Remembering my father on New Year’s day

©Barry Sandland/TIMB - Bike on bridge on New Year's Day.

©Barry Sandland/TIMB – Over the past few years, there have been few challenges to riding on New Year’s Day in Belgium. For my father, the thick coat of snow outside the door presented a challenge to his New Year ritual.

My father was an avid cyclist. Even when the ground was covered in snow, he enjoyed a ritual of riding his bike on January 1, even for just a few kilometres, to christen the new year on his two wheels.

I was raised, and became a cyclist, in Newfoundland, Canada. Every winter, we would have snow. Often lots of it. The Christmas period would see skis out and about. But, on the first day of the year, dad would always try and take his bike out and log some distance. If the roads were bad, but allowed it, he would settle for just a few kilometres. Other years, roads clear, he could get in a long ride. There were the rare years when snow was tipping down, roads blocked, and dad would have to accept he would be off the bike – until the next day.

Today, I live in Belgium now and there is little excuse to not ride the bike 365 days of the year. The ritual is not really needed – nor unusual. But when there is three metres of snow piled on the side of the road, a thin, car tire wide section of clear asphalt to place the bike, then the determination to get out on the bike takes on a  new meaning.

After all these years, despite all my rides and years on the bike and countries ridden upon or through, I still see my dad as the real cyclist.

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