Emily takes Russell Hill with glee
SERIES: Emily and Tammy’s great commute - Week three and four
By Emily Giles
I’ve had a great four weeks testing out a Brodie Romulus and adjusting to the new routine of getting to work on a bike instead of on the subway. I can officially say that I’ve become a cycling convert, and recently have been doing a bit of bike shopping so that I can keep cycling once I have to return my loaner Brodie bike to Bateman’s shop later this week.
I love many things about the Brodie bike and it has been an awesome bike for a new cyclist like me to get started on. For starters, the romulus is great for climbing hills, which is handy for me as the majority of my commute from the Annex to my office at Mount Pleasant and Eglinton is uphill. It’s also super speedy for downhill and zipping around the city. The bike itself is very light which makes carrying it up the stairs to my apartment no problem!
After four weeks of biking I’ve learned a few new things that I thought I would share for other folks like myself who are new to the world of cycling, or maybe thinking about giving cycling a try for the first time.
Biking offers a great new perspective on the city. I’ve lived in Toronto for about a decade now, and though I thought I knew most of the streets and ways to get around, cycling has taken me on new streets and through neighborhoods I’ve never previously explored. I feel like I’m seeing the city in a whole new light, and now look for bike lanes and new cycle routes to try every time I’m out and about.
I don’t think I’ve previously ever been on Russell Hill Rd, but since starting commuting it’s now my favourite street in the city! (Primarily because it’s all downhill…)
It helps to have a friend who knows what they’re doing to help you get started. It really helped me build my confidence to have Tammy lead me in to work the first few times, so I could see how she handled different situations that arose with traffic, and I could follow her advice on how to navigate through busy intersections.
In my experience, it’s the fancy rich cars that don’t appreciate sharing the road with cyclists! I’ve had two minor run-ins with cars over the past four weeks (in neither case was I doing anything wrong) - once I was honked and yelled at by a driver of a Mustang (I’m not sure why, I was stopped and turning right at a red light and was using my hand signals), and the other time I was cut off by a BMW convertible at a 4-way stop when I had the right-of-way. Otherwise, cars for the most part gave me my space on the road and were respectful.
Cycling makes you part of the cool club! Many of my colleagues cycle to work regularly, and participate together in events like Toronto’s Bike to Work Day on May 25th. Now I’m invited to after work activities like “Bikes and Beers” that my colleagues organize to have fun cycling together.
The panda peloton on Bike to Work Day in Toronto
Take time to adjust your cycle route so that it works for you. Once I started cycling to the office on my own, I adjusted my route slightly so that I didn’t have to cut across traffic to make such a quick left onto St. George. Instead I follow Davenport and then make a series of right-hand turns onto Bedford, then Bernard. This takes a little bit longer than Tammy’s course, but it makes me feel safer. There is also an intersection I hate on our route home from the office, as we need to do a right-hand turn off of Boulton Drive onto Dupont, followed by a quick left onto St. George. You have to cut across traffic really quickly in order to make the left-hand turn, and I’m not yet comfortable doing this without Tammy there to lead the way.
You’ll have more time, as you don’t need to schedule visits to the gym to work out! I now have two workouts built into my schedule as part of my daily commute, and as a result I have been able to skip out on the gym.
Cycling is a lot of fun! I’m really happy that I stepped out of my comfort zone and gave cycling a try. I feel more energized and arrive to work in a much better mood than when I take the subway.
Thanks to Tammy at dandyhorse for being my guide over the past four weeks and special thanks to Brodie Bicycles for letting me test out these new wheels while I gave commuting a try for my first time. I am definitely biking it and liking it!
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