- COVID panic? Keep calm and carry on with bike tour planning
- It’s not about where we travel but why
- What the heck is bike touring anyway? It’s an experience
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Kindness comes in a bucket of ice and jug of water
- ConnecTour Chronicles: One man’s gear is another man’s gold
- ConnecTour Chronicles: A brush with heat stroke and then hypothermia
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Content to live with old mining town’s ghosts
- ConnectTour Chronicles: Highlights, lowlights and lessons learned so far
- ConnecTour Chronicles: An artistic treasure trove in a former biker bar
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Even in Banff, COVID-19 has left its mark
- ConnecTour Chronicles: A life-saving gift for our son-in-law
- ConnecTour Chronicles: A pool party on the Prairies
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Antique store owner revives memories
- A sudden, frightening crash sidelines one of our cyclists
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Out of the blue, an army on the prowl
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Cheap rural living brings brewery dream to life
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Warmshowers hosts have equally warm spirits
- ConnecTour Chronicles: A bicycle clinic that started with a bang
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Lodges hanging on by a thin fishing line
- ConnecTour Chronicles: A private fantasy world, rich in local and family history
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Reckless drivers are the scourge of cyclists
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Calgary bike trails a bridge between city and nature
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Wawa’s loyal support keeps country store going strong
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Learning to roll with one of this tour’s unexpected twists
- Amish follow a humble path to a simpler way of life
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Scaring away a middle-of-the-night invader
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Traumatic accident led former nurse to artistic success
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Ottawa family is all-in on car-free, cycling lifestyle
- ConnecTour Chronicles: Good luck dodging bad weather finally runs out
- Charlottetown’s heritage homes have a champion
- Proud captain sails to Canada’s other ‘distinct society’: Newfoundland
- War, tragedy, and a Broadway hit all part of Gander’s celebrated past
- Cycling tour across Canada ends in St. John’s, N.L.
- Cross-country cyclists welcomed by St. John’s deputy mayor
- Second World War attack helped shape Bell Island’s history
Troy Media publisher Doug Firby is part of a group of Canadians who call themselves ConnecTour. Starting last May in British Columbia and ending in October in Newfoundland, they hope to make an 8,000-km bicycle journey across the country, discovering how the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped our lives and sense of community. Watch for their reports on Troy Media. More information on the cycling tour is available at ConnecTour.ca. To help them meet their goal, click here.
When Richard Briggs was in his early 20s, he offered to buy his father’s Ford Fairmont, which his father had decided to get rid of. But his father refused to sell it to his son, Briggs recalls, “Because you don’t need a car.”
A decade later, when his father offered to sell Richard his used Jetta, it was Richard’s turn to refuse. In the intervening years, he had concluded that he really didn’t need to own a motorized vehicle. And to this day, neither he nor his wife Carole Sauve have ever owned a gasoline-powered vehicle.
This, even though they are raising two kids and live in Ottawa, where winter temperatures can dip as low as -25C.
The ConnecTour team met Richard and Carole recently when we were hosted by them in their home.
Instead of cars, the family relies heavily on Richard’s garage full of eclectic bicycles. Those two- and three-wheeled machines range from fairly conventional all-purpose bikes to tricycle recumbents, and a variety of Frankenbikes, with frames stretched into freakish designs.
(It was on one such “tall bike” that Richard took a tumble three years ago and broke his pelvis, an injury that required surgery.)
“Carole has told me not to ride a tall bike again,” he says with a chuckle.
Other bicycles in the collection include cargo bikes, a “hammer head,” chopper bikes – with unnaturally long front forks that look like the motorcycles of the same design – and one of his prized possessions, an authentic rickshaw that came back with the family from India after Carole returned from a diplomatic mission she served there.
Carole works for Immigration Canada and has had several overseas assignments, including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, the Cook Islands and Cuba.
Out of all his bikes, Richard seems to favour the custom-made three-wheel recumbent, which can be expanded into a tandem to accommodate two riders. Briggs has gotten innovative with this machine, adding bars to carry a canoe or even lumber.
He also attaches a homemade four-by-eight-foot trailer to it, and has towed a Hammond organ through a parade.
It might not surprise you to learn that Richard is a passionate environmentalist. He has run as a candidate for the Green Party twice: federally in 1997 and provincially in 1999. Both attempts at public office were unsuccessful.
But, with a degree in electrical engineering, he’s also a confirmed electronics nerd. He fits many of his bikes with hub-based generators, flashing headlights and tail lights. His day job is with Red Hat, a large multinational, open-source software company.
Briggs is undeterred by Ottawa’s winters. He said he learned he could ride on snow after a trip to Australia in 1993, where he got a job rounding up sheep riding through sandy terrain on a motorcycle.
“In Canada, I found I had a transferrable skill,” he says. “If I could ride in Australia, I could ride in snow.”
Riding with Briggs is an unforgettable – and at times, unnerving – experience. He often allows his trike to drift out in the traffic lane, almost daring cars to run him down. Remarkably, they always see him and give him the space he demands.
His choices are out of the Canadian norm – and I have to say that as much as I admire his choices, I’m not sold on a car-free future. But if nothing else, the Briggs/Sauve family has shown what can be done with a little determination.
Doug Firby is president of Troy Media Digital Solutions and publisher of Troy Media. For interview requests, click here.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the authors’ alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.
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