dandyCommute series: excerpts from Smart Commute’s The Most Unlikely Cyclist

dandyCommute #4

For this dandyCommute entry we are sharing a few posts from Smart Commute’s The Most Unlikely Cyclist blog, in which new bike commuter Mandy talks about her experiences riding to work at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (Bayview and Blythwood Road). Thank you to Rachelle Waterman and Jessica Stronghill at Smart Commute for permitting us to re-post this!

This series will continue with more photos and everyday stories about riding uptown, midtown and downtown, and what some of the challenges and joys are of riding to work every day.

We are inviting dandyhorse readers to share their commuter stories! Published commuters/authors will receive a prize. We’ll be adding an easy to use, fill-in-the-blank template soon. The dandyCommute series will continue until at least the end of 2013.
Super commuter = anyone who rides a bike to work.

dandyCommute #4: excerpts from Smart Commute’s The Most Unlikely Cyclist
Story and photos by Amanda Moore

SEPTEMBER 25, 2012
Taking the Scenic Route

Biking has brought me to some scenic places in Toronto that I might not have seen as a pedestrian. If you are looking for some unique places to explore with some historical background knowledge check out Shawn Micallef’s book “Stroll: Psychogeographical Walking Tours of Toronto.” Most of the places are just as easily seen from a bike.

Sunnybrook Stables. Horses!

Sunnybrook Soccer Fields. You wouldn’t even think you were in Toronto

Serena Grundy Park Ravine

JULY 30, 2012
Lessons Learned

After cycling to work for three weeks I’ve learned a few things and have finally put my apprehensions to rest. The three main anxieties I initially had were sweating, helmet hair and embarrassment from my athletic abilities.

If your commuting distance is 15 minutes or more, there are some inclines on your route and it is summertime, it is inevitable that you will sweat. Congrats, you’re human! (To those rare individuals that don’t sweat I am shaking my fist at you, but also suggest that you see a doctor!) Most workplaces have showers; however, a quick shower is only applicable to men or the odd woman with hair that blow-dries and styles itself (which Brian Fellows commends, by the way because “THAT’S CRAZY”). My solution has been to cycle into work a little earlier so I can cool down in the a/c before freshening up and changing.

I also purchased a pannier (a bag that attaches to the wire rack over the back wheel), which makes a world of difference. My ride is breezier (i.e. minimal back sweat) and it significantly reduces the stress on my shoulders and back. However, never – and I mean never! - give someone a hug directly after biking. Back sweat is, somehow, only appropriate in nightclubs.

I have not found a cure for helmet hair yet, but have finally become gracious for the fact that hipsters have been bringing back mullets and 80’s themed hairstyles for the past five years or so! I wish that I could pair it with a mustache to make it look even better! Although I stare in front of the mirror for 10 minutes every night willing my mustache to grow it has not worked yet so I stick to up-dos once I get into work.

The embarrassment was the easiest apprehension to curb. I was mostly worried about having to push my bike up the numerous hills on my way to work while the “Shooter McGavins” of the biker crowd smirked. Obviously, I have found this not to be true.There seems to be an appreciation amongst cyclists and I usually get a hello most times I bike past someone. It only took a week to get used to the intensity of certain areas. Almost as soon as I started cycling this worry disappeared.

Some other random tips:

• If you are riding quickly down a hill and you are feeling uneasy with balance, treat your bike like a horse. Lean slightly off the seat when you ride over bumpy patches and sewer grates. This will make the ride go much more smoothly. Then pat his back and feed him some apples, of course!
• If you ride very quickly over speed bumps, you will get air (which, contrary to my younger years, is not a fun thing).
• If you have bought new shorts, test them out on your bike on the weekend to see if they are sweat proof. If not, you can lie and say you had just gotten back from the beach to concerned bystanders.
• I’ve personally found that biking northbound on Glen Road (through the Rosedale area) is the worst stretch of road I have ever experienced and reminds me every time that I should have worn two sports bras.
• If your bike consists of a women’s frame it can be difficult to find a spot for your lock’s dock (the piece that holds your lock while you are riding). MEC has very cheap ($1.50, in fact) Velcro straps that I have used to attach the lock to my back rack, which also balances the weight from my pannier.
I hope these tips have helped in some way! Happy riding!
- Mandy

Excerpted from Smart Commute’s The Most Unlikely Cyclist blog.


Smart Commute

The Most Unlikely Cyclist

dandycommute / super commuter = any one who rides a bike to work!

This story is part of a new series about commuting by bike to work.

This series will continue with more photos and everyday stories about riding uptown, midtown and downtown, and what some of the challenges and joys are of riding to work.

We invite dandyhorse readers to share their commuter stories too! We’ll be offering prizes to contributors to this blog series too, continuing through 2013.

Email supercommute@dandyhorsemagazine.com to submit your story and you could win a prize from one of our sponsors.
(NEW: Check out our new easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank upload template for the dandyCommute series!)

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