Cycling A Piece of Maidei’s Global Relay Journey: Calgary, Alberta

Maidei in Cuban cigar box with lots of health alert warnings --for inspiration.
Maidei in Cuban cigar box with lots of health alert warnings not to smoke –for inspiration.

Maidei comes delivered in her own tiny cycling jersey,  with her handcrafted bike and even a pair of miniature skis in a Cuban cigar box, with tattered logo label, Romeo Y Julieta. To cushion the postal delivery bumps, she is protected by a growing wad of postcards, bike maps and mementos that her cycling hosts have added to the pile in the box.  It is entirely plausible the pile is outweighing the doll and her bike.    There’s even a second, tiny cycling jersey that awaits her in Oregon  –whenever she gets there in her circuitous trip.

Maideibike among pile of tire patch kits at a Bike to Work Day energy stop. Bow River bike-pedestrian path, Calgary AB.
Maideibike among pile of tire patch kits at a Bike to Work Day energy stop. Bow River bike-pedestrian path, Calgary AB. May 6, 2011

How Her Journey Started
It’s Maidei, an Oxfam doll that’s travelling worldwide via a relay chain of women cyclists.  Maidei was initiated on her trip by the first cycling host, a mountain biker (originally from Alberta)  in Perth, Australia where she began her journey in Jan. 2010.  The idea was conceived on the TeamEstrogen women’s cycling Internet forums, where women cyclists of all backgrounds world-wide, drop by to share their cycling passion and any other topic of the day. Active forum members at any given time is at least 200 women, with more jumping in occasionally.  These cyclists range from mid-20’s to well over 60.

Bison ride at Fort Calgary, Alberta.
Bison ride at Fort Calgary, Alberta.

Maidei’s journey is simple:   any willing TeamEstrogen member can offer to bike her around, or even hike, ski or yes, drive the car with her to show local sights and adventures.  A few snapshots are then uploaded onto the Internet forums.  Then the host can choose to bike, drive or mail Maidie to next willing host. The host absorbs cost of  mailing Maidei to next destination, if mail delivery is Maidei’s transportation mode.

So far, Maidei has lolled by the bright sandy beaches in Australia and popped around there for awhile before she headed off to New Zealand, Singapore, even a winery in Chile (a member runs a winery with her husband) and northward up into the whole eastern region of U.S. from Florida and then jogging abit  to the Midwest before Canada.  So far she has logged in at minimum, over 100,000 km., though no one is formally tracking her mileage.

I received her by mail from a member in Saskatoon who unfortunately had a car accident in California.  However Maidei visited  the host’s research lab there. She’s even been

Dropping by for cyclist's breakfast of  pancakes, sausage, oatmeal and coffee at Eau Claire Market square. Bike to Work Day, Calgary AB 2011.
Dropping by for cyclist’s breakfast of pancakes, sausage, oatmeal and coffee at Eau Claire Market square. Bike to Work Day, Calgary AB 2011.

cradled by a basketball team’s furry mascot during half time, has seen Niagara Falls (New York State side), the White House in Washington, DC and later, cross-country skied  in the Michigan woods.

At Bike to Work Day Energy Stops
So on May 6th, I cycled Maidei around briefly for a chilly spring morning ride on my way to work on Calgary’s Bike to Work Day.  Not sure why their day is in early May since Calgary normally is still chilly at that time year.

Just shortly after 6:00 am (yes, we began early) we dropped quickly by first  bike station-information table and bike tune-up checkpoint along the popular Bow River bike-pedestrian path.  Too bad we didn’t stay long enough for scones  –they were being delivered as we mounted onto our bikes for short twirl over to Eau Claire Market Square for free pancakes, sausage, oatmeal and coffee.

I have to say that Maidei was intrigued, slightly disappointed  that there were just….alot more male cyclists at this major bike station for Calgary.  Quite different from Vancouver’s Bike to Work Week or even on just one of their days: there are visibly more women cycle-

Fresh flavours to choose for your cream filling at Cruffs', The House of Cream Puffs.
Maidei at favourite cream puff place. Fresh cream flavours to choose for your cream puff filling at Cruffs

commuting in Vancouver.  Even in November, Vancouver  for the past 3 years, has had  2 Bike to Work Week events in spring and fall since there is a growing cycling population to sustain this event.

My observation was totally anecdotal  and unscientific, but agreed by 2 other women cyclists who  sat at the same table with their pancakes and coffee.  During this time of the year,   Maidie didn’t see many cyclists dressed in chic streetwear. But like Maidie, I can’t expect much when I don’t even cycle in my high heels and dresses any time of the year –the benchmark of cycling chic.

Next Day: Gourmet Cream Puffs and Bison
Maidei went along for a shopping ride which covered several different bike path routes near the Elbow River and going northward to the Marlborough area. Stops including a quick check to locate a mechanism to hang up Jack’s bike inside the home storage locker. Afterwards, we winded our way to freshly made baklava at Bylos Wholesale Bakery Outlet beside a bike route. I chose a smaller hazelnut round baklava and shared a large pita flatbread heated with a spread of feta and spinach.

Maidei rests after 40 km. bike ride with a lovely hazelnut cream filled puff at Cruffs'. Calgary, AB May 2011
Maidei rests after 40 km. bike ride with a lovely hazelnut cream filled puff at Cruffs. Calgary, AB May 2011

Not totally fulfilled, Maidei was introduced to a recent newcomer offering gourmet pastries in the Mission neighbourhood: multi-flavoured delicate cream puffs at Cruffs, The House of Cream Puffs. The cream puff shop has been around only for last six months with its baker from Vancouver. On weekends they offer up to 7 flavours which you choose and they will inject the same-day prepared, whipped cream into the freshly baked puff. Cyclists take note since the shop is not far from the bike route –just few blocks away.

Before we returned home, Maidei stopped by for a bison ride at Fort Calgary, a heritage site of the former North West Mounted Police, now the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The bison icon to Alberta is like the salmon is to British Columbia –ubiquitous but appropriate as part of a local area’s natural history. (I wrote earlier in this blog about both the RCMP historic site and bison.)

Next month Maidei will be off to Vancouver after her prairie city sojourn here.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Tammy McLeod says:

    I’m so impressed with how Canadian’s embrace bike to work day. Thanks for sharing this. Very cute.


    1. Jean says:

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Keep riding and wishing you tailwinds in your journeys!


  2. I am ashamed to say my bike is gathering dust in the garage, but maybe I should go and visit it. Years back I had a dear friend who lived in Edmonton, AB and I used to visit her, reading your posts about BC and the snow brought back some lovely memories for me, though I never made it across to Vancouver. It’s inspiring to read your blog and glimpse your world. Thank you 🙂


  3. Jean says:

    One day you will break free from hesitation and simply jump onto the bike. I hope you will. It will be like rediscovering your breadmaking…but in a different way of course!


  4. timethief says:

    What an interesting idea and a fun one too.


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