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In Conversation with Michelle Mulder of Pedal it!

Tell our readers a little bit about your book Pedal it!

Pedal It! How Bicycles Are Changing the World is a book for kids and bike enthusiasts of all ages. In writing it, I wanted to share my passion for the simplicity of this life-changing machine, through colourful photos, fun facts, history, science, and quirky anecdotes from around the world. I've also included snippets about my own life in a car-free family, so that’s in there, too.

Pedal It! In Conversation with Michelle Mulder

What inspired you to live a life in Victoria without car ownership and begin a lifestyle by bike?

I learned to drive when I was 16, but I’ve never owned a car. In university, I didn’t need one because everywhere I wanted to go was a short bike ride away. Later, during a cycling trip from Vancouver to St. John’s (Newfoundland and Labrador), I realized that no distance is too far to ride if you give yourself enough time. Over the years, I lived in Boston, Halifax, and Montreal without a car, and when I arrived in Victoria, it didn’t occur to me to buy one. I love living in a place with plenty of cycling routes and where I can cycle all year round. This is my idea of paradise!

In Conversation with Michelle Mulder

Has having children changed how you get around by bike?

My daughter’s four, and she’s been traveling around with us on bicycles since her head fit a helmet (around 11 months). During her first winter of cycling, we bought a bakfiets and built a canopy for it so she could be warm, toasty and dry, no matter what the weather. In dry weather, she rides on a seat behind me, and this spring, we look forward to using a trail-a-bike for the first time.

How would you describe your cycle style?

In winter, I'm wearing a rain cape that keeps my whole body dry, and in summer, I wear whatever keeps me cool. Either way, I've got on a light or two. 

Where is your favourite place to ride your bicycle with or without the kids?

I love riding along Dallas Road, from James Bay to Oak Bay Marina. I love the smell and sound of the ocean, and the inevitability of seeing someone I know to stop and chat with. I also love the hills. On a summer night, if you hear a cyclist singing at the top of her lungs as she soars down a hill, it may well be me.

What’s your secret for cycling in rainy weather and keeping your personal cycle style?

I think cycling in the rain is a question of preparation. I feel alive and strong when I’m on a bicycle, and even more so in the rain. With a  rain cape, good gloves, and a nice pair of boots, I stay just as warm and dry as if I’d traveled any other way, and I arrive in a bicycle-enhanced mood.

Do you have any cycling tips for women who want to start cycling but haven't made it on to two wheels yet?

Small steps. Get a comfortable bicycle. Start pedaling in a place where you feel secure. Maybe ask a friend to join you. (People who love cycling are delighted to encourage beginners!) Start slow, keep going, and add a bit more with each ride. Above all, approach cycling with excitement and curiosity. It’s a wonderful way to travel.

Friends cycling: Image courtesy: Amsterdam Cycle Chic

Can you tell our readers about your sweet ride? And does she have a story?

I have two bicycles. One I use for fun and solo trips, and the other—the bakfiets (box bike) is for keeping my daughter dry and for hauling all sorts of bizarre and surprising items. I first saw a bakfiets when I was traveling in the Netherlands and Denmark. I never dreamed I’d have one until a friend told me about a store in Calgary that was selling them second-hand. I bought mine, sight-unseen, and have never looked back. My bakfiets has helped me move: a garden’s worth of plants from our old house to our new one; an overflowing apple harvest from trees around the city; stacks of books; our Christmas tree; a chest of drawers from a free pile down the street, among other things. Basically, it’s a bicycle with a passenger seat that converts to a trunk, and we’re the motor. How empowering is that!?

Thanks for the great chat Michelle! It was a pleasure getting to know you a bit better. We love your cycling tips for beginner riders and we think they are spot on.

Michelle Mulder lives in beautiful Victoria, BC. When not riding around with her family and enjoying life by the sea, you'll find her writing children stories. You can connect with Michelle on her author website

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Pedal It! How Bicycles Are Changing the World


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