Nanaimo: Hub City!

Yarr, this be the map of the island mate!

I wake up this morning in Nanaimo, BC- actually on a special little island not too far away called Protection. With an hour and some before hopping into Justin’s solar-powered-electric-motor canoe, I have just enough time for a brisk walk around the island in the crisp morning air. The few dirt roads with their gentle ups and downs are named after everything ‘pirate’ – Captain Morgan’s Boulevard, Cutlass Lookout, Pirate’s Lane– and charmingly curl together like a pretzel. Yarrr! I love it! And the views are just spectacular.

Docking in the Protection Island harbour!

From the Protection Island Port, the 10 minute commute to the city is simply stunning. The water is as calm as bath water and sea otters follow us for a few minutes across the way, bobbing and leaping towards the canoe. Vulture-like birds stand on bouys stretching their wings to soak up the sun and “Captain” Bailey, Justin’s dog, watches, standing purposefully in her life jacket with her paws on the bow. I decide that, when I’m finally ready to settle down and lay some roots, I’m going to park myself in a place where a peaceful, daily water commute is necessary to take me to and from my work. Oh, and a sweet dog like Bailey as my first mate will definitely be in the picture!

Captain Bailey at the bow, or as she says, at the bow wow wow!!

This week, I’ve been hanging out at Hub City Cycles – a co-operative, community bike shop in downtown Nanaimo, and spending time with one of the founders named Justin – interestingly enough a fellow graduate from the Quadra Bike School!

I am sure that I understate my experience when I say that it has been a true pleasure to turn some wrenches again at Hub City and also to discover a few of the cool projects that the shop is offering to their community.

One of the educational programs I popped in on was the “Park Tool School” course. Over a 4 week period, Hub City has been running a progressive, advanced bicycle mechanic education to a handful of students. The program includes a combination of theory, hands-on practice and quality instruction within approximately 20 hours of class time. I had the chance to peek in on Tuesday night and see the keen students hard at work; confidently tinkering around with their own projects with some helpful instruction from Tyler, a Hub City Cycles employee and wise teacher of all-that-is-bikes!

Justin working on a bike at the university

On Wednesday, I set up with Justin at the Vancouver Island University campus, where Hub City Cycles has been working in partnership with the Student Union (VIUSU), offering tune ups and repairs to University students for free once every month. Some of the main objectives of the program that stood out to me included:

  • Promoting cycling as transportation to and from school
  • Encouraging students to get hands on with their own bikes and learn some simple repairs and maintenance they can do themselves
  • Raising awareness about the awesome bike tool kit purchased by the student union that is available 24 hours a day on the campus

Oh, and there was free coffee too!

Like Bikes day at the Vancouver Island University!

Thursday was also a very special day, as I had the opportunity to join Tyler and help out with the after school bike program that has recently been introduced at Woodland school. This week, there were 3 bright and curious students, as well as 2 folks from the university who had come to learn more about the program. I was really stoked (and I’ll admit a wee nervous) when I somehow slipped into the role of teacher and had the opportunity to teach the students about adjusting disc brakes (a style of brake system that I myself was very intimidated by only a couple of months ago)! It was a learning period for all of us and I found that I really enjoyed stepping into teacher shoes – yeehoo! Above all of that, the most refreshing aspect of the school experience was how interested, bright and appreciative the students were. What a wonderful opportunity for the schools, and kudos to both the school and Hub City Cycles for birthing this marvelous program for young students!

If bicycles are to be in our vision for a cleaner, greener world, doesn’t it make sense that bikes be part of our educational system? Ride on!

I’ll finish by saying a big THANK YOU to Justin, Tyler, Bailey and Hub City Cycles for your hospitality, for allowing me to visit your various programs, and for inspiring me further into the world of bikes! Be sure to stay tuned for an interview with Hub City Cycles … coming soon!

Next bike shop extravaganza? Follow me 50 km down island to BikeWorks in Duncan, BC…. see you there!

Beeyond a boat! In the Protection Island Fire Dept yard…

Also, don’t forget to visit the Indiegogo page for more information about Beeyond A Bike and find out how you can support, donate and get involved! Thanks a bunch; ride on, mates!

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