OWNER, CALEDON HILLS CYCLING AND NORDIC CENTRE
CYCLIST, RIDE LEADER, TRAIL CONNOISSEUR
Maybe it’s because he’s personally ridden every inch of Caledon’s wildest outdoors, but mountain biker Don Coats may have nailed the essence of wide-open Caledon in a sentence: “We’re that first stepping stone out of the cement city.” Sounds like the perfect guy you’d want leading your riding group, which is where you’ll usually find him, when he’s not at his shop, or snowshoeing, or skiing, snowboarding…
Do you winter ride?
I’m starting. We’ve got the fat bikes now for riding in the snow, they’ve got 4 and a half inch tires. You get the flotation you need on top of snow so you’re not digging a trench.
But I’m a big winter guy. I snowshoe the Bruce Trail, cross country ski at Albion Hills.
Snow shoeing has exploded.
Absolutely. You’re free. You can snowshoe anywhere, you don’t have to be on a trail, you can wander. We meet up on Wednesday nights for a couple of hours, fifty of us, for a good two hour snowshoe.
It’s beautiful. Fifty people all wearing lights on headbands. You turn around and see this trail of people and lights and snow. It’s pretty cool.
It’s like a riding group.
It’s all about being together. About the enjoyment of riding together, encouraging people to to respect the trails, the roads, help develop peoples’ skills.
And the Caledon Cycling Club, it’s not just Caledoners?
There’s a big drawing area, Toronto, Mississauga, Brampton, Georgetown, Bolton. We have something here you just can’t find anywhere else. It’s that first stepping stone out of the cement city. You park and there’s Bruce Trail walking right through here.
People appreciate that?
People can’t believe the open space we have, the quiet roads, the escarpment and what that provides in terms of greenbelt space. Huge, huge clusters of land set aside for recreation.
Cycling needs champions like you.
We’re trying. There’s a new committee that (Caledon) Mayor Allan Thompson has put together to look at bike routes through Caledon, so we can start to define some safe, tried and true routes. Hopefully that can turn into things like bike lanes down the road. We’re trying to pull that whole tourism piece together, and we’re not quite yet there in Ontario, as far as they are in places like Quebec.
In Ontario, we still do cycling as fitness, not as a lifestyle. Taking our bike to the store, to work. It’s getting there. The Greenbelt route is a great start, and there’s a great train, the Niagara Greenbelt Express. You can bring your bike to the Greenbelt by train. It’s just going to take time and evolution.
There’s your next challenge. Until then, where do you like to ride?
I don’t have one favourite ride, more like ten. I’ll tell you, though: I take a group of people out on on Thursday nights along the rail trail. It’s spectacular. It heads through the Cataract Falls. But we take it a pace that you can enjoy the countryside.
Thursday? I’m open.
See you here.
I don’t have a bike, though.
Maybe come a little earlier, then.