Bike Boom
The Resurgence of Cycling in Uncertain Times - theHumm June 2020

Bike Boom
The Resurgence of Cycling in Uncertain Times - theHumm June 2020

By John Pigeau

Following a national trend, business at local bike shops is booming. 

“A hundred percent, absolutely,” says Pete Wood, owner of Heritage Bikes in Perth. “A lot of people are finding that they need something to do, get some exercise, and bikes are a perfect way to be able to do that.”

Since March, Heritage Bikes has sold a whole lot of bikes. Pete says: “there has been a real run on kids’ bikes,” with one customer driving from Toronto to Perth as Heritage Bikes was the only shop in a 300-kilometer radius that had the product they were looking for. 

As warmer weather has arrived, adult bikes have sold well too.

“There’s also a lot of interest in a very utilitarian bike,” he says, noting that before the pandemic, people often came to Heritage Bikes wanting a very specific race bike or a very specific mountain bike. But that has changed. “Now people just want a commuter, an urban bike, a simple bike under $1,000.”

“We’ve gone through all of our used bike sales,” he adds. “Now we’re into very comfortable hybrid bikes, so it’s almost a European feel to the choice of bikes people are making.”

Bill Barrie, who owns Almonte Bicycle Works, says he’s been busy too. Not so much with selling new bikes, but repairing and restoring people’s older bikes.

“However, sales of e-assist bikes are definitely up,” he says. “Most new owners are buying online and then bringing them to me for assembly and tune-up.”

Almonte Bicycle Works has been closed to the public since early March, but Bill has been extremely busy servicing bikes by appointment. He has also sold many used and refurbished adult and children’s bikes, with all proceeds to a charity. 

Busy working twelve-hour days on assembly, repairs and restorations, Bill says he hasn’t needed extra support for his business during the pandemic. “All I need is a vacation!” he jokes. “It has possibly been my busiest spring in ten years and I’m exhausted.” 

Pete and his staff — of two other employees plus, in recent months, an extra mechanic — have been similarly swamped. One thing that’s worked very well at Heritage Bikes has been taking orders by phone and being able to fit people — according to their height, arm length, and inseam, for instance — with bikes very quickly. They’ve been able to do this well, Pete says, because his bike-loving staff are experienced and extremely knowledgeable about industry standards. 

They have had to change the way they do business, however. “We’ve had to initiate a lot of different protocols,” Pete says, noting they have been spraying bikes down for customers, keeping a ten-foot distance, and wearing masks when dealing with the public and with one another.

But good things have come from these trying times as well.

“The Top Shelf Distillery put something really nice out there for businesses around Perth,” Pete says. “and that is that they’ve offered eighty percent alcohol spray and a box with a whole bunch of other things, and that really was a generous gift. Thing is, it’s assured us of buying more of the same product.”

Both shop owners have seen a lot more families taking to the roads on bikes this spring.  

“I’ve had many, many locals dusting off unused bikes or looking for a used bike suitable for the [Ottawa Valley Recreational] Trail,” Bill says. “It’s the best way to escape from the ever-increasing and often disrespectful traffic on local roads. Especially for families with young children.”

At Heritage Bikes, Pete has seen similar trends. “There’s been a real uptake in the concept of a gravel bike,” he says. “That’s a bike that looks a little like a road bike but it’s got a lot more wheel base and it’s a little more stable. These people are getting on to those back gravel roads. But I think that the trend specifically right now is just having an urban bike, and people are looking not to ride huge distances but to be able to ride with their family and be in a really safe place for that.”

He thinks that side streets and secondary roads are safe for that too, especially with fewer vehicles than normal on the road. 

Both bike shop owners hope more people keep cycling after the pandemic, as a hobby and as a form of transportation. More people are keeping active because they’re cycling now, and many are driving less, particularly in larger cities.

“It turns out that eighty percent of the commuting people do is within about a five kilometer radius and that’s very doable, to hop on a bike,” Pete points out. “And the other thing is that if I’m just hopping on my bike to go to the grocery store to get a couple of items, between me stepping into my car, starting the engine, driving, parking and all those other things, it would be just as fast if not faster on my bike, even though it’s about two kilometers for me to go to the store.”

Fewer cars on the road, of course, means less pollution. 

Far too often, people with disabilities can be excluded from healthy trends like this uptick in cycling, but Pete says technological advances in certain bikes are helping to include more people. “Disabilities are interesting. They come in many different forms,” he says. “And e-bikes are a really wonderful way that people are leveling the playing field.”

For instance, people with mobility issues who can cycle often find themselves “completely exhausted” during or at the end of a bike ride. “But e-bikes are taking care of a lot of those issues,” Pete adds. 

