The Wheels in the SPOKES go round PART 2

If you missed yesterday’s blog post, here is the 411: Will and Emily from SPOKES, the student bicycle bursary program at the University of Victoria, were discussing the nuts and bolts of their program. They talked about what it takes to make and maintain a healthy and vibrant local bicycling scene when we last left off.

The Provincial Legislature looking particularly mysterious in the moonlight. This is just one of the many sites that you will stop at during the Moonlight Midnight Mystery ride in Victoria.

Question # 3/ TTL (To Tread Lightly): Can you tell me a little about Critical Mass and the Midnight Mystery Rides? And for those readers, who do not live in Victoria and are interested in starting their own community rides, what is the best way to go about doing this?

Will: Pick a time and place that does not change, don’t change this time. This is important, because every month people won’t get confused about the location. It is also a real benefit to know your town; this way you will be able to pick different routes for each ride that you plan. I would also recommend printing and giving out handbills. Eventually, over time your ridership builds through word of mouth.  Also it is important to use Facebook and other social networking tools [to get your message out].

*TTL’s Note: The Victoria Moonlight Midnight Mystery Ride has a Facebook group page, please visit them and get some ideas for how to plan your own community ride if you live outside of the BC provincial capital city.

Question # 4/TTL (To Tread Lightly): Will, you created the Moonlight Midnight Mystery Ride- do you have any memories that you would like to share?

Will: Well, originally I just liked to ride around at night, so I invited some friends and after a while it grew from there. On each ride there are between 60-65 riders; although ridership really drops off during the winter. I remember, on December 6th 2009 we celebrated our six anniversary with six riders.  I’m not too worried about attracting new people though, because we always have a good mix of new and regular riders that show up for the Moonlight Midnight Mystery Ride. It is really great because we get people from all different backgrounds who show up and they are adventurous.

Question # 5/ TTL (To Tread Lightly): What is the best way to become a bicycle mechanic?

Will: Practice. Teach yourself. Also read Sheldon Brown’s website for some helpful tips and techniques. To train yourself how to be a bicycle mechanic, you should be able to take apart your bicycle and rebuild it. Also you can take lessons in bicycle repair at Recyclista’s . At SPOKES we can teach you how to repair your bike, when time is available. Also if you want to get involved right away with bicycle repair we need help with stuff, especially with events and communications. You can get a hold of me at for more information.

Question #6/TTL (To Tread Lightly): What benefits do used bicycles have over new ones?

Will: You don’t have to pay for the sticker shock; used bikes are better in someways because they are built to last. New bikes are okay, but they are often made with very light materials. So this means that when you purchase a new bike, you are buying a bicycle that is built to get maximum performance not durability. For example in the new nine and ten speed chain bicycles, all the components are thinner on the chain sprocket [which is especially thin as well]. Old bicycles, on the other hand normally run on 5-6 speed chains. This means that the chain sprocket is thicker and less likely to ware out.

[Note* you should make sure that you have the proper tools to take apart your bicycle and rebuild it].

Will shows us an old chain sprocket; see how much thicker it is than new chain sprockets?

Question # 7/ TTL (To Tread Lightly): What is your best advice for new cyclists, who are just starting out?

Emily: Ride a lot and have confidence this means being an MVP by maintaining eye contact with drivers. Also you should take your place [on the road] and ride.

Will: You should be riding a least 1 metre away from the side of the road.

Thanks to Will and Emily, for this awesome interview. Stay tuned for my potato post and as always may you tread lightly.


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