By Amy Walker
Photography: David Niddrie
Romina Wendell is a musician, writer, event organizer and nexialist* who is currently working as the Food Security Coordinator for the Sunshine Coast of BC. She finds joy in the journey and she always makes an impression in the landscape, whether it is on two wheels, or two turntables. Over the years, Romina’s creative approach has led to interesting jobs and projects, including a pedal-powered lunch delivery service with a Workman’s tricycle. We caught up with Romina Wendell over a hot beverage in Vancouver’s Gastown.
Tell us how you came to start the “cycle deli.”
My friend Eric came back from Central America and gave a slide show about a recycling project using bicycles. I had a eureka moment and I thought, “I’ll deliver bread early in the morning by bicycle on one of these Workman tricycles.” It evolved into a bicycle lunch delivery service, called Romina’s Original Cycle Deli Co. We said, “Forget the hike, call the bike.” So people who were stuck in offices and couldn’t get out for lunch would call and we’d deliver lunch by bicycle. It was all vegetarian but we didn’t advertise it as such. Within a month we had regular customers and government bookings. We’d guarantee that you would get your meal in 20 minutes or it was free. I always made it in time. I had buns of steel by the end of working that job. I used to knit through the alleys like a courier would, but that bike was a big thing with a cooler in it. The fact that I didn’t take out somebody’s car or another bike was a miracle.
How long have you been biking to get around?
All my life. I learned to ride when I was five or six. I don’t drive, and I have always had a bicycle.
Was it a conscious decision not to drive?
I remember when I was becoming 16, my grandmother said, “Your mother might get a new car. Would you want her old car?” I had bigger things in mind. I wanted to go travelling, and I couldn’t see spending money and energy on that. It didn’t appeal to me. It wasn’t a political decision. There was no bike culture. It was just, “No, that doesn’t interest me right now.” It just wasn’t in my mindset.
How often do you ride and what do you use your bike for?
I ride about once a day in Roberts Creek on the Sunshine Coast. I use my bike to get from point A to point B – it’s not something I do for fitness.
Do you have a favourite bike gadget or accessory?
My Thermos. You’re the queen of all you survey with a hot beverage in your hand. Having hot tea that you made yourself, to enjoy anywhere; you’re self-sufficient - not looking around for a coffee shop. You can have it at the park, waiting for the bus or the ferry, or under the eaves on a rainy day. You have that little hot chocolate or something, and you feel good. The Thermos and the bike; they belong together.