5 Things I’ve Learned Riding a Bike in Vancouver

Being a new cyclist in the greater Vancouver area, I’ve learned a lot about cycling around the city these past couple of weeks. So I wanted to share with you today, some of the things I’ve learned if you’re thinking of starting to ride a bike (even as fall rolls around!) or if you’re planning to rent a bike when you come to the city for a visit.

1) Bike lanes – Unlike Toronto, where I’m from, bike lanes in Vancouver are legit. Every bike lane is clearly indicated at the top of street signs. Some of the bike lanes are also painted in green, reminding drivers that they are not allowed on that area of the road. Additionally, a lot of the bike lanes here in Vancouver are separated either with cones, plants or even a cement median, thus protecting cyclists even further when biking around town. To get a full cycling map of the downtown core, go here and for the North Shore go here.

2) The hills are alive – If you’re like me and you’ve never really biked up hills before, be prepared to be doing a lot of uphill climbs. No matter where you are in the city or on the North Shore, the hills will have you sweating up a storm. That said, what goes up must come down, so the downhill rides are always that much sweeter. In all honesty, I’ve stopped or even walked my bike a couple of times when I couldn’t pedal anymore, it definitely takes some getting used to but it’ll make you that much stronger!

3) Relationship with cars – I’ve found that compared to a LOT of other cities across North America, a cyclist’s relationship with automobile traffic in Vancouver is a lot more pleasant (most of the time!) than it is in other places. There’s an awareness here that isn’t present in most parts of the country and because so many drivers are also cyclists, I think it makes a huge difference in their attitudes towards you and your bike. That said, buses and cabs are still the scariest, so definitely always be vigilant when riding around town. I’ve learned that the best thing to do is be VERY visible and loud. Invest in bright lights for your bike, a good bell and even a reflective vest or clothing. MEC has a ton of options for you to choose from, including the vest below.

4) You need rain gear – It’s inevitable, no matter how sunny it is right now, if you’re coming to Vancouver and planning on biking or hoping to bike well into fall and winter (which is very doable, as temperatures stay quite warm all-year-round!), you’ll want to invest in rain gear, or else cycling won’t be nearly as enjoyable. Since I’ve been commuting with my bike to and from work, I know that I will soon have to invest in proper slacks and jacket to protect me from the rain. Luckily, MEC has a ton of cool and reasonably priced items like these waterproof pants priced at $69 that can definitely do the trick.

5) Get to know your bike – I’ve never owned a brand new bike before and never really cared much for learning about bikes. But when I got my new bike from MEC, I was able to learn a ton about how my bike worked, how to take it apart, how to pump up its tires, etc. Whether your bike is from MEC or not, you can easily bring it in the store and not only get a tune up and bike parts but also get some education about cycling and your bike in general from one of their store experts. MEC even has cycling clinics and events that you can register for (check them out here). That way, you can ride around the city having all of the knowledge necessary for a safe ride. Plus, in times of crisis, you can always resort to YouTube tutorials. I did just that the other day for my back tire and I got it all figured out.

Safe riding everyone!

SPINCO

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People in Toronto LOVE their spin studios. Spinning has become the latest trend to hit the 6ix. Though a little behind American cities like Los Angeles and New York, the spin craze has hit the city hard since the beginning of 2016. The latest and greatest studio to open up on the city is SPINCO, located at Yonge and Eglington.

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Originally from Kelowna, the brand new Toronto studio is their second location and they are planning on opening up a third in November in Victoria, BC. As for what separates SPINCO from other spin studios, their founder Michelle August explains “SPINCO’S experience is one of a kind, from the moment you walk through our doors to the last sweat dripping pedal stroke. Magic happens in that room and we see it leak into our riders and into our community, once the momentum starts it’s impossible to stop,” she says, while adding, “Our instructors go through an extensive training over the course of a number of months. We want every rider to have the confidence in all of our instructors, to have the ability to take any class knowing they are going to get a killer workout, knowing there instructor is filled with fire and ready to push them through there 50mins of work… It’s basically a party on a bike.” 

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SPINCO is all about building a community of riders and cycle enthusiast in the city and have already partnered up with a local favorite Peace Collective on a cool collaboration. “By joining forces we think we can make a major impact in some lives of underprivileged children. Aside from our clothing, our main focus as partners will be our ‘Spin-It-Forward’ classes, happening every Monday night at 6:30pm. Spin-It-Forward is a class by donation with 100% of the proceeds in support of the Peace Foundation. Peace Foundation supports the Boys and girls Clubs of Canada in providing weekly access to recreational sports to Canadian children,” explains Michelle.

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In addition to great cycle classes, riders will also be able to fuel up pre and post-class with some healthy juices, smoothies and bowls made from local companies.

So next time you’re looking to get your cycle fix, try out the new SPINCO studio!

Want to know more? Check them out here.

