Monday, 30 June 2008

How To Observe Vancouver Bike Month

Since arriving in Canada – having had my bike flown across the Atlantic as the single item of “sporting equipment” that each passenger was entitled to have carried for free - I have only cycled for a handful of reasons. Firstly, I have been using it a few times each month when visiting my Uncle’s house, a few miles away. For 2 months I also made the commute to the Flying Beaver by bicycle too. On top of this, there were a few times that I cycled the short journey to Hugh Boyd school and played football with Danny’s friends.

This is around an average of 10 miles a week, which is pretty poor. For Summer Fun throughout the whole of July, I made a decision to become more active and cycle the 12 mile round trip each day. The first time that I made this journey was on the way to the interview and was when I was hit for the first time in my life – by an Asian woman who was turning right without indicating or doing a mirror check!

Pros to cycling this commute over the landscaping one were the later start-time (8:00am being better than 6:00am), the route being quieter (alongside the Fraser river rather than through the city centre) and safer areas to lock my bike – the landscaping car park being quite open.

I also decided to get more into cycling as the summer went on, with June being “Vancouver Bike Month” and July being filled with events and races (e.g. the Tour de Burnaby) around the lower mainland. Jill’s family all seem to be into biking too so I have been able to discuss cycling with them a few times when I have been over.

Unfortunately, there are always unpredictable factors and things didn’t turn out well at all! One day whilst I was at work, Lisa (the Down’s Syndrome girl living with the Bowen family) decided to take my bike from the locked garage and ride it to her music lesson. I arrived home, planning to whiz to the bus stop to meet Jill; being later home from work than I had hoped, and upon being unable to find it decided to ask Lisa and Barb (the two people at home at that time) if they had seen it.

Barb had no idea where it was and suggested that I had maybe left it at my Uncle’s house or with a friend – something that I did occasionally to avoid the ride home – so I tried a few places to make sure but with no luck so with little hope of a result, I asked Lisa:

Act 1: Awkward conversation.
Chris: “Hey Lisa, have you seen my bike”
Lisa: “No”
Chris: “Oh, ok….never mind then”
Lisa: “Actually…Yes”
Chris: “Umm…what?”
Lisa: “Yes…I borrowed it!”
Chris: “Okay…so where is it?”
Lisa: “I don’t know”
Chris: “Where did you take it?”
Lisa: “My music lesson”
Chris: “Ok, so is it there?”
Lisa: “No, it was gone when I came out”
Chris: “Umm…oh….ok…where did you leave it?”
Lisa: “On the sidewalk”
[Exit Chris with sad expression]


After the Bowens filed a police report and had a look through their “Lisa Insurance”, they decided that it would be best to buy me a new bike but said that it would have to be one with a lower value since mine had been top-of-the-range and they couldn’t afford to buy me an awesome bike, brand new.

They found a bike enthusiast through one of their friends and were able to negotiate a pretty good deal on a new blue front suspension, “Gary Fisher” bike that was slightly larger (because of the bigger wheels) than my old bike had been. The suspension and frame material added weight that had not been on my old bike but it was still very light and nice to ride. The only major difference to the ride was the front forks and I was told that they could be tightened to make the bike “suspension-less” if desired.

With the bike being bigger and heavier, it is likely to be harder to transport without taking it to pieces but I was shown a few tricks by Jill’s (cycling-enthusiast) Dad and am now confident in removing back wheels and aligning disc brakes! I am still on the lookout for my old (pretty rare blue GT Bravado) bike as I cycle around – as well as on Craigslist – but have had no luck so far, so instead am making the most of having a brand new (and pretty cool) mountain bike!

Hopefully next “Bike Month” will be less dramatic for me and involve more cycling! Until then I will try to increase my weekly average – maybe even cycling to and from work in the next few months, before I head out to Whistler in the late Autumn.

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