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Commuter challenge: Bike vs. car. Place your bets.

It’s like I was waiting my whole life for this match-up: Me versus Jack Knox. My slick new Domane road bike versus the Times Colonist’s mighty, er, Yaris.


It’s like I was waiting my whole life for this match-up: Me versus Jack Knox. My slick new Domane road bike versus the Times Colonist’s mighty, er, Yaris.

Okay, so I had a bit of confidence going into Wednesday’s Commuter Challenge, during which 23 pairs of cyclists versus drivers had to race from various starting points around Greater Victoria to finish at the corner of Blanshard and Fort streets.

Any driver who has sat in the Colwood crawl can relate to the vivid day dream of just putting the car in park, walking across the stalled traffic and hopping on the handle bars of a bike, flying down the Galloping Goose and arriving at work feeling refreshed and with minutes to spare.

Which is why it was no surprise that the cyclist who left from Juan de Fuca rec centre in Langford coasted down the Goose, leaving Trans Canada Highway traffic in his dust and arriving at the finish line in a mere 12 minutes, compared to 15 minutes for the electric car.

Commuter Challenge face off

I, too, after leaving Uptown around 7:45 a.m., arrived downtown victorious. I didn’t see Jack anywhere near the finish line until about three minutes later when I saw him crossing Blanshard with his keys in one hand and a breakfast sandwich in the other. Just kidding, no breakfast sandwich, just a hungry look of envy in his eye.

What made me really happy is that Jack didn’t even let me win. Those of you who have seen him in spandex know that he’s been an avid cyclist since taking part in the Tour de Rock in 2007. So he’s quite ready to promote the cause of cycling over driving. And now having accepted the passed torch of Times Colonist Tour de Rock riders, I felt a duty to ensure bikes prevailed. The day before the Commuter Challenge, when I appeared nervous that perhaps I’d be beaten by a car, he said “don’t worry, I’ll have trouble finding parking.”

But on Wednesday morning, Jack admitted that he drove with the flow of traffic along Blanshard and then got a primo parking spot right near the intersection. A legitimate win...victory is mine!

Overall, 17 cyclists finished first compared to just six cars.

The annual Commuter Challenge is the kick-off for Bike to Work week, which starts on Monday.

So far 554 teams from across Greater Victoria have signed up, pledging to cycle to work as much as possible.

Frank Hudson, executive director of the Greater Victoria Bike to Work Society, said the goal is to get at least 1,000 new cyclists signed up.

“What we try to do is, we try to removed the perceived barriers against [cycling]. First of all, it’s fun. Second of all it’s doable. If you’re worried about time, today’s event proves that a cyclist is going to arrive in pretty similar time to a vehicle.”
Yeah, so take that Yaris!
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Katie DeRosa is one of the media riders for this year’s Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock, a 13-day bike ride from Port Alice to Victoria. Follow DeRosa's blog for details about the ongoing training, leading up to full coverage of the ride Sept. 20 to Oct. 3. To donate to her fundraising campaign, click here.