Sunday, May 31, 2015

Taking a spin with Bike Week in Barrie

Just over 2 weeks ago I woke in the wee hours to find my whole house was spinning like the midst of a tornado, a chilling thought as we approach the 30-year anniversary of the one that smashed through Allandale, killing 12 in and beyond Barrie.
But it turned out it was just me; I had contracted vestibular neuritis, an inner-ear infection whose nerve damage has left me with constant dizziness and unsteadiness (vertigo) as the whole world still seems to be turning or tilting to my right. I walk unsteady like I’m drunk, for 2 weeks I couldn’t drive, and I still can’t safely get on a bike. Which is the real shame, because Barrie’s perfect cycling season has arrived! The weather is nice, the roads are clear of ice and winter sand, the rain has held off, and a pedal-powered breeze is much sweeter in muggy weather like now.
What’s more, we are about to enter Barrie’s first official Bike Week. First up, for more ardent cyclists, comes Pedal Fest, billed as Ontario’s first-ever all-inclusive cycling festival. Taking place around the King St. loop in the south end and hosted by the Barrie/Simcoe Cycling Club, this event combines their 6th annual Youth Cup with a Para-cycling race and Mens/Womens Criterium.
This fun & friendly tournament is open by design to men, women, youth and adults of all abilities, including those needing to use hand-bikes, trikes or tandem cycles. The traffic-free on-street course features a full day of racing, DJs and live music, food trucks and a community walk/roll/wheel around the race course, open to all, and lead by Olympic gold medallist Graeme Murray; special guests also include five-time world champion Shelley Gauthier. You can find out more, or register to race or volunteer, at
City Hall is very cycle-accessible
Then the work week launches with Bike to Work and School Day, encouraging people to try cycling their commute for one day and see if it can become a habit. Try to bike to work (or school) Monday morning, and if you can, swing by City Hall first for the free breakfast in the Rotunda courtesy of some of Barrie’s best: Cravings Fine Food Market, The Farmhouse, and PIE Wood Fired Pizza Joint, served from 8 – 9:30 am.
Monday also begins the geocaching contest; between Monday and Friday, collect unique stickers from each secret location and you might win a luggage set from South Central Ontario CAA. What better reason to explore our city by bike? Keep up to date at
Next weekend, come to Bike Week Base Camp, put together by Barrie’s bike stores and clubs, to learn all about the cycling world in Barrie. Saturday’s (June 5) Base Camp in downtown’s Memorial Square will feature a rodeo (skill clinic) for kids from noon – 2 pm, and then Sunday’s Base Camp at Celebrate Barrie (June 6) will be the starting point for the Family and Community Group Ride around the waterfront, a safe and fun tour departing at 1 pm.
If my physio has progressed enough by Monday, I look forward to spinning down to City Hall for breakfast as we celebrate Barrie’s first Bike Week and the joy of healthy, sustainable active transportation. Leave your car at home for a day, hop on your wheels, and join us!

Published as my Root Issues column in the Barrie Examiner as "Cycling season has just rolled back into Barrie"
Erich Jacoby-Hawkins is a director of Living Green and the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

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