Earth Day Bike Tour

Join one of four BikeBrampton led bike rides to Earth Day celebration at Norton Place Park on Sat Apr 23rd. People are encouraged to walk, cycle or take public transit to promote environmental sustainability.

Rides leave at 9:15am. Send an email to telling us which ride number below you will be joining.

  1. Shoppers World Plaza near Tim Hortons, led by George
  2. Carabram Park at Eagleridge Dr. just s of Cliff Swallow Crt, led by Lisa
  3. Earnscliffe Recreation Centre, Eastbourne Dr., led by Steve & Cindy
  4. Loafer’s Lake Recreation Centre, Loafer’s Lake Lane, led by David & Dayle

City of Brampton and Brampton Environmental Alliance’s first Earth Day Environmental Celebration and Grow Green Awards Ceremony will be held Saturday, April 23, at Norton Place Park from 10 am to 2 pm.

This is a public event! Everyone is invited to take part in the festivities as City of Brampton celebrates and showcases community leaders with the Grow Green Awards.

Come out to meet and speak with local environmental groups, such as BikeBrampton, Heart Lake Turtle Troopers, Sierra Club, Community Climate Council, Human Impact Environment, Friends of Dorchester Park, Heart Lake Happenings, Brampton Horticultural Society, and Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). Family-friendly activities are planned during the day including a nature walk, and a kid’s zone.

“Come visit the Heart Lake Turtle Troopers tent and learn what we are doing to protect and monitor the local turtle population. Find out about Ontario’s native and invasive turtle species, how we protect turtle nests and monitor habitats, and interact with our displays. We’ll also have turtle-themed activities in the Kids Zone!”

Explore the park in detail with members of Community Climate Council . “Nature in Norton: Exploring a Hidden Gem in the Heart of Brampton.”

Norton Park represents Brampton in a way; the plants and animals that reside in Norton are as beautifully diverse as the people who call Brampton home. Like Brampton, this exceptional diversity is the strength of this park and marks it as a rare jewel within the City. Come enjoy the wonder of big trees and learn a few nature nuggets about this incredible park!

A light lunch will be provided. There is no cost for lunch, but registration through Eventbrite is required to get your food voucher. Registration will close once maximum capacity is reached.

Important Consideration: this event endeavours to balance community and public safety. For this outdoor event, we aim to maintain physical distancing. City staff and volunteers will be wearing masks and COVID-19 assessments are required at the entrances of the event. Participants are welcome to choose whether or not to wear a mask. At this time, if you are uncomfortable being outdoors with others who do not wear a mask, please do not register. You are welcome to join at a future event.

Earth Day

Council reaffirms 2022 Active Transportation Implementation

In a unanimous vote at Mar 9th Committee meeting, Brampton Council said yes to the 2022 implementation schedule of the Active Transportation Master Plan. This includes $8.6 million budget for education, programs, bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, counters, initiating a bicycle friendly business program, updating the city’s cycling map, and supporting Bike the Creek signature cycling event.

The motion did not pass without debate. The installation of cycling infrastructure often creates controversy, particularly in suburban cities, like Brampton, where cycling for transportation is less common than in larger urban centres. A recent study found that most drivers don’t like sharing the road with cyclists because they believe the cyclists are inconsiderate. It turns out the vast majority of cyclists treat the road rules with respect, yet the impression lingers. Local politicians are a target of vocal opponents who don’t want to compete for road space with cyclists or who see bike lanes as taking away valuable road space that otherwise could be used for more traffic or on-street parking.

The fact is bike lanes can often improve traffic flow by defining a clear space where cyclists are supposed to be on the road. They also tend to calm traffic, reducing average speeds, making the road safer for all, but especially for vulnerable users such as pedestrians and cyclists. Safer infrastructure also encourages more pedestrian and cycling behaviour, thus reducing the number of cars on the road. As communities become more active, there are corresponding improvements in health outcomes and the sense of well-being amongst practitioners.

Despite these public benefits, the controversy remains. Residents may object to a bike lane being installed in front of their house because it would take away their on-street parking. Yet it is often the same residents who complain about high-speed drivers and who want calming measures put in place.

Quelling the controversy is possible. Communication is the key, letting residents know about the coming infrastructure, educating them about the benefits and listening to their concerns. Once the infrastructure has been in place for a few years, it becomes the norm. Strangely enough, when that happens, residents will complain bitterly if a civic leader proposes they be removed.

Brampton’s Transportation Planning and Road Engineering staff listened patiently as Council raised complaints received from constituents. They agreed to do a better job of contacting those residents to ensure their concerns were heard and addressed without compromising the integrity of the planned active transportation network. Satisfied with this approach, in the end, all 10 Councillors and the Mayor voted to support the updated implementation schedule.

by David Laing

2022 03 09 Implementation of ATMP 2021-2022 Annual Report

2022 03 09 Committee of Council ATMP 2021-2022Implementation Annual Report presentation

2022 03 09 CofC BikeBrampton delegation in support of the ATMP Annual Report by David Laing

February Winter Walk to School Month

Celebrate, don’t hibernate! Walk to school this winter.

Whether we were born in Canada or came here later in life, it seems many of us don’t like Canadian winters. Did you know there is a scientific reason why winters make us feel so lethargic and unhappy?

