look at you

Look at You! (#3)

Today we’re profiling regular reader and frequent commentator, Jean. Jean is a self-identified “lifestyle cyclist” whose commitment to cycling through winters in Calgary is enough to silence anyone (like me, Tracy) in Ontario who complains that it’s too cold and snowy to ride through the winter!

Jean has offered many helpful and inspiring words of cycling wisdom since we started this blog. She has a blog of her own, Cycle Write Blog, where you can read more of her musings on cycling and other fitness pursuits, and see her wonderful photography. She has also blogged about bike art at Third Wave Cycling Blog.

Jean: Lifestyle Cyclist: When It’s No Longer Exercise, No Longer a Chore

Jean Chong riverside path dec 2013

I’ve been car-free for over the last 3 decades. I gave up my driver’s license in my early 20’s, when I realized my discomfort with driving would endanger others. So I traded a car for active transportation and good health –cycling, walking and transit.

I have consciously chosen to live and invest in walkable and cycleable neighbourhoods in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, where it’s close to a bike route or two, public transit and within a 15-min. walk of some shops and services. I haven’t known the cost of gasoline for last 30 years. I’ve saved a ton of money for other stuff. Read my post about how I did that, here.

In 2014, I will be bicycling into my 55th year. I returned to bicycling 23 years ago. I have 3 hybrids and 1 folding bike in Vancouver and Calgary. There’s even a 4th well-used bike, I gave away to a sister in Toronto. I borrow it whenever I visit my extended family in Toronto.

Cycling is integrated into my daily lifestyle by cycle-commuting to work, shopping, for fitness and on our self-made bike trips. I’ve never had an indoor bike nor bike rollers. In 2010, I started winter cycling with some snow when I relocated to Calgary. Since dry prairie air and warm chinook winds that sweep from the mountains, suck up melting snow, I’ve been able to cycle at least 70% of winter days on clearer pavements. Since our winter days are much colder, I learned to bike down to -24 degrees C (-11F). Maybe I’ll get studded tires one day.

I range from 3,000 to 7,000 km. of cycling annually. Our bike trips with my packed bike panniers, each cover from 100 km. to over 1,000 km. Every year, we cycle at least 1 trip or more, at least over several days. Since my partner is consummate cyclist himself, and local cycling advocate where we’ve lived, I’ve learned bike routes and how to string together multiple routes so that I can ride on my own or with friends. One can bike 60-100 km. in 1 day, by cycling within the borders for each of these 3 Canadian cities! I love exploring locally by bike. So “exercise” by bike is so much more psychologically effortless.

So find your favourite daily exercise for life. Then it’s no longer a chore. Read more about this approach here.

Jean Chong summer

If you’d like to be profiled in “Look at You!” please send a photo of yourself in action and a 75-150 word bio focusing on what you do to stay active. You can send your submissions to fitfeminist50@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

6 thoughts on “Look at You! (#3)

  1. Hey Jean– what kind of folding bike do you have? I really want one, as I travel to conferences and love exploring a city and surroundings by bike. It’s much easier just to bring one on the plane with you (and to avoid those outrageously high charges for checking a bike carrier box). I have friends with Bromptons, but they are super-pricey. And Dahon makes a bunch of them, but I don’t know which are good and what their reliability are like. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    -catherine w

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  2. Hi Catherine:

    I have a Dahon 8-speed internal hub (gears sitting inside the hub not outside on the bike as normal), it’s a lighter weight model. But I’ve taken it onto train, plane and some local buses (Vancouver buses are all equipped with bike racks.) These are multi-day, multi-wk. long trips in Canada, U.S. and Europe. My model’s saddle post actually has a tractable bike pump integrated into it… practical because you have to deflate your tires when you take the bike onto the plane. I call the bike, “Baby Day” to distinguish from my partner’s Dahon, which is a different model and when he and I talk about our bikes. I don’t name my other 3 bikes.

    Make sure you get 20 inch wheel (not 16 inch wheel): just less wheel rotations to go the same distance. Yes, Bromptons tend be the most expensive. Bike Friday folding lines are highly respected. I have a cycling friend who loves her Bike Friday and has taken it on bike tours in Ontario, Quebec, U.S. and Europe. Bike Friday will also custom fit a bike for you which my 4′ 11″ friend. I am 5’1″. I’ve been to their factory outlet in Eugene, Oregon. It’s a cycling-friendly city and the factory /fiting place is right by a bike path.

    Let me know what you get/pondering over.

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    1. HI Jean– thanks a lot for the info. I’ll post on your blog as I make progress on this front. There is no substitute for getting advice from someone who has road-tested a bike the way you have!

      -catherine w

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