My parents were wonderfully supportive of cycling – every year or two my dad would produce a bicycle he had scouted out at a garage sale, or gotten from a neighbour. They were lovingly disassembled, cleaned up and repainted, and then put through the motions until they were outgrown. My mom would cruise along with us on a vintage Raleigh road bike, with a rack and a milk crate on the back for all our snacks and gear. I would watch her effortlessly zooming down hills and think “I’m going to have a road bike someday!”.
When I had reached my full height I was given a budget of $500 for a new bike. I knew I wanted to continue my commuter-type riding in Scarborough, and would probably continue to use my bicycle as transportation when I went away to univeristy, which was only a few years away. I chose a steel-framed hybrid by Canadian maunfacturer Norco. My brother was given the same option, and he selected a mountain bike. Occasionally, I would wish I had gone that route as well, when I was trying to follow him on singletrack adventures, but the Norco was my trusty steed for nearly 20 years and it was a bittersweet day when I finally rehomed it and replaced it with a more modern commuter setup.
The next step in my cycling story was meeting my husband, who was an avid cyclist and racer. We bonded over our love of bicycles, and once again I found myself chasing after someone on a road bike wishing I had that kind of efficiency. Mike introduced me to the concept of n+1, and helped me select a road bike with the small amount of money I had leftover from working as a summer research assistant. I needed the money for my share of our rent, but Mike was more than happy to cover a bit more in order to feed a burgeoning cycling addiction!
I had a lot of cycling firsts with my trusty Opus… first road bike, first metric century, first time with clipless pedals, first proper bonk, and first overnight cycling trip (the century, bonk and overnight trip all being on the same weekend)! We would pack our bikes into the car and take them out to ride in the country when we visited Mike’s parents, or to cruise around the streets and park systems of Toronto. Then we moved to Newfoundland so I could pursue a master’s degree and although I tried to commute and do a bit of touring, I found the weather and lack of cycling infrastructure challenging there. I got out less and less, and for about a year, the Opus got little use, in favour of some epic backcountry camping.
After Newfoundland, we spent a year in Taiwan, which is an absolute cycling mecca. Home to Giant Bicycles, we both purchased new rides to allow us to take advantage of the pristine pavement. Mike upgraded to a carbon road bike, while I went the more touring style, as I hadn’t discovered the joys of racing yet. It was in Taiwan I learned a lot more about fit, discovering that my Opus back in Canada was a tad too large and that a bike can truly feel like an extension of yourself when it is fit correctly. My Defy fit like a dream, and there was no question I wanted to keep riding it. So when we left Taiwan, we boxed up our bicycles and brought them with us back to Canada.