Cycling is single-handedly my favourite way of keeping fit – it’s like working out without actually working out because it’s so damn enjoyable. I love it so much that I can’t image not having my wheels. When I see rain in the forecast, I actually feel sad that it might be too rainy to cycle. You get the drift…I live my bike.
Where did this love affair start? I still remember my first “adult” bike. It was a purple 10 speed road bike much like the one featured below. At the time, my family lived in the suburbs of Toronto and I biked to middle school each day – I can still visualize the path I took.
No matter where I’ve lived or traveled, I normally get my hiney on a bicycle pretty quickly. In 2006 I moved back to Japan and was placed in a super remote town – see this prior post for more on that. Within a week of arriving in Japan, I went out to the local grocery store and bought myself what they call a “mamachari” – the type functional bike that enables Japanese people to use it as a method of transportation for doing chores like groceries and carting children around (see the photo below taken in Tokyo outside a Starbucks).
I’ve cycled in Korea, India, Vietnam, India, Argentina, England The United States, and Uruguay. It literally takes you off the beaten and gives the rider a very unique opportunity to see each region with enhanced lenses. Peddling through back alleys in India I got to see how they get their water:
In Vietnam, I putted along dirt roads and found some amazing beaches that weren’t outlined in my Lonely Planet:
In Uruguay, I stumbled upon a movie being filmed:
But what about here, right at home in Toronto? I’ve surprised myself over the past few months by forgetting that you don’t need to go far to see, hear, taste, and smell new cultures.
When I commute from work to school I get to travel along the densely populated street of Eglinton for a stretch of about 7 km’s. I start off in Eglinton West, also referred to as Little Jamaica (the star of our journey!) where it’s bustling with activity and amazing smells from all the Carribean restaurants – some are cooking right out on the sidewalk.
It’s not just food you’ll be treated to…regae music is pumping and there are hair salons galore along with a ton of beauty supply stores. Check out little Jamaica by cycling up to Eglinton anywhere between Keele and Dufferin.
If you’re heading West to East along Eglinton, once you hit Dufferin you’ve moved from Little Jamaica to Fairbanks Village. It’s a small little village with lots of amenities like Shoppers Drug Mart and Dollarama, but also a melee of cool Portuguese, Italian, Caribbean, and Filipino restaurants.
Continuing East, there is a bit of a no-mans land between Oakwood and just past the Allen Expressway until you reach The Upper Village which spans between the Allen and Bathurst. The Upper Village is the North part of one of Toronto’s most posh areas (notice the number of Mercedes and Jags driving around), Forrest Hill but is also largely Jewish and you’ll notice several synagogues which are architecturally quite beautiful. There are lots of nice clothing stores, coffee shops, bagel stores (check out St. Urbaine), and restaurants.
Once you’ve passed Bathurst you’re entering The Eglinton Way which runs basically from Bathurst to Yonge. There are a boat load of clothing stores, bakeries, and posh hair salons! There is nothing really all that special about this stretch but if you’re on a bike, enjoy the long downhill stretch that takes you all the way to Yonge Street.
No matter where you live, hop on your bike and explore your neighbourhood and city. Just remember to go SLOW and be safe!
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