(Photo: Toronto Star)
A nice article on Yvonne, bike union ED, and her take on winter riding by Catherine Porter of the Toronto Star. Apparently the key to winter cycling is tissues for the running nose (and a bicycle). The best part of this article is the pretentiousness and, yet, feminine angle. You don't need much more than a bicycle, a warm jacket and confidence to bike in the winter. If one day is too scary, wait until the snow clears up and you'll find it's quite refreshing:
We've met on a sunny morning and set off in search of winter's axis of evil: snow, slush and ice. Now that we've found it, Bambrick instructs me to push into it, slowly, but with confidence. "Don't lose your nerve."
Look at her: tall, long black coat, chic red hat dotted with a delicate bicycle pin, dark sunglasses. She could be shopping in Paris.
Her bike is a grey Dutch seven-speed, the front basket adorned with bulrushes, white plastic flowers cascading off the back.
How could you spout epithets from your car window at this woman? If the old cycling crowd is Kensington Market, Bambrick is Uptown. She is gentrifying the image of cycling in the city.
Her tool is the Toronto Cyclists Union. Bambrick, 33, is its executive director, her salary paid mostly through the dues of its 800 members, proof in itself of the rising class, and commitment, of cyclists.
Still, Bambrick is hardcore – she bikes year-round. To prove cycling is a legitimate form of transportation, you need to do it in winter – just like drivers do.
I am a fair-weather commuter. Come December, I hang up my clunker in the shed. I rode only once in the snow – on the back of a friend's bike during my first winter at McGill.
We crashed into a snowbank, my chauffeur laughing maniacally. It confirmed my suspicion that winter cyclists are nuts.
Who else would add black ice and skidding cars to the list of perils summer cyclists face?
"It's not for everyone," Bambrick concurs. "There's days when you shouldn't be driving a car either."
Her advice: Wear layers. And goggles. Slow down. Stay stable. Use "extreme caution" approaching streetcar tracks. Practice first.
She thinks it's so safe, she doesn't wear a helmet, which by law she doesn't have to.
I harden my resolve and pedal toward a mess of snow, slush and car treads. My tires slip. When I brake, my rear wheel slides.
"It takes about a month to get your winter legs," Bambrick says.
There is lots of advice out there, but you can forget most of it and get along quite well. The one thing you shouldn't forget is to approach icy, slippery surfaces carefully, taken them head on if you can't avoid them, and no sudden braking, turning or speeding up.
With that in mind you'll have an enjoyable time cycling this winter.
Forget the tissues!Sun, 01/10/2010 - 19:29
Hankies are where it's at. Once you discover the true awesomeness of handkerchiefs, especially for winter cycling and other cold-weather pursuits, you'll never want to use crappy old tissues again except in emergencies.
As gross as this may sound...you can keep using a hanky even when it's full of snot already. Dries up well even. :) But it's better than running out of tissues.
I almost never leave the house without a hanky or two.
Colleen (not verified)
Yea hankies!Mon, 01/11/2010 - 15:48
Hankies are so much better than tissues! I'd rather blot my eyes or nose on a cold day with a soft cotton hanky instead of scratchy tissue. Maybe I'm not being objective though because I do have my own hanky line. It's called Happy Hanky. Check them out online if you have a chance. Handkerchief lovers unite! I am so nerdy! :o)
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chephy (not verified)
Hanky? Pff, who needs aSun, 01/10/2010 - 23:37
Hanky? Pff, who needs a hanky? Why do you think cycling gloves and mitts have that soft patch near the base of the thumb? :-D
not_hardcore (not verified)
Can we please shake this hard-core bsSun, 01/10/2010 - 23:41
Do we call people out walking their dog in the snow hard-core? Why is it suddenly hard-core to be outside in the winter because you're on a bicycle... geesh.
"Oh man you are crazy walking that dog outside, IN THE SNOW, when it isn't 21 degrees and sunny... you're so hard-core"
I think not.
P.S you don't need tissues... i don't get a lot of snot issues but, if there is snot most cycling gloves have a built in terry-cloth(softer than tissues also) patch on the thumb for just such a thing.
Goober McFly (not verified)
Hardcore, for sureMon, 01/11/2010 - 12:34
Cycling through snow and ice is definitely hardcore, only a small fraction or the "core" of bikers do it.
It's not as much fun as riding on a sunny spring day, no matter how much I tell myself.
As usual, Yvonne sets a great example for others - winter riding isn't as dangerous as it seems but you're right about needing to get used to it and taking a few extra precautions. I like your bike and the flowers are a nice touch to make yourself distinct.
I Am SupermanMon, 01/11/2010 - 08:51
Right you are not-harcore,
A humbling winter ride awaits outside Ryerson University or Sick Kids Hospital, where in the coldest depths of winter there are many dozens of bicycles parked outside.
Yvonne (not verified)
i didn't choose the term...Mon, 01/11/2010 - 11:07
just so you know, i often use a hanky - tissue is just what made it into the piece, and i did not say that tissue was the key to winter cycling, those were Catherine's words.
i don't think continuing to ride through the winter is particularly hardcore either, just a form of transportation. that said, not everyone is built (or prepared enough) to ride home through a storm that's rolled in while you were at work/school/whatever - I definitely feel hardcore when I get through something like that ;)
oh, and a couple of corrections: my bike is black, not grey - though the layer of salt might have made it look greyish... and I am very involved in Kensington, it's my neighbourhood, and I have been one of the coordinators of Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington for the past 6 years, and a director on the Kensington Market Action Committee for the past 2! Not Kensington...? Ouch.
handbags (not verified)
I have a question on thisSat, 01/30/2010 - 00:22
I have a question on this that how could you spout epithets from your car window at this woman? Well this is strange. If the old cycling crowd is Kensington Market, Bambrick is Uptown. She is gentrifying the image of cycling in the city.Maybe I'm not being objective though because I do have my own hanky line.
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