Uphill Both Ways

I’m starting to sound like my parents.  I hear myself telling stories about “when I was a kid…”.  The truth is that I really didn’t spend much time inside the house.  I lived on my green banana-seat bicycle.   As much as I nag my kids to get outside, my parents were on my case about coming home every once in a while!   There’s got to be a happy medium.  Our children need to get more exercise for their health and well-being and we all need to spend more quality time together.

bike love

Our little urban urchins don’t seem to have as many options as we did.  Our streets are so much more dangerous than they used to be.  I’m not referring to crime here, I’m referring to traffic.  There are so many cars on the road.  Not just cars, but SUV’s and minivans…big,  heavy bone crunching vehicles.  What to do then?  Don’t corral them within your property perimeters…teach them where and how to ride safely.

Yes, this post is about cycling in the big city.  I know, I know.  This has nothing to do with the backcountry.  My blog, my prerogative…lol!  Seriously though, cycling is such an important part of childhood.  At least it should be.  Maybe you left your cycling days long behind you, having graduated to a car on your sixteenth and never looked back.  It would do us all some good to make riding a regular part of our routine.

zach bike ramp

zach just had to be the first to ride the ramp

Do as I say, not as I do.  I rode to work and back everyday when I lived in Vancouver.  When we were moving back to Toronto, we left almost everything behind.  I left my bike to one of the kids that lived in our housing co-op.  I told him to be safe, have fun, and take good care of my baby.  I walked away and never looked back.  I feel guilty, not just for leaving my bike behind, but for leaving cycling behind too.  Toronto riding scares me.  Plain and simple.  I’m going to face my fears and pick it back up again this summer.  I need to do it for me, and I need to do it for my kids.

Here’s the big plan.  I’m going to partner up with some of my bike fanatic friends and get them to go riding with me.  I’m going to take advantage of bike clinics in and around the city.  There are PLENTY of them.  Ones that teach riding skills, ones that teach maintenance and some just plain teach how to enjoy yourself!  I’m proud to say that my son Luke is a good influence on me.  He loves his bike.  He loves the freedom and independence that it affords him.  He and his gang of friends ride the roads around our urban home.  Tomorrow he’s taking his love of bikes one step further.  He is going to volunteer at an event being held in the downtown core.  He is going to help out a fabulous organization called The Bicycle Commons.

daddy gives zach a helping hand

The Bicycle Commons is a non-profit that helps train inner city youth in the art of bicycle repair and maintenance (bike tech’s).  They provide them with marketable skills, affordable transportation (each tech in training works on a bike they eventually get to keep along with a helmet, lights and lock)  and set them up for success.  BC holds free bicycle clinics all over the city.  It seems like every weekend they are represented at one (or MORE) community gathering or another.  That is just the tip of the iceberg.  You really need to check them out online or in person.  You can’t help but be inspired! Luke will be volunteering at the free community bicycle clinic at the St. James Town Festival at the Wellesley Community Centre here in Toronto.  It runs from 10:00am – 4:00pm Saturday June 4th, 2011.  I’m thrilled at the opportunity for him to learn practical lessons from such a great organization, but also for the opportunity to learn about giving back to the community.  It’s just feel good all around.

lukey bails but keeps on smiling!

Luke and Bicycle Commons have a lot to teach us.  Reach out, help out and share your passions with others.

To wrap up, here is a quote from the Bicycle Commons Facebook page:

Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race. H.G. Wells (1866-1946)

Well said.  Kids on bikes grow into adults on bikes.  Now let’s make it so.

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