It brings together all of my favorite things – food, friends, travel, and biking, of course.
Once a year I organize an event called Bike Around The World. I invite a large group of girlfriends, and several hosts are selected from that group, usually 6 or 7. Each host picks a country and then prepares snack foods and drinks that would be typically served in that country. The remaining guests team up with a host to help share the cost and work involved with feeding a crowd.
On the day of the event, we hop on our bicycles and proceed to travel from house to house, eating and drinking all the way. We take all afternoon and evening to do it, staying about an hour at each stop before moseying on to the next one. By the end of the day, we've had our fill of all my favorite things – great food, great company, international travel, cycling – and it's a wonderful feeling.
This past weekend was our 2019 ride. The event was spread between two towns, located about 6 kilometres apart. We rode to the first stop along a packed gravel rail trail, then returned to the other town by way of a paved waterfront path. Stops included India (samosas), Canada (maple syrup cupcakes), Greece (baklava), Jamaica (mango coleslaw, coconut cake), Argentina (churros and grilled chicken with chimichurri), and Turkey, hosted by yours truly (stuffed grape leaves, grilled kofte, Turkish pizzas, dumplings).
Every year the event gets bigger, as more people want to be a part of it. They haul their bicycles out from storage sheds and basements and tune them up in preparation for this ride. For some of the girls, it's their first ride of the season, and it often serves as an impetus to continue riding throughout the summer. Several have told me that it has encouraged them to start biking again, that it's reminded them that they're not too old to use it as a form of transportation.
As someone who bikes all the time, and often feels very alone while doing so, this event feels like a meaningful political statement. There's power and safety in numbers and cars are forced to reckon with us cyclists in a way they usually do not. They slow down more, give us a wider berth, are reminded to share the road. I think of it as a small-town version of big city Critical Mass rides, a rare chance to assert our two-wheeled claim to the road.
The event is as much about the bike ride as it is about the food. Perhaps most importantly it's a reminder of just how fun riding one's bike can be, and the more fun we can have on our bikes, the more inclined we will be to use them.