it must run in my genes

Grandmothers play an important role in the life of a grandchild – teaching life lessons, sharing wisdom, spending hours upon hours dishing out unconditional love to them, and creating fond memories that they can share for a lifetime.

When I was younger, I went to visit one set of Grandparents. I remember very clearly after we ate my birthday cake my Nana said “I’m going to die of a heart attack from eating this cake!”. I loved her sense of humour but on the next day I laid beside her in the hospital bed holding her hand and eating her lasagna so she could happily report to the nurses that it was gone. That night she passed away. 

As I’ve become more involved in biking, my Mom has shared more stories about her love for cycling and the importance of it in her life. She biked everywhere as it was her only mode of transportation. She was also a badass and did road races competing in 25, 50, and 100 mile distances some of them tandem with my Grandad. Her passion for cycling was so strong that she even found a way to incorporate bikes into their wedding. That’s pretty awesome.



It wasn’t until she had her first child that things started to slow down for her. She struggled to find a solution that worked for her and felt safe for her baby. That’s where I’m at in my journey. Becoming a new mother puts biking on pause for a bit. In memory of her, I’m committed to find something that is safe and works for our entire family. 

Nana, I know you’re with me whenever I hop on my bike and go for a ride. Miss you and think about you everyday. 

-k

in memory

On April 1, 2016, my 89 year-old grandma Thora passed away peacefully after spending several weeks in the Foothills hospital.  She was loved by family and friends who got to know her over cups of coffee, her amazing cakes and pies, family dinners, and her veritable knack for making anyone feel welcome.

The weekend she passed away, our family congregated at my Grandpa’s house, home to the family for over 50 years, and poured over photo albums.

It was cathartic to flip through decades of memories of my Grandma, from her childhood in Markerville, Alberta to her graduation from nursing school, to the seemingly never-ending expansion of children and grandchildren.

My sister Allison and my cousin Heather discovered my new favourite portrait of Grandma Thora in a soft covered photo album. The black pages of the album, similar to construction paper, are well worn and dog-eared by over seventy years of hands flipping through them. Three photos on the left side of the album are marked with white pencil crayon captioning the activity, “Bike Riding” and the subjects, “Edna”, “Darwin” and “Me” (Grandma) in each photo. Each of the kids look proud and happy to be standing with the shared farm bike, a feeling I can relate to, a feeling of happiness, freedom, and excitement that comes with riding bicycles.

I rode my bike to Grandma’s memorial service the following Thursday in my black dress. “You are the first person to ever arrive to a funeral here by bike,” said the smiling parking attendant,  “feel free to park beside the hearses in the garage” he offered.

As much as I will miss my Grandma Thora, I can celebrate her memory every time I ride my bike in the spring sunshine and think about that photo from the farm with a smile, knowing that she too found the joy in riding a bicycle.

-K

on the farm

bike squad

Grandma w Bike

Thora & Bike

Getting back on the saddle

The physical and emotional recovery of having a baby took a lot longer than I had anticipated. While I snuggled with my newest partner in crime I watched all types of people on bikes whiz by our house (more bikes than cars might I add!). They looked so happy. Oh how I longed to get back on my bike and experience the vibrancy of our growing city once again. I snapped back to reality and cringed thinking about how weak my body has become since I had stopped biking. I’ve been really hard on myself lately even though I know these things take time. 

This Easter weekend I am proud to say that I got up the courage to take my bike for a spin around the community. My partner, Justin, has been building up my confidence over the past few weeks to give it a try. So on Friday, I took my rusty bike off the shelf, blew off the dust, and forgot to pump up the tires. I knew it needed more love than that but I was too excited to get going. Justin attached the baby trailer to his bike and plopped in our son for his first bike ride ever. We went for 10 minutes before Owen decided he was finished. It was just enough time to feel the sun on my face, be able to look at Justin with so much excitement and encouragement in his eyes, and to remind me why I love biking so much. 

Justin took one look at me when we got home and said “Kayley, get out there again. You need this. I’ll be fine with Owen”. I was nervous to go for a longer ride but he was right I did need it. I took 30 minutes to myself and went on an easy ride in the community. When I got back I had to share the excitement with Kim:
  

Saturday I biked down to shelf life books to pick up my copy of “Street Fight” for the book club. Thoughts on my ride: 

 1. Wow, the cycle tracks look well loved.  

2. I forgot how close people in cars get to you.

 3. My legs certainly remember how to bike. 

 4. Cruising on your bicycle is the cheapest and best type of therapy I know. 

Feeling good about my ride down to Shelf Life, on Sunday we packed up as a family and biked to the grocery store. This time Owen made it round trip and seemed to actually enjoy it. 