It turns out the lack of light affects our brain’s ability to generate serotonin and melatonin, two chemicals that help regulate our sleep cycles, energy, and mood. It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Lack of exposure to full-spectrum natural light also reduces the body’s production of vitamin D, a chemical necessary for calcium absorption. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to many diseases including, breast, colon, and prostate cancers, heart disease, depression and weight gain.

Low levels of vitamin D in children are related to rickets which causes soft, poorly formed bones. Children can also experience SAD and the affects can be similar to clinical depression. This includes negative thinking, changes in sleeping or eating, and lower overall energy. Loss of concentration is another symptom, which may affect the child’s school results.

For many children and teenagers, an effective antidote to SAD and low vitamin D levels is to get outside and absorb the natural light. Even 30 minutes of winter light exposure per day on the face can generate sufficient levels of vitamin D, serotonin, and melatonin.

The World Health Organization recommends children and adolescents aged 6 through 17 get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise daily to maintain healthy bones and muscles. But, according to the Region of Peel, fewer than half of Peel’s kids are getting the minimum amount of daily activity. And 27% are overweight or obese.

Walking or riding to school and back, at least some of the days of the week, may be the simplest and easiest solution to these related problems. It builds physical activity into the child’s daily routine which supports better mental health outcomes, higher concentration abilities and better academic performance.

February is Winter Walk Month and there is no time like the present to put your child on the “Road to Health”! Encourage them to walk or ride. Walk with them if you have the time or join with a group of parents to form a walking school bus or bike train. Who knows, you may find that winters become enjoyable for both you and your family!

Visit Ontario Active School Travel, or Walk + Roll Peel for more information about walking and riding programs in Peel.

What’s walking and riding to school have to do with the environment? Well, 20-25% of Peel’s morning and afternoon vehicle traffic is from children being driven to school. Increasing the amount of walking or riding will decrease vehicular traffic which is the single biggest producer of carbon emissions in Brampton.

Cycling Chronicles Vol 11

Cycling Chronicles Vol 11

What makes a memorable bicycle ride? Most people think only of epic rides as being memorable.

However, cycling being what it is, an up close and personal way to travel, lends itself to the pleasure of seeing things and talking to people you normally just pass by in a car. As you become more comfortable on a bicycle, especially at slower speeds, you can enjoy the countryside and the neighbourhoods you are riding through. Even on routes you have ridden before, you will notice something new.

The other aspect of cycling is that you are visible and accessible to others on the roadway and sidewalk. Although there can be bad aspects to this, my overall experiences have been positive. For example, while doing a track stand, waiting at a red light at Bloor Street and South Kingsway in Toronto, I had a driver of a van tell me how much he loved cycling. He then recounted a story of his youth, becoming the age class champion in track cycling in Trinidad. This all transpired in the time it takes for the intersection traffic light to go through its phases.

On another occasion, a gentleman engaged me in a conversation about the pleasure of cycling, again through the open passenger side window of his trade van, while in stop-and-go traffic in downtown Toronto. He asked me if I knew a certain bicycle shop owner, who was originally from Treviso, Italy. When he found out I did, he immediately asked me to pull over at the next street, so we could talk.

It turns out that when this gentleman was a new immigrant to Canada from Poland, this bicycle shop owner and bicycle racing sponsor, had taken him under his wing, culminating in the bicycle race of his life. It was the annual Quebec City to Montreal bicycle race, recognized as the longest single day cycling race in North America. The gentleman explained that although he did very well in the race, since he had no citizenship status in Canada, he was not eligible for the prize money. Life got in the way, and he had drifted away from bicycle racing and had not ridden in years. I explained to this gentleman that the bicycle shop owner had recently retired and closed the shop to spend winters in Treviso and summers here.  Upon parting, the gentleman made sure I knew what a great person that bicycle shop owner was, and how welcome he had made him feel in Canada.

My point here is that any ride can turn out to be a great and memorable ride.

It is not about how many kilometres you cover or how many metres you ascend, but how you feel about the ride, during and afterward.

An example of this is something I experienced on an evening ride in late November of 2021. I had decided to attend a live music concert at the Rose Theatre in Brampton. This was a momentous occasion for me. I have always been a lover of live music performances, but because of the pandemic, I had not been to a live concert in twenty-two months. I could not resist this one, a tribute to the late Canadian jazz icon, Moe Koffman, with a band that consisted of highly regarded musicians that had played with Moe. The band was led by Moe’s grandson.

My wife was out of town on family matters, so it would just be me going. I checked the weather forecast. There was a thirty per cent chance of snow, with no expected accumulation. As I set off on my 1990 Raleigh single speed cruiser bike, I felt a little consternation about being with a crowd of people. The Raleigh was the obvious choice for this ride since the roads were damp and there was a chance of precipitation. This bike is equipped with Kevlar belted tires and wide fenders. Just the thing for riding on wet, snowy roads and not worrying about getting dirty. The Kevlar belted tires meant there was less chance of getting a flat tire. The generously upholstered sprung seat and padded hand grips, along with the upright riding position, made riding this bike akin to lounging on my living room sofa.

