To a happy cycling season!

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, May 11, 2023

Bike rack outside Cochrane Coffee Traders says it all: cycling’s back in season. Photo by Warren Harbeck

Arriving at Cochrane Coffee Traders the other day, I was impressed with how many bicycles were on the rack outside the shop. Yes indeed, it was the season for cycling again, and that’s the inspiration for this week’s column.

In fact, I was about to share cups with cyclist/artist Rick Ducommun, who has some very definite thoughts on this wheely good time of year. But more about that in a moment.

First, a quick celebration of a few of our other readers who thrive on seeing life from their bikes.

Take Robyn MacKay and Bruce Roberts, for instance. They’ve become legendary for their cycling ventures through India – and for the goodwill they’ve experienced and shared along the way. In my Oct. 22, 2015 column Robyn put it this way:

“My bicycle opened a different perspective on travel for me, creating opportunities to experience daily life and rituals alongside local people. The images I captured through the lens of my camera, and the ambassadorship of my bicycle, reflect genuine life-changing moments during my journeys.”

One of those life-changing moments occurred when she and Bruce were ascending an exhausting hill, a truck came along, and the driver invited them to put their bikes in the back and hop in. As a consequence, new friendships were made, eventually leading to Robyn becoming bridesmaid at the wedding of their overnight host that hill-climbing night.

And then there’s Ernst Enns, who biked 11,800 km from north to south through Africa in 2009. (See my April 1, 2009 column.) He thrived on the diversity of life he experienced, including what I hope will be a feature in his upcoming memoirs, tentatively titled Naked in Namibia and Other Tales of a Serious Cyclist. But we’ll just have to wait to find out what that title’s all about.

John McWhae, ophthalmologist and photographer, is also a long-distance cyclist, especially fond of his jaunts through Europe. (See my July 27, 2017 column.) He has been most impressed with western Europe’s “cooperative bike culture,” he says. This includes what’s known as the 2-metre rule, making it illegal for cars to come any closer than two metres to cyclists along the road. In fact, as he biked along, he was amazed at the courtesy shown him by drivers.

Now back to artist and long-distance cyclist Rick Ducommun. (See my Aug. 1, 2012 column.) He is generally very fond of riding around the Cochrane area, where he finds most drivers to be respectful of cyclists, giving him at least a metre or more room when passing, and often smiling and waving to him. And this is generally true along a favourite route of his along Horse Creek Road, northwest of Cochrane. But that particular road has its problems, too.

The road has only minimal shoulders for him to ride on when being passed by cars and trucks. “I winced when a guy in a black 4×4 blasted his horn, squeezing between me and an oncoming SUV this past week,” Rick says. “He flipped the finger at me.”

And then there’s the all-too-frequent situation where bikers ride two or more abreast down the road – when the law requires single-line biking. Ernst recalls the time a few years ago when five cyclists rode side-by-side down Horse Creek Road, making it impossible for one of his ranching neighbours to pass for far too long. When he finally succeeded, they gave him the finger!

Well, may the “cooperative bike culture” prevail here. Happy cycling, readers!


© 2023 Warren Harbeck

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