I’m definitely not the fastest, nor the most fashionable cyclist out on the trail, but I have to say that cycling is a newly re-discovered love affair of mine. Cities across the country are enhancing their cycling infrastructure and, while we’re by no means comparable to Amsterdam or Copenhagen, cycling is a past time that can—and should—be enjoyed by more Canadians. There are so many benefits to cycling that our European friends have been taking advantage of for years: the burning of calories, de-stressing, taking in new perspectives, absorbing daily doses of vitamin D, sexifing your calves…shall I go on?
Based in Calgary, I’m not in the most bike-friendly city in the country, but it’s actually not half bad. I will definitely admit that I was intimidated to start cycling in Calgary when I first moved here, and it’s certainly not as easy to get around via two wheels as compared to four in this town. However, the infrastructure is becoming more established and there is a whole network of bike trails that are just waiting to be discovered by more individuals.I was lucky enough to have my dad introduce me to the wonderful world of bike trails in Calgary one sunny Sunday afternoon. And wouldn’t you know it, I’ve been cycling to and from work as often as I can ever since.
If you don’t have the luxury of a friend or family member to help you figure out the bike trails in your city, check out your city’s homepage; most cities have mapped out all the city cycling trails and you’ll likely be able to find a map online. If not, you can always visit a local bike shop for info, or do a bit of Google research to figure out what cycling organizations exist in your city. Then shoot them an email, Facebook post or Tweet and ask if they can offer some directions or advice on cycling routes in your area. Some cycling organizations also put on stellar workshops, including bike maintenance and urban cycling skills.
On the flip side, I won’t deny that cycling can be a hassle, and somewhat inconvenient at times, especially when choosing to cycle as your primary means of transportation. It can be unpleasant to bike in the rain, hills are a bitch, and anyone who tries to convince you that it’s not tough on the tush is flat-out lying. So why go to all the trouble then you ask? Well, here’s what does it for me: I like having an appetite when I get home so I can enjoy dinner and dessert; cycling gives me time to think—I always come up with my best ideas when I’m out pedalling; it helps me wind down at the end of a long day; and, it ensures a workout is built into my day. What’s more, cycling saves me money on gas and bus fare and I’m pretty sure that it cuts my commute to work by at least 15 minutes.
Whether you’re just going for a spin around the block in your Sunday best, or hoofing it across town in some spandex shorts, I can assure you that the two-wheel view will give you a fresh new perspective on your city, and dare I say, perhaps even on life.
Is your town or city cycle-friendly? Is there room for improvement?