Hope is gearing up for Bike to Work Week

Event kicks off with a barbecue celebration on Sunday

Lola Bury regularly rides her bike to school at Coquihalla Elementary. She encourages others to join her

From May 28 to June 3, you are invited to leave the car at home — and put your two wheels to use as much as possible.

Hope and District Recreation and Cultural Services is sponsoring Hope’s version of the BC-wide Bike to Work Week.

The week’s celebration kicks off on Sunday, May 27, with a free barbecue from 2-4 p.m. Local bike mechanic, Eric Laaback will be on hand to advise riders on basic bike maintenance. He’ll also be back on June 2 at 11 a.m. for the wrap-up.

Program planner Kim Richardson says the rec centre will be offering daily refreshments for riders — as well as daily prize draws.

“Some of our prizes are a Fraser River Rafting trip, a fitness evaluation, a fitness consultation, a 10-pass for spin cycle classes and a one-month gym pass,” says Richardson.

“If you’ve ridden a bike on one of the days, come in and let us know and your name will go in the draw.”

Riders are encouraged to sign on the rec centre’s “Hope Cyco Cyclers” team and log the kilometres cycled during the week.

“You try and ride as many kilometres as you can during the week,” says Richardson. “It doesn’t have to be just to work. It can be biking to school or to the recreation centre, or shopping — or just for fun.

“Just find ways to leave the car at home,” she says. “It’s quite doable, especially in a town like Hope.”

Hopefully, you have an odometer on your bike. If not, you can use a free web-based service like MapMyRun.com, to plot your routes and calculate the distance.

Ten-year-old Lola Bury doesn’t need any encouragement to jump on her bike. She’s one of a handful of regulars who cycle to Coquihalla Elementary. Even on a warm, sunny day, you might only see 10 bikes parked in the racks that were often full when they were used at the old (pre-1989) school.

“I learned to ride a bike in Belgium, probably when I was five,” says Bury. “It takes 10 minutes to get here, unless I have to wait for a train. It takes 20 minutes to walk.

“I ride my bike most days — but if it rains too much, my mom gives me a ride.”

One man who doesn’t get a ride from his mom when the weather is bad is Ben Taylor, who lives at the east end of town but works at the eastbound weigh scales at Hunter Creek. In the summer, he has ridden his hybrid road bike on the roughly 13 kilometre trip, taking 45 minutes to an hour each way, depending on the wind. In the winter, his worst return trip was 2.5 hours.

“When you’re driving a car, you don’t really notice the wind,” says Taylor. “But on a bike, the wind makes a huge difference.”

There are back roads from Hope to Flood, but the 4.5 km stretch from Flood to Hunter Creek is brutally unfriendly to cyclists — especially west-bound at night… in the winter.

“In the city, it’s bike-friendly,” says Taylor, a former RCMP officer, “but out here, it’s not. In the slow lane, with the concrete barrier, you have nowhere to go.”

But Taylor wanted to prove it could be done, even when he was working night shifts.

“In the winter, I have a mountain bike with studded winter tires,” he says. “You have to be really noticeable, out on the highway especially, so I have lots of lights and reflectors. I look like a total geek.”

He gets lots of ribbing from his co-workers, too.

My lights are more expensive than my bike,” he adds. “The headlights cost $900. I’ve got one on the bike and one on my helmet.”

The helmet light has come in handy during canine pursuits, says Taylor.

“I get chased by dogs a lot, especially on a full moon. I went through a whole bunch of pepper spray — and a police baton — but with the helmet light, when you turn your head to look at the dog, the dog sees the light and backs off. Maybe it blinds him or something.”

Taylor says he likes biking and finds it invigorating, though he is now “not as enamored with proving that the commute can be done,” especially in the winter.

“My job has changed and they have us using the patrol vehicle, so I drive it home quite a bit.”

He’s retired, so he won’t be riding to work — but former teacher Truls Asdal will be launching his cross-Canada ride from Victoria on Monday, May 28.

Asdal did a Sumas to San Diego ride a few years ago, in 49 days and he plans to do 90 to 100 kilometres a day on this trip. He expects to cruise into Hope on the May 30, hauling about 30 kilograms of gear.

“My tentative finish is at St. John’s, Newfoundland,” said Asdal on Monday. “But it will be cut short if the cycling becomes a job and not a joy.”

As with the earlier trip, Asdal plans to blog along the way, using the Crazyguyonabike.com site.

“Sounds appropriate, doesn’t it?” quipped Asdal.

Once he’s underway, check the site and use the search tool for Asdal’s name.