June & July Sister Cyclist, Carla Hills

June & July Sister Cyclist is Carla Hills. Carla is a steering committee member for Cyclepalooza, a ten day d.i.y bike festival that happens every summer in Calgary. It's in year five now, and we couldn't be happier. Carla started riding only in summer, was not excited about traffic, and now she rides everywhere, all year round! She even took her bike on a trip to Haida Gwaii last year...that is another story we'll talk to her about soon. Oh, and she also co-hosts Bike Town, a podcast dedicated to sharing stories about how cycling has transformed people's every day lives. Cheers, Carla, for just being plain awesome.

Tell us a little about yourself.

At the moment I'm a university student. I live downtown and have for the past decade. I've been riding a bike for four years or so, and it has become a huge part of my life. 

Tell us a little about your bike.

My main ride whenever there is no ice is a Simcoe 7-speed step-thru with internal gearing. She’s an upright city bike which I use for commuting as well as errands and fun. She’s taken me on camping trips, midnight rides, canoeing, grocery shopping and antiquing. Quite versatile!

I also have a dedicated winter bike with studded tires, it’s nice to be able to switch off depending on the weather here.

What started you cycling?

I don’t have a drivers license, and I lived downtown for four years before I really thought of getting a bike. I was always able to walk around my neighbourhood, but it was a bit far to even get to the next neighbourhood. I remember riding as a teenager and being able to go wherever I wanted, but I had hated my last bike and had bad memories of handlebar brakes and gears. I must have seen Dutch style bikes online somewhere (coaster brakes, few gears) and realized I could have my childhood bike as an adult after all. So, I got a 3-speed Gazelle and I haven’t stopped since! I’m totally good with gears and handlebar brakes now too.

What do you like best about travelling in your city?

I love the pathways which connected so many green-spaces within the city. It’s great to be able to ride away from the roads and experience some nature at the same time.

What is your favourite riyoko piece (and what do you wear with it)?

I love the Refleks leg warmers for cooler wet days or snow. They work great over skinny pants to keep my shins from freezing and my pants from getting dirty before I arrive at school or work.

Tips/Tricks for Cycling?

Just get out there and do it!


Part II: April Sister Cyclist, Laura Roberts on Family Cycling

With Spring in swing, I see more and more families out on their bikes with their kids. How does one begin that journey with their family? For many people, it may just be where to start. With more of my friends having kids, I've had those questions on my mind too because, selfishly, I want them to keep cycling with me! And, although not in the current cards, I have wondered if, one day, there is a cute little rugrat I need to transport with me via bike - how will I do it? Well, earlier this month, I spoke with Riyoko's April Sister Cyclist, Laura Roberts, about her experiences in cycling, and we got talking about her family's experiences as well. Laura and her husband have been cycling with their children since the children were babies. It was a perfect chance for me to ask! And I couldn't think of anyone better to ask than Laura.

For your family, what has been the process for getting the kids prepared to ride on two wheels?

We started both of our kids on balance bikes around 12-18 months once they were steady on their feet and tall enough to stand over the bike. Along with the *balance bike, we also had them riding a *fixed gear tricycle to get the hang of pedalling.

For my oldest, we purchased a 14Spawn pedal bike when she was just over 3. We took her to a grassy field, gave her a few pushes and she was riding on her own! Shes now on a 20wheeled BMX bike as she is really tall. My son is almost 3 and he recently started riding the Spawn pedal bike. We followed the same approach with him and he has done really well.

We are now going on increasingly longer familycoffee ridesevery weekend. The kids swap back and forth between riding their own bikes and riding with us. We installed bike mounts on the back of the Surly Big Dummy so we can tow their bikes. We are hoping to do some longer day trips maybe in Kananaskis this summer.

I would also say that you need to be prepared to change things up over time as childrens size and abilities change. We purchased the Surly Big Dummy with a child seat when my oldest was around one year old. 













Eventually we transitioned her to her own handle bar set-up and put our son behind her in the child seat. Last year, with them getting so much taller and heavier we decided to purchase a Metrofiets Box Bike as it is more stable with their weight low to the ground. We are also now able to put one kid on each bike and tow their bikes. We are really fortunate to have so many options now!








  What is a balance bike? A fixed gear tricycle? And, where did you get them?


A balance bike or run bike is a small bike with no pedals that allows kids to learn steering and balance with their feet on the ground before they learn to pedal. They are available in every bike shop these days. We found it was helpful to get one with a hand brake as our son is a little bit of a speed demon!

A fixed gear tricycle requires you to actually put force onto the pedals to move the bike forward. This helps teach the pedalling movement. We had to look around a bit to find one, and actually purchased it when we were living in another city. If you can find an old school metal tricycle, they will typically be a fixie.

When we were talking the other day, you'd mentioned you get extra attention when you are out riding the Metrofiets cargo bike with the kids. Can you give us an example? 

When we go to playgrounds with our kids, other parents often come up and ask us about the bikes, especially the the Metrofiets box bike because you don't see many of those in Canada. We love telling people all about how easy and fun riding with your kids is!

What are a couple of the questions asked most often?

People typically ask where we got the bikes and if it's hard to ride with the kids.

How do you answer those questions?

We usually point them towards our local shop, BikeBike, as they have the best cargo bike selection in the city of Calgary, and they really cater to family riding. Regarding riding with the kids, I would say riding with kids has its challenges just like taking your kids in the car, but they are typically in better moods being outside on a bike. Our kids are on the big side for their ages, so we definitely find it easier having them split between the two cargo bikes. Riding with both of them on one bike is definitely a good workout though, and the Metrofiets is more comfortable and stable when riding with both kids as their weight is lower to the ground.

Can you give us some tips on how you chose your bikes? What kinds of questions did you ask?

I would suggest:

- Use Instagram,Twitter, and/or Pinterest to check out family riding and cargo biking set-ups. Some good hashtags are: #yycbikekids #morekidsonbikes #cargobike, #familybike, and #carfreefamily

- Read online reviews and blog posts of people that have tested various cargo bikes

- Go to your local shop and test drive a bunch of bikes

- And think of your current needs but also how you will be able to adapt or re-purpose the bike as your family or cargo biking needs change.

Do you have a tip or trick for making the process from in-the-home to on-the-bike with kids more seamless and efficient?

Having all your gear ( and the kids gear) in one accessible place is really helpful. We have hooks set up at kid-level for their helmets and bins for their jackets and gloves, so that they can help get themselves ready. 

 Do you have any tricks or tips for riding on the road with kids in the cargo?

In general, we like to make ourselves as visible as possible with bright helmets and other gear. The Metrofiets is great because it has lights that are continually on when you are riding. We also like to stick to bike routes, city paths and less busy streets in general. i'm very excited to see some more bike lanes into downtown Calgary in the works!

Any favourite gear you use for riding with kids in the cargo?

Wool buffs or neck warmers they can pull over their faces. Sunglasses. A good waterproof blanket. Little toys to keep them entertained on longer rides.

What is one thing you never leave home without?

Probably sunglasses or snacks for my kids.

Any other info you wanted to share?

If people have any questions, they can get in touch at bikefamyyc@gmail.com.

Thanks so much Laura! I had so many questions and you answered them all. Happy Biking everyone!