Sometimes you just need someone to hold your hand through the transition. Whether it’s biking to work for the first time, trying winter cycling or getting back on a bike after a big life transition. It was nice to get out and build up my confidence one pedal at a time like I had done so many times in the past. I’m so thankful to have such great cheerleaders in my life. Thank you! 
  
-k

europe chronicles: vol 1

amsterdam family cycle chick amsterdam

It’s hard to believe that the last two and a half weeks are close to coming to a close.

I’ve spent my time spread equally between Holland, Spain and France and have had the absolute pleasure of temporarily immersing myself into each culture; short as it may have been.

Holland was eye opening. The month of May ended with comfortable, yet mild temperatures of around 10-15C. Cycling seemed intuitive as motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians went about their days in Amsterdam in a seemingly bustling, yet comfortable manner. Both pedestrians and cyclists meandered about their travels in ways in packed streets far more busy than our Stephen Avenue. From Amsterdam, I went to Tilburg, a city in the south of Holland next to the Belgium border. Main streets in the city were paralleled by cycle tracks and adjacent cities and towns connected by gorgeous treelined pathways running alongside the small highways.

What stood out most to me was the lack of helmets on all of the cyclists and the amount of parents with their kids in tow, in cargo bikes or on bike seats. Everyone was seemed to be happy and comfortable.

I was in Tilburg visiting my partner’s family for a 50th wedding anniversary and we were treated the following day with a 70km bike ride in the Dutch countryside complete with stops for coffee, beer, and sightseeing. I didn’t realize how common it was for the Dutch to spend their weekends outside cycling, moreover, I didn’t realize how common it was for the retired demographic, and I’m talking 70 + crowd to be exploring the back roads of Holland with little more than a jacket and an appetite for good beer. We cycled with a large group of 12 and I was suitably impressed at both the level of stamina and the youthfulness of the pack. It definitely had to be the cycling that kept them young. I hope when I get to 70, that I look that good, can cycle that far, and can drink that much beer!

Renting bikes in Holland was extremely easy as well, our rental spot at the Tilburg train station was open from 6am until 12 am, so it was a breeze to pick up and drop off our bikes. And never in my life had I seen so many folding bicycles than on the train. There was adequate storage for the bikes in the passenger cars and I saw a guy set his up in a matter of seconds after disembarking. The ease at which the infrastructure in Holland allows for seamless transitions between different modes of transportation is commendable.

I can’t wait to come back to visit and have my ass handed to me by yet another group of seniors!

70+bike gang enroute to Belgium

Come Ride With Us!

villagepledge

Join us on Sunday, May 10 for a bike ride to celebrate women cycling and Mother’s Day in Calgary!

We’ll be crossing bridges, exploring cycle tracks, and best of all, enjoying our beautiful river pathway system with family and friends. All are welcome!

Meet us at the North end of the Peace Bridge at 2PM for a free 12 km ride. Our destination is Village Ice Cream.

The ride is part of CycloFemme, “a Global Women’s Cycling Day created to honour the past, celebrate the present, and to empower the future of women in cycling and the opportunity for positive social change”.

To learn more about CycloFemme, visit their website
To learn more about our ride on May 10 visit the Bicycle Belles’ facebook event

 

what started as biking…

coffeeoutside weir

So it’s April and it’s been a while since we’ve hit the blog…I’ve had some time to reflect on how making the decision to bike all year round has changed my life (I know this sounds a little cheesy and over the top, but read on…).

Eight months ago, I didn’t know how to dress for winter cycling conditions. I didn’t know how to clean a chain, administer simple repairs on a bike, or even how often to pump my tires. I didn’t think I would be able to get to work on time through snow on a bike. I didn’t think I would be warm enough on those rare -20C days. And I didn’t think I had the skills necessary to ride my bike in the winter.

Eight months later, through trial and error, perseverance, (and a little luck) I was able to put all my self-doubts to bed.

The amount of confidence, independence, and strength I gained from riding a bike as my main method of transportation has been both physically and mentally rewarding.

With the support of my partner, we made the decision in January to sell my Subaru and downsize to one car. We’re not alone on this. Kayley and her husband are on the same path. In Calgary, a city often touted as ‘car centric’, it seemed like a bit of a stretch to go down to one car. The absolute truth? It’s been so liberating and has encouraged us to discover new neighbourhood restaurants, shops, and hidden gems in our community by walking, biking, or taking transit.