I proceeded out of my neighbourhood to the Central Park Drive bike lanes. The temperature was just under the freezing mark and my clothing choices seemed perfect. Since there was no wind, this temperature seemed comfortable. I turned left, onto the bike lanes on Howden Blvd., one of the only up hill sections of my journey.

As I made the left turn onto the Vodden Street bike lanes, it began to snow. Very light, small flakes began to fall, floating straight down, melting to water as they hit the pavement. The sounds of Brampton at night became muted and slightly distant. The city was fairly quiet. There was traffic, but it seemed calm and orderly. I felt a sense of relaxation and detachment in the perceived safety of the bike lane. I was plenty early so there was need to put any effort into the pedals, it was just a case of enjoying a peaceful evening with the magic of snow gently falling.

I made the left turn into the bike lanes of Centre Street, for a short stretch, before turning right on Nelson Street East. From there I crossed the Scott Street bridge over the Etobicoke Creek. This cyclist and pedestrian only bridge was an excellent connection to the pathway running across the south side of Rosalea Park. I was pleased to see the steep section of path was free of snow and ice, as I zipped across to the Y.M.C.A. parking lot and out on to Union Street. I caught the green traffic light at Theatre Lane and glided down the underground parking garage ramp, right to the bicycle rack beside the Rose elevator vestibule. I looked at my watch and discovered I had arrived earlier than I expected. It had taken me roughly the same amount of time as driving, and yet, I felt like I had hardly expended any energy.

The expanse of the theatre, just before showtime, contained just 112 people. That, combined with the fact that I was able to sit on my own, along with the COVID restrictions in place, served to relieve my consternation at being in a crowd.

The concert did not disappoint, with the musicians, who possessed many years of experience, eager to show off their chops, reminding me of how good live music can sound and how much I had missed it.

Once the concert was over, even with unlocking my bike and putting my winter gear on, I was first up the ramp and out of the parking garage. I retraced my route, using the on-road bike lanes on the way home. It was still a magical night with no wind and a very light snow falling. As I cruised home, in no particular hurry, I thought that cycling doesn’t get much better than this. The fact that I had the ability to get where I wanted to go, using infrastructure designed for that purpose, just added to the pleasure.

What I would say to all of you is, not to look too hard for the pleasure of cycling in speeds and distances. That pleasure is front of you all the time. It is about interaction with your environment and fellow human beings.

by Steve Stoller

Previous blog posts by Steve:

Cycling Chronicles Vol 10

Cycling Chronicles Vol 9

Cycling Chronicles Vol 8

Cycling Chronicles Vol 7

Cycling Chronicles Vol 6

Cycling Chronicles Vol 5

Cycling Chronicles Vol 4

Cycling Chronicles Vol 3

Cycling Chronicles Vol 2

Cycling Chronicles Vol 1

BikeWrx 2021 Successes

Brampton Bike Hub and Caledon Bike Hub exceeded their program goals with 46 BikeWrx pop-up events.

120 hours were provided to 2,348 residents across 17 locations over 4 months.

BikeBrampton and PCHS have delivered Year Three of Region of Peel’s Community Cycling Program. In March 2021, we welcomed full time Program Manager, Sonia Maset, to take up the mantle of designing and implementing this ambitious program. Sonia excelled at hiring summer students and acquiring eager volunteers to support the pop-ups.

Check out the impressive 2021 11 12 Year Three Interim Report – Final which covers activities from March through October 2021.

BikeWrx pop-up Bramalea Secondary

Bramalea Secondary School BikeWrx Pop-up, Principal Fraser Kidd, Vice-Principal Stafford Lowe, Sept 24th

Venues for the program’s activities have been generously provided by PCHS, City of Brampton, Town of Caledon, Heart Lake Baptist Church, and Bramalea Secondary School.

Services at these events included free Region of Peel bike bell and light installation, ABC Quick checks, basic repairs, bike and helmet fittings, route planning, trail etiquette, 8 group rides, 7 obstacle courses, and one-on-one rider education.

Continuing to offer these services in 2021 not only allowed us to significantly enhance visibility, but to also reach residents who otherwise would have remained unaware of the community cycling services available within the Brampton and Caledon communities. Over the course of the season, we estimate to have installed over a thousand bells/lights and provided mechanical evaluation and tune-ups to over 1,852 bikes.

A tremendous amount of time and energy was devoted to making these events a success. As of August 30th, 103 volunteers and staff contributed over 1,080 hours to the delivery of pop-ups alone. 59 of these volunteers were recruited through the Volunteer Resources Team from the Region of Peel, with 9 returning multiple times. Having Region of Peel Volunteers also provided a unique opportunity to train and educate additional residents on basic bike mechanics as well as more in-depth practical cycling education over the two-to-threehour Pop-Up sessions. The core team delivering pop-ups grew from 11 at the beginning of the summer to 29 near the end. Many of these new volunteers are high-school aged and eager to develop their mechanical and practical riding skills.

BikeWrx pop-up Mayor Brown

Mayor Patrick Brown, Councillor Charmaine Williams, their families, Grupo Bimbo volunteers, BikeBrampton volunteers at Brampton Bike Hub BikeWrx pop-up, Chinguacousy Park, Sep 18th.

The goal for the season was also to deliver all equipment for events in Brampton by bicycle.

