That's right. I am now riding my bike to work. Not everyday mind you- just the days that Shawn doesn't work because if I have to take kiddo to the dayhome then drive home THEN ride my bike, it is a logistical nightmare. However, on days when I can just go straight to work, the true value of living where we do is revealed. I am a quick 15 minute ride to the new office we have recently moved to. Not only that but it is a 15 minute ride through Mill Creek Ravine, which is like my little piece of heaven on earth in this big huge city that is home for my little family. It is full of birds, saskatoon bushes, and a ravine that slowly winds it's way to the North Saskatchewan. And I love it. We take our dogs there offleash and pulling the dogsled, I have ran countless kms in it, we walk with the kiddo in it- it feels like our little secret beneath the hustle and bustle. And now my bike takes me to work in it.
The last couple weeks I've been able to go an average of 1-3 times. This week I only had Wednesday and Thursday so this morning when I woke up and saw the freezing rain I was unsure. I had tackled cold before, even a light snow- but this seemed like a force to be reckoned with. But when I looked at the layer of ice the freezing rain had left on my windshield that only a true northerner knows I knew biking was my better option. I had forgotten to take my Canadian Tire plush, gel, comfy seat cover off last night so of course it was frozen- and even in my new lululemon gaiter-on-the-bottom pants my girly bits froze for the first minute or so, but once I stopped and scraped off all the ice, all was good. It might be the legendary biker's "callous" that has now formed- which makes my behind numb to the bike seat and therefore numb to ice as well but who knows. That callous deserves it's own blog entry really but I'll get to that later.
I did note at some point that I should probably get myself some sort of drybag for my work clothes, phone and wallet that I carry in my backpack, but I'm hoping on getting some panniers in the near future so a plastic bag can do for now. I also might need to wear my ski goggles as the sleet and rain kinda hurt my eyes at very few intervals, but enough that protection wouldn't be a bad thing. I also need to get myself some sort of biking shoes/boots. My sneakers won't cut it anymore because they are "breathable" which translates to "gets soaking wet and cold" in the winter on a bike. So I'm going to be the height of fashion out there folks. Look out for me on the runways next year in France...
Anyway, I got to bring my bike in the office, and there's rumor going around that perhaps a permanent bike shelter will be provided for us super keener crazies- nope I'm not the only one. On a good day there are 5 of us that ride! Not too shabby eh?
So once it stopped freezing rain- it started snowing. 10-12cm in fact. Now this poses a whole new challenge for the winter biker. Especially since I don't have studded tires. In fact 3 other commuters this evening passed me on their bikes - all commented that I need studded tires. So I'm off to MEC this weekend before they sell out. It was a lot of walking and slipping around in the snow- as much as Edmonton tries- they don't really ever clear the trails for people so I know this is going to be an issue for me all winter.
So now on to my rant- and this is something I can do because it is my blog and it is just my opinion- nothing more, nothing less. If you don't agree with me, that's fine, I don't want to be preachy, let's have a discussion- but here is my opinion take it or leave it. I'm not saying EVERYONE has to ride their bike or take the bus or x-country ski or walk to work or even ice skate like in Ottawa- but I have the feeling it would be a much nicer place if more people did. I know that there are constraints, I myself have them with dropping my son off at our dayhome (don't get me started on how work sponsored childcare would benefit everyone and society as a whole). However, I have gone YEARS without doing it and to be fair I've only been doing it for a couple weeks but man alive does it make me a happier person. I get up in the morning and know I don't have to deal with the stress of traffic. I am quite happy knowing I will get a boost of exercise and get my heart pumping on my route to work. I know I will probably hear some chickadees and house sparrows. I know I am saving money by the litre. I know I am not spouting out pollution (except my own self righteous bullshit- ha). I know I am going to have FUN on my way to work. What a novel idea. What a crazy mixed up world we live in where people move an hour drive away from work and commute daily an hour back and forth for a cheaper, bigger house in the suburbs. Maybe it's my time spent in Europe when I've seen how it is possible for people to ride their bikes to public transportation and not even own a car... I know this is unrealistic for most northern Albertans with our weather- but if me, a chubby 30-something year old mom can do it the odd time- I don't really see why most people couldn't... and here's where I get all judgey judgey---- Except for the fact that our city has a suburb disease. I had the chance to drive out the other night to the suburbs to pick something up and I was SHOCKED at how far south our city has stretched it's dead cement fingers into our aspen parkland and valuable farmland. An area south of Ellerslie, where I used to trap and track deer for university has literally been paved over and covered in exact replica giant houses with shoddy workmanship and yards the size of my bedroom that all look the same and have ridiculous names like Riverview Heights (the river is a good 40km away) and Forest Villa (the forest was tore down to put the homes there), Hawks Ridge (Sorry what? do you really think hawks live here anymore), Lakeview (are you kidding me? Road runoff does not a lake make), The Orchards (REALLY? Is someone taking the piss? Seriously?)... The biggest pet peeve advertisement I have ever seen was a new home community that literally advertised deer in your backyard. Sigh. Urban sprawl is a disease and it's gross and Edmonton has it BAD. As one of the largest cities space-wise in Canada I really think we could do better.
Big Box Stores? Why do we need those? People don't need to drive in between stores- build malls- they take up less space and people walk more then. I've tried walking from store to store in South Edmonton Common. It's suicidal.
Sherwood Park. What is the point of that place really? It's a bedroom community for people who work in Edmonton but want to drive further to get to work? There's no actual businesses there except to sell cheap plastic things to people who live there. Sigh.
St. Albert- same thing but for really rich people who don't want to live next door to someone who might make less than $100,000 a year. Someone once wrote into the St. Albert Gazette commenting on how the people raising their kids there were doing them a disservice by not exposing them to all income brackets of people as well as people who might not be white (next time you're there take a look around) or don't even get me started on THIS awful kerfuffle: http://www.stalbertgazette.com/article/20100403/SAG0904/304039974/-1/SAG09/higher-earning-families-part-of-st-alberts-appeals .... holy shit... read the comments to really get a sense of racism. Or don't and you'll be a better person for it.
I know I have been called a dirtyhippycommiegranolamunchingsocialist. However. I think that the city and it's people can do better. I really, really, really do. Build up not out. Develop inner city schools that are already here and desperately need renovations. Stop building schools in the suburbs. Maybe everyone could take a step back and realize they don't need a giant house in the middle of butt fuck nowhere where they can't even walk to the grocery store. Public transit? No wonder nobody takes it, and it's useless. How could it possibly serve a city the size of New York with less than an eighth of the population. It's impossible. Jesus rollerblading Christ people. Stop the spread of urban sprawl. Stop the demolishing of trees, farmland, irreplaceable wetlands, and wildlife habitat. Did you know that if an animal isn't protected by species at risk rules its home is 100% going to be demolished to build yours. When you could move into a perfectly nice house close to your work, send your kids to a wonderful school in the city, and maybe, just maybe get to ride your bike to work some days in the snow and have a giggle while doing it.