Finding your ideal stepthrough bike in Ottawa

When I was at my LBS the other week, a mom and her daughter were shopping for a nice upright bike.  I could tell it was hard for her to compare the pros and cons of different models because, well, everything about buying a bike was new to her. When she saw a bike with an internal gear system, she assumed it only had one speed.  (A reasonable assumption when you’re used to seeing Clicky McCog geared bikes everywhere.) There are two important questions to ask yourself before you start shopping: Do I need to…

Training for bike camping and riding to Montreal

Last Sunday, I spent the better part of the day on my bike (well.. bikes) "training" for my upcoming ride to Montreal and our family bike-camping trip.   I registered the family for the CHEO 35km bike ride in the morning and in the afternoon, I booked off some "mom time" and rode to the Chelsea Pub with a good friend. There were lots of cyclists out for the 35km CHEO ride.  We arrived early before the 70km group left and there was a lot of spandex on display. There were many fancy road bikes. …

Biking to Manotick: The goodish, the bad and the really downright ugly bad

To prepare for my upcoming ride to Montreal, a friend and I left the kids with our husbands and set out for Manotick.  From downtown Ottawa, this 25km trip can be done in about an hour and a half.  Instead of riding our road bikes, I rode my Dutch stepthrough and my friend had her Kona MinUte.  We both tested out our new Po Campo Logan trunk bags on the ride. Heading south, we joined up with Prince of Wales at the Experimental Farm.  The shoulder is wide and gives you a pretty good buffer…

Biking to an Ottawa museum? Better know a bike rack.

If you're doing the downtown Ottawa museum circuit on a bike, here are the types of bike parking you can expect at each location.  I find these destinations always have lots of information on their websites about the quality and location of vehicle parking, but little about parking your trusty two-wheeler.  Fret no more. War Museum Located near the main entrance there are drop-ring style racks.  If you bike on the sidewalk from Booth to reach them... I won't tell. Museum of Canadian History There are racks near the restaurant entrance just off the pathway…

Grocery shopping on a bike? Clip your pannier on your shopping cart

I saw a tip about clipping your bike's pannier onto your grocery cart on the Flat Iron Bike website last week and gave it a try over the weekend. Sure enough.  It works like a charm.  With your pannier(s) clipped onto the side of your cart, you've got more room for vegetables... or cheese or wine.  I'll leave it up to you to decide how best to manage your cartspace.  

Doing stuff on a bike: Groceries

Ditch the backpacks and the slinging of bags over your handlebars.  You can shop efficiently and effortlessly using your bike.  Depending on how much you buy in a single outing, your set-up can be very basic or (like me) "family-size". Easy options for small shopping trips: They're not very expensive and you can use your own reusable grocery bags that you probably already have. Panniers - You can use regular panniers from any bike shop.  Arkel and others have "grocery panniers" with a drawstring closures. Your pannier can even clip onto the side of a…

Pedestrian friendly Montreal

Springtime in Montreal - blossoms and trees line residential streets: Crosswalk in a school zone.  Full zebra striping, speed bumps and a 30km/h signage. On-street school zone markings: Pushbuttons that do what you expect: A popular scramble intersection during the weekdays: Your speed is clocked: Separating by speed - walking and biking: The Montreal perch: When there's not enough space for a patio, there's probably still enough space for a corner perch in the sun. Greening corners at bulbouts.  Notice the lamp post is situated out of the sidewalk zone.

Montreal on two wheels

No need to go to Copenhagen to experience better biking infrastructure – just go two hours east to Montreal. I lived in Montreal ten years ago as a student and never biked a single day in the city. It was partly because I lived within walking distance of the campus and partly because it seemed crazy. But now? Times have changed and bike paths and Bixi bikes are everywhere. It feels like a complete culture shift. Traffic calming is everywhere downtown. Narrowed streets, cyclepaths, speed humps, bulb-outs and reduced speed limits. Here’s a brief tour…