WIKE bike cargo trailer

Thanks to a generous donation from Grupo Bimbo (Canada Bread), the program acquired and customized 2 bike cargo trailers from local Guelph manufacturing company, WIKE.

Thank you to our part-time Summer Students Avani, Anandi, Joshua, and Owen who hauled 60-75kg of equipment rain or shine and showed us how capable bicycles truly are!

At the start of the season, students participated in a brief 2-hour on-road training courtesy of mentors Lisa and Steve to prepare them for the long hauls ahead. Equipment for these events was graciously stored in the garages, sheds, and backyards of Dennis, Lucie, Indra, Steve, Alina, Heidi, and Yvon, as well as at the bike cage in 50 Sunny Meadow Blvd.

With many new volunteers living close to Professors Lake and Carabram Parks, riding to and from these events provided a unique opportunity to overlap mentorship program to some of the volunteers helping at events. With many returning volunteers, group rides were arranged both to events as well as the “haul houses” where equipment was being stored. Great work to Sanjana, Morgan, Avani, Anandi, Tejvinder, Vasanth, Krishna, Kapil, Tahmoor, and Yash who accompanied us on over 20 rides throughout the season!

Caledon Bike Hub BikeWrx pop-up

Caledon Bike Hub Inglewood BikeWrx pop-up, Oct 8th

Youtube Videos on Cycling Safety:

Be HeardBe AwareBe PredictableBe SeenBe CourteousBe ComfortableABC Quick CheckKids talk about Biking Video

BikeWrx Group Ride, Main St

BikeWrx Group Ride — Lisa, David and Dayle guided participants on group ride down the Main Street bike lane, Sept 6th.

BikeWrx Obstacle Course

BikeWrx Obstacle Course & Grupo Bimbo sponsored WIKE cargo bike trailer, Chris Gibson, Sept 4th

BikeWrx Obstacle Course instruction

BikeWrx Obstacle Course instruction by staff summer student, Chris Gibson, Sept 4th

Bike Library

44 bikes were borrowed and 27 junior size bikes were donated to Massey Street Public School for their Bike Swap program in June. Another 23 adult bikes were donated in October for Massey’s collaborative Fix-a-thon event next spring.

Brampton Bike Hub cage

Program Manager Sonia Maset at Brampton Bike Hub bike cage with loaded cargo bike trailer and City of Brampton Trail User Safety poster

This is a brief summary of the 2021 activities. Read the full 2021 11 12 Year Three Interim Report – Final

Cycling Chronicles Vol 10

Variations in speed are felt to a much greater degree on a bicycle than any other form of transportation.

When you have the “hammer down”, using human power to propel yourself faster than a horse and rider, and even some of the early automobiles, you feel at one with your bicycle and the road.

At higher speeds on a bicycle, you end up making small inputs to the handlebars to pilot yourself on the smoothest portions of asphalt, all in an effort to maintain your speed with the least amount of resistance and interruption of pedal cadence. On a modern racing bike, with 700 – 23 mm tires pumped up to 120 pounds per square inch, your connection with the road is limited to two contact patches, each roughly the size of your thumb print. This, combined with the quick handling of a racing bike means you can track the smoothest line on the road, if you are relaxed, but concentrating.

If speed is your goal on a bicycle, you must realize that being in a group of like-minded cyclists will result in a higher average speed over a longer distance. The simple aerodynamics of drafting is the reason. As one of the most energy efficient machines ever invented, once rolling resistance is overcome with high pressure tires and high-quality wheel bearings, it is basically you versus wind resistance. Of course, climbing a hill places gravity into the equation.

A lesson in how much faster a group can be over a single rider was illustrated to me in the mid 1990’s when I entered a bicycle race. Although I had raced before, competitive bicycle racing was not something that drew me to the sport. I was more of a cyclist who loved the freedom of exploring by bike. Consequently, at this time, I had no measure of how fast I was compared to other cyclists.

The organization where I worked with was eligible to send competitors to a national championship. This championship location would rotate every few years, and this particular year it was being held in the nation’s capital. Since I had never competed in these games before, I had no idea what to expect. I made our hotel reservations and set about establishing a training routine.  Besides some longer rides to Toronto, this routine consisted mainly of repetitious circuits around roads in the industrial areas of Brampton. I would interject four minutes of high effort into each lap. I was worried about a lack of hill training in my repertoire but, as it turned out, it did not matter.

At the time I was riding the Shimano Ultegra equipped Miyata Ti6000. This bike was unique, in that the frame was not welded, but glued together using pressurized adhesive. The cast aluminium lugs were bonded to the tubing. It consisted of titanium tubes in the main triangle and 6000 series aluminium tubes for the rear triangle and the front forks. This combined to create a light but compliant frame. The package was rounded out by a set of Wolber TX Profil aero rims, and a gel infused saddle. By this time brake mounted shifters had been on the scene for a few years, however this bike still had down tube mounted indexed shifters.

The night before the race did not prove a restful one for me at the host hotel. A combination of nerves over the unknown competition I would be facing, and the partying antics of athletes from other sports, resulted in a fitful sleep.

The day of the competition dawned as a gray day, with a low cloud ceiling. My companion and I headed to the meeting spot, south of the Ottawa airport. The race was to be run as four laps around two rural concession blocks. The distance, according to organizers, measured 52 kilometres. The only other instructions were that a van would be used as a lead vehicle, and to be careful on the corners, because although they had been swept in preparation, there could still be loose gravel on them.

