by Janice Lockyer
Winter is cold, slippery and often, even the most reasonable driver is in a foul mood, but cold weather and fear of mortal injury do not stop Marc Heckmann or Maxime Troie.
The members of QPIRG's Right to Move group have made an environmental decision to ride no matter what the weather. They shared their winter skills and zest for cycling in
a series of workshops held in late January.
"People think it's crazy, but it's not," said Heckmann, who has been winter cycling for three years. "They think, 'Oh, it's too cold,' but once they start to ride, they find it's actually quite warm."
Amid a bevy of bike tools, Heckmann and Troie demonstrated correct winter protection procedure. It was a ballet of bike mechanics as they talked about grease and its vital role in bike maintenance.
"Keeping your bike properly greased is one of the most important things you can do to save your bike," said Troie, demonstrating proper handlebar greasing. "Calcium and resin are always present on the street."
Talk of well-kept derailers and brakes brought a visible glow to the instructors' faces. The experts also instructed on proper attire, correct leaning procedures and how to remain upright on an unexpected patch of ice.
"You have to keep your body upright as much as possible," Heckmann said. "Keep your weight on the outside pedal."
If you're not certain about road conditions, Heckmann suggested you ride slowly and test the road by slowly applying the brakes. If the bike loses traction, beware -- there is ice.
The workshop stressed that winter cycling is a viable solution to other, less attractive forms of transportation. "The métro is hot and depressing," Heckmann told one student. "On a bike, you're out in the cool, refreshing air."
Troie believes cycling could save you from the flu virus. After all, you don't have hundreds of people "spitting in your face" at every turn. And if done correctly, with the proper care and maintenance, these winter gurus say cycling can be the easiest way to get around. There's no shovelling and you're rarely stuck in traffic.
There is just one note of caution: beware of car doors. Heckmann and Troie suggested sticking closer to the centre of the road. It's dryer, and your bike will thank you later.
Cycling is a year-round alternative for all Right to Move members. The non-hierarchical organization, operating out of the basement of the Political Science building, holds a variety of workshops throughout the year aimed at showing the bike in a new light.
The group also takes in old bikes, reconditions and resells them for a modest fee. These activities are all a part of the plan to make bikes an acceptable and accessible alternative form of transportation.
"It's about empowerment," said Lys Stevens, one of two active female members. "It has a lot to do with self-reliance, with having the skills in your own hands to be able to be self-sufficient with what you have."
If you're interested in winter cycling and want to immerse yourself in cycology, contact Right to Move through QPIRG at 848-7585, or visit www.cug.concordia.ca/~qpirg/rtm