Photo courtesy of Shift Cargo Delivery
Robyn Ashwell of ShiftRobyn Ashwell enjoys a sunny delivery before the winter wet arrives.
I recently caught up with co-op trike rider Robyn Ashwell of Shift Urban Cargo Delivery to see how she handles winter biking in Vancouver, BC. Shift makes deliveries 365 days a year, in all weather. The co-op's cargo boxes are weather-proof, so the goods they carry stay safe and dry. The "trikers" all have good rain gear and split their shifts during the winter season so that they are only out for four to six hours.
How many winters have you been riding in Vancouver?
Shift is part way into our second winter. Personally, I have been riding a bicycle in Vancouver for 3 winters, this is my fourth.
What challenges do you experience riding in winter?
One of the biggest challenges is to get out of bed in the morning when I can hear the rain outside. Once I'm on the road, I dislike when my feet get wet. I don't like being sprayed by cars. Another challenge is the slippery conditions when it freezes or snows. Fortunately, our Shift trikes handle very well in winter conditions. We were stressed leading up to our first winter snow last year, but were very pleased to discover that our trikes handle well.
What do you like about winter riding?
I feel a sense of satisfaction and pride to be out in the winter weather. Suited up in my rain gear, with rain splashing my face, it is no longer daunting: riding makes me feel exuberant. I often sing while I ride and smile at people I pass. People’s reactions are another thing: they're surprised and confused that I'm not sullen and seem glad to see me so cheerful. I'd like to think it makes people question their own feelings about what can be done in the rain. I especially like how my face glows and I feel exhilarated after a winter ride: arriving home, stripping off my rain pants and coat, and having a cup of tea I really feel I've earned.
What is your must-have gear for winter riding?
Rain pants are essential. And wool socks.
What are some funny things people have said to you along the way?
"Sometimes I'm jealous that you get to spend your day outdoors, but not today!"
"Is it still raining?" (Yes, that's why there’s a drip running over the tip of my nose.)
"You brought THAT on a bike?!"
What are your best winter riding tips?
Keep your brakes well-tuned. Take it easy on corners. Use bike lights, even during the day!