Fourteen riders assembled at the start line and an official’s arm was dropped to start the race. Almost on cue, a drizzle started, which changed to light rain, and then heavy rain. Eventually, it was raining so hard that I could see raindrops bouncing back up off the pavement. We were off, in the pouring rain.

I hung back going into the first ninety-degree corner. The wet conditions, combined with the fact that I was racing with cyclists of differing abilities and experience, was the reason for my trepidation. It turned out to be an unwise move, as, coming out of the turn, the first four riders pushed the pace and opened a gap immediately. I gave it all I had to get through the group and catch up to the breakaway, as I realized this was crucial.

As I caught up to the four lead riders and tried to shelter amongst them to take a short rest, something happened that still plays in my memory as a slow-motion video. As I sheltered in the draft and concentrated on catching my breath, the lead rider faded out a little to the right, in order to take a drink from his water bottle. As he pulled the water bottle from the cage on his down tube, the cage came with the bottle, snapping off from the frame mounts. The cage dislodged from the bottle and arced through the air, making a metallic ringing, as it hit the asphalt between us. The laws of physics dictated that the water bottle cage was going slightly slower than us as it danced along the pavement toward me. I immediately realized what the danger was, although I could do nothing to change the outcome. At the speed we were going, if the metal bottle cage snagged into the spokes of my front or back wheel, my race would have a painful end, not to mention the one or two riders I would end up taking down with me. Miraculously, I watched as the cage bounced across the road right under my bottom bracket, eventually landing on the gravel shoulder, to my left.

The breakaway succeeded, as our group of five was pulling away from the other riders. After about a kilometre, one of the riders fell off the extreme pace. That left four of us in the breakaway pack. We settled into a tight unit, working closely together, taking turns pulling at the front.

It was far from pleasant. The effort was hard. The everyone’s wheels sent up large rooster tails of water, making close drafting impossible due to obscuring of the following rider’s vision. I settled on a technique of drafting about eight inches to the right of the rider ahead of me. This resulted in most of the spray hitting my right shoulder. It was uncomfortable, but at least I had some forward vision. It was raining so hard and so much spray was being kicked up that, at times I had to look for the red taillights of the lead vehicle to maintain a reference point. Within a short time, I was as wet as if I had jumped in a swimming pool, my handlebars were so wet that my hands were sliding around on them. Tired of spending so much energy getting back up to race pace, after slowing down for the ninety-degree corners, I thought I would try carrying more speed into the corner. This was a mistake, as I felt my back tire begin to slide out from underneath me. With a slight steering correction, I maintained my balance, but learned my lesson about how much water was on the road.

Just before we crossed the start/ finish line to begin the last circuit, one of our group of four made a move to breakaway. I glanced at the other two riders, who both seemed unwilling to respond. I had seen the rider who was breaking away, talking to one of the riders in our group before the race. This conjured up the idea in my mind that this was their strategy and perhaps they were in cahoots. I had no choice, I had to pursue the break away rider by myself. Again, I was forced to put in a hard effort, but I eventually I caught up with him. To my surprise, shortly after I got on his back wheel, he sat up in the saddle as a sign of defeat and exhaustion. He began to soft pedal and immediately fell off the pace.

We were still around twelve kilometres from the finish. I knew I would blow up trying to maintain that speed, riding on my own, so I slackened the pace a little, until the other two caught up. Now it was a tactical race with two other opponents. I learned after the race, that they were Dennis, a provincial class triathlete from Hamilton and Manny, a former category two bicycle racer from Waterloo.

We continued with an elevated race pace, frequently changing the lead to keep the pace high, riding extremely close together, as the conditions would allow. We were still working closely together as we came down to the last three kilometres. Since I had never considered myself a sprinter, I did not think my chances were good if all three of us came to the finish line together. My opportunity came while I was pulling at the front. From the drop handlebar position, I looked under my arm and saw Dennis looking at Manny, behind him. I hammered the pedals going down a slight dip in the road and brought my speed up. To my surprise, when I looked down at my bike computer, it was reading 52 kph. I had never ridden that fast on a flat road.

Unfortunately, my strategy did not work, Dennis had been alert, and made the effort to get back on my wheel, with Manny, struggling a bit to stay on Dennis’s wheel. I stayed at the front, thinking this was going to come down to the line, however, Dennis surprised both Manny and me by turning wide on the last right-hand turn, riding a line by the edge of the pavement on the left-hand side of the road. Dennis had the hammer down and I would have to ride across the road while accelerating, to get on his back wheel. As I was trying to accelerate, I realized the slight grade of the road combined with the fatigue in my legs, meant that I could not spin up the gear I was in. The logical move would have been to downshift, however, the fact that I was already bogging down a little and my bike had down tube mounted shifters, meant that that opportunity was irrelevant. I ended up picking up the pace enough to follow Dennis over the finish line by about three bike lengths. Manny had been unable to match the pace coming out of the last corner and pedaled in about 200 metres behind us.

