A New Cycle – Bicycling on Campus/ in Toronto

When I tried out for rowing in first year, I didn’t think about the distance between campus and the boathouse – we had to get down to the lake somehow – and I quickly realized that I not only needed to learn how to row but also needed to learn how to ride a bike.

Me on a small clown bicycle
They see me rollin’ they hatin’

Learning to Cycle

The only memories I have of cycling when I was younger were my first tricycle (still have it!), being chased by wild dogs when I tried to learn to bike and trying to bike between joggers; assuming that people would move out of my way when I rung my bell. However, with the guidance of my teammates and cycling daily to and from practice in the Fall and Summer, I can now confidently cycle on the busy streets of Toronto.

Bikers at stop lights
Bikers who row – my bike gang: libby, an exchange student from new zealand and liz, a grad student in physics

Security

The feeling of walking towards where you parked your bike only to find that it’s not there is indescribable. In the Fall, my bike was stolen on campus. Walking back on foot to residence, I felt sad and honestly mad. I had never had anything stolen from me in my life before. After making a police report, I learned that I should’ve registered my bike with the city because even if they did find my bike, they wouldn’t have sufficient proof that it belonged to me. I have now invested in a sturdier lock and ensure that I don’t park my bike in the same spot on campus for an extended period of time. I also keep my bike in bike-rooms such as the one at New College when possible.

Mechanics

workshop area with many bikes
Bikechain workshop area
blackboard with bikechain code of conduct
Bikechains code of conduct

In Spring, I got a new secondhand bike.. a really slow secondhand bike. When summer rolled around, my parents visited and I thought – great! Now my dad could help me fix my bike. After taking a look at it, he couldn’t figure it out so we decided to check out Bikechain, a non-profit cycling organisation based out of U of T. With all the spare parts given by donation, the workshops and equipment are PWYC (Pay What You Can). The most invaluable experiences I’ve had at Bikechain would be learning to change my broken gear-shifter and attending a workshop on the basic mechanics of a bicycle.

flat tire changing practice
I now know how to change a flat!
bikeon bike stand in bike workshop
My bike on the stand photo creds to my dad while I did everything by myself! #achievementunlocked

Safety and Leisure

My parents are amazed that I went from not cycling at all to cycling in downtown Toronto. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t scary, but it all boils down to being vigilant when riding. Despite the ups and downs, I love the feeling of freedom on a bike instead of relying on my feet or public transport. I am able to get to classes or the gym in half the time. I also use it as a form of meditation, giving my mind a break from the books when I’m out for a spin enjoying campus views. Before going on a ride, I make sure that I have bike lights, my helmet, enough water, my mini-toolkit and a working bell.

bike upside down infront of UC
two of my favourite things

Want to get cycling on campus? Head on over to Bikechain and try it for free today!

  • Summer/Fall Hours (May-Dec): Mon. 12-8 Tues. 10-5  Wed. 10-5  Thur. 12-8  Fri. 10-5
  • Women, Trans and Gender Non-Binary Hours: Tues. 6-9pm

 

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