Special adjustments can be made to bikes to fit an individual’s special needs too. Recumbent e-bikes, which feature two wheels at the front, one at the back, and an adjustable, comfortable seat with a backrest, are wonderful for some people with disabilities, Pete notes — and like other e-bikes (or “pedal assist” bikes), they are an ever increasing choice of consumers. 

In his Almonte shop, Bill has also seen the uptick in people choosing e-bikes.

“I’ve sold and repaired quite a few adult trikes over the years,” he says. “They can be a saviour for those with balance issues. I’ve also customized many bikes to accommodate a variety of disabilities.”

Ken Rose, who owns Lake Effects and lives in Westport, owns an electric recumbent bike and he says it’s a thrill to ride. “The bike is the love of my life and my drug of choice,” he says. “When I get out on it, I feel like a teenager.” He says he has enjoyed riding for a few hours each day, especially during the pandemic. “The bike is so comfortable,” he says. “It’s fun and thrilling.”

“Trails are my preference,” he adds, “but I ride after dark on Westport’s abandoned streets with lights ablaze.”


Where to Find the June Humm - theHumm June 2020

We’re heading out to deliver the June issue of theHumm! Because things have changed a wee bit since the last time we did our distribution, here’s a list of the places we will be trying to deliver to. Hours and more information can be found at the links. Happy Humm hunting!


Dandelion Foods

Don’s Meat Market donsmeatmarke......


Jeff Wallace — Wallflower Turned Art Auctioneer! - theHumm June 2020

By Sally Hansen

Art… and Soul

A new artist is blossoming in our midst. Rising to the COVID-19 challenge, Burnstown artist and businessman Jeff Wallace is discarding his anonymity and charging into the fray, determined to make a positive contribution. But first, introducing:

Jeff Wallace — Artist

Wallace has only recently arrived in a place in his life where his first love, art, is able to play a bigger role. As Forrest Gump’s mama always said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You......


COVID, Kids, & All the Feelings - theHumm June 2020

By Nicki Gallo

There’s this exercise that I like do when I work with kids. It helps us to explore how our feelings are something that we experience in our bodies as well as our minds. First, I give the child a piece of paper with the outline of a person. I ask them to colour the location on the body where they feel certain emotions and match it with a colour. For example, they may feel red/anger in their hands: “I’m so mad I could punch someone!” Or feel yellow/nervousness in their bellies: “I have b......


Supporting Local Artists: In Person and Online! - theHumm June 2020

By Miss Cellaneous

The good news for area art lovers is that many local galleries have been able to re-open — most with reduced hours and all with extra safety precautions in place. We highly recommend a visit to Almonte’s General Fine Craft and Sivarulrasa Gallery , Riverguild Fine Crafts in Perth ...more

PRIDE of Place
An interview with Michael Rikley-Lancaster
- theHumm June 2020

Michael Rikley-Lancaster is the Curator of the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum and a member of the group that was planning to launch the first-ever Mississippi Mills PRIDE Week this June. We contacted him to find out how both the Museum and MM Pride are faring.

theHumm: Since becoming Curator, you (with the assistance of your staff, board and numerous volunteers) have made many improvements to the Museum and have hosted incredible exhibitions by artists from......


Talking Transformation
An interview with Noé Charron
- theHumm June 2020

Noé Charron is a 22-year-old non-binary trans woman (who uses both she/her and they/them pronouns) who started her transition while growing up in Almonte and working at Baker Bob’s. We contacted her to find out how her transitioning was perceived and received by the community, and what advice she has for people who want to try and foster a more welcoming and compassionate atmosphere.

theHumm: As an employee at Baker Bob’s, you were one of my only examples of someone who......


Embers of Hope
Embracing Life in an Age of Ecological Destruction and Climate Chaos
- theHumm June 2020

By Kris Riendeau

Bonita Ford is a co-founder of Permaculture Eastern Ontario and author of the new book Embers of Hope: Embracing Life in an Age of Ecological Destruction and Climate Chaos. We contacted her to find out how this book came to be, and how she hopes it can help us all to “nurture the small forces that may radically transform our world”.

theHumm: You had me from the title, because hope seems to be one of the most precious “commodities” — albeit one that isn’t for sale ......


Ice Cream Contest!Play “Passport to Brain Freeze” - theHumm June 2020

By Sarah Kerr

Hello again friends! I hope you and your littles are ready for a 3-month summer “vacation”. But one from the ’50s without camps, daycares or programmed sports… and for many, juggling working from home. Sounds idyllic, right? Okay, this doesn’t exactly sound like vacation, but if there’s any advice that I can offer it’s that the summer of quarantine begins now!