I glided down the road, after the finish line, feeling the exhaustion of the effort. As I turned around and headed back to the small crowd at the finish line, I passed Manny coming the other way. Contrary to what I expected, because he wasn’t there to vie at the finish line, Manny was smiling and laughing, pointing to his bike computer. What he was looking at was the fruits of our effort together. We had ridden 57 kilometres, in the pouring rain, at an average speed of 43 kph. Pretty good for a bunch of amateur bicycle racers. This made me feel quite elated and see the humour in the fact that my legs were like rubber and could hardly hold me up once I got off the bike.

Later, as we got changed at a recreation centre washroom, before the medal presentation, we laughed at the conditions we had just raced in. My socks felt like they weighed a pound apiece, my jersey and shorts had to be wrung out in the sink, my bicycle was mostly devoid of any lubrication. The seat was starting to come apart, after being soaked in water.

I still maintain the pride about our performance during this race, although it was dampened when the organizing body published the results in a newsletter a month later. The statistics showed the three of us finishing a 52 kilometre race in two hours and nineteen minutes. They had added an hour and reported the original distance for the race.

The bottom line is Dennis, Manny and I knew we each had one of the best races of our lives, that day in the pouring rain.

by Steve Stoller

Previous blog posts by Steve:

Cycling Chronicles Vol 9

Cycling Chronicles Vol 8

Cycling Chronicles Vol 7

Cycling Chronicles Vol 6

Cycling Chronicles Vol 5

Cycling Chronicles Vol 4

Cycling Chronicles Vol 3

Cycling Chronicles Vol 2

Cycling Chronicles Vol 1

Cycling Chronicles Vol 9

You may not think that physics has much to do with bike riding. Staying upright on a bicycle is a lesson in physics and mastering of balance points.

The amazing thing is that once these principles are learned, usually as a young child, they become ingrained and are never really forgotten. This universal truth is well recognized, and it has made its way into our general lexicon of phrases. Who has not heard the phrase “It’s just like riding a bicycle”? The inference is that once you learn to ride a bicycle, it is something you carry with you the rest of your life.

The real physics of bicycle riding is more complex than most riders realize. Maintaining a straight line while riding a bike seems almost natural and effortless. In reality, your brain is almost subconsciously sending messages to muscles in your arms and hips to make micro corrections that result in the bicycle maintaining a straight line.

This is one of the aspects of cycling that has garnered my attention, especially since, more recently, I have been involved in teaching adults to ride bicycles for the first time.

A number of years ago, through conversations I had with a number of cyclists, who rode mainly in the urban setting of Toronto, I thought I could come up with a set of general rules for cyclists, that would result in less likelihood of collisions with motor vehicles. I surmised that the safest way of thinking, for a vulnerable road user, was to apply the rules of physics to defensive riding techniques. One of the major cornerstones to my theory was that “two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time”. On a ride in Toronto, one summer afternoon, this rule was proved wrong.

On that particular day, I was riding up Yonge Street, after spending some time in the downtown core. I was riding a 2000 Giant TCR1. Its ground-breaking proprietary CU92 aluminum frame was ultra light for the time, and very responsive for urban riding. Although equipped with slightly lower level Shimano Ultegra parts, the frame was rumoured to be the same one that a successful top tier European professional team was using.

It was later in the afternoon, so the automobile traffic was dense. I was intending to take Yonge Street north and then head west on Wilson Avenue to return to Brampton. Above Lawrence Avenue, because of lack of parked cars, the curb lane opened up. I accelerated into this gap, bringing my speed up, equivalent to the traffic flow.

What happened next, can only be described as an error in judgement. Not by me but by the driver of a Cadillac Escalade. This vehicle accelerated in a right hand turn from a side street into the northbound Yonge Street curb lane. This was the same lane in which I was still accelerating. It would have been close either way, but then another factor entered the mix, that neither of us expected. Traffic came to a sudden stop. The Escalade jerked to a stop halfway through the turn.

Later in my life, I found this moment was incredibly well depicted by the director of a 2012 movie called “Premium Rush”. This movie was about the ultra competitive, pell-mell lives of New York City bike couriers. The telling depiction was the slowing down of time during moments of eminent collision. Time slows down in your mind, as you visualize and evaluate each of your options. If I braked hard, and continued straight, I would skid into the rear of the car in front of me. There was no option to the left, as the cars were too close together. The big SUV blocked any option to the right, as it was half in the curb lane and half on the side street.

The decision was made in a fraction of a second, to continue straight and turn right, at the same time. Without touching the brakes, I leaned the bike over to the left. At the same time, I leaned my body to the right, slightly turning the handlebars to the right. I was actually able to squeeze through the small gap between the front of the SUV and the back-right corner of the car in front of me. My tires tracked a line on the pavement underneath the front bumper of the Escalade, while my right shoulder brushed by the headlight. For a moment, my bike and I were occupying the same space as the Cadillac, and then I was through the small gap and off to finish my ride.

How I managed to get through this situation, without a scratch, is incredible. I also think I could not replicate that move, at that speed, without disastrous results, ever again. Yet it happened, seemingly without me pre-planning or even thinking about it. Since that day, I chalk this one up to the incredible power of the human brain and, of course, the physics of bicycle riding.

by Steve Stoller

Previous blog posts by Steve:

Cycling Chronicles Vol 8

Cycling Chronicles Vol 7

Bike the Creek 2021 Virtual

Bike the Creek was held virtually in June 2021.

