything, that previously seemed so daunting, so easily.  But being a quick learner has its downsides.  Unprepared for my early success, Benny hadn’t yet shown me how to stop.

I fell off the bike a lot that first summer. I got the nick-name Sergeant for all the band-aids that neatly lined my knees.

Life changed.  I fractioned my school commutes.  I didn’t have to run after my cycling friends to keep up.  And slamming the always reliable coaster brakes laid a patch a mile long.

GliderbadgeThe Glider was stolen twice.  Once from the side of our house, but the police quickly returned it. The second time, it was gone when I got out of my Cub Scout meeting.  After a long search, I made a late-night, non-stop run home from Lawrence to Ellesmere, crying all the way for the loss of my Glider.  I never saw it or the soaring gull again.

Until two weeks ago.

My research since shows the Eaton’s Glider to be a coveted classic on the local bike market.  But I haven’t seen a coaster.  Got any info?

…OR DO YOU HAVE MY FREAKIN’ BIKE?!!  ;)



Posted: April 20th, 2010
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Filed under: Uncategorized
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