Back in the Saddle!

This week is Bike to Work Week, and I have a confession to make. Today is my first day ever biking to work.

I know! I know! I work for an environmental organization! We are in an office building that has bike parking AND showers for cyclists. Trust me – I’m all for sustainable transportation, I love cycling, and I grew up riding my bike all over Toronto. I was a Tour Leader on the MS Society bike tours by age 12. But then in high school, I got arthritis and I had to give up cycling for a long time.

My arthritis has been under control for a while now, and all the excitement around Bike to Work Week this year was the final push I needed to get back in the saddle. It turns out it was a great idea. I live in Ottawa, pretty close to downtown, and work at the Sierra Club Canada Foundation office next to the Rideau Centre. It was a straightforward ride in traffic, felt about a million times faster than taking the bus, and felt way more efficient than walking. That old expression “like riding a bike” exists for a reason. It’s a skill you never really lose, and even if it gets rusty, it comes back to you really quickly.

I chose to ride through downtown traffic because I’m experienced, but if you’re not, and want to give it a try, Ottawa has lots of bike paths that are perfect for beginners. Just make sure you have a bell and reflectors, and if you plan to be out near or after dark, you’ll need lights too. You can find more info on cycling in Ontario here.

I really can’t recommend it enough – and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I’m not an athletic person, I’m not in the best of shape (though admittedly I’m not in really bad shape either), and I have arthritis. If I can do it, you probably can too! It feels good – both because you’re being active, and because you’re doing something good for the environment.


Safe travels!
Gabriela Rappell
SYC Director