Participants cycled at their own pace and time in the 7th annual regional signature ride through Brampton, Caledon and Mississauga! #bikethecreek21

Feedback indicated a huge pandemic success story. Stenciled BtC pavement markings are still somewhat visible, to help cyclists find the routes. Routes are still posted on the Bike the Creek page, with an option to download a google map link. Save the date for June 18, 2022 for an in-person event!

Summary Snapshot of Bike the Creek:

2021 Bike the Creek 1

2021 Bike the Creek 2

2021 Bike the Creek 3

2021 Bike the Creek 4

2021 Bike the Creek 5

2021 Bike the Creek 6

2021 Bike the Creek 7

Bike the Creek Promotional Videos:

Bramptonist Bike Month Column

Cycling Tips Videos

Cycling Chronicles Vol 8

What has psychology of brain function during stress have to do with cycling?

I wonder how the fight or flight instinct relates to what happens at the time of survival decision making. It has everything to do with cycling, especially cycling in an urban environment.

Whether you realize it or not, you are making many decisions per minute while cycling. Most are just related to the comfort of your ride, but some are life or death decisions. In extreme situations it comes down to making these decisions in seconds and even fractions of seconds.

One summer day in the mid 1980s, I learned something about how my brain functions under these high stress conditions.

I was returning from a pleasant afternoon ride to York University. My bike that day was a 1984 Bianchi 5. This bike was farmed out by Bianchi of Italy, to be constructed and equipped in Japan. The group set was Shimano 600, a precursor to the modern Shimano Ultegra group set. This was in the days before clipless pedals and the bike included a set of proprietary Shimano 600 pedals. The design included a back flange, to accept the slotted cleats on my cycling shoe, but were different than other pedals of the day in that the actual toe clip was integrated into the design of the pedal. Other pedals of the day were a standard rat trap design, with the aftermarket toe clip bolted on to the front flange of the pedal. My toe clips were finished off with a pair of Christophe leather toe straps, with spring release buckles. The way they worked was that you pulled up on the strap to bind your foot to the pedal. To release the tension and get your foot out, you pushed outward on the spring-loaded buckle. What I usually did was reef the right-side strap tight, since I would not usually take my foot off that pedal for the entire ride. The left side strap was not pulled as tight, as I usually took that foot out at stop lights and for any emergency stopping situations.

This will become important later in the story.

Steeles Ave traffic

I was returning from York University, heading for Brampton, west bound on Steeles Avenue, a four-lane road. It was late in the afternoon, a time defined as rush hour, with many cars on the road. Things were moving well, but I began to feel uneasy about the speed of the pack of cars I was traveling with, considering how close they were together. Most drivers in the pack that filled up the two westbound lanes were not leaving enough room to facilitate an emergency stop. Shortly after this realization I saw something that changed my uneasy feeling into a crisis preparation mode.

In those days, the average passenger car sat much lower to the ground than today. Consequently, when riding my bike, my head was situated high enough to be able to see over the top of most cars. The fact that we were still descending the gentle slope from the Highway 27 intersection, meant that I could see to the front of the pack of cars. What I saw was a car partially pulling over and stopping to let a passenger out at the bus stop.

What happened next is etched in my memory as something audible, not visual. It was the sound of skidding car tires and the multiple dull thuds of cars impacting cars. When the sound stopped, I found myself on the grass, around three feet from the curb, surprisingly to me, in an standing position. My right foot was on the ground, my left foot was still strapped into the pedal and my bike was laying on its side underneath me.

I counted three separate rear end crashes in the pack of cars, including the car that was directly beside me. There was much cursing and complaining but none of the drivers appeared to be injured, at the time. I looked down the road to see the driver who had instigated the carnage, driving away into the distance. I am sure his passenger was still standing at the bus stop. I took a quick survey of myself, and more importantly, my bike, to make sure everything was okay. I seemed to have come through this okay, much to the relief of the woman who was driving the car beside me. Examining the position of her car and its impact with the car in front of her, it appeared to me that she might have steered left, in consideration of me. Of course, that may be just wishful thinking on my part, since once the wheels were locked up in a skid, she would have had no steering control.

The rest of the ride home was not spent in any kind of shock, but a state of wonder. How did I end up out of the collision zone without knowing how I got there?

My best analysis is as follows. Once I realized that the collisions were inevitable, my brain’s focus was immediately on the escape route. This would explain why I did not actually see any of the collisions, since I was looking where I wanted to go. Logically, you would think I would steer the bike in the direction that I wanted to go. That’s not what happened. I brought the bike closely parallel to the curb, while braking, and removing my foot from the pedal (the same foot that was tightly strapped to the pedal), then used that leg to propel my body and the bike as far as I could off the road, over the curb and onto the grass.

What fascinates me about what happened is that this is not a move I had ever practiced. In fact, it never even occurred to me that move was even viable. The fact that I was able to get my foot out of the securely strapped pedal and exit the roadway, without even thinking about it convinces me that the human brain is the greatest computer ever.

