I'm a fiercely proud dad of four kids and the Earth's most fortunate human to have Heather as a partner of 10 years. I've been lucky enough to call Atlantic Canada home for 51 years having been born and raised in Newfoundland and having lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia since 1988. I firmly believe that the bicycle is civilization's greatest invention and things like fire and the internet can fight it out for silver and bronze. I have memories as far back as four years old involving a bike, a jump, and a lot of band-aids. I grew up in a small town in central Newfoundland with around 10,000 people and what didn't matter to me one iota was what people thought about a 16-year-old kid riding a pink racing bike and shaving his legs... Hell, if it was good enough for Steve Bauer, is was good enough for me.
Fast forward to 2021, and the 16-year-old spirit is still there and happiness is being out there hammering on the roadie, exploring on the gravel bike, sending it on the mountain bike, or just rolling to the store for bread on the cruiser. Better still, is sharing a ride with family or friends. Aside from cycling, our family thoroughly enjoys all things outdoors... hiking, paddle sports, skiing, snowshoeing... you name it. If there's fresh air and a bit of sweat involved, we're all over it. We just introduced a new puppy, Nova, into our family and she's figuring out the trail dog lifestyle really quickly! I feel incredibly fortunate to have a great group of friends who share the same ideals and who inspire me to live out loud every day.
Admittedly, the whole pandemic thing has put a bit of a damper on group events recently, but, the silver lining has been witnessing so many more people in our community out moving... cycling, running, hiking, and walking. I guess I'll leave it with my favourite quote by Paulo Coelho, "If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal."
On a personal level, I grew up cycling essentially by myself through junior high and high school as there simply weren't many others who participated. Where I grew up, there were three sports... hockey, hockey, and hockey. When I arrived in Halifax to attend university and connected with others who were passionate about cycling, it was amazing and resulted in seeing the bike in a new way.
Fast forward to later in adulthood, life got in the way and cycling took a back seat. My health and wellness got away from me and combine that with a marriage breakdown, times were not good.
In a moment when you either make a destructive choice to cope or a healthy choice to cope, I decided to drive four hours to buy a friend's old bike and get my legs back. More importantly, I reconnected with old friends and I regained my community. Cycling and the cycling community found me again before I did.
On the road, there isn't much better than experiencing the power, speed, and grace of a group ride. After a group ride, there isn't much better than experiencing a warm or cold beverage with the same people. Shared experiences, smack talk, and all around, good natured fun. You're there for each other whether on the bike or off the bike and that makes us all better... collectively.
Speaking from experience, there are a number of great avenues to find community.
First, there are the National and Provincial (or State for those below the 49th) government cycling organizations that are great resources.
Second, in this day and age, online and social media platforms are a hub for cyclists all over the globe and admittedly, that's where you can find Bedford Cycling Collective.
Third, local bike shops are the Grand Poohbahs of all things cycling in any city, town, or village, and, you can rest assured that they'd be thrilled to point you in the right direction.
Finally, ask any gal or guy you see dressed in tight clothes wearing a perm-smile. If you say you're interested in finding community, guaranteed they'll make sure you get the information you need.
The easy answer is getting out with like-minded individuals to enjoy the Atlantic sea breeze, sweat a bit (or a lot), maybe snag a KOM (but, likely not), laugh, and laugh some more, and, when done, enjoy a socially distanced beverage and plan to do it all over again.
But, another and arguably more compelling reason brings me back to last June. Heather and the kids were involved in a very serious motor vehicle collision. The week following their release from hospital, I was able to join my fellow BCC members on a Black Lives Matter solidarity ride. I rode from home to join them and rolling down the hill to the park where the ride was to begin, I burst into tears. From the moment I got the news about the collision to that moment, I hadn't cried once. But, in that moment, knowing I was with my tribe, was some kind of catharsis and it was an amazing experience.
Cycling and safety... a very timely topic considering in the moments before answering these questions, I was horrified to learn of the death of a masters racer in Colorado. A woman with connections to other ROAD iD ambassadors. My condolences to all her family and friends.
On the road, there are things you can control and things you cannot. You can ride safely and predictably, you can dress brightly and use LED flashers front and back, you ride with a helmet, and of course, you let family know what your riding plans are. You cannot control an inattentive or impaired driver. You cannot control an animal bounding out from the bushes or you cannot control road debris that may appear from out of the blue.
Bridging what you can and cannot control is the ROAD iD. The peace of mind that the ROAD iD brings me is measured by the fact I've never had one off my wrist in over 10 years. Initially, I saw it as a cool badge to wear. That is, if Paul, Phil, and Bob were wearing it on Tour de France broadcasts, then it was right for me. Upon receiving my first ROAD iD, it hit home that in the moment where it would most count, first responders would know who I am and who to contact.
Back in 2017, my dear friend Jeff Sangster (the true driving force behind the Bedford Cycling Collective) and I had a few discussions about trying to come up with a plan to create a network for cyclists in our community. At the time, there were a number of clubs but the goal was to go broader. And in doing so, promote local businesses and support club rides. Four years and over 270 members later, one membership via Bicycle Nova Scotia gives access to Cortado and Off Track Cycling rides and we certainly encourage membership with our sister club, Finbar's Cycling Club. Cortado Tasting Room is a wonderful, independent cafe in Bedford and Off Track Brewing is craft microbrewery and tap room in town.
The three key forces that hold the world together... cycling, good coffee, and excellent beer! All riders are welcome as the goals are to make cycling fun and ensure cycling is inclusive to all in our community.