And wow-talk about discovering your city in a whole new way. From the start of our commitment to winter cycle, Kayley and I have met so many new people and I know we’ve discussed this in past blog posts, but I need to stress that the relationships we have built have been so meaningful.

I’m now enjoying Friday mornings with #coffeeoutside, an informal meet up with all sorts of #yycbike pals in new locations around the city. I’m volunteering with Cyclepalooza, and see firsthand the excitement and dedication the organizing committee has to both celebrating cycling in Calgary and increasing ridership among women and families. I’m continuously developing a deep appreciation for the City of Calgary staff from the Liveable Streets team. Their commitment, hard work, and genuine passion to increase multi-modal options for Calgarians is relentless, despite the amount of negative press/opinion pieces and constant barrage of skepticism from some city councillors. Thank you for doing the work you do!

But I digress:

My connection to Calgary has become deeper, more meaningful, and not to mention more exciting. I can say this is a direct result of feeling happier and feeling like I can invest more time and energy towards this city. And, I am connecting all of this to simply riding my bike-and I encourage anyone out there to give it a try.

Top 10 Bike Moments

It’s been just over 6 months since we’ve started blogging about our winter cycling adventures. As we’ve been spoiled weather wise in Calgary over the past couple days (ok-weeks), we were feeling like we needed a bit of a celebration for getting this far. So in true David Letterman style, we are counting down our top ten moments from our experiences over the last half year.

yyc skyline

riyoko shot

Thanks to Kristi for capturing this shot. It’s rare to get a photo of the two of us on our bikes together.

here it goes:

Kayley:

10. Giving Kim a two thumbs up with the biggest smile on my face from outside of work on the very first day I ever biked in the winter (-18C).

9. Meeting up with a guy on my route – It rarely ever happens! He said ‘man, I just can’t keep up with you’ and I turned to him and said “I think that my panniers are just a bit heavier today’. He laughed and said that he was proud of me for being brave enough for biking through the winter

8. Meeting Tom Babin for the first time. I felt star struck.

7. Seeing the sun come up on one of my morning commutes. It was the first time in a few months where the sun lit a portion of my ride.

6. The day that I wanted to chuck my bike on the side of the road and walk home by found the inner strength to continue on.

5. My first experience with snirt. My hands were aching from holding my handle bars so tight. The fishtailing was scaring me so bad that the sweat kept me warm in the cold weather. A few short weeks later, realizing that snirt isn’t nearly as bad as a 15cm dump of snow.

4. When I was biking near Glenmore Trail by Chinook Centre in -20 temps. I could see drivers staring at me thinking “Oh, you poor girl” and I was looking back thinking “Oh, you poor drivers”.

3. Jan 6. Feeling defeated on my ride to work texting Kim saying how I didn’t think I could make it and her responding-“Keep going! I have an exciting email for you to read!”

2. Coffee with the #yeg bike crew. When we arrived we were greeted by the warmest of welcomes. It almost brought tears to my eyes.

1. Above all, coming into work every morning and seeing Kim’s smiling face and her first question being “how was your ride this morning?”

Kim

10. Putting my studded tire on my bike. It was one of those “I feel like a bad ass” moment. I don’t get too many of those.

9. Negotiating “snirt” for the first time and not white knuckling every single time I encounter it now.

8. Bike dates. The best type of date.

7. The moment I realized that winter cycling is in fact possible and not just for hearty, spandex clad men.

6. Experiencing the seasons change from fall to winter to semi spring (which in Calgary, can happen in a day).

5. Presenting at the Winter Cities Shake Up Conference in Edmonton with Kayls, and more importantly-meeting up with #yegbike pals for #coffeeoutside. It was truly magical.

4. Winter Bike to Work Day & Winterpalooza. Celebrating cycling in Calgary is getting better and better every year. The group bike ride from Eau Claire through downtown to the Municipal building had me grinning for the rest of the weekend.

3. Making it to work on the snowiest day, January 6 and being unable to contain my smile as Kayley arrived to our office after what seemed like the longest ride ever to work.

2. Meeting the most amazing and supportive network of #yycbike pals who offered us tips, featured us in their blogs, laughed at/with us and inspired us.

1. Normalizing cycling through conversations with friends, family, co-workers & strangers by simply making a commitment to cycle to work every day. And of course, couldn’t have done it without my girl Kayley!