So, when you are riding, or driving for that matter, always think of what could happen and think of feasible exits.

by Steve Stoller

Previous blog posts by Steve:

Cycling Chronicles Vol 7

BikeWrx Pop-ups

BikeWrx Pop-up Events

Grab your bike and join us for a FREE Pop-up BikeWrx event for minor bike repairs, safety checks, route planning, family fun obstacle courses, group rides, and more bike fun! We will be visiting 15 locations across Brampton & Caledon. We will be hosting over 45 Pop-up events. Sign-up ahead of time and book a limited number of spots for a chance to win one of four bike prize packs as shown below.

BikeWrx pop-up prize package   BikeWrx Pop-up prize package!

BikeWrx Pop-ups

  1. Minor Bike Repair – includes things like inflating your tires, cleaning & lubricating your chain, adjusting brake pads, and anything else our team can safely accomplish in a few minutes.
  2. Safety Check – ABC quick check
  3. Route Planning & Navigating
  4. Trail Safety & Etiquette – Trail User Safety
  5. Bike Bell & Bike Light Installation

Locations, Times & Dates:

  1. Carabram Park | July 9 – 12
    1. Friday, July 9 | 5 – 7 pm
    2. Saturday, July 10 | 3 – 6 pm
    3. Sunday, July 11 | 3 – 6 pm
    4. Monday, July 12 | 5 – 7 pm
  2. Professors Lake | July 16 – 19
    1. Friday, July 16 | 5 – 7 pm
    2. Saturday, July 17 | 3 – 6 pm
    3. Sunday, July 18 | 3 – 6 pm
    4. Monday, July 19 | 5 – 7 pm
  3. Roselea Park | July 23, 25, & 26
    1. Friday, July 23rd | 5 – 7 pm
    2. Sunday, July 25th | 3 – 6 pm
    3. Monday, July 26th | 5 – 7 pm
  4. Jim Archdekin | August 6, 8, & 9
    1. Friday, August 6 | 5 – 7 pm
    2. Sunday, August 8 | 3 – 6 pm
    3. Monday, August 9 | 5 – 7 pm
  5. Creditview Park | August 13, 15, & 16th
    1. Friday, August 13 | 5 – 7 pm
    2. Sunday, August 15 | 3 – 6 pm
    3. Monday, August 16 | 5 – 7 pm
  6. Kiwanis Park | August 27 – 30
    1. Friday, August 27th | 5 – 7 pm
    2. Saturday, August 28 | 3 – 6 pm
    3. Sunday, August 29 | 3 – 6 pm
    4. Monday, August 30 | 5 – 7 pm
  7. Chris Gibson | September 3, 5, & 6
    1. Friday, September 3 | 5 – 7 pm
    2. Sunday, September 5 | 3 – 6 pm
    3. Monday, September 6 | 5 – 7 pm
  8. Chinguacousy Park September 17, 19, & 20
    1. Friday, September 17 | 5 – 7 pm
    2. Sunday, September 19 | 3 – 6 pm
    3. Monday, September 20 | 5 – 7 pm
  9. Knightsbridge Park | September 25 – 27
    1. Saturday, September 25 | 10:30 am – 1:30 pm
    2. Sunday, September 26 | 3 – 6 pm
    3. Monday, September 27 | 5 – 7 pm
  10. Fred Kline Park, Brampton – October 15, 17 & 18
    1. Friday, October 15, 4 – 6 pm
    2. Sunday, October 17, 3 – 6 pm
    3. Monday, October 18, 4 – 6 pm
  11. Farmers Market, Ken Whillans Square, Brampton – October 23, 8 am – 1 pm
  12. Inglewood, Caledon, Caledon Trailway – October 8, 4 – 6 pm
  13. Caledon East, Caledon Trailway, just west of Airport Rd – October 10 – 11
    1. Sunday, October 10, 3 – 6 pm
    2. Monday, October 11, 4 – 6 pm
  14. Foundry Park, Bolton – October 16, 3 – 6 pm
  15. Resilient Palgrave Eco-Fair, October 30, 9:00 am – 12:00 pm

SIGN-UP HERE or follow this link:

Pop-Up Fun Family Obstacle Course

  1. All-ages event for riders of all abilities!
  2. Explore series of bike handling obstacle courses, way-finding, and common simulated traffic situations!
  3. Learn & improve safe biking skills including helmet fitting, bike handling, braking, turning, signalling, and basic bike maintenance.
  4. Have your family’s skills assessed by a certified CAN-BIKE instructor.
  5. Helmets are strongly encouraged.

Locations, Times & Dates

  1. Roselea Park | July 24 | 3pm – 7pm
  2. Jim Archdekin | August 7 | 3pm – 7pm
  3. Creditview Park | August 14 | 3pm – 7pm
  4. Chris Gibson | September 4 | 3pm – 7pm
  5. Chinguacousy Park September 18 | 3pm – 7pm

SIGN-UP HERE or follow this link:

Pop-Up Group Rides

Group rides are dependant on attendance and weather. Times will be selected for either the last Sunday or Monday at any BikeWrx Pop-up location. By indicating you are interested in attending group rides when signing up for our BikeWrx events, you will be added to a mailing list that announces the meet-up time, date, and locations. Alternatively, you can sign-up for location-specific dates by dropping by any of our events.

2021 BikeWrx Pop Up Workplace Safety Plan

Chinguacousy Park BikeWrx cafe

BikeWrx Pop-up, Chinguacousy Park 2020