Yes, you may be wondering if I’m the minister of education to declare something like that, and to be clear… no I am not. But as the d......


Almonte, Spirit of Place
A New Book from Photographer John McQuarrie
- theHumm June 2020

John McQuarrie is a photographer and publisher of the recently released book Almonte, Spirit of Place. We contacted him to find out how his most recent book came to be, and how the current lockdown is affecting its reception in the community.

theHumm: Your photos are stunning — can you tell us a bit about your training and background?

John McQuarrie: Like many working photographers, I simply consumed print and online tutorials along with each advance in imaging......


A Time of Transformation - theHumm June 2020

By Kris & Rob Riendeau

Welcome back to the print version of theHumm! We are thrilled to return to this format, and we sincerely hope that this issue finds you well. As you might imagine, it is a bit different from our ......


Faces & Fabric
of a small town during pandemic
- theHumm June 2020

As the community grapples with a pandemic that is radically reshaping every aspect of public and private life, we are striving to capture the historic shift through the eyes of everyday people in M......


Lots of Time to Plant! - theHumm June 2020

By David Hinks

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KITCHEN at Sivarulrasa Gallery
An Exhibition in Partnership with the Carleton Place & Beckwith Heritage Museum
- theHumm June 2020

Until July 10, Almonte’s Sivarulrasa Gallery is pleased to partner with the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum to present KITCHEN, an exhibition that elegantly combines wo......


Rural Root Zooms into Spring with Couples - theHumm June 2020

At its best, community theatre brings together people from all walks of life to share ideas and create friendships. This has been Rural Root Theatre’s strength since 2005, and they have no intent......


Poplar - theHumm June 2020

By Susie Osler

A Poplar round supports my weight. Its dying body lies here, sprawling in pieces around me. Rings of honey-coloured carbon circle in around dark, decaying heartwood that Woodpeckers have already ......


PRIDE in the Valley! - theHumm June 2020

Here’s an overview of PRIDE plans (as of press time) across the Ottawa Valley. We recommend following these groups on Facebook, because things may change and activities may be added as it becomes......


Role Models for Rough Times
James Naismith and John McLendon
- theHumm June 2020

Just as we were going to print, stories about the death of George Floyd started hitting the news and social media. theHumm doesn’t report on breaking news, but we thought this information about a......


Bike Boom
The Resurgence of Cycling in Uncertain Times
- theHumm June 2020

By John Pigeau

Following a national trend, business at local bike shops is booming. 

“A hundred percent, absolutely,” says Pete Wood, owner of Heritage Bikes in Perth. “A lot of people are finding that......


“Trishaw” Crowdfunding Campaign Launched - theHumm June 2020

With support from Lanark County Council and several local businesses, Cycling Without Age Lanark County (CWALC) has taken the next step by launching a $7,000 crowdfunding campaign with the goal o......


Back to the Books! - theHumm June 2020

By Karen DeLuca, Librarian

The past few months has certainly been posing a challenge to readers everywhere.

For some it has meant exploring those long-forgotten books neatly displayed on bookcases at home. For others ......


Enough’s Enough! - theHumm June 2020

By Glenda Jones

We’ve been behaving ourselves and “staying the blazes home” for the past twenty-eleven weeks. It’s been fine up to this morning, when I scared myself half to death looking in a mirror. Who kidnap......


We are All in this Together - theHumm June 2020

By Wanda MacDonald

In small communities like ours, you just need to ask for help and people step up. And everyone is definitely doing just that!

Mississippi Mills Together — or MMTogether for short — is one wa......


The Power of Tech Shabbats
- theHumm June 2020

By — Kris Riendeau

Back when COVID-19 was just a gleam on the social media horizon, Rob and I listened to an intriguing podcast while delivering the February issue of theHumm. Presented by The Long Now Foundation, ......


Food Truck Evolution - theHumm June 2020

By Sebastian Weetabix

Months ago Weetabix asked his loyal readers “what starts with ‘F’ and ends with ‘uck’?”, and the correct answer had no apparent connection to the spread of a virus or a fundamental change in the ......


Cinema Therapy, Books and Guided Meditations
Finding Some Peace in a Pandemic
- theHumm June 2020

By John Pigeau

In the midst of this dreadful pandemic, people are having to cope with all manner of new challenges. We’re a resilient bunch though, and so far many of us have improvised rather well. Meeting up ......


Business-to-Business Support
A Full-Circle, Feel-Good Story
- theHumm June 2020

By the Fulton’s team

When Shirley Fulton-Deugo, owner of Fulton’s Pancake House & Sugar Bush, got together with the team from Almonte’s Dairy Distillery, little did she know great things were in the makin......