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VCB eNews, Vol 12, #2 - The Bikes of War

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Velo Cape Breton is the Island wide voice of cyclists, working for better cycling in our great Island. We have made significant progress since our formation in 2004.  Visit our website that will introduce you to some of our activities.   If you have any questions, suggestions, or want to contribute to this eNewsletter,  please contact us at (902) 562-8137 or

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In this Edition

-  Editorial: The Bikes of War

-  Letter to the Editor

-  Rides Captain Corner, Shelley Johnson

-  Survey Says!

-  New VCB Executive

-  What’s Up and Coming

-  Loose Chain Links

-  Bike Buy and Sell

-  About That Funny


“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”
— Gloria Steinem




My maternal grandfather was born in 1899, and he ran away to join the Canadian Army three times between 1914 and 1916. Twice his parents fetched him back, once exclaiming he was too young (though recruiters often ignored the age limit, choosing instead to presume age based on size, so that a stalwart 13 year old could very well find himself in uniform and headed to the trenches), and next that as a farm-hand he was essential to the war effort. The third time, his father said, “If he wants to go that badly, I guess we have to let him”. He joined up with the 219th Overseas Highland Battalion at Aldershot and eventually found himself fighting with the 85th, a unit mustered at the same time and place but sent to the Front sooner. Now they are legendary as the 85th Nova Scotia Highlanders. My grandfather’s papers say he signed up as a ‘teamster’, and I wonder how this boy from the bucolic Annapolis Valley coped with, among other horrors, watching so many good horses die – 8 million horses were killed in the First World War.


While the British were fumbling about with horsekeeping that often resulted in the deaths of their valuable battle conveyances – practices like shaving off the horses’ winter coats in the cold, wet conditions – other forces had already turned to modern technology: the bicycle. This was far from the first time that bicycles had been used in war: during the Second Boer War, there was a very famous Boer bicycle infantry unit, the Theron Se Verkenningskorps. So lethal was this cycle-borne infantry that the British Army offered a reward of 1000 pounds for eliminating the group and its leader. Four thousand foot soldiers were commissioned just to put an end to the Theron Se Verkenningskorps. 


By the time of the First World War, bicycles were in use by all armies for moving troops and equipment, and for reconnaissance. In fact, cycle-mounted infantry, scouts, messengers and ambulance carriers were extensively used by all combatants. There was even a Canadian Cyclist Battalion. They were dispatch riders, sappers, trench guides, and battalion runners.  During the first 100 days of the war, 23% of their members were killed and the men soon referred to themselves with dark humour as the “Suicide Battalion”. The cyclists formed a vital link between the infantry and cavalry, in addition to keeping constant tabs on the retreating enemy. A Canadian cyclist was the first Allied soldier to cross the Bonn bridge into Germany.


Bicycles are still used for military purposes, one of the proofs of their efficiency as a mode of transportation. In the late 1980s, my father bought a very nice bicycle at an Army Surplus store. It came off a Canadian Navy ship. Maybe fish don’t need bicycles, but apparently sailors do.



Replica of a First World War recruiting office, created by staff of the Randall House Museum,
Wolfville, NS. August 2014. (S. Porter, photo)




by: Shelley Johnson, Rides Captain



Shakespeare wrote, that “parting is such sweet sorrow” and regrettably my term as Rides Captain has come to an end.  So it is with mixed emotions that this will be my final post in the newsletter, which I have enjoyed writing for this past year.  The Rides Captain is a one-year position and it has been a privilege to serve the Club in this role. I want to thank you all for participating in the 2014 Velo Cape Breton Rides and Events. I hope you found them most enjoyable. I would like to take a moment and write about that year in review.


A sincere thank you to those club members who volunteered to lead their own rides on behalf of Velo CB: Chris Milburn, Kelly’s Climb; Vic Gouthro Mira Spring Spin; Stan and Charlene Wadden, Miner’s Pick Tour; Paul MacDougall Hike and Bike; and Eliot Frosst, Grand Phare and Ride into the Past. Your enthusiasm and commitment added to the Club schedule and that truly was appreciated.


This year saw the creation of the Ambassador in the Hood Rides, which ran from June until September.  The purpose of these rides was to be visible as a group and to promote cycling in our region.  I cannot adequately express the far-reaching impact that the Ambassador Program has had upon developing a cycling culture here.  This past summer you would have seen on the road, Stan and Charlene Wadden, Shelley Porter, Mabel and Errol Jamieson, Chris MacInnis, Colette Smith, Jimmie Campbell, Art Spencer, Jacques Cote, Micheline Guillot, Michel Aucoin (Chéticamp), Lonnie Jones and Shelley Johnson, all proudly wearing their Ambassador jerseys. Thank you fellow Ambassadors for participating in these rides.


