Sister Cyclist is back! This month, Kim and Kayley from Commit to Commute are featured. Kim and Kayley decided to begin riding 365 about a year ago, and then this past winter they decided to blog about it. It is an informative, honest and refreshing read about their inaugural winter cycling season experiences. I took the opportunity to ask them a few questions about their take on their journey so far this winter, and a couple other questions I was curious about.
How and why did you decide to start Commit to Commute?
We started Commit to Commute as a personal challenge and commitment to ride our bikes to work all year round. We are winter cycling rookies and as such, have experienced a giant learning curve over the last four months. We wanted to share our experiences with family, coworkers, and friends and that grew into documenting our adventures in a blog and on Twitter. We have met many amazing and knowledgable people in the bike community through this process and have applied many of their tips to our commutes. We hope to break down some of the perceived barriers and actual winter biking barriers through our first winter commuting by bike and encourage others to give it a try.
Tell us a little about your bikes
Kim: The bike I'm riding this winter is a Trek 820. I got it off Kijiji for $60. It looks like the first mountain bike ever made and it weighs a tonne. I have a studded tire on the front to help propel me through the variety of winter road conditions we have in Calgary.
Kayley: My winter bike is a regular joe commuter bike. 21 speed. V brakes. One bell. No whistles. It's fun to ride and has been extremely good to me so far. It's needed a few overhauls since I bought it as it's been through the 2013 flood, two seasons of summer commuting, and half a season of winter commuting. It's never let me down.
What started you biking?
Kim: I started biking to work for exercise, but soon I developed a love for exploring the city and getting from home to a variety of locations without using my car.
Kayley: I've always been into biking in some form or another. I started out biking when I was young as a sense of freedom, moved onto road biking to impress my boyfriend at the time, and then started commuting because you can never really get enough bike time in. I also hated going to the gym, so I found this was another way to be outside, have fun, and get exercise at the same time
Do you remember the first time, as an adult, getting back on your bike?
Kim: I've always ridden for exercise and for fun, but I started combining both of those factors into my ride to work about three years ago.
Kayley: I imagine I put my bike away when I was officially allowed to drive as a teenager, but it didn't take long for me to get back on the bike. When I moved to Vancouver, I brought my childhood bike with me and used it occasionally to get around. However, I was too scared to get my bike stolen there, so I didn't ride a lot. When I moved back to Calgary from Vancouver, I was frustrated with how long my car ride was taking, so I figured one day I would test out biking instead. It was rough! I got lost; I could barely bike up some hills, and the route I took was pretty scary. Persistence got the best of me though, and I kept trying (on the scary route) until one day, Kim reminded me of the Calgary bike pathway map. I adjusted my route, and then I finally started to enjoy it. Since then, I haven't looked back.
Tell us a trick or tip you have for cycling
Kim: I have a shoe collection and a few pairs of pants at the office. It's easier to outfit plan and means I have less to pack for my commute.
Kayley: Have a bike kit at work and one at home that both include: bike cleaner, cloth, toothbrush/ dish brush, chain lube, bike tools, and a bike pump. I find it's much more fun to clean a bike with other people around around, and the system of having one bike kit at work, and one at home has kept my bike in much better condition than it would be otherwise.
What do you like best about travelling in your city?
Kim: I love experiencing the changes in the weather, especially in the winter. I've never experienced the seasons change in such a visceral way. I like the direction Calgary is going with the introduction of the cycle track network. It's going to make travelling safer and more accessible to a broader range of cyclists.
Kayley: My partner and I purchased matching commuter bikes two years ago in the hopes to be less dependent on our vehicles. We have such a great time travelling the city and exploring different neighbourhoods. Some days, we head into nice communities to look at houses, others we go to My Favourite Ice-Cream Shoppe, or bike around the reservoir and watch the sunset.
Why cycling over other modes of transport?
Kim: It's fun! That is, by far, my number one reason. It's also just as fast or faster for me to get to work on my bike compared to driving or taking transit.
Kayley: I have endless options when it comes to getting to work. I own a car, I really value our transit system in YYC, and I also have a commuter bike. However, my favourite option happens to be by bike (if you haven't guessed already!) There are so many things that I enjoy about biking - the buffer between work and home life, the fresh air, experiencing weather and seasons, how fast it is, meeting new people, and it's a bit of exercise all wrapped into that.
At this point in the season, what is your top motivation for cycling in the winter? Any drawbacks?
Kim: My top motivation for cycling to work in the winter is to demonstrate that it is a viable mode of transportation - and it also keeps me in shape! I look forward to seeing other cyclists and exchanging smiles and nods. It's like we have the best-kept secret for commuting. It's fun and fast! Drawbacks have o be navigating through slippery residential streets.
Kayley: I really don't want to break my routine. It's become such huge part of my day that it feels wrong to break that. Each day is different in it's own way. There are days when I feel so tired after work that I think about leaving my bike behind, but I never have. Even if I get on my bike and have a slow ride, it re-engergizes me and gives me time to collect my thoughts. It's hard to describe the friendship that you develop with your bike and the communities you ride through. I think winter can be tough, but luckily we have had a really nice winter for my first go at it. I have to adjust my route slightly every day in the winter, and at first, I found this extremely intimidating, but now I'm getting used to it.
After this winter is over, will you continue to ride 365?
Kim: Yes, absolutely. Winter cycling is challenging, but the pay-off is confidence that you can transfer to cycling all year round. I'm already looking forward to next winter!
Kayley: Absolutely! Now that I've almost done it for one full year, I couldn't imagine my commute any other way.
Do you have a favourite riyoko piece? What do you wear it with?
Kim & Kayley: We both have the Bamboo Fleece Tights. They are perfect for winter cycling. The length & fit of them are great. We wear ours with running shoes, wool socks, a couple top layers including a down vest, and we are set for commuting. They also take us from bike life to life-life seamlessly.
What is your philosophy?
Kim: As far as commuting goes: people need to get around the city whether they bike, walk, take transit or drive. At the end of the day, we all have places to go, and it's important that we can get there safely. We all need to be respectful and look out for one another.
Kayley: Even on the worst day commuting by bike, it's still probably better than the best day commuting by car.