Spor­tif Stieda

The Power of Bi­cy­cles

Pedal Magazine - - Contents - BY ALEX STEIDA

Canada turns 150 this year, but 2017 is also the 200th an­niver­sary of the bi­cy­cle. Amaz­ing to think that the bike has been around longer than our own coun­try!

We’ve all felt the power of a bi­cy­cle at some point in our lives . . . most likely, many times. The feel­ing of learn­ing to ride your first bike can never be re­placed. I can re­mem­ber mak­ing swoop­ing turns down the road, feel­ing the flight-like G-forces press­ing me into the sad­dle and then hit­ting the coaster brake hard, mak­ing a long black streak of rub­ber as I fish­tailed along the pave­ment. Magic! And the free­dom!

All of a sud­den, an en­tirely new world opened up for me. I was able to go farther on my neigh­bour­hood ad­ven­tures, ex­plor­ing the back lanes and park trails of Co­quit­lam, B.C. to my heart’s con­tent.

And then there was com­merce. With a bike (at the time, a Raleigh five-speed “Chop­per”), I was able to make money with a morn­ing pa­per route. De­liv­er­ing pa­pers was my ticket to ride, lit­er­ally. Hav­ing pocket money was an­other form of free­dom and gave me the in­de­pen­dence that I craved deep down. Be­ing the first per­son on the road in the early morn­ing was very spe­cial, with the city slowly wak­ing up as I rum­bled along with 50 heavy pa­pers in my front car­rier bas­ket. I some­times won­der how I kept that bike go­ing with all that weight, up and down those hills with what lit­tle power I had de­vel­oped back then!

Me­chan­i­cal ex­plo­ration came next. With my pa­per-route money, I bought a used 10-speed and slowly re­con­di­tioned it in our garage us­ing my dad’s shop tools. A pipe wrench made a mess of the BB lock ring, and a ham­mer and punch disas­sem­bled the tree hub, once I re­al­ized it was a left-hand thread! Much to my dis­may, I watched what seemed to be a hun­dred tiny ball bear­ings bounce across the floor when I took the free hub apart! Us­ing some thread and a lot of grease, I ac­tu­ally put it back to­gether along with most of the parts. Pliers were used to tighten and loosen the spoke nip­ples to true the rims, and even­tu­ally, I taught my­self to lace and build my own wheels.

How­ever, ad­ven­ture was the real rea­son I was drawn to the bi­cy­cle. With the re­built 10-speed, there was even more op­por­tu­nity to ven­ture farther afield. For­tu­nately, both my par­ents had been pos­i­tively af­fected by bi­cy­cles in their youth, grow­ing up in post-war Europe. My mom still had her dad’s cy­cling log­book of ev­ery ride he’d done in the hills around South­ern Eng­land as a mem­ber of the Chich­ester Wheel­ers. With their bless­ing, I added a “rat trap” and some cheap pan­niers and did some solo trips to the Gulf Is­lands, camp­ing out and rid­ing on some amaz­ingly dif­fi­cult hills. What a feel­ing to be un­der my own power, rid­ing as fast as I could go, or would dare to when de­scend­ing with steels rims and cen­ter-pull brakes!

Com­pe­ti­tion was also in my blood. Grow­ing up, I played high­school vol­ley­ball as well as hockey and soc­cer. Due to some for­tu­nate cir­cum­stances and amaz­ing vol­un­teers, I was in­tro­duced to the lo­cal weekly 10-mile time trial, or­ga­nized by the Van­cou­ver Vets. There, I tested my­self weekly and met other ju­nior rid­ers – soon we were train­ing and rac­ing on the track and road, push­ing our­selves to new lim­its.

Ca­ma­raderie and team­work drew me fur­ther into the world of bi­cy­cles. Work­ing on a Pro­fes­sional cy­cling team cre­ated a level of trust and em­pow­er­ment that I take with me ev­ery­where I go in my post-rac­ing world. Rac­ing bi­cy­cles trans­formed my life and has given me a mul­ti­tude of in­cred­i­ble ex­pe­ri­ences and al­lowed me to live a truly unique and ex­hil­a­rat­ing life.

We’ve all felt the power of a bi­cy­cle at some point in our lives . . . the magic and the free­dom!

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