As I write this, I am looking out my kitchen window at yet another spring snowfall. When I decided to write a post this week about “springing” up your bike, I was confident that we had seen our last snow fall of the year. I was wrong.
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t get mentally prepared for the spring thaw and the cycling that will come along with it.
First off, I recommend a nice, relaxing tune-up for your bike. You will probably have noticed “spring tune-up” signs outside of local bike shops. The prices usually range from $30 to $50. However, you could also tune-up your bike yourself at Bikechain. I wrote a post about Bikechain last fall, but here is a reminder for those who still haven’t heard about this great FREE service. Bikechain provides the space and tools for you to complete your own repairs to your bike. There is always a friendly mechanic on hand to help or guide you through the process. You just have to pay for the parts.
Bike chain has a Spring tune-up checklist that is quite helpful, if you plan on doing the tune-up yourself. Apart from the mechanical aspects of bringing your bike out of hibernation, there is also what I like to call “pretty” projects, that I start to envision for my old bike…new fenders, a shiny new bell, and possibly a new seat that matches the new fenders! This is the stuff that really excites me.
Every year, I get some new parts for my bike. I have calculated that in ten years, I will have an almost completely new bike. So far, my bike has received a new chain (it’s purple!), new tires, and new pedals. I am anxiously awaiting warm, dry weather so I can take my old fenders off and attach the new fenders that I have been eyeing since last spring.
Now is also a great time of year to remind yourself of cycling safety. Bikechain is offering a two-hour spring biking seminar called Intro to Cycling in Toronto. on April 21st at 5:30. It may be that you are brand new to cycling in the city or perhaps, like me, you just need a refresher course.
One area of knowledge that I am lacking in this year is the new Bike Boxes that magically appeared last year sometime after I put my bike away for the season. The proper use and purpose of the boxes is a mystery to me. If you haven’t seen these new street features, go to the corner of Harbord and St. George. You will notice that on Harbord, there is a box with a symbol of a bike on the street. This box sits in front of the wide bar where cars stop at the lights. I am hoping that the Intro to Cycling in Toronto will be able to shed some light on this mystery. I don’t think I’m alone in my confusion with the bike boxes because everytime I approach this intersection on foot, I see a cyclist using the box in a different manner. Here is a post recommended to me on how to use the bike boxes. With the information from this post and the information provided in the cycling seminar, I think I should be able to get a handle on these new bike boxes!
Along with safety and bike beautification, this is also a great time of year to shop for new bike gadgets. Every spring brings an onslaught of new little tools and niceties that are completely unnecessary! Here are two of my favourites:
1. The Helmet Flip Mirror: I’m not sure if this is a new item, but it’s new to me. This little mirror attaches onto the front of your helmet and allows you to see whats coming up behind you. Neat!
2. The Flea USB front Light: So bike lights aren’t the most exciting thing, but this bike light has a power gauge that tells you when to change the batteries! If only I had this last year, I could have avoided all those dark rides home, after the batteries died on my light.
If you are new to the city or have never extensively biked through this great city, the University of Toronto Cycling Club might be for you. This organization offers weekly touring and training rides. This would be a great way to get to know the city on two wheels, in the company of others!
There are a lot of great opportunities to get out on your bike and enjoy the city. Although if you are like me, you might want to wait until it is certain we have seen our last snowfall of the year. I’m knocking on wood right now!
Here’s to spring, which I’m hoping will come soon!