If your valiant steed has been chained to a lamp post all winter, it might need some TLC before blazing the urban trails. Getting back into a loving relationship with your hot ride can be a process once the weather gets nice again. Where to start, you ask? Read these tips to get inspired about spring biking!
Treat yourself to some green bike maintenance elixirs. This is the busiest time of year for bike tune-ups. If you’re a DIY gal, Orontas is a Toronto-based business that makes bike care products that don’t have skulls and crossbones on ‘em. They know Toronto cyclists are hardcore and often ride through snow and sleet, so they make high performance, biodegradable, plant – based bike degreasers and lubes to keep your ride (and you) healthy. You can find their products at Mountain Equipment Co-op (400 King St. West), Curbside (412 Bloor St. West) or Hello Velo (262 Carlaw Ave).
Take advantage of the DIY bike spots in the city. Community Bike Network (761 Queen St. W) can teach you how to fix your bike, and offers tools and equipment and a space to get to know the ins and outs of your bikes bod. If you already know how to do it, you can also just rent the space and do your thing. They sell salvaged parts from bikes rescued from landfills, as well as rent bikes and bike trailers. They are doing some small (women only) workshops this summer. Unfortunately, all their website info is outdated. Call Jon for friendly assistance. 416-504-2918. Bike Pirates (1292 Bloor St. W) and Bike Sauce (717 Queen St. East) are both drop in spots run by volunteers that provide repair facilities.
Check out some of the bike happenings going down this spring. Tour De Dufflet, the 3-bakery-whirlwind bike tour, is running daily from May 24 – June 30th. The Ride_for_the_Rouge Valley Conservation Centre is also taking place May 14th to support the Rouge Valley Conservation Center, the largest urban park in North America. In May, the city is launching Bixi, a public bike-sharing alternative to city transit. There will be 80 stations around the city, with a total of 1000 bikes for rent. Any bike can be picked up at any station and dropped off at any other station and will be accessible 24/7, year round. A subscription is $95 per year. Pretty neat-o concept for our urban landscape.
Here are some tips from the pro’s …
“Skirt-riding (which is my favorite summer pass-time besides park drinking) is only for the brave women out there! Finding the right length/tightness is important to each unique style of bike. My solution is to wear cute, (appropriate!), brightly-coloured undies and lose all cares in the world! (just try and get a glimpse as I fly by!) But I’ve also heard of wearing short shorts or tights, pinning the center together to create shorts, or tying long skirts in a knot, to keep from getting caught in cogs (ouch!). Either way, think “inner-thigh friction”, hickeys down there are not only painful, but just don’t look right! ;)”
– Cat Essiambre, The Deadly Nightshades Bike Crew
“Start with a few short rides before heading out on a long one and do lots of stretches after all rides until your muscles get built back up. Another thing that is really important is to go over your bike to ensure that everything is in working order and maybe even take it into a bike shop for a tune-up. Just remember that spring is peak season for bike shops so you’ll have to book in advance for a tune up and the tune up will take several days.”
– Hyedie Hashimoto, Creator of the Toronto Cupcake Ride
“When heading out in the afternoon and you’re not sure how long you’re going to be out, remember to bring your bike lights. For a cheap and easy solution, I recommend going to mountain Equipment Co-op and grabbing two turtle lights and carabineer for about 12 bucks. Strap them onto the back or your seat posts, and you’ll be visible to drivers. Just remember to take them on and off as you lock it up.”
– Yvonne, Urban Cycling Consultant and new co-ordinator for Kensington market BIA.
“The new Evergreen BrickWorks is fun to explore and a great bike through the Don Valley. Beautiful marshland and lots of spots to drink beer/ciders on the grass. They are amazing and kept all the old graffiti up in the brick making factory, and touring it is like taking a gallery walk. Some of Toronto’s finest taggers have their work up on the hundred year old factory walls. They have natural playgrounds to explore, and you can learn a lot about local plants and urban gardening. They have a sales center for all the plants. They also do farmer’s markets and have a great bike program and garage. Hot boy sightings tend to happen down there lots. What to bring? Friends, camera, water bottle, ciders, sunscreen, and vegan cookies”
– Meaghan Orlinksi, Bike style blogger for Momentum Magazine and Deadly Nightshade.
“Starting off by picking up some picnic supplies in Kensington Market is a good starting point for one of 2 trips. A picnic in Trinity Bellwoods or heading down to the ferry docs and going to the island, that’s a standard sunny afternoon or weekend trip for me. In the spring, one thing I’d add for practicality – because that’s the kind girl I am – I have a tarp that I bring along on my bike, because often the soil is still damp. Just throw down a tarp, and then your blanket on top, then your picnic stuff. This way, you avoid a wet bum. I have a nice little trunk on my bike so I always keep the tarp in there.”
– Yvonne, urban cycling consultant and new co-ordinator for Kensington market BIA.
“What to bring for a successful spring day trip on your bike? Rain pants and jacket, extra shirt, water bottle in a Clean Kanteen, Push The Envelope courier bags, simple dynamic properly weight distributed paniers for front and rear bike loaded with all the tools of the trade, burrito bike repair kit, and bungee cords!”
– Michael, ChocoSol Pedal-Powered Chocolate.
~ Kait Fowlie