Cycling enthusiast rides tandem with plush passenger
Garry has been cycling since he was six or seven.
"I go anywhere on a bike that I can," the senior says. He shows me pictures of him bicycling with bushy sideburns and unicycling eight feet in the air.
Although Garry currently has a road bike and a mountain bike, his tandem bike feels the best for cycling around town. "You sit upright," he explains. "And sort of ride it comfortably."
Garry originally rode with his wife. After the marriage ended, the comments about the empty seat began. "Where's your wife?" or "You lost your friend?" or "Where's your partner?" Garry admits it became tiresome. "You try to be polite, you smile."
Then one day, while walking over to the recycling bin behind his building, Garry discovered a discarded stuffed animal. "It was a gorilla or a monkey," he says. "I can't remember, some animal of that nature."
Whether it was a chimpanzee or an orangutan, Garry placed the stuffed simian on the back of his tandem bike. "Just a novelty," he says. "I didn’t think it was going to stop the crazy comments."
But it did. Until a couple weeks later when the primate was pilfered. "This is a real sob story isn't it?" he laughs.
The tandem toy tragedy took a turn when a couple months later Garry returned to the recycling bin and ran into another toy – a Wreck-it Ralph. "There's my next passenger," he recalls with a smile. "He's great!"
Garry wrapped the plush cartoon character on the back of his bike with a pair of bungee cords, and the twosome have been riding in tandem ever since.
"You're driving down the street at 20 kilometres an hour and you see a kid there," Garry points and screams like a child. "There's Wreck-it Ralph!"
While we were doing the interview, three adults yelled out the same thing.
What began as a way to stop comments about an empty seat has become a way to start smiles that fill a face. "I like a bit of joy spread my way, so I don't mind paying it forward," Garry explains. "Get a laugh here and there!"
Garry and Ralph – just cycling here and there – on a joy ride.