Bikes are for Bums

A self-admitted wintertime recluse, I don’t particularly like being outdoors between November and March  for work (or pleasure, for that matter). It’s not that I don’t want to see you. It’s that I don’t want you to see me, most likely on day three to five of the same long johns, sweater and hat. Yuck. But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, and sometimes the results are pleasantly surprising.

I recently had go to Bike Sauce on Broadview Avenue to interview the volunteers for a story I am writing. It was February and freezing, and to make matters worse, cycling hasn’t really been my thing for a long time, but rather a figment of my both my imagination and distant childhood memories. This is partly because I spent more than a decade in a small town notorious for its hilly terrain (among other things). Nobody rides a bike in Port Hope. If you do ride a bike, your neighbours will think you either A) lost your license due to drinking and driving or B) had your car repossessed because you didn’t hold up your end of the lease agreement with Toyota. For 15 years, my opinion was that nothing went together better than a bike and a bum.

As soon as I walked into Bike Sauce my camera went straight to my face where it could start making art of the wrenches, bike tires and people with green hair. Even my spirits lifted when I caught glimpse of a bike (that reminded me of Skittles or Rainbow Bright). I thought of summer days in the 1980s and cherry popsicles. Look, Mom. No hands! The bike was $50, and I wanted it. Bad.

Despite the stigma attached to bicycles in Port Hope, I have always daydreamed of being that girl in a cute outfit riding an adorable vintage bike with a basket full of food and flowers. I never really know where I’m coming from or where I’m going, but I’m in a small town without hills and I know I look and feel awesome. When I moved to Toronto in 2014 my car followed, and mostly sat in the driveway killing time until I sold it less than a year later. Now I walk everywhere, or hop on a street car to leave Riverside.

Grocery shopping is a major hassle though, and apparently there is also a stigma attached to shopping buggies no matter what city you live in. The volunteers at Bike Sauce convinced me the bike I wanted was too small and to visit often until I find something I like. They also convinced me that riding a bike is, in fact, the coolest (and healthiest) way to get around. It doesn’t matter if you’re a mortgage broker on Bay Street or a pan handler or Parliament. Everyone needs to get from point A to point B and cycling is often the most economical way, not mention convenient and probably the fastest. You don’t really see cyclists in a traffic jam, do you? Along with a few bikes for sale, Bike Sauce is mainly a DIY bike repair space with all the tools, parts and help you need to get your bum on a bike, and feeling awesome in no time.

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