Vancouver Bike Show reflects city's passion
Nothing says spring like groups of cyclists out for the first rolling jaunt of the season on a level dike trail or in a regional park. Another sure sign is this weekend's (March 19 and 20) Vancouver Bike Show, which returns to the Vancouver Convention Centre after a hiatus of several years.
Show organizer Robin Harvey couldn't be more pleased. When reached by phone at her North Vancouver office, Harvey told the Georgia Straight that she is building on the efforts of Richard Juryn, who organized a string of cycle expositions at B.C. Place.
“Since Richard's death, no one stepped in to keep up the momentum,” Harvey said. “My goal this year is to bring all elements of the local bike community—manufacturers, bike shops, advocacy groups, university programs—back into the fold, with representatives from across the spectrum.”
Given her background as a director with the North Shore Mountain Bike Association and the Sea to Sky Trail Society, as well as her role as a consultant with Capilano University's mountain-bike-operations certificate program, Harvey is a natural to reintroduce a cycling component into the annual Outdoor Adventure & Travel Show, with which the Vancouver Bike Show is partnered.
“There was no bike element at last year's outdoors show,” Harvey explained. “Organizers heard lots of comments asking where it was. My aim is to make this B.C.'s ultimate cycling event. After all, when you look at the state of cycling in Vancouver, I truly feel we're a community now where everyone owns at least one bike. We're naturally encouraged by the environment. Rain or shine, you'll see people out biking. The more people we can get on bikes, the better.”
Harvey said a major purchasing shift has occurred during the past few years, in which the majority of bikes sold have been commuter models rather than mountain bikes. “I'm a big proponent of alternative transportation, and I think we've found it here, especially with three local mayors—Vancouver's Gregor Robertson, North Vancouver District's Richard Walton, and North Vancouver's Darrell Mussatto—who commute to work on two wheels.”
Pioneering downhill mountain-bike racer Elladee Brown agreed with Harvey's assessment. Reached by phone, the long-time industry insider told the Straight that hybrid
commuter bikes are the biggest sellers by far. “The seats and handlebar height and braking systems are all more comfortable now,” she said. “The technology of frames has changed so much as well—they're more stable, and the shifting systems are more intuitive. One thing I'm really looking forward to demonstrating at the show is Shimano's new electronic shifters for road bikes.”
Brown was equally excited about the recent appearance in North America of run bikes for toddlers. “This European innovation does away with training wheels and gets kids on bikes almost as soon as they can walk. These pedal-less models put the fun back into riding for
parents and encourage everyone to keep on cycling. The bike isn't going anywhere. It's here to stay.”
Brown will be overseeing the Shimano youth series for children aged three to eight during the show. “Legendary mountain-bike freeriders Wade Simmons and Thomas Vanderham will lead out the kids' race,” Brown enthused. “This is just another example of how hot cycling is, not only on a national level but just as much locally. From the Whistler Mountain Bike Park to the GranFondo [Whistler] to the B.C. Bike Race to Ryder Hesjedal's new Tour de Victoria, we're the focal point in all cycling magazines around the world. You can't pick up a copy
without seeing a story and images from somewhere in B.C.”
Another cycling event taking centre stage at the bike show has a more serious purpose. Spearheaded by Willie Cromack, co-owner of John Henry Bikes in North Vancouver, the objective of Cyclebetes is to raise funds for juvenile diabetes research. Twenty spin-bike stations will be set up gym-style. People are invited to hop on a spinner—a stationary bike with its back wheel mounted on rollers—or simply donate money.
“I've been fundraising for 19 years,” Cromack told the Straight. “When I get someone to buy a bike, I'm helping our health system with some preventive medicine. As an industry, we can make an impact by getting more people riding and being healthy into their 60s and beyond.”
Asked why he works so hard to fundraise, the 38-year-old cited a high-school friend's daughter who has juvenile diabetes. “I'm thankful to have three kids, all of whom are healthy. I also don't want to be a whiner about our health-care system. My dad suffers from Crohn's disease. I want to see him walk into a hospital without having to wait for treatment because someone else hasn't taken care of themselves. That's why I originally started spinning events in the store in 2005.”
Meanwhile, if you're just feeling the spring itch to hop on a bike, Harvey promises “a rocking good time” to everyone who drops by the convention centre.
“It's the start of school break and the first weekend of spring,” she said. “What a way to kick off the bike season.”