Jenn Van Der Schee – Turning her Passion into Fashion!

Jennifer Van der Schee photo

How long have you been riding a bike?

I remember being on the back of my Mom’s bike when I was two or three, so I guess I’ve been riding forever! My dad is Dutch and we all know how much the Dutch like their bikes! I always had a bike growing up and have fond memories of riding with my parents around the military base in Calgary that was our neighbourhood. Later, I remember it was a big thrill when I was allowed to ride with friends to the Fish Creek Provincial Park that was close to home, for a swim in the lake.

At university in Edmonton, my roommate and I decided to ride to classes all winter. It was a long walk to the bus stop, and a slow bus ride. Biking took less time than the bus so I bought a mountain bike and bundled up. It felt like freedom to avoid bus stops and schedules. As a result, we met some guys who were living in residence and tried out trail riding with them.

That mountain bike followed me around the country for many years. It led to various friendships that in turn led to various enjoyable experiences including experiments with triathlons, gravel biking on the Great Trail, and road riding to various small towns. I had a fun summer working for Somersault, the triathlon sponsoring organization in 2006, helping others enjoy the challenge of combining riding with running and swimming.

What do you enjoy most about cycling?

Cycling makes me feel good! I enjoy the fresh air and exercise when I’m commuting, the physical and mental challenge of mountain biking, and the long slow burn of road riding.

I started riding with another woman last summer, and I love how we challenge and inspire each other. There’s nothing like peer pressure to never miss a ride!

Women’s mountain biking has exploded in this city as well, thanks to women led groups such as the Ottawa Mountain Bike Chicks, and female skills instructors. It’s a sport that’s become more and more inclusive thanks to these amazing leaders. I love to see girls on wheels – especially when they are being encouraged by their moms! The atmosphere is collegial and supportive.

What are the biggest changes you have seen in the last 10 years when it comes to cycling in Ottawa?

Infrastructure has grown and it keeps growing, and that makes me happy! I love that many office buildings and retail stores have bike parking and that so many people are using bikes as transportation.

Recreational cycling has exploded and the amount of mountain biking trails keeps growing. The NCC has added many trails in Gatineau Park, and Larose Forest has carved out many kilometers of trails that are highly accessible to newbies and families.

What is your favorite cycling memory?

When I moved back to Ottawa in 2010 from Regina, I joined a dating website. The best response I got was from a keen cyclist so we met up for a bike ride to Aylmer. We were aiming for a grocery store but it was closed, so we sat by the river for a chat and the rest is history. We are still together, planning cycling weekends and vacations, when we can, and enjoying commuting in between.

What was/is your biggest challenge?  And how did you overcome it?

I like the technical challenges of mountain biking. You have to plan strategy for completing major features. When you complete the challenge, the rush is amazing!

Do you have a favorite path or route to bike in Ottawa?

I love that you can ride endlessly in this city without really having to ride in traffic. When I commute, I ride the Canal paths. Getting on my bike at the end of the day is so nice, especially when I see the crowded buses and streets. I have a new job which will be downtown when we return to the office, and I’m looking forward to exploring a new commuting route.

I really like the Watts Creek section of the NCC pathway, from Moodie Drive to March road. It is lovely and tree lined, and we always try include it when we do longer rides. Also, it connects with the Great Trail (formerly Trans Canada Trail). When I want an easy ride in the forest to clear my head, I tend to go east to Larose Forest. When I’m in the mood for some heart pounding climbs, I love the trails in the Gatineau Park.

What inspires you?

The simple form and function of the bicycle has inspired me as an artisan. I have a small screen-printing shop called Dutch Bike Printing Co, which came out of my search for images of bikes on things. It was difficult to find an “anatomically correct” bike tee – most images were either cartoonish or just plain wrong, so I started working with actual bike images and manipulated them for printing on t-shirts and other apparel. One of my first images was a fat bike taken from a photo, so it looked like something a fat biker would actually ride.

I have some silly images of bikes too – like a moose riding a mountain bike, and an elephant balancing on a Penny Farthing. I play with images from nature too – it’s hard not be inspired by the forests I ride in.

I’m currently playing with text and graphical elements for my new spring designs, and I trying to come up with a women’s mountain bike design for the women who inspire me to pedal harder!

You can find my designs on my website at