Ride Yer Bike!

photo of bike ad

(photo by Sharon Boddy)

I just love to ride my bikes. What a great way to:

Get somewhere, often just as fast as a motor vehicle if you're in traffic.
Get some fresh air and exercise.
Possibly see new things during your travels, and not through a window.
Not add to the pollution problem (by spewing exhaust, leaking antifreeze, or brake fluid, or engine oil...)


I guess I got serious about cycling as a form of transportation while I was living in Toronto. My old ten speed finally gave out, and I did some research and replaced it with a Kuwahara hybrid bike, which served me well for many years. I have since acquired a small herd of bikes of various kinds, which you can read about on this site.

Getting rid of my car

In Feb. '99 I did what some would call the unthinkable - I got rid of my car, and didn't replace it! (It was dying a slow death anyway.) I decided that it was time to live up to my views that there are too many darn motor vehicles on the road. I've always enjoyed going for bike rides and getting some exercise, and was already using the bike for most of my in-town trips, so it was time to get more serious about using one as my main transport! (Living in the core of the city also allows me to walk everywhere, as well as have my choice of buses.) The only reason I had kept the car was as a professional drummer, one does need something to move all that gear. I talked to the leaders of the bands I play most often with (who both have minivans), and asked how they felt about picking me up for gigs. Since they were already doing this half the time anyway, it was easy to come to a workable arrangement.


The recumbent bike

Spending more time on my bike had become much easier to do, because in the spring of 1997 I finally bought a recumbent bicycle (or bent, as we call them). I have always been interested in this type of vehicle, and the more a rode my regular bike the more the benefits of a recumbent would become noticeable. No matter what I did with my upright bike, I never found it comfortable for trips of more than 30 minutes. A recumbent causes none of the pressure points - wrists, neck, butt, etc., that an upright does. But I had always thought they were too expensive (well, at least for a guy on a musician's income...). My brother Mike and I would talk about it, and he decided to go ahead and put one together. He was starting to suffer wrist problems from programming all day long, and it was getting harder to use his upright bike. So, he bought an Infinity frameset, and then cannibilized an old mountain bike for the parts. After I rode this bike, I really had to get one! I then found out that a bike store near Toronto was selling old-stock recumbents for a good price. More about my recumbent adventures on my Bent page.


I need a trailer!

The next step was to make things even more practical, and that meant some way of hauling stuff that wouldn't fit on a bike's rear rack. My brother Mike had found a book at his local library that showed how to build your own carts and trailers. (I'll have to get the name so I can credit the author properly.) I ended up bolting the thing together instead of welding, but it has worked out just fine. For photos and a brief description, please go to my Trailer page.

photo of overstuffed bike trailer

(How to overdo it with your bike trailer [notice the 50 psi tires practically flattened into the ground by 100 lbs. of wood]. Fortunately, I was only dragging this load about six blocks along late-night city streets. But my old Raleigh Sports and its hitch held together! The handling of the bike though was a bit, umm, challenging...)

What the heck - a trunk would be nice as well...

Since the trailer worked out so well, it was time for another project. (I think the neighbours are getting used to me, as I work on these things in my front yard...) The basket on the back of the recumbent was adequate for a while, but useless in the rain. And everytime I went inside somewhere, I had to haul a knapsack filled with pump, tools, sometimes the hydration bag, and then I didn't have room for anything else! I decided it was time for a trunk. Details and pics are at my Tailbox page.


In September 2001, I had an article published in an online magazine. Bryan Ball, the Editor of "Bent Rider OnLine", a recumbent cycling zine, saw my reply to a cycling newsgroup posting about simplifying one's life. He emailed me and asked if I would like to write further about this subject. You can read my contribution in vol. 9 under Elegant Simplicity.


I'm also involved with running Ottawa's Re-Cycles Bicycle Co-op. More about this cool place at my Enviro page.


Lisa Routhier, a volunteer with both the PERC and the re-Cycles Bicycle Co-op, conducted a survey on winter cycling here in Ottawa. The published results can be found here.

I have a quite a list of cycling-related weblinks, so they now have their own page. Please go to my Bike Links page. You can also check out my Linear recumbent, as well as my homebuilt cargo trike, hybrid bike, Raleigh Superbe, folding bikes, CCM Roadster, Rainbow Chopper, Bee Bike, and winter bike pages.

A Bike Zen Koan

A Zen Teacher saw five of his students return from the market, riding their bicycles. When they had dismounted, the teacher asked the students:
"Why are you riding your bicycles?"
The first student replied, "The bicycle is carrying this sack of potatoes. I am glad that I do not have to carry them on my back!"
The teacher praised the student, saying, "You are a smart boy. When you grow old, you will not walk hunched over, as I do."
The second student replied, "I love to watch the trees and fields pass by as I roll down the path."
The teacher commended the student, "Your eyes are open and you see the world."
The third student replied, "When I ride my bicycle, I am content to chant 'nam myoho renge kyo'."
The teacher gave praise to the third student, "Your mind will roll with the ease of a newly trued wheel."
The fourth student answered, "Riding my bicycle, I live in harmony with all beings."
The teacher was pleased and said, "You are riding on the golden path of non-harming."
The fifth student replied, "I ride my bicycle to ride my bicycle."
The teacher went and sat at the feet of the fifth student, and said, "I am your disciple."


Copyright 2007 Mark Rehder; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.