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January 15, 2016

Despite our protestations, winter is indeed coming friends. El Niño, that itinerant infant, has so far blessed our part of the world with unseasonably warm weather. Make no mistake however, this meteorological kindness promises to be short-lived. A brief respite before the season truly breaks.

Yes, cold weather is inevitable.

The snow will blow, pile up, narrow our bike lanes and harden our hearts. Not to be outdone, the wind will whip its way across the Great Lakes and bury itself in our bones. A chill will descend on Our Fair City. With this hellish breeze all aspirations of comfort die. As will our memories of patios, shorts and good cheer. The days are short, bleak, relentlessly grey. And the slush..... oh the slush.

Our short term outlook is grim. Our trees are playing dead. Our birds have fled. Even the sun seems less inclined to linger in our latitude.

But do not despair.

There's a way we can avoid or at least briefly interrupt this icy fate. Let us flee! Flee to warmer climes!

Hint: Head south.

Go to your local bike shop, get them to pack your bike up, and buy yourself a plane ticket to say... Cuba, California, Nicaragua, anywhere. Bring panniers, water bottles and a decent map. Pick a route, be realistic about mileage, set vague goals, whimsical objectives. Hit the open road and go bike touring!

Touring is far and away the best way to discover a new country. It is truly immersive. The sights, the sounds, all greet you unencumbered by a windshield or the whirring of engine.

Just think. The sun on your face, the breeze in your hair. Maybe there are birds chirping. Maybe they're parrots. Colourful ones. Doesn't matter. The point is birds go south in the winter and so should you.

A bicycle is the most elegant, refined exploratory vehicle ever conceived by mankind. It gets you places your feet, a car, even your boss can't go. It puts you at eye level with people around you. It simultaneously empowers and equalizes. Put rubber to the ground, start pedalling, and you'll meet people and see things that will blow your mind, I promise.


Dan Lambert is a seasoned bike mechanic and avid cyclist.  He has toured the US, Mexico, Nicaragua and his native Canada. 



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