Recently I met up with a cycling couple on the Julian Wash who were coasting back from a long ride. Bryan and Donna-Marie “DM” Bowers travel from eastern Canada during the winter to come and ride The Loop and Mount Lemmon in Tucson.
When their children were young they would pack up bikes, gear, kids and pedal around the Great Lakes region. They would go as far as they could during the time they had. They appear to be a family that was bitten by the bike bug.
When their son, Bryson, declared that he wanted to be a professional bike racer, they did what all good soccer, er, bike parents do, they got behind their son’s aspirations 100%. They became active in helping to make the dream a reality and were involved with a racing team from their local community for years.
There were exciting adventures. Pro or pre-season races would take them to North American locations as well as overseas to exotic locales such as Taiwan or Australia, to name a few. Dad, Bryan, would act as support during races. Bryan and DM would make sure that all equipment made it to the next race by driving gear and bikes across country. Meanwhile the team would fly to the next racing events. Bryan and DM would criss-cross the US several times during the racing season.
The Bowers live on a lake in Hartington, Ontario, Canada, that is snowed in at this point in the season. Biking is a first choice for commuting. Bryan is an all-year-round commuter and bikes in -30/c (-22/f) weather. “The colder the better” he says when he pedals ~19/km (~12/miles) to their nearest town. In so doing, Bryan firmly believes he is doing his part to help slow down global warming by getting one more car off the road.
Similar to the United States, Canada has some progressive biking communities and some deterioration of infrastructure. In Toronto a recent “cycling war”, as Bryan called it, pitted suburban car commuters vs. urban bike commuters. The former mayor of Toronto caved to the car owners and removed some bike lanes in the downtown area. Now it seems as if the pendulum may be swinging back and bike paths and lanes are being re-introduced. There are cities that meter ridership, such as the Galloping Goose in Victoria, BC and display real-time counts of bicyclists using the path.
In addition to biking in the US Southwest, the Bowers have also traveled internationally. Next on their bucket list they hope to cycle Iowa’s RAGBRAI and travel to Copenhagen Denmark because of the safety and the active transportation lifestyle. They also plan to explore Cuba from the saddle at a leisurely pace.
Their advice for biking around Tucson: “be cautious.” They say that there are a lot of bike lanes on the main streets but that car speeds are too high. They enjoy riding The Loop and challenging themselves with the hill climbs at Mount Lemmon. While practicing hill climbs recently they saw the Junior El Tour de Tucson youth group doing practice runs on Mount Lemmon. They were impressed with the diversity of young people taking up the sport of bicycling.
As DM explains it, “I was a runner and I still am, but, now I really love biking too and now we do it because we both enjoy it. We always look forward to coming back to the Old Pueblo.”