A friend offered me her bike today. I’ve often thought about picking up biking in Toronto. Given the absurdly exited response I receive from anyone who cycles on the regular, I’ve assumed it’s one of those fitness cults like yoga, crossfit and rock climbing (so basically any hobby that happens to be fitness oriented? -Ed). People around here love cycling and love to tell me how much they love cycling, how much money it saves, how it’s a fitness life hack, etc etc etc. I’d dismiss them quickly if I didn’t know they were kind of right.
I used to bike. I started off biking to good ol’ Northcote Primary School when I was nine years old. It was a mostly uphill climb of about a kilometre, but it got me to and from school faster. I remember having to sit my cycle test, which involved cycling around orange cones and showing off my turning signals (raising my left or right hand depending where I was indicating). I got that cycle licence and pedalled my wares (tuchas) two kilometres a day. Then I got a bit older and moved school.
When it came time for the next step I shifted to Takapuna Normal Intermediate School (TNIS has a much better website than Northcote). I cycled my way four kilometres there and back each day and had a great time. It was an adventure every day. I’d cycle in the rain wearing a raincoat and take extra time to stop appropriately (and watched for hop-ons). Eight kilometres per day was a nice amount for a chubby 11 year old and I really had to fight for some of those hills. The terrain was all over the place, as only Auckland (home of the most dormant volcanoes per capita) can be. By the time I’d get to school or back home, my body would be humming in a pleasant fashion. I’d known that I’d worked, but I didn’t feel like I’d been worked over. It was like swimming- a far more even workout distribution than throwing weights around. Part way through my second year of intermediate I buckled my wheel and continued to ride that buckled bike for several years afterwards.
I was happy to continue the ride up to Northcote College (TNIS still has a prettier website), but I hit a wall. Not literally (that’s how I buckled the wheel in the first place), but the metaphorical wall of wanting to spend time commuting with friends. My friends lived close, but they walked. I can recall a bunch of times walking my bike alongside my friends, enough that it became obvious I was rarely actually gaining enough speed to justify cycling. I fell off the wagon (bike) and never really picked it back up again. It’s a pity, cause the commute home was basically all downhill and a total thrill to coast through at the end of the day.
Toronto though, is considerably flatter than Auckland. Everywhere is cycleable and any hills pale in comparison with the dormant volcano after volcano that made up my hometown. It would’ve been easy enough to bike the five kilometres to work each day, but we’re moving in a few months. It’s gonna be almost a 10km commute there and back, which in retrospect is only around 35 minutes each way (according to Google). It’s doable, but is it gonna be desirable arriving at work sweaty each day? Then again, it’ll cut about 15 minutes off my commute to and from. That’s starting to sound a whole lot more appealing.
Could it be time to get back behind (and in front of. It’s a bicycle) the wheel?