J. Smith: Outlandish weather is incentive to park the car at home

It’s seems like every year I open my now admittedly sporadic cycling column with a confession that I’ve been altogether too slow at getting my commuting legs back on the road.

It’s seems like every year I open my now admittedly sporadic cycling column with a confession that I’ve been altogether too slow at getting my commuting legs back on the road.

And while this year is no exception to the rule, I must admit it has been truly exceptional in that my usual complaint—bad weather—really has been exceptionally difficult.

Who would think on the eve of Bike to Work Week, I would be writing in a sweater, shivering in a spring outfit a bit off for the -8 C weather and contemplating whether to take the snow tires off the car while the Connector is covered in the white stuff.

If your purpose for getting out of your car is to save the planet, then surely this year’s frightening weather patterns should improve your resolve, except for that the wonky weather climate change appears to create actually makes it much tougher to get out there.

I have actually been commuting a bit already, though admittedly slowly due to the cold. If the act of riding down the road with 20 or 30 pounds of portable technology and work gear weren’t enough to get me thinking about why I do this, then fear of what I hear on the radio each morning might do it.

Thursday morning, on CBC’s The Current, two experts debated whether the burning of much of a town (Slave Lake), the worst floods in years on the Prairies and the unfettered tornado scourge in the U.S.—not to mention what occurred in Australia—were in fact the makings of our climate change disaster.

Predictably, one expert argued against this alarmist view, but whether one links climate change to harmful emissions and the human hand or not, I think any one of us might agree the evidence is mounting that we are at least dealing with far, far more extreme weather.

So on that note, a little interesting inspiration to get you out of the now really expensive car—gas prices are outlandish since the other conflict zones in our world heated up this winter/spring—and onto the road.

As she is thankfully prone to doing, local cycling advocate Pat Munro generously sent a pile of fabulous clippings from her attic, many by Lower Mainland cycling columnist Gordon Hobbis.

One in particular caught my eye.

“Riding a tandem bicycle is like dancing—someone has to lead” the headline reads, and it got me thinking about a really weird phenomenon I discovered on another trendy bike info stop—Twitter.

Now, when I started this column four or five years ago, all this social networking/marketing/computing business wasn’t really all that prevalent, but it’s wormed its way into other places in my work life and, I have to admit, for interesting cycling info, nothing beats Twitter. Rather than collecting magazines or piling up clippings you can now easily follow any number of bloggers, Twit geeks, journalists, magazines and so forth and pick up some fantastic information from all over the world without really working at it.

This is where the bicycle built for two comes in. To be honest, the paper clipping jogged a memory of some really weird conversations on “planking” I noticed last week. Apparently, riding the handlebars is now passé; the latest challenge involves lying as flat as a board across the handlebars in a maneuver that looks fantastic on camera—until one falls flat on their face and under some car’s wheel.

That said, for those who might want to try using their Twitter feed to say, connect with the cycling heavens—Denmark—or follow the Tour de France or even find a race or two, there’s a huge online community just waiting to be farmed for information.

If, on the other hand, actual live people are more your bag, the Okanagan Shuswap Century Ride goes this weekend as well.

Plenty of local cyclists will be heading north to the Armstrong and Salmon Arm route and while this year is full, there’s always next year and two Okanagan GranFondos to look forward to this summer as well. Bike to Work Week runs May 30 to June 5. Sign up at www.biketowork.ca.




Kelowna Capital News