Spokesmama’s Lisa Corriveau

December 6, 2017

Today’s feature is a cycling mama of 2, pedaling her way in and around Vancouver. Talk about a woman who inspires… snow, rain, slush, nothing can hold this family back! I am thrilled to introduce to you, Lisa Corriveau of Spokesmama! (Thinking I may need to plan a trip to B.C. just so I can buy her a cup of coffee and geek out on all things bike!)
Location:  Vancouver, BC
What kind of bike do you ride? Lots! Mainly a Bakfiets.NL long, a Brompton M6R, & an old Diamondback hybrid. Occasionally our Yuba Mundo longtail or my single speed Pure City step through, or my friend’s old Cannondale road bike.
What is your preferred style of riding?  I ride mainly for transportation–getting the kids to school, commuting to work, getting groceries, etc, though I also teach bike education, so I bike around with small groups of kids & adults at work too. I do like to go fast & I’m thinking about getting into long distance sport type riding, so I’ve borrowed a friend’s road bike (with drop bars & skinny tires & everything) with the idea that I might do the Whistler Gran Fondo in a year or so.
How long have you been riding?  I got my training wheels off at age four & looooooved biking as a child. It wasn’t really transportation then, though, & each year I biked less until high school, when I almost never did. When I was in university I realized that biking might be faster than taking the bus to my part time job & I got hooked again after that. Cycling has been my main form of transportation for almost 20 years now.
What got you into cycling?  It was mainly to save time & money, in my early 20s. Over the years I’ve realized how many other benefits it has, mainly physical & mental health. (wrote an article for Momentum Magazine on this last year: https://momentummag.com/much-can-carry-icebreakers/ ) I have osteoarthritis in my hip, so walking varies from uncomfortable to incredibly painful, depending on the day. Biking, on the other hand, is basically no impact so I can get exercise & travel under my own power for fairly long distances without any pain. Since my diagnosis a couple of years ago, I probably walk less & bike more than I ever have in my life. When I walk, I’m reminded with every step that I have a disability. When I’m biking, I can forget about it.
Do you prefer riding solo or with other riders? I really like both. I love relaxed group rides–I organize family rides sometimes & love chatting with other people as we pedal along the seawall or quiet side streets with lots of cargo bikes & kids riding their own little bikes. I also love zipping through quiet streets at night on my own, or pushing hard to go as fast as I can on a road bike on a sunny day. 
What is one of your happiest moments on your bike? Ooh, it’d be hard to pick one that stands out. I really like riding & I enjoy it pretty much every single day. I particularly love carrying large & unwieldy things on my cargo bike. Search the hashtag #carryshitolympics to see pics of me & other “competitors” doing that on social media. I think my favourite ride so far was this past summer, riding home from a local high school field after my daughter learned to ride her two-wheeler a couple months before she turned four. She & her almost-seven-year-old brother were both riding their little bikes with my husband & I. It was less than 2km, but I was bursting with pride. 🙂
What has been one of your biggest challenges as a cyclist?  I had to think about this one pretty hard, because there isn’t really much that stops me from riding. However, last winter was pretty brutal for cycling. It normally snows here just a bit during the winter, maybe a few days here & there the snow will actually be enough to stick & stay around for a day or two. But last year we had snow on the ground & lumpy ice or deep slush on the roads for most of December & January. The city just doesn’t have the budget or the equipment for adequate snow clearing like we needed last year. All that snow & ice made our lives difficult, because we don’t own a car & my son’s school is a bit far to walk to (it takes us about 10 minutes to bike, normally, but 45 to walk). Even just getting to the grocery store around the corner was nerve-wracking for me, since the sidewalks weren’t properly cleared, so I was navigating thick, lumpy ice wearing bulky snow boots & using a cane.
We considered getting studded snow tires for at least one of the bikes, but we just kept expecting the snow to go away soon, so we tried to tough it out. After a couple of (minor) wipeouts with the cargo bikes, & every bike shop being sold out of studded tires, we gave up for most of the winter. I’ve heard we’re going to have another cold winter, so we’ve already ordered a set of winter tires. One thing I learned last winter: I love my Bakfiets, but it’s terrible in deep snow, slush or rutted ice. The longtail Yuba Mundo was way easier to ride, so that’s where the studded tires are going for this winter.
Have you/ would you travel with your bike? If so, when and where?!  We’ve done a few short bike tours, once before we had kids, staying at a couple of B&Bs in the Gulf Islands (part of the same chain as the San Juan islands), & a couple in the past few years. The first one with kids was also with another family, where we biked to Galiano Island & camped there for a few nights. I blogged about it in a series of posts: here’s the first one http://www.spokesmama.com/2015/08/galiano-bike-camping-adventure-day-1.html . We also biked to Newcastle Island this past summer & camped there with the kids, which was really fun.
If you could go on a ride with ANYONE (dead or alive), who would it be?  My (late) maternal grandparents used to love biking–they had a matching pair of sparkly brown Raleigh 20 folding bikes with sheepskin seat covers that they used to travel with. I really miss them & I’d love to be able to go for a ride with them one more time.
Any tips for the newbie rider? If you’re just starting out, get the best bike you can afford. If possible, get a friend or family member who knows more about bikes that can help you find a decent quality one used so you’ll get more bang for your buck. Also, even if you can’t get a great bike, you can usually upgrade parts later to make it run better, faster, & be more comfortable. A bike that fits you & works well is more fun to ride & you’ll be more likely to stick with it! Then spend 20% of the value of your bike on a good lock or two (always lock the frame, then the wheels if you can) & register your bike with an online registry or the local police (here we do Project 529). Look for bike education classes in your community so you can learn the rules of the road & how to ride safely. I took a training course as part of my certification as a bike instructor a bit over a year ago. I’d already been bike commuting regularly for over 15 years, but I still learned a few new habits that have made my rides better & safer. Which is more fun–& that’s really the goal here, to have fun biking!
If you, or someone you know, would like to be featured as a “Woman Who Inspires”, CONTACT us today. We’d love to hear more about your/their cycling journey! Don’t forget to join our Facebook community!

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