#SPOKECHELLA x CAMH

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There’s a great event happening on Friday in Toronto that I wanted to share with you all today. As some of you may know, I took part in CAMH‘s campaign for mental health One Brave Night in the spring. I’m excited to share with you today a special event that will be taking place at the end of the week with CAMH and Toronto’s top spin club and one of my personal favorites – SPOKEHAÜS.

They are teaming up together for a special #SPOKECHELLA x CAMH bike ride, the biggest outdoor ride in the city! The ride will be taking place on The Brainstation x Quantum Coffee Co. Patio at 12pm and 5:30pm. 100% of the proceeds from the ride will go directly to CAMH – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

SPOKEHAÜS’ founder and lead instructor Christine Tessaro will be there, so will special guest singer/songwriter Madeline Merlo, who will be on-site to sing “War Paint” live for the ride home, a song inspired by standing up for loved ones who are struggling with mental health).

There are still some tickets left for Friday’s special #SPOKECHELLA x CAMH ride so make sure you sign up for a great time and great cause! Tickets available here.

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Top 3 Summer Workouts – SPOKEHAÜS

PAM_0693Opened just a few months ago, Spokehaüs has without a doubt become one of my favorite places to sweat in the city. Located on Dan Leckie Way, this modern and cool cycle studio has built a great community of spin enthusiats in just a few months.

PAM_0666The classes and instructors always offer fresh and cool new playlists to ride along to. Not one class is the same but no matter what class you take, you always end up sweating your butt off. It’s probably one of the only places in the city that will get me up on a Saturday or Sunday morning just because of how great I feel once I leave the studio.

PAM_0682In addition to regular classes, the studio is doing more and more events. They had their first ever HIGHRIDE a few weeks ago, a special riding event with glow sticks, candy and serious beats. They’ll be doing these kinds of events once a month, so stay tuned for future HIGHRIDES!

The 45 minutes of riding will go by in a flash and will have you feeling great all day!

PAM_0597Great gear and a proper riding hairstyle are two musts for me when I ride. The last thing I want is hair in my face when I’m sweating profusely.

PAM_0608Notes from the hairstylist:

A Spinning Topknot
“Take your topknot to a new level. I added two dutch braids, tied Mel’s hair into a high ponytail and instead of leaving it loose, I put it into a topknot so that it wouldn’t be in her way while she’s giving it her all in class. Putting all of your hair up helps with not having so many knots, tangle, and keeps the frizz down too 😉 I also just wrapped the ends of her dutch braids around the topknot to make it look pretty. Why not have pretty hair while you workout?!”

Photos: Pam Lau
Hair: Cabello by Carolina
Makeup: Michelle Gardin

What I’m wearing: Nike Pro Hypercool Frequency Women’s Training Capris (get them here), Nike Pro Hypercool Frequency Women’s Training Tank Top (get it here), Garneau Women’s Multi Air Flex Cycling Shoes (get them here).

SPOKEHAÜS

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Opened less than a month ago, Toronto’s brand new cycle studio SPOKEHAÜS brings some much needed energy and variety to Toronto’s spin scene.

This bright and airy modern spin studio is located right in downtown Toronto. The space is small but makes the most of its size. You will find a full changing room for both men and women equipped with showers, mirrors, sinks and great beauty & hair products for post-workout. The space is also equipped with lockers and cubbyholes for boots and additional personal items.

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The studio itself is lined with brand new state of the art SCHWINN bikes. There are 35 bikes in the space (which makes it just a tad crammed, especially when comes time for arm exercises and stretching) set up like a typical spin studio. Big candles are also lit on the podium where the instructor rides.

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Classes are taught by a handful of instructors, all of whom offer a completely different style and selection of music. SPOKEHAÜS has 9 different instructors currently teaching classes at the studio. Classes are offered in the morning, at lunch and in the evening. Up to 5 classes are taught every day and each class lasts 45mins.

I had the chance to check out a class with the founder of the space Christine Tessaro as well as with Derek Friday. Both had unique ways of teaching and breaking down the class. Depending on the class and instructor, you will do a variety of drills through choreographed movements that will result in a full-body cardio workout. The classes will work out your core, legs, butt, arms and heart.

It’s hard not to compare the classes I’ve taken at SPOKEHAÜS with classes I’ve taken in Los Angeles at SoulCycle and Cycle House (which are my two favorites!) and other spin studios across North America. I think SPOKEHAÜS has all the ingredients needed to become a successful studio.

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Everyone at the studio is incredibly friendly and welcoming. They will provide you with shoes (if you don’t already have your own) and will help you set up your bike. It’s the perfect place to workout, whether you’re new at the sport or a seasoned veteran. You will sweat up a storm, I guarantee it!

For more info on SPOKEHAÜS, go here. They are located at 70 Dan Leckie Way, Toronto.

What I’m wearing: Industry Active The Elevate Bra (more info here), Industry Active Streamline Compression Pant (more info here).