I first met Kathleen when she was instructing the Wenches with Wrenches class I took 3 years ago. Since then Kathleen has come out to numerous Cupcake Rides and Sweet Rides. She is really active in the bike community, helping run Wenches with Wrenches and being a board member for the Community Bicycle Network.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
When I moved to Toronto four years ago, I got involved in the bike community right away. Now I work at a worker co-op bike shop (Urbane Cyclist) and mainly volunteer with Wenches with Wrenches and the Community Bicycle Network. When I’m not riding or working on my bikes I like to do yoga, read, and try new vegan recipes.
And can you tell us little about your super cute, new winter ride? I love the colour of the frame, by the way. It matches the Cupcake Ride logo!
Thanks! It’s a Pake C’mute frame which is designed for sport touring or city riding. I built it up as a learning experience about drum brakes and internal hubs, using a Sturmey Archer 8 speed drum brake rear hub. It’s my first “new” bike ever. My plan is to use it as a winter bike, then convert it into a touring bike with drop bars when the weather gets better.
How many winters have you ridden through so far?
I moved here in January 2008 so this will be my fifth winter of riding in Toronto. Before living here I was in Victoria BC where I think I had to ride in the snow only once. Some winters have been really snowy, cold, and just difficult to ride in. So far this year it’s been pretty nice. A few Saturdays ago it was 7 degrees and I rode 30k along the Lakeshore!
Any tips you can share from your experience of winter riding?
Wind proof and water proof layers mean a lot more than bundling up with thermals. I get really warm after a few minutes of riding as long as I have those outer layers on. Also, bundling up too much can restrict your movement and make it harder to shoulder check or even mount your bike!
Keep your bike clean as much as possible. Lube the chain after a heavy snow fall or rain. Keep an eye out for rust or seizing parts; if you put off maintenance you’ll have to replace lots of parts in the spring.
I had to replace my whole chain from my winter riding last year – so I that tip is something I can totally get behind! Is there anything that helps you get through winter riding?
My balaclava! It fits under my helmet, doesn’t get too bulky around my neck, and keeps my hair out of my face. Also, fenders. Can’t say that enough. Fenders, fenders, fenders.
What are some of your other reasons for riding a bike (regardless of season)?
I don’t have a drivers license, and the TTC is too expensive, slow and restricting. I love cycling to where I want to go because I can stop for a side trip or change my plans spontaneously. It’s also a good way to keep some exercise in my daily routine. The speed of a bicycle is the perfect speed for getting somewhere efficiently while still enjoying the scenery along the way.
Agreed! It’s perfect for transportation in the city. So, what originally got you into biking?
I moved to Victoria BC in 2004 and started biking everywhere. It’s such a bike-friendly city. I learned to build my own bike from used parts at Recyclista’s bike shop and just kept going from there!
Did your love of bike riding get you involved with Community Bike Network on Queen St.? If I recall correctly, you volunteer on their board, right? Is that how you got involved with Wenches with Wrenches?
I’ve been on the board of CBN for four years. Before I joined I was a volunteer there and I believe that’s what got me involved with Wenches with Wrenches. It was more my love of fixing my own bike for cheap and learning new skills that got me involved there.
You also work at a super nice bike shop. It seems like everything you do is related to bikes!
I do spend a lot of time doing bike-related things. My favourite vacation activity is bike touring. I’ve met a lot of great people by sharing a bike ride.
Where are some places you’ve ridden to on your bike tours?
I’ve ridden around Lake Superior, the gulf islands in BC, Prince Edward County in Ontario and from Toronto to Halifax on a month long trip in 2008.
Wow, sounds like lots of fun. So my last question, what would make bike riding in Toronto better?
Respect for cyclists! It would be nice to have some separated bike lanes on streets like Jarvis, Bloor/Danforth, and Richmond or Adelaide. The bike boxes that have popped up on Harbord are useful, but there are many other intersections that they should be in too. When it snows, bike lanes should be high priority to be cleared, a lot more cyclists would bike in the winter if they had that assurance.
And cyclists shouldn’t be squeezed into the no mans land between parked cars and streetcar tracks on so many main roads like King and Queen. Making space for cyclists on the road would encourage drivers to be more accommodating of them, and I’m sure lots of people who are scared to ride would be more likely to try it.
What’s in store for you this winter (bike related or not!)?
I’m taking two night school courses and some other work-related workshops. The night school courses are some journalism courses because I’d like to write about cycling issues in Toronto.
My worker co-op is planning a co-op exchange that might take me to Winnipeg for a week. And bike pirates is hosting some women and trans only workshops that I’ll be volunteering at, starting in February on Sundays after regular shop hours.
Thanks for chatting Kathleen! Good luck with your courses!
Keep up with Kathleen via Twitter: @radaction