Women on Wheels continued for a successful second year. At most 29 ladies (on average 22) attended the 6 week session that began the last week in May.  Thank you to all you ladies that attended and made this program work so well.  Distinctive pink WoW shirts were designed specifically for this program.  Tuesday night rides around Point Edward continued well into September.  A special thank you to Micheline Guillot, Andree Crepeau, Cheryl Berube, Dorian Hudec, and Jackie Devoe for your regular assistance in doing what WoW does best, which is: women helping women to ride their bikes in a safe, accessible and sharing way.  Let’s continue to share the joy of riding through our friendship.  See you next year.


The third annual Lobster Roll Rides were held on June 15th amidst some very cold and rainy weather.  A total of 50 hardy cyclists showed up to participate in this event.  The route was shortened due to rainy conditions, but the lobster rolls were well worth the effort. A follow-up survey was conducted and the response was positive to continue with this event.  On that note a thank you must go out to the following people who played a significant role in making the LRR happen:  Louise Fleming, JP Martin, Bernice Burt, Paul Babin, Britney MacNeil, Cheryl Berube, Errol and Mabel Jamieson.


Thank you to Jacques and Micheline for organizing another successful Cabot Trail Tour held in August and attended by 40 individuals from the USA, Canada and the our local area.  This event was truly one of the highlights of the summer and for the Club.  Your energy and your willingness to share your experience and knowledge know no bounds.


My final action as Rides Captain has been to develop a Membership Survey, which I encourage you to complete.  Your participation in this survey will help to determine the direction that both rides and events will take and will aid my successor in the development of the 2015 schedule.


Again, I wish to extend my appreciation for the opportunity to be Rides Captain for the 2014 season.  I thank all of you who have assisted in making this a successful rides season.


See you on the road!


Shelley Johnson

Rides Captain, 2014

“Riding my bike makes me feel good!”


[Editor’s Note: Many, many thanks to Ms. Johnson for her contributions to the Newsletter during her tenure as Rides Captain.  We were two halves of the same demonic whole!]








Velo Cape Breton is conducting a survey to determine the profile of the Club and how that profile will reflect on rides and events that take place in the 2015 riding season.  Your participation in this survey is greatly appreciated as is your feedback.  We want to create rides and events that you would want to participate in and enjoy.


Click here

Thank You.





The votes were cast at the Annual General Meeting on Nov. 6, and the following is the new Association executive:


Colette Smith, President

Andree Crepeau, Vice President

Jennifer Gallivan, Secretary

Don Crosby, Treasurer

Paul Babin, Registrar

Shelley Porter, Member at Large, B52 Coordinator and VCB eNews editor

Britney MacNeil, Member at Large, Social Media

Vic Gouthro, Member at Large, Ride of Silence


Congratulations to all, and we look forward to the results of their creative collaboration!






Only four (4) spots left for the morning Bike Mechanic Session to be held on Saturday, November 22nd at the Mira Road Firehall from 8:00 am to Noon.  (the afternoon session is fully booked). 

COST: $20.00.   Agenda & Registrtion online here.

First come, first served!  If you snooze, you lose!

Any questions, please do not hesitate to ask,






Bike path that generates electricity from sunlight:


Bicycle Face – worse than Helmet Hair:


Defeating poverty, by bike:


A folding electric bike:


Give it the gears:




BIKE BUY AND SELL – empty this week!






Paraprosdokians (WinstonChurchill loved them) are figures of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected; frequently humorous.       Enjoy!

  1. Where there's a will, I want to be in it.
  2. The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on my list.
  3. Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  4. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.
  5. We never really grow up, we only learn how to act in public.
  6. War does not determine who is right - only who is left.
    Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit.  Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
    To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism. To steal from many is research.
  7. I didn't say it was your fault, I said I was blaming you.
  8. In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, Notify:' I put  'DOCTOR'.
  9. Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.        
  10. You do not need a parachute to skydive.  You only need a parachute to skydive twice.
  11. I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure.
  12. To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit the target.
  13. Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car.
  14. You're never too old to learn something stupid.
  15. I'm supposed to respect my elders, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to find one now.










Regular articles, including Loose Chain Links:

Word document or compatible, 12 pt Times New Roman. Please have submissions for the current edition submitted by the Monday prior.


Ads for Bike Buy & Sell: Word document or compatible, 12 pt, Times New Roman, submitted by the Monday prior. Ads will run for 3 weeks. Please inform the editor if the item is sold before that term is up. If the item doesn’t sell, you may re-submit your ad.  


Photos: high resolution (photos taken with a phone are usually too low, but there may be exceptions); please name all the people in the photo, and give the event, date, and location.







Shelley Porter,  

Editor, Velo Cape Breton eNewsletter

VCB Cycling Ambassador.

November 13th, 2014


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