Spring is in the air. As we say goodbye to the final wisp of a winter, we take a look back at some of the pro tips and good food suggested by some of the dandiest cyclists in town who contributed to our winter dandyEATS series!
Photo by Amelia Brown
You have to feel confident and trust in your abilities. Start small. Just go for short trips on a Sunday morning and then build from there. Invest in a good child rear seat and have it installed by a professional (my guy Mike the Bike installed mine.) Map your route using Google maps using the biking routes and take as many bike lanes, and quieter streets as you can.
I’m half Ukrainian, half Jamaican so at any time, any season you can find me eating a dozen varenyky (perogies), or a Jamaican patty with coco bread. I’ve just discovered Loaded Perogie which is pretty incredible and Patties Express, as these are both generally on my commute home. There really is nothing better in this world than a bunch of carbs after riding!
Photo courtesy of Laurie Featherstone
When preparing to ride in the winter I like dressing in layers. When it's really cold I use ski goggles and a soft Marino Wool infinity scarf. For my legs I wear two pairs of tights: one Lycra or Marino wool and a very thick pair of fleece tights. I find this to be the most comfortable, warm and breathable.
My favourite restaurant is at Café Con Leche on the Dupont bike lane in the west end (1471 Dupont.) My favourite lunch here is actually a breakfast sandwich ($7) plus a healthy green drink from Owl and Goose ($8). The sandwich contains egg, spinach, caramelized onion and potato and the green smoothie contains curly kale, dinosaur kale, pea shoots, pear, apple, lemon, ginger and filtered water.
Photo courtesy of Robert Zaichkowski
Since winter months get dark early, I recommend bringing an extra set of batteries for your lights (or a low cost spare light if yours is charged via a USB cable) to avoid getting a $110 fine.
One main complaint I have with Toronto's independent coffee shops is most of them close at 6 or 7 p.m. during the week. One that I discovered recently -- Coffee and All That Jazz at Roncesvalles and Howard Park – is open until 9 p.m. They offer a laid back atmosphere and unique pastries like the apple crumble tart I had during my most recent visit, which is excellent with a latté.
Photo courtesy of Alex Legum
For those new to winter riding, I recommend stopping by your local DIY shop monthly to take a look at your bike and lube all of its moving parts - chain, cables, derailleurs and brake pivots. You can do this at home too, but getting someone to walk you through it the first couple of times makes it easier.
I am all about soup in the winter. I do pretty much only home cooking in the winter - a habit from being less employed in the winter months while working as a bike mechanic. I make a lot of spicy squash-based soups for maximum warming. It's also a great draw to getting people to come over rather than having to leave the house.
Photo by Stephen Reizes
If you can store your bike inside when not in use, it's helpful. I don’t have the luxury, so switching to a combo lock usually solves the U lock/key freeze problem. Where to eat? Union on Ossington. Fave dish: Lovell Springs Trout.
Photo by Yvonne Bambrick
Pay attention to the road conditions and ride a bit slower. Layer up but don't over dress to the point of discomfort. Extremities and face need the most consideration.
One of my favourite lunchtime joints is Schmaltz Appetizing (414 Dupont), behind Fat Pasha. It's mostly take-out. It can get a little greasy, fatty and schmaltzy, so I feel good getting the exercise riding there and back. I go for a schmaltz bagel when I'm there, either the chub chub or the chazzer. The quality of the smoked fish is outta this world.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Kaiser
New winter cyclists should ride slower than normal and always keep in mind there is less of us on the round so motorists don't have us on the front of their minds.
The pizza is amazing at The Emmet Ray (924 College) and the fried chicken sandwich is amazing at The Dock Ellis (1280 Dundas St. West), but I am biased since those are my bars. That being said, just a good bowl of chili or whatever is on special at Me and Mine (1144 College.)
Photo courtesy of Claire McFarlane
Pump up your tires regularly (sudden drop or rise of temperature can affect your tire pressure), keep your chain clean and lubricated and wipe off your bike after you’ve been riding in wet weather.
Everything on the menu at House on Parliament (454 Parliament) is delicious (my favourite is the steak and stilton sandwich, mmmmm...). The service is always great and they have a wide selection of affordable beer. It’s a great place to go when you’ve worked up an appetite riding around in the cold.
BIG bike love to everyone who participated in our dandyEATS winter riding series.
Related on the dandyBLOG: