Published in the Spring 2009 issue of Vancouver Review, a nationally distributed quarterly magazine that focuses on ideas, culture and arts from Canada’s West Coast. A collaboration with Museum of Vancouver‘s June – September 2009 exhibit Velo-City: Vancouver and the Bicycle Revolution.
- Listen to Ulrike Rodrigues and JJ Lee discuss cycling style and fashion on CBC Radio One’s Fashion Mondays (YouTube audio, 6:30 minutes).
- Editor Imran Amed of The Business of Fashion and writer Ulrike Rodrigues discuss Vancouver’s new Fashion Cycle.
Three things happened in Vancouver’s bike scene in 1991: Lance Armstrong won the Gastown Grand Prix, Richard Campbell founded Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, and an elderly gentlemen on Bidwell Street sold me his silver Nishiki bike for $300.
I didn’t know anything about Lance, BEST, or Vancouver, but I did know the quickest way to acquaint myself with my new city was to touch it – metre by metre – with the treads of a bicycle. Starting from my new home on Guelph Street (the same name as the Ontario city I’d just departed) and armed with a vague BC Transit map, I surveyed my Mount Pleasant neighbourhood on two wheels.
In the following months, my circles widened and I became familiar with the alleys, warehouses, dirt lots and secret gardens that radiated out from Main and Broadway. I ventured across each of the three False Creek bridges and joined segments of paths that followed the water’s edge. They led me to even more cycling adventures: soft, wooded paths in Stanley Park; goldenrod-lined dykes near Science World; breezy, crunchy gravel on Locarno Beach; and a maze of hard-packed forest dirt in the UBC endowment lands.
“It’s like hiking through the forest!” I marveled as each pedal stroke revealed a new turn of trees, “Only faster! And funner!” I was ten again – on my Supercycle, a lettuce-and-mayonnaise sandwich in my blue plastic basket, shoe laces coming untied, hands wrapped around white plastic grips with blue-and-white striped streamers.
I was free, flying, laughing out loud, grinning at dogs. I was in a new city – Vancouver! – and in a familiar place – on a bicycle! It was so simple. Could it get any better than this?
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