The top 10 events for Toronto Bike Month 2014
Get on your bikes and ride - it's Toronto Bike Month once again. The annual celebration of pedal-powered locomotion, which runs from May 26 to June 26, pulls together a dizzying array of events across the GTA, from 160-kilometre slogs up to Collingwood to friendly maintenance workshops.
This year is a landmark of sorts. It was 25 years ago this summer that Toronto's first bike to work day provided the catalyst for what is now one of the country's largest celebrations of bicycles and cyclists.
Here are 10 essential picks for this year's celebration of cycling culture.
BIKE TO WORK DAY - 25TH ANNIVERSARY
Now that the weather has finally switched mode from "murderous" to "tolerable," riding a bike to work is once again a realistic option. This year's Bike to Work event, organized by Cycle Toronto and the city, is aiming to generate a critical mass of cyclists at Danforth and Woodbine, Bloor and High Park, and Yonge and Lawrence and have the three groups converge on Yonge and Bloor. The crowd will then be given a police escort to City Hall, where there will be free pancakes. Yum.
When: Monday May 26, 7:00-7:30 am (depending on location.)
Where: Various locations. Meet at Bloor and Yonge at 7:30, City Hall for 8:00.
Go if... you feel like camaraderie and don't mind an early start. Oh, and don't forget the pancakes.
MEC TORONTO BIKE MAINTENANCE 101
Dumbfounded by your derailleur? Don't know a v-brake from a caliper? Mountain Equipment Co-op is running a series of free bike repair classes throughout Bike Month, starting Thursday May 29 at the King Street W store. The one-hour clinics will teach the ABCs of bike maintenance, including how to adjust brakes, fix a puncture, and maintain the chain and other components.
Where MEC store at 400 King St. W.
When: Thursday, May 29, 6:00-7:00 pm; Wednesday, June 4 12:00-1:00 pm; Thursday, June 12, 6:00-7:00 pm; Wednesday, June 18, 12:00-1:00 pm.
Go if... your friends are sick of fixing your bike.
BIKE MONTH 2014 CRITICAL MASS RIDE
"Critical mass" bike rides are a regular fixture in Toronto but the Bike Month event is due to be particularly well attended. Converge with dozens of fellow cyclists for a gentle hour-and-a-half ride through downtown in support of better bicycle infrastructure and show the cars who's boss.
Where: Meet at Bloor and Spadina.
When: Friday, May 30, 6:00-8:00 pm.
Go if... you're eager to represent the cycling community.
CYCLE TORONTO STREET SMARTS SAFE CYCLING WORKSHOP
You don't need a license to ride a bike on Toronto's streets, but it pays to know the rules of the road. This Cycle Toronto presentation and lecture will cover the basics of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and City of Toronto's cycling by-laws, techniques for safe cycling, and basic maintenance skills.
Where: Lillian H. Smith Library, 239 College St.
When: Saturday, May 31, 2:00-4:00 pm.
Go if... you don't know how to signal a turn.
TOUR DE SPEED
Much of bike month is about celebrating commuting culture, so this is a nice little diversion. The races are short (8.6 to 34.4 kms), but that's kinda perfect if you've never done it before. This could the perfect way to test your legs with some friendly competition. There's even a short time trial option. You can pretend you're riding the prologue at the Tour.
Where: North Union Community Centre, Newmarket
When: Saturday, May 31, 9:00am-5:00pm
Go if... You feel the need for speed.
THE BICYCLE POLKA RIDE
Cruise around the west end listening to polka music then join new friends on Roncesvalles for Polish beer and snacks. The ride, organized by two local Cycle Toronto groups, will start at Dufferin Grove Park and loop around the neighbourhood. Polka-dot clothing is optional. Note: Rain forecast for June 11 has delayed this event by a week.
Where: Dufferin Grove Park, east side of the rink.
Wednesday, June 11, 7:15-11:00 pm. Thursday, June 19th, 7:15-11:00 pm.
Go if... you're a fan of old-timey European folk music and Polish lager.
FRENCH AND BRITISH FORTS OF TORONTO
Starting at the edge of the old Carrying Place trail, this historical tour of old Toronto forts will take in the former site of Teiagon, a 17th-century Seneca Village, Fort York, and the pair of waterfront French forts that predated the arrival of John Graves Simcoe and the British soldiers that laid the foundation for what would become the City of Toronto.
Where: Meet at Lambton House, 4066 Old Dundas St.
When: Saturday, June 14 11:00 am-1:00 pm.
Go if... history and bicycles are your jam.
CYCLE FOR SIGHT
The annual Cycle for Sight has raised over $1.6 million in support of The Foundation Fighting Blindness, the country's leading vision research charity. All of the four distance options - 75, 90, 140, and 160 kms - are whopping by casual urban cyclist standards, but the pace is casual and there are five fully stocked rest stops on the route plus a gourmet buffet at the finish line. All distances end in Collingwood.
Where: Meet at Black Creek Pioneer Village, 1000 Murray Ross Pkwy.
When: Saturday, June 21, 7:00 am-6:00 pm.
Go if... you're up for a friendly, well-organized challenge.
THE BELTLINE AND BEYOND
The old Belt Line railway looped from Union station, up the Don Valley, over Eglinton, and back down through the west end. The railway was never a financial success, but its legacy is a cycling and walking track that's almost entirely separated from the road. This guided 16 km bike ride, which is new for 2014, takes in almost the whole thing, through ravines and over lost rivers.
Where: Meet at Ben Nobleman Park, opposite Eglinton West station.
When: Saturday, June 21, 1:00-3:30 pm.
Go if... you want to learn more about one of Toronto's best off-road bike trails.
EVERGREEN BIKE WORKS BIKE FESTIVAL
The Evergreen Brick Works' first bike festival is a partnership with Sweet Pete's. Staff from the bike shop will lead an all-ages mountain bike ride along the Don Valley trails, a naturalist will talk local wildlife, and there will be a Water Balloon Rodeo in which participants must to pop as many balloons as possible. Sweet Pete's will also offer free tune-ups.
Where: Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave.
When: Sunday, June 22, 10:00-1:00 pm.
Go if... you want to experience the Don Valley trails with the help of a guide.
Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.