Meet Heidi

When did you start riding a bike?

I started riding a two wheeler when I was 4 or 5.

Do you ride for pleasure, to commute, for a workout?

Mostly I ride to commute but it’s a triple benefit since I get a workout and a lot of pleasure. It’s nice to see the city at the speed of a bike. I feel more a part of it.

What is your favourite thing about cycling?

Honestly there are a few things that come to mind – pretty bikes, being faster than walking – but over the past few years my favorite thing is the amount of time I get back in my day to spend with my family by being able to leave my office and head straight home, without route transfers, traffic jams, stopping for gas, finding a parking spot. I love the feeling of the weather – the summer heat, the cool spring air. Even the winter, when I’m dressed right.

What is your biggest challenge?

Motivation, some days. It can be hard to be inspired to push up some of those hills, or to get started, until it becomes habit for the season.

What did you do to overcome it?

I remind myself how much I love the fresh air. Sometimes I use the rack-and-ride program in the mornings sometimes, and then ride home. It’s the perfect balance since by the end of the day I really feel like I need some de-stressing.

One winter I bought an electric bike, so that I could bike in assisted, and not have to wait in the cold for a ride. It was like magic. Then when I was pregnant with my last baby, I used it to help me keep cycling up until a few days before I delivered without exhausting myself. It’s awesome to be out there doing SOME of the work, but getting all of the enjoyment of the fresh air, wildlife, the smiles from neighbors. And the thing eats hills for breakfast.

If you could give advice to a brand new cycle commuter, what would it be?

Know yourself – if you want a shiny new bike, buy it. The health benefits will pay off. If you know it’s not in your budget, seek out a more budget friendly used ride- there are tons across the city waiting for homes. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it either. The world is rife with people who will give you reasons why not to. I used to bike from Hampton Park to Canterbury as a 14 year old, because the alternative was a 3-bus combo. It took the same 50 minutes but it was more direct.

I biked from Carlingwood to Place du Portage in Hull while I was pregnant, and so many people asked about my balance and about risks. I told them I mitigate it with bright colours, lights, and the fact that I’ve been cycling (on and off) since I was 5. This is not a new skill. For me, balance didn’t seem like an issue. I take up my space in my lane, and communicate with drivers by looking them in the eyes.

There are many bikes on the road every day that commute uneventfully. People get scared because the hear about the others. And as a driver, and a cyclist, I think you become a better driver around cyclists because you learn to respect that timing and space needs are different for a bike vs a car.

Tell me an interesting fact about you that has nothing to do with cycling.

I was the English tutor for one of the tallest men in the world – Michael Ri from North Korea – during his North American attempt to join the NBA. It was the only time I’ve ever felt really small, since I am 5’10 and he’s 7’10. 2 whole feet of height difference!

What inspires you?

My husband. He took time off with our daughter to raise her, and ended up training for a half-marathon. The two of them would go running together. He’s a great role model.