Winter cyclist profile – Leehe the personal trainer

Name / Occupation / Age
Leehe Lev / Self Employed Personal Trainer and Lifestyle Coach, Owner of Whole Self Fitness / 34

What do you use your bike for?
Transportation.

How often do you ride?
Whenever I need to go somewhere that’s not within a few blocks from me…which is everyday.

How long have you been commuting by bicycle and what made you decide to start?
I’ve been commuting most of my adult life. I started because I like cycling and the freedom that comes with it.

What would you say to convince someone who is considering commuting by bicycle to go for it?
It’s cheaper than TTC and driving. It keeps you in shape and, most importantly, it’s one less car on the streets!

When did you start commuting in winter and why?
I’ve always commuted in the winter if there wasn’t snow. I started riding through snow four winters ago. I gave it a try, overcame my fears that try and it’s been all weather riding from there.

What are the biggest challenges for winter bikers in Toronto?
Cars losing control. I know *I’ve* got control, it’s other vehicles on the road I worry about.

Do you use a different bike for winter riding?
I don’t ride a different bike in the winter. I should though, because my bike is starting to turn into a year round beater! I also don’t change my tires for winter.

What reaction do you get from co-workers?
I don’t have co-workers, but my clients think I’m crazy!

What’s the best thing about commuting by bicycle in winter?
It’s actually the warmest form of travel. I also like the crisper air, that there are more parking spots and it beats waiting for the bus.

Can you give a brief description of your route?
I live in the St. Clair and Christie neighbourhood and have clients as far east as Jones and Danforth, as far south as King and Bathurst and as far north as Yonge and Eglinton.

Where are your favourite places to bike in Toronto? Least favourite? Favourite street: Christie between St. Clair and Bloor because it’s wide and rarely has traffic. I also like riding on the Danforth between Castle Frank and Broadview where I get to look at the pretty view while feeling safe in the bike lane.

Least favourite: Bathurst anywhere! Too many potholes and cars. Chaos!

What do you like about biking in Toronto in winter?And dislike?
I like it for the same reasons I like riding all year round: freedom! I dislike riding on cold, snowy nights. Black ice scares me. There have been many close wipe outs.

What could the City do to make winter biking better?
Plough the snow off the entire street. I often have to cycle in the middle of the street because the snow isn’t plowed where the bikes go.

What’s your favourite piece of winter cycling clothing?
My water- and wind-proof pants.

Any bike gadget/gear winter cyclists should not go out without?
My water/wind proof pants and good gloves.

Do you ever shop by bike? I do all shopping by bike unless I buy furniture.

Are you a member of any cycling organizations/clubs?
St. Clair BUG and a few on Facebook, including the soon to be launched Toronto Cyclists Union.

Any winter biking tales of caution?
Last year there was a really bad storm in late March. I had a client that was only a 10 minute bike ride away. To TTC there would have meant 2 buses and a fair bit of walking. So, out of stubbornness I rode my bike to her that day. The only part of the street I could move on was wherever car tracks had been made. Cars behind me were honking. I was cursing. It wasn’t fun and it took me 45 minutes because for most of that trip I had to keep getting off my bike and drag it through piles of snow, to move out of the way of impatient motorists.

Anything other words of biking wisdom?
I think the key to being a confident winter cyclist is core strength. If anyone needs training for to improve their core strength Whole Self Fitness can help! Check out my site for info on my services. http://www.wholeself.ca

Photos courtesy of Sunny Lam

8 comments

  1. once again, a serious cyclist!
    Are those leather mitts she’s wearing? I somehow got a pair, and they are what really work for me in nasty cold windy days – sorry cow! (but thanks).

  2. Scary to be biking in the snow, but admirable…..
    We need more people like Leehe living in Toronto …a healthier lifestyle with less pollution and less congestion …..
    Glad to see she is wearing a helmet, there are far too many cyclists who do not !

  3. It’s the best way to go
    Good for environment, body and soul
    And it’s easier than one might think it is.
    Just try it! ( Start on a dry sunny day)
    I’ve been cycling year-round for years … and I’m not superwoman.
    Keep going! Lets get rid of those smog-days.

  4. Sometimes “in the middle of the street” is “where bikes go”. Even without snowstorms. You’re not obligated to get out of the way of impatient motorists – though I understand how it can be an unpleasant and scary experience.

  5. Hi:
    May I suggest that you facilitate a session on something like “how to ride in the winter time”. Many do not dare in the winter…like me. thanks,

  6. I think Leehe’s comment about core strength is a good one. I think it has two meanings here. First, physical core strength, which is something most cyclists overlook. The second is a sort of “mental” core strength. Ride a few windy, snowy days and you will develop a new form of core strength that will carry you through more than a bike ride. That mental toughness is important in every aspect of your life.

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