Given the popularity of cycling in our city, it’s a small wonder that the idea of Bike to Work Week first gained traction in Greater Victoria.
It all started in 1995 when a group of avid commuter cyclists committed themselves to raising the profile of commuter cycling. They planned Bike to Work Week and managed to attract about 500 participants.
The group forged on, and today are a registered not-for-profit organization and part of the larger Bike to Work B.C. It’s been 21 years since the idea first took form, and in 2016 the concept had spread nation-wide. In Victoria, more than 600 teams and more than 6,500 participants registered to participate.
Organizers anticipate 2017 will see even more people take on the challenge of commuter cycling during Bike to Work and School Week, May 29 to June 4, and make the ride the beginning of a fundamental lifestyle change.
One of those cyclists, Mike Gonzales, owner of the Old Spaghetti Factory, is looking forward to the event not only because it helps promote a healthy lifestyle but, in his case, it also appeals to his sense of competition and fun.
This year, Gonzales is one of several riders who participated in a challenge component of Bike to Work Week in which registered riders pair off against well-known Victorians to race from Uptown Mall to the Ride to Work Week celebration station located at Blanshard and Fort streets.
Gonzales rode his bike against Tourism Victoria president and CEO Paul Nursey, who drove his car.
“The entire race took nine minutes for me, and we managed to dispel the myth that travel by car is faster,” Gonzales said after the race.
“I actually got to the celebration station a full three minutes before Paul, who had to find a parking spot before he made his way to the finish line on foot.”
Gonzales said organizers had previously told him that the cyclists tend to win the challenge 80 per cent of the time and he was pleased to reinforce those results.
Gonzales, who doesn’t describe himself as an avid cyclist, rides his bike to work periodically. He anticipates those rides will increase this summer, though, as he has been chosen to participate in the 2017 Tour de Rock.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time on my bike lately with all the training we’ve been doing,” he said.