The Suit Pursuit

Suit Pursuit 2018


This year’s precursor to Bike to Work Day Calgary - the Suit Pursuit Race – started in the early hours of Friday April 27th.


The sun was barely up in the sky, when the pitter-patter of dog paws on concrete, and the quiet whirring of bicycle wheels grew steadily louder as the cyclist contender drew closer to the other participants. Waiting by her vehicle, Shelley Alexander twirled her keys in her hand, ready to hop in at a moment’s notice and roar away at the start of the race. Meanwhile, Sherry Hume held her trusty transit pass – certain that her mode of transportation would take her to the finish line first.


Lonny Balbi dismounted from his bike and walked over to greet this year’s cyclist. Decked out in pink, from helmet to handlebars, Alex Mertens slowly pedaled to a stop and blew a strand of hair from her eyes, and looking over her competition with honest unconcern, she introduced herself and her four-footed companion to her fellow cyclist and her competitors.


Riding a decked-out 3-wheeled red bike with pink basket and streamers, Alex and her companion and mobility dog Kasper looked ready to take on the competition. Her steed was no ordinary bike – having being made in Canada and adapted to her particular needs, and also able to adjust in size to compensate for any growth spurts Alex might have. She acquired her amazing wheels back in 2012 through CP Kids’ Adaptive Bike Program, (Operating under the Calgary Cerebral Palsy Association.) Her Beautiful ride was her fourth bike from the program, as she has been a member since she was three years old. One of triplets, Alex has used her bikes to gain a measure of freedom and keep up with her siblings over the years, so she was ready to ride!


Finally, after all the introductions and pleasantries were over the starter gun was fired, (more figuratively than literally) and the contenders were off. Alex and her small entourage - including Kasper and Lonny – put petal to the metal, paw to the ground and headed out towards the finish line. Shelley hopped into her vehicle and sped away, and Sherry hoofed it towards the nearest train. The contestants were off!


The long and short of the story is that Alex and her four-legged friend made it to the finish line in plenty of time to dismount her bike and settle in for a well-deserved hot chocolate at a nearby coffee shop. Sherry came rushing in nearly a full 10 minutes later, flushed and explaining that she just missed her train, had to wait for the next one, grabbed a Metro Star and had to walk the rest of the way as there was no bus stop close by. Five minutes after that, Shelley walked through the doors. She complained that she would have been first if she hadn’t been stuck in traffic due to road construction, and that she also had to circle around to find parking.


Oh well, thems the breaks! Cycling definitely has an advantage when it comes to inner city commutes – a bicycle can get through and around places that a vehicle can’t, it can take dedicated bike lanes and path-systems, can usually find adequate parking, and doesn’t have to worry about knowing and abiding by set schedules. Of course there are the added benefits of not having to pay inflated gas prices, being gentler to the environment, and staying healthy. Did we mention that in addition to riding her bike, Alex swims four times a week, goes horse-back riding, dances, sings and is learning Mandarin? If Alex can do all this – what’s stopping you?


And Remember – for everyone who participates in Bike to Work Day Calgary this May 4th, $1 will be donated to CP Kids Adaptive Bike Program – so let’s get more kids with disabilities out on bikes!