This is our last Winter Rider interview!
The photos were taken on a typically warm 2011/2012 winter day at Kensington Market, one of Amanda’s most favourite places in Toronto.
Amanda holds the record for the most number of Cupcake Ride and Sweet Rides attended! I still remember meeting her the first time at the 7th Cupcake Ride back in 2010 at For the Love of Cake and drooling over her cool bike.
Since then we’ve ridden together on countless rides and partied it up at Dandyhorse issue release parties!
So without further ado, here’s Amanda and her million dollar smile!
Why do you love Kensington Market so much?
I love that Kensington has a small town feel right in the middle of the downtown core. Every time I ride or walk through there I bump into someone I know. You can find everything you need from a killer cup of coffee to fresh produce to a handmade tshirt. I’ve traveled to other cities and never seen anything quite like it. It’s unique but still manages to not be pretentious. I guess that’s because everyone there recognizes that they have something special and are dedicated to preserving it. I know some locals get tired of seeing the hipster and tourist parade roll through there on the weekends but can you really blame them? It’s awesome. I would want to see it too.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I studied Radio & Television at Ryerson. Now I work in magazine circulation which, simply put, is subscriber and newsstand sales at Quarto Communications publishers of Canadian Home Workshop, Cottage Life, explore and Outdoor Canada. Previous to that, I worked at Duke’s Cycle for seven years. Big fan of travel, music, reading novels, watching geeky tv shows, playing floor hockey, drinking too much wine and, of course, riding bikes to go eat cupcakes.
I think I remember you telling me how you starting riding regularly back in University. Did you ride throughout the winters back then too?
Actually, started commuting year round in university so think I’m in my 5th or 6th year of winter commuting. I’ve always had a bike for recreation. I worked at Duke’s from the age of 14 until 22 and my sister’s before me. Don’t really remember a time in my life where I didn’t hang out there. I pretty much grew up on the red bar stools by the counter at the old shop. Bought my first high end road bike when I was 16 and was into custom builds by 18. Years in bike retail have turned me into a bike snob.
Which is probably why you take your bike in to get fixed up at Duke’s! Do you have any tips you can share from your experience of winter riding?
Winter riding is all about attitude. I’m a firm believer in The Velominati Rule #9. If you’re out riding in bad weather you’re badass. Own it. Approach winter riding with fear or frustration and that’s all you’ll get out of it. If it’s cold think how good it will feel to show up to work on your bike to the awe of your coworkers. If it’s snowy embrace the fun of riding your own personal slip and slide.
That being said, ride within your comfort level. I found the best way for me to get into it was by riding on cold days at first but leaving the bike at home when there was snow. Gradually I became more comfortable and now it’s pretty rare for me to ever think the weather is too bad to ride. This winter has been especially mild so I haven’t missed a single day on the bike.
It has been alarmingly mild this year. So if this was a typical winter, what would you recommend a first time winter rider to prepare herself with?
Mittens, fenders and the right attitude. That’s all you need.
For me, if my fingers get cold I’m instantly miserable. For others it’s their toes. For really cold or wet days I have a pair of Burton snowboard mittens I wear. Secondly, fenders are a must. Mine is custom since my frame wasn’t designed with fenders in mind but you can find even a simple plastic mud flap for $10 at your local bike shop. Get one.
Why do you love biking so much?
Simply, bicycles are beautiful. You fly. For me, I find they are the perfect place for me to think through things and center myself. Plus, I’ve made more friends through the love of bikes than anything else in my life. More tangibly, I don’t drive so it’s my main method of transportation. It gives me the freedom to come and go as I please without relying on anyone else.
So recently Kona created a new bike based on one of your bikes. That is so cool! How did that come about? Will it be available in 2012?
The Kona Roundabout. She’s already available so go buy one!
I got an email at work one day from my friend, Matt, that works at Kona. He has seen the evolution of my bike over the years and my tailoring it to be the perfect city ride. They were looking to create a new model for their asphalt line to appeal to girls that wanted something practical yet quick. He decided to use my baby as a muse. They turned it into a step thru and put gears on it but other than that the geometry is fairly similar. The mustache bar lets you sit up and look around but when you want to put some power into it you’ll get there fast.
I struggle to describe how flattering it is seeing a bike you’ve put together from the frame up get put into production. The thought that girls in random cities will be riding “my” bike makes me happy.
Amazing! It’s the ultimate compliment!
So in addition to the Cupcake Rides we also have a connection through Dandyhorse Magazine. Can you tell us a bit about how you got involved with it?
I started working on Dandyhorse with issue #2. From there I actually got my start in circulation so volunteering with them totally paid off. This past summer I handed over the circulation reigns to another volunteer but continue to consult. Recently, I’ve started to help with their social media and have plans to start working with them on some content once again. You can find us on Twitter and on Facebook for daily updates from the Toronto bike scene.
I also write a maintenance column fairly regularly for Canadian Cycling Magazine. It’s fun but also a challenge. I’ve been spoiled for years by having friends that love working on bikes so my knowledge is certainly lacking. It has proven to be a really good learning opportunity for me.
What would make bike riding in Toronto better?
How much time have you got? Toronto has so much potential. I’m always impressed with the volume of cyclists on the roads. Unfortunately, we’re facing the reality of having a mayor in office that doesn’t understand the need for alternative transport and has gone so far as to declare that people dedicated to sustainable transit options are declaring the ‘war on the car’. This simply isn’t true. If anything, supporting alternate methods of transit actually makes it better for drivers. Getting more people out of their cars will ease gridlock.
So what do we do in the meantime? Get involved. Make sure your councilor knows how you feel. If they support bikes and transit than they’ll appreciate having letters and signed petitions to bring with them to argue their point to council. If they’re not, than they need to know they don’t have the support of their constituents. Building infrastructure is a key ingredient to making this city a better place for cyclists and that comes from the top.
On the day to day, I would like to see a city that understands the need to share the road and show respect for one another. That means understanding the perspective of all people that use the streets from drivers to cyclists to transit users and pedestrians. The ‘me first’ mentality is easy to fall into and I’m certainly not above doing it but it won’t work on the long term. We must think in terms of what is equal considering the unique needs of the individual.
As a cyclist that means understanding that drivers have blind spots. I urge you to not squeeze to the right. Trucks, delivery vans and rigs can’t see you. As a driver, cyclists are legally allowed to take their lane. Forcing them to squeeze to the right puts their safety at risk. Side swiping a cyclist on your commute will probably make you later for work than if you had just given them the room they rightfully deserve and passed them on the left just like you would with any other slower moving vehicle.
Also, consider that cycling is based on momentum. Waiting for a moment to let them pass even if you have the legal right of way is a simple kind gesture that really won’t add a lot of time to your commute. Finally, respect my goddamn bike lane. It may be small but it’s a lane. Forcing cyclists to swerve into traffic to get around you while you idle is dangerous and inconsiderate. Watch for bikes when pulling in and out of a parking spot and last but not least when you’re making a right hand turn at an intersection where there is a bike lane you treat it like a left hand turn. Signal your intent, wait until the bike lane is clear then turn. You are crossing a line of traffic. You don’t pull into the bike lane, stop, signal, then turn. That’s cutting us off.
Thank you for the sound advice and thoughtful ideas, Amanda!!
And thank you, especially, for agreeing to be interviewed!
To keep up with Amanda’s adventures on and off her bike, please follow her on Twitter.
And that wraps up our Winter Rider interview series! A big thank you to the lovely ladies who ride through all four seasons and kindly agreed to be interviewed!
Thank you for reading!
I’d love to hear what you thought about these interviews. Would you like to see more?